Jul 24, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1993) Anthony Young Losses 27th Game In A Row & The Vince Coleman Fire Cracker Incident

Saturday July 24th 1993: The Mets are in Los Angeles in the midst of a three game series with the Dodgers. Dallas Green's last place Mets (32-65) took on Tommy Lasorda's third place Dodgers (51-46). The starters are Pete Schourek for New York & Pedro Astacio for L.A.

Schourek gives up four runs, but the Mets tie the game on a HR by Dave Gallagher, an RBI single by Eddie Murray & sac fly's from Bobby Bonilla & Jeff McKnight. In the 8th inning, the Mets brought in pitcher Anthony Young. In the bottom of the 10th, Young walks pinch hitter Dave Hansen with the bases loaded to end the game. The loss puts Young at 0-13 on the season. Worst of all it was his 27th loss in a row, setting an all time major league record. Young had been used as a starter & reliever in that time dating back to the 1992 season. He actually did well as a reliever converting 12 straight saves in save opportunities.

After the game Vince Coleman was sitting with Dodgers; Eric Davis in his blue Jeep Cherokee. Coleman lights & throws a lit M80 firecracker toward a fence separating the Dodgers private parking lot & the fans. Coleman gets back in the jeep & the vehicle exits the Dodgers Stadium parking lot. The M80 fire cracker, went off approximately 25 feet away from a crowd of an estimated 200 people who were looking for post game autographs from Dodger players. A 33 year old woman, suffered inner ear damage, an 11 year old boy suffered bruises on his leg & a two year old girl suffers second-degree burns under her right eye and lacerations of her cornea. 

Coleman was in the line up the next night as the news spread, he went  0-5. In the mean time the  L.A. County Police Department & Arson unit were busy filing Felony charges on Mr. Coleman.

Vince Coleman did not comment directly to the media, instead the Mets Spokesperson Jay Horowitz made a statement on behalf of Coleman: "I take full responsibility for a very foolish act for which I am suffering greatly. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. My main concern is for those injured."

Mets VP at the time Gerry Hunsicker had some harsher words for Coleman and made it known his days were numbered:  "It only involved the New York Mets because he is an employee of the Mets. In large measure, this is Vince Coleman's problem."

Coleman was a problem ever since joining the Mets in 1991 with a four year $12 million deal. Hamstring injuries constantly kept him out of the line up. He once injured Dwight Gooden swinging a gold club in the locker room. He once batted out of turn in batting practice and was told to come out of the cage by then manager; Mike Cubbage. Coleman went on a tirade cursing out his manager & refused to apologize. He then had another huge argument with his next manager Jeff Torborg & received another suspension.

He appeared in just two more games as a Met, getting suspended for the rest of the season. Coleman was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Kevin McReynolds the following winter.
 He was lucky enough with the law, to get away with a fine, probation & serving community service in Los Angeles.

2006 NL Eastern Champion Mets Closer: Billy Wagner (2006-2009)

William Edward Wagner was born on July 25, 1971 in Tannersville, Virginia.

The farmer from the South, was originally a right hander but after breaking his arm, he learned to throw left handed off the door of his barn. He developed that arm into one that was known to throw a fastball at 100 mph. 

Wagner set N.C.A.A. records in the small school of Ferrum College getting himself drafted number one by the Astros in 1993. In the minors he was a starting pitcher and in 1994 led all pitchers with 204 Ks at that level.

He got promoted in September 1995, and in 1996 saved 9 games and would eventually replace Todd Jones as their closer. Over the next seven seasons (1997 -2003) he would save 30 games or more five times including a career high 44 in 2003. 

Post Season: In 1997 he finished off Game #2 of the NLDS in a 13-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. In 1998 he finished up Game #2 of the NLDS earning a win, even though he had blown a save against the eventual NL Champion; San Diego Padres.

In 1999 he won the Relief Man of the Year Award , saving 39 games and struck out 124 batters in only 74 innings. He set a new MLB record for strikeouts per 9 innings (15) including, striking out the side 15 times as well as posting a 1.57 ERA. The Astros made their third straight post season that year as well.

In 2000 he tore his flexor tendon and missed most of the season, he returned in 2001 to save 39 games and be a leading candidate for the Comeback Player of the Year.He also made two appearances in the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves.

His contract year of 2003 may have been his best season, saving career high 44 games, with 105 strikeouts in 86 innings pitched and a 1.78 ERA. That June he was one of six Astros pitchers, to combine for a no hitter, against the A.L. New York club. From Houston he went to Philadelphia for two seasons and saved 21 then 38 games respectively.

