Nov 23, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1971)- Donn Clendennon's Dramatic 15 Inning Walk Off

Saturday June 19, 1971: As Bob Murphy would say it was “a beautiful Saturday for baseball” as 52,171 fans turned out at Shea Stadium to watch Tom Terrific go against Philadelphia's Rick Wise.

Frank Lucchesi’s Phillies (25-38) were in last place, as Gil Hodges Mets (36-25) were in second place 2 ½ games out behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Starting Lineups

Seaver certainly wasn’t having his best day; allowing four runs on twelve hits, striking out only two batters before being relieved by Ron Taylor in the 6th.
In the 2nd, Deron Johnson hit a two run HR, Ron Stone & Larry Bowa later added RBI singles.

Philadelphia's Rick Wise was sailing along until the 6th inning. Ed Kranepool doubled, Ken Singleton singled and Ken Boswell singled scoring Kranepool. Jerry Grote & Tim Foli reached on consecutive errors by Larry Bowa & Oscar Gamble, which resulted to two more Mets runs, tying the game at four.

The game went to the bull pens and both sides did a great job. The Phils' Woodie Fryman & Joe Horner held the Mets scoreless for seven more innings. The Mets Tug McGraw & Danny Frisella did the same. McGraw allowed only allowed two hits getting to the 12th inning, giving way to Frisella. Frisella struck out six, but he did walk four and allowed four hits.

In the top of the 14th, Phillies short stop Larry Bowa reached on a  Ken Boswell error at scond. He advanced on a fielders choice & stole third. Bowa then stole home giving the Phillies the lead 5-4.

But the Mets wouldn’t let this one slip away, with one out in the bottom of the 14th; a young rookie Ken Singleton hit a dramatic HR to tie the game back up.

Frisella came out for the 15th and with one out allowed base hits to Bowa & Tim McCarver. He then struck out Willie Montanez "the Hot Dog" to end the inning.

The stage was set for Donn Clendenon, who had come into the game late as a pinch hitter, overall he was 3-4. He had led off the 9th & the 12th with doubles but had been left stranded.

With two outs he connected off Joe Hoerner, for a walk off game winning home run over the right field fence, (his 6th HR of the year) sending the crowd into frenzy. After a long four hours and forty minutes, the Mets took the 15 inning 6-5 win. Billy Wilson got the loss & Frisella got his third win of the year.

Mid Seventies Mets Pitcxher: Tom Hall (1975-1976)

Thomas Edward Hall was born November 23, 1947 in Thomasville, North Carolina. He grew up in Riverside California, attending high school there a s a star player.

The six foot tall left handed pitcher was the Minnesota Twins third round pick in 1966. In 1967 at A ball Wisconsin, he went 14-5 which got him promoted the next year. In 1968 he was 10-4 overall at AA Charlotte & AAA Denver with an ERA under two. He was in the big leagues with the Twins by the end of the year.  

He was nicknamed “the blade” & went on to have some fine seasons in the early seventies. He was primarily a reliever for four years in Minnesota, posting winning records every year, with the exception of 1971. In 1969 he was 8-7 making 18 starts in 31 appearances for the AL Champs that had two twenty game winners in Jim Perry & Dave Boswell. He made one appearance in the ALCS loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1970 he struck out 184 batters (8th most in the league) going 11-7 with four saves & a 2.55 ERA. By 1971 he was the Twins main reliever, leading the staff with nine saves, while posting a 4-7 record for the AL Western Champions. He pitched in two ALCS games against the Baltimore Orioles, taking the loss in Game #2 at home. In that game he served up a two run HR to Brooks Robinson & left the game behind 4-3. The Orioles went on to a 11-3 victory.

In December 1971 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Wayne Granger. Hall was fantastic for the 1972 Big Red Machine, going 10-1 with eight saves and a 2.61 ERA out of their tough bull pen. Reds manager Sparky Anderson earned the name "Captain Hook" as he liked to remove pitchers quickly, which was something not done too often in those days.

From late May through the end of the season Hall was 8-0 with six saves & eight holds to his credit. He did not blow any games or take any losses. In the 1972 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he got the win at Three Rivers Stadium in Game #2, pitching over four innings of one run relief.

In the 1972 World Series against the Oakland A's he made four appearances, earning a save in Game #6 which tied up the Series at three games apiece.  

