Monday, June 9, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #143 HOWARD JOHNSON

YOU COULD SAY HE HAD AN ODD CAREER.



UNTIL '93, WHEN HE HIT ONLY SEVEN HOME RUNS.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Howard Johnson had an odd habit during his five-year peak with the Mets from 1987-'91 for saving his best for odd-numbered years. After his 36-homer breakout in '87, Johnson clubbed another 36 in '89 and 38 two years later. In between, he slugged 24 and 23. Interestingly, he never finished with 28 homers, one for every flavor on the famous HoJo's ice cream menu. Overall, the switch-hitter played 14 seasons, hitting 228 homers with 760 RBI and joining the 30/30 Club three times.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • On July 22, 1986, one of the most bizarre games took place between the Mets and Reds. After the Mets tied the game at 3 in the top of the ninth, all hell broke loose in the 10th when #126 Eric Davis slid hard into Ray Knight on a steal of third. Knight popped Davis and a brawl ensued. Knight and #136 Kevin Mitchell were ejected and the game remained tied until the 14th, when Johnson hit a three-run homer off Ted Power to win it. Because of substitutions and #89 Darryl Strawberry being ejected in the fifth inning, the Mets at one point had catcher Gary Carter at third and reliever Jesse Orosco in right.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In '89, HoJo just missed a 40/40 season, going 36/41 with 101 RBI and 104 runs scored. He slashed .287/.369/.559.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Came up with the Tigers and was a backup third baseman on the '84 World Series champs.
  2. The Tigers, a veteran-laden team, never believed in him, so they shipped him to the Mets in December '84 for pitcher Walt Terrell.
  3. The move was another masterstroke by Mets GM Frank Cashen, even if it would take another couple of seasons for HoJo to fulfill his promise.
  4. In '91, he led the NL in homers and RBI (117).
  5. After that season, Johnson would hit a combined 31 homers in the last four years of his career, which ended in '95 with the Cubs.

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