A catcher, but not related to the catching family. Called up for the first time after Brian Schneider injured his thumb to be Raul Casanova's backup.
First of four men to wear No. 6 in 2008, Molina was recalled in September and became the fifth man issued No. 29 that year but did not make an appearance and departed to get an early start for winter ball.
Another injury to Brian Schneider this afternoon required the Mets to reach down to AAA and recall catcher Gustavo Molina, dressing him, appropriately enough, in No. 6. Brady Clark, who passed through undistinguishedly wearing No. 15 in 2004, may see his run in No. 44 this year similarly brief and forgettable: He was designated for assignment to make room for Molina (pictured at left thanks to MBTN reader Gordon).
As readers of this site know well, no number in Mets history has been issued as often as No. 6. Molina, if and when he makes his official Mets debut, would be the number's 34th occupant and the first since Ruben Gotay, who was designated for assignment and claimed by the Braves shortly before the season began. No. 6's colorful and scrubbily insignificant history includes three issues in the team's maiden season of 1962 (Jim Marshall, Cliff Cook and Rick Herrscher); three issues in 1990 (Mike Marshall, Alex Trevino, Darren Reed) and a mind-boggling four giveaways in 2004 (Ricky Gutierrez, Gerald Williams, Tom Wilson and Jeff Keppinger).
Even the number's longest-term occupants (Al Weis and Wally Backman) owned reputations as guys who overachieved their way to prominence: Weis was a light-hitting backup infielder for the 1969ers who masde a strong case to be MVP of the 1969 World Series; Backman, of course, overcame doubts early in his career and the need for a platoonmate throughout it, to carve out a nine-season run in No. 6 on pure grit.
Below is a list of the most popular issues in Met jersey history through April 25 2008, and including Molina:
No. No. of Players to wear it Notes
6 34 Issued a team-record four times in 2004.
34 30 Longest tenure: Danny Frisella (1970-72).
17 30 20 position players; 10 pitchers.
28 Current occupant: Ryan Church
35 28 Longest tenure: Rick Reed (5 years).
38 27 12 players in 9 years between Roger Craig (1963) and Buzz Capra (1971)
11 27 26 position players, 1 pitcher.
33 27 14 pitchers; 13 position players.
43 26 Issued twice in ’66, ’97, ’98 and ‘02
26 26 One All-Star starter: Dave Kingman (1976)
29 26 Best player to wear it gave it up too soon: Ken Singleton
1 25 Everyone wants to be No. 1; most should think twice
Aging pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson is expected to get his first start of the year Tuesday afternoon as the Mets wrap up a quick visit to Wrigley, and hopefully, jump-start a bat that's been slumbering for much of the early going.
The start would also be Anderson's first while wearing No. 9 -- he changed into it this offseason after the Mets acquired Brian Schneider, who received 23. Anderson wore 18 in his go-round with the Mets in 2005 but that number now belongs to Moises Alou.
Anderson is the 23rd player to wear at least 3 different Met uniform numbers and if 9 turns out to be the worst of the three he won't be alone: David Cone (16); Ron Darling (15) and Kevin Elster (15) are right there with him among players whose third uniform was their worst. And though .067 is a tiny sample, Anderson at the moment looks a lot like the guy released by the Dodgers a year ago.
See the complete list here...
Got the following email recently from reader Steve:
I bought a Rawlings authentic jersey on eBay a few weeks ago. The seller listed it as a Jose Reyes jersey but I knew it couldn't have been because: 1) it's a Rawlings and 2) it just had the "7", with no player name, on the back. So, upon seeing it, I immediately thought it was a '99 Todd Pratt jersey (I was excited someone liked Pratt as much as I did, that they'd actually get a Pratt jersey). That all changed, however, when I got it in the mail.
For starters, the authentic tag is on the inside of the jersey, not the outside, which is where it is when players get them. It also has the "flag tag" hanging from it, indicating size "42", the Rawlings jerseys had tags in the collars with the size. Third, it has the MLB logo sewn on the back of the neck, which wasn't done until 2000. So, all these things made me very confused. So, I got to thinking that maybe this was a minor league issued jersey (maybe the B-Mets) but I just don't know. I was hoping there might be some way you could help. Was there someone on the B-Mets who was small enough to wear a "42" sometime after 2000 and before they started using Majestic?
