Dec 14, 2019

Del Unser: Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder (1975-1976)

Delbert Bernard Unser was born on December 9, 1944 in Decatur, Illinois. He was the son of former Detroit Tiger & Cincinnati Reds catcher Al Unser.

Al Unser hit .251 with 4 HRs 15 doubles & 30 RBIs in four MLB seasons, Playing in 120 career games. After his playing days he was minor league manager in the St. Louis Cardinal organization in the sixties & then became a scout in the early seventies. He passed away at age 82 in 1995.

Del Unser was a star ball player at Mississippi State and got drafted first round by the Washington Senators in 1966. He came up in 1968 making the Topps All Star Rookie team, and became the Senators regular centerfielder for the next four years until they left the nation’s Capitol for Texas.

His best season was in 1969 when he hit .286 and led the AL in triples with eight, hitting 7 HRs with 57 RBIs, 166 hits and 19 doubles. The next three years he hit in the .250 range and was traded to Cleveland in an eight player deal in 1972.

In one brief season there, he led all centerfielders with a perfect 1.000 fielding %. He batted .238 with one HR he was traded to the lowly Phillies of the early seventies for Oscar Gamble.

In Philadelphia in 1973 he brought his average up to .289 with 11 HRs, a career high 20 doubles, 52 RBIs 47 walks & a .354 on base %. That season the Phillies finished last losing 91 games.

The next season Unser dropped to .268 with a career high 61 RBIs, leading all centerfielders in assists for the first of two straight years.

After two seasons with the Phil’s he came to the New York Mets in a big trade, on December 3, 1974. Unser, John Stearns & Mac Scarce who came to New York for reliever Tug McGraw, outfielders Don Hahn, and Dave Schneck.

In 1975 Unser became the Mets every day centerfielder playing in 147 games and doing a pretty good job. He debuted on Opening Day batting seventh & going hitless in three at bats.

He then got a pair of hits in each of the next two days & hit his first Mets HR. In his first two weeks he hit safely in 9 of his first 12 games, collecting 20 hits with 8 RBIs. He also scored 15 runs in the month of April & was batting .349.

He picked up where he left off in May hitting safely in 16 of 21 games. He remained pretty steady throughout the season, hitting consistently, never falling into any deep slumps. On July 9th, he drove in the first run of a 2-1 Tom Seaver victory over the Braves in Atlanta. 

At the end of July, from the 25th through the 31st, Unser drove in nine runs in a seven game stretch and got his average up at .296. He got hot again at the end of August, hitting safely in ten of eleven games, driving in nine runs while hitting three HRs.

He would post five three hit games in the month of September as well. On September 16th he drew a bases loaded walk, in the bottom of the 9th inning in a 3-3 ties with the Montreal Expos. Unsers walk off walk, came from Long Island's own Dom Demola.

In 1975 Unser hit his career best .294, leading the team in batting average. He hit 10 HRs, with 18 doubles and 53 RBIs. For a centerfielder he had absolutely no speed, (just four stolen bases) but played a decent outfield, posting a .987 fielding %.

He also had a 12 assists, which was best among all NL center fielders. Unser had the most assists in the league, the past three seasons leading all centerfielders each season in that category..

In 1976 he scored the first Mets run of the season, after he led off the inning with a triple he scored on Jerry Grote's double. On APril 19th he hit a game winning 17th inning HR, off the Cardinals Mike Wallace in St. Louis. That week he drove in runs in five of six games but tailed off from there.

After 77 games his average dropped off to .228 & that July the Mets traded him off. Unser went to Montreal in a deal that included long time Met Wayne Garrett. The two went to Montreal in exchange for Pepe Mangual and Jim Dwyer.

As in so many moves in the mid seventies it was another "what were the Mets thinking" on this one? He would spend three seasons in Montreal batting .273 in 1977, plummeting all the way down to .196 in 1978. In 1979 he signed as a free agent back in Philadelphia, becoming a pinch hitter and utility player.

Record Tying HRs: In July 1979 he tied a major league record by hitting HRs in three consecutive pinch-hit appearances. The first HR came in St. Louis & the next two were at home. On July 5th he hit a solo pinch hit HR off the Mets Craig Swan, for the record. 

