May 3, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1965) Yogi Berra Comes Out Of Retirement As A Player

In April of 1965 Yogi Berra signed on with the New York Mets as a Player / Manager. Berra had retired as a player after the 1963 season & was quickly named manager of the A.L. New York team for 1964. Although they finished first they lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals & Berra was fired. The next year without Berra they finished sixth & would finish fifth or worst for the next six years.

Saturday May 1st 1965: Casey Stengel's Mets (6-11) were on the road to face Dick Sisler's Reds (10-5) in front of just 3961 fans at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. With the Mets down 8-2 in the top of the 8th inning, Stengel sent up Yogi Berra in the pitchers spot, as a pinch hitter to face the Reds Sammy Ellis. Berra grounded out to first base.

Tuesday May 4th 1965: Gene Mauch's Philadelphia Phillies (8-10) were in town to face Casey Stengel's Mets (7-13) in front of 17,321 at Shea Stadium. For the first time since 1962 Yogi Berra was behind the plate in the catchers position. Berra was battery mate to Al Jackson that day & batting in the seventh spot.

In the Mets 1st inning, Johnny Lewis singled & scored on an Ed Kranepool single, followed by a Phillies error. After a Joe Christopher wask, Berra came up & got his first hit of the day, a single to center field. Unfortunately for the Mets Christopher was thrown out at third base.

Al Jackson pitched a fine game, keeping the score at 1-0 until the 7th inning. Berra led off that inning with a base hit, his second hit of the day. Ron Swoboda then singled to left field, moving Berra to second. Roy McMillan then singled to center & Berra scampered home to make it 2-0. The run also turned out to be the games winning run as the Mets won it 2-1. Quite a day for Berra who was about to turn forty  the following week.

Wednesday May 5th 1965: In this game Jim Bunning out duels the Mets Warren Spahn in a 1-0 pitching classic. Berrra had another 8th inning pinch hit at bat, grounding out to first base.

Sunday May 9th 1965: In this Mothers Day double header, Bobby Bragan's Milwaukee Braves (10-9) came to Shea to play Casey Stengel's Mets (8-15). Today Yogi Berra would get another start behind the plate as catcher batting seventh. It would be the last game Berra would play in his career as he retired for good after today. Berra went 0-4 on the day, grounding out to second base in his last at bat in the 9th inning. 

Berra would finish the year 2-9 with a .222 average, one run scored in four games. Two runners stole bases on him as well.

The Mets took an 8-2 loss today, as HRs by Joe Torre, Mack Jones & Dennis Menke were the main killers. The two Mets runs were scored on RBI singles by Roy McMillan & Danny Napoleon.

Berra would remain a coach with the Mets for the next seven years, before becoming team Manager in 1972. He would be Met Manager from 1972 to August 1975.

Former Mets Pitcher Who Twice Started Out Season at 5-0: Armando Reynoso (1997-1998)

Armando Martin (Gutierrez) Reynoso was born on May 1st, 1966 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The six foot right hander began pitching in the Mexican League getting over to the majors in 1991 with the Atlanta Braves. After two brief seasons in Atlanta he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies as the 58th pick of the 1992 expansion draft.

In 1993 Reynoso was the Rockies ace winning 12 games (12-11) being the only pitcher on the Colorado staff to win in double figures. Injures limited him to just nine games the next year & in 1995 he was used mostly as a reliever. In 1996 he was 8-9 with a 4.96 ERA being used again in a starting role. In November of 1996 he was traded to the New York Mets for Jerry Dipoto.

Reynoso had a great Spring Training '97, starting out by throwing seven shutout innings over two starts before having elbow troubles. On April 13th, 1997, made his Mets regular season debut, pitching five shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers while earning his Met first win. He would pitch well enough, for Manager Bobby Valentine to insert him in the Mets rotation of Bobby Jones, Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki & Mark Clark. 

On May 7th Reynoso pitched eight innings, while allowing just one run on four hits, against the Astros in Houston earning his second win (2-0). On May 24th he went seven innings allowing just one run, as he won his third game (3-0) beating the Phillies at the Vet. In his next start, he beat the Phillies at Shea, going another seven strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits. 

On June 5th Reynoso pitched a five hit complete game, shut out at Shea Stadium, beating the Florida Marlins 6-0. It bested his record to 5-0, making him just the third Mets pitcher to start out a year at 5-0. (Since then Pedro Martinez 2006 & Matt Harvey 2015 have matched this feat). Reynoso was sporting a 2.55 ERA going into June.

On June 17th in the second official subway series regular season game, he took his first loss, it came against the AL New York club as he allowed four runs & five hits getting knocked out in the 2nd inning. 

By mid July he was 6-3 with a 4.53 ERA when his season was cut short due to recurring injuries. 

He didn't return until July 24th 1998, when he pitched eight shutout innings beating the Cubs 5-0 at Wrigley Field. Upon his return Reynoso was fantastic, in his next start he beat the Los Angeles Dodgers & then the Rockies in Colorado. He went seven innings in both contests going to 3-0. 

On August 15th, although he allowed four runs in Arizona, he was still the winning pitcher in a 5-4 Mets win. On August 21st at Shea Stadium, Reynoso matched his club tying Mets record, of winning his first five decisions in a season. He beat Manny Abar & the St. Louis Cards 1-0 going into the 7th inning. Turk Wendell & John Franco completed the win.

