Congratulations to Elliot, Bill and Joe, three Mets fans whose love for their team dovetailed well with our Valentine’s Day contest. For answering yesterday’s quiz, each wins a copy of The Happiest Recap: First Base (1962-1973), the first volume of the four-volume series that tells the story of the New York Mets’ first 50 years through 500 Amazin’ wins. You can get your copy here.
Other developments before we get to the quiz answers:
• Kindle version is closing in on reality. Will let you know the moment it drops.
• The second volume — Second Base: 1974-1986 — is in production and you’ll find out here first when it becomes available. (Spoiler alert: You’re gonna love it.)
• I engaged in what became a pretty passionate interview about the project with the guys from Rising Apple Report the other night: Matt Musico, Rich Sparago and Sam Maxwell. Listen to it here. (I come in around the 9:30 mark.)
• If you’re the mark-your-calendars type, then go to Wednesday, June 26, and circle 7:00 PM. That will be The Happiest Recap Night at Bergino’s Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan, with book talk followed by proprietor Jay Goldberg’s invitation to stay and watch the Mets play the White Sox (yes, the White Sox) live from Chicago at 8. More details as the date approaches.
As for Bobby and the Valentines…
1. Who was the winning pitcher in Bobby Valentine’s first Opening Day victory as Mets manager?
Turk Wendell, in relief, in the 14th inning of the March 31, 1998 season opener, a game best remembered for Bambi Castillo sending us all home.
2. Three pitchers tied for most games started on the Mets in Bobby Valentine’s first full season as Met manager. Name all three.
In 1997, the ball most often went to the troika of Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki and National League All-Star Bobby Jones.
3. Bobby Valentine wrote John Olerud’s name into the three-hole in 1999 in 159 of 163 regular-season games played. Who were the other three Mets he used as starting No. 3 hitters that year?
Robin Ventura, Matt Franco and Benny Agbayani each filled in orderwise for Oly on his rare days of rest.
4. Who was the last Met to bat in a game managed by Bobby Valentine?
The last batter of the 2002 Met season was Matt Franco, but he was a Brave by then. The answer from the Met side of the box score is Esix Snead.
5. Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, Glendon Rusch and Bobby J. Jones started 151 of the 162 regular-season games the Mets played in 2000. Who were the other five pitchers to whom Bobby Valentine gave the ball to start the remaining 11 starts in that pennant-winning year?
Now and then you’d get a start from Pat Mahomes, Dennis Springer, Bill Pulsipher, Grant Roberts and the Bobby Jones who was never a National League All-Star.
6. Which six Mets played in the most games during Bobby Valentine’s six full seasons as Met manager?
Going around the horn, there were the five stalwarts of 1999 (and assorted other years): Mike Piazza, John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordoñez and Robin Ventura — and then there was the peripatetic Matt Franco, who nosed out Jay Payton in the call of duty.
7. Bobby Valentine took over Met managerial duties with 31 games remaining in 1996. He used four different starting first basemen during that period. Please name them.
With Rico Brogna already out for the year, Bobby V. leaned on Butch Huskey, Tim Bogar, Roberto Petagine and (there’s that man again) Matt Franco.
8. Bobby Valentine became a Met when he and Paul Siebert were traded from San Diego for Dave Kingman on June 15, 1977. How many hits did Bobby collect in all the games Paul ever won as a Met?
None. Siebert won two games, both of them as Joe Torre’s extra-inning option of something approaching last resort. Valentine batted eight times in those games and went hitless.
9. Between them, how many hits did Bobby Valentine and Ellis Valentine accumulate as Mets?
186; Ellis outhit Bobby 132 to 54.
10. Greg Harts went 1-for-3 in his Mets/major league career. Against whom did he register his only base hit?
H(e)arts and flowers to Rick Reuschel for getting Greg on the board.
Baseball-Reference was the indispensable source for these answers and much that appears in The Happiest Recap.