As a major-league manager for 13 years, Terry Collins registered 995 wins in the regular season and eight more in the postseason. Little question exists in his mind over which of those 1,003 victories gave him the most stress.
It happened nine years ago Tuesday, at Citi Field: Johan Santana’s no-hitter for the Mets, the first and to date only no-no in franchise history.
“I knew he was coming off the injury,” Collins told The Post of Santana last week in a telephone interview, “and I also knew the team had a lot invested in him.”
On Tuesday night at 7 o’clock Eastern time, the Amazin’ Mets Alumni Podcast, hosted by venerable Mets executive Jay Horwitz, will feature a celebrated reunion, with Santana and Collins joining Josh Thole, Santana’s catcher in that classic, and outfielder Mike Baxter, whose amazing catch of a Yadier Molina line drive to leftfield — the force of which compelled Baxter to crash into the wall, suffering a significant injury in the process — preserved the no-hitter. You can find this on the Mets’ YouTube Channel.
I enjoyed a sneak preview of this get-together, and my favorite line came from Santana, who only half-joked, “Terry was desperate for me to give up a hit.”
Collins acknowledged to me, “From probably the seventh inning on, I was hoping that either he got one-pitch outs or someone got a hit. That’s what I was looking at.”
Neither occurred, of course. Santana, indeed coming off a missed 2011 due to 2010 left shoulder surgery and indeed signed through 2013 as part of a six-year, $137.5 million contract, required an astounding 134 pitches to finish the job. As Collins checked on him after the seventh and again after the eighth inning, his ace gave him quick, clear feedback: “I’m fine.”
Another reality factored into the drama: “I was well aware the Mets had never had a no-hitter, which was shocking with all the great pitching they’ve had through the years,” Collins said.
Hence the elation when Santana struck out David Freese for the final out. Hence Santana expressing zero regrets about seeing through the milestone even though he made only 10 more starts in his career, all in 2012, and compiled an 8.27 ERA before his pitching arm and body essentially quit on him.
“When that time came, I said, ‘Man, I’m gonna let this guy have the chance. He deserves it. He’s earned it his entire career. Go get ‘em,’” Collins said. “That’s why I stayed with him.”
Happy anniversary to Mets fans.
Let’s catch up on Pop Quiz questions:
- From the late Jan Bottone of Wellesley, Mass.: In a 2014 episode of “Jessie,” Ravi and Luke argue over a home-run ball caught at a famous stadium. Name the stadium.
- From Rick Millman of Key West, Fla.: The legendary actor Kurt Russell has a nephew who played for eight years in Major League Baseball (including five with the Mets) and three more years in Japan. Name him.
- From Dan Cavanagh of Tucson: This broadcaster, a recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Frick Award, can be heard in the 1975 film “Rollerball.” Name him.
Kudos to Major League Baseball for teaming up with CVS Health to set up a vaccination clinic at Cristo Rey High School in the underserved East Harlem community.
With Major League Baseball celebrating its first Lou Gehrig Day on Wednesday, legendary Strat-O-Matic Baseball will commemorate the occasion by 1) making a donation to the ALS Association’s Greater New York Chapter; 2) simulating the potential end of Gehrig’s career had he not contracted #ALS; 3) conducting a home run derby with Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Roger Maris; and 4) holding a game of all-time greats who wore number 4.
As we just finished May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s an interesting video of YES Network broadcaster David Cone and former professional basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw talking about the importance of mental health.
Your Pop Quiz answers:
- Yankee Stadium
- Matt Franco
- Dick Enberg
If you have a tidbit that connects baseball with popular culture, please send it to me at email@example.com.