As I explained to Steve, I'm not an expert at all when it comes to jersey make/models but as he did, I suspect he must have purchased a B-Mets jersey. But I don't know for sure, and I hope you might. To sum up, Steve is looking at a "game-worn" jersey that:
1) No. 7, no name on the back
2) Size 42
3) MLB logo on the back
4) Rawlings make
If you have some ideas as to the origin of this jersey, please share them in the comments section below.
Thanks to all who showed up at last night's event at Word Books, where I discussed Mets by the Numbers and Spike Vrusho told tales from his book on baseball brawls, flawlessly brought to life by Caryn of MetsGrrl (who I know must be saddened today by the passing of E- Streeter Danny Federici). The event was a lot of fun, and though we'd missed most of last night's regularly-scheduled Mets game to do the event, the Mets were kind enough to give us plenty of time for drinks and triumphant game-watching afterward at Red Star.
Had a good time last night in New Jersey, where Mets by the Numbers was sucked into the awesome gravitational pull of Gary Carter, whose new book pictured here was the featured attraction at Bookends book store.
In addition to us, Dan Reilly, the original Mr. Met, was selling/signing his book as was George “Shotgun” Shuba, the ex-Brooklyn Dodger and Montreal teammate of Jackie Robinson. Both Dan — who was a Shea ticket salesman picked to become the first live-action costumed mascot and knows that Ed Kranepool was originally assigned No. 21 — and George were great, and we all owe one to Gary Carter for being Macy's to our Spencer's Gifts. I also got to meet longtime MBTN contributor Gordon for the first time after years of exchanged scorecards and emails.
After the crowd thinned out some we had a chance to make a gift of our book to Gary, who just as you might expect, was polite and charming and promised to read it. You can catch up to Gary at 12:30pm today at the Barnes & Noble at 46th & 5th Ave.
Tonight, the MBTN World Tour continues with a stop in my backyard, Word Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at 7:30 pm. The event includes Spike Vrusho, author of Benchclearing: Baseball’s Greatest Fights & Riots and is moderated by Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl. Word is located on Franklin Street at Milton, a short walk form the Greenpoint Ave. stop on the G.
I was at Shea last night for the first time this year thanks to my co-writer, and now co-star in a potential future episode of Mets Weekly. We were joined by two other swell guys, and we had a great time, the Mets looked resplendent, especially with the blue hats, matching 42 jerseys (anyone other than me remember Chuck Taylor?) and no names on the back. Sweet.
Worth noting was that the scoreboard identified the players by their assigned numbers but the Shea PA announcer introduced them all as No. 42. I'll address how to integrate this event into the database when I've had some time to think about it.
I missed the announcement pre-game so I was delighted to see Duaner Sanchez trot in from the bullpen for the the 9th inning. The quietly effective Carlos Muniz was shipped back to the minors to make room. Just an all-around terrific night.
6 p.m. Tonight, we're opening for Gary Carter at Bookends in Ridewood, N.J. Thursday at 7:30, I'll discuss the Mets and baseball with Metsgrrl and Spike Vrusho (author of Benchclearing) at Word Books in Greenpoint (beer and snacks to be served)!
The Mets on Tuesday will celebrate the pioneering efforts of Ron Hodges, who broke the Scrubeenie Barrier by lasting 12 seasons in a Mets uniform, the first 11 without even being considered a regular starting option.
To mark the historic occasion, every player on the Mets will be outfitted in the No. 42 jersey Ron made famous while rotting on the bench behind Grote and Dyer; then Grote and Stearns; and then Stearns and Grote; and then Stearns and Trevino; and then Trevino and Stearns; and then Stearns and Trevino again; and then Mike Fitzgerald. Relievers from Harry Parker to Wes Gardner found Hodges' target while warming up in the bullpen; and managers from Berra to Frazier to Torre to Johnson called on his left-handed bat to pinch hit in crucial situations, provided they had already used Kranepool, Staub or Jorgensen.
"Waiting around to be useful and occasionally contributing something worthwhile are attributes I want my guys to inhabit," explained manager Willie Randolph, who donned the 42 jersey at last year's event. "We need to go out there and show our fans that in each of us beats the heart of a lefthanded hitting reserve catcher, preferably a veteran."
