Reese Kaplan -- Memories of Spring Training


No one will ever forget the Yoenis Cespedes car show that started last spring when seemingly each day he would arrive via a new ride, be it automotive, motorcycle-based or on horseback.  It provided a moment of spectacle to what can otherwise be a lackluster series of exercises and preparatory work for the upcoming season.  He’s continued it this year although at a somewhat more subdued level (thus far). 

What about the not-too-distant past when Spring Training was thought to be the end of the Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda debate at 1st base?  After all, they couldn’t possibly go into the season with two left handed slugging first baseman and no clear starter, right?  Wrong.

How about the team in 1987 not having brought back World Series MVP Ray Knight after pulling out the miracle of Game 6 and the clincher in Game 7?

How about Jerry Manuel petitioning the front office to convert then starter Jenrry Mejia into a bullpen piece in order to get the flamethrower into the majors?

What about the winter after the 2013 season in which Sandy Alderson quipped, “What outfield?” in response to the previous season’s collection of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter and Andrew Brown?  How do you think the collective outfielders in 2014 felt that Spring?

What about the devastation of losing beloved manager Gil Hodges less than 2 weeks before Opening Day in 1972?

Of course, the most famous Spring Training memory is the “arrival” of pitching savant and yogi, Sidd Finch via the pen of George Plimpton in this famous 1985 Sports Illustrated article.

Then there were the celebrity appearances like Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin James.

One less savory memory was the infamous pizza parlor parking lot incident of former platoon outfield partners Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer who shall we say watered the lawn without permission?  

Then, of course, there's the rash of injuries that take place that alter a team's plans for the future.  It was during Spring Training 2015 when Josh Edgin said he felt a twinge -- season over.  

What is your number one memory of Spring Training?


Mack Ade said...

Morning Reese -

Nice piece.

Mine will always be the loss of my childhood hero, #14.

I was interviewed earlier this moth by a St. Louis blog (will be posted here in March) and was asked who was my favorite all-time Met. I told them, that was easy... it was the same as asking me who was my favorite all time Brooklyn Dodger.

I still tear up when I write about him.

Thomas Brennan said...

I hate to say it is a negative one - Tommie Agee arriving in the NL with the Mets and being beaned by Bob Gibson as the very first Mets batter that spring training of 1968.

One I heard about but did not see was Goose Gossage recounting that he'd told Dave Kingman that he'd keep throwing his best fastballs right down Broadway and challenging Kong to crush one, and he totally did, hitting the ball out into the night, Gossage saying it must have gone 700 feet - surely an exaggeration...or was it?

Gary Seagren said...

I agree with Mack that the gut punch I believe on Easter Sunday about the Hodges death tops all unfortunately but the good memories are just finally hearing Murph, Lindsey and Ralph on my transistor radio after a long NYC winter....wow now that you brought it up I miss those days even more.

Frank Anon said...

I remember the fight at the team picture in spring of '87 I think it was. Also remember butch huskey hitting like 12 homers in spring and everyone thought he was going to be awesome then only hit like 8 all regular season

Reese Kaplan said...

There were some other spring training superstars. Darren Reed immediately comes to mind. Then there was the great Kaz Matsui who forced Jose Reyes off shortstop or the immortal Brad Emaus.

Mack Ade said...

Frank -

or the fight I had with Jay Horwitz when he took my press creds away... (let it go, Mack)

Hobie said...

Was returning from my honeymoon in St.Lucia. Saw the back page of of San Juan newspaper as we changed planes, and even my limited HS Spanish made it perfectly clear Gil was gone.

Sobering, bot nearly as sad .was the realization of how for so many dreams evaporate. For the 2009 ST, Nick Evans, playing in 32 games, led the team in 2b, 3B and HR and was cut on the last day when Gary Scheffield was signed. Remember reading how crushed he was.

Mack's Mets © 2012