In 2005 he stated to the press the Phillies had no chance in making the playoffs. This of course irked some of his teammates & some of them confronted him. Outfielder Pat Burrell actually came out & call him a rat in public. At the end of the season it was no surprise he did not resign with Philadelphia. In 2006 Wagner signed on with New York Mets as a free agent.

He got his first Mets save on opening day at Shea, against the Washington Nationals. Wagner had a great start as a Met, he didn’t earn a loss until late June, by that time he was 3-0 with 14 saves and a 2.14 ERA. He rolled through the summer and was one of the best Mets relievers in years as he was able to close out the 9th inning. He went on to save 40 games (second best in the NL) for the ’06 Mets, going 3-2 with a 2.24 ERA, striking out 94 batters in 72 innings pitched, coming in 6th in the Cy Young voting.

Post Season: In the NLDS Wagner would get credit with saves in the first two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would be on the mound for the final inning of the 9-5 Game #3 series clinching win at Dodger Stadium.

He was the first Mets pitcher, since Mike Hampton in 2000, to close out a Mets post season series victory while celebrating on a pitcher’s mound. Overall he posted an ERA of 3.00 while striking out four batters in three innings of work.

In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, he closed out Game #1 securing Tom Glavine’s 2-0 shutout. In Game #2 he came into the 9th inning with the score tied 6-6, but took the loss as he gave up a lead off HR to Sao Taguchi, then two more runs on hits by Scott Spezio & Juan Encarnacion. He did not appear again until Game #6 when he entered a crazy Shea Stadium, to nail down John Maine’s 4-0 lead.

Wagner again struggled again against Sao Taguchi, who doubled home two runs bringing the score to 4-2. Wagner then got David Eckstein to ground out to secure the win. He finished the Series with one save, 0-1 with a 16.88 ERA in 2.2 innings pitched over three games.

In 2007 he put in began with another fine season up until August as the Mets closer. He had an ERA under two and had saved 17 of 19 games in the first half of the season, earning him a spot on the NL All Star team.

In July he was a perfect 8 for 8 in save opportunities. He had 26 saves and a 1.28 ERA by mid August when he took his first loss. He would blow four saves and post an ERA over three in the final two months of the season.

One of his worst memorable games as a Met, came on August 30th, 2007. Wagner came into the 9th inning with a 10-9 lead, but base hits by pinch hitter Tad Iguchi & Chase Utley won it for the Phils.

His old teammates completed a four game sweep over the Mets dropping New York's first place lead from 6 games to just two games. This Series made a making a big difference at the end of the season, as the Mets finished one game behind Philadelphia. 

As the Mets were struggling in early 2008, Wagner lashed out on his teammates, especially the ones who were not around for post game interviews. Many believe this was meant for the Carlos’ Beltran & Delgado. It was hoped that his words would have sparked the team a bit, but in the end manager Willie Randolph got fired & the Mets missed the playoffs on the last day of the season for the second straight year.

Wagner pitched well in the first half posting a 2.14 ERA with 26 saves, earning him another spot on the NL All Star team. Wagner came into the game with two outs in the 8th inning with the NL Leading 3-2. Grady Sizemore singled & stole second and then Evan Longoria’s ground rule double tied the game sending it to the 15th inning where the A.L. won it.

In September he suffered a huge injury that hurt the Mets team badly, definitely having an impact on their bullpen for the rest of the year, causing them to miss the playoffs.

Wagner had torn the ulnar collateral ligament of his left elbow and also his flexor pronator tendon. These injuries required major reconstructive surgery, and he was done for the year &most of the next season as well. In an emotional press conference he vowed to return but said his days as a Met were probably over, and the team should move on.

For 2008, he saved 34 games posting a 2-2 record, with a 2.63 ERA striking out 80 batters in 68 innings. Wagner returned to the Mets in 2009, and made his first appearance on August 20th, striking out two Atlanta Braves. He would only pitch in two games for the Mets, before getting traded to the Red Sox for Chris Carter at the end of August.

In Boston he would go 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five games pitched. He played in two games of the ALDS loss to the Anaheim Angels allowing two runs in one inning of work. At the end of the season he signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent where he recovered to have a remarkable season. 

In Atlanta he emerged as their closer made the All Star team & was a good candidate for comeback Player of the Year. Wagner saved 37 games (5th in the NL) going 7-2 with a 1.49 ERA. He made his final post season appearance, pitching 0.1 innings in Game #2 loss of the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants.

After the season he retired finishing his 16 year career with 422 saves (5th most saves all time) finishing 703 games (6th most all time), going 47-40 with 1196 strike outs in 903 innings pitched in 853 appearances (36th all time) 

In his career Wagner made seven All Star Games & post season appearances.

