- Last Updated: 11:20 AM, June 3, 2012
- Posted: 12:12 AM, June 3, 2012
“We wanted them to see how we grew up,’’ Ray explained. “We’re proud of both of our kids and we’re fortunate to have a wonderful daughter-in-law in Diana. The love we get back from our kids is unbelievable.’’
Mike, who played at Vanderbilt, and his wife Diana live in Nashville in the offseason, but you can’t take Whitestone out of the kid.
The Life of Baxter is pretty special.
“It’s just a dream come true playing for the Mets in front of my family,’’ Mike said, 27. “I take a look every night to make sure they are up there. It’s such a unique opportunity to play in the major leagues in your hometown. I remember going to Shea Stadium with my dad, and him kind of taking care of an usher and us always getting us good seats. John Olerud was my favorite Met, such a well-balanced left-handed hitter.’’
Olerud hit .315 his three years with the Mets in the late 90s.
Said Ray, knowingly, “They have the same swing, short to the ball.’’
This is not just a story about a local kid, persevering, playing the game right and being rewarded with a chance to play for his hometown, backyard team.
Mike Baxter made the most of this unique opportunity. He’s here to win, and all you have to do is watch him race down the first base line every time he put the ball in play. His hustle double in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win over the Phillies was a key play. Baxter plays the game right.
“He’s saved us, got huge hits for us,’’ Terry Collins told me in the Mets dugout. “His preparation and concentration have been tremendous. When you look at him on the bench in the game, he is really into the game. For a young player to do what he is doing is amazing.
“Sometimes, it can almost be a detriment playing in front of your friends and family because there are distractions, but he’s handled it great. He’s so down to earth.’’
The lefty-hitting Baxter has been a phenomenal pinch-hitter for the Mets, but with Jason Bay injured, he had done the job as a starter against right-handers as well. That doesn’t surprise Jack Curran, his legendary coach at Archbishop Molloy High School. Baxter was his shortstop and the team won the Catholic High School Athletic Association’s City Championship as a senior at Shea Stadium.
“Mike was a low-maintenance type, team-oriented player,’’ Curran said, noting that Ray Baxter played against Archbishop Molloy when he was a student at Mater Christi, which later became the new St. John’s Prep. “You never had to tell Mike anything. He was always doing it before you told him. When I think of Mike, I think of Ray. After games I’d come out of the locker room after getting changed and Mike would be on the field taking ground balls from his dad, which was great. He has a great relationship with his dad.’’Follow @NYPostsports