Hall returned to go 8-5 with eight saves (third behind Clay Carroll & Pedro Borbon on the club) in 1973, getting to another post season with Cincinnati.

In the 1973 NLCS he made three appearances against the New York Mets getting no decisions. In Game #2 at Riverfront Stadium, he entered the game in 9th inning with the Reds behind 1-0. He gave up a single to Felix Millian, then a walk to Rusty Staub. Cleon Jones followed with a base hit to center field scoring Millan.

He would get charged with three runs before he was relieved by Pedro Borbon, in the Mets 5-0 win. That was the game Jon Matlack pitched a two hit shut out to even the Series. In Game #3 he allowed another run which ballooned his ERA up to a whopping 54.00.  

In April 1975 he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Mac Scarce. Hall made his Mets debut on April 16th in St. Louis, pitching two scoreless innings, finishing up a game with the Cardinals. On May 12th he earned a save against the San Francisco Giants preserving a win for Jon Matlack.

He got a rare start on June 4th & although he allowed three runs over five innings he still earned his first Mets win. Five days later he got another start, but he allowed five runs in four innings to the Atlanta Braves and was placed back in the bull pen. Over the last ten days in July, he earned three wins, two came in relief. The first was at home against Houston & the other on a road trip to Chicago.

On July 29th he got a start in St. Louis in the second game of a double header, although he gave up three runs the Mets supported him with eleven runs. Hall made 34 appearances for the third place '75 Mets, third most out of the bullpen, going 4-3 with one save. He would finish 15 games posting a 4.75 ERA. He struck out 48 batters in 60 innings pitched.  

In 1976 he earned a win on April 27th when John Milner & Bruce Boisclair drove in runs for a dramatic 9th inning finish. In his last Mets game, his former Reds team mates Ken Griffey & George Foster got him for two runs in the 11th inning for a loss. After just five appearances, posting a 5.75 ERA, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for a minor leaguer. He finished up his career there the next season.  

In a ten year career, Hall was 52-33 with 32 saves and a 3.27 ERA. He struck out 797 batters walking 382 in 852 innings pitched. Hall made63 starts in 358 games with seven complete games & three shut outs. He was certainly an under rated pitcher, especially at a time when mid relievers got no recognition.  

Retirement: After baseball he began a career as a supervisor for Rohr Aeospace in 1978. After that he became a postman for twenty years in the Riverside California area he grew up in.

Hall was elected to the Riverside Hall of Fame in 2002. He enjoys bowling, fishing, traveling with his wife, & spending time grandchild.

Mid Nineties Mets Hitting Coach: Tommy McCraw (1992-1996)

Tommy Lee McCraw was born November 21, 1940 in Malvern, Arizona. His family moved to Southern California, and he attended high school in Venice Beach. He then attended Santa Monica Community College.

The speedy first baseman / outfielder got signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1960. In 1962 he won the AA batting title hitting .362 making the big leagues for good the next year. He came up with a lot of promise, as the Sox everyday first baseman right off the bat in his rookie year.

That season (1963) he hit .254 with 6 HRs 33 RBIs & 15 stolen bases. He hit .261 the next year which was his best in his playing years at Chicago. He stole 12 or more bases in each of first three seasons, then 20 or more over the next three years. In 1967 he hit a career best 11 HRs, with 45 RBIs batting .236 while stealing 24 bases (4th in the league).

On May 24th he hit three HRs in a game against the Minnesota Twins, he just missed a fourth sending a Jim Kaat pitch to the warning track. Also that month, he tied an MLB first base record, by committing three errors in one inning. That year he led AL first basemen in assists (93), double plays (103), total chances and errors (20). He was second in the league triples (12) tenth in steals (20) although he only batted .229.

He spent eight years in Chicago wearing the White Sox classic road powder blue road uniforms, before getting sent to the Washington Senators in 1971. That was the teams their last season in the nation’s capitol. He learned how to hit the ball with more force under the direction of Senators manager Ted Williams.

That May he was involved in a very strange play in a game against the Cleveland Indians. McGraw hit a routine infield popup, future Met, shortstop Jack Heidemann, outfielders John Lowenstein &Vada Pinson all ran after the ball & collided. The ball rolled away from the fielders & the speedy Mcraw rounded the bases for an inside the park HR.