Former Italian / American Player & The Sausage King of Georgia: Biff Pocoroba (1975-1984)

Biff Benedict Pocoroba was born on July 25, 1953 in Burbank, California. To everyone's surprise, his actual name on his birth certificate is Biff.

The five foot ten inch catcher, was signed in the seventeenth round of the 1971 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves.

In 1975 he began to get some attention when he threw out eleven straight would be base stealers during Braves Spring Training.

He made the Braves squad that year, backing up catcherVic Correl who only hit .215. Pocoroba would see action in 67 games, batting .255 with 7 doubles 1 HR & 22 RBIs. Defensively he had a rougher time than in Spring Training, throwing out only 17% of base stealers while getting charged with 13 passed balls.

His defense got better as he went along, throwing out 34% of the base runners attempting to steal the next two seasons. By 1977 he was the Braves main catcher, batting .290 with 24 doubles, 8 HRs & 44 RBIs. In May he hit a walk off grand slam HR to beat the Montreal Expos at Fulton County Stadium.

He had a good start in 1978 and represented the lowly Braves in the All Star Game, catching the whole 9th inning as a defensive replacement. He didn’t get an at bat but caught the final out of the game from teammate Phil Niekro. He finished the year batting only .242, with 6 HRs & 34 RBIs.

Biff’s 1978 baseball card was always one of my favorites, he looks like real old time catcher, a cheek full of tobacco squinting into the sun, as he adjusts his catcher’s mask to go over his cap. Like many catchers of the era, Biff didn’t wear a batting helmet under his mask, as it hadn’t become a rule yet. That card also features the classic blue Braves uniform with that red, white & blue feather on the sleeve.

In 1979 Pocoroba batted .316 playing in just 28 games. He injured himself & needed rotator cuff surgery which ruined any chances of him being a top player. He stayed with the Braves for six more seasons as a backup catcher & third baseman.

He retired in 1984 after only four games at the young age of 30. In his ten year career he batted .257 with 374 hits 21 HRs 71 doubles 172 RBIs & a .339 on base %. Defensively he threw out 34% of would be base stealers, posting a .982 fielding %.

Retirement: In 1988 he & his brothers, started the Detailed Sausage World Inc. Company in Lilburn Georgia. For the past twenty five years his business has been a huge success, raking in over a half a million dollars a year while only employing five people.

Pocoroba serves as the President of the company known as Sausage World Inc, that makes every kind of sausage from sweet basil Italian sausage, links of pepperoni, bratwurst, knockwurst, kielbasa, & andouile.

Jul 23, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1988) Mets Retired Tom Seaver's #41

Sunday July 24th 1988: Tom Seaver Day- 46,056 fans came out to Shea Stadium as the Mets officially retired Tom Seaver's #41 & inducted him into the teams Hall of Fame. All the fans got a white cap with the circled #41 on it, with the words Tom Seaver Day1988 written around it. They were also given a Tom Seaver painted poster artist by Don Mass.

Some of Tom's old team mates were on hand for the celebration. Seaver's main catcher; Jerry Grote, Pitching coach Rube Walker, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Koosman, Rusty Staub & trainer Tom McKenna were all in attendance. 

Tom & his wife Nancy came out from center field waving to the crowd in a convertible car circling the field. They were met on the field by their daughters & other family members, including Tom's father. 

The opening MC for the on field ceremonies was Mets' broadcaster Bob Murphy, donning a green jacket, white slacks & white shoes. Murph read a letter sent from the President of the United States; Ronald Regan honoring Seaver. Murphy then introduced Ralph Kiner who took on the next segment of the honors. Speeches were made by long time Mets beat writer; Jack Lang, Tom's former room mate Bud Harrelson & head of the Mets Hall of Fame Committee; Arthur Richman. 1988 Team Captain; Keith Hernandez made a short speech & the brought out the current Mets team, presenting Seaver & his wife with a case of wine.

Mets GM; Frank Cashen gave out gifts to the Seaver family & officially made the announcement of retiring Tom's #41. It is the only number retired by the Mets for a team player. Managers; Gil Hodges & Casey Stengel both have their numbers retired. 

Quotes: Tom Seaver told the crowd: "I don't know about you but I think 41 looks great out on that wall."

Seaver's speech included a tribute to his old manager Gil Hodges, telling the fans how proud he was to have his number retired besides Hodges'. Tom ran to the mound & took bows from all angles as his very own thank you to eall the Mets fans through the years.

 Unfortunately that day, in the game following the Seaver ceremonies, Davey Johnson's first place Mets (58-39) lost a 4-2 game to Russ Nixon's last place Atlanta Braves (34-62).

The Third Manager In New York Mets History: Salty Parker (1967)

Francis James “Salty” Parker was born July 8, 1912 in East St. Louis, located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

Parker only played eleven games in the big leagues, seven of them at shortstop with the Detroit Tigers in 1936. He batted .280 with seven hits, two doubles & four RBIs posting a .333 on base %.

