As we reach another Father’s Day, let’s take a break from discussing the lack of run support for Johan Santana and the Three Fernandos breakup tour to reflect on a special man in our lives. He is the man who more than likely showed us how to throw our first curveball, took us to our first ballgame and showed us the proper way to order a ballpark hot dog (which I seem to have forgotten once prices passed the $4.00 mark). I’m talking about fathers. As we have had many Father’s Day memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant, the Mets and Major League Baseball have also had a number of noteworthy moments on Father’s Day. Here’s a small sample:
On Father’s Day 2004 (June 20), Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 500th home run of his career at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. At the time, he was the youngest player to reach that milestone. Making it more fitting, Ken Griffey Sr. was in attendance to help celebrate his son’s momentous occasion.
On Father’s Day 1997 (June 15), Major League Baseball instituted its first Home Run Challenge to benefit prostate cancer research. Now in its 13th season, the Home Run Challenge has raised over $30 million in the hopes that a cure can be found for this devastating disease that affects millions of men worldwide. (Note to all men reading this. Please go to your doctors and get checked. Early detection can save your life, enabling you to share many Father’s Day moments with your loved ones.)
In one of the ill-fated trades in Mets history, beloved members of the 1986 World Championship team Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Juan Samuel on Father’s Day 1989 (June 18). Samuel would have a tumultuous time playing centerfield for the Mets during his short stay at Shea and was later traded for another dud, Mike Marshall. Dykstra would become an All-Star in Philadelphia and helped lead the Phillies to the 1993 World Series. McDowell pitched seven more seasons after the trade and would become famous to Seinfeld fans for his role as the man who spit the magic loogie on Kramer and Newman when they confronted Keith Hernandez after a Mets loss. Just as Seaver’s trade is known as the Midnight Massacre, this day should be known as The Day The Hotfoot Died. On a lighter note, sales of Jheri Curl products increased in the New York metropolitan area…by one.
Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a perfect game at Shea Stadium on Father’s Day in 1964 (June 21) when he defeated the Mets by the final score of 6-0. Bunning struck out ten batters en route to becoming the first National League pitcher to pitch a perfect game in the 20th century and the first pitcher in the modern era to throw a no-hitter in both leagues. He pitched his first no-hitter in 1958 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
(Please forgive the abundance of Phillies pictures in this post. It is unintentional and is not meant to dampen your Father’s Day festivities in any way. If so, the photo beneath the next paragraph should bring a smile to your face, especially if you are a long-time Mets fan.)
Ralph Kiner has always been the king of malapropisms. From classic lines such as “if Casey Stengel were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave” and “all of his saves have come in relief appearances”, Ralph has mangled words and phrases with grace and dignity. One of his most famous quotes came on Father’s Day as well, when during a Mets broadcast, he said “on Father’s Day, we again wish you all a happy birthday!”
One final note before you go have a catch with your son or daughter. Mets fans are well aware of the fact that no pitcher in franchise history has pitched a no-hitter. They have had numerous no-hitters pitched against them, including the aforementioned Bunning in 1964. The Mets are not alone in this regard, as they are one of four teams who have never had the thrill of having one of its own pitch a no-hitter. Two of the other three are recent expansion teams (Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies). However, the other team without a no-hitter has also been around since the 1960′s. The San Diego Padres have gone 40 years since their inaugural season in 1969 and have also never had a no-hitter pitched for them. Hmm, Padres. That’s Spanish for Fathers. On that note, I can’t think of a more fitting way to end this than by wishing all you fathers out there a Happy Birthday! (I mean, Father’s Day!)