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Queens Chronicle

New grads; Mets then and now

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Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:00 am

Last week St. John’s University sent out a press release pointing out that Walter Berry, one of the key members of the Redmen basketball team that went to the Final Four in 1985, just received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. A few days before, Kenny Anderson, who grew up in LeFrak City, attended Archbishop Molloy High School, and had a solid 14-year career in the NBA, got some press for earning his BA in organizational studies from Miami’s St. Thomas University. Congratulations to both gentlemen on their tenacity and for being inspirations to others.

The Mets invited select members of the 2000 pennant-winning squad that lost the World Series to the Yankees to Citi Field last Friday when the latest Subway Series got underway. It was fun seeing outfielder Benny Agbayani, now a phys ed high school teacher in Honolulu, and third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, who still maintains a home in Douglaston and is hopeful for one last shot at “The Show.” Alfonzo will play for the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League this summer.

The biggest star of the 2000 team, Mike Piazza, who was not on the list of alumni who would be on hand, surprised everyone with an appearance at Citi Field. He good-naturedly led a “Let’s Go Mets” chant on the video scoreboard, which got the fans pumped.

I ran into Mike in the Mets clubhouse prior to the game. He is enjoying being a dad to two young daughters in Florida. He’s also active in the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago and is promoting baseball in Italy, coaching the Italian National Team that will play in a European tournament this summer. Expect Mike to do the same when Italy competes in the World Baseball Classic in 2012.

Mets outfielder Angel Pagan and infielder Alex Cora are pressing Major League Baseball to retire the number 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente the way MLB retired 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. “Growing up in Puerto Rico, I was always aware of Roberto Clemente’s accomplishments on the field and his humanitarian work off of it, even though he died before I was born,” Pagan stated.

I hope their efforts succeed. Clemente could very well be the greatest rightfielder of all time. While he wasn’t the first Puerto Rican to make it to the majors, he did play at a time when there were very few Spanish-speaking players. He was tragically killed in a 1972 plane crash while delivering supplies and food to survivors of a Nicaraguan earthquake.

Last year Subway restaurants used Mets ace Johan Santana and his Yankees counterpart, CC Sabathia, in some clever ads. They were opposing pitchers last Sunday. I asked each separately on Friday if the loser would have to buy the winner a foot-long. “That would be cool!” CC chuckled. “I think that we can get anything we want there for free anyway,” Johan said with a grin.

Darryl Strawberry used a telestrator on SNY’s Mets post-game show Saturday to show that when David Wright keeps his head down as he follows through on his swing, he hits the ball a lot sharper than when his head goes up. That was as good an insight as any as to why Wright had been slumping this year.

Welcome to the discussion.