1999 Project: Home Opener

Click here for an intro/manifesto on The 1999 Project.

99_opening_day_1.pngApril 12, 1999: Mets 8, Marlins 1

Al Leiter and John Franco, both of whom grew up as Mets fans, reminisced to the Daily News about skipping school and watching Mets home openers from years past.

“I know I saw Seaver pitch on Opening Day, I had to, all the times my brother Jimmy and me skipped,” Franco was saying yesterday. “I just can’t remember which one.”

You can forgive Franco’s imprecise memory when you consider that Tom Seaver took the ball on Opening Day for the Mets 11 times.

In Mike Piazza’s absence, Bobby Bonilla batted cleanup for the Mets’ 1999 home opener. He was roundly booed at first by fans who remembered his participation in The Worst Team Money Could Buy, but slightly less so after he went 3-for-3.

99_opening_day_2.pngMarlin starter Livan Hernandez was knocked out by a four-run fifth inning that included a solo homer by his counterpart, Mets pitcher Bobby Jones, not normally known for his bat (or much of anything else at this point in his career, other than a seemingly anomalous trip to the All Star Game in 1997). Robin Ventura drove in two runs of his own but said, “It’s the first time in my career I’ve been shown up by a pitcher.”

The joy of Opening Day was dampened–literally–by a flood in the Mets’ clubhouse that ruined both a $200,000 renovation job and a box of Bobby Valentine’s baseball memorabilia. The postgame press conference was held in the much drier old Jets locker room.

Meanwhile, the crowd of 52K+ was annoyed to find out that scorebook prices had jumped by a whole dollar–and no longer included a complimentary golf-sized pencil.