Feb 21, 2017

2015 NL Champion Mets Utility Player: Kelly Johnson (2015-2016)

Kelly Andrew Johnson was born February 22nd 1982 in Austin Texas. The six foot one Johnson bats left handed & throws right handed. The all around player was a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves (38th overall) in 2000 at the age of 18.

Johnson debuted in 2005 with the Braves starting out his career as an outfielder. After spending 2006 in the minors he was came back in 2007 converted into the Braves everyday second baseman.

He spent a total of four seasons in Atlanta hitting a best .287 in 2008 with a career high 39 doubles. In 2010 he signed on as a free agent with the Arizona D-backs.

In Arizona he found power & became more of a HR hitter, hitting a career high 26 HRs & 71 RBIs while batting .284. That season he hit for the cycle on July 23rd in a game against the San Francisco Giants.

In 2011 he hit two grand slams for the D-backs, then after hitting 18 HRs with Arizona  he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Aaron Hill & John McDonald. In the first game he was to debut for the Blue Jays he could not play because he had forgotten his passport & wasn't allowed into Canada.

He finished that season & played 2012 in Toronto hitting 16 HRs with 52 RBIs that year. He then signed a deal with the Tampa Rays following with a second straight 16 HR 50 RBI plus season.

In 2014 he began the year with the A.L. New York club playing 77 games batting just .219, he was then traded to the Boston Red Sox & on August 30th was sent to the Baltimore Orioles to help them on their Playoff run. He made two appearances in the post season in the ALDS win over Detroit & ALCS loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Johnson signed on with his old Atlanta Braves team for 2015, hitting .275 with 9 HRs & 34 RBIs in 62 games playing all over the infield & outfield. On July 24th Johnson & Juan Uribe were traded to the New York Mets for minor leaguers John Gant & Robert Whalen. 

Quotes: Johnson on his trade to the Mets- “As a young player, being in Atlanta, coming in to Shea before Citi, this was intimidating. The place was rocking. The team was really good. It was just a big rivalry. Being there and seeing the way that guys like Chipper Jones and John Smoltz got up for this series -- each way, home and away, and especially coming here to this city -- it is a little bit weird. It’s very weird.”

At the time of the trade it certainly wasn't realized the impact the two players would have on the Mets team fighting for an NL East title. Johnson found himself in the Mets line up right away, solidifying their defense mostly in the infield & making the bench a  lot deeper.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “We like the fact that it’s sort of a general upgrade of our overall position-player roster. Johnson plays a lot of different positions. Uribe plays a spot where we can use some additional support. And, overall, it raised the quality of our roster. They’re veteran players, so we’re happy to have them.”

In his first Mets game, Johnson helped the team in a 15-2 win over the LA Dodgers at Citi Field. Johnson had two hits & hit a HR helping Matt Harvey to his 9th win. On August 1st, Johnson Got two hits in the Mets 3-2 win over the Washington Nats at Citi Field.

That week the Mets swept the Nationals and would take over first place for good. The club also acquired Tyler Clippard & Yoenis Cespedes solidifying the 2015 Mets. It may have been the best late season additions the Mets have ever added.

On August 13th he had a big three hit three RBI day, including a solo HR (his 11th) in a 12-3 Mets win over the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. By the end of September he had five multi hit games, hit 5 HRs & drove in 13 runs batting .250 for the Mets.

Johnson played at second base (26 games) first base (five games) outfield (six games) & short for one game.

2015 POST SEASON: In the Mets Post Season Johnson got into nine games used both as a pinch hitter & for defensive purposes.

Overall he went 1-9, with his lone hit, a 7th inning single, came off Zack Greinke in the NLDS Game #5 clincher at Los Angeles. In the World Series he got a start in Game #1 as the teams DH. He was hit by a pitch in the 3rd inning by Edinson Volquez.

After the World Series, the Mets let him go to free agency & in January 2016 he was signed by the Atlanta Braves.

His return to Atlanta was welcomed by the fans but after 49 games he was traded back to the New York Mets for another pennant drive. His veteran leadership, versatility & key hitting was very important for the Mets and they wanted it back. The Mets traded Akeel Morris to get Johnson back on June 8th, 2016.

