Category Archives: New York Mets Shirts

Jeff McNeil Jersey

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Around this time a year ago, New York Mets hit machine Jeff McNeil had just finished up his first taste of MLB action, and it went pretty well. Through 248 plate appearances, he managed to post a 137 wRC+ and 2.7 fWAR off the strength of a solid .329/.381/.471 line. There wasn’t a ton of home-run power (just three dingers), but with his ability to put the ball in play and get on base at a high clip, it wasn’t much of a problem.

McNeil basically picked up in 2019 where he left off as a rookie in 2018 — especially in the first half. The 27-year-old found himself atop the batting average leaderboard heading into the All-Star break with a .349 mark. That also included seven home runs in 318 plate appearances, which was already a new single-season career high. As we all know, though, McNeil hit a level in the second half that not many were expecting based off his brief time in the big leagues to that point.

The 2019 All-Star launched another 16 long balls following the midsummer respite to give him 23 for the season. While his .276 second-half batting average took him out of the batting title race, he finished with a slightly better wRC+ than his rookie campaign (143) and a superb 4.6 fWAR that was among the 30 best in baseball when looking at qualified hitters.

En route to this incredible year, McNeil did some things many were likely expecting from him. He swung the bat a lot, made a ton of contact, and didn’t strikeout nearly as much the average ballplayer. The biggest surprise was easily this power surge. After all, the utility player watched his ISO grow from .143 to .214 and his hard-hit rate go from 30.2% to 37.6% while his soft-hit rate went from 22.0% to 11.2%. But what got even more interesting when digging into his performance was how he did when facing certain pitches.

When looking at things like ISO and wRC+, McNeil pummeled curveballs (.426 ISO and 180 wRC) more than any other pitch, with five of his 23 dingers coming against the offering. However, it was his collective performance against fastballs (four-seamers, sinkers, and cutters) that caught my eye — especially when comparing his 2019 numbers to what he did the year prior.

Here’s a quick look at how his performance when facing those three pitches in particular shook out during his impressive rookie season:

And, of course, here’s what the progression ended up looking like once his 2019 season was officially in the books:

If we’re also purely looking at the change in homers hit between these two seasons — which makes sense because of the huge jump in that total number from 2018 to 2019 — we get the same results. As a rookie, McNeil didn’t hit a single dinger against a four-seamer, sinker, or cutter. In fact, he didn’t hit more than one homer against any pitch he saw. But just a year later, he made the necessary adjustments and hit 12 of his 23 homers off a four-seamer (seven), sinker (four), or cutter (one).

McNeil’s particular aggression against four-seam fastballs — the pitch he saw the most from opposing pitchers — is particularly interesting. When looking at his overall swing rate by pitch faced, the left-handed hitter didn’t produce a percentage lower than 53.0% in any situation. That wasn’t much different than the year before, but the differences start showing when that swing rate is broken down a bit more.

If his chase rate is singled out, the 28.9% mark he posted against four-seamers was the only pitch where he produced a rate below 37.0%. Meanwhile, McNeil’s swing rate on strikes was up at 84.1% against four-seamers, with only his swing rate on changeups being slightly higher (84.9%). While the contact rate for that specific situation didn’t change much, the lift he saw in his quality of contact helped make a big difference.

The fact that McNeil finished with a .318 batting average in 2019 isn’t a shock. Based on the bat-to-ball skills he showcased as a rookie, it certainly felt like that was within his range of outcomes. The power was a surprise, even though he combined to hit 19 homers across Double-A and Triple-A in 2018 before getting called up to the big leagues. It seems as if all McNeil needed to do was adjust a bit to how opposing pitchers were attacking him in order for those power numbers to spike.

New York has gotten incredible value for his performance thus far. According to FanGraphs, McNeil’s 7.3 career fWAR has been worth $58.2 million. He’s earned just under $770K during that time, and will continue to be an extreme bargain in 2020 and 2021 prior to becoming arbitration eligible for the first time.

Now that he’s firmly in the Mets’ plans moving forward (unlike last winter), it’ll be fun to continue watching him progress as a player while approaching his physical prime.

Brandon Nimmo Jersey

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Following a breakout campaign in 2018 for the New York Mets, many of us were excited to have Brandon Nimmo already entrenched as a starting outfielder heading into this past year. Instead of having a full season’s worth of games to build upon that breakout, he dealt with his fair share of issues before finishing strong.

Upon finally getting an opportunity to play regularly in April 2018, Nimmo took advantage of it by producing a 193 wRC+ through his first 43 plate appearances. He followed that up with a similarly awesome 169 (nice) wRC+ through 101 plate appearances in May, and the rest was history en route to a 4.5-fWAR performance.

This past March/April, though? It was a much different experience. In fact, that applies to what he did from Opening Day through May 20th before hitting the injured list with neck issues. The first 161 plate appearances of his 2019 season led to a .200/.344/.323 line and an 88 wRC+. While his 16.1% walk rate during this time was among the 10 best in baseball, it was accompanied by a 29.8% strikeout rate, which was among the 15 worst in baseball.

Not necessarily the best combination to have.

He went on to spend what felt like forever on the sideline as the Mets went through valleys and peaks with regard to team performance prior to Nimmo returning to the lineup on September 1st. It’s not as if his future with New York was hanging in the balance depending on how he finished the season (that was never brought up anywhere), but Nimmo isn’t a baseball-playing robot — he’s human. After watching what the Mets just did, it’d only be normal for him to potentially put a little pressure on himself to perform down the stretch and remind everyone what he can do.

With a pretty set infield moving forward, the salary of Jed Lowrie on the books, an All-Star season from Jeff McNeil, a breakout of J.D. Davis, the presence of Dominic Smith (for now, at least), and a possible return of Yoenis Cespedes in 2020, there’s a bit of a roster logjam in the outfield. So, it definitely wasn’t a bad thing for Nimmo to show that he was both healthy and productive over the season’s final month.