He only hit .213 & made the last out in Senators history when he was caught stealing second base. McCraw was traded to Cleveland as the Washington franchise got to Texas. He hit .258 there but the journey man found himself at home in Anaheim, getting traded for Leo Cardenas in April 1973. He was the Angels first official designated hitter on Opening Day 1973, going 1-4 on that day. He was in the Angels line up on July 15th 1973, going 0-2 with a walk, playing right field when Nolan Ryan threw his second career no hitter.

In 99 games that season he batted .265 with 3 HRs. McCraw had his contract purchased by the Cleveland Indians in 1975, playing for the first African American manager; Frank Robinson. In that season, he & Robinson grew a bond that would last for many years.

McCraw finished his playing career there the next year, in 13 seasons McCraw hit .246 with 972 hits 143 stolen bases, 75 HRs, 150 doubles, 404 RBIs & a .309 on base % playing in 1468 games played.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a long time coach, with the help of the knowledge he had gained as a player under the tutoring of Hall of Famers; Ted Williams & Frank Robinson. McCraw would also serve as a hitting coach under Frank Robinson four different times.

In his career he coached: Cleveland (1975/ 1980-1982) Baltimore (1989-1991) Montreal (2002-2004) & the Nationals in (their first season 2005). He also coached in San Francisco (1983-1985) Houston (1997-2000) & with the New York Mets.

McCraw was the Mets hitting coach for four seasons from 1992-1996. He first served under his old Angels team mate manager Jeff Torborg, then Dallas Green finishing out the year when Bobby Valentine was hired. As for the disastrous 1993 season, McCraw said “The whole season was a long rerun”.

That year the club batted .248 (13th in the league) although they were 4th in HRs (158) & triples (37).The next year they were 13th in batting and fist in the league in striking out. There was improvement in 1995 as the club batted fifth in the NL (.267) & in 1996 the Mets were second in batting average (.270).

Nov 22, 2017

New Mets Pitching Coach: Dave Eiland (2018)

Dave Eiland was born on July 5th, 1966 in Dade City Florida. The six foot three right hander began his college career with the Florida Gators at the University of Florida. He then transferred & attended the University of South Florida at Tampa. The start pitcher was drafted in the seventh round of the 1987 draft by the A.L. New York club.

Eiland made his MLB debut in Milwaukee on August 3rd 1988 getting a start in a 6-5 loss to the Brewers. He pitched seven innings of three hit ball, allowing a run with no decision. In that game he made MLB history, serving up a HR to the first batter he faced, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor & then he himself hit a HR in his first career at bat. It was his only career HR in 22 career at bats.

Eiland would pitch between the minors & the majors for most seasons throughout his career. In 1990 he even won the International Pitcher of the Year Award while with the Columbus Clippers.

He would see limited action over the next four years with the A.L. New York club from 1988-1991 going 5-8 in that time. The journeyman pitcher would go the San Diego Padres (1992-1993) back to New York (1995) & then in Tampa with the Devil Rays from 1998-2000. 
Trivia: In 1998 Eiland acted as a double for actor Kevin Costner in the film For the Love Of The Game.

In a ten year career Eiland was 12-27 with a 5.74 ERA, striking out 153 batters while walking 118 in 373 innings of work in 92 appearances.

Retirement: After his playing days he began his coaching career, starting out in the AL New York clubs organization from 2000-2008. That year he replaced Ron Guidry as the teams pitching coach. In 2010 he took a brief leave of absence & was fired at the end of the year.

After a year in the Tampa organization, he landed the job as pitching coach with the Kansas City Royals. He would get to the World Series twice with his Royals staff under manager Ned Yost.

In 2014 his AL Champion staff was fourth in wins, ERA, runs & walks with the most saves in the AL, behind closer Greg Holland. In 2015 the World Champion Royals beat the NL Champion Mets in the World Series. That year Eiland's staff were first in wins, second in saves & HRs, third in ERA, runs & earned runs.

After two seasons of finishing .500 & lower, he was let go by the Royals. After the Mets named Mickey Calloway as their manager, Eiland got the job as Mets pitching coach, replacing Dan Warthen.

Quotes: “I’ve had other jobs, other opportunities in my career, but I’ve never been more excited than I am now. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready for this position than I am now. I’m very much looking forward to it. I know the demands of New York. I know the expectations. I know the energy, the passion, and I’m looking forward to getting right back in the middle of that. I want to be held accountable for how this staff pitches. I want those responsibilities. I want those demands. I know how good it is to win there. That’s the driving force.”