Five days after his return to the Mets, he got a start & hit a well received HR in the Mets 11-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Johnson contributed with three hits on the day (3-5) with three runs scored. On June 25th, in a return to Atlanta, Johnson hit an 11th inning pinch hit HR off Dario Alvarez, in a scoreless game which gave the Mets the exciting 1-0 win.

In early July as the Mets swept the Chicago Cubs, Johnson hit another HR in the series sweep. On August 4th he hit a HR in the subway series, Mets 4-1 win. The next day he got another start filling in at third base in Detroit. He hit another HR that day, this one off Justin Verlander. 

On August 24th, as the Mets began hot pursuit to capture the wild card race, Johnson hit a pinch hit grand slam HR off Michael Mariot & the Philadelphia Phillies in a 12-1 Mets romp at Citi Field. Three days later, he had a three RBI day against the Miami Marlins.
Johnson had a modest September going 10-48 with four runs scored.

In 82 games with the Wild Card Mets of 2016 he batted .268 with 9 HRs 8 doubles & 24 RBIs with a .328 on base %. He was granted free agency at the end of the season. NL East rivals Washington & Atlanta both have shown interest in him.

In his eleven year career he has played all positions except pitcher, catcher & center field. In 1399 games he hit .251 with 1140 hits 155 HRs 230 doubles 550 RBIs 632 runs scored & a .330 on base %.

Family: Johnson & his wife Lauren have three children.

Former Mets Pitcher: Akeel Morris (2015-2016)

 Akeel J. Morris was born November 14h, 1992 in St. Thomas, United Sates Virgin Islands. The six foot one right hander pitched a perfect game in high school while in the Virgin Islands. He was selected by the New York Mets in the tenth round of the 2010 amateur draft.

He pitched his first season with the Gulf Coast Mets & then at Kingsport, where he had great strike out numbers averaging 10.5 Ks per nine innings, but he had control issues, walking 6.5 batters per nine innings. In 2013 he was moved to Brooklyn where he went 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA with the Cyclones. He improved to strike out 60 batters while walking 23.

In 2014 he got even better, while with the Savannah Sand Gnats he became a full time relief pitcher. He was 4-1 with 16 saves, posting a fantastic 0.63 ERA. He struck out 89 batters in 57 innings, which computes to a 14.1 strike out per nine inning ratio. In a rare instance, he struck out four batters in one inning in a game against the Augusta Green Jackets.

He began 2015 with the A ball St. Lucie Mets going 0-1 with 13 saves & a 1.69 ERA. In mid June he got a very big surprise.

On June 17th he was called up to help out a struggling Mets bullpen & reduce their work load. He was given his first chance at Skydome in Toronto against a very powerful Blue Jays line up. He relieved Jonathan Niese in the 8th inning with the Mets own 3-0.

He quickly issued two straight walks before getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground out. He then gave up two base hits, followed by a three run HR to Danny Valencia. The kid from A ball was relieved by John Leathersich.

Morris was sent back down to make room for Logan Verett. He finished 2015 at AA Binghamton with six saves going 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 23 games.

He began 2016 with the Mets AA Binghamton club, going 2-2 with  six saves & a 4.62 ERA. In early June 2016 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves organization for veteran Kelly Johnson. At AA Mississippi he was impressive, going 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA  making four starts in 25 games. He struck out 50 batters in 35 innings with 21 walks.

Feb 20, 2017

1986 World Champion Mets Forgotten Pitcher: Bruce Berenyi (1984-1986)

Bruce Michael Berenyi was born August 21, 1954 in Bryan, Ohio. Berenyi was the nephew of MLB pitcher Ned Garver (1948-1961) who once won 20 games for the St. Louis Browns. Garver a lifetime 129-157 pitcher with a 3.73 ERA also pitched for the Detroit Tigers & Kansas City A’s.

Bruce Berenyi attended Northeast Missouri State University and once tied a college record by striking out 21 batters in a game. The six foot two inch, right hander was the Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick (third pick overall in the secondary draft) in 1976.

He went on to lead the American Association pitchers in strikeouts & ERA, getting a Reds, September 1980 call up. He went 2-2 in Cincinnati although he had a rather high 7.81 ERA pitching in six games. In 1981 he was 9-6 with 157 strikeouts (6th in the NL) & a 3.50 ERA. He also threw a pair of two hitters that season but had some control issues as well.

