Today, we celebrate the five-year anniversary of one of the most unforgettable moments in New York Mets history. On June 1, 2012, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in franchise history, 51 years and 8,020 games into the team’s existence. The entire game was a heart-stopping thrill ride, and one of the most incredible and memorable moments Mets fans have ever collectively experienced.
What wasn’t memorable about that night, though, was the team around Santana. The 2012 Mets were, well, not very good. There were a lot of bad players on that team. Now, a lot has happened in the five years since that day for both the Mets as a team, and all of these players who were on the team that night. And while we know what’s happened to the Mets since then, we might not know what has happened to all of the players who were on that team. So let’s check in with all the players who were on the Mets’ 25-man roster on June 1, 2012, and see how things have gone for them over the last 1,825 days.
Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, R.A. Dickey, and David Wright: These are the only four players left from that game who are still on MLB rosters right now. We don’t really need to catch up with these guys, because we know all about how they’re doing. Duda is now a Good first baseman, Murphy is a star on the Nationals, and Dickey’s having a rough time of it on the Braves. Let’s not talk about Wright.
Mike Baxter: Baxter famously destroyed his body to preserve the no-hitter, but that was pretty much his peak. After the 2013 season, he was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers, whom he played literally one MLB game for in 2014. In 2015, he signed on with the Cubs, and had a cup of coffee in the big leagues with them, but didn’t fare well. He spent last year in the Mariners’ minor league system, but did not sign back with them for 2017. He remains a free agent, and his baseball career may be all but over.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: And here I thought I never had to spell that name again. The former high school football player has spent the last two seasons with the Brewers, and has done exactly how you think he has. Last year, he walked 14% of the time, played solid defense, posted a .176 ISO, and struck out 33.9% of the time. This year, he was designated for assignment and later sent to Triple-A after a 2-for-25 start with 15 strikeouts. He’s still Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Ike Davis: The no-hitter occurred before the Ike Davis ship had completely sunk, but the iceberg had been struck and the lower levels were beginning to flood. The Mets correctly chose Lucas Duda over Davis in 2014, and since then Davis has been released by the Pirates, Athletics, Rangers, and Yankees. His last MLB stint came last year on the Yankees for eight games. He then signed with the Dodgers this offseason, where he is now buried on the first base depth chart behind Adrian Gonzalez, Cody Bellinger, and apparently Chase Utley.
Josh Thole: He put up a 29 wRC+ in 50 games last year with the Blue Jays, and is now in the Diamondbacks’ minor league system. He underwent surgery over the offseason to repair a torn hamstring and is estimated to be out until around August.
Omar Quintanilla: After his Mets career ended, Quintanilla had a two-game stint in the Rockies minor league system before heading off to the Mexican League. He’s spent the last two years getting very infrequent playing time for Toros de Tijuana, totaling only 27 PAs over these past two seasons.
Jon Niese: Niese is still in the Yankees system and has been working in extended spring training.
Dillon Gee: Gee is pitching for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate. He has a 3.88 ERA in nine starts in the PCL so far, and has made one appearance for the Rangers’ MLB team.
Bobby Parnell: Parnell was exiled from the Mets after his disastrous 2015, and hasn’t had much success since then. He went to the Tigers last season and pitched only 5.1 innings in the majors, and this season is pitching in Triple-A for the Royals. He owns a 4.71 ERA in 21 innings so far.
Vinny Rottino: Did you know Rottino played on the 2012 Mets? Well he did, and he was on the 25-man roster for the no-no. He’d floated around the minor leagues since 2012, and finally retired from baseball last September. Hopefully he can now start up a pizza roll business and call it Rottino’s Pizza Rolls.
…That was a funny joke and you should laugh at it.
Andres Torres: Torres retired from baseball after 2014 after playing his final season in 2013 for the Giants. Sadly, Torres lost his wife, Soannie, to cancer this past December at the age of 37. Torres is still heavily involved in the Bay Area community, and is doing what he can to inspire inner city kids.
Scott Hairston: Jerry’s younger brother spent time with the Cubs and the Nationals in the two years after his Mets tenure ended. He was signed by the White Sox before the 2016 season, but was released after spring training. He technically remains a free agent, though it certainly looks as if his playing days are over.
