March 6, 2012

April 8, 1984 - Thon, But Not Forgotten

Game #62 - New York Mets, 1 @ Houston Astros, 11

Today's match up featured veteran knuckle-baller Joe Niekro against the young "El Sid" Fernandez of the Mets. As things turned out, the old timer showed the whipper-snapper a thing or two.

The Mets actually scored first in the top of the eleventh. Jose Oquendo was on third base with Mookie Wilson up. He hit a grounder to third and Oquendo took off for home. 3B Phil Garner got the throw home in time to tag out Oquendo, but Mookie made it to first. He then stole second and catcher Mark Bailey air mailed his throw into the outfield which allowed Wilson to score. It turned out to be the only run for the Mets. Kevin Bass stroked a two run double in the fourth to give the Astros the 2-1 lead, and it was all downhill after that. Houston put up seven runs in the sixth, including a three run homer from 1B Enos Cabell. Niekro finished the game himself, scattering four hits and four walks.

Winning Pitcher - Joe Niekro
Losing Pitcher - Sid Fernandez
Player of the Game - Niekro, CG win, 3K's, 0ER's

Happy Trails - Dickie Thon
It was during this game in the real 1984 that SS Dickie Thon was horribly beaned in the head. Ironically enough, he was hit by a pitch in this Statis Pro game too. The ball wrecked his vision in one eye and it took him years to recover. To his credit, he did make it back to the big leagues, and even became a starter again, though he was never as good as he had been.

Baseball is full of "what if" stories, and I always wondered what would have happened had Thon not been beaned. Ozzie Smith is regarded now as the best NL shortstop of the 1980's, but I think it could have been Thon had he not been injured. In 1982, playing every day for the first time, he had really started to put things together. In 1983, he was the hands-down best SS in the NL. 1984 was his age 26 year, meaning he was just entering his peak years of productivity. What if...

Real 1984: 3R's, 6H's, 1 Triple, .471 SLG, .353 AVG
Statis Pro: 3R's, 7H's, 3 Triples, .542 SLG, .292 AVG

Thon is done for this Statis Pro season. On the bright side, if you're a Craig Reynolds fan, you're going to see his name a lot more on this blog...

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