The Most Obscure Mets Opening Day Starters Since 1980

An article by posted on December 19, 2013

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This Bud’s For You…

Barring injury, 2014 will be the 10th consecutive Opening Day start for David Wright, tying Tom Seaver with 10 consecutive Opening Days (1968-1977 + 1 additional start in 1983) and one short of Bud Harrelson‘s 11 consecutive openers (1967-1977).

While we know the names and histories of the players who played in multiple Opening Days, there were plenty of One Start Wonders who only started one Opening Day as a New York Met.  Since 1980, there have been 55 players who have started one Opening Day.  Some were pretty obsure.  Some are surprising.  There were some players who started just one game at one position, but started other openers at a different position.

Since 1980 (34 seasons), what positions saw the most one-time wonders?

First Base – 5
Second Base – 7
Shortstop – 4
Third Base – 1
Left Field – 3
Center Field – 9
Right Field – 10
Catcher – 6
Pitcher – 10

But who are the most Obscure of the Obscure Mets Opening Day Starters since 1980?  Of the 46 non-pitchers, these 10 players have played the fewest games in a Mets uniform:

10 – Karim Garcia – Karim was the Opening Day Right Fielder in 2004, his only season with the Mets . In 62 games with the team, he hit .234 with 7 HR and 22 RBI.  He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on July 19th, 2004 for relief pitcher Mike DeJean. Karim played parts of 10 seasons in the Majors with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Tigers, Orioles, Indians, Yankees, and Mets.  He appered in 488 MLB games from 1994-2004 and hit .241 with 66 HR and 212 RBI.

9 – Mike Marshall – Mike was the OD First Baseman in 1990, his only season in New York.  In 53 games as a Met, he hit .239 with 6 HR and 27 RBI.  He was traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 27th, 1990 for Paul Williams, Ed Perozo, and Greg Hansell.  Mike played 11 MLB seasons (1981-1991) with the Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, and Angels, appearing in 1035 games and hit .270 with 148 HR and 530 RBI.

7 (tie) – Mike Howard – Mike was the OD Right Fielder in 1983, the same year that Darryl Strawberry was called up.  Mike went 1 for 3 on Opening Day, collecting an RBI Single off Steve Carlton in the bottom of the 7th, driving in Dave Kingman.  His hit on Opening Day off the Hall of Famer was the final hit in the final at bat in the final game of his MLB career.  In 48 MLB games (1981-1983), all with the Mets, he hit .182 with 1 HR and 7 RBI.

7 (tie) – Tony Fernandez – Tony was the Opening Day Shortstop of the 1993 team.  The 5 time All-Star and 4 time Gold Glove winner played in only 48 games for the Mets before being traded to the eventual World Series Champion Blue Jays on July 11, 1993 for Darrin Jackson.  With the Mets, Tony hit .225 with 1 HR and 14 RBI.  In 17 MLB seasons (1983-1995, 1997-1999, 2001) with the Blue Jays, Padres, Mets, and Brewers, he hit .288 with 94 HR, 844 RBI, and 2276 base hits in 2158 career games.

6 – Gary Matthews – Gary was the Opening Day Center Fielder in 2010.  Gary appeared in 38 games with the Mets (36 in 2010), hitting .190 with 0 HR and 1 RBI.  2010 was his second stint with the team, after also appearing in 2 games in 2002.  After being released by the Mets, he signed with the Reds on June 24th, but never returned to the Majors.  Gary played 12 seasons in the bigs (1999-2010) with the Padres, Cubs, Pirates, Mets, Orioles, Rangers, and Angels, playing in 1281 MLB games, batting .257 with 108 HR and 484 RBI.

5 – Mike Jacobs – Mike was the OD First Baseman in 2010 prior to Ike Davis being called up, his second stint with the Mets.  Mike played in 37 career games with the Mets and in 2010 he appeared in just 7 games, hitting .208 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.  In 7 MLB seasons (2005-2010, 2012) with the Mets, Marlins, Royals, and Diamondbacks, he played in 569 games, batting .253 with 100 HR and 312 RBI.

4 – Ricky Gutierrez – Ricky was the 2004 OD Second Baseman who appeared in 24 games with the Mets.  In 2004, he hit .175 with 0 HR and 5 RBI before being released by the Mets on May 25th.  Ricky played 12 seasons in the bigs (1993-2004) with the Padres, Astros, Cubs, Indians, Mets, and Red Sox.  He played in 1119 games, hitting .266 with 38 HR and 357 RBI to go with 967 big league hits.

3 – Collin Cowgill – Collin was the 2013 Opening Day Center Fielder who played 23 games in his Mets career, all in 2013.  He hit .180 with 2 HR and 8 RBI as a Met.  After being designated for assignment on June 25th, he was traded to the Angels for Kyle Johnson.  In 3 MLB seasons (2011-2013) with the Diamondbacks, A’s, Mets, and Angels, Collin has played in 147 games, batting .236 with 6 HR and 34 RBI.

2 – Tim Spehr – Tim was the Mets OD Catcher in 1998, the same season Mike Piazza arrived and was the starter that followed Todd Hundley‘s 6 OD starts behind the plate from 1992-1997.  1998 was Tim’s only season with the team, appearing in 21 games and hitting .137 with 0 HR and 3 RBI.  Tim played 8 seasons in the majors (1991, 1993-1999) with the Royals, Expos, Braves, and Mets.  He played in 363 MLB games, batting .198 with 19 HR and 72 RBI.

And the most Obscure Mets Opening Day Starting Position Player since 1980 is…

1 – Brad Emaus – Brad was the Mets 2011 Opening Day Second Baseman who was acquired in the Rule 5 Draft from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the season.  He won the starting job in Spring Training, but was designated for assignment on April 19th.  He was returned to the Blue Jays on April 21st and traded to the Rockies the following day.  In 2011, Brad appeared in 14 games with the Mets, batting .162 with 0 HR and 1 RBI.  His 14 games with the Mets were his only 14 in the Majors.

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About the Author ()

Roger is a lifelong Mets fan since 1981, now married with kids and still knows that there is no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark with your child. Growing up, he wanted to be either the Second Baseman for the Mets - or their statistician. Follow him at @BigMetsFan1. email me at metsfanontwitter@aol.com

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