In the second game of an August 21st double header at Shea Stadium he pitched seven shutout innings allowing just three hits, to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. 

After taking a loss where he allowed seven runs on ten hits in just 4.2 innings he went on to pitch eight innings in two straight starts, earning wins. He went 7-3 posting the second best winning percentage among the Mets starters (.700%). He posted a 3.82 in eleven games pitched.

He was granted free agency at the end of the season & signed with the Arizona Diamond backs. He won double figures in each of the next two seasons there, going 10-6 in the D-backs 1999 playoff season. He did not pitch in the ALDS loss to his old Mets team mates. Reynoso pitched four seasons in Arizona retiring after the 2002 season.

In his career he went 68-62 with a 4.74 ERA, 554 strikeouts, 376 walks & one save in 1079 innings in 198 appearances. 

Retirement: Reynoso pitched for Mexico National team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He was elected to the Mexican Hall of Fame of Baseball in 2010.

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Sean Green (2009-2010)

Sean William Green was born on April 20, 1979 in Louisville, Kentucky. The tall six foot six righty was originally drafted as the Toronto Blue Jays in the 32nd round in 1997. Instead of signing he chose to attend the University of Louisville, eventually getting drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 12th round in 2000.

Green was strictly a middle relief pitcher in the minor leagues, pitching for the Rockies organization for five seasons. In 2004 he was traded to the Seattle Mariners organization & the in 2005 led the Texas League with 14 saves while posting a 2.96 ERA at AA San Antonio. He pitched well for the Mariners at Spring Training 2006 & then went 4-0 at AAA Tacoma getting him an early call up. He debuted in Minnesota pitching part of an inning against the Twins in a 5-1 Mariner loss.

In his first season he made 24 appearances posting no record with a 4.50 ERA. In 2007 he was 5-1 with a 3.84 ERA having the best year of his career to date. He pitched three seasons as a mid reliever for Seattle, going 9-7 with an ERA of four. Prior to the 2009 season he was sent to the New York Mets along with JJ Putz & Jeremy Reed, in a big three team trade that sent Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians, as well as Endy Chavez & Aaron Heilman to the Seattle Mariners.

In 2009 Green debuted on Opening Day in Cincinnati pitching 1.1 innings of relief work in the Mets 2-1 loss to the Reds. Overall he made 79 appearances (4th most in the league) out of the Mets bullpen, pitching in 69 innings striking out 54 batters. He was 1-4 giving up five HRs, walking 36 batters & hitting another nine (8th most in the NL) while posting a 4.52 ERA.

His one win came in Washington D.C. on June 5th, pitching one scoreless inning against the Nationals. At the end of July he earned his lone save at Houston in an 8-3 Mets victory over the Astros. Green was sent back down to AAA but had a good Spring in 2010 & made the final bull pen spot. He made eleven appearances posting a 3.86 ERA but it was discovered he had a broken rib which ended his season. He returned to A ball St. Lucie to rehab & then was promoted to AAA Buffalo making 17 appearances. He was granted free agency & signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2010.

In 14 games he was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA for the NL Central Champion Brewers. In his six year career he is 10-12 with two saves & a 4.41 ERA in 264 appearances.

1969 World Champion Mets September Call Up: Bob Johnson (1969)

Robert Dale Johnson was born April 25th, 1943 in Aurora Illinois. The six foot four left handed hitter, threw right handed & was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1964.

Johnson went 10-9 in the New York Penn. League in 1964 & then had a great 7-1 start to the 1965 season before getting promoted to AA Williamsport. In 1966 he was 8-3 at Williamsport getting promoted to AAA Jacksonville where he fell to 1-3. In 1967 he was back at Williamsport having a good year, going 301 with a 1.02 ERA in just 13 games. Johnson would suffer from arm trouble that would haunt him for the rest of his career.

After missing the 1968 season, he returned to pitch at AA Memphis in 1969, where he was the clubs top pitcher. He went 13-4 with a 1.48 ERA striking out 129 batters in 134 innings. He was promoted to up to AAA Tidewater appearing in 14 games going 0-1 with three saves.

Johnson was called up to the Mets team that September, arriving just before the Amazing's clinched the NL East. Johnson debuted on September 19th, finishing off a 8-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would make just one more appearance, earning a save in a 6-5 win at Wrigley Field on October 1st. He was not eligible for the post season.

In December 1969 he was traded away with Amos Otis to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Joe Foy. 

Johnson went 8-13 for the Royals with a 3.07 ERA getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the season. In 1971 he was third on the World Champion Pirates staff (behind Steve Blass & Doc Ellis) with 11 wins, going 11-7 with a 4.11 ERA.

Post Season: In the 1971 NLCS he pitched eight innings of one run ball against the San Francisco Giants. He earned the Game #3 win striking out seven batters walking three.

In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles he started Game #2, giving up four runs & getting removed in the 4th inning, taking a loss. He appeared in relief of Game #6 pitching two innings in the 3-2 Pirate loss.

He returned to the NLCS in 1972, making two relief appearances against the Cincinnati Reds. From now on, Johnson turned into more of a relief pitcher over the next couple of years, staying with the Pirates through 1973.

That December he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, but was released that July. He would pitch in the minor leagues over the next three seasons, spending time with the AL New York club, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals & Atlanta Braves organizations.

He reappeared in the majors pitching 15 games for the 1977 Atlanta Braves before his career ended.