His performance was exactly what we would’ve expected from Nimmo based off his 2018 numbers, and his ending to the year was what we all hoped the entire season was going to be for him. Through his final 93 trips to the plate, the 26-year-old posted a much more Nimmo-like .261/.430/.565 triple slash, which led to a 159 wRC+.

The progression he had between his abbreviated first half and an abbreviated second half is noteworthy, too. Here’s how his walk rate, strikeout rate, soft-hit rate, and hard-hit rate all changed between these two periods of time:

The same can be said about the progression of his plate-discipline numbers:

Although his chase rate went up, it was still much lower than the league-wide average of 31.6%. More importantly, he got more aggressive on pitches inside the strike zone, and that increased aggression led to more contact. With the rise in hard contact during his return in September, it’s not hard to see how Nimmo was able to not only increase his overall productivity, but to also see an uptick in power production (his ISO went from .123 to .304).

Nimmo’s reemergence — where he seemingly stepped right in and performed like nothing ever happened — adds to a part of the roster that Brodie Van Wagenen will need to make some decisions about. Based off how he built the 2019 roster, one would imagine he’ll favor having more depth than not, but still, something will have to give for 2020.

Lowrie and Robinson Cano haven’t exactly been models for staying healthy over the past year, but right now, they’re likely penciled into positions that fills up the infield when accompanied by Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso. That also pushes McNeil and Davis into the outfield with the handful of other options out there. Even if Cespedes isn’t counted on for anything, there’s still a bit of a logjam going on.

And obviously, the Mets have some holes that need to be filled elsewhere, so this perceived surplus of position players gives BVW some options to consider, which we all know he loves to do.

It was great to see Nimmo finally return from a way-too-long stint on the injured list before the year wrapped up. It was even better to see him return to the player we saw have success last season. It also makes what is surely an already tricky situation to maneuver even more tricky for the front office.

John Franco Jersey

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Since their inception as a Major League Baseball team in 1962, the New York Mets have had the honor of sending 16 former players to the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). Of those players, only two (Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza) have entered the hall with a Mets hat on their plaque.

As the team awaits its next Hall of Fame inductee, fans and analysts have debated which players are most deserving. Some expect third basemen David Wright will be selected when he becomes eligible.

However, there is one former Met who did not receive the consideration he deserved: John Franco. During the relief pitcher’s first (and only) year on the ballot, he received a meager 4.6% of the votes. His failure to receive the necessary 5% threshold eliminated him from further opportunities. Despite his dismissed candidacy, Franco deserves to be considered as one of the best relievers in baseball history.
The Precedent

The most difficult hurdle during Franco’s HOF push was his position. As a former closer and relief pitcher, his chances of election were slim. In the history of baseball, only eight players (Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, and Mariano Rivera) have ever been voted in. Saves have simply never held the same perceived importance as starting pitches statistics.
The Numbers

Because eight players have been selected for the Hall of Fame, there is a baseline with which candidates can be evaluated. The average number of career saves amongst Hall of Famers currently stands at 413 (Wilhelm has the least at 228 and Rivera holds the most at 652). Their average Earned Run Average (ERA) is 2.86 (Eckersley is highest at 3.50 and Rivera is lowest at 2.21). The group has also averaged 1,404 strikeouts over their careers.

During his 21-year major league career, Franco was able to amass comparable numbers. His 424 career saves put him above the HOF median. His 2.89 career ERA also placed him well within the range of other Hall of Famers.

While his 975 strikeouts were below the pace of the other relievers, Franco did not have the benefit of serving in a dual role of starter and reliever like many of the Hall of Famers did. In fact, in Franco’s 1,119 career MLB games, he never appeared as a starter.
The Accolades

In addition to HOF worth numbers, Franco also recorded several noteworthy accomplishments. He was a four-time All-Star and is a member of the Mets’ Hall of Fame. His 424 saves are the fifth most in baseball history (and ranked second when he retired in 2005 and the most ever by a left-handed pitcher.

If would have been difficult for Franco to get the 75% vote necessary for election into the National Hall of Fame, his career accolades were worthy of multiple years of eligibility. It’s a shame the former Mets’ team captain didn’t receive an opportunity to keep his place on the ballot.

Jesse Orosco Jersey

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The 1986 NLCS matchup between the New York Mets and Houston Astros ended in six games with the former coming away victorious. Former Mets pitcher Mike Scott won both games for the Astros, including the first. Bob Ojeda won the second game. The other three all concluded with reliever Jesse Orosco earning the W.

Orosco took the mound four times for the Mets in this series. In Game One, Davey Johnson called upon his closer to pitch the eighth inning in a 1-0 game. Orosco tossed a perfect inning, striking out one in his World Series debut.

The next time Mets fans would see Orosco on the mound was in Game Three. Once again, Orosco entered the eighth with the Mets down by one. After two scoreless innings, the Mets went into the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-4. A bunt single by Wally Backman began the inning. Two batters later, Lenny Dykstra hit a two-run shot to end the ball game.
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Orosco took the win and Astros pitcher Dave Smith was awarded the loss. Several nights later, with the series tied 2-2, we saw Orosco take the mound again in Game Five.

The fifth game of the series went 12 innings. Following 10 innings of one-run ball by Dwight Gooden, Orosco entered the 11th. He was perfect again, like he was in the first game of the series. In another dramatic finale, Backman scored the winning run on a Gary Carter single.

The next day in Houston, the two top teams in the National League squared off for Game Six. Astros starter Bob Knepper carried a shutout into the ninth inning. Down 3-0, the Mets stormed back to tie the game in the final frame.

Now in extras, the game carried on without any runs until a Backman single scored Darryl Strawberry in the top of the 14th. Unfortunately, the second batter Orosco faced in the bottom half of the inning, Billy Hatcher, tied it up with a solo home run. This was all Orosco would allow for the time being.

Scoring resumed in the 16th when Ray Knight knocked in Strawberry. A wild pitch with Orosco at the plate scored Knight. At the plate with a mission to move the runner up, Orosco laid down a successful sacrifice bunt. This set up a third important run for New York to give them a 7-4 lead.