Parker spent 23 years in the minor leagues, playing a dozen years in the Texas League & playing seven years at AA Shreveport. He played 2108 minor league games, batting .278 with 2031 hits 36 HRs 406 doubles & 128 RBIs.

He spent 1944 in the military serving in World War II. He returned to AA Montreal the next year. After his playing days he had a successful minor league managing career, taking Lubbock to the Championship in 1939. In 1941 he was back at the Texas League taking his Shrevport team to a Championship. He then coached for the Giants their first few years in San Francisco.

In 1967 he was called over to the New York Mets and coached under then manager Wes Westrum. The two had known each other from their Giants days. Westrum had enough by the end of the 1967 season, when he heard rumors that Gil Hodges was going to replace him as Mets manager the next year. Westrum resigned with just 21 game to go. 

Salty Parker was named the third Manager in Mets history, on September 21st, 1967 inheriting a record of 57-95.

It was understood he was just an interim manager as he took over in a double header at Shea Stadium. He was greeted with an 8-0 Houston Astros shutout in the first game, but his Mets won the night cap game 8-5. They won the next day as well before the Mets went on a five game losing streak. He closed out the year winning two of three games from the Dodgers in Los Angeles. His legacy as Met manager ended with a 14-7 record (.367%).

The next year Gil Hodges was brought in as the Mets manager and Parker was off to coach in Houston with the Astros. He remained in their organization into the early seventies as a coach. In one famous incident as an Astros third base coach, he sent a runner from third base to home thinking the ball had gotten by Braves catcher Bob Dider. It turned out it wasn’t a ball but a small cast Dider had on his finger. The runner was out by a mile. 

In 1972 he managed one game for the Astros when manager Harry Walker was fired & Leo Durocher was on his way to take the job over.

Retirement: Parker went on to become a scout with Houston & the California Angels for many years after leaving the field’s coaching box.

He was also very involved in coaching youth baseball in the Houston area becoming a local favorite. Personally, Parker had an interest in art work. He passed away in 1992 at Houston, Texas at the age of 80.

Trivia: Baseball reference lists a funny cast of “the all time condiments team” where Salty Parker stars along Pepper Martin, Mayo Smith, Chili Davis, & Pickles Dillhoefer.

1954 World Champion New York Giants First Baseman: Whitey Lockman (1945-1958)

Carol Walter Lockman was born on July 25, 1926, in Lowell, North Carolina.  Lockman was signed by the New York Giants in 1943 at the young age of 16. He was an outfielder with the Jersey City Giants in 1944, leading the International League in both outfield assists & errors.

He made his MLB debut on July 5, 1945; at the age of 18, and hit a HR in his first career at bat. His season ended when he was drafted into the Merchant Marines, he finished batting hit .341 in 129 at bats. After missing the 1946 season while in the military he returned in 1947 only to then break his ankle. In 1948 he became a Giants regular outfielder until 1951, when he began to play at first base as well.

He became one of the toughest players in the league to strike out, only striking out more than 36 times twice while averaging over 530 at bats each season. He rarely hit into double plays, averaging one every 87 at bats, one of the best ratios in baseball history.

In his first full season he hit .286 as the Giants leadoff hitter with career highs in HRs (18 HRs,) triples (10) & runs scored (117). He also led all NL outfielders with 388 putouts. Whitey had his only other .300 season in 1949, hitting 11 HRs, 65 RBIs & a career high 32 doubles. He missed some time in 1950 but hit .295 in 129 games with only 6 HRs.

In 1951 the Giants won the pennant and Lockman was a key player in the improbable comeback to catch the Dodgers for the pennant. He played in all but one game batting .282 with 12 HRs 27 doubles 7 triples & a career high 73 RBIs. He struck out only 32 times in 614 at bats.

Lockman secured his place in history in the classic 1951 Game #3 Playoff Game at the Polo Grounds against Brooklyn. He stepped in with two on & one out in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Giants down 4-1. He doubled off Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe scoring Alvin Dark & kept the Giants rally.

On the play Don Mueller slid into third base & broke his ankle, he was removed from the field on a stretcher. Next Bobby Thomson hit the famous “shot heard round the world” and Lockman would be the tying run crossing the plate proper to Thomson.

In the 1951 World Series, Lockman hit a three run HR in Game #3 at the Polo Grounds, in the Giants 6-2 win. He went 6-25 in the Series, batting .240, with 1 HR 4 RBIs & two doubles.

