- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Win or Lose, Always Alous

Posted By Greg Prince On November 21, 2006 @ 3:28 pm In Main Page | Comments Disabled

The Alou family connection to the Mets has been revived. It goes back a long way.

First, there was the game of September 22, 1963 at Candlestick Park during which the Giants were drubbing the Mets so decisively (13-2 en route to 13-4) that manager Alvin Dark could afford to choreograph history. In the seventh inning, Dark removed Willie Mays from center and inserted Matty Alou in left, replacing Mays with Felipe Alou who had been in right and shifting Jesus Alou from left to right. Everywhere you looked in the Giants' outfield, there were Alous, the first time three brothers played alongside one another out there. After the season, Felipe was traded to the Braves, so it was the only time, too.

Three other notes of trivia from that day so trivial as to be infinitesimal: 1) It was the Mets' first series away from home after the final baseball game ever played at the Polo Grounds, so technically they no longer had a home; 2) It was the road debut of Cleon Jones; 3) It was the last time the famous Dodger Duke Snider would ever face his old nemeses the Giants; a year later, having worn out his welcome with the Mets, he would finish his career as a displaced San Franciscan.

The Alous were a staple of National League ball through the '60s and into the early '70s, but the next time one of them played in games of surpassing importance against the Mets, it would be as an American Leaguer. Jesus Alou was a part-time outfielder on the 1973 A's, thrown into a greater role in that World Series after the club lost centerfielder Bill North to injury late in the year. Alou started five of the seven games versus the Mets, his most notable performance coming in Game Two in Oakland with three hits and two RBI in six at-bats.

That game, won 10-7 in 12 innings by the Mets, is better remembered for three other events: 1) Mike Andrews' two errors, miscues that Charlie Finley tried to parlay into an in-Series roster switch that wouldn't fly with Bowie Kuhn; 2) The piss-poor out call on Bud Harrelson at home plate in the tenth which stood even as Willie Mays pleaded with Augie Donatelli to rule Buddy safe; 3) Willie, one bridge and ten years removed from coming out to allow the all-Alou outfield, perhaps realizing at last that it was time to come out of the Oakland sun once and for all.

In 1975, Jesus Alou would become the first Met World Series opponent to play for them, joining the Mets on April 16 in St. Louis and serving mostly as a righty pinch-hitter. Though he hit .350 in 40 such at-bats (complementing the .400 Ed Kranpeool put up as a lefty off the bench), he showed no power, driving in 11 runs and homering not at all. Alou would be released the following spring. With Matty and Felipe no longer active, 1976 was the first season with no Alous in the Majors since 1957. But Jesus persevered away from the bigs and would hook on with the Astros in '78 and '79 before retiring.

Felipe Alou, of course, became a fixture in the visitors' dugout at Shea from 1992 to 2004 as his Expos regularly tormented the Mets (or so it seemed). One of his key early weapons was reliever Mel Rojas, a nephew of all three Alou brothers. Montreal being Montreal, the team let him go when he got too expensive. He signed unhappily with the Cubs in December 1996 and was traded to the Mets in August 1997. He pitched for his Uncle Jesus' old club most of the 1998 season. The Met uncle-nephew combination that was always a rumored trade away was Doc Gooden and Gary Sheffield. Instead, it turned out to be Jesus Alou and Mel Rojas, albeit 22 years removed from each other.

The less said about Mel Rojas' Met tenure, the better. I think we were all calling out some variation of “UNCLE JESUS!” when he'd trot in from the bullpen, though we may have been pronouncing it differently than Mel did.

And now Moises Alou, son of Felipe, becomes a Met, presumably unseating his and Cousin Mel's onetime Expo teammate Cliff Floyd…whose 2007 destination is not yet known, so let's pretend his departure is not yet official. Alou and Floyd went back-to-back in April, in a manner of speaking. On a Monday night in San Francisco, Willie Randolph ordered Tom Glavine (also still not altogether gone, sort of) to walk Barry Bonds so he could face Moises Alou. Alou made him pay [1], homering with two on, driving in five in all and leading the Giants to a frustrating — for us — 6-2 win. The next night, Floyd, slumping viciously, broke out for an evening, or at least a swing [2], taking Jamey Wright on a guided tour of McCovey Cove. The Mets won 4-1.

(The next day was the Brian Bannister/Barry Bonds affair, repeated so endlessly [3] on Snigh that it's easy to forget the Mets and Giants played a three-game series.)

Used to be a 40-year-old outfielder implied a fellow who earned the right to hang around but was probably staying at the fair too long — someone like Willie Mays, who logged 98 games in center as a Met at ages 41 and 42, including that final glaring afternoon in Oakland. But players play longer and stay in better shape today. Moises Alou got into 98 games total in 2006, the year he turned 40, and that was considered not miraculous but a little disappointing. He hit 22 homers and drove in 74 runs. That should be considered encouraging.

If you need something else, there's the day he was born: Sunday, July 3, 1966. The Mets hosted Pittsburgh a twinbill, falling short in the opener 8-7 (after trailing 8-1), recovering in the nightcap 9-8 (after trailing 6-3). One of the Pirates on the field that day at Shea? Moises Alou's uncle Matty. He singled as a pinch-hitter in the first game and went 0-for-3 in the second.


Article printed from Faith and Fear in Flushing: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com

URL to article: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/2006/11/21/win-or-lose-always-alous/

URLs in this post:

[1] made him pay: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2006/4/25/1911721.html

[2] a swing: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2006/4/26/1912078.html

[3] repeated so endlessly: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2006/4/27/1916318.html

Copyright © 2010 Faith and Fear in Flushing. All rights reserved.