On April 26, 1988, Keith Hernandez tallied his 1000th career RBI. He did it in style with a huge game for the New York Mets.
When looking back on the great New York Mets of old, a familiar name any fan will no doubt come across is that of Keith Hernandez, who is considered by many to be the standard for first basemen to have donned the orange and blue.
A former NL MVP, 11-time gold glove award winner, 5-time All-Star and Captain of the Mets, baseball historians regard the acquisition of Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983 as one of the turning points for the franchises at the time “losing ways”, and the catalyst that led to their 1986 World Series Championship season.
After joining the Mets in 19383, Hernandez spent the better part of seven years with the club and recorded many career highlights during his time in New York. While never a big power hitter during his career, at the plate, Hernandez was known for his high batting average and ability to put the ball in play, and while he did not hit a lot of home runs, he did consistently drive in runs.
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During the Mets’ April 26th, 1988 game against the Atlanta Braves, Hernandez reached a feat very few players ever do, when he drove in his 1000th career RBI.
Coming into the 1988 season, Hernandez was a 14-year veteran of the major leagues and entered the year with 989 career RBI between his time with the Cardinals and Mets. He had started off the year slowly, as though the first 15 games of the 88 season, he had only recorded 4 RBI and was only batting .158 going into that day’s game in Atlanta against the Braves.
Despite the slow start to the year, Hernandez went into the game batting third in the lineup and went on to have one of his best days at the plate in a Mets uniform.
After lining out to second base in the top of the first inning and popping up to short in the third, Keith stepped up to the plate once again in the fifth inning with Mookie Wilson on second base and hit a home run off of Tom Glavine to tie the game up at 4-4, raising his RBI total to 995.
Keith’s next at-bat in the top of the seventh once again featured Wilson at third base and Tim Teufel at first. Hernandez would hit a ground ball to short and Teufel was called out at second base, but Wilson managed to score from third, which extend the Mets lead to 6-4 on the fielder’s choice. This accounted for Keith’s 996th RBI.
His last at-bat of the game came in the top of the eighth inning. Hernandez walked up to the plate in every hitter’s dream, bases loaded with one out after the reliever had just given up back-to-back walks. Facing off against Charlie Puleo, Hernandez recorded his 1000th career RBI in style, slugging a grand slam to right field to clear the bases and extend the Mets lead to 13-4.
One of the best games of Keith Hernandez’s career, he finished the day going 2 for 5 at the dish with 2 home runs and 7 RBI, reaching his milestone of 1000 RBI and jump-starting himself at the plate for the rest of the 1988 season.
Although the 1988 season is not remembered as fondly as their 1986 team from a few years prior, it did feature a trip to the National League Championship Series that postseason and had several grand moments throughout it, one of which was this great game by Hernandez.
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Despite being towards the end of his career, 1988 saw him and the New York Mets make one last run at a championship and despite coming into the game in a bit of a slump, Hernandez demonstrated to everyone watching that he was still one of the most dangerous players in Mets history to ever stand at the plate.