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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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Hot Rob Cano?

No matter whom his high-profile agent seeks out as a dining companion on any given evening, Robinson Cano won’t be a Met in 2014, 2015 or ever, at least until his career is nearing its end and his options are limited to Spring Training feelers (which is traditionally the moment the Mets prefer to pounce). But a homophonic approximation of Cano was already one of us, way back at the beginning of us.

You could look it up.

Hell, I did. I got it straight from the plaid-clad horse’s mouth. Lindsey Nelson, in his 1966 book Backstage At The Mets, explained how Casey Stengel — who “could remember an inconsequential detail from fifty-two years back, but…couldn’t remember a name two minutes after he heard it” — foretold the tale of the Met superstar second baseman of the future…give or take a vowel and a half-century.

Coming north from St. Pete the first year, Casey was asked by a Baltimore writer for his lineup for an exhibition game against the Orioles. The newspaperman had a Met roster to check off the names.

“At first base, Hodges,” Casey said. “At second, Canoe. At short…”

“Wait a minute, Casey,” the writer said. “Who at second?”

“Canoe, Canoe,” Casey said impatiently. “And at short…”

“I don’t find any Canoe,” the writer said.

“Look, I’ll show you,” said Casey. He took the writer’s roster and pointed to the name, Rod Kanehl. To Casey, he was Canoe then and forever.

Canoe/Kanehl rode not the waterways but the subway to the Polo Grounds for ballgames and all over town just for fun, spending “most of his spare time” tooling around on the trains, according to Nelson (whose name Stengel famously called for whenever he wanted at least one of the resident Bob Millers to warm up). The hyperuseful utility player, who sooner or later boarded every position on the diamond save for pitcher and catcher, lasted three seasons as a Met. Hot Rod remains beloved in legend, though by Lindsey’s mid-’60s reckoning, “He couldn’t hit, and now he’s the foremost authority on New York subways in Springfield, Missouri.”

No matter his career batting average of .241, Kanehl/Canoe was a willing man of the people, traveling among them without pretense on a daily basis. That’s about as Mets as it gets.

Given his glamorous choice of representation as he pursues unprecedented riches somewhere beyond the penultimate stop on the 7 line, we’ll simply note “Cano” kind of rhymes with “limo”.

11 comments to Hot Rob Cano?

  • Dave Arbiter

    It took Mad Dog Russo at least two months to stop calling Cano “Canoe” when he was first called up.

  • D.

    Back in the ’60s, ballplayers and soap stars rode the subways regularly and nobody said anything.

    Haven’t thought about Hot Rod in years. Hope he’s well.

  • Dave

    All due respect and remembrance to Hot Rod, back to the origin of the article, Mets brass having a sitdown with Jay-Z. My only guess is that some younger generation Wilpon wanted to meet Beyonce, so Jeffy said he’d make it happen. Because there’s as good a chance that Beyonce plays 2nd for the Mets in 2014 as Cano does.

  • March'62

    Wait! So let me get this straight. Cano’s agents think that by meeting with Met brass, they’re gonna get the Yanks to pony up $300 million for fear that he might end up with the crosstown rivals? Really? The Met brass probably thought they were actually meeting with Kanehl in the hopes (even though dead for 9 years) he might be willing to accept a minor league deal. When Jay-Z showed up and put the money request on the table, the Wilpons were probably looking for the Candid Camera behind the walls. I mean c’mon. They wouldn’t pay 2.5 million for Hawkins. Hey Robby. Call us in 15-20 years and we’ll do lunch.

    • Great link about a truly underappreciated heir to Kanehl’s utility role. A couple of other 7-riders who were profiled as such in their time were Brent Mayne and John Olerud.

  • amdream23

    John Rocker also rode the subway but no one gives him credit for that. And he had a point, the 7 is a depressing train with stops every 5 blocks.

  • Hotrod62

    As a kid, I always rode the subway to the Polo Grounds and Shea. Kanehl was one of my favorite players because like myself, he didn’t have a lot of talent but he gave 110%.
    One afternoon at Shea, I waited around to get his autograph and then ran to the 7 line. Standing next to me on the train was Kanehl. I was just a kid and too afraid to say hello but I never forgot that ride.

  • […] Casey Stengel and might have recognized in their midst a onetime Yankee farmhand by the name of Rod Kanehl when they arrived. It’s a recurring phenomenon now more than 50 years old. In 2013, Aaron Laffey, […]