The bottom part of the 16th inning wasn’t so easy. Hatcher drove in another run with a single. With two outs, Glenn Davis added another.

Up 7-6 with 2 outs in the 16th, Orosco faced off against Kevin Bass with the game on the line. On a 3-2 pitch, Orosco struck out Bass to end the game and the series. In doing so, he earned his third victory of the 1986 NLCS.

Gary Gentry Jersey

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It was easy for Gary Gentry to get overlooked on the New York Mets’ 1969 pitching staff. Tom Seaver (25) and Jerry Koosman (17) won 42 games between them. However, a big part of the Mets’ success in 1969 was the 13–12 record, 3.42 ERA compiled by 23- year old rookie righthander Gary Gentry.

Typical of Gentry’s season was a 1–0,complete-game, two -hit shutout in the first game of a June 17 doubleheader in Philadelphia. Gentry walked one and struck out nine.

“What you have to realize is that Gary was a rookie just a few short years out of college,” said outfielder Ron Swoboda. “ He just had tremendous poise for a youngster. You have to remember one thing, too. He was the third starter on a team that had Nolan Ryan.”

When he wasn’t playing Swoboda would spend a lot of his spare time warming up Gentry in the bullpen.

“He had command of all of his pitches,” said Ron. “Gary wasn’t fazed by anything. If he wasn’t on a staff that had Seaver and Koosman he certainly would have received more attention that he did.”

Gentry tied with Seaver for the Mets lead with 35 starts. He also had six complete games.

Gary spun a 6–0 complete game shutout when the Mets set back the Cardinals to clinch the Division on September 24. He combined with Nolan Ryan to blank the Orioles, 5–0, in Game Three of the World Series.

Illness will prevent Gentry from attending the 50th Anniversary on June 29 at Citi Field.

“The celebration will be a time of happiness and sadness,” said Swoboda. “ So many of our teammates and staff won’t be there. None of the guys will be forgotten I can tell you that.”

Tom Seaver and Joe Pignatano will not be attending because of illness. Al Weis will not be there because of illness in his family.

Those who have passed on include General Manager Johnny Murphy, Manager Gil Hodges, coaches Yogi Berra, Eddie Yost and Rube Walker and players, Tommie Agee, Donn Clendenon, Tug McGraw, Don Cardwell, Ed Charles, and Cal Koonce.

Dae-Sung Koo Jersey

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The 2005 season may be one of my favorites as a Mets fan. That year, David Wright and Jose Reyes were just coming to fruition as bona fide studs. For the first time since the turn of the century, the Mets appeared to be a playoff team. Omar Minaya, eager to make a good first impression as the new general manager, grabbed headlines by adding big name veterans Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.

There were few headlines, however, for the Korean left-hander they signed on January 8, 2005. Minaya did his best to drum up the signing of reliever Dae-Sung Koo by citing his success in Japan and the Olympics in a press conference. Still, few fans were focused on the 35-year-old rookie. He only made 33 appearances for the Mets in 2005, and for his major league career, and his statistics were about as pedestrian as the Mets’ record that season. Still, all it took was one of those appearances for Koo to have his name inscribed in the annals of New York history.

Any season the Mets fail to make the playoffs, fans settle for the next best thing: the Subway Series. Call it luck or the pressure of the New York stage, but games between the Mets and the Yankees have a strong propensity to be wacky and wildly fun. From out-less Mariano Rivera blown saves to predictable Luis Castillo miscues, these rivalry games can often be just as exciting as playoff matches, and it was on this unique stage that Dae-Sung Koo made a name for himself.

Koo was called on to set aside the Yankees in the seventh inning in relief of Kris Benson, and swiftly set down the Yankee hitters he faced in order. The story could have easily ended there. For a pitcher who likely dreamed of tossing in the big leagues, making the Yankee lineup look like a pack of minor leaguers in New York is a good day. Fans would have spoken positively the next day of Koo’s performance, and the Mets probably still would have won handily.

But Willie Randolph was determined to make questionable managerial decisions. And when Willie Randolph wants to make a questionable decision, he does it. Instead of taking Koo out, putting in a pinch hitter, and letting Roberto Hernandez take the entirety of the eighth inning, Randolph elected to keep Koo in the lineup for the sake of facing a hitter in the eighth.

It wasn’t the first time Randolph let Koo hit. Just a week before, Koo was called upon to step up to the plate against Reds setup man Todd Coffey. He watched three fastballs cruise over the plate for a backwards K. Of course, that time it was a blowout victory for the Mets and Randolph wanted to preserve his bullpen instead of trying to scrape out a 10th run to embarrass the Reds.

This time, however, was different. It was a 2-0 ballgame. The Mets had already used Cliff Floyd and Doug Mientkiewicz off the bench, but Marlon Anderson and Eric Valent were readily available, and Koo’s spot was set to lead off the inning against Randy Johnson. Although hindsight tells us this was accidentally one of Randolph’s greatest decisions, leaving Koo in just didn’t make much sense. Below, we see Koo stepping up to bat. A blank expression on his face, he timidly enters a mild squat reasonably far from the dish. It’s plain to see that Koo does not quite look at home, and Joe Buck immediately points this out. Tim McCarver replies, “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that thus far in this young season, this is the biggest give up at-bat,” and then…

As if to affirm to the entire baseball-watching world that McCarver is full of it, Koo took a lame duck fastball and drilled it to the center field wall. It was the first swing of his career; the first time the bat left his shoulder since high school, and he gave that ball a ride. Koo cruised into second base with a double. Birds everywhere chirped with glee, and along with them chirped David Wright:

But Koo was not done. Most pitchers would have jumped for joy at such a momentous feat, but the blank expression on his face as he stood on second base told it all: Koo’s job was not done until he touched home plate, and boy did he.

For whatever reason, with the pitcher on second and nobody out, Jose Reyes was told to lay down a sac bunt, and he did with ease. But this bunt was a special one. Instead of letting his pitcher take care of fielding the bunt and throwing Reyes out, Posada, knowing Reyes’s speed, elected to vacate home plate and dispose of Reyes before he became an issue. But it was not Reyes he should have been worried about.