He led the league in walks with 77, and in one game against the Los Angeles Dodgers threw 15 straight balls. In that game he walked seven batters over 3.3 innings. The next week he came back to tossed a one hitter against a strong Montreal Expo team that made it to the post season. The next season things fell apart as he led the league in losses (18) but pitched better than his record showed. He was best in the league in giving up fewest HRs, as his HRs allowed per nine innings (0.324) was tops in the NL. He went 9-18 but put up a solid 3.36 ERA, striking out 157 batters (9th in the NL).

In 1983 he once again had a decent ERA (3.86) but had a poor 9-14 record. In 186 innings, he allowed 102 walks & gave up 80 earned runs, striking out 151 batters (10th in the NL). In June 1984 he was 3-4 with an ERA of 6.00 when he was traded to the New York Mets for Jay Tibbs & Eddie Williams, two players who never suited up in Mets uniforms.

Berenyi debuted for New York on June 17th 1983, although he lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing four runs over seven innings. In July he won three straight starts including a seven inning shutout performance in Atlanta, beating the Braves 7-0. He was 5-1 from mid August to the end of the season, pitching into the 7th inning four of those times. He finished up the 1984 season at 9-6 with 134 strike outs 95 walks & a 3.76 ERA.

In 1985 he started the third game of the season on April 12th at Shea Stadium. In that game he pitched seven innings of one hit baseball, allowing no runs earning a win in the 1-0 shutout of the Reds. The only run of the game came on a Gary Carter HR. He had pitched with shoulder pain throughout his career and in his third start of the 1985 season he had to leave the game in pain. He found out he had a torn rotator cuff and was done for the year. He had the surgery and returned to the Mets for the start of the 1986 Championship season.

On April 29th he earned his first win since the injury of the previous year. He got the win in relief of Ron Darling in a 10-5 win in Atlanta against the Braves. He was put back in the rotation by May, going 2-2 posting an ERA of 6.35, but there wasn’t much room for him on the staff with Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, & Bob Ojeda.

Berenyi was demoted to AAA Tidewater, where he went 2-6 but never returned to the big leagues. He did sign a deal with the Montreal Expos but his arm acted up in pain when he pitched forcing him to retire.
In a seven year career he was 44-55 with a 4.03 ERA, 607 strikeouts 425 walks in 781 innings pitched in 142 games.

Bronx Born Third Baseman the Mets Received In Exchange For Amos Otis: Joe Foy (1970)

Joseph Anthony Foy was born on February 21, 1943 in the Bronx, New York. He attended Evander Child’s high school on Gun Hill Road in the early sixties, & was a standout baseball player. He originally got signed by the Minnesota Twins in early 1962 but was then drafted away by the Boston Red Sox later that year.

In 1965 he won the International League batting title , hitting .302 with 14 HRs & 73 RBIs at AAA Toronto. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year & the league’s MVP. In his rookie year of 1966 he got the job as the Red Sox everyday third baseman replacing the departed, Frank Malzone.

Foy deuted in the second Sox game of the year at Fenway Park going 0-3 against the Baltimore Orioles. In just his third career game he was in the Bronx where he had grown up playing against the AL New York team. He got his first career hit that day, an RBI double off Bob Friend, as the Red Sox went on to an 8-5 win. Foy started out slow not getting above the .200 mark until mid May.

He had a fine Rookie year, coming in second in the league in walks (91) fourth in triples (8) fifth in runs scored (97) & eighth in on base % (.364). He hit .262 with 15 HRs 23 doubles, 63 RBIs & was rated the leagues fifth best third baseman. 

In the Red Sox 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant season, Foy saw action in 118 games at third base, but led the league in errors for the first of two straight seasons. At the plate he hit .252 with 16 HRs 22 doubles 4 triples and 49 RBIs.

On a road trip to New York that summer, he learned of a fire at his family’s house & that it was burning down while on his way to the ballpark located less than a mile away. In that series he was involved in a bench clearing brawl when he was hit in the helmet with a pitch by Thad Tillotson. Foy just went to first base after he was beaned, but when Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg retaliated against Tillotson, when he came to bat, the two pitchers had words. Foy stepped in & said “why don’t you just fight me since it all started with me”. The benches cleared & a full scale brawl ensued.

Foy enjoyed some fame appearing in photo in Life magazine that season as well, although not as the main figure. The magazine did an article of Triple Crown Winner Carl Yastrzemski, and it featured a photo of Yaz jokingly tackling Foy in the Boston club house.

