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New York Mets History

New York Mets: Three past players known for one particular game

NEW YORK - MAY 12: Omir Santos #9 of the New York Mets bats against the Atlanta Braves on May 12, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Braves 4-3 in ten innings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 12: Omir Santos #9 of the New York Mets bats against the Atlanta Braves on May 12, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Braves 4-3 in ten innings. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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New York Mets pitcher FLUSHING, NY – MAY 22: Dae-Sung Koo

These three New York Mets had their fifteen minutes of fame with one very memorable game.

In New York Mets history, there have been players who have gone on to legendary careers, players who unceremoniously fizzled out, and players who made their mark in one particular game.

In the ether of Mets history, even the most disappointing years have produced some truly magical moments, often with an unsung player at the center of the action.

These three players all had varying degrees of playing time and success while in Flushing. They also etched their place in Mets history by coming through with unexpected heroics, all against AL East teams.

Mets with one memorable game – Dae-Sung Koo

The Mets may be known today as having “the best hitting pitchers in the majors” and epitomizing the catchphrase #pitcherswhorake, but back in 2005, this was not the case. Mets pitchers that year batted a combined .142, not exactly #pitcherswhorake material. On May 21, Dae-Sung Koo set all that aside for one moment of glory.

He signed with the Mets in January 2005 at age 35, coming off of a long career pitching for the Korean Baseball Organization and the Japanese Baseball League. Koo began the year strong out of the bullpen, pitching to a 4.09 ERA in March and April. This may not seem impressive for a lefty reliever, but compared to the 10.80 ERA of the Mets’ other lefty reliever at the time, Mike Matthews, it was darn near immaculate.

On May 21, 2005, the Mets faced the Yankees at Shea Stadium. Kris Benson had started the game for the Amazins against the towering southpaw Randy Johnson. In the 7th inning, Mets manager Willie Randolph took Benson out of the game after a leadoff single by Alex Rodriguez. He replaced him with Koo, who retired the next three Yankee hitters.

In the bottom half of the inning, Koo was due to lead off. Instead of pinch-hitting, as one might expect when a reliever has just completed a full inning of work, Randolph let Koo hit for himself. This was just Koo’s second at-bat as a Met; he had struck out on three pitches a few days prior against the Cincinnati Reds, the bat planted firmly on his shoulders.

Today, his fortunes were different. In what might be categorized as “one of the biggest jinxes of all time,” announcer Tim McCarver prefaced Koo’s at-bat against Johnson by emphatically stating, “I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say that this is, thus far in this young season, this is the biggest give-up at-bat.”

Before McCarver even finished dooming Koo’s chances, Koo had swung the bat (gasp!) and smacked a double to right-center field. The Flushing Faithful went wild, yelling “Kooooooo” and cheering for the unlikeliest of base hits. This was Bartolo’s home run before Bartolo’s home run ever happened.

The next batter up, Jose Reyes, dropped down a bunt right in front of home plate. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada fielded it cleanly and threw Reyes out at first base, moving Koo over to third. However, no one was covering home plate. Koo took advantage of the Yankees’ lazy fielding and charged down the third base line, scoring from second on the bunt.

It was the only hit and run scored of his major league career. Koo injured his rotator cuff sliding into home plate on the play and his tenure in Flushing ended just a few weeks later. But his remarkable double against the Big Unit solidified his status as a one-game wonder for the Amazins.

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