In 1980 he was a team mate with Tug McGraw, the player for whom he was traded for back in 1974. Together they won the World Series with Philadelphia in 1980. Unser contributed going 5-11 with a .455 average in the post season. 

In his career he was successful against Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins, and Nolan Ryan, batting .432 against them. He had a few notable multi hit games in his career including one 5-hit game, seven four hit games.

Del retired in 1982 after a 15 year career, appearing in 1,799 career games. He batted .258 with 1,334 hits, 87 HRs, 179 doubles, 481 RBIs, and a lifetime .319 on base %.

Honors: In 2005 Unser had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals first ever game. The game was held in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Unser played for both teams and was a current scout for the Phillies, made the perfect candidate to represent the occasion.

He wore an old unbuttoned Senators jersey as he delivered the pitch. "I'm almost speechless about the situation. It makes me feel real good," he said earlier.

Greg Gossen: Mid Sixties Mets Catcher Turned Hollywood Actor (1965-1968)

Gregory Bryant Gossen was born on December 14, 1945 In Los Angeles, California. The six foot one right handed hitting catcher, was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 1964 by the home town Dodgers out of Notre Dame high school in Sherman Oaks.

He was released the next year & got picked up by the New York Mets picked on waivers .

He hit 25 HRs batting .305 in the New York / Penn. League in 1965 getting a September call up to the Mets at the age of 19. He debuted on September 3rd at Shea in St. Louis, getting a single off future Met; the Cardinals Ray Sadecki, in his first career at bat.

Goossen got two hits that day & two more in his second game three days later against the Milwaukee Braves. On September 25th, he hit his first career HR, it came in Philadelphia off Bo Belinsky in a 4-1 Mets win. He batted .290 in only 11 games, the best average he would hit for in his Mets career.

Casey Stengel made a classic remark to the press when holding court one day saying “See that guy there, (Ed Kranepool) in ten years he has a chance to be a star. There we have a fine young catcher who is only nineteen years old (Goossen) in ten years he has the chance to be twenty nine”. In contrast some Mets people said he was the team's best minor league prospect.

Goosen was tutored by Yogi Berra as he was looked at to be a possible Mets catcher of the future. In another classic moment Berra once told him to take extra batting practice saying “It’s cold today and besides, you can stand to lose the weight.”

He spent 1966 in the minors where he hit 25 HRs but batted just .243 earning another September call up, this time he only hit .188 in 13 games.

That month he caught the first game Nolan Ryan ever pitched, and was honored in 1992 at a Ryan ceremony in Texas.

In the second game of a September 18th double header at the Houston Astrodome, He hit a three run pinch hit HR off Dave Giusti, which would be his last HR as a Met. In 1967 he was aboard for most of the season as one of three backup catchers behind Jerry Grote. Goossen he only hit .159 in 37 games. In 23 games at catcher he threw out 20% of would be base stealers.

In 1968 he played with the Mets from April to July 16th, catching just one game behind the plate, and playing in 31 games at first base. On May 12the he had a three hit day at Wrigley Field, driving in two of the Mets ten runs in a 10-0 win.

On June 30th, he grounded out in the 5th inning scoring Ron Swoboda in game at Houston. It was the only run of the game as Tom Seaver beat Mike Cullear 1-0 on a five hitter. He hit .208 overall playing in 38 games, with seven doubles & six RBIs. He was sent down to the minors playing at both AA Memphis & AAA Jacksonville not hitting much, .214 but did show power again with 10 HRs.

In February of 1969 Gossen was traded to the expansion Seattle Pilots for cash and as the player to be named later, who in July turned out to be Jim Gosger. Goossen had his best season in 1969 playing first base & outfield for the Pilots who in their only season of existence.

He enjoyed career highs in batting leading the club with a .309 average. He also had career highs in HRs (10) RBIs (24) Hits (47) and games played (52). He was mentioned many times as a subject who could laugh at himself in Jim Bouton’s famous baseball book Ball Four. He went with the team to their move to Milwaukee and briefly played as an original Brewer before being purchased by the Washington Senators.

