Dave Mlicki – His New York Mets Career 1995-1998

RDave Mlickiight-handed pitcher Dave Mlicki pitched in 122 games for the Mets from 1995-1998 and posted just a 24-30 record with 1 save and a 4.15 ERA.  But he will forever hold a soft spot in the hearts of Mets fans because of one magical night on June 16, 1997 at Yankee Stadium.   On that night the Mets faced their cross-town rivals the New York Yankees in the first ever regular season game between the two teams.   The Yankees were the defending World Series Champions but on that night Mlicki owned them.  He pitched a complete game shutout and struck out 8 batters as the Mets won 6-0.  Though the Mets would lose the next two games, for one night they owned bragging rights in the Big Apple.

The Mets acquired Dave Mlicki on November 18, 1994 from the Cleveland Indians along with Paul Byrd, Jerry Dipoto and Jesus Azuaje in exchange for Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa.   Mlicki started the season in the bullpen and made his Met debut on April 29, 1995.  He pitched a scoreless 10th inning and struck out 2 batters and was the winning pitcher as the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 in 11 innings.  He was moved to the starting rotation in May.  He earned his first win as a starter on May 18 against the Houston Astros.  He allowed 1 earned run over 7 innings as the Mets won 8-1.  On August 7 he struck out 10 batters in 7 innings against the Florida Marlins. For the season Mlicki posted a 9-7 record with a 4.26 ERA in 29 appearances, 25 as a starter.

In 1996 Mlicki appeared in 51 games, all but 2 out of the bullpen, and posted a 6-7 record with 1 save and a 3.30 ERA.  He earned his only save of the season on June 21 when he pitched the final 3 innings in the Mets 9-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

He returned to the starting rotation in 1997 and led the Mets with 32 starts, He finished with an 8-12 record with a 4.00 ERA.  Due in large part to his victory over the Yankees he was named National League Player of the Week for the week ending June 22.

Mlicki appeared in 10 games for the Mets in 1998 all as a starter and posted a 1-4 record with a 5.68 ERA.  His only victory came on May 5 when he pitched a complete game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Met traded Mlicki to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Greg McMichael on June 4 in exchange for Hideo Nomo and Brad Clontz.

While with the Mets Mlicki wore number 38.

Dave Mlicki also played for the following teams:
Cleveland Indians – 1992-1993
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1998,1999
Detroit Tigers = 1999-2001
Houston Astros – 2001,2002

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Takashi Kashiwada – His New York Mets Career 1997

Takashi KashiwadaWhile the rest of baseball was fawning over the Yankees signing of Japanese fireballer Hideki Irabu the New York Mets quietly purchased left-handed pitcher Takashi Kashiwada from the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League on April 3, 1997. After spending a month in the minors he made his Major League debut on May 1 becoming the first Japanese born player to play for the Mets.  He pitched an inning of scoreless relief in their 7-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. He would spend the remainder of the season pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. On May 18 he earned his first win when he pitched 1 2/3 innings against the Colorado Rockies. Kashiwada would appear in 35 games posting a 3-1 record with a 4.31 ERA.

The Mets released Kashiwada following the season and he returned to Japan and pitched another 7 seasons for the Giants.

While with the Mets Kashiwada wore number 18.

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Armando Reynoso – His New York Mets Career 1997,1998

Armando ReynosoThe Mets acquired right-handed pitcher Armando Reynoso from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Jerry Dipoto on November 27, 1996. He made his Met debut on April 15, 1997 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the starting pitcher, he threw 5 scoreless innings and allowed 6 hits to earn the victory. He started out the season 5-0 and would go on to start 16 games for the Mets before injuries shut down his season in the middle of July. At the time, he was 6-3 with a 4.53. His best outing came on June 5 against the Florida Marlins when he pitched a complete game shutout.

Reynoso started the 1998 season the disabled list and did not make his season debut until July 24 against the Chicago Cubs. He pitched 8 shutout innings to earn the win. He won his first 5 decisions and would go on to post a 7-3 record with a 3.82 ERA.

Following the season Reynoso was granted free agency and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In his 2 seasons with the Mets he compiled a 13-6 record with a 4.23 ERA.

While with the Mets Reynoso wore number 40.

Armando Reynoso also played for the following teams:
Atlanta Braves – 1991,1992
Colorado Rockies – 1993-1996
Arizona Diamondbacks – 1999-2002

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Rick Trlicek – His New York Mets Career 1996,1997

Rick TrlicekThe Mets signed right-handed pitcher Rick Trlicek as a free agent on March 28, 1996. He initially reported to the minors appearing in 62 games and posting a 4-5 record with the Norfolk Tides before getting called up to New York in September.  He made his Met debut on September 14th against the Atlanta Braves.  He threw two innings of scoreless relief in the Mets 6-5 victory.  He appeared in 4 more games and posted a 0-1 record with a 3.38 ERA.

