There was a nice story in the NY Times by Tyler Kepner this morning about outfielder Mike Baxter who smacked an RBI double with the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth inning, that helped key a dramatic 9-8 walk-off win for the Mets off the bat of Lucas Duda.
Mike Baxter was 14 years old when the Mets reached the National League Championship Series in 1999. He was an infielder then, a Queens native who would star at Archbishop Molloy, and he admired the way Rey Ordonez played shortstop. A left-handed hitter, Baxter loved to watch John Olerud’s swing.
“It was great being a Met fan when I was growing up,” said Baxter, now 26, who helped make it great again in his debut for the team Monday night.
That’s really awesome – the hometown kid comes through in a big way in his very first appearance for the team he grew up rooting for. (I got first dibs on the movie rights!)
Baxter had some friends and family on hand who watched him deliver for the Amazins and fulfill his boyhood dream. ”He’s thrilled to death to be a Met,” Manager Terry Collins said.
“Just to be able to hit in the big leagues again is exciting. Let alone to be with the Mets. That makes it even better. It was great. It was a great moment.”
At the time of his callup from Buffalo, Baxter was hitting .309 in what has been a season marred by injury for him. Ironically, he made his Mets debut against the San Diego Padres - the team that placed him on waivers last month before the Mets claimed him on the advice of Paul DePodesta.
Baxter, who can play first, third and corner outfield, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Last season he had his best season as a professional in AAA Portland hitting .301/.382/.517 with 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases earning a September promotion to the big club.
“It’s always your dream to play in the big leagues as long as you can,” Baxter said. “You learn as you go on you don’t have any control who you play for. When I did get picked up by the Mets, it was really, really exciting.”
The 26-year old was also a local hero before turning pro and starred at Archbishop Molloy in Queens before teaming up with Tampa Bay Rays lefthanded pitcher David Price at Vanderbilt University.
I love stories like this and I hope Baxter continues to do well and fill a vital role with the team. We need all the help we can get right now and Baby Bax gave the Mets a jolt of enthusiasm just when they needed it last night after learning that Reyes and Murphy would both go on the DL before the game.
Now I don’t know if “Baby Bax” is Baxter’s official nickname, but while looking for a video of him this morning, I found this one of him jacking an opposite field homer. In the background you can hear a fan cheering for him and calling him “Baby Bax”.
Baby Bax… It’s kind of catchy!