Hawaii has a love affair with its pro athletes–the most prominent contemporary example thereof, being the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” Shane Victorino. But for a few years there, the Shea Stadium faithful’s love for Benny “Hawaiian Punch” Agbayani rivaled even that of his native Hawaii. Never more than when he hit that 13th-inning walk-off homer in game three of the NLDS.
Agbayani hit just 39 homers in the Majors, but none more important than that one. Mets fans remember Agbayani best for that home run, but to me the name Agbayani will ALWAYS conjure up memories of this play, a couple of months prior:
I was surprised to find Benny was only a Big Leaguer for five seasons–I thought he played longer than that. The outfielder’s best season came in 2000, when he hit 15 home runs and drove in 60 to go with a solid .289 batting average. That year he struck out 68 times, but walked 54, bringing his on-base percentage to an impressive .391. He played over 100 games just twice, in 1999 and 2000, despite being a solid hitter with some power.
He played his last Major League game in 2002 for the Red Sox, but later played several years in Japan, where he was the MVP of the 2005 Asia series