In a show of heads up baserunning, Koo saw that home plate was empty, and he immediately bolted for the vacant dish. Jorge Posada, lunging to protect both the plate and his integrity, was able to put a tag on Koo, but was too late. The Mets’ 35-year-old rookie reliever had gone from second to home on a bunt and had completed one of the best trips around the bases in Mets history. Perhaps it was the success of the questionable bullpen management and bunting on this particular day that later inspired Jerryball, as then-bench coach Jerry Manuel was most certainly present and taking notes.

Koo’s wild ride around the basepaths is almost nine years old now, although to most Met fans it feels like yesterday. The beauty of that day is timeless and was also very much indicative of how the 2005 season would play out. When all was said and done, the Mets finished 83-79, tied for third place with the Marlins and only a few games out of last place in the division. Still, 2005 may be one of the best Mets seasons in recent memory. Besides the joy being even remotely in Wild Card contention, the 2005 New York Mets team was a pleasure to watch. The team had personality, played solid baseball, and had good young talent. It was a season of theatrics, and at the center of it all was Dae Sung Koo’s trip around the bases.

Koo never stepped to the plate again in 2005, and was out of major league baseball before 2006. To this day, he owns a .500 career batting average, with a double and a strikeout. Against Cy Young winners, however, his average will forever remain 1.000. Step aside, Joe McEwing.

Calvin Schiraldi Jersey

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If Calvin Schiraldi had never been called upon to pitch in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, we might think of his career in baseball as a story of encountering and overcoming adversity — a series of comebacks. But Red Sox manager John McNamara did call Schiraldi in from the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth. And his name became synonymous with crumbling under pressure.

A hard-throwing right-handed pitcher since high school, Schiraldi spent eight years in the majors with six different teams between 1984 and 1991. He never again reached the level of performance he had in 1986, when he emerged from Triple-A Pawtucket to become the Red Sox’ closer. His combined won-lost record for the two teams was 8-5 as he earned 21 saves and 114 strikeouts in 95 innings with a 2.08 ERA.

Calvin Drew Schiraldi was born on June 16, 1962, in Houston, Texas, and grew up playing baseball in and around Austin — establishing himself early as a strong pitcher. “He always threw hard,” his father, Joe, told a reporter when recounting the story of Calvin’s path from the backyard to the big league. 1 Joe had been a talented college athlete himself — attending Texas A&M in the early 1950s on a basketball and track scholarship before the army and working in the office products business for Remington Rand and G&LVBJ Co. Calvin’s mother, Ramona (Powell), attended Baylor University and was a secretary and a teacher aide while raising Calvin and his sister, Rhonda. Both parents watched as Calvin helped pitch his Babe Ruth team into the state championship. Starting in his junior year at Austin’s Westlake High School, Schiraldi was being watched and followed by major-league scouts.

In June of his senior year, the 6-foot-4 Schiraldi was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 17th round of the 1980 amateur draft. Two days later, he pitched the game that earned Westlake the AAA state championship, defeating the defending champion DeSoto in a three-hour game. Schiraldi ended the game with a gutsy called strike on a 0-and-2 count to win 11-10. He was named to the All-State AAA team and chose to attend the University of Texas instead of signing with the White Sox.

At Texas Schiraldi joined future Red Sox teammates Roger Clemens and Spike Owen as the Longhorns won the 1981 Southwest Conference title and made it to the College World Series, only to be eliminated by top-ranked Arizona State. Schiraldi pitched in several games that freshman year, as did Clemens, but neither pitched during the College World Series.

The following season, Schiraldi saw much more action, amassing a 13-2 record with a 3.23 ERA as the Longhorns returned to Omaha for the 1982 CWS. This time the team’s 57 wins and 4 losses earned its place as the top-ranked entrant. Schiraldi took the mound in the semifinal against Wichita State on June 11, 1982. After gaining a 2-1 lead in the first inning, the Longhorns looked as though they might repeat the two wins they’d had over Wichita State during the regular season. But in the top of the second inning, Schiraldi accidentally hit Wichita State outfielder Kevin Penner just below the left eye with a 90-mph fastball, fracturing four bones and knocking him unconscious. Some accounts of the game noted that Penner lay in the batter’s box for 10 minutes while awaiting an ambulance.

After Penner was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was reportedly in a coma for two days, Wichita scored six runs in the next inning as Schiraldi alternated between walking batters and giving up hits. Wichita eventually eliminated Texas in an 8-4 victory that Longhorns coach Cliff Gustafson attributed in large measure to Penner’s injury.

“It’s very difficult for you to see something like that happen — be afraid a guy is seriously injured, and go on the mound and concentrate like you need to. I think it was a big factor,” Gustafson told reporters.

In later interviews Schiraldi revealed how much it had rattled him. He told Michael Kelly of the Omaha World Herald, “It bothered me the whole rest of the summer. Just thinking that you might have injured a player like that…I was terrible over the summer: 4-6 with a 7.00 ERA. I didn’t feel like I wanted to throw any more. Mentally, it affected me.” 3 The following year, there was much talk about whether Schiraldi would rebound and whether Penner would ever play again. The tone was nearly identical to discussions after the 1986 World Series.

But in 1983 both men overcame the setback in dramatic fashion. After multiple surgeries and a long recovery, and with the aid of a special face mask on his batting helmet, Penner led Wichita State in hitting with a .437 average. He was named to the US Pan-American Games baseball team. Schiraldi came back stronger than ever, with a 12-2 record, 1.86 ERA, and 101 strikeouts going into the 1983 CWS. Schiraldi stopped James Madison 12-0 on five hits in the tournament opener, then led the team to a 10-inning victory over Alabama, striking out 11 Alabama batters in 5⅓ innings of relief. Clemens won the final game, but Schiraldi’s 2-0, 0.63 ERA performance earned him a place on the All- Tournament Team and the series’ Most Outstanding Player title. More than 30 years later, with years in the major and minor leagues behind him, Schiraldi still pointed to the 1983 College World Series victory as his favorite moment as a player.