For Hodges, 11 seasons of waiting around for a shot came to delicious fruition in 1983, when as a 34-year-old, he was the starting catcher in Tom Seaver's glorious, opening-day return to Shea Stadium. Hodges set career highs with 110 games played and 250 at-bats.
"As a lefthanded-hitting catcher with a reputation for strong defense, I understand that Ron Hodges was every bit the player I am," added the Mets' current starter behind the dish, Brian Schneider. "Ron's career reminds me of how blessed I am."
* * *
* Actually, all Mets are to wear 42 Tuesday to honor Jackie Robinson. The above wasn't meant to disparage his contributions, or Ron Hodges's, for that matter.
* Cultural omniblogger/librarian Mike Tubridy's "Boat Against the Current" blog has nice words on Mets by the Numbers and its launch party last week.
So this is turning out to be a better week than it looked like it might be back on Tuesday, what with an impressive debut starts from Mike Pelfrey and Nelson Figueroa; the first Metly appearance and contribution from Raul Casanova; and a continued MVP bid from Angel Pagan. There's something satisfying knowing that all these guys are one-time products of the maligned Mets farm system.
Figueroa's victory last night marked the first appearance of the dreaded black unis all season (not to mention the first call for a tailor to get Figueroa's jersey to fit right. Looked like a size 44 wearing a 52). Correct me if I'm wrong, but we've yet to see pinstripes and/or the gorgeous all-blue Mets cap yet. Speaking as a neighbor of hundreds of young hipsters, the latter is becoming the new trucker cap around here: I'll try and gather photographic evidence and show you in a future post.
Nice to see the Mets honor Shea (that's my wife's maiden name, doncha know?) but leave it to the incomparable Paul Lukas to point out they did so while introducing unnecessary black dropshadows to the logo and accompanying retired numbers.
* Thanks to Eric Simon of Amazin' Avenue (and his readers) for the enthusiastic book review he published recently. See also a nice note from author, reviewer and Yankee fanatic Harvey Frommer. And Mark Lelinwalla of the NY Daily News did a short peice on the book's creation in The Score column last week.
Thanks as usual to a great readership we destroyed the Kingman Kontroversy in a matter of hours and moved on to still more mystery.
First up, on the right is a 1981 program showing a spring training photo of Dave Kingman (wearing No. 5, obscured by his bat) along with Rusty Staub. Both TommieCleon and SJR provided me with this image -- apparently published at least twice that season (once pre-strike, once post-strike).
On the left is a weird All-Star insert card provided by TommieCleon, also showing Kong with the partially obscured No. 5.
As detailed in the comments in the post below this, this controversy reminded me of another "false positive" Kingman spring. This one was 1975. Tonight I cracked open the '75 yearbook to find the below photo, showing the newly acquired Kingman in a St. Petersburg batting cage wearing No. 4 but with a roster, dated March 27, noting Kingman would wear 26 once the season began. Adding to this confusion were photos of Rusty Staub also wearing 4 -- but they dated to 1974. Staub that spring was wearing 10 for the first time -- he'd ditched 4 after Duffy Dyer was traded that winter.
Now things get really weird. When that 1975 season finally began, it was April 8, a Tuesday day game against the Phillies -- 33 years ago today. I was at Shea with my Dad, and Kingman hit a home run. We won 2-1 that day as Seaver outdueled Carlton.
Tonight I learned that today's disappointing home opener against the Phillies was attended by Dave Kingman.
I don't know what it means either.
* Before today's game, Matt Wise was placed on the disabled list with a stiff forearm. The surprise recallee, Carlos Muniz, pitched this after noon wearing No. 32. Muniz wore 38 last year before Wise arrived this winter.
MBTN reader Gordon passed the below photo along today along with this note:
I came across a picture at a flea market this weekend. It was labeled to be Dave Kingman (it looks like him). He's wearing uniform #5.
For whatever reason, this photo looks vaguely familiar to me but I can't place it. If indeed it's Kingman, and I agree on the blurry resemblance, the intersection of uniform style, Kong's tenure with the Mets, and availability of No. 5 places this picture as being taken sometime in 1981, obviously in a road game, and before September 11, when Mike Howard was issued No. 5.
