MBTN reader Matt today sent along a scan of a 1983 Daily News article showing the accompanying photograph of Davey Johnson posing with jersey No. 31. As we all know, by the time Johnson managed his first game with the Mets in April of 1984, the 31 jersey was long gone and Johnson would wear No. 5. Although the article this story accompanied (click the photo to see it) appeared in a December of 1983 and concerned Johnson’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame, the photo itself was taken that October, on the day the Mets introduced Johnson as their next manager.
This was an interesting find though. I’ve got copies of Newsday, the Times and the Post from that day, all of which used the same closeup of Johnson’s face to illustrate their stories. But it’s not unprecendented. Back in 2004, on the November day the Mets introduced another new manager, Willie Randolph, they presented him with jersey No. 1 and not the 12 he’d show up in once it was time to play. Similar photo-op phollies struck Mets-in-waiting like Roger Cedeno (11 in the press conference, 19 on the field); Xavier Nady (10; 22), Duaner Sanchez (40; 50); and Chad Bradford (35; 53).
Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made while fleeing a rain delay earlier this season at the new park. Ducking into a Promenade-level memorabilia shop to avoid the downpour I came across (not literally) a selection of “game-used” jerseys from scrubs of the not-so-distant past, selling at the relative bargain price of $100 each. Among the KNIGHT 28s (Brandon, not Ray) and SOSA 29s I spied this curiousity: An alleged “game-worn” No. 17 belonging to Willie Collazo, whose short Met career already included one interesting moment in uni history.
Collazo, who was up briefly in 2007 and 2008 (but did not play in the latter appearance) was issued No. 36 in both stays, so the 17 was out of place. I didn’t think to check whether there were any clues as to what year the jersey was from, but my records show that during Collazo’s entire tenure with the Mets, the 17 jersey would have been available only in the month of April 2008, after David Newhan was gone but before Fernando Tatis had arrived (and even then, Tatis had 17 assigned to him).
Any theories as to how this happened? And what other cases can you recall where a Met was issued a number but never appeared in it?
P.S. The SHaMs are finally off to that run I warned you about… All it took was another embarrassing front-office explosion and a good smackdown by the Nationals, but it’s happening…
Not that Willie, silly. Though his habit of dumb sacrifice bunts accomplishing nothing carries on in the new era. We’re talking about Willie Collazo, the little lefthander whose jersey name-on-back was misspelled last season, much to the amusement of geeks everywhere.
Collazo was recalled Sunday following Brandon Knight‘s start in place of greiving Pedro Martinez and issued No. 36, the same jersey he wore last season. Knight, who rebounded after a shaky first inning in his only Met appearance and wound up with a no-decision, is on his way to Bejing with Team USA. Pedro is on his back to the Mets and penciled to start on Friday albeit with a strict pitch count.
It will be interesting to see who his teammates turn out to be that night, the first after Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. With the bullpen demonstrating once again it could use an upgrade; with the health of Pedro and Ryan Church remaining so mysterious; with Marlon Anderson still employed; and with John Maine headed for an MRI on his shoulder, anything seems possible. It is to their credit the Mets have thrived the way they have during this difficult stretch.
The Mets on Thursday reassigned longshot reliever candidates Carlos Muniz and Willie Collazo to their minor league camp, and by doing so freed up numbers 32 and 36, respectively. Jason Vargas, who was assigned a different number this spring (39) than last year (43), also left to have surgery and is out for awhile, the Daily News said.
As you might not care to remember, Muniz and Collazo were among the desperate moves the Mets found themselves forced to make as a collective suck infected the bullpen last September and, along with unreliable starting pitching, too many guys getting picked off first base, lack of hustle, lack of focus, lack of brains, lack of courage, overconfidence, underconfidence, stupid decisions, and a few things that didn’t go our way, cost the Mets the division they probably should have won.
