First off I would love to wish my lovely wife of almost nine years Jeanne a very Happy Birthday.
Okay so when I use the term ” eclectic” when referring to the Mets who comes first and foremost to your mind ? Marv Throneberry? Yes he had his moments. Jimmy Piersall perhaps ? Yes he was quite insane . Oliver Perez ? Don’t even get me started on that headcase !! Well coming in at number 39 on this countdown of the top 50 Mets of all time as voted by you the fans is none other than” Mr. 99 ” himself – Turk Wendell !!!
Turk was born Steven John Wendell in Pittsfield Massachusetts on May 19, 1967 . In1988 during his senior year of attending Quinnipiac College he was selected in the fifth round of the amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves , and was assigned to their Appalachian team , the Pulaski Braves.While in the minors, Wendell earned the reputation of being a workhorse relief pitcher who boasted a repertoire that included a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a slider, and a change-up. Scouts rated Wendell’s control as being above average and his pick-off move as being good.
Turk was trded to the Cubs during the ’91 season and pitched in their minor league system. Turk would make his Major League debut in ’93 but he didn’t pitch all that well , sporting a record of 1-3 with a combined ERA of 7.30 .
In 1997 Turk would be traded to the Mets along with closer, Mel Rojas and outfielder Brian McRae in exchange for outfielder , Lance Johnson , reliever Mark Clark, and infielder Manny Alexander.
Almost immediately upon his arrival Wendell would become a fan favorite. We loved all of his peccadilloes whether it was his necklace made from the teeth of animals he hunted, his jumping over the foul line after the end of a inning and of course his penchant for eating licorice and brushing his teeth when the Mets were at bat. We loved his everyman persona, his off kilter sense of humor, and the fact that he was very outspoken.
One of his weirder moments is when he was a free agent trying to re-sign with the Mets, his love of nines truly came out when he insisted that the total worth of his contract be $9,999,999.99
Wendell’s career with the Mets spanned five seasons His record with the Mets stands at 22-14 with a ERA of 3.34 He appeared in 285 games with the Mets , and even established a Mets season record for games pitched in 1999 when he played in 80 games. That record would be broken in ’04 by Mike Stanton when he appeared in 83, and the recently departed Pedro Feliciano would smash that record last season. Wendell would make the post season twice in his Mets career (’99,’00).
In July of the ’01 season with the Mets out of contention , he along with fellow bull pen mate, Dennis cook would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for crappy starting pitcher, Bruce Chen.
Turk would retire during the ’05 season when he was trying to make a comeback attempt with the Astros. I feel at times that this team needs a player like Turk. I feel that he was the true leader of the bullpen during his tenure here.
Tomorrow’s player that comes in at number 38 is one of those beloved Mets players from the early to mid-’70′s.
And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
Mets utility infielder from ’78-’79, Sergio Ferrer is 60 today (1951) . Sergio was brought over in the trade that saw then third baseman, Roy Staiger shipped to the New York Yankees.
Reserve outfielder from the ’96 season, Kevin Roberson is 43 today (1968) .
New York Mets signed free agent outfielder,Shane Spencer on January 29, 2004.The ex Yankee proved to be a cancer in the clubhouse, starting with a post game brawl at a Port St Lucie pizzeria with fellow Met and ex Yankee teammate Karim Garcia. Even though Spenser played well enough for that bad Mets team, his off field antics could not be ignored and he was released mid season.
And while you keep dreaming up scenarios on how Mark Cuban can buy the Mets , just remember that there are only 62 days left until the Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami And only 69 more days until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn and his army of snow Mo Men are plotting to overthrow the Wilpon regime at Citi Field !!! Good luck on that one Mo !