You know the “The Madden Curse,” but do you know the perhaps the weirdest sports curse of all?
The Santa costume owned by the New York Mets is hexed. Wear it — as Daniel Murphy did Tuesday at the team’s annual children’s Christmas party — and only grief will ensue. A different player wears it each year, and the following season something bad happens to him. This goes all the way back to 2004 and only one player has escaped the jinx.
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com writes the history of the Mets’ Santa costume and its victims, from David Wright’s stress fracture to Mike Cameron’s frightening outfield collision to Jeff Francoeur’s falling batting average. Though, that last one is more of a chicken-egg situation. Even Kris Benson once wore the Santa costume, and things didn’t end too well for him, in New York or otherwise.
Read DiComo’s piece for the full list, but here are the last few years:
The Year: 2009
The Santa: Jeff Francoeur
The Fallout: The affable Francoeur seemed a perfect choice for Santa after raking in his first few months after a trade to New York. He scored points for his jolliness, before hitting just .237 for the Mets in 2010 and losing his starting job to Angel Pagan. Frustrated with his production, the Mets eventually dealt Francoeur to the Rangers, who cut him after the season.
The Year: 2010
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: Making his second career appearance as Santa, Wright suffered a stress fracture in his lower back the following April, struggled while attempting to play through the pain, and ultimately spent more than two months on the disabled list. The resulting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging were only half the story; Wright also endured fallout from owner Fred Wilpon’s critical comments about him in the New Yorker magazine.
The Year: 2011
The Santa: Daniel Murphy
The Fallout: Perhaps Murphy ended the curse once and for all? It was not until after tearing ligaments in both knees that Murphy played Santa in 2011, still recovering from the second injury. Though he recovered to play a full healthy season in 2012, Murphy did not enjoy the same type of success that he had in 2011.
The Year: 2012
The Santa: John Franco
The Cameo: R.A. Dickey
The Fallout: The Mets wised up in 2012, using a former player instead of a current one for their Santa. It didn’t matter. Despite not receiving an original invite, Dickey attended the party as well, using it as a platform to express disappointment with his contract negotiations. A week later, the Mets traded him to the Blue Jays.
Now we just wait and see what happens to Murphy. He’s already been linked to trade rumors, so that seems like the odds-on-favorite outcome. But baseball players are prone to weird offseason injuries, so we can’t count that out either.
Maybe he’ll hurt himself startling kids at Christmas.
- – - – - – -
- Sports Recreation
- Daniel Murphy
- New York Mets
- Jeff Francoeur
- David Wright