In 1952 he made his only All Star appearance, batting .290 (10th in the league) getting 176 hits (5th in the league) & scoring 99 runs (4th in the league). Lockman hit 13 HRs with 58 RBIs & a .368 on base %, while playing in a league leading 150 games. Defensively he led NL first basemen in putouts and double Plays. In 1953 he batted .295 with 179 hits, 22 doubles, a. 351 on base % striking out just 36 times in 607 at bats. He dropped off to just 9 HRs on the season.

In the 1954 Giants Championship season, Lockman hit .251 with 16 HRs 17 doubles 3 triples & 60 RBIs during the regular season, as the everyday first baseman. During the season he would often bat leadoff because of his consistency, & ability to not strike out or hit into double plays. In the ’54 World Series he only hit .111 (2-18). In Game #1 he led off the home third inning with a single & scored the Giants first run of the game. In Game #3 he singled & scored on Willie Mays hit in the sixth inning.

In the 1955 season he batted .273 with 15 HRs 19 doubles & 49 RBIs. In 1956 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals then was sent back to the Giants at the end of the season. He was a member of the Giants' last New York team, going 0-3 in the last game at the Polo Grounds in 1957. That season he struck out only 19 times in 502 official plate appearances, which averaged out to a strike out every 24 at bats (second best ratio in the league).

He moved west with the team to San Francisco, in 1958 batting .238 in 92 games. He finished up his career in 1960 after brief stints in Cincinnati & Baltimore. Lifetime in 1,666 games, Lockman had a .279 career batting average with 1658 hits 114 HRs, 222 doubles, 49 triples, & 563 RBIs.

He posted a .342 on base % & struck out 383 times in 5940 at bats. Not only was he tough to strike out but he was also hard to double up, hitting into a double play every 87 at bats, one of the best averages in MLB history.

Retirement: After his playing days he started out coaching right away, first in Cincinnati with the NL Champion Reds in 1961.

Then he served as the Giants third base coach under old team mate Alvin Dark from 1962-1964. He moved on the Chicago Cubs organization as a minor league manager & Director of Player development throughout the sixties.

In July 1972, he succeeded his old skipper Leo Durocher, as Cubs' manager. Owner Phil Wrigley was dimatling his team in those days but Lockan did the best he could bringing up players like Burt Hooton, Rick Reushel & Bill Madlock.

He went 157-162 as Cubs manager (.492%) then moved to their front office in 1974.

He later worked in the front offices for the Montreal Expos & Florida Marlins, retiring in 2001 after 59 years in the game. He passed away from pulmonary complications on St. Patrick’s Day 2009 at the age of 82.

Jul 22, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Mickey Lolich Tosses a Two Hitter

Sunday July 20th 1976: Tonight Joe Frazier's third place Mets (48-44) were hosting Dave Bristol's; fifth place Atlanta Braves (41-48). Carl Morton (0-6) (the 1970 NL Rookie of the Year) took on the veteran Mickey Lolich (4-10). 

Lolich had come over from the Detroit Tigers, in a deal that sent the popular; Rusty Staub to the Motor City. 

Loilch's best days were behind him, back in the sixties /early seventies he had been one of the game's best left hander's. In a deal that never made any sense, the Mets traded away Staub one of their biggest RBI guys on a team that didn't score many runs & brought in Lolich on a Mets team with a strong rotation. 

 Lolich had pitched a three hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals three weeks earlier but tonight would be even better, his best outing as a New York Met. Lolich retired the Braves in order in the first two innings. In the 3rd he gave up a single to veteran Darrel Chaney, drew a balk call but retired Jerry Royster to end the inning. In the 4th he gave up another single, this time to "the toy cannon" Jimmy Wynn. 

Lolich would retire the next 17 of the next 18 batters without allowing a hit, completing a two hit shutout. Although he struck out just four, the left hander was outstanding. 

The Mets provided some offense on a Felix Millan RBI single & Dave Kingman's 32nd HR of the year. Kingman was on a pace to hit well over fifty HRs that year, but he would only play in 33 more games that season due to injury.

2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Pitcher Who Once Was Chased Off the Mound By Mike Piazza: Guillermo Mota (2006-2007)

Guillermo Reynoso Mota was born on July 25, 1973, in the Dominican Republic. The six foot six right hander, was originally signed by the Mets as a third baseman in 1990 right out of high school.

He played with the Kingsport, Gulf Coast & St. Lucie Mets where he was transformed to a pitcher because he struck out way too often as a hitter.

In 2006 he was taken by the Montreal Expos in the Rule five draft. After three seasons there, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Drama: It was with the Dodgers he became famous for an incident where he was chased off the mound & into the dugout by Mike Piazza. Mota had thrown a pitch at Piazza in Spring Training at a Vero Beach.