He was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in July for Curt Flood but never played at the big league level. Lifetime in six seasons he, batted .241 with 111 hits 13 HRs 24 doubles 44 RBIs & a .316 on base % & 44 RBIs. At catcher in 79 games he threw out 215 of would be base stealers.

Retirement: After baseball Goossen had a bust life, first he became a private detective. Then he was a corner man in the boxing ring, working with his two brothers who were pro boxers.

After that he enjoyed a life in Hollywood. He plays the stand in for actor Gene Hackman in over a dozen films including roles in Get Shorty, Behind Enemy Lines & Mr. Baseball. "We met when I was managing boxers with my brothers, and Hackman was doing research for the 1988 film "Split Decisions. He just took a liking to me; we just got along very well. He took care of this old, befuddled, used-up baseball player."

Passing: In February of 2011, Goossen was to be inducted into the Notre Dame High School Hall of Fame in Sherman Oaks. When he missed a photo shoot that day, a family member went to check on him & he was found dead.

The Cause of death was later determined to be a stroke. He was survived by three daughters, seven brothers & two sisters.

Jerry May: Short Time Member of The 1973 N.L. Championship Mets Team (1973)

Jerry Lee May was born on December 14, 1943 at Staunton, Virginia. May was originally a pitcher & outfielder playing in American Legion ball back in 1961.

The six foot two right handed hitting May, was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1961. He hit 21 HRs batting .284 in the A ball NY Penn League in 1962. He never hit that well again, playing three more seasons in the minors making a few brief appearances with the Pirates during the 1964-1966 seasons.

May had a strong throwing arm and was excellent at gunning down base stealers. In 41 games in 1966 he threw out 63% of would be base stealers. 

Over the next five years he would throw out over 40% of base stealers attempting to steal. He became the Pirate regular catcher in 1967 batting .271with 3 HRs 13 doubles & 22 RBIs in 110 games.

In 1968 he played a career high 137 games but fell off to a .219 average with 15 doubles, just one HR & 33 RBIs. In 1969 he was back as the starting catcher until July 14, 1969, when he crashed into the dugout in Montreal's Jarry Park.

May had to be taken to the hospital & on the way his ambulance got into an accident, injuring his right shoulder. He was replaced by rookie Manny Sanguillen, who remained at the Pirates catchers position the next eight years batting over .290 six times.

In 1970 May would only catch 51 games but he threw out 50% of would be base stealers, the best percentage in the league. He only hit .209 overall on the year, but on June 12th he had a memorable day.

May was behind the plate wearing reflective tape on his finger tips so Doc Ellis could see the signs as well as the target.

That day Ellis forgot he was supposed to pitch & was tripping on LSD when the team finally got hold of him. They got him to the ball park & Ellis He went out tossing a no hitter that day against all odds.

That December May was traded to the Kansas City Royals with shortstop Freddie Patek in a six-player deal. He battled injuries again playing in the American League, batting .252 in 71 games but dropped off to .190 in 53 games the next season.

In the early part of the Mets 1973 NL Pennant season, the team was short on catchers when injuries set down Jerry Grote & Duffy Dyer early on in the season. The team needed catching help & some insurance as a back up. They purchased May’s contract from the Royals on May 12th and he briefly spent time with the 1973 Mets.

He made his Mets debut at Dodger Stadium catching Tom Seaver & getting two hits against the Dodgers in his first Mets game. He & Seaver were both long gone when the game ended 19 innings later in a 7-3 Mets win.

May only appeared in four games as a Met, going 2-8 with a walk. He was released on July 10th then resigned with the Pirates, but never resurfaced on the major league level.

He caught in 525 career games with a .990 fielding percentage, throwing out 43% of would be base stealers. At the plate he batted .234 lifetime with 357 hits 15 HRs 63 doubles 10 triples & 130 RBIs.

Passing: In a tragic incident On June 30, 1996, May was killed in a farming accident in Swoope Virginia, at the age 52.

Dec 13, 2019

Ron Taylor: 1969 World Champion Mets Closer Turned Medical Doctor (1967-1971)

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Ronald Wesley Taylor was born December 13, 1937 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Taylor was originally signed as a teenager by the Cleveland Indians in 1956.

