Archive for February 24th, 2010
The glasses are clean and frosted, the taps are all flushed. Murph’s Corner Bar is open for another day.
The date was August 27,1974. Playing Left Field against the Houston Astros and batting sixth behind the third baseman Wayne Garret and ahead of Catcher Ron Hodges was the Rookie Benny Ayala.
This was Benny’s major league debut, and in his first game in his first at bat in the second inning of that game with one out Benny homered for the Mets. It was the first time that a Met Rookie had hit a home run in his first at bat. The last man to do that: Mike Jacobs.
The ’74 Mets, well out of contention at that point, went on to win that game. Benny, of course was the star of the game and won an invite to Kiner’s Korner on WOR, channel 9 in New York.
Of course I have to mention here that it still bothers me that the “free” Mets games are now on WPIX because that was always the Yankees channel back in the day.
Kiner was pretty much worried about interviewing Ayala because he had never spoken with him before and for some reason thought that Benny only spoke Spanish. To remedy that, Ralph invited second baseman Felix Milan on the show also to help translate.
Felix’s English wasn’t really that great but you could understand him.
The show started and it turns out that although Benny was born in Puerto Rico, he lived in the US, went to school here and spoke English better than Felix, and almost better than Ralph.
Despite the success of his first game, Benny wasn’t that great of a player for the Mets. I remember him having to make a quick throw back to the infield, and he choked the ball and bounced it about 6 feet in front of him. Never saw that in a major league game before or since.
Benny didn’t make the team in 1975, came up briefly in 1976 and then was dealt to the Cardinals.
Benny did have success several years later with the Baltimore Orioles, appearing in two World Series and batting .429 in them as a part time outfielder and DH.