OK, for those who remember Pete Harnisch, you likely are wondering why of all people I’d pick him to represent #27. Certainly, Craig Swan would be a more appropriate representative. Indeed, I was very close to choosing “Swannie”, since he was the best pitcher the Mets had between Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden; in fact, many refer to that time period as “The Craig Swan Era”.
And truth be told, I also considered Randy Milligan — despite the fact he had exactly two plate appearances as a Met (one strikeout, one walk). Milligan was one of those minor-league phenoms I fell in love with based on reports out of Tidewater and Jackson that I read on a weekly basis in The Sporting News and Baseball America. That was a long time ago, when we didn’t have the internet to instantly look up stats, there was no sports talk radio, and, unless we had the bucks to pay for SportsChannel, we had to wait until 11:23 PM (just before the weather) to find out the final score of the Mets game on WPIX-11 or WOR-9 News. Back then, the only thing we knew about minor league baseball was what was reported by The Sporting News — a magazine produced on newsprint that was supposed to arrive every Wednesday but often didn’t make it to your mailbox until Friday or the following Monday or Tuesday (especially during the winter months). Eventually, in the late 80s, Baseball America became available north of the Mason-Dixon line, and it was around the same time that I began following the slugging exploits of Milligan in both BA and TSN. My fervor for Milligan reached an all-time high when I was able to see him live, on my TV screen, when ESPN broadcast the AAA All-Star game. There was one point when Milligan was described as “one of the best prospects in baseball” by the New York Times, and was highly coveted by the Nantai Hawks of Japan. Unfortunately, Milligan never did much as a Met, mainly because he was blocked by Keith Hernandez, and was eventually traded to Pittsburgh for Mackey Sasser. Eventually, he had a few decent seasons with the Orioles — for whom he is now a scout.