He pitched in the minors but also chose to finish his studies at the University of Toronto where he earned an electrical engineering degree.

He began the 1962 season on the Indians staff & got the start in the second game of the season at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. 

He pitched 11 shut outs innings matching zeroes with future Mets coach Bill Monboquette. In the 12th inning of the scoreless tie Carl Yastrzemski lead off with a triple.

Taylor ended up allowing a walk off grand slam to Caroll Hardy, taking a tough loss. It was the only time in history a game was won with a walk off grand slam in the 12th inning of a scoreless tie. By the end of May he was sent back down & went 12-4 at AAA Jacksonville, earning a big league call up the next season, this time for good.

That winter he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and became a top reliever in their pen saving 11 games (7th in the league) with a 9-7 record and a 2.34 ERA. He struck out 91 batters in 131 innings pitched. In 1964 he was going 8-4 with seven saves & a 4.62 ERA winning his first World Championship with the Cardinals.

Post Season: He appeared in two World Series games, not allowing any hits in 4.2 innings pitched earning the save in Game #4. 

With the Cards already down two games to one, a win in Game #4 was very important. Taylor shut the door & held a one run lead for four scoreless innings, it was the turning point of the Series.

Quotes: Tim McCarver - “He had the heaviest sinker on the outside. When he threw to left-handed batters you couldn’t pull it.”

In 1965 he was 2-1 with a save and an ERA creeping up near five, when on June 15th he was traded along with Mike Cuellar to the Houston Astros for Chuck Taylor and Hal Woodeshick. After saving four games in Houston’s new Astrodome he became a middle reliever for the 1966 season & not happy with his surroundings.

In February of 1967 Taylor’s contract was purchased by the New York Mets, by the teams GM Bing Devine, whom Taylor had pitched for in St. Louis. In the off season Devine had called Taylor & asked if he could pitch; Taylor replied " get me out of here".

In New York he would see a lot of action and his career was revitalized, as he became one of the league’s best relievers.
In those days the relief pitcher was just starting to become an important role.

Taylor would make made over 50 appearances in each of the next four seasons (1967-1970) and lead the team in saves each time. Taylor notched a save in his first Met game on April 13, 1967, although it was not an official stat at the time. He was 2-0 with three saves at the 1967 All Star break, and finished 4-6 with eight saves & a quality 2.34 ERA.

In early April, in just his third game, he gave up a HR to Pittsburgh's Manny Jimenez. But from there, he wouldn’t allow another HR until into the 1968 season, 92 innings pitched later. The next year in 1968 he recorded his first save at the end of April.
He had a good month of June, recording four saves , while only allowing runs in two of nine games he pitched. 

On July 7th, he blew a save in Philadelphia, serving up a walk off three run HR to the Phillies Dick Allen. Taylor only blew two save opportunities, all year but his record fell to 1- 5.

He pitched well enough to set a Mets record at the time, with 13 saves, (5th most in the league) posting another good ERA (2.70) striking out 49 batters in 76 innings pitched.

In the off season he joined other major leaguers on a tour of hospital visits in Vietnam during the war effort. There he talked to doctors & later said he realized that he wanted to help people in this field in the future.

In 1969 Taylor didn’t earn his first save until mid May, but then from that point through the end of August he saved twelve games going 7-3 with a 2.39 ERA. On June 1st he picked up a win, when Ron Swoboda drew a bases loaded walk off Joe Gibbon to beat the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Two days later in his next outing, after pitching two scoreless innings, he got another win when Wayne Garrett hit a walk off single to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. He followed that week up with three more saves through June 10th.

Trivia: During a regular season game, Taylor got a visit to the mound from Gil Hodges against the eventual Mets NLCS opponent the Atlanta Braves. With Hank Aaron up to bat, Hodges told Taylor to put him on & face Orlando Cepeda. Taylor said “No, I want Aaron”. Hodges was surprised at his answer & angry, but he let him face Aaron & said “You better get him out”. He got Aaron to ground out to end the inning.