Piazza grabbed him by the neck, as Mota was getting taken out of the game down by the first base line. Piazza yelled at him without throwing any punches.

A year later at another Spring Training matchup in Port St. Lucie, the two faced off again. The Dodgers had Mota pitch a second inning of work, possibly just to pitch to Piazza. On the very first pitch Mota came inside, on the second pitch he threw a fastball toward Piazza's head.

Piazza dropped his bat & charged the mound like a madman. Mota threw his glove at him & ran off the field to hide in the dugout.

Piazza was held back by Dodgers & Mets players, but had a certain look in his eye never seen before. Jeremy Burnitz went after Mota as he ran to the dugout, so did Joe Mcewing & Ty Wiggington as well. It was probably the angriest Mike Piazza ever was on a baseball field.

In July 2004 Mota was involved in a big trade, sending him along with Juan Encarnacion and Paul Lo Duca to the Florida Marlins for Hee-Seop Choi, Bill Murphy and Brad Penny. He went 1-4 with three saves posting a 3.81 ERA.

After the 2005 season he was in the middle of another big trade, going to the Boston Red Sox, with pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell for, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado,& Harvey Garcia. He never pitched in Boston, as the journeyman was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he was 1-3 with an ERA over six & was released.

In August of 2006 the New York Mets gave him a shot and signed him. Amazingly he ended up pitching well for the rest of the season. Mota debuted as a Mets pitcher, on August 22nd in relief of John Maine in an 8-7 win. On September 1st he earned his first Mets win, it came against the Houston Astros, pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

On September 12th he earned a victory against his old Florida Marlins team mates & on the last day of the season he earned his third victory in Washington D.C. He was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.00 in 18 games, making the post season roster as one of two set men for Billy Wagner.

Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he allowed three runs in the top of the 7th inning, but still earned the victory as the Mets held on for the 6-5 win. in Game #3, he pitched two scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium as the Mets went on to sweep the series.

Mota appeared in five of the seven NLCS Games against the St. Louis Cardinals, posting a 4.15 ERA allowing two runs in 4.2 innings pitched. In Game #2 he blew a two run lead in the 6th inning & was credited with a blown save. With two outs he allowed a single to Albert Pujols & a walk to Jim Edmonds. Then Scott Spezio tripled, driving in both runs to tie the game, as the Mets would lose in the 9th inning.

Just prior to the 2007 season, Mota was suspended for fifty games for violating baseballs drug treatment plan, testing positive for steroids. He returned to Shea Stadium in June appearing in 52 games, going 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA.

He struggled, pitching poorly and the fans let him have it. He was getting booed every time he appeared & was gone by the end of the season.

He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Johnny Estrada who never suited up in a Mets uniform. Mota went 5-6 in Milwaukee, then went back to the Dodgers in 2009.

Drama: That season he hit his ex-teammate Prince Fielder, with a pitch and it did not go over well. Fielder tried to go after Mota in the clubhouse, but was stopped by security guards. Mota was never the most popular guy on the field and was generally looked at as a coward.

In 2010 he signed on with the San Francisco Giants & went on to two World's Championships with them as a middle reliever.

Post Season: He made one appearance in the 2010 World Series, against the Texas Rangers pitching 2.1 scoreless innings.

In 2012 he made one appearance in the NLDS & one in the NLCS allowing two runs each time. He did not get an appearance in the World Series.

He was granted free agency but was not signed by any team in the off season. In his 14 year career Mota was 39-45 with ten saves, 696 strike outs & 331 walks in 743 games with a 3.94 ERA.

Late Sixties Mets Outfielder: Don Bosch (1967-1968)

Donald John Bosch was born on July 15, 1942 in San Francisco, California.

The five foot ten switch hitting outfielder was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. Bosch hit .332 at A ball Kinston in 1963, then showed some power hitting 15 HRs at AA Asheville in 1964. He was touted as being a good centerfielder with a big future ahead of him.

He played three brief games for Pittsburgh in 1966, before getting traded to the New York Mets along with pitcher Don Cardwell in exchange for Dennis Ribant and Gary Kolb.

Bosch was a centerfielder with a bit of speed, but never hit too well in the major leagues. He arrived in New York with expectations to solidify the Mets centerfield position, which had been occupied by a young Cleon Jones who was more of a corner outfielder. Right away Bosch made a bad impression with his pre mature grey hair & small size.

He was the 1967 Mets Opening Day leadoff man; getting a single in his first at bat & scoring the Mets first run of the year. Bosch the struggled mightily; he was only batting .168 with no HRs & one RBI by early June when he was sent back to AAA Jacksonville. He hit .263 with 5 HRs & 31 RBIs there playing in 90 games.

