Queens to Kings: The Four Best Players to Play for Both the Yankees and Mets

Josh SchermerhornContributor IIJuly 2, 2011

Queens to Kings: The Four Best Players to Play for Both the Yankees and Mets

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    New York's baseball history is rich with history dating back well over a century with multiple teams always battling for the Big Apple's spotlight.  For the last 50 years, the same two teams have drawn the border through the city.  Both the Mets and Yankees have produced Hall-of-Famers and championships, but also players who have donned each uniform.   Here are five of the best to play in Queens and the Bronx.

Something Perfect: David Cone

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    A year after the Mets won their second World Series in 1986, Kansas City Royals' right-hander David Cone moved to New York for a chance to start a career.  His chance was taken, as he became an elite pitcher in the game.  In five seasons, Cone compiled a 67-45 record.  

    After injuries and trips to Toronto and Kansas City, he made his way to the Bronx, where he established himself in Yankees lore forever.  Cone was part of four championships for the Yankees, hurling clutch games in many playoff games.  However, the pinnacle of his New York career was an irony of all ironies, as Cone pitched a perfect game on July 18, 1999.  It was also Yogi Berra day, where Don Larsen (the only pitched to throw a perfect game in the World Series) threw out the first pitch to Berra.  Though his performance tailed off late in his Yankee career, he still carved out a 55-38 record, making him one of the greatest cross-town New York performers ever.

The Doctor: Dwight Gooden

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    Dwight Gooden was simply a phenomenon.  At age 19, "Doc" came onto the scene throwing hard for the Mets.  In his rookie season, Gooden went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA while striking out 276 batters, unheard of for a young talent.  This was a whisper of his true potential that was no doubt reached his next season, where he went an unbelievable 24-4 with a minuscule 1.53 ERA, striking out 268.  Though his remaining nine seasons with the Mets were not as spectacular, they were certainly good, as he helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series.  His full potential seemingly never reached, and speculatively because of his fast life off the field.

    His New York career was not over after the Mets.  He traveled across town to the Bronx, pitching three seasons for the Yankees.  His overall performance was respectable, but his highlight was a no-hitter on May 14, 1996.  Gooden helped the Yankees win their first World series in 18 years that season as well.  He had a great career in New York, but what it could have been may have ended up being the best New York pitcher ever.

Straw: Darryl Strawberry

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    If Dwight Gooden was a phenomenon, Darryl Strawberry was a natural.  His play was not flawed as he made the game look effortless.  His home runs soared out of Shea Stadium like no other's.  In 1983, the 21-year-old Strawberry blasted 26 homers in his rookie season, only a sign of things to come.  In his eight seasons, he hit out 252 and won a championship before moving onto the Dodgers in 1991.  

    Like Gooden, Strawberry's off-the-field play has believed to have cost him a sure Hall-of-Fame career.  His bid to become legendary was completed in New York where it began, but for the Yankees.  His contributions helped the Yankees win three titles during his five seasons in the Bronx, but it was his feel-good story that made him a crowd favorite, culminating with a successful battle with cancer.   

Deja Vu: Yogi Berra

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    His legacy was not born in Queens, but it surprisingly ended there.  Yogi Berra, selected as one of the 50 best players ever, finished his Hall-of-Fame career with a four-game stint with the Mets, followed by a managerial campaign with the team.

    Before that, Berra carved out one the best resumes in baseball history.  In 17 seasons with the Yankees Berra hit 358 home runs, collected three MVP awards and won a record 10 World Series rings.  

    His legendary ability to hit in the clutch—and hit pitches that aren't meant to be hit—make him one of the best hitters ever to live.