7 DUPACR: Hubie Brooks

With 7 Days Until Pitchers And Catchers Report, I select former #7 Hubie Brooks to represent the day.

I’m certain that many of you are wondering why it wasn’t Eddie Kranepool. I’ll tell you why: because to me, Hubie Brooks always represented optimism, and Kranepool represented pessimism.

The fact that Ed Kranepool led the Mets in so many career categories was a testament to how bad the Mets were in their first 20 years of existence. If he had been property of any other franchise in MLB, Kranepool’s career would have lasted less than five years. But because the Mets were absolutely awful, and because Joan Payson had a creepy, illogical preference to keep Eddie under contract, he was able to spend 18 seasons as a mediocre big leaguer. OK, there was that stretch toward the end when he was a masterful pinch-hitter — albeit for a last-place team — and there was the 1971 season, when he was an adequate offensive player, but overall, Ed Kranepool symbolized the futility of the Mets franchise.

In contrast, Hubie Brooks symbolized the hope of what the Mets could be, and what they would eventually become, in the 1980s. Ironically, the team needed to part with Brooks in order to realize their destiny — he was the key player going to Montreal in the trade for Gary Carter — but still in all, Hubie equaled hope for we frustrated fans in the early 80s.

A first-round pick out of Arizona State in 1978, Hubie was the first home-grown position player to show any kind of potential in a long, long time — maybe the first ever (you can’t count Mike Vail, can you?). Looking back at his numbers, he doesn’t look all that impressive in his first few years, but trust me, you had to be there to “get it” — this was a team, remember, whose homerun leader often put 15 or less balls over the fence. If you lived through the years of Frank Taveras, Doug Flynn, and Roy Staiger, then you know where I’m coming from; Brooks was a star in comparison.

As it turned out, Hubie’s time in New York was mostly marked by unfulfilled potential — though we never saw it that way. Rather, we saw him as a kid who probably still belonged in the minors, but was up in the bigs cutting his teeth, and would eventually be a perennial All-Star. Brooks did eventually become a decent ballplayer, but it happened with the Expos and Dodgers … and by the time he returned to Flushing, he was already on the downside of his career. Again, the irony: his best years were bookended by his Mets years.

So that’s it — Hubie’s my man for #7. You are free to disagree and suggest your own representative. Please do so in the comments, and provide some reasoning and/or memory to support your selection.

We have a week to go, folks … giddyup!

The countdown thus far:

#7 Hubie Brooks
#8 Gary Carter
#9 Gregg Jefferies
#10 Rusty Staub
#11 Lenny Randle
#12 John Stearns
#13 Edgardo Alfonzo
#14 Gil Hodges
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. NormE February 8, 2011 at 10:31 am
    I was visiting friends in Philly and we went to see the Mets
    at that abomination of a ballpark (the Vet) when Hubie was in his second go-around. He hit a homerun to left field which
    gave you whiplash if you were able to follow it. The hardest
    hit ball I had ever seen—until years later I saw Pujols yank
    one in SF.
    Hubie brings back good memories, but I’d have picked Reyes.
  2. Joe February 8, 2011 at 11:19 am
    Hubie did hit the ball hard … vicious line drives.

    As for Reyes, I have committed to limiting this countdown to former Mets … so, next year he can be #7.

  3. Walnutz15 February 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm
    What kid in their right mind wouldn’t be drawn to following a team with player names like “Hubie” and “Strawberry”?

    This is the first player I truly remember on the Mets, and yelling his name from the stands as a 4-year old. My 1st Met game was in August, 1983.

    Walnutz’s Uncle kidnapped him while my mother went into labor with my brother — I actually asked if we could see the Yankees, but he told me “they weren’t home”.

    That was all she wrote…..(thanks alot, really. LOL)

    My memories of this game?

    Yelling for HUBIE……and getting burnt by a cigarette in the stands. My Uncle kindly stepped aside, and let the guy know of his distaste for what happened.

    Essentially, the same sort of situation as we have now with the Mets…..always getting off to a good start, with truly memorable events spinkled throughout.


  4. Fred February 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm
    My favorite Ed Kranepool memory happened at a family outing in the early 70s. My uncle used to take the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc) to a Met game to celebrate his birthday. I was sitting next to my Aunt when Ed Kranepool struck out with the bases loaded (something that happened with all together too much frequency). This prompted my usually well mannered Aunt to yell out “You stink! You’re Eddie Cesspool!” The whole section was still laughing three innings later.
  5. kranepool February 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    your take on Ed Kranepool is a bunch of bullshit but I still enjoy your site Joe
    • Joe Janish February 22, 2011 at 12:41 am
      I was being KIND. Ha!