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On This Date in Sports July 29, 2004: A Valent Cycle

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Journeyman Eric Valent hits for the cycle as the New York Mets club the Montreal Expos 10-1 at Olympic Stadium. Valent who spent most of his career in the minors, had just two triples in his career. It is the eighth cycle in the history of the Mets who at that point had never thrown a No-Hitter. The 2004 season would be the only full season Eric Valent was on an MLB roster.

The cycle could be the most random event in baseball. A unique individual accomplishment, it is when a player has a single, double, triple and a home run in the same game. The cycle is nearly as rare as the no-hitter but is not as fondly looked upon. Few players have had multiple cycles in their career. To illustrate how random a cycle is, some of baseball’s greatest players including Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jr. never hit for the cycle, yet Eric Valent on one magical afternoon in Montreal did.

Eric Valent was born on April 4, 1977, in La Mirada, California. After a solid career at UCLA, Valent was drafted 42nd overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1998 MLB Draft. However, transitioning to the wooden bat was not easy, as the slugger who led the Pac-10 in home runs had trouble finding his power stroke in professional baseball. Eric Valent first was called up by the Phillies in 2001 but had trouble staying in the majors. After the 2002 season, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds where he continued to spend time in the minors as he had just 100 total at-bats over his first three seasons.

In 2004, Eric Valent was picked up by the New York Mets and finally made a team out of Spring Training, as he hit first major league home run. The Mets were hovering near .500 under manager Art Howe in late July as they were on the fringe of the wild card spot, playing the last place Montreal Expos on a Thursday Afternoon game at Olympic Stadium. The Expos had won two of the first three games of the four-game series in Montreal. The Mets had Al Leiter on the mound, while Rocky Biddle started for Frank Robinson’s Expos.

After a scoreless first, the Mets got on the board in the second as Mike Cameron hit a two-run homer with Ty Wigginton on the mound. Eric Valent meanwhile followed with an infield single while David Wright doubled, both would later score on a two-out single by Mike Piazza. In the third, Cameron homered again to make it 5-0. Valent followed with a double but did not score. In the fifth inning, the Mets would strike again, as Cameron walked, while Eric Valent hit a two-run homer off relieve Sun-Woo Kim to give New York a 7-0 lead. The Expos would get the lone run in the sixth as Juan Rivera doubled home Orlando Cabrera.

Eric Valent a lumbering left-hander who had no career steals and one triple coming into the game came to the plate in the seventh inning and hit an RBI triple down the right-field line off Roy Corcoran. He would later score on a double by David Wright. The Mets would get a tenth run on a home run by Richard Hildago in the eighth, while Valent walked in his final at-bat, to finish the cycle with a 4-for-4 performance, with three RBI and three runs scored.

The 2004 season would be Eric Valent’s best season as he was back in the minor leagues in 2005 never to appear in the majors again.