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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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The Cycle of Life

On August 8, 1963, the day after Jim Hickman hit for the first cycle in Mets history, the Mets won again, 3-2, with first baseman Duke Carmel (one of two Dukes to play for the Mets that day at the Polo Grounds) hitting the deciding home run in the eighth inning. Between Carmel’s big blow and Al Jackson’s five-hitter, we’re gonna call that Day After Cycle a good day, especially since the 1963 Mets won only 51 games — and really especially because on the day after the Day After Cycle, Hickman hit a walkoff grand slam to beat the Cubs and provide the margin necessary to break Roger Craig’s eighteen-game losing streak. Weeks didn’t get a whole lot better when the baby Metsies were learning to crawl.

On July 7, 1970, the day after Tommie Agee hit for the second cycle in Mets history, the Mets won again, 4-3, though it was a win that nearly got away. Up one in the top of the ninth, rookie reliever Rich Folkers gave up a game-tying single to Cardinal Jose Cardenal, but then got Joe Torre to ground into a double play to send things to the bottom of the ninth at Shea with no further damage. Sal Campisi, pitching in relief of Bob Gibson, was no Bob Gibson…not that anybody else besides Bob Gibson was. Campisi loaded the bases and Ron Swoboda unloaded them by drawing a walk. It may not have been monumental, but it was effective. It was also the fifth Met win in a row amid a streak that would reach seven. We’ll call that a good Day After Cycle.

On June 26, 1976, the day after Mike Phillips hit for the third cycle in Mets history, the Mets maintained their winning ways, laying six runs on the Cubs in the third inning at Wrigley Field and cruising to a 10-2 victory. Sluggers John Milner and Dave Kingman each homered. So did the guy who cycled the day before. Phillips now had two homers on the year (and the week) and the Mets had won three in a row. Seven games later, the skein would be up to ten. Yes, a very good Day After Cycle.

On July 5, 1985, the day after Keith Hernandez hit for the fourth cycle in Mets history, the Mets rubbed the sleep out of their eyes — Keith’s big night unfolded during the famous nineteen-inning affair at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium — and rolled over the Braves once more, 6-1 (the Braves were sleepy, too). Rick Aguilera, who was not among the seven pitchers Davey Johnson used the night/morning before, went the distance. Wally Backman whacked his lone home run of the year. The Mets extended their nascent winning streak to four games; not only would it go to nine, but the 1985 Mets were about to stir to life in a big way, racking up 30 wins in 37 games by mid-August. You couldn’t ask for a much better Day After Cycle or, really month-plus.

On August 2, 1989, the day after Kevin McReynolds hit for the fifth cycle in Mets history, the Mets showed off a gem even rarer than one player collecting a single, double, triple and home run. They started Long Island’s Own Frank Viola, the previous season’s American League Cy Young Award winner. The Mets acquired Viola at the trade deadline fewer than 48 hours earlier. In that two-day span, they clobbered he Cardinals in St. Louis on McReynolds’s cycle and Sid Fernandez’s shutout and unveiled Viola. Frankie from East Meadow gave the Mets eight strong innings before getting pinch-hit for in the ninth, trailing, 2-1. His new teammates did him a solid, scoring three times on his behalf, furnishing a 4-2 lead for closer Randy Myers. Myers gave up one run, but not two, so the Mets and Viola could claim a 4-3 victory, part of a 15-4 spurt that catapulted the Mets back into serious NL East contention (at least for a while). We’ll certainly call that a sweet Day After Cycle.

On July 4, 1996, the day after Alex Ochoa hit for the sixth cycle in Mets history, the Mets moved on from Philadelphia — where you’d think you’d want to spend Independence Day — and set down in Montreal. The change of countries did not change the Mets’ fortunes, as Ochoa’s team continued the competence they’d demonstrated at the Vet. Inside the Big O on this most American of holidays, Robert Person and Dave Mlicki combined on a six-hit, 4-0 blanking of Les ’Spos. Todd Hundley blasted his 21st homer of the season to help secure the second W in a four-game winning streak. Ochoa went hitless, but was still considered to have five tools. A fine, international Day After Cycle.

On September 12, 1997, the day after John Olerud hit for the seventh cycle in Mets history, Met historical luck ran out, if not without a fight. Barely hanging on in their unlikely Wild Card bid, the Mets bowed to Montreal at Shea, 3-2, in fifteen innings, the last miserable out registering on Luis Lopez’s grounder that stranded the potential tying and winning runs. Perhaps the shock of watching Olerud sprint to third base the night before took something out of the home team. We can’t label this a good Day After Cycle, but we’re happy to report it was only a hiccup. The day after the Day After Cycle was the Carl Everett Game, a.k.a. the Saturday the Mets were down, 6-0, in the ninth, yet pulled into a tie on Everett’s grand slam and won in the eleventh on Bernard Gilkey’s three-run shot. The day after the day after the Day After Cycle, Luis Lopez redeemed his weekend by launching his first Met homer for the only run of a Met win on Keith Hernandez Mets Hall of Fame Day, and did we mention Lopez, like Hernandez, wore 17, back when 17 wasn’t slated for retirement? So let’s nudge this one toward collective positive cycle aftermath.

