An MMO Fan Shot by Michael R. Ebert
Before the days of the Dark Knight, Thor and Captain America, the New York Mets had a different kind of superhero: Super Joe McEwing.
Unlike today’s crop of blue-and-orange heroes, McEwing’s super power was not dominance. In fact, he wasn’t even a starter. Rather, he was a utility man capable of playing almost every position on the diamond – with an energy, hustle, and obvious love for the game that made him a fan favorite.
Interestingly, Super Joe came from the St. Louis Cardinals in a straight-up swap for Jesse Orosco in March 2000, just three months after the Mets had reacquired the legendary reliever from the Baltimore Orioles. It’s been said that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa admired McEwing so much that he requested a pair of his spikes after the trade for display in his office. Talk about high praise.
Being a huge Knicks fan, I initially gravitated towards McEwing simply because his name was similar to my favorite childhood basketball player: Patrick Ewing. It seemed only natural for me to latch on to this “new Ewing” who wore the same colors as Patrick and also played in New York. But, upon watching him on a daily basis, it didn’t take long to form a deeper appreciation for Super Joe. He was enthusiastic and versatile. He was hardworking and fundamentally sound. He was always focused.
Despite being part of the National League Championship team in 2000, it was McEwing’s 2001 season with the Mets that really put him on the map with the Flushing fans. He batted a solid .283 in 116 games off the bench that year, with eight home runs, 30 runs-batted-in, and 41 runs scored.
By the end of that season, I loved McEwing’s scrappiness so much that I requested a McEwing jersey for Christmas and had my parents frame a profile piece written about him by Newsday’s Bob Herzog. I still display the inspirational article in my home today, along with a photocopied version at work.
“I come to the park ready to play,” McEwing said in the story.
“If I’m not in the lineup, I watch everything. I don’t like to miss many pitches. I like to learn. I’m a student of the game.”
He later added, “I try to be ready for that one at-bat, that one defensive play, that one bunt.”
Mets GM Steve Philips said, “He doesn’t have great power. He doesn’t have great speed. But he can help you win every day. He can play once every two weeks or two weeks straight.”
McEwing’s other notable achievements included having a streak of 230 errorless games, which at the time was the longest active streak by any major-league outfielder. He was also known as having uncanny success against one of the best starting pitchers of his era Randy Johnson – even earning the nickname “Little Unit,” which was a play on Johnson’s nickname of “Big Unit.”
Today, Super Joe is the third-base coach for the Chicago White Sox, which I only realized during Monday’s game when Gary Cohen said that he and Robin Ventura on the same coaching staff is like a “1999 Mets reunion.” Of course, Gary was off by one year, but even the best make mistakes.
Still, seeing McEwing again brought back memories. It was he who showed me I can achieve anything with diligence and passion. It was he who showed me the importance of always being ready for the moment.
And it was he who showed me that even average Joes can be superheroes. Thank you, Super Joe.
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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader and author Michael R. Ebert. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.