Every casual Mets fan can rattle off the names of great pitchers in Mets history, Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Gooden, Darling, but the die hard Mets fan has guys that when they here the nam,e one of those cartoon clouds form over their head with reminisces of terrific performance of the past. The mention of their name is usually followed with the refrain “What ever happened to that guy”?
Don Cardwell was one of them, a journeyman who pitched for three full and part of a fourth season for the Mets back in the late 60’s and was on the ’69 World Champion team as a spot/starter long reliever. Cardwell was better than his record and was one of those guys who when called upon either won a game for you or at worse kept the team in a game.
Ron Taylor was another ‘69er who was key in the pen and today is a physician in his naïve Toronto and works for the Blue Jays. His problem was he was overshadowed by a young, brash fellow reliever, Frank (Tug) McGraw
George Stone came to the Mets with Felix Milan in one of the most underrated deals in Mets history (Danny Frisella and Gary Gentry were shipped to Atlanta) and went 12-3 in 1973 and his misuse by Yogi Berra in the 1973 World Series still bothers me to this day.
Rick Reed, Skip Lockwood, Craig Swan, Bruce Berenyi, Bill Pulshiper, Izzy and Neil Allen are guys who I think about now and then, about the contribution to the Mets teams they played or how some like Reed came out of nowhere or Stone who had the year of his life in 1973 or Lockwood an very underrated reliever or poor Puls’ one of the Titanic Trio along with Izzy and Paul Wilson, the ill fated Generation K. Craig Swan the Ace of some bad pitching staff of the late 70’s. Berenyi, a June 15th pick up in 1984 when the Mets were starting to turn things around and became pennant contenders. All these guys forever etched in my Mets fan memory of players. Now we have one more pitcher who I can add to that list, R.A. Dickey.
If the Mets go on to win a seat at the post season table, R.A. Dickey will have played a major role. Dickey is the kind of pitcher I’ve always wanted the Mets to have. He looks like a guy right out of Bull Durham. The long hair, three day stubble, the southern drawl, a real dirtbag and I say that with the utmost affection. Sometimes a guy starts to realize he has nothing to lose anymore and stops listening to others and just goes out and does things the way he wants, and it works, you just have to root like hell for him. I even like the fact that he knows Jerry Manuel wanted no part of him on the team and Dickey saying, He could care less what Manuel thinks as he doesn’t pitch for Manuel he pitches for himself and the team.
Who knows maybe in the year 2020 at Old Timers Day, R.A. Dickey will be welcomed with a huge ovation as he’s introduced or maybe he will be a guy that pops in my head when I see a homeless guy with a cap pulled down to his eyes and stubble on his face bringing cans and bottles in for nickel deposit and say “I wonder what ever happened to R.A. Dickey.”
Whatever happens, it’s a joy to watch this Mets team play. As we head toward the end of June, that Mets are a mere ½ game out of first place. Let the summer fun begin!