He closed out the year with a September 28th save in Philadelphia & an October 1st win at Wrigley Field, after Art Shamsky's 11th inning RBI base hit beating the Chicago Cubs.

Overall Taylor was Gil Hodges best pitcher out of the bullpen that year making 59 appearances (8th most in the NL), leading the team with 13 saves (7th best in the NL) Finishing 44 games (4th in the league), going 9-4 with a 2.72 ERA. He struck out 42 batters walking only 24 in 76 innings pitched.

1969 Post Season:

1969 NLCS: In the 1969 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Taylor pitched in two games, starting out by earning the save in relief of Tom Seaver in Game #1. Historically, he earned the first save in NLCS history.

The next day he got the win in Game #2 relieving Jerry Koosman in the fifth inning. He pitched 1.1 innings allowing no runs on one hit, and setting up for Tug McGraw to close it out.

Overall he struck out four Braves, allowing no runs on three hits in 3.1 innings pitched. Taylor made history by being the only Canadian to ever get credit with a win in a League Championship Series game.

1969 World Series: In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Taylor saw action in the first two Series games at Baltimore. 

He pitched the last two innings of Game #1, allowing no runs, giving up two hits and striking out three of Orioles.

In Game #2 he relieved Jerry Koosman in the 9th inning with two Orioles runners on base representing the tying & winning runs. He got Brooks Robinson to ground out securing the two hit shutout, evening the Series at one game apiece.

He wasn’t needed again in the Series, as Nolan Ryan was the only pitcher to make another relief appearance. Overall Taylor posted two saves with a 1-0 record in the ‘69 post season. 

After pitching 3.1 hitless innings in the 1969 Series, he bested his career World Series streak to seven hitless innings, striking out nine batters in ten innings.

After the Series during the ticker tape parade down Broadway, Taylor couldn't help think this was the same path taken by Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower & John Kennedy.

After the Championship: After the Miracle season of ’69, he would again lead the 1970 Mets in appearances (57) games finished (40 which was 8th best in the league) and saves (13) going 5-4 with a 3.93 ERA.

 On Opening Day 1970, he was the winning pitcher in Pittsburgh after Donn Clendenon won the game with a top of the 11th inning RBI single. He suffered two losses at the end of the month, but rebounded & already had seven saves by June 1st. 

Although he was ninth in the league in saves (13) he also had six blown opportunities & had an ERA near four.

By 1971 Tug McGraw was emerging as the premier Mets reliever as Taylor’s career began winding down at age 33. That season he gave up the first upper deck HR at the new Three Rivers Stadium, served up to Willie Stargell.

1971 would be his last year at Shea, going 2-2 with only two saves, and a 3.65 ERA, in 45 appearances. His Mets record in 269 games is 21-21 with 28 saves & a 3.04 ERA .

His contract was sold to the Montreal Expos in October of 1971, but he was soon released, never getting to play for his native Canada. In May he got picked up by the San Diego Padres where he ended his career after only four games in 1972 at age 34.

Overall Taylor was 45-43 with 71 saves, 464 strike outs 209 walks in 800 innings and a 3.93 ERA in 491 games over 11 seasons.

Retirement: After the Mets World Series win, he toured Vietnam with the USO. Taylor would tour field hospitals & be inspired to make a difference. He took wounded soldiers phone numbers to let their loved ones know they were alright.

Doctor Ron Taylor: After his baseball career, the Toronto native returned to the University of Toronto & met with the dean to try to earn a degree. When he saw his grades from 1961 he was amazed & said if you can still get these kinds of marks your in. 

Taylor got into his studies, using a letter of recommendation from Mets General Manager M. Donald Grant & he was back in college. 

He remebers how the young students were amazed that this middle aged guy was their classmate. Five years later in 1977, he graduated from medical school and became Doctor Ron Taylor.

He eventually became the Toronto Blue Jays team physician in 1979 & won two more World Series (1992 & 1993) as the teams Doctor. He is the only former MLB player to return to baseball as a team doctor.

Taylor still keeps very busy, into his seventies, he just retired in 2015 at his family practice in North Toronto. He was also the head of a Sports Medicine Clinic he helped develop some 30 years ago in Toronto. He was also the medical director for the Toronto Blue Jays, overseeing a team of sports specialists. 

