Benny Peter Agbayani, Jr. (//; born December 28, 1971) is an American retired professional baseball player. He attended Saint Louis School, Hawaii Pacific University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He currently lives on Long Island, NY in North Amityville.
Agbayani at Pearl Harbor in 2015
|Born: December 28, 1971|
|MLB: June 17, 1998, for the New York Mets|
|NPB: 2004, for the Chiba Lotte Marines|
|MLB: September 29, 2002, for the Boston Red Sox|
|NPB: 2009, for the Chiba Lotte Marines|
|Runs batted in||156|
|Runs batted in||360|
He was originally drafted by the California Angels but did not sign. Agbayani was later drafted in the 30th round by the New York Mets on June 3, 1993. He became a local star at the Triple-A minor league team, the Norfolk Tides. He has since been part of the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, and Kansas City Royals organizations. He last played for the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Pacific League.
New York MetsEdit
Agbayani made his major league debut with the New York Mets on June 17, 1998, as part of an 8th-inning double-switch in which he defensively replaced center fielder Butch Huskey during a 5-4 loss to the Montreal Expos. He made his first start and picked up his first big league hit on June 19. Agbayani led off the bottom of the first inning by singling to second base off Florida Marlins pitcher Brian Meadows.
His 11 home runs prior to the All Star break in 1999 was the second-most by a Mets rookie, behind Ron Swoboda (15, in 1965); Ike Davis also had 11 in 2010. Swoboda's record was subsequently annihilated by Peter Alonso in 2019.
On August 12, 2000 while a member of the Mets, Agbayani was involved in a particularly memorable play. In the fourth inning, with the Mets leading 1-0, the Giants loaded the bases after a double, an error, and a hit batsman. With one out, Giants catcher Bobby Estalella hit a fly pop to Agbayani in left field. Agbayani, thinking that the catch made three outs, gave the ball to a child in the stands and began to trot toward the dugout. Upon realizing his mistake, Agbayani sprinted back to the stands, pulled the ball from the hands of the young fan he had given it to, and fired a throw toward home plate. Unfortunately for Agbayani, once the ball left the field, the play was dead, and all three runners were awarded two bases—causing Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks to score, and the Giants to take the lead, 2-1. The Mets went on to win the game, 3-2, and Agbayani gave another ball to the fan who had given the previous one back.
Agbayani is also fondly remembered by Mets fans for two clutch home runs hit during the 2000 season, earning him the nickname "Hawaiian Punch" (after the popular fruit drink). On March 30, his 11th inning grand slam against the Chicago Cubs gave the Mets their first win of the season, and a split in the two-game series the Mets and Cubs played in Tokyo, Japan. (It remained the only regular-season MLB grand slam ever hit in Japan until Domingo Santana hit a grand slam for the Seattle Mariners vs the Oakland Athletics on March 20, 2019.) Later that year, on October 7, he hit a game-winning home run in the 13th inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against Aaron Fultz of the Giants. Agbayani also drove in the winning run in the only game the Mets won in the 2000 World Series.
On January 21, 2002, Agbayani was part of a 10-player, three-team trade between the Mets, Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers, that sent him from New York to Colorado. He struggled in 48 games with the Rockies, hitting .205 with four home runs and 19 RBI before he was placed on waivers in late August.
Boston Red SoxEdit
The Boston Red Sox selected Agbayani off waivers from the Rockies on August 26, 2002, as the club made a drive for the playoffs. He played relatively well down the stretch, hitting .297 and driving in eight runs in 37 at-bats over 13 games with Boston. In his final MLB game, September 29, Agbayani went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout as the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park.
Nippon Professional BaseballEdit
On October 26, 2005, Agbayani and the Chiba Lotte Marines swept the Hanshin Tigers in 4 games during the Japan Series. This was the Marines' first title in 31 years. On November 13, 2005, they won the inaugural Asia Series after defeating the champions of South Korea, China, and Taiwan. They defeated the Samsung Lions in the championship and Agbayani was named MVP of the series. Agbayani's manager with Chiba Lotte was his manager with the Mets, Bobby Valentine. He retired following the 2009 season, his sixth in Japan. After baseball he was hired as an educational assistant in Oahu, Hawaii.
Career and achievementsEdit
- Agbayani is one of ten known players in Major League Baseball history with a Filipino background, either by birth, citizenship, or heritage.
- He is a 1999 inductee of Hawaii's athletic Hall of Honor. Despite having only limited and occasional success in the Major Leagues, Agbayani was a popular figure with fans, particular in New York, where his successes were often met with "Benny, Benny!" chants as well as "Benny and the Mets", a parody of Elton John's Benny and the Jets.
- Doug Miller. "Surging Niese squares off with Zito". MLB.com. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
- "Retrosheet Boxscore: New York Mets 3, San Francisco Giants 2". Retrosheet.org. August 12, 2000. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
- McCarron, Anthony (April 10, 2010) Former New York Mets OF Benny Agbayani coming up big once again New York Daily News. Retrieved June 14, 2015.