In the 1967 World Series Foy hit only .133 (2-15) playing in six games, driving in one run. In 1968 Foy was selected by the expansion Kansas City Royals & became an original Royal, the next season. On Kansas City's Opening Day, Foy was the team's first cleanup hitter, going 1-6 that day. He played mostly at third base (113 games) but he made 17 errors, the Royals also tried him at first base & in the outfield. At bat he hit .262 with 11 HRs 71 RBIs & 72 runs scored, stealing 37 bases (fifth in the AL).

His stay in K.C. was short though, when on December 3rd, 1969 the New York Mets made another one of their worst trades. In trying to solve their long time third base problem, they sent a young Amos Otis & Bob Johnson to the Royals for Joe Foy. Otis went on to play seventeen seasons in Kansas City, making five All Star teams, winning three Gold Gloves. He hit over .290 five times, stole thirty or more bases five times, also leading the league in doubles twice & stolen bases once. Pitcher Bob Johnson struck out 200 batters going 7-8 in 1970 & then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for short stop Fred Patek. What a deal the Foy fiasco turned out to be for the Royals & their future.

Foy was in the 1970 Mets Opening Day lineup, batting in the third position, going hitless with a sac fly RBI. He never got it going at the plate finishing up at .206 hitting his only HR that month against the Phillies on April 19th. That month he did drive in runs in three straight games against the Phillies at home. Foy did have a few shining moments in a Mets uniform; On May 3rd his 7th inning double off the Padres Pat Dobson in a game at San Diego broke a 2-2 ties & was the games winning run.

He would miss some action in June playing in just 12 games that month. His best month would be July and in the middle of the month he had a seven game hit streak on a West Coast road trip. In that series he had a three hit game in Los Angeles & a huge five hit day in San Francisco. 

On July 19th in the second game of a Mets Giants doubleheader, Foy had five hits, hitting two HRs & driving in five runs. His tenth inning HR off Don McMahon proved to be the game winner in the Mets 7-6 victory. When the Padres visited Shea at the end of the month, he added another RBI hit & then scored the tying run on Tommie Agee's double in a Mets comeback win.

On August 5th Foy came to bat with the bases loaded & two out in the bottom of the 9th inning in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Reds pitcher Wayne Granger walked Foy allowing the winning run to score and crediting Foy with a game winning RBI.

As the season went on Foy never fit in with Gil Hodges ballclub. He was back in his hometown of New York City playing with the Mets, and hooked up with the wrong crowd from his old neighborhood. He got mixed up in drugs and developed an addiction problem.

During a summer double header, he noticeably appeared to under the influence of something during the game. In the opening game, he stood in front of manager Gil Hodges and began cheering a pitch loudly while awkwardly laughing. Hodges chose to start him in the nightcap to prove a point to his team. A hard grounder was hit to Foy at third and he never saw it. Reportedly even after the ball passed him he kept shouting "hit it to me". Pitcher Jerry Koosman & his team mates were furious, but Hodges made his point- "this guy doesn't belong here!"

1970 was his only season with the Mets, Foy saw action in 99 games, batting .236 with 6 HRs 12 doubles 68 walks & 36 RBIs. His best stats were his 22 stolen bases, although he was thrown out 13 times & his .367 on base %. At third base he made 18 errors & certainly wasn’t the answer to the Mets third base puzzle. He was picked up by the Washington Senators in 1971 (Rule 5 draft) and hit .234 in just 41 games before getting sent to the minors.

He finished out his career playing in 15 games at AAA Denver, getting released in July. In his six year career, Foy was a lifetime .248 hitter with 615 hits 58 HRs 102 doubles 99 stolen bases 390 walks, a .351 on base % & 291 RBIs, playing in 716 games.

Retirement: Foy did give back to the community, appearing at Mets events, teaching children to play ball & coached little league in the South Bronx as well. Sadly he had his demons & maybe wasn't given enough of a chance by M. Donald Grant & the organization.

The Mets tried Bob Aspromonte at third in 1971, Jim Fregosi in 1972 and neither one worked out either. Eventually Wayne Garrett got the job and in 1973 the Mets went to another World Series. Garrett remained at third for the good part of four seasons.

Passing: In 1989 Joe Foy died of a heart attack in the Bronx, New York at the age of 46.