In a seven year career, he was 28-34 with 12 saves in 183 games (76 starts). He struck out 507 batters, walking 269 in 692 innings of work.

May 2, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingmans Big Start In May

Tuesday May 4th 1976: At this early point in the '76 season, the Mets managed by Joe Frazier were 15-8 and in first place in the NL East. A Shea Stadium crowd of 18,528 fans came out to see the Mets host the reigning World Champion- Big Red Machine, managed by Sparky Andersons. 

Both starting pitchers Tom Seaver for New York & Fred Norman for the Reds were 3-0 up to this point.

Norman lost control in the 2nd inning issuing four walks which led to two Mets runs. The Reds got a run back in the 3rd as Seaver walked two & Pete Rose singled in Cesar Geronimo. 

In the home 3rd inning, Joe Torre led off with a single. Dave Kingman then hit a two run HR putting the Mets ahead for good on the day. 

This started off a very hot productive streak for Mr. Kingman. It was already Kong's tenth HR of the season, the most in the league. The Mets got another run in the game on an Ed Kranepool RBI hit, capping off the 5-3 win. Seaver bested to 4-0 on the year as the Mets were rolling along nicely.

Friday May 7th 1976:  Tonight the first place Mets hosted John McNamara's third place San Diego Padres, as the National League's two best pitchers of 1976 faced off against each other. The Mets Jerry Koosman went up against Randy Jones, who would narrowly beat out Koos for that years Cy Young Award.

1976 was kind of a special year looking back: Jerry Koosman would win twenty games & slugger Dave Kingman would set a Mets club record with 37 HRs, second in the NL. It would be Tom Seaver's last full season before the Midnight Massacre trade in 1977 & it would be the clubs last winning season until 1984.

In this Friday night game, it was Dave Kingman also known as "Kong", would be the star. In the 1st inning he wasted no time as he blasted a two run HR, scoring Joe Torre with the first two runs of the game. In the 4th, Koosman helped out his own cause with an RBI single to go up 3-2. The Padres managed two runs & the score was 3-2 into the 8th inning.

The Padre pitcher; Mike Dupree, allowed a lead off double to Felix Millan & a single to Torree. Kingman followed with a three run blast to left center field, putting the Mets ahead 5-4. It was his eleventh HR of the young season. It turned out to be the game winner, as Koosman went the distance for the victory. He allowed two runs on six hits with seven strike outs to go to 3-1.

Wednesday May 12th 1976: Five days later the Mets were on the road in Atlanta. The Mets were still in first place at 19-11 & Dave Bristols Braves, were in fifth place at 9-19. 

The Braves pitcher- Andy Messersmith, who was one of the games top pitchers in the early seventies, and had also became one of the first free agents, had signed with Atlanta but was struggling at 0-4.

The Mets once again had Jerry Koosman on the mound. 

In the top of the 1st, Kingman started it off with a solo HR. In the Mets 4th, Joe Torre & Ron Hodges got aboard & a Roy Staiger single made it 3-0. Mike Phillips added an RBI hit & Del Unser a sac Fly to make it 4-0 Mets.

In the 5th it was Kingman again, hitting his league leading 14th HR of the season, also of  Messersmith. Kong also added an RBI double in the 7th inning making it 6-0 Mets. Kingman had a big four hit evening & drove in three runs, already giving him 33 RBIs for the season. Up to that point in Mets history, the team had never had a slugger like Kingman, putting up such big HR numbers.

The Mets would win the game 6-3, as Koosman earned his fourth win (4-1) & Skip Lockwood earned the save, his fifth.

In the first 12 days of April 1976, in a span of ten games, Dave Kingman had five HRs with 13 hits & 13 RBIs.

An Original Met- Italian / American Catcher: Chris Cannizzaro (1962-1965)

Christopher John Cannizzaro was born May 3, 1938 in Oakland, California. The six foot, right hand hitting catcher was signed out of San Leandro high school in 1956 by the St. Louis Cardinals.

He hit a minor league best .272 at AAA Omaha in 1958. Two years later after batting .251 at AAA Rochester, he made his MLB debut, but was back in the minors next season. He played in seven games in 1960 then six more in 1961 after getting called up late in the year.

In that years expansion draft, Cannizzaro became an original Met for the teams first season in 1962 when he was chosen in the 26th round.

Trivia: In Spring Training of 1962 his son Chris Jr. was born, technically becoming the first Met baby in the team’s history. The elder Chris, didn’t see his son until he was three months old. Unlike in todays times players weren’t allowed to leave camp for maternity leave.

In classic 1962 Mets folk lore, Manager Casey Stengel also used to tell the press “we have a catcher on the team that can’t catch”. Stengel couldn’t even pronounce Cannizzaro’s name correctly, usually calling him “Canzaroni” or something close to that pronunciation. This was also a sign of the times, as where in todays politically correct times, anyone with even the craziest of names, would not stand for a mispronunciation.

Chris Cannizzaro  would have trouble seeing certain pitches at the that came out of the white Rheingold Beer sign with a white background in the Polo Grounds outfield. He made six errors on the season & dropped more than a few balls. It is interesting to note he never had that problem in any other ball park. Also it must be noted that certain umpires also complained about seeing pitches in the Polo Grounds.

He was tough to steal against ,as he threw out 56% of would be base stealers, which the best average in the National League (20 of 36). In his Mets career he was primarily a back up or third string catcher. During his playing days he was known as one of the slowest runners on the base paths. One legendary story tells how he once couldn’t score from second base on a double.

