One of the enjoyable byproducts of the Mets winning Wednesday night, Homer At The Bat-style, was that it allowed us to recall the only other time in Mets history a game ended with a New York batter getting hit by a pitch.
The batter was Daryl Boston, and I remember that game well, though I hadn’t thought about Daryl Boston in years. He was a Mets fan’s consolation prize after Darryl Strawberry, my favorite player from the moment I had the wherewithal to identify one, had been allowed to leave for the Los Angeles Dodgers following the 1990 season. Boston had been a waiver wire pickup from the White Sox in April 1990, and it felt like the Mets let Strawberry go because one Daryl was every bit as good as another Darryl.
To my 11-year-old mind, that was how it seemed, anyway. Was it possible that my favorite team simply assumed the nearly-identical first names would result in nearly-identical production? My doubts on that score were reinforced by that 1991 season, when Strawberry hit 28 home runs for the Dodgers, and Boston hit just four home runs for the Mets. Upon closer examination, Boston was a solid performer with the Mets over three seasons. But to the young me, who’d tried with very little success to mimic Strawberry’s swing in Little League, he was nothing more than a missing R.
Still, his surprising record led me to wonder: was he the second best Darryl in Mets history? Here for your ranking pleasure, my list of Mets Darryls, best-to-worst:
1. Darryl Strawberry – clearly the King of All Darryls, and subsequently, the preferred spelling of the name in my opinion. 252 career home runs as a Met easily tops the Darryl List. His 145 OPS+ over eight seasons in New York had him on a Hall of Fame track, and I mean the Hall of Fame for people with all names, not just Darryl.
2. Daryl Boston – would you believe that in his three seasons with the Mets, Boston’s OPS+ marks were 110, 116 and 117? That he did a lot of things well, including steal bases? Put it this way: Boston would have been the best outfielder on the 2000 Mets, and fairly easily. He signed with the expansion Colorado Rockies for their inaugural season, and hit 14 homers for them- the Colorado air masking his decline at age 30. Truly, an underrated Daryl. I’m sorry prepubescent me was so hard on you.
3. Darryl Hamilton – Before looking, I’d have bet anything that Hamilton was a better Darryl than Boston with the Mets. The reality is far different. Like Boston, Hamilton played three seasons with the Mets. But he was neither as effective nor as prolific as the Daryl of yore. He did post an OPS+ of 129 after coming over in a trade with the Colorado Rockies on July 31, 1999 for the remainder of the season. However, that dropped to 86 in 2000 and 68 in 2001, leading to his release. Overall, his mark with the Mets was just 98, well off of Boston’s Met pace of 114. So why did I prefer Hamilton at the time? The aura of winning teams? That extra R? I guess we’ll never know.
4. Darrell Sutherland – The forgotten Darryl used the more phonetic-friendly spelling of the name en route to pitching three seasons with the Mets from 1964-1966. While he struggled mightily in his rookie year, posting a 7.76 ERA, he rallied in 1965 to give the Mets 48 innings of 2.81 ERA pitching. After his ERA ballooned to 4.87 in 1966, however, the Indians selected him when the Mets left him unprotected in the minor league draft (the forerunner to the minor league portion of the Rule V Draft). True, he’s the least valuable Darryl in Mets history, but he’s also the Darryl Cy Young Award winner- by dafault, of course.
Other Darryl notes: the Darryl with the most home runs against the Mets was the slugger Darrell Evans, who hit 25 long balls against the Mets in 584 plate appearances. By contrast, Darrell Porter, a solid hitter in his own right, had just seven against the Mets. Meanwhile, the finest Darryl pitching performance against the Mets of all time absolutely came from Darryl Kile, who no-hit the Mets on September 9, 1993 in Houston. Sadly for Darryl aficionados, Kile did not face Boston, who’d left for Colorado by then.
The Mets have an opportunity to carry on the Darryl tradition with Daryle Ward, bringing the spelling of Darryl to strange new places while currently hitting .378 with the Newark Bears. If he seeks major league employment, he can hardly do better for tradition than the Mets. The Mets are to Darryls what Georgetown basketball is to centers.