A few days after the victory, the New York Mets’ director of player personnel, Lou Gorman, signed Schiraldi, whom he’d picked in the first round of the free-agent draft earlier that month. Gorman, for whom Schiraldi would later play in Boston, left for the Mets at the start of the season and Schiraldi was assigned to the Mets’ Lynchburg team in the Carolina League, where he had six starts before being promoted to the Double-A Texas League team in Jackson, Mississippi, where he went 3-3 in seven games, with a 5.82 ERA.

In 1984, his first full professional year, Schiraldi was once again an all-star pitcher. Again with Jackson, he went 14-3 and was voted the league’s most valuable pitcher. Promoted to the Tidewater Tides of the Triple-A International League, he went 3-1 before being called up to the Mets in late August. On September 1, 1984, Schiraldi made his major-league debut as the starting pitcher in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader against the San Diego Padres. He lasted just 10 outs, allowing eight hits and five runs. He pitched 14 more innings in four games that month, earning two losses and a 5.71 ERA.

After 1985 spring training, the Mets sent Schiraldi to Tidewater, only to call him back two weeks later to start against the Cardinals in St. Louis. He pitched a six-hitter through six innings until being relieved by Roger McDowell and earned his first major-league victory. Then he pitched 7⅔ innings in three games before an infield hit by the Atlanta Braves’ Claudell Washington broke his toe. Schiraldi went on the disabled list, came back in June and pitched in five games, including a hammering at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies in which he Schiraldi gave up 10 hits and 10 runs in an inning and a third. He was sent back to Tidewater and recalled again in September. He pitched part of an inning against the Expos to finish the year 2-1 with an 8.89 ERA in 10 games (four starts) with the Mets. He posted a 4-5 record, 3.50 ERA in 17 starts with Tidewater.

“I didn’t throw the ball that badly or pitch as poorly as it looked,” Schiraldi later told Peter Gammons of the Boston Globe. “It was a combination of a lot of things, some of it bad luck; that can happen in four starts. Then when I started to throw the ball well, I got sent down, got down on myself and had what I consider a poor year.”

While on his honeymoon in Bermuda with his wife, Debra, in November, Schiraldi heard of his trade to Boston. Schiraldi, relief pitcher Wes Gardner, and outfielders John Christensen and La Schelle Tarver were traded for Boston’s veteran pitcher Bobby Ojeda and three minor-league prospects. Everyone had high hopes for Schiraldi, including Roger Clemens, manager John McNamara, and general manager Lou Gorman. Alan Simpson, editor of Baseball America, saw the possibility that Schiraldi could become a dominant pitcher in the American League. Comparing him to Clemens, Simpson said, “When both came out of University of Texas, I thought Calvin was the better prospect.”

But at the end of 1986 spring training, there was talkof a lack of confidence. Maybe a change of scenery wasn’t doing him any good. He had a 14.54 ERA. He was switched to relief. His father told a reporter later that Calvin had called him upset about the change. His arm was sore. In mid-March, in a particularly bad outing against the Mets in St. Petersburg, he’d allowed six hits and six runs in two innings of relief. And yet he’d struck out three batters. Manager McNamara said. “Schiraldi had good stuff, threw hard, but did not make good pitches and that’s the second time that’s happened.” 6

Schiraldi was sent to the team’s International League outpost in Pawtucket. He soon settled into the relief role and earned 12 saves in 31 games with a 2.86 ERA. “Mainly, I was trying to get people out any way I could,” Schiraldi told a reporter. “It just so happens my fastball came around, and that’s what was doing it.”

When middle reliever Sammy Stewart went on the Red Sox injured list in late July, the team brought Schiraldi up. In his first outing, on July 20 in Seattle, he worked 2⅓ innings, giving up one run on three hits, with a walk and three strikeouts. Then on August 3, Schiraldi was sent out to face the Royals in a two-on, none-out jam in the ninth with the Red Sox leading, 5-3. Schiraldi ended in the game in 13 pitches — striking out Frank White and Steve Balboni and getting Mike Kingery to ground out on one pitch. It was his first save and, as the next eight weeks unfolded, the name “savior” was thrown around. In the next two months, Schiraldi earned a win or a save in 12 of 13 save opportunities. He finished the season with a 1.41 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 51 innings.

“He certainly came in here like someone who knew what he had to do,” Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. “But the key to getting any type of confidence up here is to have some kind of success. By now, any questions or doubts Calvin may have had have obviously been relinquished.”

Schiraldi’s oscillations between setback and recovery shifted closer together when Boston entered the playoffs. Game Three on October 10 found the Angels and Red Sox tied with a victory each in the American League Championship Series. Oil Can Boyd had started the game and in the bottom of the eighth, when Schiraldi was called in to make his first postseason appearance, the Angels led 4-3. A walk, an error by Wade Boggs, and Ruppert Jones’s sacrifice fly helped Reggie Jackson add another run and the Red Sox lost the game, 5-3.

The next day McNamara put in Schiraldi to relieve Clemens in the bottom of the ninth after a leadoff homer by Doug DeCinces and a pair of one-out singles by Dick Schofield and Bob Boone. The Red Sox led, 3-1. Gary Pettis hit a double into left field, sending Schofield home. He then walked Jones, struck out Bobby Grich, and hit Brian Downing with a 1-and-2 curveball to force in the tying run. The game went into extra innings and Schiraldi lost the game in the 11th on two singles, an intentional walk, and a sacrifice bunt. Schiraldi cried in the dugout, shielded by a towel and his teammates.

Schiraldi was called upon again in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Five. He was pitching for the third straight day, something he hadn’t done during the regular season, and facing the top of the Angels’ batting order. He struck out Rob Wilfong and Dick Schofield, then Downing went out on a foul caught by first baseman Dave Stapleton. The Red Sox won 7-6 and Schiraldi got the save. The Boston Globe’s Shaughnessy wrote the next day: “Imagine. Eighteen hours after he’d been enshrined in the Jim Burton/Bucky Dent Red Sox Hall of Shame, Schiraldi was in the middle of a postgame celebration. They never had time to get Schiraldi’s hat size. The goat horns didn’t fit.”

