200 Miles From the Citi

September 1, 2009 4:15 AM


With both Johan Santana and Oliver Perez set to undergo surgery today, we turn to the 200 Miles From the Citi futurives (opposite of archives, I made it up) to see just how pivotal a day in Mets history this was.

July 28, 2025 - Cooperstown, NY - Ollie and Johan. Johan and Ollie. Like Tinker, Evers, and Chance; Smoltz, Maddux, and Glavine; Schilling and Johnson; the names have been intertwined in baseball history.

They celebrated together on the mound after Perez relieved Santana in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, capping the Mets' fifth World Series championship in seven years. They kidded with each other as back-to-back co-Cy Young award winners in 2010 and 2011, beginning a stretch where each alternated as the NL winner of the award for eight straight years. And they sit together this weekend reflecting on a remarkable stretch which began with both of them on the disabled list and ends here, as they prepare to be inducted together into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"My success definitely traces back to the surgery," says Perez, referring to the controversial procedure conducted at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. "I came back from that a different pitcher."

"I don't really remember much about the past 16 years, to be honest," added Santana.

The players both had surgery on September 1, 2009, suffering from season-ending injuries in a terribly disappointing season for the Mets. For Perez, scar tissue was removed from the patella tendon of his left knee, and Santana had bone chips removed from his pitching elbow. Those surgeries were conducted as scheduled. What no one was told until the players' careers were over, though, was that doctors also took part of Santana's brain and implanted it into Perez's head.

"It was very strange," said Jeff Wilpon, whose father's sale of the team during the off-season was another move that has been widely credited with the team's turnaround. "It was like a Frankenstein setup."

"From that day forward, I was like a different pitcher," Perez recalls. "It was like, 'Oh, you're not supposed to walk guys. Especially with the bases loaded!'"

The effects of the surgery are reflected in the stats: both pitchers averaged 17 wins over the next 10 seasons. Santana reached 300 wins for his career in his final season, while Perez recorded 4,000 strikeouts for his career during that final campaign five years ago.

Neither pitcher reported any negative side effects following the surgery, though fans noticed that every time Santana struck out 10 or more batters from the 2010 season forward, he would wet his pants.

Asked about their time together with the Mets, Perez said of Santana, "I think I owe him everything."

Santana replied, "I don't remember anything."

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