Trlicek was placed on waivers after the season and was claimed by the Boston Red Sox.  However, he returned to the Mets on May 12, 1997 when the Red Sox traded him for fellow pitcher Toby Borland.  He appeared in 9 games, throwing a total of 9 innings, and posted a 0-0 record with a 8.00 ERA before an arm injury ended his season.

Trlicek returned to the Mets in 1998 but spent the entire season in the minors posting a 2-2 record with a 6.08 ERA in 19 games. 

In 14 games for the Mets over two seasons Trlicek went 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA.

While with the Mets Trlicek wore number 34 in 1996 and number 50 in 1997.

Rick Trlicek also played for the following teams:
Toronto Blue Jays – 1992
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1993
Boston Red Sox – 1994,1997

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Joe Crawford – His New York Mets Career 1997

Joe CrawfordAfter spending six seasons in the Mets minor league system, left-handed pitcher Joe Crawford finally made his Major League debut with the Mets on April 7, 1997.  He pitched the 15th inning and allowed the winning run in the Mets -3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  After one more relief appearance he was sent back to the minors.          

Crawford retuned in June and became a regular out of the bullpen, He earned his first career win against the Cincinnati Reds on July 18 when he pitched 4 1/3 innings of middle relief.  On August 21, he made his first career start against the Dodgers, he pitched 6 innings and allowed just 1 run to earn the victory. Overall for the season Crawford would appear in 19 games, 2 as a starter, posting a 4-3 record with a 3.30 ERA.

Following the season, the Mets released Crawford.

While with the Mets Crawford wore number 49.

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Todd Pratt – His New York Mets Career 1997-2001

TTodd Prattodd Pratt a backup catcher who had previously played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs was out of baseball for a year when the Mets signed him as a free agent on December 23, 1996. After hitting .301 with the Mets Triple A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, Todd Pratt made his Mets debut on July 4th, 1997 and supplied plenty of fireworks. In his first at bat in the majors in two years Pratt hit a two-run homer on his way to a 2 for 3 night with 3 RBIs in the Mets 6-2 victory over the Florida Marlins. He would continue his hot hitting over his first ten games batting .379 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs. He would finish out the season hitting .283 with 2 homers and 19 RBIs.

Over the next four seasons as the Mets backup catcher Todd Pratt became a fan favorite due in large part to his timely hitting, strong defense and intensity and emotion. In his five seasons with the Mets Pratt hit .265 with 17 home runs and 87 RBIs in 276 games, with his best season coming in 2000 when he hit a career high 8 home runs.

But it was during the postseason where Pratt cemented his legacy in Met history. During game four of the 1999 National League Divisional Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pratt started in place of the injured Mike Piazza. With the game tied in the bottom of the 10th inning Todd Pratt hit a home run over the center field wall at Shea Stadium to give the Mets the victory and the series. It was just the fourth time in baseball history that a playoff series ended on a home run. With the win, the Mets advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1988.

In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves Pratt continued to make a name for himself in Mets postseason history. With the Mets trailing the series 3 games to 1 they pulled out all the stops in game 5 to save their season. In the longest game in postseason history the two teams battled for 15 innings in a steady rain. After the Braves took a one run lead in the top of the 15th the Mets rallied to load the bases in the bottom of the frame. Pratt stepped up to the plate and worked out a walk to force in the tying run. With the game now tied Robin Ventura stepped up to the plate and promptly hit a game winning grand slam or so he thought. Before Ventura could reach 2nd base Pratt stopped and lifted Ventura in the air preventing him from rounding the bases. Since the winning run had already scored it didn’t matter that Ventura didn’t and he was credited with a “Grand Slam Single.” Than in game six, another epic game in which the Mets battled back from a 6-run deficit, Todd Pratt drove in what appeared to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning, but unfortunately the Mets could not hold on to the lead and lost the game and the series in 11 innings.

With his numbers declining in 2001, he was hitting just .163, the Mets traded Todd Pratt to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 23rd in exchange for fellow catcher Gary Bennett.

While with the Mets Pratt wore number 43 in 1997 before switching to number 7 from 1998-2001.

Todd Pratt also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1992-1994, 2001-2005
Chicago Cubs – 1995
Atlanta Braves – 2006

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Bernard Gilkey – His New York Mets 1996-1998

Bernard GilkeyThe Mets acquired outfielder Bernard Gilkey from the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 1996 season.  In his Met debut on Opening Day he went 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBIs.  It was a sign of things to come as Gilkey went on to enjoy the best season of his career.  He hit .317 with 30 home runs and 117 RBIs.  His 117 RBIs tied Howard Johnson’s single season record for most in a season.  He also hit two home runs in a game three times and set the Mets single season record with 44 doubles. 