Schiraldi avoided the metaphorical haberdashers again as he made his next playoff appearance. In Game One of the World Series, he replaced Bruce Hurst in the bottom of the ninth. After a walk to Darryl Strawberry, a groundout, and a flyout, Schiraldi sealed the 1-0 victory (and earned a save) by striking out pinch-hitter Danny Heep. “Right now it feels great,” he told reporters. “I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t won the AL championship. I would have kinda felt it was my fault if we hadn’t. Now we’re in the Series and I’ve got a job to do — I just want to do the job.”

Schiraldi wasn’t called on again to do his job until the now infamous Game Six at Shea Stadium on October 25. He entered in the bottom of the eighth after Roger Clemens was pulled for pinch-hitter Mike Greenwell. The Red Sox were leading 3-2. A single, two bunts, and an intentional walk later, Gary Carter’s sacrifice fly sent Lee Mazzilli home. Darryl Strawberry flied out to end the inning, but the score was now tied, 3-3. Schiraldi held the Mets in the ninth and in the top of the 10th the Sox got two runs. In the bottom of the 10th Schiraldi took the mound. Leadoff hitter Wally Backman flied out to left, and Keith Hernandez flied out to center. Schiraldi was one out away from what would have been the first World Series title for the Red Sox since 1918. Then he allowed three straight singles to Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight. He was replaced by Bob Stanley, who threw a wild pitch, which allowed Mitchell to score the tying run. Mookie Wilson followed by hitting a groundball that rolled between the legs of Bill Buckner, scoring Knight and giving the Mets the win and forcing a seventh game.

Game Six has been the subject of so much attention and consternation, it is almost easy to forget that the Red Sox also lost the next game. And Schiraldi had a hand in that, too. After a rainout on Sunday, the teams met at Shea Stadium on Monday, October 27. Bruce Hurst, who was 2-0 in the Series, was the starter. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the game tied, 3-3, Schiraldi took to the mound and again faced Knight, one of the heroes of Game Six. Knight hit a home run on a 2-and-1 pitch. Schiraldi then allowed Lenny Dykstra a single and threw a wild pitch to Rafael Santana before Santana singled and Dykstra scored. Mets pitcher McDowell bunted Santana to second and Schiraldi was pulled from the game. The Sox went on to lose 8-5 and Schiraldi was again charged with the loss.

Schiraldi was understandably crestfallen. “I feel responsible for what happened,” he told reporters. “I am responsible for what happened. I ought to feel like this.”

Schiraldi returned as the short reliever on the 1987 roster. At spring training in Winter Haven, Florida, he told reporters the same thing he has been saying for three decades since. “I was probably more relaxed in the seventh game than in any other game. I didn’t feel nervous. I was ready to pitch. Things just didn’t work out.” 12 He was, more or less, getting on with his life. The press had a harder time letting go than Schiraldi seemed to.

After an injury in May Schiraldi had an inconsistent season as he tried to bring some variety to accompany his still-strong fastball. His performance was 8-5 with six saves and a 4.41 earned-run average. He gave up 15 home runs in 83⅔ innings. In December 1987 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with starter Al Nipper for Cubs closer Lee Smith. At the time (and later) Schiraldi said he was a little surprised at the change, but happy to have an opportunity to be a starter again.

Cubs manager Don Zimmer knew the transition back to starter would be tough for Schiraldi, but he and pitching coach Dick Pole gave him time in 1988 to develop additional pitches, including a forkball he had picked up in a brief stint in the Instructional League at the end of the season. Schiraldi had a 9-13 record with a 4.38 earned-run average and finished only two of 27 starts. But during spring training in 1989, both the Cubs and Schiraldi expected improvement as he returned to the bullpen as a short reliever.

By mid-June the Cubs were in first place in the NL East, but Schiraldi’s performance was plagued by tendinitis in the shoulder and a sore elbow, for which he received cortisone shots. Zimmer seemed to be growing impatient — after a 10-7 loss to St Louis in mid-June he told reporters, “All I wanted was six outs from Calvin Schiraldi, but I didn’t get ’em.” It was tendinitis again — this time his triceps — and Schiraldi was forced to sit out several games.

In July Donnie Moore, the Angels reliever who couldn’t get the final out in Game Five of the 1986 ALCS, shot and seriously wounded his wife, then committed suicide in front of his children. At the time, pundits — and even other players — attributed Moore’s actions to never having gotten over that failure in the ALCS. There was ample evidence of Moore’s long-standing history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence predating 1986. But a myth was born. It had to have been frustrating to Schiraldi to have his name raised in news accounts of Moore’s death, not just because he got the save in that game, but because of the growing belief that Schiraldi was doomed to struggle with his own loss to “get over.” Some journalists almost seemed to be insinuating that perhaps he too should be on a watch list.

At the end of August, Schiraldi was 3-6 with four saves and a 3.78 ERA in 54 relief appearances. The Cubs were headed toward the playoffs, but minutes before the postseason deadline, the Cubs traded Schiraldi to the Padres along with outfielder Darrin Jackson and a minor-league player to be named later for outfielder Marvell Wynne and Luis Salazar. (The Cubs finished first in the NL East, and lost to San Francisco in the NLCS.)

Schiraldi’s arm continued to give him trouble in San Diego — a strained forearm forced him to leave a late- September game against the San Francisco Giants. But a few days later, on September 23, Schiraldi hit a three-run homer off Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was Schiraldi’s first major-league home run (one of two in his career). Schiraldi made four starts with the Padres in 1989, going 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA.

In February 1990 Schiraldi signed a one year, $600,000 deal with Padres — the most he’d made in a season. That same month Lou Gorman was asked if he’d trade Lee Smith for Schiraldi and he paused and said he’d have to “consider it.”

