February 29 – Happy Birthday Terrence Long
Terrence Long was the Number 1 pick of the New York Mets (and 20th overall) in the 1994 MLB Amateur Draft. At the beginning of the 1999 season, the Mets brought the young outfielder north with the team after spring training but he appeared in just three games with the Amazin’s before getting sent back down to the minors. That July, the Mets traded Long to Oakland for veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers. Long made the A’s big league roster the following year and quickly became the team’s starting center fielder. He put together an outstanding rookie season, averaging .288, scoring 104 runs, with 168 hits, 18 home runs and 80 RBIs. That performance earned him a second place finish behind Seattle’s first-year closer, Kazuhiro Suzaki, in the 2000 AL Rookie of the Year voting. Long then pretty much disappeared in his first postseason, hitting just .158 in the A’s five-game loss to the Yankees in that year’s ALDS.
Terrence would then put together another solid regular season in his sophomore year with the green & gold in 2001. He hit .283 with 178 hits and 85 RBIs. He then had an outstanding ALDS against those same Yankees in the 2001 postseason. He hit .389 in that series, going 7-18 in that five-game affair including 2 home runs but it would be a double he hit in the the third game that would begin a play that will forever be part of Yankee lore. New York was down 2-games to none in that series and facing elimination. Mike Mussina had pitched brilliantly in Game 3 and New York was hanging onto a precarious 1-0 lead as the teams entered the bottom half of the seventh. After two quick outs, Oakland’s Jeremy Giambi singled. Long then hit a ball down the right field line that Shane Spencer fielded. When Spencer’s subsequent throw sailed over two Yankee cutoff men, a scrambling Derek Jeter grabbed it at the first-base foul line and famously flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada just in time to nip Giambi before his foot touched the plate with the tying run. The Yankees would go on to win the game and the series.
Long remained the A’s center fielder for the next two seasons but in both years, his average was down in the .240s. The A’s again reached the ALDS in both seasons and failed to advance. After their fourth straight first round postseason elimination, the A’s traded Long and Ramon Hernandez to the Padres for Mark Kotsay. He did well as San Diego’s fourth outfielder in 2004, hitting .295. After that one season, the Padres traded him to the Royals, where he started in left field in 2005 and hit .279. The Royals released him following that year and he failed to stick with the Reds. In May of 2006, he signed a minor league deal with New York and when Hideki Matsui broke his wrist, the Yankees brought up Long. He appeared in just 12 games in pinstripes that season and hit only .167. He never again appeared in a big league contest.