2015 NL Champions Mets Pitching Coach: Dan Warthen (2008-2017)

Daniel Dean Warthen was born on December 1, 1952 in Omaha, Nebraska. Warthen was an All American High School quarterback, getting college scholarship offers from Nebraska, USC, UCLA, & Northwestern universities. He chose to play baseball instead, getting drafted in the second round, by the Montreal Expos in 1971.

The left hander would get brought up to the majors in May 1975 making his debut, pitching a scoreless inning against  that years World Champion, Big Red Machine. He pitched in relief in his first few outings, going 4-2 with three saves toward the end of July. 

He was thrown into the Expo rotation finishing the season at 8-6 with 3.11 ERA, striking out an impressive 128 batters in 167 innings. He also walked 87 batters. The following year he was 2-10 as he walked 66 batters in 90 innings pitched, allowing 53 earned runs.

He would only pitch 20 more games in the majors at Montreal, going to the Philadelphia Phillies & Houston Astros over the next two seasons, while going 2-5. In the minors he would win 10 games or more three times, pitching down there through 1982. In 1978 he was the AA Pitcher of the Year at Oklahoma City.

Retirement & Coaching: Warthen immediately began to coach when his playing days ended, first with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then with the San Diego Padres & Philadelphia Phillies organizations. 

In 1992 he was the Seattle Mariners pitching coach, moving to the San Diego Padres (1996-1997) then Detroit Tigers in (1998-2002).

In 2003 he came to the Mets organization, as pitching coach for the Norfolk Tides. He remained there for three seasons, tutoring guys like Heath Bell, Pedro Feliciano, & Aaron Heilman. In 2006 & 2007 he went to the Dodgers serving as bullpen coach under Grady Little.

In June of 2008 Warthen was named the Mets pitching coach replacing Rick Peterson. In 2009 he served under manager Jerry Manuel & his pitching staff posted a 4.45 ERA, which was 12th in the league. In 2010 his staff improved to 6th best in the league posting a 3.73 ERA.

In 2011 the Met staff won 77 games (10th in the NL) posting a 4.19 ERA (13th in the NL) they tossed six complete games which was their highest ranking in the league stats, fifth place. They averaged in the middle of the league allowing HRs (147-8th in the NL) walks (514- also 8th) & 1126 strikeouts (10th).

In 2012 the Mets staff featured twenty game winner R.A. Dickey but other than that the staff only won 54 games. Their total 74 wins was 12th best in the league & their 4.09 ERA was eleventh best. 

Thanks to Dickey they were second with seven complete games & third in shut outs with five. The teams 1240 strike outs stood out & were sixth best in the league.

In July of 2012 Warthen was ejected then later fined after arguing balls & strikes with umpire C.B. Bucknor in game Johan Santana pitched in Atlanta. In The off season the Mets announced their entire coaching staff would return in 2013.

In 2013 Warthen had the pleasure of coaching Matt Harvey, who went on to start for the National League in the All Star Game held at Citi Field. Harvey took the league by storm, blowing batters away & pitching so well, there was a chance of a no hitter every time he took the mound. Harvey had once given credit to Warthen for helping him with a better grip on the ball.

The Mets also brought up another fine young pitcher; Zack Wheeler later that season.

Overall the Mets staff was second in the league in innings pitched, eighth in ERA (3.78) saves (40) ninth in strike outs (1209) & tenth in wins (74). They were also fourth in losses (88) fifth in walks (458) eighth in runs (684) & twelfth in hits (1442).

In Spring Training 2014, Warthen made a joke, using the word "Chinaman" toward the interpreter for Daisuke Matsuzaka during an interview. The joke was in bad taste & he made a public apology the next day.

Unfortunately, for the Mets Matt Harvey would be out the entire season having undergone Tommy John surgery. The team would soon loose their closer Bobby Parnell after one game & Without the ace of his staff or his closer the pitching coach went to work.

Overall the young Mets staff did a fine job, Jenry Mejia eventually filled the closer role (28 saves) & Jacob deGrom brought up later in the year went on to win the NL Rookie of te Year Award.

The 2014 Mets finished third in strike outs (1303) fourth in innings pitched (1463) fifth in ERA (3.49) & seventh in wins (79). 