In 1962 he appeared in 59 games batting .241 without any HRs, two doubles, a .335 on base % & nine RBIs.

In 1963 he played in 93 games at AAA Rochester batting .266 with seven HRs. For the Mets he only played in 16 games, five in May & the rest in September batting .242. In 1964 as the Mets opened the new Shea Stadium, Cannizzaro returned to catch 60 games behind the plate. He shared time with back stops; Jesse Gonder & Hawk Taylor. Cannizzaro hit a career best .311 that season (164 at bats) with 51 hits 10 doubles & 10 RBIs.

In 1965 the Mets used six catchers throughout the season, with Cannizaro being their main guy. Problem was he only hit .183 with 41 hits, eight doubles, two triples & seven RBIs , posting a .270 on base %.

Behind the plate he caught 112 games (4th in the NL) & one again led the league with best caught stealing % in the NL. He threw out 53% of would be base stealers,31 of 59. He also made 12 errors behind the plate, the most in the NL. He wore uniform #8 until Yogi Berra came to the team as a player / coach, then Chris took on uniform #5.

On April 5, 1966 Cannizzaro was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Don Dillard. In his four year Mets career Cannizzaro played in 249 games, batting .236 with 137 hits, 21 doubles & 30 RBIs. After playing two years in the minors at AAA Toledo & Richmond, he returned to the majors, this time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That season he played in just 25 games, but finally hit his first career HR, eight years after making his debut.

Then in 1969 he became an original San Diego Padre and was the clubs first player to ever appear in an All Star Game. He only hit .220 that year with four HRs 14 doubles & 33 RBIs. He threw out 41% of would be base stealers & allowed 14 passed balls (3rd most in the NL) .

 In 1970 he hit .279, then after two seasons as the Padres main catcher he was sent to The Chicago Cubs (1971) then the Los Angeles Dodgers (1972-1973).

He retired from playing in 1974 ending a ten year career. He batted .235 with 458 hits 18 HRs 66 doubles & 169 RBIs. Overall he caught 714 games with a .983 fielding % throwing out 41% of would be base stealers, 175 out of 332 runners. Cannizzaro holds a share of the Major League record for most unassisted double plays by a catcher (2).

Retirement: After baseball he has coached at various levels for the Atlanta Braves (1976-1978) & California Angels (1979-1982) organizations.

In 2006 he was named the director of baseball operations at San Diego State University. There he became a very successful coach.

Family: His son Chris Jr. played at San Diego State as freshman when Tony Gwynn was a senior at the school.

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Manny Acosta (2010-2012)

Manuel Alcides (Molina) Acosta was born on May 1st in Colon, Panama. The six foot four right hander was originally signed by the AL New York club in 1998. He spent four years with the AL New York clubs minor league team, pitching as both a starter as well as a reliever. He was struggling to a 2-8 record & a 6.60 ERA in his last season in that organization in 2003. That summer he was released & got picked up by the Atlanta Braves.

He debuted in August of 2007 & earned his first career decision against the New York Mets. He took a September 12th loss when Sean Green singled home Carlos Beltran in the bottom of the 8th inning. In 2008 he went 3-5 with three saves & was credited with four holds posting a 3.37 ERA in 46 appearances. He returned in 2009 making 36 appearances going 1-1 with two holds. After the season he signed on with the New York Mets as a free agent.

Acosta made his Mets debut on April 21st 2010 against the Chicago Cubs, allowing three runs in 1.1 innings of work. On the 24th he earned his first win beating his old Braves team mates & he would beat them again on August 3rd. On the year he made 41 appearances going 3-2 with one save, three blow saves & posting a 2.95 ERA.

In 2011 he began the year at AAA Buffalo going 1-0, & got back to the Mets squad by June 5th debuting against the Atlanta Braves quickly allowing two runs in less than an inning. He got credit for two holds going into mid August, and then earned his first win on August 15th. In that game the Mets won it in the bottom of the 11th inning on a run scoring fielder’s choice by Scott Hairston.

Before the season was over he would be used in the closers role at times after the departure of Francisco Rodriquez. He would earn four saves, while blowing other opportunities going 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA & finish up with seven holds.

Acosta got on board with the 2012 Mets  pitching out of the bullpen. On April 27th, he was shelled in Colorado, allowing seven runs on five hits in a horrific eleven run Rockies 5th inning. He then took the loss three days later in Houston, after allowing an 8th inning RBI single to Jed Lowrey. This was one inning after the Mets had tied the game at three.

On May 2nd Acosta, allowed five straight hits & three more runs, in the Astros series sweep in the two teams last meeting with the Astros as an NL team in Houston.

On May 8th he was credited with a victory, pitching 0.2 innings at Philadelphia in a 7-4 Mets win. But things didn't get any better; on May 13th he blew a save in Miami, serving up a walk off HR to Giancarlo Stanton.

Then there were three more horrid relief experience in Toronto (five runs allowed over two innings) & at home against the Padres & Phillies were he allowed three runs each time. On May 28th Philadelphia nailed him for three runs on four hits in just a third of an inning.

Acosta's ERA was over ten (10.25), he was sent down to AAA Buffalo & returned at the end of July.  He saw a lot of action in September, as the Mets season was going no where. Acosta finished the year at 1-3 with one save, four holds & a 6.46 ERA in 45 appearances. He was granted free agency & signed on to pitch in Japan for 2013.

