The first thing I ever knew about former New York Mets catcher Mackey Sasser was his reputation for not being able to throw a baseball back to the pitcher. I was a little league catcher with a terribly weak arm growing up so I guess some coach at some point thought it could help me to relate.
But Sasser was actually much more than just this. Caused as a result of a collision at the plate, other parts of Sasser’s game never devolved.
All things considered, Mackey Sasser was a pretty good backup catcher for the Mets
Sasser ranks among some of the best backup catchers in Mets history. I know this isn’t exactly a black-tie class of players. Backup catchers don’t always get the babes nor do they get to cut the line at the food court.
First joining the Mets in 1988 just before the season began, Sasser was a more than fine choice to take the load off of an aging Gary Carter. Carter’s decline was in full effect by this season. His .242/.301/.358 batting line and 11 home runs in 503 plate appearances showcase just how far he was sliding toward the end of a Hall of Fame career.
At the plate, Sasser was impactful. He hit .285/.313/.407 in his first year. Always light-hitting, he had only one home run that seasons—the first of his career after only 27 previous plate appearances before landing in New York.
Sasser would hit .291/.361/.407 the next year and add another dinger. In 1990, he got even better. With more playing time to go with it and a career-high 288 trips to the plate, Sasser slashed .307/.344/.426 with 6 home runs in his 100 games played.
In 1002 total plate appearances wearing a Mets helmet Sasser was a .283/.309/.403 hitter. As much as it doesn’t jump out when compared to other players in team history, it was more than acceptable for a number two guy behind the plate.
Years before the Mets could turn to Todd Pratt to give their next Hall of Fame backstop Mike Piazza a day off, they had Sasser. Pratt also had his moments for the Mets, hitting .265/.354/.414 in his 640 opportunities for them in parts of five seasons.
The difference between the two is reputation. Pratt is known for his walk-off home run in the postseason. Sasser, unfortunately, is stuck remembered for something few athletes will ever understand.