Q: At what age were you when you thought you had a better-than-average chance to play in the Major Leagues? What was your greatest challenge(s) that you had to overcome to make it and remain in the Majors for as long as you did?
-Michael, Franklin, Tenn.
A: I felt I had a chance to make the majors after my 1974 season in Triple-A Tulsa. I led the American Association in hitting at .353. My greatest challenge was mentally overcoming everything that goes along with being a Major Leaguer at the age of 20. It took all of about four years. Confidence is everything, but unfortunately it doesn't grow on trees. You just have to get over all the obstacles by hard work, opportunity, tenacity and perseverance. There were many times when I could have packed it in. But I was determined and fortunately had a little more talent than the average bear. That being said, I have seen a lot of players with more talent than myself who didn't make it and a lot of guys with less who did make it.
Q: Who provides batboys for the visiting team? Do they travel with the team or does the home team have bat boys available?
-Pat, Middletown, N.J.
A: The home team usually provides the visiting batboys.
Q: Will there be any acknowledgment or recognition of William Shea in the new stadium?
A: I sure hope so. After all, he did bring National League baseball back to NYC. Today people have very short memories and history is not emphasized enough in school anymore.
Q: Who do you think was the best second baseman in Mets history?
-Sal in Cranford, N.J.
A: I would have to say Edgardo Alfonzo even though he was a shooting star who fizzled out fairly quickly. I don't think any Mets second baseman had the years that he had.
Q: Why do so many players fail to run through the first base bag and normally pull up when grounding out to infielders? I always felt that if the infield knew you hustled at ALL times they may rush a throw and you may get the base just for hustling.
-Michael, Staten Island, N.Y.
A: You are correct. We are seeing more of this as the years pass. It is pretty glaring now. It started in my day and has deteriorated every since. Jose Reyes runs almost everything out and it is nice to see.
Q: Before a game, does a switch-hitter ever look at the opposing batting averages of a pitcher and decide to bat on the side of the plate where hitters have done better or do they stay with the normal routine? For example, a switch-hitter batting right-handed against a right-handed pitcher because averages are better on that side of the plate.
-Matt, Florence, MA
A: They usually stay with their normal routine. During the Yankee series, Reyes batted right-handed vs. Mariano Rivera and got a base hit! Mariano is much tougher on lefties because of that nasty cutter. That was probably Reyes' thinking, plus I wouldn't be surprised if Rivera had given Reyes trouble in the past, so he just tried something different.
Also, in 1979, my teammate Garry Templeton had a chance to become the first major leaguer to get 100 hits from both sides of the plate in a single season. So he hit right-handed the entire month of September and amazingly killed right-handed pitching and did become the first major leaguer to do this. I don't believe anybody else has achieved this tremendous hitting feat.
Thanks for the questions guys and girls. ... As you know, I have had most of June off and have been terribly bored, so keep those cards and questions coming. ... See ya next week!