Schiraldi was the steady middle reliever until Andy Benes went out with a sore should in late July. Starting the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on July 25, he gave up two runs on five hits in six innings. But out of the bullpen, by August 6 he had let his last 16 inherited runners score. A rumor again circulated that the Sox were interested in getting Schiraldi back in Boston, but Gorman put it to rest, telling reporters, “We have absolutely no interest in Schiraldi.”

Schiraldi ended the year with a 3-8 record, one save, and a 4.41 ERA. In January 1991 he signed again for one year with the Padres. The new general manager was Schiraldi’s old booster Joe McIlvaine, the Mets’ former assistant GM. McIlvaine had been the scouting director in 1983 and had persuaded Gorman to sign him. Former Red Sox teammate Marty Barrett was also new to the team, having been released by Boston during the offseason. The reunion would be short-lived. Schiraldi blew a 6-1 lead in preseason play against San Francisco, and McIlvaine told reporters, “A major-league pitcher just doesn’t blow five-run leads.”

The team waived Schiraldi before the season began. He would have been paid $740,000, but instead got $185,000 for not playing. He signed with the Houston Astros and was sent to their Triple-A team, the Tucson Toros of the Pacific Coast League, with whom he went 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 games before being dealt to Texas Rangers just after his 29th birthday in June, for a player to be named later. He pitched 4⅔ innings in three games for the Rangers and in 18 games for their Oklahoma City 89ers, before being released on waivers on July 8.

Schiraldi spent 1992 trying to get his arm back in shape, but when he threw for a scout and struggled, he knew it wasn’t to be. He went back to University of Texas to study and prepare for a coaching career. His mother told a reporter, “He always said, even when he was younger, that what he really wanted to do was coach.” Schiraldi started as a volunteer assistant at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Austin and as of 2015 had been the head coach there since 1997. His teams as of 2015 had earned two state championships, seven district championships, and consecutive regional finals appearances.

In 2006 Lou Gorman and Bob Stanley were asked to compare another strong young Red Sox rookie reliever, Jonathan Papelbon, to Calvin Schiraldi and Roger Clemens. Both saw him as more reminiscent of Clemens. Stanley said that Schiraldi “went down the tubes” after the 1986 World Series loss. “I don’t think he was ever the same,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches.”

Gorman did not pin the gradual decline to that one game. He echoed his own assessment from his own 2005 memoir. Of Schiraldi he’d written: “[T]he one factor that kept coming to mind was his lack of intensity.” He said of Clemens: “You had the feeling he would knock down his mother if it was necessary to win. With Schiraldi, I never had that feeling.”

On the 25th anniversary of the 1986 World Series, Keith Olbermann wrote of Schiraldi’s graceful demeanor and of his work with young players: “Schiraldi has had an impact that merely getting the last out could never have afforded him.”20

Calvin and Debra had two children, a daughter, Samantha, and a son, Lukas, whom he coached at St. Michael’s. Lukas was a star high-school pitcher, like his father. He was an All-American at Navarro College and was drafted by the Washington Nationals, but also decided to go to the University of Texas instead. In 2015 he was with the Seattle Mariners’ Double-A team in Clinton, Iowa.

Al Weis Jersey

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The World Series is at its best when an unsung hero steps from the shadows to lead his team to victory.

Look no further than second baseman Al Weis of the 1969 Miracle Mets to find one of the most improbable World Series heroes of all time.

Weis hit two home runs all season, had seven regular-season home runs for his 10-year career, but blasted the game-tying home run in Game 5 at Shea Stadium and batted .455 with a 1.290 OPS against the Orioles to solidify his spot in baseball lore as the Mets won their first World Series, four games to one.

That was his only home run ever hit at Shea Stadium.

The Mets will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that Amazin’ team next season, and for Weis, 80, the journey has come full circle.

“I hit two home runs that year against the Cubs at Wrigley Field which were pretty important home runs, too,’’ Weis told The Post. “But I did hit my home runs off some pretty good pitchers. I hit one off Steve Carlton. I hit one off Dave McNally. But that day was kind of special for me because it was my son’s birthday He was 6 years old that day we won the World Series. That sticks in my mind vividly.’’

Daniel Weis is now 55.

There have been so many blessings in Weis’ life, but there have been challenges, too. His wife Barbara recently suffered a stroke. Daniel just took early retirement, will sell his condo so he can move in with his father to help care for his mother. Al and Barbara have been married 56 years.

“She needs a lot of care,’’ said Al, who came up to the majors with the White Sox in 1962 and still lives in Chicago. “Daniel is such a big help. He’s an excellent cook, does all the cooking at night and I do all the dishes. We work out pretty good as a team. It takes a big effort. Barbara can’t walk, she can’t take care of herself. We also have a caretaker come in. With stroke victims, they say it could last a year or three years before you get recovery, so we are hoping for the best.’’

That Oct. 16 the home run came off McNally to lead off the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 3-3. Ron Swoboda doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth, then scored on an error, and Jerry Koosman finished off the complete-game 5-3 victory as Shea Stadium exploded in joy.

“I wasn’t supposed to hit home runs, and I was very fortunate to play in the World Series,’’ Weis said. “Our manager, Gil Hodges, used a platoon system. I played against left-handed pitchers and Ken Boswell played against right-handed pitchers. Baltimore had two left-handed pitchers, Mike Cuellar and McNally, so I got to start four games of the World Series. It could have been the other way around.

“I’m a lifetime .215-.220 hitter, so I give Gil a lot of credit letting me hit in that situation, down one in the seventh. That gives you confidence. McNally threw me a high fastball and I hit it and it went into a section they just built for the World Series for veterans and a veteran got the ball and he turned it in to Joe Pignatano, our bullpen coach, and he gave him an autographed baseball. I still have that baseball.

“I got lucky,’’ Weis said of his World Series magic. “If you have a bat in your hand and you swing it, you’re liable to hit the ball.

“I was born and raised in New York, and my mom and dad were at the game, my sisters were at the game, it was a good feeling to do something like that in front of your family.

“It’s funny, I played five years with the White Sox and when I got the call after the 1967 season that I was traded to the Mets, that was a down day, getting traded from a pennant-contending club, the White Sox, to a last-place club, the Mets.