In 2015 good things were anticipated for the Mets mostly due to their young pitching staff. The return of Matt Harvey from his Tommy John surgery, was so good it earned him the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Jacob deGrom pushed aside any idea of a sophomore jinx & went on to arguably be the ace of the staff. Veteran Bartolo Colon went on to win another 14 games while eating up innings.

During the season fireball throwing Noah Syndergaard was brought up & challenged deGrom & Harvey with strike outs & effectiveness. 

In late summer another Mets phenom, Steven Matz was brought up, quickly earned a spot in the rotation in the regulars season as well as post season. With all these young outstanding arms, the Mets did not miss Zack Wheeler as much as was originally thought at the start of the season. 

In late August he was rushed to the hospital after feeling ill, but was eventually released with a clean bill of health. 

In the bullpen the Mets scheduled closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended for once again violating MLBs drug rules. The 8th inning man from 2014, Jeurys Familia yook the role & became one of the best if not the best in the game. Late season additions Tyler Clippard & Addison Reed made the bullpen solid in the mid & late innings. This all certainly made Warthen's job a lot easier.

The Mets won the East as the staff was third in the NL in saves (50) fourth in ERA (3.43) fifth in wins (90) & sixth in strike outs (1337).

His staff dominated in the NL rounds of the playoffs posting a 3.48 ERA in NLDS against the L.A. Dodgers. The staff allowed 17 runs with 54 Ks & 13 walks.

In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs the Mets staff posted a 2.00 ERA with 37 Ks & 9 walks. They struggled in the World Series as their ERA rose to 4.21 allowing 24 earned runs, 17 walks & 37 Ks.

In 2016 Warthen's pitching staff suffered season ending injuries to Matt Harvey by mid summer & then later aces Jacob deGrom & Steven Matz also went down. His work with youngsters Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman & Josh Smoker helped the Mets get to the post season for a second straight year, although they fell in the NL Wild Card Game.

The 2016 NL Saves leader Jeurys Familia also credited Warthen with helping him throw a better slider with a better grip.

The 2016 staff allowed the fewest walks (439) & HRs (152) in the NL, they were also third in the NL in ERA (3.58) Fourth in wins (84) & first in saves (55). 

2017 proved to be an all out disaster for the Mets, especially the pitching staff. With expectations of once again being one of baseball's elites, an injury ridden staff ended up being one of the worst in the league.

Warten's staff was 14th in ERA (5.01) 12th in wins (70) 15th innings (1538) 14th in runs (863) 12th in HRs (220) 4th most losses (92) only coming in high in strike outs (1374). At the end of the year Terry Collins was moved to a front office position & all the coaches were let go, Warthen's tenure ended as well.

In November he was hired as an assistant pitching coach for the Texas Rangers.

Nov 21, 2017

Remebering Mets History: (1974 & 1979) Some Ed Kranepool Career Highlights

September 10th 1974: Ed Kranepool has played the most seasons (18) & most games (1853) as a New York Met. In his long career he went from starter to platoon player to pinch hitting extraordinaire. In 1974 Kranepool had a fine year as a pinch hitter setting a Mets record for 17 pinch hits.

He began the year with a pinch hit on the Opening week in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On June 6th the Mets were behind 3-1 in a game at Shea Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. Kranepool came up as a pinch hitter connecting for a base hit off Roger Nelson. Teddy Martinez came in to run for Kranepool & would score as Cleon Jones tied the game with a bases loaded single to center. The Mets would win it on John Milner's 8th inning HR.

In early July he was successful with three straight pinch hits & five pinch hits in seven at bats. Unfortunately they all came in Mets losses. In early August Kranepool had back to back pinch hits once again.

As Kranepool entered September, the Mets were clearly out of the pennant race unable to defend their N.L. Championship. Kranepool collected a pinch hit on September 6th tying the old Mets club mark.

On September 10th, the Mets hosted the Montreal Expos taking a 6-4 loss. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Kranepool came to bat against Don Carrithers. Kranepool singled to centerfield setting the Mets pinch hit mark at 17. Kranepool batted .300 that season & would bat .323 the next year having maybe the best year of his career. He would hit over .290 three straight seasons (1974-1976).