Early Eighties Mets Outfielder: Jerry Morales (1980)

Julio Ruben (Torres) Morales was born February 18, 1949 in Puerto Rico. The right hand hitting five foot, ten inch outfielder was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1966 at the age of 17. He was taken away as the 16th pick by the National Leagues new San Diego Padres during the 1968 expansion draft. 

Morales was an original Padre outfielder, making his debut as a September call up that season batting .195 with one HR & 6 RBIs in 19 games. He had good speed in the outfield & often made two handed basket catches playing as a reserve his first three seasons. By 1972 he was seeing regular action hitting .239 with seven triples, (sixth most in the NL) 4 HRs & 18 RBIs in 115 games. 

In 1973 he played 122 games in the Padre outfield under manager Don Zimmer on a last place team going 60-102. Morales had 23 doubles, while batting .281. He would bat over .270 each of the next five seasons. But by 1974 the Padres had young outfielders Dave Winfield & Johnny Grubb to team up with Cito Gaston in the outfield. Morales was the odd man out & was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Glenn Beckert & Bobby Fenwick. 

He would spend the next four seasons as a Cubs regular outfielder, putting up decent numbers at Wrigley Field. He hit 15 or more HRs twice, as well as driving in 80 plus runs two times as well. In 1975 he drove in a career high 91 runs (just missing the top ten in the NL) on a team that drove in the fourth most runs in the league. His 11 sac flies that season were second best in the NL. He also hit twenty plus doubles three times during his Chicago years. 

In the outfield, playing the walls of Ivy at Wrigley Field, he had eleven assists in right field (second in the league) in 1975, followed by twelve assists in 1976 (3rd most in the NL). He would come in the top five of the league in fielding % every season from 1975-1979.

In 1977 he represented the Cubs in the All Star game along with Rick Reuschel, Bruce Sutter, and Manny Trillo. The Cubs had a five game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East at the break that season. In that All Star game, played in the Bronx, at the A.L. New York's new revamped ballpark, Morales was hit in the knee by a Sparky Lyle pitch, in the 7-5 N.L. win. Morales was on track to have his best overall season that year, but he broke his finger toward the end of the summer, finishing his season after 136 games. His injury added to the Cubs demise & falling out of contention. He posted career highs in batting (.290) doubles (34) on base % (.348) & outfield assists (12). 

In December 1977 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Steve Swisher in exchange for Hector Cruz & Dave Rader. His average fell to .239 and he only hit four HRs with 46 RBIs for the fifth place Cardinals. That December he was traded along with Aurelio Lopez to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Sykes & Jack Murphy. 

In one season there he batted a lowly .211 in 129 games. But he did hit 14 HRs with 23 doubles while driving in 56 runs, a lot more production than he had in 1978. On Halloween 1979 Morales was traded to the New York Mets for a very unhappy Richie Hebner, who spent just one season with the Mets. 

Morales debuted on Opening Day 1980, batting seventh for the Mets, playing center field alongside Joel Youngblood in right & Steve Henderson in left. In his first Mets at bat he singled home Mike Jorgensen with the first Mets run of the season. The hit came against former team mate Rick Reushel, he later drove in another run, helping Craig Swan beat his old Cubs team mates 5-2. He started out hitting safely in his first six games as a Met, driving in six runs. On April 15th he hit a HR against the Montreal Expos & the next day drove in two runs with a third inning single, leading the Mets to a 3-2 win. 

On May 14th, he drove in the Mets winning run, with a tenth inning RBI single off the Reds Tom Hume, in a 7-6 win at Cincinnati. He went into a slump after his hot start falling below the .200 mark into mid June. He hit well through the summer, as a reserve outfielder, raising his average up over .260. On July 23rd, in a tie game at the Houston Astrodome, Morales hit a top of the 9th sac fly, bringing in the game winning run off Frank LaCorte. 

In August he hit a solo HR at Montreal in a 4-3 Mets win over the Expos. In the next game he played in, he hit a two run HR & drove in another run in the Mets 7-1 win. In September he had four pinch hit RBI sac flies. He played all around the outfield in 63 games and appeared often as a pinch hitter, playing in 94 games overall. He batted .254 with three HRs, seven doubles 30 RBIs and a .293 on base %. His eight sac flies put him in the top league’s top ten in that department. But after one brief season with the Mets, he left New York & signed back with the Cubs as a free agent. 