Honors: In 2015 a documentary was made about him called "Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball"

Taylor was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame as well as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. He has also been honored for his work in medicine being elected to the Order of Ontario. 

In 2009 he was on hand for the Mets 40th anniversary of the 1969 Championship at Citi Field & Long Island baseball card show. 

In 2019 he returned to Citi Field for the 50th Anniversary of the Amazing Mets.

Family: Ron’s son Drew Taylor pitched College baseball for Georgia Tech. & Michigan. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2006.

Quotes: "Doubleheader tomorrow, barring nuclear holocaust." - Mets Pitcher Ron Taylor, 1969

The First Short Stop Out of The Dominican Republic: Amado Samuel (1964)

Amado Ruperto Samuel was born on December 6, 1938 in in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The six foot utility infielder was signed in 1938 by the Milwaukee Braves.

He was a pioneer in his own right, being the very first player in a long line of short stops signed out of the small town of San Pedro des Marcoris. He bounced around the minors for a full decade before spending parts of three seasons in the major leagues.

Samuel made his debut in 1962 with the Milwaukee Braves, playing in a career high 76 games batting .206 hitting all three of his MLB career HRs. In 1963 he played in only 15 games at the major league level, batting a weak .176 before having his contact purchased by the New York Mets.

He played mostly at short stop (34 games) with some third base as well (17 games) in 53 appearances for the ’64 Mets. In the first game ever played at Shea Stadium, he batted in the 8th position was the starting short stop. He drove in the second & third runs of that historic game with a base hit off Bob Friend in the fourth inning.

He had a five game hit streak in June, collecting ten hits during the stretch. He had his career day at the plate, on Saturday June 20th, getting three hits against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium.

The next day was Fathers Day 1964, & Samuel was robbed of a hit by Cookie Rojas, preserving Jim Bunning’s perfect game. In 53 games on the season, he hit a career high .232 with seven doubles and five RBIs. He posted a .945 fielding percentage making six errors in 106 chances.

By July he was sent back down to the minors finishing off his three year MLB career. He played in 144 games with 79 hits 3 HRs 25 RBIs 18 doubles & a .215 batting average.

Dec 12, 2019

J.C. Martin: 1969 World Champion Mets Back Up Catcher & His Amazing World Series Game Winning Bunt (1968-1969)

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Joseph Clifton Martin was born December 13, 1936 in Axton, Virginia. Both of his grandfathers were named Joseph, so the family began to call him by his initials J.C.

He was a clean cut Christian boy the son of a county deputy who use to visit his father at work & see the men in jail. Martin never drank nor smoked, lived a pure life because he all he wanted was to be a base ball player. 

Martin was a high school baseball, basketball & track star getting offered contracts in both basketball as well as baseball. Martin was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1956, as a first baseman.

In 1958 he hit .330 at Dululth-Superior, then was promoted to AA Indianapolis in 1959 where he hit .287. Martin made his MLB debut getting his first MLB hit on the last day of the 1959 season, just as the Go Go Sox won the A.L. pennant. He did not play in the Sox World Series loss to the LA Dodgers. 

He played in the Pacific Coast League with the San Diego Padres in 1960 batting .285 with 13 HRs & 73 RBIs & then came up for good in 1961 Splitting time between first base and third base.

He batted .230 with 5 HRs 8 doubles and 32 RBIs making the Topps All Star rookie team. 

By 1962 long time White Sox catcher Sherm Lollar was at the end of his career, and manager Al Lopez convinced Martin to go down to the minors and learn how to be a catcher to succeed Lollar. He returned as the clubs catcher in 1963 winning over the job from Cam Carreon. He threw out 44 % of would be base stealers, which was best in the league but also allowed 12 passed balls (2nd in the league).

At the plate he hit a career high 5 HRs in 1963 but only batted .205 in 105 games played. In each of the next two seasons he would lead all catchers in passed balls with 24 in 1964 & in 33 in 1965 setting a record that stood for 22 years. 