Saturday September 8th 1979: On this day of the dismal 1979 Mets season, 8,095 fans came out to Shea for a Saturday matinee against that year's eventual World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Starting Lineups

Ed Kranepool got the start playing at first base & batting 5th. In the 6th inning with Kevin Kobel holding his own against future Hall of Famer; Bert Blyleven, Ed Kranepool hit a two run HR.

It was just his second HR of the year, #118 of his long Mets career. Kranepool is still tenth on the All Time list.

The Mets would win the game in the bottom of the 9th, with a walk off base hit by John Stearns scoring Lee Mazzilli.

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Center Fielder: Jay Payton (1998-2002)

Jason Lee Payton was born on November 22, 1972 in Zanesville, Ohio. The five foot right hand hitting outfielder was a star player in high school at Ohio. He attended Georgia Tech. University where he was teammates with future Red Sox players; Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek.

Payton was rated as an outfielder with a strong arm & good speed, In 1994 he was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round (the 29th pick overall). In 1995 he hit .345 at AA Binghamton, getting promoted to AAA Norfolk by the mid season. In 1996 he played with the Gulf Port Mets, St Lucie Mets, Binghamton Mets & the Norfolk Tides batting .307 overall.

He missed all of the 2007 season due to injuries. In 1998 he went from St. Lucie to AAA Norfolk batting .261 & getting a September call up to the Mets. Payton debuted on September 1st 1998, coming the game to replace Tony Phillips in left field. Payton got two hits in his first two official at bats. That month he was impressive, batting .318 (7-22) with a walk & a double.

In 1999 he was at A ball St. Lucie for seven games before getting promoted to AAA Norfolk. There he hit .389 with 8 HRs in 38 games. He had another September call up appearing often as a pinch hitter, batting 250 but not making the post season roster.  

In 2000 Payton took over the vacated center field job, with Brian McRae, Rickey Henderson & Rodger Cedeno all gone. Payton was a rookie with a lot of expectations on him as well as the team. The New York fans would always want more from him, but looking back Payton had a pretty good rookie year. On Opening Day, he was in the lineup batting in the second position & playing left field as the season opened up in Japan in a game with the Mets & the Chicago Cubs.

On April 8th he hit his first career HR & then hit another in his next game four games later. He found himself batting just .213 at the end of May as he only drove in three runs all month. Then he had a hot June, hitting safely in 20 of 23 games, raising his average over .300. He had a 12 game streak during the month reaching base in 17 straight games. In the first ten games of the month he hit four HRs, including an 8th inning shot breaking a 6-6 tie against the Baltimore Orioles on June 8th.
That day he drove in three runs in the Mets 8-7 victory.

In the month he hit six HRs & drove in 16 runs raising his average over the .300 mark. In July he had a ten game hit streak and then had his first four hit day in the midst of a six game hit streak in early August. On September 13th he hit a walk off three run HR in the 10th inning, off Milwaukee’s Juan Acevedo for the game winner. In mid September he hit HRs in back to back games with three RBIs in each.

On September 13th his three RBIs lead the Mets to a 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. On September 29th he hit his first grand slam, it came off Montreal's Mike Thurman leading the Mets to an 11-2 win over the Expos. In the Mets 2000 NL Championship season, Payton came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .291 with a .331 on base %, hitting 17 HRs 23 doubles & 62 RBIs in 149 games. In the outfield he made seven assists with a .981 fielding %.  

Post Season: In Game #2 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets entered the top of the 9th inning with a 4-1 lead. But Armondo Benitez blew the lead, serving up a three run HR to J.T. Snow sending the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, pinch hitter Daryl Hamilton doubled to center field. Payton then singled scoring Hamilton with what would be the games winning run. In the NLDS he went 3-18 (.176) with two RBIs.  

In the Game #1 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Payton hit a two run HR in the 9th inning in the Mets 6-2 win at Busch Stadium. In Game #2 Payton was the Mets hero, as he singled to center in the top of the 9th inning. The ball rolled off Jim Edmonds glove, allowing Joe McEwing to score, after he had entered the game as a pinch runner. Payton had his second 2000 post season game winning hit.

He would only get one more hit the rest of the way, batting .158 overall. In Game #5, he was in the middle of some big drama as Cardinal Pitcher Dave Veres hit him with a fastball near his left eye. The pitch knocked him down to the ground, but he shot back up immediately & charged the mound. Both benches cleared. Payton was restrained by manager Bobby Valentine & Benny Agbayani, as order was soon restored.

