Benny Peter Agbayani, Jr. (born in Honolulu, Hawaii) is a professional baseball player on the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. Born in Hawaii to Filipino and Samoan parents, he attended Saint Louis School and Hawaii Pacific University. He also attended the Oregon Institute of Technology. He formerly played with the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox.
He was originally drafted by the California Angels but did not sign. Agbayani was later drafted in the 30th round by the New York Mets on June 3, 1993. He became a local star at the Triple-A minor league team, the Norfolk Tides. He has since been part of the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, and Kansas City Royals organizations. He last played for the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Pacific League.
Agbayani made his major league debut with the New York Mets on, 1998, as part of an 8th inning double-switch in which he defensively replaced center fielder Butch Huskey during a 5-4 loss to the Montreal Expos. He made his first start and picked up his first big league hit on . Agbayani led off the bottom of the first inning by singling to second base off Florida Marlins pitcher Brian Meadows.
On, 2000 while a member of the Mets, Agbayani was involved in a particularly memorable play. In the fourth inning, with the Mets leading 1-0, the Giants loaded the bases after a double, an error, and a hit batsman. With one out, Giants catcher Bobby Estalella hit a fly pop to Agbayani in left field. Agbayani, thinking that the catch made three outs, gave the ball to a child in the stands and began to trot toward the dugout. It took him a moment to realize his mistake, but once he did, he sprinted back to the stands, pulled the ball from the hands of the young fan he had given it to, and fired a throw toward home plate. Unfortunately for Agbayani, once the ball left the field, the play was dead, and all three runners were awarded two bases—causing Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks to score, and the Giants to take the lead, 2-1. The Mets went on to win the game, 3-2, and Agbayani gave another ball to the fan who had given the previous one back.
Agbayani is also fondly remembered by Mets fans for two clutch home runs hit during the 2000 season. On, his 11th inning Grand Slam against the Chicago Cubs gave the Mets their first win of the season, and a split in the two game series the Mets and Cubs had played in Tokyo, Japan. Later that year, on, he hit a game-winning home run in the 13th inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against Aaron Fultz of the Giants. Agbayani also drove in the winning run in the only game the Mets won in the 2000 World Series.
On January 21, 2002, Agbayani was part of a 10-player, three-team trade between the Mets, Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers, that sent him from New York to Colorado. He struggled in 48 games with the Rockies, hitting .205 with four home runs and 19 RBI before he was placed on waivers in late August.
The Boston Red Sox selected Agbayni off waivers from the Rockies on, 2002, as the club made a drive for the playoffs. He played relatively well down the stretch, hitting .297 and driving in eight runs in 37 at-bats over 13 games with Boston. In his final MLB game, Agbayani went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout as the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park.
On October 26, 2005, Agbayani and the Chiba Lotte Marines swept the Hanshin Tigers in 4 games during the Japan Series. This was the Marines' first title in 31 years. On, they won the Asia series after defeating the champions of Korea, China, and Taiwan, and Agbayani was named MVP. Agbayani's manager with Chiba Lotte was his manager with the Mets, Bobby Valentine.
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- Agbayani is one of six known players in Major League Baseball history from the Philippines, either by birth, citizenship, or heritage. The other five are: Bobby Balcena (1956 Cincinnati Reds), Bobby Chouinard (1996 Oakland Athletics, 1998 Milwaukee Brewers, 1998-1999 Arizona Diamondbacks, 2000-2001 Colorado Rockies), Chris Aguila (2004-2006 Florida Marlins), Tim Lincecum (2007–present San Francisco Giants), and Geno Espineli (2008–present San Francisco Giants).
- Appeared on the Howard Stern radio show around the time the New York Mets faced the Yankees in the 2000 World Series. He predicted the Mets would win the series in 5 games, which they did not. The Yankees, however, did win in five games.
- Went by the nickname of Hawaiian Punch during his tenure with the Mets.
- He is a 1989 inductee of Hawaii's athletic Hall of Honor. Despite having only limited and occasional success in the Major Leagues, Agbayani was a popular figure with fans, particular in New York, where his successes were often met with "Benny, Benny!" chants as well as "Benny and the Mets", a parody of Elton John's Benny and the Jets.
- Agbayni is banned from joining the MLBPA as a result of his participation in 1995 spring training.
- Benny Agbayani's published autobiography, Big League Survivor with Shayne Fujii. ISBN 0-9705787-3-3
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Reference minor league statistics
- MLB historical statistics
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from Japanesebaseball.com