In Japan he pitched just 14 games for the Yomiuri Giants, going 1-0 with a 5.54 ERA before an arm injury ended his season.

In his six year MLB career he is 6-6 with nine saves, 219 strike outs & 117 walks in 248 innings over 233 games.

1933 World Champion New York Giants Pitcher: Roy Parmalee (1929-1935)

Le Roy Earl Parmelee was born April 25, 1907 in Lambertville, Michigan . The six foot right hander, came up with the New York Giants in 1929 and got his first career win against the Brooklyn Dodgers, while pitching in only two games that year.

He saw limited action going 2-6 in 32 games over three seasons, until 1933 when he found himself in the World Champion Giants rotation under manager Bill Terry.

Parmelee went 13-8 with a 3.17 ERA, striking out 132 batters (5th in the NL) pitching in 218 innings. He did not pitch in the World Series due to strong performances by Carl Hubble & Hal Schumaker. Parmelee was a wild pitcher who had occasional control issues. He led the league in hit by pitches four times, wild pitches twice & walks once.

The Giants won 90 plus games the next two seasons but lost out to the St. Louis Gas House Gang Cardinals & Chicago Cubs respectively. 

Parmelee went 10-6 with a 3.42 ERA in 1934, fourth most wins on a staff of Carl Hubbell (21 wins) Hal Schumaker (23 wins) & Freddie Fitzsimmons (18 wins).

In 1935, his last year in New York Parmelee won a career high 14 games (14-10), leading the league with 97 walks. He pitched 226 innings posting a 4.22 ERA. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1936 and went 11-11, before moving on to the Cubs & Philadelphia A’s. He retired in 1942 after pitching three seasons in the minors.

In a ten seasons going 59-55 lifetime with a 4.27 ERA walking 531 batters, hitting 55 batters & throwing 53 wild pitches in 1120 innings pitched. He retired in Michigan and passed away in 1981 at age 74.

May 1, 2015

Two Time Mets Outfielder: Jeromy Burnitz (1993-1994 / 2002-2003)

Jeromy Neal Burnitz was born on April 15, 1969 in Westminster, California. He went to high school in Conroe Texas, & attended college at Oklahoma State University. Burnitz was the Mets number one round draft pick in 1990 (17th pick overall).

By 1991 he became the first player in the Eastern League to hit 30 HRs & steal 30 bases, ranking him the #3 prospect in the country by Baseball America. He was considered the second top prospect to Todd Hundley in the Mets organization as well. His speed began to fade away early on, and he began to strike out a lot more often.

In 1992 the last season for the AAA Tidewater Tides before their move to Norfolk, his average fell to .243. He only hit 8 HRs in 121 games setting him back even further. The next year at AAA Norfolk, he hit 8 HRs in just 65 games although his average fell to .227 but was still promoted to the Mets big league ball club.

He made his MLB debut in June of 1993 at Shea Stadium as a pinch hitter against the Montreal Expos. He got a hit in his second game & then hit a HR in his first start in Florida against the Marlins on June 29th. By the 4th of July he had already hit three HRs, all coming during that week. On July 3rd, Burnitz had a three hit four RBI day, against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium.

On August 5th at Stade Olympique in Montreal, he had a four hit game while driving in seven runs against the Expos in a 12-9 Mets win. In the 5th inning of that game he hit a grand slam HR off Dennis Martinez. Later his two run double in the 13th inning off Expo pitcher John Wettland proved to be the winning runs. In 86 games that year, he hit 13 HRs with 10 doubles & 38 RBIs a .339 on base %, batting .243.

He started out 1994 with the Mets but was hitting just .192 in early May & was sent to AAA Norfolk. There he hit .239 with 14 HRs 49 RBIs playing in 85 games. He returned to the Mets in late July & overall in 45 games would strike out 45 times hitting only .238 with three HRs. In November 1994 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Dave Mlicki, Paul Byrd, & Jerry Dipoto.

After a season and a half in Cleveland he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers where he had his best years. On a small market Brewer team he was one of the top stars & most popular players. He started the All Star game in 1999 filling in for the injured Tony Gwynn, getting a hit & scoring a run in two at bats.

Burnitz would hit over 30 HRs four straight years in Milwaukee, driving in over 100 runs three times. He came in the NL’s top ten twice in each of those categories, but also was among the tops in the league in strike outs.

In 1998 he was second in the NL with 158 Ks & would have nine 100 plus strike out seasons. His 1376 career strike outs are 81st on the all time list. Burnitz did steal s 20 bases & hit .281 in 1997, but never stole more than 10 in a season again. In 1999 & 2000 he walked well over 90 times each season giving him good on base percentages (.402 in 1999 & .356 in 2000).

The Mets wanted him back & needed his power bat, so in January 2002 he was part of a three team trade. In the deal the Mets got Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D'Amico & Mark Sweeney from Milwaukee, sending them Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch.

They also sent 2000 NL Pennant Mets players, Benny Agbayani,& Todd Zeile to Colorado for Ross Gload and Craig House.

Burnitz debuted back at Shea Stadium on Opening Day 2002 batting sixth playing right field. He hit two HRs in the third & fourth games of the year, including a four RBI day against the Atlanta Braves giving Pedro Astacio his first Mets win of the year. Burnitz then hit another pair of HRs on the returning home stand a week later.