On July 30, 2004, the day after Eric Valent hit for the eighth cycle in Mets history, the Mets thought they had a chance to win, both in the near and medium term. Valent added his name to the cyclical annals by daringly lighting out for third on a ball down the right field line at Olympic Stadium because he had a single, double and homer already and when is Eric Valent gonna have another opportunity to cycle? Valent was safe at third. The Mets, however, were stuck in fourth. They’d made a nice lunge at first earlier in July, but were now six games out. They could either take stock of their progress and position themselves to grow from their modicum of midsummer success down the road, or they could do try to do something even more dramatic than attempt to stretch a double into a triple. Their front office chose the latter on July 30, trading 2002 top draft pick Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for veteran starter Victor Zambrano, hoping Zambrano could be the missing piece to a challenger struggling to remain in contention. Short version: It didn’t work out. Also, the Mets lost their game at Turner Field on July 30 and proceeded to get swept in their series versus Atlanta, effectively ending their pennant race aspirations. Kazmir went on to a very solid career. Zambrano didn’t. Maybe not the best Day After Cycle.

On June 22, 2006, the day after Jose Reyes hit for the ninth cycle in Mets history, we can’t say the Mets won again, because the Mets actually lost the game in which Reyes cycled, which seemed unfathomable, given that the Mets were running away with the National League East and Reyes was running away with Shea’s hearts. When he singled to secure his cycle in the bottom of the eighth, the crowd broke into Jose!-Jose!-Jose! en masse, making it a serenade that would follow Jose for the rest of his Met days. Alas, Billy Wagner drowned out the enthusiasm and blew the Mets’ 5-4 lead over Cincinnati in the top of the ninth and turned it into a 6-5 loss, and let’s say the closer took some of the steam out of what had been an incandescent evening. But the Day After Cycle would have its day in the sun. I can confirm that it was a glorious matinee, with Pedro Martinez buckling down (three swinging strikeouts to end his gritty six innings), David Wright going deep (two two-run homers) and Jose!-Jose! still running the Redlegs ragged (two stolen bases). Someone other than Billy Wagner — Chad Bradford — came on to nail down the save in the 6-2 win. All told, a brilliant Day After Cycle.

On April 28, 2012, the day after Scott Hairston hit for the tenth cycle in Mets history, the Mets were again tasked with not losing a second game in a row. Hairston’s heroics were obscured in an 18-9 creaming at Colorado, yet the Mets had enough gumption to recover in their next game, 7-5, continuing to pound the ball at Coors Field (thirteen hits) yet not forgetting how to pitch just well enough to win at elevated heights. So not only was this a redemptive Day After Cycle, it put a nice bow on the Mets’ 50th Anniversary Conference, which concluded at Hofstra University the very same day. We can always use more Met history.

On June 7, 2022, the day after Eduardo Escobar hit for the eleventh cycle in Mets history, the first Mets cycle in ten years and the first Mets cycle in a winning cause in eighteen years, it occurred to me the last thing I wanted to do was write about the 7-0 loss at Petco Park that followed the 11-5 win in which Escobar starred. So instead of dwelling on worrisome injuries to Pete Alonso (hand) and Starling Marte (quad) or discerning if anything beyond a bad outing is to be gleaned from Taijuan Walker’s subpar start versus the Padres (though Walker did recover to go six after a rough first two) or moping over the measly two hits the Mets managed to collect off Yu Darvish and Adrian Morejon, I remembered we can always use more Met history, especially the day after a not so great Day After Cycle.

4 comments to The Cycle of Life

  • Seth

    You know what they say when something seems too good to be true, right? Keeping my unbroken fingers crossed for Pete…

  • open the gates

    Gotta say, when I think of the best hitters in Mets history, the first four names I think of are not Phillips, Ochoa, Valent and Hairston. Goes to show that, rare as it is, one doesn’t need to be the star of the show to deliver a cycle. (I didn’t happen to notice names like Piazza. Strawberry. Wright, or Alonso in that mix, although the Bear has a chance to get it done at some point.) I have a feeling that Eduardo Escobar will not be remembered as one of the top hitters on this team, but it was nice for him to have done it. Also, neat way to sidestep last night’s fiasco. Wishing a speedy recovery to Messrs. Alonso and Marte.

    BTW, I was in attendance at the Olerud cycle. Watching Johnny O legging out a triple was one of the more entertaining things I’ve ever seen on a major league field. I still have the game tickets somewhere.

  • Eric

    John Olerud, my all-time favorite Met. Looking at his baseball reference page makes me miss him again. He had 2 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons, 1 as a Met, among a number of quality seasons. Too bad he didn’t have more of them and have them as a Met.

    Last night’s loss was one of the 54 (or 60) losses we assume at the start of every season.

    Other than the 2 injuries, the Mets loss bothers me less than it coincides with the Braves making their usual expected charge at the top. I won’t worry about the Phillies until they reach .500, but they’re getting close.

    I’m curious to find out how soon and well Holderman ‘gets back on the horse’.

  • eric1973

    I was at the Reyes cycle game, and everyone in the Shea parking lot could not believe we lost that game.

    As for Wagner, I can recall a late afternoon Saturday game against the Yankees where he could have thrown 100 pitches and never have gotten 3 outs.