It would have been a nice bookending to the story of third baseman / knuckleballer Todd Frazier pitching a perfect inning for the Mets on Friday night if it had been his first mound appearance since the title game of the 1998 Little League World Series.
But, as a still giddy Frazier reminded us on Saturday, he actually pitched in high school in Toms River, New Jersey.
Eh, so what. It’s still an awesome story, especially if you happened to catch the video of Frazier striking out former Reds teammate Adam Duvall looking on a looping, 55-mph knuckleball for the second out of the ninth inning of a 15-2 Atlanta victory.
Check it out if you haven’t. Watch Duvall trying, and failing, to pull the trigger as the ball floats toward the plate. And then complaining about the strike call.
"It was weird, but it was really, really a thrill for me," Frazier said on Saturday before the Mets hosted Atlanta. "Now on the back of my baseball card, I can say I have a strikeout and a 0.00 ERA. Pretty cool."
Position players generally only pitch when their teams are getting pasted, as the Mets were on Friday. And most fans probably tune out before the position player takes the mound.
But if you hung on long enough, you saw something pretty weird and wonderful.
"I wasn’t nervous until I picked the ball up and started throwing off the mound," Frazier said. "I was pretty nervous, but after the first pitch, it was pretty much fun. I knew I wasn’t going to overpower anybody, so just trying to throw strikes and maybe get a little razzle dazzle with the knuckleball there . . . That last one I threw to Duvall had some pretty good action."
Wade Boggs threw a knuckleball during a 1997 pitching appearance for the Yankees and again in 1999 for Tampa Bay. In the first one, the future Hall of Famer — not for his pitching prowess — faced four batters. Boggs walked one and struck out one.
Frazier did Boggs better. Three batters, three outs, one strikeout.
"I thank him for going out there, doing that," manager Luis Rojas said. "We were searching for the possibility of having a guy who could do it. Frazier was like, right away he was volunteering, basically, to do it."
Frazier became the second Mets position player to pitch this season. Luis Guillorme also threw a 1-2-3 inning on Aug. 10 vs. Washington.
Frazier said he went over signs with catcher Wilson Ramos before his outing. In addition, to his knuckleball, Frazier featured a fastball and cutter (both topping out at about 64 mph).
But the knuckleball is Frazier’s money-maker.
"I’ve probably been messing around with a knuckleball since I was 12 or 13," Frazier said. "If you get the right ball, you can get some good action on it."
Frazier kept the ball from his strikeout. It’ll go up in the trophy case along with his Little League stuff and whatever memorabilia he has from his day job as a big-league hitter with 1,051 hits and 217 home runs going into Saturday.
"I made sure," Frazier said. "I’m like, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to throw this in so I can get it.’ Everybody that pitches for the first time gets the ball. Get a hologram on there and now I’ve got that."
The Mets’ Twitter account brilliantly posted the video of the strikeout with the words: "With the strikeout, (Frazier and Jacob deGrom) have combined to throw 1,336 career strikeouts."
"I thought that was pretty unique," Frazier said. "Me and him were busting chops about it."
Frazier also got and responded to dozens of text messages, including one from former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who almost sent Frazier to the mound during a 2018 blowout.
Callaway went instead with Jose Reyes, who did not have it against the Nationals in that Aug. 1, 2018 inning. Reyes gave up six runs, including two homers.
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