I just finished all four parts of ESPN’s Once Upon A Time In Queens and really loved it. I’m the kind of guy who will Google everything surrounding a show or movie I’m watching, and so naturally I dug deep into Baseball-Reference while watching the documentary. Here are 8 (in honor of the late great Gary Carter) nerdy baseball stats I liked while watching the show.
- King of New York
Everybody knows about the crazy 24-4, 1.53 ERA season Dwight Gooden had in 1985 when he was 20 years old. Doc led MLB in strikeouts in each of his first two seasons. In his third season (a pedestrian for him 17-6 year where he was 7th in the Cy Young voting), the Mets win it all and then Gooden later wins two more with the Yankees. He’s one of four men to win a title with both the Mets and Yankees. All four men are listed at the end of this post.
Billy Beane is one of my baseball heroes for his work as an executive and his pioneering of data in baseball. As any reader of Moneyball knows, he wasn’t a successful player at the MLB level. He is in the documentary a fair amount for a guy who didn’t play for the Mets in 1986. Beane played in 13 games for the Mets in 1984-85. In his rookie year in 1984 – more or less when the documentary begins – he had exactly one hit for the Mets and was promptly caught stealing by Ozzie Virgil.
- Nobody Pitched More Than Jesse
Scrolling Baseball-Reference, I learned Mets reliever Jesse Orosco (who won Games 4-5-6 of the NLCS that year and saved two games in the 1986 World Series) is the all-time leader in pitching appearances in MLB history with 1,252. Orosco played 24 seasons in four different decades and also made 24 playoff appearances. Weirdly, he was part of a massive three-team, eight-player trade in December 1987 and in 1988 he pitched against the Mets four times to help the Dodgers win the World Series.
- Jesse’s Teammate Range
Jesse Orosco debuted with the Mets in 1979 and was a teammate of Jose Cardenal, who was born in 1943. He finished his career in 2003 with the Twins, where he was a teammate of Justin Morneau – a guy born in 1981.
I hadn’t remembered specifically that Darryl Strawberry won four World Series. But he did! He also drove in exactly 1,000 runs in his 17-year career. He had six RBIs for the Yankees in 1999 to get there. He famously hit two home runs in the 1999 playoffs, part of his nine career playoff home runs (he also hit nine home runs playing for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant). His solo home run in the 1986 Game 7 was his only World Series home run.
6. Mookie Was The One Who Hit The Ball!
In the famous Keith Hernandez story arc on Seinfeld, Jerry gets upset when Elaine dates Hernandez and tells him a story about meeting Mookie Wilson. I know he was the one who hit the ball in Game 6!! But what I learned from Once Upon A Time In Queens about that E3, no RBI was how awesome that at bat was for him. Wilson grinded Boston pitcher Bob Stanley to death in the 10-pitch at bat, fouling off six pitches before putting the famous ball in play.
Lenny Dykstra was an interesting character on the 1986 Mets and those awesome dirtbag Phillies teams of the early 1990s. And, of course, he was proven to be a real-life dirtbag in his post-playing days. I liked learning about Dykstra’s playoff exploits, including his clutch home runs in Games 3 and 4 of the 1986 World Series. Dyksta hit .321 in 32 career playoff games and .320 with an amazing six (!) home runs in 13 career World Series games.
8. Bill Buckner Was Good At Baseball
The most famous goat in baseball history, everyone knows about the ball Mookie Wilson hit that Bill Buckner didn’t catch. When discussing Bill Buckner, I always feel I need to make the point that he was an awesome player for a long time. He played 22 seasons across four decades and racked up 2,715 career base hits. That’s 66th all-time and 13th among players now in the Hall of Fame. He hit .275 or better in 14 different seasons and won a batting title with the Cubs in 1980 (Keith Hernandez, on the Cardinals then, was 2nd in the league). Famous for that one bad play, but he was a Mark Grace-esque player for a long time.
* The three players to win a ring with both the Mets and the Yankees:
Dwight Gooden (player in 1986, 1996, 2000); Darryl Strawberry (player in 1986, 1996, 1998, 1999); Mel Stottlemyre (pitching coach in 1986, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000); Yogi Berra (won 12 WS as a player and was a coach on the 1969 Mets).
Finish With A Joke
RIP, Norm. One of the all-time greats. Nobody like him.