The Shea Stadium crowd (in which centerfieldmaz was in attendance) went even wilder then they had been. With the Mets already ahead 7-0 and only three outs away from the World Series, Shea was a madhouse. John Franco played peacemaker trying to calm the Shea Faithful down. They answered by singing “Na na na na, Say hey hey goodbye” & booing the Cardinals off the field.  

In the 2000 Subway World Series Payton did well, hitting .333 (7-21). He hit safely in all five games, including having two hits in each of the last two games. In Game #1 he singled & scored a run in the Mets three run 7th inning, on Bubba Trammels two run double. In Game #2 he hit a three run HR in the 9th inning off Mariano Rivera, bringing the Mets within one run of their eventual 6-5 loss.

In Game #5 he singled in the second inning & then scored when Al Leiter reached on an error. After a successful rookie campaign, even more was expected from Payton the next year.

It took him until April 30th to hit his first HR, as he drove in just nine runs in the month. He then battled injuries & missed over six weeks of action returning in late June. Upon his return he hit just one HR through all of July as his average fell to .246. The rest of the season was not too much more productive for him nor the Mets, who finished in third place. On the year he played in 104 games, abtting .255 with just 8 HRs 16 doubles & 34 RBIs. As the team struggled, the fans let everyone who was not producing have it, the boo birds got to Payton.  

In 2002 he had already matched his previous years totals after just 84 games. He was batting .284 with 8 HRs & 31 RBIs at the end of July, but the organization had given up on him. He was traded to the Colorado Rockies for John Thomson & Mark Little. He would have his best season in the thin air of Colorado in 2003 batting .302 with career highs in HRs (28) doubles (32) hits (181) & RBIs (89).

The next year he signed with the San Diego Padres and found the Southern California air wasn’t as friendly to his hitting. He batted .260 with just 8 HRs & 55 RBIs in 143 games. Defensively he led all NL centerfielders with 11 assists. In 2005 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, then the Oakland A’s mid way through the season for Chad Bradford. That season Payton led all AL centerfielders in fielding, hitting 13 HRs with 42 RBIs in just 69 games after arriving in Oakland.

In 2006 he hit .296 with 10 HRs getting to another post season with the A’s. In the ALCS he batted .286 with a HR against the Detroit Tigers in a losing effort. Payton spent the next two seasons in Baltimore with the Orioles where his average fell to .256 in 131 games, with 7 HRs & 58 RBIs for the 2007 season.  

In March of 2009 he injured his shoulder while lifting weights causing him to miss the entire year. In 2010 he signed with the Rockies again, getting into just 20 games at the big league level batting .343, but was released at the end of the year.  

In his 12 year career, he batted .279 with 1157 hits 119 HRs 193 doubles 522 RBIs 30 triples & a .323 on base %. As an outfielder he posted a .987 fielding % in 1185 games.

Nov 20, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1974) Mets Take A Goodwill Tour Of Japan

Jerry Koosman enjoys the fruits of Japan
In the off season of 1974 the Mets took a three week good will tour of Japan. They had originally been asked to do the trip while still being the defending NL Champs. New York was a known team team in Japan & stars like Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra,  Jerry Koosman & Tug McGraw were well known in Japan as well.

But not all the Mets were into the trip, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote &Tug McGraw did not participate in the journey. Some feel that McGraw being traded in the off season may have had something to do with his not going. Tom Seaver did not want to go eithr, his wife; Nancy was pregnant at the time with their second child. But all agreed Seaver was the big draw & had to make the trip. He went with Nancy, pitched in five games then came home early as Nancy got sick.

Mets- Ed Kranepool, John Milner & Joe Torre
On the trip the Mets showed off their new acquisition, infielder Joe Torre. The Mets went 9-7 on the trip & had a fun time along the way. They played a variety of the Japan teams, selling a good amount of tickets along the way.

On November 2nd, during a pre-game of a Mets vs Japan game, there was a very special event. CBS had arranged for MLB's all time HR King; Hank Aaron to go up against all time Japanese HR king; Sadahara Oh of the Legendary Yomiuri Giants in a HR derby show down.