“You never know, ’68 was my first year there and we won it all the next year so it turned out to be a good trade after all.’’

Miracles happen in baseball and life.

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Kevin Mitchell is a graduate of the Genetics Department, Trinity College Dublin (B.A., Mod. 1991) and received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley (1997), where he studied nervous system development with Prof. Corey Goodman. He did postdoctoral research with Prof. Marc Tessier-Lavigne at Stanford University, using molecular genetics to study neural development in the mouse. Since 2002 he has been on the faculty at Trinity College Dublin as a Science Foundation Ireland Investigator and now as Associate Professor in Genetics and Neuroscience. He was an EMBO Young Investigator and was elected to Fellowship of Trinity College in 2009.

He is Associate Director of Undergraduate Science Education at Trinity College Dublin and is currently leading a re-imagining of the TCD science courses. This aims to rationalise and modernise the curriculum, introduce greater flexibility and breadth while maintaining a strong programmatic focus, and facilitate effective innovation in delivery and assessment methods.

His research interests are in understanding the genetic program specifying the wiring of the brain and its relevance to variation in human faculties, especially to psychiatric and neurological disease. He is particularly interested in schizophrenia, autism and synaesthesia. His group has discovered numerous genes involved in specifying neuronal connectivity in the developing brain and shown that mutations in such genes in mice can lead to neurological and behavioural symptoms, modelling aspects of epilepsy, psychosis and ADHD. His cross-disciplinary work on synaesthesia has helped shape the understanding of the genetic, developmental and neural basis of this unique perceptual condition. He is also a leading scholar in the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders, having made numerous theoretical contributions and recently edited a book on the subject.

The over-arching goal of his work is to help develop and promote a coherent conceptual framework in which to integrate findings from diverse fields, particularly genetics, developmental biology and neuroscience. This strategy is manifested in his cross-disciplinary experimental research and scholarship, as described above, but also in his teaching, conference organising, blogging, editing and other writing.

He has developed multiple courses in the emerging, integrative field of Neurogenetics, delivered to undergraduates in both Genetics and Neuroscience at TCD.

He is the lead organiser of the inter-disciplinary and international Wiring the Brain conference, held in 2009 and 2011 in Ireland and from 2013 onwards, every two years, as an on-going series at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York.

He is an active communicator on Twitter (@WiringtheBrain) and writes a popular blog on the intersection of genetics, development, neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry (http://www.wiringthebrain.com). He also regularly gives public lectures and media interviews on diverse topics, with the goal of promoting public understanding of neuroscience and genetics.

He is currently working on a book entitled “Born that Way; how the wiring of our brains makes us all unique”, which will be published by Princeton University Press (contracted for delivery in June 2017). It will provide an integrative conceptual framework in which to consider the origins of variation in human faculties, through a novel synthesis of findings from behavioural genetics, developmental neurobiology, neuroscience and psychology.

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Jose Reyes isn’t playing baseball right now. But he hopes he isn’t done with baseball, even if it looks as if baseball may be done with him.

The former Mets shortstop is a 35-year-old free agent coming off a 2018 season with the Mets during which he hit .189. He also has a 2016 suspension for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy on his record, which even Reyes admits could scare some teams off.

On the plus side of his resume, Reyes has 2,138 career hits, can play multiple positions and is thought of as a positive locker-room presence. The Mets, in particular, credit Reyes for mentoring shortstop Amed Rosario during the youngster’s indoctrination into the big leagues.

Reyes, in a telephone interview with Newsday on Thursday, said he still works out regularly at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City and is ready if the phone rings.

“I still do everything – baseball activities,” Reyes said. “I’m working out and doing my running, fielding, hitting, everything, so I’m ready. If somebody calls right now, I’m ready to go.”

And if nobody calls? Is Reyes ready for his 16-year big-league career to be over?

“I don’t get to that point yet, to think about that,” he said. “[But] it’s going through my mind because it’s going to be tough if I don’t play this year. Like somebody’s going to sign me next year if I don’t play for a year? I understand. I know what I’ve got in my head right now. After [16] years in the big leagues, that’s a long career, you know? I can’t complain.”

If Reyes’ career doesn’t continue, he will finish with a .283 batting average, 131 triples, 145 home runs and 517 stolen bases. He was a four-time All-Star (all with the Mets) and earned more than $140 million.

He is the Mets’ all-time leader in triples and stolen bases and is second to David Wright in at-bats (5,437) and hits (1,534), among other spots on the franchise leaderboard. His final appearance in a Mets uniform came last Sept. 30, one day after they played side-by-side in Wright’s memorable farewell game.

“That’s my second family,” Reyes said of the Mets.

So much so that Reyes said he still watches their games and, just this Wednesday, picked up something on TV that Rosario is doing wrong defensively that is contributing to a streak in which the shortstop has made seven errors in a six-game span.

“I was about to call him,” Reyes said. “At some point, I’m going to reach out to him and tell him something I saw. He’ll be fine, though.”

Reyes’ longtime agent, Chris Leible, said he hasn’t given up hope of getting Reyes a job this season.

“If someone calls, he’s going to be on the first plane,” Leible said. “I think there’s a chance. We’ve just got to find the right opportunity. He’s gotten close a few times. It hasn’t happened yet. My selling point when I’m talking to teams is there’s really no risk on their part. Just bring him in, give him a chance and see what he can do. I know his play will speak for itself.”

Reyes said he isn’t considering signing with an independent league team such as the nearby Long Island Ducks, who are managed by former Met Wally Backman and have former Mets Kirk Nieuwenheis and Matt den Dekker on the roster for the season that begins Friday.

“That’s not in my mind right now,” Reyes said, laughing. “No.”

For now, Reyes is pursuing another longtime passion – music. He has a song and video out and recently played as part of a concert at Newark’s Prudential Center.

“I have to have something when I retire, you know?” Reyes said.

But he’s not retired.

“Not yet,” Reyes said. “Not yet.”