Tuesday, December 12, 2006

HoJo to uphold to proud tradition of Mets coaches

The off-season is boring. I’m going through baseball withdrawal, and watching Omar and Scott Boras play Zito negotiation poker is not cutting it.

So until Zito hoists his Mets jersey at a Shea press conference, we have to devour scraps of news, like trades for misused Royals relievers and the traitor Mazzilli getting hired to work our broadcasts until Steinbrenner forgives him.

So I‘m taking interest in the hiring of Howard Johnson as our next first-base coach.

This got me thinking about our coaches and what exactly they do. There have been 80 people to hold the title for the Mets since 1962. It’s a pretty colorful bunch, too.

For example, there are a pair of Cookies -- Lavagetto, 1962-63; Rojas, 1997-2000)

There are five Hall-of-Famers: Yogi Berra, 1965-71; Bob Gibson, 1981; Rogers Hornsby, 1962; Willie Mays, 1974-79; and Warren Spahn, 1965.

Looks like Yogi was the only one who was any good as a coach. Spahn was a player-coach and didn’t even finish the season with the team, and Hornsby, who had already been a manager for 15 years, died three months after the season, no doubt a casualty of that 1962 season.

Now to be fair, I don’t remember Mays doing anything outside of spring training, and if Gibson had an effect on those 1981 pitchers, it’s sure hard to tell. Pat Zachary led the team with four batters hit by pitchers, and Gibson would have reached that total by the middle of his second start each season.

We had several guys promoted to manage the Mets: Wes Westrum, Salty Parker (four games), Yogi, Roy McMillin (26 games), Frank Howard, Bud Harrelson, Mike Cubbage (seven games) and Bobby Valentine.

Lots of guys were managers before or after their Mets stint: Manny Acta, Don Baylor, Yogi Berra, Phil Cavaretta, Chuck Cottier, Doc Edwards, Jim Frey, Matt Galante, Mel Harder, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, Solly Hemus, Frank Howard, Darrell Johnson, Cookie Lavagetto, Sam Perlozzo, Cookie Rojas, Dick Sisler, Bobby Valentine, Bobby Wine.

Apparently Gary Carter thought that was the path for his ascension to the Mets manager’s office, which explains his stomping off to be the Rockies batting coach after HoJo got the gig.

Speaking of HoJo again, he’s just another member of the 1986 champions to get hired as a coach. Randy Niemann missed the 2000 series, because his tenure was 1997-99, then 2001-02. And Mookie, of course, coached from 1997 to 2002, apparently driven out by Art Howe.

Then we go from Mets glory to Yankee shame. There have been numerous guys who apparently wanted to cleanse their Yankee taint. That group includes, but is not limited to Sandy Alomar, Don Baylor, Chris Chambliss, Barry Foote and Mel Stottlemyre.

I usually get stuck coaching bases for my coed softball team. I’ve learned that you’re there to get blamed is case someone gets nailed at the plate.

But I had the opposite happen in a big game this past season. It was the top of the last inning and we really needed the run. Mary was on second, and she’s not fast. Not even a little bit. On a grounder to short I waved her over to third, then watched with glee when the throw sailed high and the ball was bouncing around behind the bag.

I was shouting “Go! Go!” and Mary sat there with her hands on her knees. My bench was going nuts, and I said “Mary, why didn’t you run home?”

“Dave, I was lucky I made it from second to third. I only go base to base.”

Yup, we lost.

Let’s hope HoJo fares better.

Here’s the list of all-time Mets coaches:

Manny Acta 2005-2006

Sandy Alomar, Sr. 2005-
Bob Apodaca 1996-99
Don Baylor 2003-04
Bruce Benedict 1997-99
Yogi Berra 1965-71
Mickey Brantley 1999
Tom Burgess 1977
Phil Cavaretta 1975-78
Chris Chambliss 2002
Guy Conti 2005-
Chuck Cottier 1979-81
Mike Cubbage 1990-96
Rick Down 2005-
Gene Dusan 1983
Doc Edwards 1990-91
Dave Engle 2001-02
Bobby Floyd 2001, 2004
Barry Foote 1992-93
Jim Frey 1982-83
Matt Galante 2002-2004
Bob Gibson 1981
Harvey Haddix 1966-67
Mel Harder 1964
Bud Harrelson 1982, 1985-90
Don Heffner 1964-65
Solly Hemus 1962-63
Whitey Herzog 1966
Chuck Hiller 1990
Rogers Hornsby 1962
Vern Hoscheit 1984-87
Charlie Hough 2001-02
Frank Howard 1982-84, 1994-96
Al Jackson 1999-00
Darell Johnson 1983
Deron Johnson 1981
Red Kress 1962
Dave La Roche 1992-93
Cookie Lavagetto 1962-63
Juan Lopez 2002-03
Jerry Manuel 2005-
Dal Maxvill 1978
Willie Mays 1974-79
Tom McCraw 1992-96
Clyde McCullough 1963
Roy McMillan 1973-76
Bill Monbouquette 1982-83
John Murphy 1967
Randy Niemann 1997-99, 2001-02
Tom Nieto 2005-
Salty Parker 1967
Greg Pavlick 1985-86, 1988-91, 1994-96
Sam Perlozzo 1987-89
Rick Peterson 2004-
Gary Pettis 2003-04
Joe Pignatano 1968-81
Bill Robinson 1984-89
Sheriff Robinson 1964-67, 1972
Tom Robson 1997-00, 2002
Cookie Rojas 1997-00
Red Ruffing 1962
Vern Ruhle 2003
Nelson Silverio 2004
Dick Sisler 1979-80
Dennis Sommers 1977-78
Warren Spahn 1965
Tom Spencer 1991
Rusty Staub 1982-Player Coach
John Stearns 2000-01
Mel Stottlemyre 1984-93
Steve Swisher 1994-96
Bobby Valentine 1983-85
Rick Waits 2003
Dave Wallace 1999-00
Denny Walling 2003-04
Rube Walker 1968-81
Wes Westrum 1964-65
Ernie White 1963
Mookie Wilson 1997-02
Bobby Wine 1993-96
Ed Yost 1968-75


Anonymous said...

Thinking of HOJO reminds me of the knickname process in baseball. At the end of his playing carrer with the Mets HOJO was called Sheikh. I was curious and lucky enough to hear the evolution of the nickname. Apparently, and I say that because, well, I wasn't there, so i wouldn't know first hand...
HOJO beacame Hagi, which was changed to Ali-Haji Shiek, who was the punter of the time for the New York football Giants. Then apparently just Shiek. I still remember him as HOJO and I'm not sure how long the Shiek name stuck. I also remember a player from the Tigers saying "where HOJO goes the champagne flows", well at least it did one year.
T. Wild Grainte Bay, CA

11:58 AM

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

That's cool, Tim! I never heard he was called "Sheik"

David Stefanini said...

I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:


If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.