In those years Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm's knuckleball added to Martins passed ball totals. In 1964 he dropped below the .200 mark (.197) and then became a back up to Johnny Romano the next two years.

In 1965 Martin raised his average 64 points, hitting a career best .261 with 2 HRs 12 doubles & 21 RBIs. In 1967 he was team mates with the 1966 AL Rookie of the Year, Tommie Agee, whom he would win a World Series with in New York.
The 1967 Sox began the year with three catchers but when Duane Josephson went down with injury Martin saw most of the playing time. 

On July 25th he hit a walk off HR against Sudden Sam McDowell in the first game of a double header, then hit another HR in the second game. In that game Chicago's Ken Berry hit another walk off HR & it was only the second time in history both ends of a double header ended in walk offs.

The 1967 White Sox were in a four way pennant race losing out to the Red Sox on the last day of the season. On September 10th he caught Joe Horlen's no hitter against the Detroit Tigers. 

Martin hit .234, and posted his best fielding % to date at .987%, allowing 16 passed balls second in the league, as Wilbur Wood also a knuckle ball pitcher, also joined the Sox staff.

Before the 1968 season Martin was traded to the New York Mets along with Billy Southworth in exchange for Ken Boyer and Sandy Alomar. New Mets manager Gil Hodges planned to use Martin as a platoon partner Jerry Grote for the 1968 season.

Martin actually got the start on Opening day, catching the first Tom Seaver Opening Day in Mets history. Seaver would go on to start the next nine opener's as well. Martin got a hit in the Mets loss to the San Francisco Giants, but worse, he fractured his finger and missed a month of action going on the DL.

Grote came into his own as one of the leagues better defensive catchers and Martin became his back up. Martin returned to play sparingly in May & at the end of the month going into June had an incredible run production for a reserve player. 

Martin drove in runs in six straight games he played in, with a stretch of at least one RBI in 12 of 15 games. On June 4th Jerry Koosman blanked Fergie Jenkins & the Cubs 5-0, as Martin had tw hits & drove in two of the runs.

On June 12th with the Mets down 1-0 to Don Drysdale & the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Martin doubled to score Dick Selma with the game tying run. Jerry Grote then singled home Martin in what was the game winning run. On July 21st in St. Louis he drove in the only run of another Koosman shut out, this time in St. Louis.

In mid August he showed some power hitting HRs in two of three games that week. 

On September 3rd he led the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Braves at Shea Stadium with a two run shot off Milt Pappas. In the 7th inning he tied the game on a force out & Ed Charles followed with another ground out scoring Art Shamsky which was the game winner.

In 1968 he batted .225 with three HRs, nine doubles, 31 RBIs & a .298 on base % in 78 games. He threw out 40% of would be base stealers behind the plate in 53 games. 

1969 Championship Season: In 1969 he continued his backup catching role, but fell more to the third string catcher behind Grote & up & coming rookie Duffy Dyer. Martin played for a week straight in May as Grote missed some time with injury. 

He swung a hot bat with six hits & five RBIs on the week. On May 11th he drove in two runs in the second game of a double header, leading the Mets past Houston 11-7. It was big since the Mets only beat the Astros twice all year.

In another stretch where he played two weeks steady in June, he got another eight hits. On June 17th, Martin drove in the only run of the game when Gary Gentry pitched a two hit shutout in Philadelphia against the Phillies.

In July in the second game after the All Star break, he hit an 8th inning HR off the Cincinnati Reds reliever Clay Carroll. The two run shot scored Al Weis & put the Mets ahead in what turned out to be the game winner.

In July he had three multi RBI games. During the final two months of the season he saw very limited action as Dyer got most of the backup time. On the season he only batted .207 with 4 HRs 5 doubles & 21 RBIs in 66 games. In 48 games at catcher he posted a .996 fielding % throwing out 21% of base stealers.

1969 Post Season- NLCS: In the NLCS vs. the Atlanta Braves Martin appeared in two Games as a pinch hitter going 1-2. In Game #1 at Atlanta, he pinch hit for Tom Seaver and drove in two runs with a pinch hit single off future Hall of Fame pitcher; Phil Neikro. The hit sparked a five run Mets rally.

