“I think it’s a good thing that they give Endy Chavez a night to honor him with his own bobblehead,” said Brooklyn Cyclones Manager Edgardo Alfonzo about his fellow Venezuelan coach who made one of baseball’s greatest catches at Shea Stadium’s left field wall to rob Scott Rolon of a home run in the Mets’ 2016 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. “Having something like this shows our players that they have coaches instructing them who know how to play the game in the major leagues.”
Over the years, the Cyclones have had some outstanding outfielders like Jonathan Slack, who gained recognition during the 2003 season for making a number of “Willie Mays” over-the-shoulder catches in centerfield. In 2014, first round draft pick Michael Conforto showed appreciative Cyclones fans how left field should be played with “shoestring catches” and “warning track grabs.”
Currently, the Cyclones rely on elite defensive centerfielder Jake Mangum, their fourth round draft pick from Mississippi State, to flag down the balls hit to the deepest parts of MCU Park.
For the Chavez family, “the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.” Chavez’s younger brother Ender treated fans in 2003 to sparkling catches in right field that made ESPN’s nightly Top Ten Plays of the Day with outfield gems that robbed the opposition of extra base hits. Three years later, in October 2006, older brother Endy made the national TV highlights with what would become known in Mets’ lore as “the Catch.”
Endy Chavez came up through the Mets’ minor league system (1997-2000). The lefty-swinging outfielder was traded early in his career to the Kansas City Royals for whom he made his major league debut in 2001. After a successful stint with the Montreal Expos, he returned to the Mets in 2006 to have one of his better seasons with a career high .306 batting average.
Although the Mets have had other players make great post-season catches such as Ron Swoboda’s belly-slide catch and Tommy Agee’s back-handed catch at the warning track during the 1969 World Series, Chavez will always be remembered for the catch in which he actually pulled back a home run ball that had already cleared the eight-foot left field wall at Shea Stadium.
Tracking the ball off Rolon’s bat in the sixth inning, with Jim Edmunds on first base and one out, Chavez made a perfectly timed 10-foot leap “on the dead run” for the catch as he ricocheted off the fence with the ball in the webbing of his glove.
Coming down with a “snow cone” in his web, Chavez managed to hold on to the ball and fired back to the infield for an inning-ending double play.
Earlier in the season Chavez was asked if he’d bring in his 2006 game glove to the ballpark to pose along with his bobblehead. In response to the request to show off his valued glove, Chavez just smiled and said, “ Sorry, that glove stays home in Venezuela in a very safe place.”