He spent three more seasons in Chicago as a reserve player, batting a best .286 in 1981. Morales finished up his 15 year career in 1983, batting .259 with 1173 hits, 95 HRs, 199 doubles, 36 triples, 56 sac flies, 570 RBIs & a .313 on base %. In right field (563 games) his .980 fielding % is 91st all time. In center field (510 games) he posted a .986 fielding % which is 98th best all time. 

 Retirement: After his playing days he was a roving coach for the Cubs, then a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a twelve year absence from the game, he became a Montreal Expos first base coach from 2002-2004. 

In 2007-2008 he coached with the Washington Nationals. In 2006 he coached the Gulf Coast Mets, and in 2009 was a coach for the St. Lucie Mets.

Feb 19, 2017

Remembering the Mayor's Trophy Games: Part One (1946-1963)

The Mayor's Trophy Game was an exhibition game held in New York City between the Nations League New York Giants & the A.L. New York Club starting in 1946. Eventually by 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers took over representing the New York National League. The funds that were raised went to help promote sandlot baseball in New York City.

When the Giants & Dodgers left for the West Coast, the Mayors Trophy game looked like it was doomed. But efforts were made & in 1958 an exhibition game between the Milwaukee Braves & AL New York Club was played. In 1960 the now relocated Los Angeles Dodgers played & in 1961 the San Francisco Giants came back to the Bronx for the game in July.

In 1946 two games were held one in the Bronx & one in the Polo Grounds. That year the AL new York team took both games. In 1947 after losing the first game the Giants took the second game on August 18th, with a 4-1 win, as Bobby Thompson & Johnny Mize were the hitting stars.

By 1948 only one game was to be held annually, alternating ballparks for home field advantage. In the 1948 game, the game was overshadowed by Babe Ruth's death. The players paid tribute as a moment of silence was recognized. The game went into extra innings with the AL club winning it.

In 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first Mayors Trophy game to a record (at the time) 71,289 fans for an exhibition game. Although Brooklyn lost in the 10th inning, Roy Campanella won MVP honors with a HR, while throwing out three base runners trying to steal.

In 1953 Brooklyn walloped with a 9-0 win, as Wayne Belardi hit a pair of HRs & drove in six runs. Johnny Podres was the winning pitcher. T

he next year, the Dodgers had only two hits the entire game but won it 2-1. Duke Snider hit a solo HR & Jim Gilliam drove in Don Hoak in the 8th inning for the game winner. For this game attendance had dropped drastically to 28,084.

The Giants returned in 1955 & in 1956 no game was played. In 1957 an estimated crowd of 30,000 showed up for the final game in which the two National League New York clubs would be in existence.

In 1958 the Milwaukee Braves came to town to play the exhibition game. A HR derby was held before the game with Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Aadcock, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle & Moose Skowron all participating. Milwaukee won the game 4-3 in front of just 13,000 fans.

After another hiatus, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town in 1960. Their proceeds went to the Roy Campanella fund. This was part of the home & away exhibition series with the AL New York team & the Dodgers.

Many remember the game at the L.A. Coliseum the previous year, where Pee Wee Reese took Campy to the field in his wheel chair as the Coliseum was lit up in candlelight. At the '60 Game, Gil Hodges drove in the winning run with a 7th inning triple.

In 1961 it was the Giants return to New York & the crowd of 47,346 seemed to go wild, cheering Willie Mays every time he came onto the field.

On this hot humid night The Sporting News wrote that Willie Mays "drew what amounted to a continuous ovation whenever he was on the field, and at times it thundered louder than the turbulent storms which had almost washed away the game."

Mays two run single proved to be the winning runs in the 4-1 win.

Remembering The Mayor's Trophy Game: (Part Two 1963-1983)

The New York Mayor's Trophy Game: By 1962 New York now had established a National League franchise in the city. Although top position players usually participated, pitchers were brought up from AAA to preserve the staff. In 1963 The New York Mets traveled to the Bronx, to play in their first Mayors Trophy Game.

After a June 3rd rain out, over 50,000 fans, mostly "New Breed" Mets fans, piled into the old Stadium on June 20th. They came with their placards & banners, but most were confiscated by the stuffy AL New York teams workers. Casey Stengel got some revenge against his old team, as the Mets took the game 6-1. Stengel went with his best pitcher Carl Willey that day for the win.