Collazo we’ll remember for the goof of spelling his name improperly on the back of his jersey. Muniz, who spent most of the year in AA, debuted in that nightmarish 10-9 loss to the Nationals mopping up for Mr. I’m-Not-Devastated, and the seemingly innocent single run Muniz loomed large when the Mets’ 6-run rally in the ninth didn’t tie the game but left them one run short. Of all the disastrous Mets games last year, and there were plenty to choose from, that one probably burned me the most.
Anyway, I found it a mild surprise but also a nice gesture that these guys were invited to camp this spring and allowed to retain the numbers they were issued despite their longshot status and the arrival of others more likely to wind up in their numbers. (What do you figure the chances are that either of them surfaces with the big club ever again?
So we caught the Mets down in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, but despite having a great opportunity to chronicle strange and unusual uni numbers, I really didn’t. Sorry about that.
Part of it was that in addition to watching the Mets, I was watching my one-year-old climb the stadium steps and call out the row letters. Part of it was the realization that these weren’t even the Mets but parts of their A, AA and AAA rosters. Of the “regulars,” only Marlon Anderson (wearing No. 9); Ramon Castro and Jorge Sosaplayed, and those guys were through after 6 innings.
The names were as foreign as the numbers, which didn’t help me retain any of it. I mean, I can tell you I saw Nick Evans, Gregory Veloz, Ezequil Carerra, Mike Carp, Ruben Tejeda, Gustavo Molina, Nate Field and Joselo Diaz. I can also tell you I saw Nos. 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, and 97. Just tough to connect the two. Diaz was 74. Field was 66. Willie Collazo was 36, like last year. The thing that caught my attention was Ken Oberkfell, the AAA manager coaching 3rd base in this game, wearing No. 0. So we’ve got some speculative stuff to chew on in the event Willie gets fired.
Oh, and we won by the way, 4-1 over the Orioles.
The Mets this evening announced they have invited greying, heavyset ex-Dodger Olmedo Saenz to spring training with the idea he could become the right-handed power threat and backup to Carlos Delgado the lineup would seem to call out for. Saenz last appeared in No. 8 with Los Angeles.
Also invited to camp is veteran washout Tony Armas Jr., who’ll compete for a rotation slot and secretly root for injuries until its time to report to New Orleans. Armas most recently appeared in No. 36 with the Nationals and could easily appear in it again given Willie Collazo‘s own grip on a roster slot.
Update: Mets.com reports Wednesday that Armas will suit up in No. 44. Thanks Jason for the updates.
Props to sharp-eyed Met fan Chris who not only pointed out Friday night that Met reliever Willie Collazo made his Shea Stadium debut in a jersey that spelled his name incorrectly, but thought to take the accompanying photo of it. The goof — one too many Z’s and one too few L’s — appeared on the snow-white jersey Friday.
No sooner had we inquired as to whether Collazo appeared in a misspelled road jersey in his debut Wednesday in Cincinnati than Lundy came through with the other photo illustrating he hadn’t. How did Collazo turn from Puerto Rican to Italian? We’ll try to investigate. So thanks again to Chris and Lundy, to whom we all owe a cold frosty Rheingold. You will often find those guys at the Crane Pool.
Other than featuring Collazo’s misspelled jersey — and his second consecutive scoreless relief outing — tonight’s convincing victory over Houston featured the return of rookie outfielder Carlos Gomez 27. The Mets have also reactivated Sandy Alomar Jr., who has continued to dress in No. 19.
On the first day active rosters can be expanded the Mets as expected recalled AAA starters Mike Pelfrey and Phillip Humber, along with a lefty reliever, Willie Collazo.Pelfrey to wear No. 34 as usual, will try for his first victory of the year in a start this afternoon in Atlanta. Humber will wear the same No. 49 he wore last season in brief appearances.
Press notes say Collazo will debut in No. 36 — a jersey that earlier this year went to outfielder Chip Ambres. Ambres reportedly is among others who may still be recalled as the month rolls on.
The Mets in the meantime put together a solid game Friday in ending an ugly five-game losing streak. Among the casualties of the Philly sweep was Orlando Hernandez, who is expected to miss his next turn in the rotation resting a sore foot. The leading candidate to take his place is some guy called Martinez.