Saturday, June 15

Joe Christopher, an Original Met Who Was Amazin’ in ’64, Dies at 88

After the 1965 season, the Mets traded Christopher to the Boston Red Sox; the Red Sox sent him to the Detroit Tigers in mid-1966. He barely played for Boston and not at all for Detroit; in 1967 and ’68, he played for minor league teams in the Pirates, Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies systems.

He had a career batting average of .260, with 29 home runs and 173 R.B.I.

After retiring, Christopher worked in insurance, health care and advertising.

In addition to Kameahle Christopher, he is survived by four other daughters, Cheryl, Michelle, Jo Anne and Arinna Christopher; three sons, Joseph Jr., Rael Jones and Ryan Christopher-Bear; and 14 grandchildren. His marriages to Ana Solares and Karen Matthews ended in divorce.

One of the enduring tales from the 1962 season was about the language help that Christopher provided to two of his teammates. Richie Ashburn, the center fielder, and Elio Chacon, a shortstop from Venezuela, were not communicating well on fly balls hit between them. Ashburn asked Christopher, who spoke Spanish, how to say “I got it.”

Christopher told him to shout, “Yo la tengo!” to alert Chacon that Ashburn would take control of a fly ball. During the next game, Ashburn rushed out for a fly, shouting “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” Chacon backed off. But as Ashburn prepared to catch the ball, the left fielder Frank Thomas, who spoke no Spanish, rushed in and flattened Ashburn.

In the early 1980s, a Mets fan, Ira Kaplan, who had read about the incident, formed a rock band with his wife, Georgia Hubley. He called it Yo La Tengo.