Saturday, March 31, 2012

15 Years Later: The April Fools' Day Eve Massacre

It was 15 years ago today.  On March 31, 1997, the Mets made a trade from which they have yet to recover.  It rivals the Ryan-for-Fregosi trade in 1971 and the Midnight Massacre deal of Tom Seaver in 1977 for worst trades in Mets history.  You know the trade I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the Tim Bogar for Luis Lopez trade.

Tim Bogar, we hardly knew ye!

Tim Bogar came up to the Mets in 1993 and fit in immediately, hitting .184 over his first 22 games.  But then Bogar caught fire, hitting .364 over his next 24 games.  After cooling off in August (if such a thing is possible), Bogar saved his best for last.

On August 14, 1993, Tim Bogar started at second base for the Mets against the Phillies at Veterans Stadium.  The game looked like any other for Bogar, as he flied out to center in his first at-bat.  But what he did in his next four at-bats turned him into an instant Mets legend.

In the third inning, Bogar doubled to right and later scored on an error.  Two innings later, Bogar doubled again and scored on a Dave Gallagher hit.  It was only the second time in Bogar's career that he had picked up multiple extra-base hits in the same game, having accomplished the feat on June 19, 1993 against the Pirates.  But against the other team from Pennsylvania, Bogar wasn't quite finished.

With the Mets holding on to a slim 5-4 lead in the sixth, Bogar unloaded a three-run homer off reliever Mike "Mitch is the other guy" Williams.  It was Bogar's second career home run and gave the Mets and Bobby Jones (who was making his major league debut in the game) a four-run cushion. 

Finally, in the ninth inning, with the lead cut to 8-5, Bogar came up one last time.  And we do mean one LAST time, as he hit a fly ball that eluded centerfielder Lenny Dykstra.  By the time the play was over, Bogar had scored on an inside-the-park home run, giving him four extra-base hits on the day.  However, that would be Bogar's final at-bat of his rookie season, as he injured his hand sliding into home plate and did not play again until the following season.

Despite the fragile ending, Bogar did become the first Met to hit an inside-the-park and an outside-the-park home run in the same game.  He also became the third Met to collect two doubles and two home runs in the same game, joining second basemen Tim Teufel (July 5, 1987) and Gregg Jefferies (September 7, 1989) on that exclusive list.  Yes, you read that correctly.  All three men who accomplished the two-double, two-homer feat played second base for the Mets.  If this was an episode of Sesame Street, this paragraph would be brought to you by the number 2.

Sesame Street's favorite double play combo would appreciate Tim Bogar's signature game as a Met.

After his season-ending monster game, Bogar played three more years for the Mets, but only collected 286 at-bats over the three seasons, hitting a combined .241 from 1994 to 1996.  Since Bogar was just taking up a roster spot without giving much on the field, the Mets traded him to Houston for Luis Lopez.  What did Lopez do in his three seasons in New York?  Not much more than Bogar did.  Lopez (.250, 5 HR, 54 RBI in 548 at-bats) and Bogar (.241, 6 HR, 57 RBI in 491 at-bats) were basically the same player, except that Lopez was four years younger than Bogar.

Lopez didn't do much for the Mets, except become part of the Tim Bogar Trade Chain (popularized by Jon Springer in Mets By The Numbers).  Bogar went on to become a minor league manager before joining the Boston Red Sox as their first base coach after the 2008 season.  One year later, Bogar became the team's third base coach, and was present for Jacoby Ellsbury's inside-the-park homer, waving the Red Sox outfielder toward the plate as he rounded third.  This time, no hands were broken on the approach to home plate.

Currently, Bogar is the bench coach for Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox, reuniting with the last man to manage him as a member of the Mets.  With his minor league managing experience (Bogar had a .601 career winning percentage as a minor league manager) and his time as a coach in the majors, it would come as no surprise if Bogar were one day managing a team at the big league level.  Meanwhile, Luis Lopez has not been seen since retiring after the 2005 season.  Presumably, he is now walking the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu.

Tim Bogar was traded 15 years ago today, in what can now be called "The April Fools' Day Eve Massacre".  When Bogar was traded on March 31, 1997, an era in Mets baseball ended.  It was an era that featured beloved players like Jeff Kent, Bobby Bonilla, Carlos Baerga and others.  The Mets have not been the same since Bogar left.  Who knows when they'll ever be able to recover?


D-Man said...

I cried when they traded Seaver. I did not cry when they traded Bogar.

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

I know the real truth. You didn't cry because you were secretly a Luis Lopez fan and couldn't wait to see him on the Mets.