Just in time for the holiday season, Mets 101's Seven in Seven series returns as our gift to you. Each week, the Mets 101 staff will begin a countdown of something related to the New York Mets ( i.e. best third baseman, worst defeat, etc.). We will begin our countdown on Sundays with the number seven and work all the way to number one. Inspired by recent comments from Curtis Granderson and Carlos Beltran, this week's countdown takes a look at the seven most notable people to wear both a Mets and Yankees uniform. We continue our countdown today with Willie Randolph.
Yankees Stats (1976-1988): 1,694 Games, 1,731 Hits, 1,027 Runs Scored, 259 2B's, 58 3B's, 48 HR's, 549 RBI's, 251 SB's, .275 BA
Mets Stats (as player, 1992): 90 Games, 72 Hits, 29 Runs, 11 2B's, 1 3B, 2 HR's, 15 RBI's, 1 SB, .252 BA
Mets Stats (as manager, 2005-2008): 555 Games, 302-253 Won-Loss Record, .554 Winning Percentage, 2006 National League East Division Championship
Yankees Story: The Yankees acquired the 22 year old Randolph in December of 1975 from the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a deal for Doc Medich. Randolph blossomed as a stellar player with the Yankees, winning two World Series championships as a player and making five All Star teams as a Yankee. Randolph also served as the Yankees co-captain alongside Ron Guidry from 1986-1988. Randolph left the Yankees to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989, and after his career was over Randolph was named to the Yankees coaching staff. Randolph was on manager Joe Torre's staff as the team won four championships between 1996 and 2000. Despite serving as the third base coach and later bench coach on a very successful team, Randolph would have a very difficult time landing a managerial job.
Mets Story: Randolph signed with the Mets for his final season in 1992. Randolph hit eighth on the worst team that money could buy, and he was in clear decline at age 37. Randolph didn't get much playing time after the team acquired young second baseman Jeff Kent at the trade deadline, but Kent slid over to shortstop in the season's final game to allow Randolph to play second base for one last time. Randolph's playing career was over, but his history in Queens wasn't.
The Mets were the team to give Randolph his first career managerial shot in 2005. The Mets showed immediate improvement under Randolph, finishing over .500 for the first time since 2001. After a spending spree in the offseason gave the Mets their best roster since 2000, Randolph guided the Mets to a 97 win campaign that gave them their first division title since 1988. Randolph's club swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the National League Championship Series. That would prove to be the highlight of Randolph's tenure in Flushing.
The Mets got off to a strong start in 2007, but the club blew a seven game lead with 17 games to play to lose the division to the Philadelphia Phillies and miss the playoffs entirely. The collapse, which was one of the worst in baseball history, put Randolph squarely on the hot seat for the 2008 season. Randolph, who was never popular with the fans due to his Yankee history, struggled to get the Mets going in 2008 as well. Randolph had a record of 34-35 when he was fired in the middle of the night on June 17, less than two hours after a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Randolph was replaced as manager by bench coach Jerry Manuel, but the managerial change did not prevent another September collapse.
Who got the better Randolph?
The Yankees clearly got the better narrative out of Willie Randolph, who was a beloved player and coach for them who helped them win six World Series titles. The Mets got a manager who was solid and helped them record their last playoff appearance in 2006, but one who could not right the ship for a 2007 collapse. That collapse will be Randolph's defining moment in Queens, but there are some who certainly feel that Randolph didn't get a fair chance to redeem himself the following year.
- Mets 101 Seven in Seven Series: Famous Faces to Play in Both Boroughs #5 – Yogi Berra
- Mets 101 Seven in Seven Series: Famous Faces to Play in Both Boroughs #7-Robin Ventura
- Mets 101 Seven in Seven Series: Famous Faces to Play in Both Boroughs #6-Rickey Henderson
- Josh Satin Learning to Play the Outfield
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