1969 World Series: In Game #4 of the 1969 World Series, Martin became a Mets hero & had one at bat that he will be remembered for forever. It’s not even what he did at the plate but more so the way he ran to first base after a sacrifice bunt. 

With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Mets had pinch-runner Rod Gaspar representing the winning run on second base. Gil Hodges summoned Martin to pinch-hit for Tom Seaver. 

The Orioles’ manager Earl Weaver had been ejected from the game earlier and future Met skipper George Bamberger brought in relief pitcher Pete Richert to face Martin.

J.C. laid down a perfect bunt in front of the pitcher’s mound. He ran to first base close to the foul line, as Richert fielded the ball, the lefty threw to first base.

Martin was hit on the wrist by Richert’s throw, and the ball ricocheted into right field as Rod Gaspar scampered all the way around to score the winning run.

The Mets now led the Series three games to one, and Tom Seaver had his only World Series victory of his career. 

No one argued when the play & the game ended. But after the game, the Orioles protested that Martin had ran inside the foul line . 

Home plate Umpire Shag Crawford said he didn’t make an interference call because he felt Martin didn’t intentionally interfere with the play. Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn backed up the statement. The next day the controversy was the talk of the baseball world. 

Quotes- J.C. Martin: "Remember first base is actually in fair territory. If you are a left handed hitter and you run inside that double line, you’ll never touch the bag if you run straight at it. The funny thing is that nobody really made a big deal about it until the papers came out the next day.

They had a picture that showed Pete Richert’s throw hitting me on the left wrist. The umpire said I was safe, so I must have been safe, I get a kick seeing the ball roll away and old Gaspar scoring”.

After the Championship: After the World Series, the Mets decided to go with Duffy Dyer as their back up & just before the 1970 season began, Martin was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Randy Bobb. 

He spent three seasons in Chicago, mostly backing up Randy Hundley & former Met Chris Cannizzaro. He had his best season in Chicago in 1971 hitting .264 with 2 HRs 5 doubles & 17 RBIs in 47 games. 

J.C. Martin would retire after the 1972 season, finishing a 14 year career, batting .222 with 487 hits, 32 HRs, 82 doubles 12 triples & 230 RBIs, in 908 lifetime games played. 

His 121 passed balls are 99th most all time, and he threw out 34% of would be base stealers in 692 games at catcher posting a .987 fielding %.

Family: J.C. & his wife Barbara line in the Charlotte South Carolina area.

Martin’s son Jay, went on to have a fine college career at Wheaton College. He later became the head baseball coach in Canton, Ohio.

Retirement: In 1974 J.C. Martin was a bull pen coach for the Chicago Cubs under former New York Giant, Whitey Lockman. 

He then moved into the broadcast booth with the White Sox, alongside the legendary Harry Caray for the next season. He only worked as a broadcaster for one season, mostly because he did not get along with Caray.

When asked if he enjoyed his White Sox broadcast experience: J.C. said- "Not really. I didn’t really fit in with Harry. He didn’t want to work with me. We didn’t hit it off at all. I wasn’t used to working with a guy that had that kind of authority and Harry used that against me. I was only there for one year. Now Bill Mercer was a great guy, he helped me out a lot. Harry just left me out to dry.

Quotes: J.C. Martin - " I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I spent 14 years in the big leagues seeing the best players ever, guys like Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski. Players like that just aren’t around anymore. 

Baseball was better back then, they didn’t have the DH, which has killed all the suspense in the American League, and the ballparks were fair. You didn’t have this emphasis on hitting home runs all the time. It was great.”

Trivia: J.C. caught five Hall-of-Fame pitchers in his catching career: Tom Seaver & Nolan Ryan with the Mets. Early Wynn & Hoyt Wilhelm with the White Sox. And Ferguson Jenkins with the Cubs.

Honors: In 2019, Martin was on hand for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1969 Amazing Mets, at Citi Field. 

He & his old roomate on the road, Al Weis are still close friends, 50 years after the Miracle of 1969.

Back in 2005, Martin attended a reunion of the 1959 AL Champion White Sox team with former team mates; Luis Aparicio, Billy Pierce & Jim Rivera.