There have been a number of players in New York Mets history who have come to the organization and have just not done all that well. Fans jump all over them, of course. And then you have players who begin their Mets career, do well for a period, and then, something happens and regardless of how much Mets fans may have cheered them for a time, they suddenly target them with venom…ready to throw them under the 7 train.
There are three Mets who were actually welcomed by Mets fans, even glorified for a time, only to grow frustrated with not only their performances, but also their antics, and grow tired of their presence. Eventually, they would be forced to look elsewhere to ply their trade.
1) Gregg Jefferies
Jefferies was on the cover of many sports magazines in the United States…before he even reached the Major Leagues, having been named Minor League Player of the Year two years in a row by Baseball America. He was a unique player whose reputation preceded him because of his hugely-publicized training instituted by his very demanding father – swinging a bat under water.
What happened to Jefferies was unfortunate. Because while he, himself, would tell you that he was disappointed in his career, when you take a look at what he actually did, it ain’t that bad.
Most unfortunate is that he came along at the wrong time. Sometimes it’s wrong when the team is awful. Ed Kranepool found that out. And sometimes it’s wrong when the team is good. And Jefferies found THAT out. Because he came along at the height of the Mets rise to the top of the baseball world and winning the 1986 World Series.
Those Mets were already brash and cocky. And there was no room for Jefferies’ brashness and cockiness. And no position for him to play. So when the Mets got rid of the popular Wally Backman to make room for Jefferies in the everyday lineup, his teammates made him suffer. And his performance suffered. And then…he suffered the effects of the disdain of Mets fans.
It truly was a shame. Jefferies could hit equally good from both sides of the plate. He had a career .289 batting average and never struck out more than 46 times in a season. He walked more times than he struck out, over 100 more times, something you rarely see now. He was a doubles machine…even leading the National League in two base hits in 1990.
But nothing that Jefferies could have done would ever allow him to be loved by Mets fans. But it didn’t end there. An open letter allegedly from Jefferies sent to WFAN radio addressed criticism from, not the fans, but his teammates. There has never been confirmation that the letter was actually penned by Jefferies, and years later, he denied having written it.
Jefferies tenure with the Mets ended soon after, and after a brief stop with the Kansas City Royals, he blossomed into the hitter every Mets fan hoped he would be….with the St. Louis Cardinals where he was a two-time All Star hitting .335 with a .401 OBP, and then with the Philadelphia Phillies.