He returned to the Mets in September, but still didn’t hit, finishing with a .140 average on the season, no HRs three stolen bases & two RBIs in 44 games with 101 at bats. He made the club again in 1968, but Tommie Agee, was now the center fielder & Bosch was just a reserve outfielder.

On June 14th he hit his first career HR, it came against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. Bosch hit another HR the next day in the first game of a double header. He then hit his third Mets HR in a Fourth of July double header at Shea Stadium in a 3-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He remained on the club until August when he was sent back down to AAA Jacksonville where he hit .298 the rest of the way.

For the Mets in 1968 he only hit .171 with three HRs, one double, seven RBIs & a .231 on base %. In October of 1968 his contract was purchased by the expansion Montreal Expos.

Bosch became an original Montreal Expo & came to bat as a pinch hitter in the Expos first ever game, played at Shea Stadium on Opening Day 1969.

A few days later on April 14, 1969 he made history when he scored the first MLB run outside the United States at Montreal’s Jarry Park. He had led off the bottom of the first with hit, scoring (along with Rusty Staub) on a Mack Jones three run HR.

He played 49 games for the Expos, hitting a career best .179 with one HR & four RBIs. He played his last MLB game on July 9th as he was shut down with an injury. Bosch spent 1970 at AAA Buffalo & Oklahoma City ending his playing career.

In his four season MLB career he hit .164 with 52 hits, four HRs, six doubles, one triple, five stolen bases, a .217 on base %, 13 RBIs & 34 runs scored in 146 games played.

Jul 21, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1986) Ray Knight Starts A Classic Brawl In Cincinnati

Tuesday July 22nd 1986- The New York Mets were riding high 13 games up in first place, very confident & cocky. Controversy was still surrounding the club after the incident in Houston where four Mets were arrested but that just added to their legacy. On the field they were the best team in the league & also the most rowdy. On this road trip to Cincinnati there was yet another on field brawl that once again just added to their legacy.

On this Tuesday night the Mets (62-28) were at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, facing Pete Rose's fourth place Reds (44-47). The game began with Bobby Ojeda going up against Scott Terry in front of 23,707 fans. But this wild game would see eight Mets pitchers take the mound & 22 players overall on the field. The Reds would have six pitchers & 22 players overall as well.

The game started out with the Reds taking a 2-0 lead in the 3rd inning when Dave Parker hit a two run HR. New York answered in the 5th, as Lenny Dykstra drove in Ojeda with a triple. In the bottom of the inning, the Reds Buddy Bell homered putting the Reds up 3-1. The game stayed that way until the 9th inning.

With two outs, Dykstra walked & Tim Teufel doubled, bringing up Keith Hernandez. Hernandez hit a fly ball to left field that should have been the third out, but Dave Parker dropped the ball. Parker who had admitted his anger toward the '86 Mets, as he would curse out the TV set when he would see their nightly highlights. Now his error allowed Dykstra & Teufel to score tying the game. It was just another routine night for the Mets on their way to another win.

In the bottom of the 10th, Jesse Orosco came in to pitch for the Mets. He started out by striking out Dave Parker. Then player / manager Pete Rose pinch hit & singled. He brought in Eric Davis to pinch run for him, Davis stole second base & then stole third as Eddie Milner was struckout by Orosco.

When Davis went into third base he popped up into Mets third baseman; (Ray Knight. Knight had played for the Reds from 1974 to 1981).  Not a good idea, Knight a former Gold Glove Boxer, had already been the center of a few team brawls during the season. He yelled "Whats wrong with you" to Davis, he shoved Davis back, trying to push him off the base. Davis pushed back, Knight then punched Davis in the face, dropped his glove like a hockey player was ready to box. 

Third base umpire Eric Gregg tried to break it up but that wasn't going to happen. Davis stepped back & then tried to come again but Gary Carter tackled him to the ground. He was pulled away by the umpire & his coach Tommy Helms. Eddie Milner came at Knight & was tackled by Mets, then tossed to the ground. 

Big Dave Parker came running in pulling Mets players aside shouting at Knight. Another Mets tough guy; former gang member, Kevin Mitchell went after Parker but was stopped when Mario Sotto & Bill Gullickson tackled him. Gullickson was tossed aside as well as Soto but karate expert John Denny managed to keep Mitchell down.

The area around third base  had a lot of pushing & shoving going on. Ray Knight continued to yell wanting to go after Reds players. Order was finally restored after a long delay, Knight, Mitchell & Davis were all ejected.

As the Mets returned to the dugout, they saw George Foster (a long time Reds player) sitting there. He was the only player or coach for that matter who had not gotten involved. He would later say he did not want to send the wrong message to the kids. This was the end of George Fosters Mets career. Soon after, Davey Johnson (who enforces team work) would demote Foster from the left field position, giving the job to Kevin Mitchell, Danny Heep, Mookie Wilson & Lee Mazzilli would be signed a few weeks later. Foster was released a few weeks later.