As May began he had a hot stretch, hitting three HRs from April 28th to May 3rd, giving him seven HRs on the young season. But then he went into a drought only hitting two more HRs until the All Star break as his average fell to just above the .200 mark.

He struggled thrugh the season but had a decent September hitting HRs in three straight games while driving in six runs, from September 4th through the 7th. On September 12th he hit two HRs in an 8-2 Mets win against the Expos in Montreal.

He closed out that four game series with another HR on September 15th, driving in the only Mets run of the 10-1 debacle. In his next game back at Shea, he hit a walk off HR in the bottom of the 13th inning helping Grant Roberts to a win, as the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1.

Burnitz hit seven HRs in the final month but overall struggled, batting a career low .215 and hitting only 18 HRs with 54 RBIs, his lowest totals since becoming a full time player. He led the team in games played (154), hit by pitches (10) & caught stealing (7) while striking out 135 times.

He struggled and heard it from the Shea faithful, but Burnitz always a good natured guy took it in stride and gave it 100% every day. In the outfield he played 140 games (5th in the NL) made nine errors (2nd most in the NL) but had eight assists (5th in the NL) .

In his career the strong armed Burnitz had double figures in that category four times. In 2002 the Mets finished 75-86 in fifth place.

He rebounded a bit in 2003, starting out with two doubles on Opening Day in a 15-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium. It was a cold day at Shea that day, as I was in attendace to witness To Glavine's terrible debut. On April 15th he led the Mets & Tom Glavine to a 3-1 win at Pittsburgh beating Josh Fogg. Burnitz went down with an injury & missed a month of action.

When he returned on May 24th he hit a grand slam HR off Russ Ortiz leading the Mets to a 6-5 win in Atlanta. Burnitz hit HRs in three of his first four games back & drove in runs in all of the four games upon his return. In June he hit three HRs in an inter league game at Anaheim, including two in an 8-0 Mets win over the Angels in the series finale.

In a cross town double header against the AL New York the first game then hit a three run shot two games later. For June he hit eight HRs while driving in 18 runs. In July he hit three HRs in the first week & drove in runs in seven straight games getting his average all the way up to .286.

On July 17th he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Victor Diaz, Jose Diaz (no relation) & Kole Strayhorn. At that point Burnitz had 18 HRs which was enough to tie for the season team lead with Cliff Floyd. Burnitz batted .274 with a .344 on base %, 18 doubles & 45 RBIs.

Even though the 2003 Mets weren’t going anywhere it was still a tough trade to figure out, especially since Victor Diaz did not work out. No matter what is said about his production, Burnitz played hard & always was a good natured guy during his stay in New York.

Burnitz finished with 31 HRs that season, and then signed on with the Colorado Rockies for 2004. There he hit 37 HRs (8th in the NL) drove in 110 runs (7th in the NL) and batted a career high .287 in the mountain air. He moved on to the Chicago Cubs in 2005 where he hit 24 HRs at Wrigley Field batting .258 with 87 RBIs.

He then moved on to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2006 signing as a free agent. He batted.230 with 16 HRs 12 doubles 49 RBIs & a .289 on base %.

The laid back Burnitz once held a press conference in Pittsburgh to apologize for not running out a grounder, he joked "I'm your Highest-Paid Free Agent. That, in and of itself, should tell you the big picture that the team's in." The Pirates didn’t renew his contract in 2007 and he chose to retire at age 38.

He finished a 14 year career with 315 HRs (119th all time), 981 RBIs, 298 doubles, a.253 batting average & a .345 on base % . He struck out 1376 times (90th most all time) in 5710 at bats in 1694 games.

He played 1365 games in right field (32nd most all time) with a .977 fielding % making 2473 put outs (35th all time) with 82 assists (67th all time) & 61 errors (35th most all time). He also turned 18 double plays.

Retirement: In February 2008 Burnitz and former Dodger Eric Karros began a sports talk radio show in San Diego called Live At Five. He now lives in a San Diego suburb with his wife & children.

Remembering Mets History: (1993) Jeromy Burnitz's Seven RBI Day

Thursday August 5th 1993: Dallas Green's Mets (38-70) were in seventh place 30 1/2 games back going no where. They came into Montreal to face a good Expo team (58-51) that was in third place under Manager Felipe Alou. 

On this day the Mets would have one of their biggest run production outputs of the year, mostly due to a rookie named Jeromy Burnitz. Burnitz was a slugger who had just been brought up from the minor leagues at the end of June.

Burnitz was inserted in the 5th spot in the order & in the 1st inning delivered his first RBI with a single off Dennis Martinez. In the 5th inning the Mets were already ahead 4-1, as pitcher Eric Hillman doubled,  Joe Orsulak singled & Bobby Bonilla was intentionally walked. Burnitz stepped in & hit a grand slam HR, again off Martinez into the right field seats of Stade Olympique. It was already the young Burnitz's sixth HR of the year since arriving in late June. 

The Mets were now ahead 9-1. But the Expos got to Mets pitchers Eric Hillman, Pete Schourek & Jeff Innis tying up the game at nine by the end of the 6th inning.

Stade Olympique- Montreal
The game went to extra innings, in the 13th inning the Mets did rally back against pitcher John Wetteland. Jeff McKnight singled & Ryan Thompson reached on an error. Joe Orsulak came through with an RBI single. 

Jeromy Burnitz came up & completed his big day with a double bringing in Thompson & Orsulak making it 12-9. Anthony Young came in to close out the Met win.

