Benny Agbayani

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Benny Agbayani
Agbayani at Pearl Harbor in 2015
Left fielder
Born: (1971-12-28) December 28, 1971 (age 52)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Professional debut
MLB: June 17, 1998, for the New York Mets
NPB: March 27, 2004, for the Chiba Lotte Marines
Last appearance
MLB: September 29, 2002, for the Boston Red Sox
NPB: September 27, 2009, for the Chiba Lotte Marines
MLB statistics
Batting average.274
Home runs39
Runs batted in156
NPB statistics
Batting average.283
Home runs90
Runs batted in360

Benny Peter Agbayani, Jr. (/æɡbˈɑːni/; born December 28, 1971) is an American former professional baseball player. He attended Saint Louis School, Hawaii Pacific University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Chiba Lotte Marines.


Minor leagues[edit]

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.

New York Mets[edit]

Agbayani made his major league debut with the New York Mets on June 17, 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 June 19. Agbayani led off the bottom of the first inning by singling to second base off Florida Marlins pitcher Brian Meadows.

Agbayani at Shea Stadium

His 11 home runs prior to the All Star break in 1999 was the second-most by a Mets rookie, behind Ron Swoboda (15, in 1965); Ike Davis also had 11 in 2010.[1] Swoboda's record was subsequently broken by Pete Alonso, with 30 homers by the break in 2019.[2]

On August 12, 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, Jake Burns, in the stands and began to trot toward the dugout. Upon realizing his mistake, Agbayani sprinted back to the stands, pulled the ball from the hands of Burns, 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 came back to win the game, 3–2, and Agbayani gave another ball to the boy.[3]

Agbayani is also fondly remembered by Mets fans for two clutch home runs hit during the 2000 season, earning him the nickname "Hawaiian Punch" (after the popular fruit drink). On March 30, 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 played in Tokyo, Japan. (It remained the only regular-season MLB grand slam ever hit in Japan until Domingo Santana hit one for the Seattle Mariners vs the Oakland Athletics on March 20, 2019.) Later that year, on October 7, 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.

Colorado Rockies[edit]

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.

Boston Red Sox[edit]

The Boston Red Sox selected Agbayani off waivers from the Rockies on August 26, 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, September 29, Agbayani went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout as the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park.

Nippon Professional Baseball[edit]

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 November 13, 2005, they won the inaugural Asia Series after defeating the champions of South Korea, China, and Taiwan. They defeated the Samsung Lions in the championship and Agbayani was named MVP of the series. Agbayani's manager with Chiba Lotte was his manager with the Mets, Bobby Valentine. He retired following the 2009 season, his sixth in Japan.

Personal life[edit]

Agbayani is of Filipino, Samoan, and Hawaiian descent.[4][5]

Agbayani and his wife Niela have three children; daughters Aleia and Ailana and son Bruin.[6] Aleia attended UC Berkeley where she played for their softball team from 2020 to 2023.[7][8] After graduating from Cal in the spring of 2023, she is pursuing master's degree in public health at Brigham Young University and playing softball in the 2024 season.[9] Ailana also attends Brigham Young University and is playing softball in the 2024 season.[10] Bruin is currently a high school baseball star for Mililani High School who has committed to play for South Carolina starting in 2025.[11]

Following his retirement, Agbayani was hired as an educational assistant at Mililani High School in Oahu in 2010.[12]

As of December 2019, Agbayani was a ramp agent for Hawaiian Airlines.[13] He was also the softball head coach at ʻIolani School in Honolulu, where both of his daughters attended as well as played softball.[14]

Career and achievements[edit]

  • He is a 1989 inductee of Hawaii High School Athletic Association Hall Of Honor.[15] His daughter Ailana, whom he coached in softball at ʻIolani School, is a 2022 inductee.[16]
  • 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 "Bennie and the Jets".[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, Doug (July 16, 2010). "Surging Niese squares off with Zito". Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  2. ^ Schoenfield, David (November 11, 2019). "Mets slugger Pete Alonso wins National League Rookie of the Year". ESPN. Retrieved July 3, 2023.
  3. ^ "Retrosheet Boxscore: New York Mets 3, San Francisco Giants 2". Retrosheet. August 12, 2000. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  4. ^ Stone, Larry (March 31, 2000). "Japan gets U.S. version of baseball brouhaha". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 8, 2023.
  5. ^ "A Sporting Chance". The Wall Street Journal. October 22, 1999. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  6. ^ Costello, Rory. "Benny Agbayani". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  7. ^ Honda, Paul (November 14, 2018). "'Iolani slugger Agbayani signs with Cal". Hawaii Prep World. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Aleia Agbayani - Softball". California Golden Bears Athletics. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  9. ^ "Aleia Agbayani - Softball 2024". BYU Athletics. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  10. ^ "Ailana Agbayani - Softball 2024". BYU Athletics. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  11. ^ "Benny had day in the sun. It's his son's turn". January 19, 2024. Retrieved March 31, 2024.
  12. ^ McCarron, Anthony (April 10, 2010). "Former New York Mets OF Benny Agbayani coming up big once again". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  13. ^ a b DiComo, Anthony (December 3, 2019). "Cult hero Agbayani's rise captivated Mets fans". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  14. ^ Abramo, Nick (March 7, 2019). "'Iolani coach Benny Agbayani recalls MLB high point". Hawaii Prep World. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Abramo, Nick (May 31, 2021). "Hawaii High School Athletic Association Hall Of Honor Grows To 468 Members". Bedrock Sports Hawaii. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  16. ^ McInnis, Brian (May 22, 2022). "Hawaii High School Athletic Association announces 2022 Hall of Honor class". Spectrum News. Retrieved June 23, 2022.

External links[edit]