After all the madness in this wild game, the Mets were short of position players. Davey Johnson thought fast & made the only moves he could. Mets pitcher Roger McDowell went to play right field, Gary Carter went to play third base & Ed Hearn came in to catch. 

McDowell would switch from right to left field & eventually relieve Orosco on the mound. Orosco would go out to then play the outfield.

The game went to the 14th inning when Ed Hearn doubled & Jesse Orosco walked. Howard Johnson finally ended it with a three run HR off Ted Power. McDowell closed out the Reds in the bottom of the inning & the Mets won the game.

2000 NL Champion Mets Short Stop: Mike Bordick (2000)

Michael Todd Bordick was born July 21, 1965 in Marquette Michigan. His father was in the Air Force & the Bordick family moved around during Mike’s youth. They went from Michigan to upstate New York, finally settling in Maine.

Bordick attended the University of Maine, playing for the school’s team, the Black Bears. He signed with the Oakland A’s in 1986 spending four seasons in the minor leagues.

He came up with the 1990 A.L. Champion Athletics, eventually taking over the shortstop position from Walt Weis. He spent the next seven years in Oakland as their main shortstop hitting .300 in 1992 with 151 hits 19 doubles 48 RBIs & 62 runs scored. In the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays he only hit .053 going 1-19 in six games. During those years with the Athletics he twice led the league in put outs, once in games played & assists. He was a consistent player and very solid defensively, always among the tops in the league at shortstop in fielding.

In 1996 he signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles, taking over at short stop when Cal Ripken moved over to third base. Bordick played in Camden Yards as the main short stop for six seasons, getting to the post season in 1997. As the league’s hitting numbers increased in the late nineties so did Bordick’s. He would hit 13 HRs in 1998 while leading the league in sacrifice hits with 15.

In 1999 he hit 35 doubles with 77 RBIs having career highs in hits (175) & runs scored (93). That season he also led all AL shortstops in fielding & assists. He also was in the top ten of getting hit by pitches three times, doing it 227 times in his career (#67 all time). He had his best season in 2000 with career highs in HRs (20) RBIs (80) making his only All Star team, batting .285 with 30 doubles.

That summer, the Mets lost short their stop Rey Ordonez for the remainder of the season & had to make a move. Ordonez was an excellent fielder but was only batting .188 at the time he went down. The only other short stop on the club at the time was the little used Kurt Abbott & the team was not confident enough in him to take over the role. Melvin Mora was still being used as an outfielder at the time. On July 28th they traded Melvin Mora, Mike Kinkade, Leslie Brea & minor leaguer Mike Kinkade to the Orioles in exchange for Bordick for the stretch run.

It was a good move for the Mets, receiving a solid defensive veteran player who was also hitting well to fill the gap, even though it was just for the season. Mike Bordick debuted as a Met on Junly 29th at Shea Stadium in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first Mets at bat he hit a solo HR off Andy Benes tying up the game, welcome to New York Mike Bordick. The Mets went on to 3-2 win. On August 1st he singled to drive in a run in the 6th inning, the run turned out to be the game winner in the Mets 3-2 win & the eleventh victory of the year for Mike Hampton.

Bordick contributed to the Mets Wild Card chase with three HRs & 11 RBIs in the month of August keeping his average at .300. His average tailed off in September but he finished the year at .285. On the last day of the regular season he had two RBI singles leading the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos. Bordick batted .260 with 4 HRs 8 doubles 18 runs scored & 21 RBIs in 56 games for the 2000 NL Champion Mets.

Post Season: In the post season, he was 4-33 (.123), never hitting above .200 in any of the three Series. In the Division series against the San Francisco Giants he scored a run in each of the first three games, twice on hits by Timo Perez.

The following season he went back to Baltimore, signing as a free agent. Bordick played two more seasons in Baltimore having his best defensive season in 2002, when he set the MLB records for fielding% (.998%), fewest errors (one), consecutive errorless games (110) and consecutive errorless chances (543). He closed out his career in Toronto hitting .274 in 103 games in 2003.

In a 13 year career Bordick played in 1720 games hitting .260 with 1500 hits 257 doubles 30 triples 91 HRs 676 runs scored & 626 RBIs. Defensively he made 128 errors with 2606 put outs (64th all time) 4410 assists (65th all time) with a .982 fielding %.

Retirement: In 2005 he was invited to the White House to honor the Little League Champions from Toms River, NJ. Bordick has worked as a minor league instructor for the Blue Jays & Orioles since his playing days. In2011 he was elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame.