What happens when one in the sports world retires? Do they stick close to the sports world they’ve spent so much of their life in and around? Do they go pursue other careers that maybe they didn’t have the time or energy – or even knowledge – of doing and devoting their time to? Do they wind up in prison – well, we’ll do our best not to talk about these guys today.
Instead, let’s talk about players who have taken their ex-baseball careers to another level and managed to stay productive without spending any time in prison…or six feet under the ground. Specifically, those who spent time in Queens with the New York Mets, pitching bad games on the mound or not contributing much on the field. For as easy as it’d be to talk about what Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, and Pedro Martinez are all up to, let’s go visit some of the less-memorable Mets – or, if you don’t live in New York, players you’ve completely forgotten about.
As with some of our other retrospective articles on retired players, some basic rules.apply. We’re not talking about dead players and we’re looking at players who have spent time in a Mets uniform from 2000 on; if they debuted in the 1990s with the team and were on the 2000 roster, that’s fine, but don’t expect guys like Wally Backman or Rick Aguilera to pop up here.
Ready to re-visit the past? Let’s do it.
15. Todd Pratt: West Georgia Technical College Head Coach/Athletic Director
Some Met fans will remember Pratt as Mike Piazza’s backup during the late 1990s and early 2000s – and the catcher during interleague play when the future Hall of Famer would be the designated hitter – but Pratt wasn’t much to write home about. Slashing .265/.354/.414 in four and a half seasons with the Mets from 1997-2001, Pratt was worth 1.1 Defensive WAR and also spent time with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves.
Now, Pratt is both the head baseball coach – a job he took in 2011 – and athletic director at West Georgia Technical College. Upon naming Pratt the full-time AD in 2014, school president Steve G. Daniel said, “We are very excited to have someone of the caliber of Todd Pratt to lead our athletic department. Coach Pratt has demonstrated excellent leadership skills in his tenure as head baseball coach and during his time as interim athletic director.”
14. Alex Cora: Houston Astros Bench Coach
A World Series winning utility infielder with the Boston Red Sox, Cora came to the New York Mets after the 2009 season and promptly slashed .251/.320/.310 with a 28-25 K-BB ratio and 11 doubles in 82 games for the dismal Metropolitans that season. Cora then spent 62 games with the Mets in 2010, hitting .207 with 20 RBI and four stolen bases before joining the Texas Rangers.
After working with ESPN and interviewing for managerial jobs, Cora joined the Houston Astros this past season as their bench coach. Upon being hired, Cora said, “I always said if I get back onto the field, it has to be an impactful job and something that will challenge me. This is a challenging job, and I feel we have a real good chance to win it all.”
13. Mike Bordick: Baltimore Orioles Broadcaster
An All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles and a popular shortstop/second baseman with the Oakland Athletics in the 1990s, Bordick is one of the shortest tenured Mets on this list, only playing 56 games with them during their World Series run in 2000. During that time, Bordick slashed .260/.321/.365 with four home runs, 21 RBI, and eight doubles – though any hopes of him showcasing magic in the postseason vanished, as he went a combined 4-for-33 that postseason with seven strikeouts.
After retiring, Bordick tried his hand at coaching and did some bullpen work with the Orioles, but joined the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) team in 2012, calling Orioles games alongside Gary Thorne when Hall of Famer Jim Palmer isn’t around. Maybe Bordick’s presence upstairs is what the O’s needed downstairs, as they’ve made the postseason three times since the 2012 season.
12. Todd Zeile: Hollywood Producer
Despite two separate stints with the New York Mets – the first from 2000-01 and the second in the 2004 season – Zeile often gets forgotten because of the other big bats in those lineups; Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, David Wright, et all. For his Mets career, Zeile slashed .259/.348/.405 with 41 home runs, 176 RBI, 77 doubles, and a 2.7 WAR.
Since retiring after the 2004 season, Zeile has taken his talents to Hollywood, most notably being the co-executive producer for FX’s Anger Management. You know, the show that starred Charlie Sheen and his Tiger blood after he left Two and a Half Men? Zeile will also produce the Miracle of San Quentin and had two separate acting appearances in The King of Queens, though none of the Met fans on the show uncovered his true identity.
11. Miguel Batista: Author/Poet
This is an interesting one, so much more interesting than what a simple writeup about a mopup pitcher would do. So, in addition to letting Batista tell his story, we’re going to leave you with a sample of his poetry. This is tilted ‘Do You Remember?’ and was written when Batista was sitting in the Atlanta Braves bullpen during the 1998 season:
The quiet nights under the moon
The holding hands in late September
The prettiest days of my childhood
I ask myself do you remember?
We were sweethearts in high school
My ladylove who loved me tender
I was your prince that made you laugh
I ask again do you remember?
My silly letters in college times
Our big fights for love or anger
Our first date for Valentines, you were so shy
Do you remember?
We said “I Do” the last December
In front of friends and all the members
I held your hand and gave you a kiss
My happiest day, do you remember?
That was beautiful!
10. Karim Garcia: Mexican Baseball League Star
Best known by many baseball fans for his feud with Pedro Martinez when Garcia was a New York Yankee and the Hall of Fame pitcher was with the Boston Red Sox, there’s a lot of people who forget that the Mexican outfielder spent the 2004 season with the New York Mets. Well, 62 games of the 2004 season, at least, as Garcia slashed .234/.272/.401 with seven doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI, and a 35-10 K-BB ratio in 202 plate appearances.
With the exception of a 2007 spring training stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, Garcia has spent the past decade-plus overseas everywhere from Japan to Mexico. Now, the ‘Latino Bambino’ splits time with the Diablos Rojos del México of the Mexican Baseball League and Yaquis de Obregón in the Mexican Pacific League. Maybe we’ll see him return to the majors and pull an Eric Thames-like comeback…
9. Mike Nickeas: Georgia Tech Assistant Baseball Coach
A journeyman catcher who didn’t reach the big leagues until he was 27 years old, Mike Nickeas was never anything special at the plate for the Mets, slashing .180/.241/.238 with four doubles, two home runs, 19 RBI, and a 43-12 K-BB ratio in 191 games for the team from 2010-12. Nickeas could call a great game behind the plate, but an inability to hit meant he wasn’t long for the majors.
But, that experience made him a perfect candidate for coaching, as the Georgia Tech alum returned to college to get his degree and join the baseball team as a volunteer assistant. Earlier this month, Nickeas was named to the Development Program Staff of USA Baseball, joining former Clemson head coach Jack Leggett among others. Way to go, Mike!
8. Chris Woodward: Los Angeles Dodgers Third Base Coach
Another utility infielder for the Mets during the mid 2000s, Woodward served the Alex Cora role a few years before the ex-Red Sox fan favorite came to town, slashing .246/.310/.347 with 20 doubles, six home runs, 43 RBI, and a -0.1 WAR from 2005-06. However, Woodward did hit a career-high .283 in 192 plate appearances during the 2005 season, so there’s that.
Now, Woodward has been a major league coach for both the Seattle Mariners (first as a minor league infield coordinator, then as the major league’s team infield coach) and linked up with the Los Angeles Dodgers to become their third base coach when Dave Roberts took the reins after the 2015 season. Woodward has also gotten a chance to manage, leading New Zealand in the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualification tournament.
7. Jay Payton: Hitting Instructor/Little League Coach
One of the longest tenured Mets on this list, Payton spent 1998-2002 in New York, slashing .278/.322/.413 with 33 home runs (and that doesn’t include a World Series home run off Mariano Rivera!), 128 RBI, and a 152-70 K-BB ratio. Now, Payton runs ‘Hitting Skillz’, an instructional company that will help hitters improve their game and work on the fundamentals.
On the official website, Payton says, “I enjoy teaching the basic fundamentals of the swing, as well as discussing the mental aspects that go along with being a good hitter. All great hitters put themselves in a similar position once making contact with the ball, even though there are several ways to get you there. My goal is to find what works best for each individual hitter and maximize their potential.”
6. Kazuo Matsui: Playing In Japan
There have been plenty of Japanese imports who have succeeded at baseball in the United States. Kazuo Matsui is not one of them. With no relation to Hideki, Kazuo made Godzilla look like Babe Ruth (though in his defense, Hideki Matsui was a fantastic player, both before and after a career-changing wrist injury in 2006) by slashing .256/.308/.363 with 11 home runs, 75 RBI, 47 doubles, 22 stolen bases, and a 0.5 WAR – though he did have a 0.9 mark in his rookie season.
Matsui has remained overseas since leaving America after the 2010 season, returning to the Land of the Rising Sun. Now 41, Matsui is still hanging around with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, slashing .250/.357/.500 in nine games as of May 17. Anyone who can hit .250 at the age of 41 is pretty good in our book.
5. Ty Wigginton: High School Baseball Coach
An All-Star infielder with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, Wigginton showed flashes of that future brilliance after breaking into the big leagues with the Mets in 2002, slashing .270/.327/.440 with 29 home runs in two and a half seasons. Adding 67 doubles, 131 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts, Wigginton seemed like a valuable piece for the future…before being traded with Jose Bautista to the Pirates for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger.
Bouncing around with a few different organizations for the rest of his career, Wigginton retired after the 2013 season and took a high school baseball coaching job at North Carolina’s Lake Norman High School. Wigginton’s expertise is definitely paying off, as the Wildcats went 22-3 (12-2 in their conference) in the 2017 season and are currently ranked 24th in the state of North Carolina.
4. Trot Nixon: Football Analyst
Best known for his time with the Boston Red Sox, Nixon briefly spent time with the New York Mets in 2008, slashing .171/.293/.286 with a solo home run and a 9-6 K-BB ratio in 11 games. Following his retirement, Nixon traveled to his home state of North Carolina to host ‘The 5th Quarter’, a high school football show on one of the local TV stations.
“I am not someone who really wants to be on TV a lot,″ Nixon said in 2010 when the show was first created. “I love high school football and have so many fond memories of them. I also respect a lot of the high school coaches and what they are doing. You know they don’t get paid a lot of money, but I think these coaches are impacting lives more than they realize. People outside of high school sports don’t realize how much they help young lives.″
3. Scott Erickson: Real Estate Agent/Pac-12 Network Analyst
Best remembered for his long tenures with the Minnesota Twins – including a 20 win season and finishing second in the American League Cy Young race in 1991 – and Baltimore Orioles, many forget that Erickson had a very brief stint with the New York Mets in 2004. How brief, you ask? Try eight innings across two starts where he gave up nine runs (seven earned) and walked four. Yikes.
Injuries cost Erickson a good chunk of his career, but his big-league experience made him a perfect candidate to join the Pac-12 Network as an analyst. Erickson is joined on the network by a roster that includes former Giants star J.T. Snow, MLB Network analyst and one-time Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes, and ex-Cleveland Indians outfielder Ben Francisco. That’s not a bad group of analysts…
2. Nelson Figueroa: SNY Analyst
Here’s a name that Mets fans will most certainly remember – and not only because they see him on their TV when they’re watching the – oh wait, we haven’t gotten to that part yet. A journeyman starting pitcher who didn’t pitch in a major league game from 2005-07, Figueroa came out of nowhere to provide the injury-plagued Mets with a spark early in the 2008 season. Going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA and an 18-12 K-BB ratio in four April starts, ‘Fig’ gave the rotation a boost before being injured and finishing the season in the bullpen.
Figueroa would pitch two seasons for the Mets, going 6-11 with a 4.28 ERA in 32 games (16 starts), but remains a fan favorite both for his story and for his work on SportsNet New York. Primarily doing pre and post-game work, ‘Fig’ is adored by Mets fans – who, I’m sure, would rather have him in the rotation than Matt Harvey at this point.
1. Mike Bacsik: Sports Talk Show Host
Some will remember Mike Bacisk for his racist tirade in 2010 regarding Mexicans in San Antonio. Many will recall him for giving him up Barry Bonds’s record-breaking 756th home run. Others may even remember him for his short time with the Mets, when Bacisk went 4-4 with a 5.77 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) from 2004-05. But in Texas, most people seem to know him for his show “G-Bag Nation”, which he co-hosts on KRLD 105.3 The Fan in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
“I’ve got big dreams now,” Bacsik told the Dallas Observer in 2014. “Ten years from now, I want to be a part of something special here at The Fan. … I’m not stupid, I know what we’re up against with The Ticket, but I’m committed to this. It’s going to take time, but I love the group of guys I’m with now, and I think we can make this into something really special.”
Which ex-Mets players do you think have the coolest post-baseball careers? Have you met any of these guys in person? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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