It almost seemed too good to be true.
For the past three seasons, Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, graduate Mike Baxter suited up as a professional baseball player for his favorite childhood team, the New York Mets.
He was celebrated in Flushing as the hometown hero and wound up having a few key moments in orange and blue, including the memorable catch in left field during the seventh inning of Johan Santana’s no-hitter on June 1, 2012 – the only no-hitter in Mets history.
But unfortunately for this product of St. Luke’s parish, Whitestone, all good things must come to an end.
The 29-year-old outfielder was placed on waivers by the Mets after this season and was claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a strong showing in Spring Training and made the team’s Opening Day roster.
However, the Dodgers had a logjam in their outfield heading into the season, with speedster Carl Crawford, veteran Andre Ethier and the enigmatic yet electric Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig. Once two-time All-Star and 2011 National League M.V.P. runner-up Matt Kemp returned from the disabled list, Baxter was designated for assignment to the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes.
He’ll provide insurance against injury in the minor leagues for the Dodgers, or he could be viewed as a trade target for another team seeking depth on its bench.
As he works his way back to the big leagues, Baxter said that his time in the Big Apple will always have a special place in his baseball career, which has taken him all around the globe.
“I have some great memories of playing in New York in the Major Leagues and sharing that with my family,” he said. “I will be forever grateful to the Mets for giving me the opportunity to play at home.”
Not many baseball players can say they had the chance to play for their hometown team. But Baxter did more than just play for the Mets; he quickly became a fan favorite – always signing autographs, posing for pictures and even visiting his old stomping grounds at Archbishop Molloy.
“It’s a childhood dream come true,” he said. “I said that a lot when I was playing there, and I meant it. As time goes by, you realize how unique and how rare that is.”
Baxter will have plenty of time some day to look back on his baseball memories in New York. But right now, he’s focused on getting back to the big leagues – for either the Dodgers or any team willing to give him another shot.