Sadahara Oh, Henry Aaron & Yogi Berra in Japan 1974

Aaron who had just set the all time HR record early in the 1974 season, took the contest lightly & in goo nature collecting the $50,000 awarded to him. Mr. Oh took it a bit more serious in his home land receiving $20,000 for his efforts.

Aaron chose the Mets coach, Joe Pignatano to toss him his pitches, quite an honor for the Mets coach. Hank also chose to use an Ed Kranepool light Adirondack bat in the competition. 

As Aaron was trailing Oh early on, the Mets wives began chanting "Lets go Henry" something he'd thought he'd never hear from the New Yorkers. Aaron won the contest 10-9.

Remembering Mets History (1973): Tug McGraw Earns A Save, Win & Game Winning Hit In A Twin Bill Sweep At Montreal

Friday September 7, 1973: Yogi Berra's Mets (67-73) were rolling along to a hot start in September, they came into tonight's game winning eight out of their last eleven games and found themselves just four games back of first place.

Gene Mauch's Expos (68-71) were just ahead of the Mets in that NL East race.
On a chilly evening at Montreal's Park Jarry, 24,167 fans came out to see the Mets lefty, Jon Matlack take the hill against former Met Steve Renko. It turned out to be a real pitching duel classic.

Starting Lineups


Wayne Garret led off the game with a HR, his 12th of the year. Renko settled in after that & pitched well allowing no other runs & six hits before giving way to Mike Marshall in the 7th inning.

Jon Matlack was pitching a shut out going to the 9th inning. He had allowed five hits & four walks clinging to the one run lead. In the 9th he got Ron Woods to strike out looking & then retired former Met Tim Foli on a fly ball. Then pinch hitters Pepe Mangual & Mike Jorgensen (another two time Met) both drew walks. It seemed he was out of gas, Manager Yogi Berra pulled Matlack for his relief specialist Tug McGraw who was finding his groove.

McGraw got former Met Ron Hunt to ground out to
  him to end the game. Matlack earned his 12th win, & Tug his 17th save of the year, his fourth in the last ten days.

Nightcap: This game made it a long night for base ball, lasting 4 1/2 hours. Combined with the first game, it made for over seven hours of baseball for the Montreal fans. The pitching matchup was Montreal's Mike Torrez hosting the Mets, Jerry Koosman.

Starting Lineups

In the 3rd, the Expos got the first run when Bob Bailey singled home Felipe Alou who had led off with a double. Torrez retired 12 Mets in a row into the 7th inning. With two outs, Jerry Grote reached on an error by second baseman Pepe Frias. Then Torrez lost his control he walked Don Hahn, Bud Harrelson and the Mets top pinch hitter Ken Boswell to tie it up at one.

Koos was relieved after six innings, one run, four hits, four walks & three strike outs. Reliever Harry Parker came on to pitch, he tossed three scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out three. Yogi Berra who always went with a hot hand, brought in Tug McGraw out of the pen in the 10th inning. The Expos Mike Marshall, one of the best relievers of the early to mid seventies, would pitch 8.1 innings of relief.

In the top of 15th, Jon Milner singled & Ed Kranepool doubled putting runners on second & third. Milner soon scored on Don Hahns sac fly to right field to make it 2-1. Bud Harrelson was then walked intentionally to get to McGraw. Marshall threw a wild pitch advancing the runners.

McGraw came through, helping himself to a win, he ripped a shot to right field scoring Milner & Kranepool. McGraw was thrown out trying to advance to second. The Mets had taken a 4-1 lead.

Tug McGraw came on in the bottom of the 15th,with one out allowed a base hit to Singleton & a walk to Foli. As the third in the trio of ex-Mets all who came over in the deal for Rusty Staub in 1972, Mike Jorgensen doubled bringing in both runs making it a 4-3 game.

Berra seen enough, even for him, he replaced McGraw with Ray Sadecki. Sadecki struck out Pepe Mangual & got Felipe Alou to fly out to center to end the game. It was Sadecki's first save of the year.

A tired Tug McGraw pitched 5.1 innings in relief earning himself the win. He allowed one run on four hits striking out six. He too allowed a lot of walks, four to add to the Mets total nine walks on the day. Tug had just earned a save hours earlier in the first game. The win his second in ten days to go along with the four saves, made for an interesting start to the month of September where he'd save ten games & go 3-0. A vital piece to the Mets winning the NL East in 1973 & getting to the World Series.
Quite a night for Tugger.