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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Feeling Shawon Dunston

I got another asinine question the other day about the Hall of Fame. You think that I played my career because I'm worried about the damn Hall of Fame? I could give a rat's ass about that, also.

—Roger Clemens

Dave Parker: He was a Yes for me last year, but I just wasn't feeling him this year.

—Ken Davidoff

I don't know if Dave Parker is close to getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I hope someone tells him if he misses by one vote, it's because at least one cavalier baseball columnist entrusted with evaluating the length and breadth of his career “isn't feeling him” for 2008 the way he was for 2007. Nice way to have your stature determined for the ages.

Yup, I'm with Roger Clemens on this one. I don't give a rat's ass about the Hall of Fame either.

I used to. I used to live a little for this day in January when we heard who was deemed immortal and who would have to wait his turn. I got excited on behalf of those I rooted for and found myself gratified for those I admired.

Now I don't much care. I might again someday, but today's announcement will leave me cold one way or the other. After watching year after year the varied machinations evolve so they could effectively conspire to bar Buck O'Neil and continue to keep out Gil Hodges yet welcome Walter O'Malley, I am so over the Hall of Fame.

Except that it's given me an excuse to think about the only former Met on today's ballot, Shawon Dunston. Regarding his Hall of Fame qualifications, I've got them right here.

With his and our team three outs from the saddest of eliminations, Shawon Dunston led off the bottom of the fifteenth inning of the fifth game of the 1999 National League Championship Series, worked Kevin McGlinchy for eleven unsatisfying pitches and, on the dozenth he saw, singled. Then he stole second. He made it to third on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice and scored when Todd Pratt walked with the bases loaded.

That made the score of the fifth game of that NLCS 3-3. Shawon crossed home plate and the Mets weren't losing anymore. The Mets were no longer dead in the water that poured over Shea Stadium on the night of October 17, 1999. With a little help from his friends Fonzie and Tank (and Matt Franco and John Olerud, each of whom walked somewhere in there), Shawon rescued the Mets. Moments before our notion that a grand slam and a single could never be mistaken for a unified entity went the way of “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter,” Shawon Dunston was our miracle in the rain.

Then Robin Ventura completed God's Work and that was marvelously that, at least for a couple more days. But Ventura — and this takes zero away from his own mighty swing — was creating on a fresh canvas of Mets 3 Braves 3. He could have (shudder) grounded into a double play and the Mets would have been alive, if only for the sixteenth, but alive nonetheless. Robin did not have to raise Lazarus. Dunston did the heaviest lifting.

Shawon Dunston's career began long before October 17, 1999 and would go on a few years thereafter. He wasn't a Met for much of it. He was a Met that Sunday, which is all my Hall of Fame needs to know. Shawon between the raindrops, refusing to walk, refusing to strike out, insisting on a hit, demanding another base, snatching for the precious time being from the Atlanta Braves a pennant they were sure was theirs…that's immortal to me. That and the eternally enduring eulogy he delivered for a championship season died young two nights later at Turner Field. The cumulative effect of Shawon Dunston at the climax of Game Five and immediately following Game Six puts him in the Hall of Fame of my mind.

Cooperstown can be somebody else's cause today. The Baseball Writers Association of America surely did not give Shawon Dunston 75% of its support. I'd be surprised if he gets the 5% that would keep him lingering on the ballot another year. And I find myself completely unable to pony up a rat's ass that he will be so lightly dismissed. I saw Shawon Dunston lead off the fifteenth inning. It's been eight years, two months and three weeks. I'm still feeling him.

For every Mets fan who properly cherishes the final glorious throes of 1999, your next move is to click through to The Ballclub's epic nine-part series that recalls that October in gorgeous and expansive detail.

8 comments to Feeling Shawon Dunston

  • Anonymous

    So you're the one guy who voted for him!
    God bless Shawon Dunston. As far as all-time Met at-bats go, I would guess his Game 5 AB ranks second only to the Mookster. I haven't given it a whole lot of thought, I could be wrong, but I imagine I'd be right.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, man. Shawon Dunston. I'll never forget his words to his teammates after they were knocked out ,”I am so proud to be a Met…You guys made me believe again. You made baseball fun for me. I will never, ever forget what this team did.”
    I remember reading those words in the newspaper the next day– I was so moved that I actually wrote a letter to him, telling him how the '99 Mets made me proud to be a Met fan; prouder even then in 1986. In the previous 24 years of being a Met fan, I had never written a ballplayer, even as a kid.
    I'm with you on Dunstan. It doesn't matter what his career numbers are, What he (and the rest of the '99 Mets) did was make me believe again, like I did when I was a little kid. Good enough for me.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, that AB was epic. The kind of thing that, as you're watching, you begin to realize will be burned into your brain for eternity should it work out.
    It would have been equally epic had it only been a PA, but he didn't want a walk. Very hard not to contrast the sort of fight and desire showcased in those three minutes with the season long snoozefest we just witnessed. Very hard.

  • Anonymous

    It drives me crazy when sports writers don't put more than a moment's thought into their ballots. The lack of support for Raines is just frightening.

  • Anonymous

    I (heart) Shawon.
    And I don't even want to discuss those moronic HOF voters anymore. No Bert again. Idiots.

  • Anonymous

    Was I hallucinating, or was Jose Rijo (0 HOF votes) the property of the Mets for a fleeting moment? I know he never played for the club, but I recall he tried a comeback (spring training or minor league, who knows which) with us.
    Anyone else remember this, or is it just me?

  • Anonymous

    I remember him as Steinbrenner's “answer” to Doc in 1984…

  • Anonymous

    I miss the old days of this blog when Greg would have attacked this issue a little more creatively. Like, with the Hall of Fame having a conversation with the ball that Shawon Dunston slapped up the middle. A Shea Stadium seat would show up, as would Kevin McGlinchy.