My guess is, as often the case, it dates from spring training -- where photos exist of Kingman wearing No. 10 from his first tenure. But if you have a guess or happen to know something, please share in the comments section below.
* Thanks to my friends new and old who showed up at the MBTN book launch Sunday at Stout NYC and shared beer, wings, pretzels, burgers and the pain of realizing Luis Castillo is only in the 5th day of a four-year contract. The SNY crew didn't make it after all, but looks like we'll have an audience with them soon. Thanks also to the folks who made our appearance at Barnes & Noble Bayside a fun time on Saturday, especially Ashley who set it all up, and Mike, Mike and Lou. We left behind a short stack of autographed copies there -- get them while they last.
* We have a few more events on the calendar for next week, including an appearance at Bookends in New Jersey April 16 and a baseball writers event at Word Books in Brooklyn April 17 hosted by Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl and also featuring Spike Vrusho, author of Benchclearing: Baseball's Greatest Fights and Riots. No way can you miss that.
Leave it Yankee fans to find a way to interrupt my schafenfreude. After the Mets were rained out last night, I listened in with sick delight as the Rays dismantled the Yankees, 13-4. The beatdown was highlighted by a 6-run outburst against LaTroy Hawkins, the newly acquired veteran reliever off to a rotten start with the Yankees.
There's not a true Met fan out there who didn't chuckle to themselves when the Yanks made that acquisition, by the way. Hawkins was the pitcher who surrendered a 3-run, 9th-inning, game-tying bomb to Victor Diaz in the final week of the 2004 season, in a game that ultimately obliterated the Cubs' run for the playoffs and provided about the only Mets' highlight of that entire miserable year.
But back to last night. Yankee fans being Yankee fans, it's not enough for them to be disgusted with, and unsupportive of, their players while they struggle. No, they have to hate Hawkins on a level beyond that for having the temerity to struggle while wearing (hush now) Paul O'Neill's venerated No. 21. So while Hawkins was out there scuffling last night, he did so to a chorus of unsportsmanlike "Paul O'Neill!" chants.
Mets fans, don't act like that.
Never mind the fact that Hawkins explained he's wearing the number in honor of Roberto Clemente. That in itself ought to be reason enough to leave his choice alone. But somehow the Yankees and their fans have allowed the whole idea of re-issuing popular players' numbers to become an affront to the former player's dignity and an invitation to their fans to act disgracefully. The Yankees' organizational habit of dubiously retiring numbers (Howard, Maris, and Jackson to name three) no doubt has conditioned fans to sniff out disrepect behind innocunous or even well-intentioned re-issues, while demanding they honor any or every pretty good but not great player who came through the organization and was fortunate enough to be a part of a championship team.
DISCLAIMER: Not all Yankee fans are like the guy above. Many don't smoke.
* The Mets' rain-out last night sets up a delicious Santana-Glavine matchup for Sunday's game, which we'll be watching at Stout NYC (133 W. 33rd St.) for the Mets by the Numbers launch/viewing party. I'm told SNY's Mets Weekly crew may be on hand. Hope to see you there too!
* I'll be warming up for that event with a talk and book signing today (Saturday) at Barnes & Noble in Bayside, 3 p.m.
Just as expected, Pedro Martinez's strained hammy landed him on the disabled list today. He's expected to return in 4-to-6 weeks, or months, or whatever, and Nelson Figueroa was recalled from New Orleans to take his spot on the roster.
What was unexpected was seeing Figueroa try out the No. 27 jersey so soon by throwing a pressure-free scoreless seventh inning in a 13-0 laugher over the hapless Marlins: A game providing much needed relief from the black mood I walked around in all day considering Tuesday's debacle. The Mets emptied the bench of all but Raul Casanova, including the season debuts of Damian Easley and Brady Clark, and pitchers Pedro Feliciano and Billy Wagner.
The first shots of Figueroa in the bullpen also confirmed Mean Gene's remark in the comments section the other day that catching instructor Sandy Alomar Jr. had switched from the 90 he wore in spring training to 58. This was despite the opening ceremonies annoucing him in 90.