This Day in Baseball History: February 10th, 1982

Age 32 seems to be that magic number.

On February 10, 1982:

The New York Mets sign George Foster to a 5-year, $10M deal.

The 1970’s weren’t exactly a great decade for the Mets, and at the turn of the next decade, they knew they needed to rebuild. Joan Payson, the Mets owner, died in 1975 and left the team to her husband, who then relegated the responsibilities to his three daughters. Unfortunately, his daughters did not share their mother’s enthusiasm for the team and sport. Five years later, the Payson family sold the team to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon. The new owners needed to show their fanbase they were dedicated, and one of the first moves they made was to bring in George Foster.

Foster had been a key cog in the Big Red Machine of the 70’s, and he had entered the free-agent market. His best season came in 1977 when he hit 52 HR with 149 RBI after a season in which he hit 29 HR with 121 RBI. He followed that up with another great season, hitting 40 HR and driving in 120. Over the next three seasons, Foster had some injury issues, but he remained a productive player when healthy. When his time for free-agency came up in 1982, he took advantage.

The Mets signed Foster to a monster contract, but as usual, that long-term contract ended up as an albatross. Although most contracts of the sort fail due to injuries, Foster was actually healthier as a Met than as a Red (playing 146+ in each of the first three seasons). Foster’s problem was that his production fell off the face of the Earth. After having OPS+ of 130+ in each of the past seven seasons (5 over 150), Foster only hit 13 HR and his OPS+ dropped to 90 in 151 games. The next season wasn’t a whole lot better. He hit 28 HR in 157 games, but his OPS+ was only 95. He would rebound the next two seasons, but in 1986, he just couldn’t deliver. The team benched him, and when that happened, he claimed the Mets were racist. The Mets immediately released the unhappy Foster. Who was Foster’s replacement? Kevin Mitchell (which seems to disprove Foster, but the Mets could have brought in Mitchell just to prove Foster wrong; then again, Mitchell was pretty good in 1986). The Mets went on to win the World Series in 1986.

Now, let that be a lesson to you. Oh hell, no one listens to these things. Bring on the next huge contract. Ryan Howard!

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2 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: February 10th, 1982”

  1. Josh Says:

    As a Mets fan, I am now cringing after reading this post.

    Thanks George Foster!

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    I unapologetically revel in your misery.

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