Big things were expected of Gilkey in 1997 but he was not able to duplicate his 1996 success.  He did hit 18 home runs with 78 RBIs but only managed to hit .249.  His struggles continued in 1998.  He was hitting just .227 with 4 home runs and 28 RBIs when the Mets traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 along with Nelson Figueroa in exchange for Jorge Fabregas and Willie Blair.

In three seasons with the Mets Gilkey hit .273 with 52 home runs and 223 RBIs.

While with the Mets Gilkey wore number 23.

Bernard Gilkey also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1990-1995
Arizona Diamondbacks – 1998-2000
Boston Red Sox – 2000
Atlanta Braves – 2001

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Gary Thurman – His New York Mets Career 1997

Gary Thurman spent eight seasons as a backup outfielder/pinch hitter for the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners before the Mets signed him as a free agent on December 20, 1995.  After spending the entire 1996 season with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets Triple A minor league affiliate, he finally made his Mets debut on May 5, 1997 against the Colorado Rockies.as a defensive replacement.  The next day he got his first hit as a Met when he pinch hit for pitcher Toby Borland and singled up to the middle.  It would be his only hit for the Mets. Gary Thurman would play in eleven games for the Mets, mainly as a defensive replacement, hitting just .167 before they released him on June 2nd.  After his release, he signed with the Montreal Expos where he spent the remainder of the season with their Triple A affiliate in Ottawa.  He would finish his career in the Anaheim Angels minor league system, retiring after the 1998 season.

While with the Mets Thurman wore number 10.

Gary Thurman also played for the following teams:
Kansas City Royals – 1987-1992
Detroit Tigers – 1993
Seattle Mariners – 1995

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Toby Borland – His New York Mets Career 1997

Toby BorlandThe New York Mets acquired Toby Borland along with Ricardo Jordan from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Rico Brogna on November 27, 1996.  Borland had proved to be an effective middle reliever for the Phillies over the previous three seasons winning 10 games, including a 7-3 record in 1996.  The Mets were hoping he would fill the same role for them in 1997 but things did not work out for Borland in New York and he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Rick Trlicek on May 12,1997.

He made his Mets debut on Opening Day in 1997 and had a dreadful outing. He allowed 3 runs in just 1/3 of an inning.  He never fully recovered and had a difficult time finding the plate. In 13 games for the Mets he posted a 6.08 ERA and walked 14 batters in 13 1/3 innings.  His one shining moment with the Mets came on April 15 when he pitched four innings of relief to earn a save in the Mets 5-0 win over the Dodgers.

While with the Mets Borland wore number 43.

Toby Borland also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1994-1996, 1998
Boston Red Sox – 1997
Anaheim Angels – 2001
Florida Marlins – 2002-2004

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Lance Johnson – His New York Mets Career 1996-1997

Lance JohnsonThe Mets signed Lance Johnson to be their leadoff hitter and centerfielder prior to the 1996 season.  In his first season in New York, he far exceeded everyone’s expectations as he had perhaps the greatest offensive season in franchise history.  Johnson a career .285 hitter went on to rewrite part of the Met record book in 1996.  He led the Mets with a .333 average, which was also 4th best in the league and at the time the second highest in franchise history, Cleon Jones hit .340 in 1969.  He became the first player in Met history to record over 200 hits.  His 227 hits not only led the National League it also obliterated the franchise record of 191 by Felix Millian in 1975.  He also set the franchise records for triples (21), runs scored (117) and total bases (327).  He also stole 50 bases, which was just eight shy of Mookie Wilson’s club record 58.  He also drove in 69 runs, an impressive number coming from a leadoff hitter.    For his efforts, he was named to the National League All – Star team where he could easily have been the game’s MVP – he went 3 for 4 with a double and stolen base.

Needless to say, expectations were high for Johnson entering the 1997 season.  He did put up some decent numbers in 1997 but injuries, mainly shin splints, hampered him for much of the season.  He was hitting .306 when the Met brass sensing that his 1996 season was more an aberration than the norm decided to include him in a six-player trade with the Cubs in August.  The Mets acquired pitchers Turk Wendell, Mel Rojas and outfielder Brian McRae for Johnson, Manny Alexander and Mark Clark.  It turned out the Mets knew what they were doing when they traded Johnson, as he never again approached the numbers he put up in 1996.  He retired following the 2000 season.

In 1 ½ seasons with the Mets Lance Johnson appeared in 232 games and hit .326 with 10 home runs and 93 RBIs.

While with the Mets Johnson wore number 1.

Lance Johnson also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1987
Chicago White Sox – 1988-1995
Chicago Cubs – 1997-1999
New York Yankees – 2000

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