Mike Nickeas: The non-elite prospect played one MLB game for the Blue Jays in 2013 after the Mets traded him, and retired from baseball in 2015. He went back to Georgia Tech to complete his degree in business administration last year, and now serves as the volunteer bench coach on the Georgia Tech baseball team. He was also the bench coach for the Great Britain National Team in the WBC qualifiers last fall.
Jordany Valdespin: Released by the Mets because of numerous attitude issues, Vladespin spent time with the Marlins and Tigers before heading to the Mexican League this year. He was promptly released in April by Leones de Yucatan after just 14 games with them because they couldn’t stand him either. However, he signed on to play for Olmecas de Tabasco just two days later, and he’s hitting .371/.470/.556 in 34 games with them. So that’s good. Valdespin is also now immortalized on Mets pre-and-post-game shows with Nelson Figueroa’s daily “I’m the Man Right Now” segments.
What’s more, the awful music video for the terrible rap song about him was removed from YouTube for some reason, though the atrocity still exists in audio form. As of this writing, that video has 11 views, and at least three of them are from me.
Jeremy Hefner: After two Tommy John surgeries, Hefner decided to retire from professional baseball this past January at the age of 31. It’s a sad end for Hefner, who looked like he had some potential as a useful fifth starter/swingman, which the Mets could really use right about now. But Hefner is now serving as an advance scout for the Twins, and continues to keep a strong social media presence along with his wife, Sarah.
Jon Rauch: Arguably the Mets’ best reliever in 2012, Rauch and his neck tattoos last pitched for the Marlins in 2013. He’s retired now, and owns a car shop called Bullpen Garage in Tucson, Arizona. According to the shop’s site, it is dedicated to off-road and 4×4 vehicles.
Ramon Ramirez: You may remember Ramirez as the guy who pulled his hamstring running in from the bullpen in the celebration after the no-hitter. After an unsuccessful season with the Mets in 2012, he had minor league stints with the Giants, Mariners, Orioles, Angels, and the Mexican League from 2013-2016, though he’s not signed anywhere for this season. He also has the most detailed Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen for a journeyman reliever.
Elvin Ramirez, Frank Francisco, Jack Egbert: These were relievers on the 2012 Mets. They were on the 25-man roster on June 1, 2012. They are no longer in baseball. This is the most information I could find about any of them.
Tim Byrdak: Byrdak was also a victim of anterior capsule surgery. He went under the knife in 2012, and it basically ended his career. He was able to return to the Mets in 2013, but only for a handful of innings, and has not played baseball anywhere since then. He has dabbled in announcing, even calling a few Mets spring training games with Josh Lewin in 2014, but he’s since gone back to college and is currently attending Robert Morris University working towards a degree.
Johan Santana: Santana made only 10 more starts in his MLB career after his no-hitter. He had a second anterior capsule surgery in 2013, which many thought would end his career, but to his credit, has tried his best to make a comeback.
Santana signed with the Orioles in 2014 on a minor-league deal. On June 6 of that season, he tore his Achilles tendon and missed the rest of the season. In 2015, he attempted another comeback, but halted his comeback attempt once again due to a toe infection. He went unsigned in 2016, though his agent said he was still trying to comeback. Reports were that Santana was going to pitch in the Venezuelan Winter League over the offseason, though I was unable to confirm if he actually did.
Santana, now 38, has likely seen his playing career come to an end. Nobody can deny the valor he showed towards the end, gutting out a 134-pitch effort while not fully recovered from major surgery and continuously trying to fight his way back into baseball, but it never worked out for him. Santana was legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball for a decade, and his Mets career outside of the no-hitter may forever go underappreciated as well, due to the way it ended and the amount of money he was owed.
This was a bad team. There were other players not mentioned here, because they were not on the 25-man roster on June 1, 2012, due to injury. Jason Bay, Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno, and Miguel Batista are a few of the names left off this list, and it’s probably a good thing they were. The fact that Santana was able to throw his no-hitter with this cast of characters around him makes it all the more impressive.
Photo credit: Kate Feldman