Through the years the Mets have almost always had good – if not great closers. You had Tug McGraw from the late ’60s to early ’70′s. Then Skip Lockwood would take over until the end of the me decade. He would be supplanted by the tandem of Allan and Reardon. We had Franco fending games for the better part of the decade until Armando Benitez, the man who would be lights out for 99.9 percent of the season – until a crucial game which in that case he would crack under pressure. He would be replaced by Braden Looper for one forgettable season, only to be replaced By Billy Wagner whose mouth showed more life at times than his fastball. He would be replaced by ” The Fighting Venezuelan” Frankie Rodriguez, who probably anchor the bullpen until after the ’12 season.
I know what you are thinking , that I forgot some one ! Some reliever whose outstretched arms after the last out of the ’86 World Series is ingrained into the minds of us Mets faithful. Yes coming in at number 27 on the countdown is none other than Jesse Orosco !!!
Jesse was born in Santa Barbara California on April 21, 1957. When Jesse was 21 , he was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 1978 Major League Baseball Draft. In 1979 Jesse would be traded to the Mets as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Mets fan favorite , Jerry Koosman to the Twins.
Jesse made his Major League debut in April of ’79, as a starter . He was hit hard and was sent to the minor for more seasoning. He would not appear in another Mets game until 1981, after being converted into a reliever. After the trade of Mets closer, Neil Allen , Jesse assumed the closers position.He would end the ’83 season with a record of 13-7, 17 saves and a ERA of 1.47 in 62 games on a poor Mets team. He even made his first all Star team that year, and finished third in the National League Cy Young vote.
In 1984 , Jesse would save 31 games. That was good enough for 3rd best in the National League. He was elected to his second straight All Star team that season.
Things would change in ’85 though. Yes Jesse was still the primary closer for the Mets, but then manager Davey Johnson started to platoon him with right handed rookie reliever, Roger McDowell. That gave the Mets a potent tandem of closers that every team in the National League were afraid to face.
Orosco’s most memorable moments for the Mets definitely came when he saved game six of the ’86 NLCS when he struck out Billy Hatcher to clinch the playoffs , and when he struck out the Red Sox, Marty Barrett to end game 7 of the World Series , which earned him his first World Series ring.
In 1988, Jesse would be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he would earn his second World Series ring. He would only spend one season with the Dodgers before signing with the Cleveland Indians for which he spent three seasons with. Jesse would bounce around the game for the next few seasons, And in 1999 the Mets reacquired him when they traded reliever, Chuck McElroy to the Orioles for Jesse. Jesse would never pitch fo the Mets in the ’00 season , because that March – three months after his New York City reunion, he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals for utility man, Joe McEwing.
Jesse would retire before the start of the ’04 season. At the time of his retirement, Jesse was the last active MLB player from the 1970s. Jesse retired as the all-time record holder for games by a pitcher with 1252. Since his retirement, Jesse has been a fixture at Mets reunions, especially the Shea Stadium closing ceremonies in ’08.
In his eight year career with the Mets , Jesse accumulated a record of 47-47 with 107 saves and a ERA of 2.73 .
Tomorrow we shall reveal the 26th player on this list of the top 50. He was a fixture with the Mets for the better part of a decade.
And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!
Mets spot starter/middle reliever from the ‘inaugural 62 team, Sherman Jones would have been 76 today (1935) .
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
One of the best offensive and defensive outfielders in Mets history, Lenny Dykstra is 48 (1963) . He was brash, he was funny , he was mental and we loved him. It is a shame that he got himself way over his head with his dealings with the stock market. I wish him the best and hope he can get his life back on track.
Mets back up catcher from ’95-’98, Alberto Castillo is 41 (1970) .
Underrated pitcher from the mid ’90′s to the ’00 season, Bobby “Righty” Jones is 41 today (1970) . His definitive Mets moment came during the ’00 NKDS when he one hit the St Louis Cardinals to help the Mets advance to the National League Championship Series.
The New York Mets purchased relief pitcher, Ron Taylor from the Houston Astros on February 10, 1967. After his playing days were over he went back to college and became a doctor. He most recently was the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays.
New York Mets traded catcher, Alex Trevino along with pitchers Greg Harris and Jim Kern to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder, George Foster on February 10, 1982. At first this deal seemed to be a no brainer, but Foster would sign a five year ten million dollar deal ( big money for back then) . He would put up decent power numbers but his less than energetic patrolling of the outfield coupled with his seemingly bad attitude made him extremely unpopular by Mets fans everywhere.
The New York Mets signed faded free agent third baseman / outfielder, Howard Johnson on February 10, 1997. This was a comeback attempt with the team HoJo made his bones with. Sadly he had very little left in the tank and retired a month later.
The Arizona Diamondbacks signed middle reliever, Felix Heredia of the New York Mets as a free agent on February 10, 2006. The Mets obtained him the previous season for rubber armed reliever, Mike Stanton. Heredia would pitch in two games for the Mets in the ’05 season and had a ERA of 0.00. After a week and a half on the team he was never seen in a Mets uniform again.
And while you wish that spring training games would start already, just remember that there are just 50 Sid Fernandez days until the Mets open their 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami, and only 57 more days to go until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn is wondering why Martin Luther King Jr the Third hasn’t called him to be part of the consortium to buy the Mets !!!