As our All-Star Memories series hits the late 1980's, we move forward into a different era of New York Mets' history. The glory days of the mid-80's Mets ended with the team's NLCS loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it was not due to a lack of effort from the team's pitching staff. The Mets received strong pitching performances from Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, and David Cone over the years, but a new face was added to the mix in the late 80's. The Mets acquired Twins ace and 1988 Cy Young Award winner at the trade deadline in 1989 for four pitchers, including Rick Aguilera. While Viola was never as good for New York as he was in Minnesota, Viola still became a dependable member of the Mets' rotation and even made the All-Star team in his first two full years as a Met.
1990: Viola's first full season as a Met was a strong one. Viola, who was nicknamed "Sweet Music", won 20 games and finished the season with a 2.97 ERA. Viola finished third in the Cy Young Balloting, but he also was selected to his second consecutive All Star team. After representing the Twins in 1989, Viola represented the Mets for the first time in 1990. Viola pitched a scoreless fifth inning in the 1990 All Star Game, which was held at Wrigley Field. The National League would go on to lose, however, 2-0.
1991: Viola got off to another strong start for the Mets in 1991, starting off the season 11-5. Viola was again selected to represent the National League in the All-Star Game, this time at the Skydome in Toronto. Viola again pitched a scoreless fifth inning, but the National League went on to lose again 4-2. The game was the last high point for Viola with the Mets. Viola had a miserable second half, going 2-10 in his last 12 decisions and watched his ERA balloon to 3.97 on the year.
The Mets chose not to re-sign Viola after the 1991 season. Viola went on to pitch for the Red Sox, Reds, and Blue Jays before retiring after the 1996 season. Viola is currently employed by the Mets' organization as the pitching coach for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats, and had a personal highlight last summer when he saw his daughter Brittany compete as a diver at the Olympic Games in London.
Check back next week for another edition of Mets 101's All Star Memories series!
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- Mets 101 All-Star Memories: Darryl Strawberry (1984-90)
- Mets 101 All-Star Memories: Ron Darling (1985)
- Mets 101 All Star Memories: Dwight Gooden
- Mets 101 All Star Memories: Gary Carter (1985-1988)
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