Burnitz finished the day with four hits, a HR, seven RBIs & two walks.

Late Seventies Mets Pitcher: Roy Lee Jackson (1977-1980)

Roy Lee Jackson was born on May 1st 1954 in Opelika, Alabama. The six foot two right hander attended Tuskegee University in Tuskegee Alabama.

Jackson was signed by the New York Mets in 1975 and went 10-8 at the low levels of the minor leagues. In 1976 he was 2-3 at A ball Lynchburg getting promoted up to AA Jackson where he ent 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA. In 1977 he was the top pitcher on the AAA Tidewater Tides staff going 13-7 with a 3.70 ERA striking out 110 batters in 168 innings. Also on the Tides staff were 11 game winners Mike Bruhert & Mardie Cornejo.

Jackson was called up to the Met staff in mid September debuting against the Expos in a start in Montreal. He went into the 6th inning allowing three runs on five hits no figuring in the decision, an 8-5 loss. He would pitch four games taking two losses both against the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of the season.

In 1978 Jackson's 11 wins led the AAA Tides staff once again, ahead of Mike Scott & Juan Berenguer. He got another late season call up, appearing in four games allowing at least two runs in each effort. In 12.2 innings pitched, Jackson gave up 13 earned runs (9.24 ERA) 21 hits & two HRs.

In 1979 Jackson was back at AAA Tidewater, going 12-7 with a 3.74 ERA second on the staff to Scott Holman. He got another September call up pitching eight games in relief earning a win on the last day of the regular season. Although Jackson came into the game & surrendered a 2-1 Mets lead, he was saved when Eliot Maddox singled home Alex Trevino & scored himself on a two base error.

In 1980 he began the year at AAA Tidewater once again getting to the Mets staff by July. In his third outing he pitched a complete game three hit, three run shut out against the Reds in Cincinnati. After that he lost four straight decisions, then earned a save against the Chicago Cubs in September. Jackson lost three more games going 1-7 on the year with a 4.20 ERA in 24 appearances. That year he was featured throwing a pitch at the beginning of the first episode of the PBS science education television show 3-2-1 Contact. In December he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Bob Bailor.

Jackson spent four seasons as a reliever in Toronto going 24-21 in that time, with a season best 8-3 record in 1983. In 1982 he combined to throw a one hitter against the Baltimore Orioles with Jim Gott, in a game that happened to be the first game of Cal Ripkens historic consecutive game streak.

In 1985 he was released & spent one season with the San Diego Padres. The next year he made 28 appearances with the Minnesota Twins going 0-1 ending his MLB career.

In a ten year career he was 28-34 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 351 batters walking 203 batters, allowing 50 HRs in 559 innings pitched.

Former Mets Pitching Prospect & Coach: Greg Pavlick (1971-1996)

Gregory Michael Pavlick was born March 10, 1950 in Washington, DC. Pavlick was a tall six foot right handed pitcher, that went to the University of North Carolina getting drafted by the New York Mets in 1971.

Those were tough days to get onto the Mets pitching staff unless you were exceptionally good. Pavlick got as high as AAA Tidewater in 1977, where he earned no decisions in four appearances.

Pavlick never made the Mets big league club, even though the staff had deteriorated by the late seventies era. After his playing days, he would go on to work as a pitching coach for 26 years throughout the Met organization.

Pavlick served as a coach on the Mets big league club during three different periods; the Davey Johnson glory years of 1985 - 1986. Then again from 1988 - 1991, when times were changing & finally from 1994 -1996.

He seemed to always have a job somewhere, including being the replacement for Mel Stottlemyre after his departure.

Pavlick also served as pitching Mets coach under Dallas Green, and must be accountable to some extent for the disaster known as Generation K.

In 2002 he went to work as a coach in Tampa Florida for the cross town rivals organization. He still serves in that role through 2010.

Apr 30, 2015

Remembering Mets History: Regular Season Walk Off Grand Slam HRs

centerfieldmaz looks back on Mets regular season walk off grand slams of the past:

 Last season, On Saturday afternoon April 5th 2014, Ike Davis delivered with a walk off pinch hit grand slam leading the Mets to a 6-3 win over JJ Hoover & the Cincinnati Reds. It was the last hurrah for Ike as a New York Met. After Dillon Gee had pitched a fine game, he served up a two run 8th inning HR to Brandon Phillips putting the Reds ahead 3-2.

In the bottom of the 9th, Juan Lagares walked & was moved over on a successful bunt hit by Anthony Recker. At first Lagares was called out at second but Terry Collins challenged the call, & the new replay review showed he was safe. The call was over turned to safe & the rally continued. Ruben Tejada then walked setting the stage for Ike. The Mets had tried to shop Davis all winter but there were no takers for the asking price. Just the past week he was told Lucas Duda won the first base job & he would be a role player. Duda had just hit two HRs the night before, leading to the Mets first win. But on this day Ike pleased the 25,424 fans at Citi Field with his walk off grand slam blast.

It was the seventh walk off grand slam in team history, the second pinch hit granny & it came the earliest in any season.

1963: On Wednesday June 26th 1963, Tim Harkness hit the first walk off grand slam HR in Mets history. The game was in the 14th inning at the old Polo Grounds in New York. Galen Cisco had just gave up a two run inside the Park HR to the Chicago Cubs future Hall of Famer; Billy Williams. With the Mets now down 6-4 in the home 14th, Jim Hickman & Ron Hunt both singled, but Hickman was thrown out trying to go to third base.

