Playing for Both Sides

Howard Goldin

Interleague play, although in existence since 1997, in many cases still draws large crowds. The crosstown New York City rivalry between the Mets and Yanks drew a gathering of 46,517 at Yankee Stadium on Monday night for the first of four straight nights of contests between the two clubs.

There are 121 players who have spent time in the uniforms of both teams. Some of the large group are very much in the consciousness of baseball fans.

The most famous and most beloved of the 121 is Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra. The former catcher was at Yankee Stadium on Monday night watching the first game of the 2014 Subway Series and celebrating his 89th birthday. When the Hall of Famer was shown on the giant videoboard in centerfield, he was given a prolonged ovation by the fans of both teams. Not only did Berra play for both clubs, but he led each to a pennant as manager.

All five of the players who this year increased the number who played for both teams participated in Monday’s game. Several accomplished noticeable deeds in the game.

Curtis Granderson, now the rightfielder of the Mets, has been struggling at the plate in his first season in the National League. He began the game with an uncharacteristic batting average of .183, but has shown much improvement as of late.

His single in the first inning increased his recent streak of reaching base safely to 16 of his last 18 games. Remembering he was in Yankee Stadium, Grandy belted a two-run homer in the sixth that tied the contest at 4. He hit 115 home runs in the past four seasons while wearing the Yankee pinstripes.

Bartolo Colon, a Yankee in 2011, was negatively noticeable by his performance as the Mets starter. The hurler, who will be 41 on May 24, had two difficult innings, the second and sixth, during which he yielded seven runs.

Karl Farnsworth, a reliever for the Yanks in 2006-8, earned his third save as a Met. He yielded a hit and a walk but blanked the Yankees in the ninth.

Although never a Met, Alfonso Soriano has not allowed the pitchers in either major league to get the better of him at the plate. He has compiled a very rare and impressive batting record in the American and National League.

Soriano’s single in the second inning was his 1,000th hit in the American League. This feat made him only the seventh player in baseball history to record at least 1,000 hits in each major league. He is the only player who has recorded 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 runs batted in, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in each league.

His numbers will continue to increase as long as he plays. He doubled in the sixth, which moved him to 1,001 hits in the A.L. Since returning to the Yankees on July 26, 2013, (93 games), Soriano has blasted 22 home runs and driven in 64 runs.

howardg53@yahoo.com