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When the New York Mets announced last fall that they would not be resigning popular shortstop Jose Reyes, fans entered a state of depression. Even in a mediocre season — and last season was less than that — watching Reyes was worth the price of admission.
Reyes is a spectacular fielder and one of the fastest runners in the major leagues. When he would steal a base or turn a routine single into a double, the fans would sing “Jose, Jose, Jose” in honor of their hero.
Almost no fan had great expectations for the current season. That was then. The Amazin’s, except for a bad weekend in the Bronx, are now fighting with the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East. Mets third baseman David Wright is one of the best batters in the NL.
And on June 1, Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the team’s 51-year history.
But it’s a kid from Whitestone who has captured the attention of the city’s sports writers and the undying gratitude of fans.
Mike Baxter, who graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in 2002 and grew up watching his favorite team at Shea Stadium, made a spectacular catch in the seventh inning in the game against the St. Louis Cardinals, saving Santana’s no-hitter.
In what may be the catch of a lifetime, Baxter slammed into the wall to catch Yadier Molina’s drive to left in the seventh. Running full speed, he hit the wall with his left shoulder, but managed somehow to hang on to the ball.
Baxter hit the wall so hard he had to be helped off the field.
The Rest Is History
The Mets went on to beat the Cardinals 8-0.
Baxter, who had recently become the Mets’ lead-off batter, suffered injuries to his collarbone, sternum and ribs and will be out for weeks.
As he struggled to pull his T-shirt over his head after the game, Baxter responded, “It’s an honor to be able to make a play for Johan, but ultimately it’s his night.”
It’s a night like this that makes it fun to be a Mets fan and proud that Whitestone is home to a kid who has become the Mets’ newest hero.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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