Next the wacky Jimmy Piersall  drew a walk but slugger Frank Thomas flew out for the second out. Pitcher Jim Brewer was brought in & gave up a walk to Sammy Taylor to load them up. Harkness stepped in & hit a HR down the right field line, to win the game.

It was Harkness' 7th HR of the year & thrilled who ever was left of the 8183 fans in attendance. Tim Harkness would only play two seasons with the Mets (four in the majors). In 1963 he saw the most playing time (123 games) batting just .211 with 10 HRs & 41 RBIs.

1963: Six weeks later, on Friday night August 9th 1963, Jim Hickman hit the second walk off Mets grand slam. The game was in the Polo Grounds against the Chicago Cubs & tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 9th. The Cubs'; Paul Toth was still on the mound after making the start, nine innings earlier. With one out Jim Hicks singled, Cho Cho Coleman struckout & the Mets were down to the last out. But Al Moran doubled, putting two men on. Cubs manager Bob Kennedy brought in Lindy McDaniel to close it out.

The Cubs remembered what Tim Harkness had done to them a little over six weeks ago & weren't going to let it happen again. They gave him a free pass to first, bringing up Hickman with the bases loaded. Hickman blasted the grand slam & the Mets had a 7-3 win for the 11,566 fans in attendance. Jim Hickman led the Mets in HRs in 1963 with 17 & was second in RBIs with 51 batting just .229.

1980: It took another 17 years, before the Mets had another walk off HR. On June 11th, 1980 the Mets hosted the L.A. Dodgers in front of 23,540 fans at Shea. Craig Swan had gone the entire way for New York, allowing late HRs to Dusty Baker & Steve Garvey tying up the game. The game now in the bottom of the 10th inning & Rick Sutcliffe was the Dodger pitcher. Mets infielder; Doug Flynn lead off with a base hit & stole second. With one out, Lee Mazzilli was walked intentionally to get to Frank Taveras, who struck out. With two outs, Steve Henderson also drew a walk, to load up the bases.

Mike Jorgensen who was on his second go around as a Met, won the game with a walk off grand slam. Jorgensen was a local boy, born in New Jersey but moved to Queens, attended Francis Lewis high school & St. Johns University.

He was a Mets reserve player in 1968, 1970-1971 then moved on to a good career in Montreal. He returned to the Mets from 1980-1983. In 1980 he hit seven HRs & batted .255 in 119 games.

1986: Six years later, on Tuesday June 10th 1986, Tim Teufel hit the next walk off granny, coming in front of 27,472 fans against the Philadelphia Phillies in Shea Stadium. In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Mets & Phils were tied up at 4-4, as Randy Lerch gave up a lead off single to Ray Knight. After Rafael Santana grounded out, pinch hitter Barry Lyons was walked as was Lenny Dykstra. Wally Backman was scheduled to hit but as Tom Hume was brought in relief, Tim Teufel got the pinch hit assignment.

In classic 1986 Mets dramatic fashion, Teufel hit the first Mets pinch hit, grand slam in team history for the 8-4 win . Teufel was in his first year with the Mets in 1986, sharing time at second behind Wally Backman. He would hit just four HRs all year (279 at bats) & hit .247. The following season he hit a career high 14 HRs (matching his total in 1984 with  Minnesota).

Trivia: Teufel was the Mets third base coach in 2014 & congratulated Ike Davis on his walk off blast as he rounded third.

1991: On Tuesday, June 25th 1991, it was the quiet Kevin McReynolds who hit the next walk off grand slam. 28,809 fans came out to see the Mets face the Montreal Expos. Many left as the Mets trailed 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Veteran Gary Templeton led off with a base hit & Keith Miller was brought inn to pinch run. He was quickly picked off, but an error made him safe. Tom Herr struck out , but Daryl Boston drew a walk & a pitching change was made, Scott Ruskin in for Barry Jones.

With Dave Magadan up, Manager Bud Harrelson called for a double steal, which was successful. Magadan was walked & up came McReynolds who took the ball over the center field wall for the game winner, 8-5 New York. McReynolds was in his fifth season as a Met, hitting 16 HRs with 74 RBIs & a .259 average. He had hit twenty or more HRs with 80 plus RBIs the four previous years. He was a good player who never got the recognition he deserved, a true quiet professional going about his business. He returned briefly in 1994 (51games) ending his career.

2013: It was another 22 years before Jordany Valdespin did it last season against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On April 24th 2013 the Mets were in a 3-3 deadlock with L.A. going into the tenth inning. With Josh Wall on the mound, John Buck singled & Ike Davis walked. Marlon Byrd sacrificed & Lucas Duda was walked intentionally. Valdespin delivered with a walk off grand slam, for a 7-3 Mets win, in front of 24,130 fans at Citi Field.

The fired up Valdespin showed a lot of emotion & this would eventually hurt him since he did not produce long enough stay in the big leagues. He had moderate success in 2012 & had a good start in 2013. But he was sent down in June & finished up batting .188 with 4 HRs 8 steals & 16 RBIs in 66 games.

Note: The grand daddy of Mets walk off grand slams was Robin Ventura's walk off "grand slam single" in the 1999 NLCS. It was officially ruled a single as Todd Pratt never rounded the bases after the winning run had crossed the plate.