After a loss at the new Shea Stadium in 1964, where 55, 396 fans showed up, the Mets took the May 3rd 1965 Mayors Trophy Game 2-1. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Chris Cannizzaro was on third base when a young Cleon Jones attempted a squeeze bunt. He was successful as the throw was wide & the Mets won it with veteran Warren Spahn taking the victory.

In 1966, the game was back at Shea Stadium. New York's Mayor John Lindsay got greeted with boo's on this June 27th night game. Whitey Ford beat the Mets 5-2 behind HRs by Ray Barker, Billy Bryan & Joe Pepitones. Pepitones blast was remembered by Ralph Kiner as one of the longest he ever saw at Shea.

In 1967, the Mets; Don Cardwell, Dennis Bennett, Bob Shaw & Jack Lamabe combined for a five hit shut out. In 1968 back at Shea, the Mets made it two straight as 35, 1968 saw Don Bosh's triple bounce over the head of Bill Robinson in the 8th inning leading to the 4-3 win.

In the Mets Miracle Year of 1969, the original game on July 7th was rained out. The make up was on September 29th, a week before the Mets were to open up the Playoffs against the Atlanta Braves.

Despite this, Manager Gil Hodges still played his regulars. Art Shamsky led Mets hitting in the 7-6 victory, as Jim McAndrew got the win, in front of over 35,000 Shea Stadium fans.

Over the next three years the Mets lost all the games including two back to back heart breaking one run games in 1971 & 1972. In the '72 game, Bob Rauch served up the game winning HR to John Ellis.

In 1973, new Mets; Felix Millan & George Stone were the stars of the game, played at Shea Stadium. The Mets scored five runs in the 2nd inning never looking back in the 8-4 win. In 1974 the AL's Fernando Gonzalez hit a grand slam off the Mets; Mike Wegner in the 9-4 Met loss.

In 1975, Ed Kranepool & Dave Kingman received Perfect Man Permanents prior to the game held at Shea Stadium, now home for both clubs. In this game Gorge Stone pitched well after coming back from arm troubles but Randy Tate took the loss after a disastrous 7th inning.

After another loss in 1976, just 15,000 fans showed up at Shea on June 23rd 1977 for the Mayors Trophy Game. Despite the smallest crowd ever for the Mets vs AL New York club series, Ron Hodges & Joel Youngblood bother homered leading to a 6-4 Mets win. Farmhand Tom Makowski got the win over Roger Slagle.

In 1978 interest had really hit a low as 9,792 fans showed up in the Bronx for the April 27th match up. In the 11th inning Sparky Lyle claimed that Graig Nettles attempted to throw the game, when he threw a ball about ten feet over his first baseman's head on a Ron Hodges ground ball. Nettles denied the charge. In the bottom of the 13th, Mardie Cornejo took the Mets loss, when Fran Healy's suicide squeeze scored Jim Spencer from third.

The 1979 game was called on account of rain, ending in a 1-1 tie. No games were played in 1980 nor 1981, as both teams donated cash to the causes.

The Mayors Trophy Game resumed in the Bronx, in 1982 as New York's Mayor Ed Koch gave each team "crying towels' before the game. He stated "one of you will need this after the game".

Just six hours before the game, Mets pitcher Steve Ratzer, (who never played a regular season Mets game) arrived from AAA Tidewater. His name was sewn on the uniform so fast, the letter "A" fell off during the game. The game was tied into the 8th, when Joel Youngblood drove in John Stearns with what was the winning run. The crowd of 41,614 was the largest crowd the AL NY team drew up to that point.

The last Mayors Trophy Game was held in 1983 at Shea Stadium in front of 20,471 fans. Controversy was in the air, as MLB umpires refused to work the game. Some say it was because of NL & AL umpires feud over labor practices, others say because Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's had not suspended the AL new York clubs owner, after he questioned the integrity of NL umps in Spring Training. Willie Randolph hit a HR off Rick Ownbey in the 4-1 Mets loss.

The classic New York game is forever lost with the development of inter-league play.

Feb 18, 2017

2015 NL Champion Mets Bench Coach: Bob Geren (2012-2015)

Robert Peter Geren was born on September 22nd 1961 in San Diego, California. He was a star athlete in high school, winning the San Diego HS Player of the Year Award. The six foot three catcher, was drafted in the first round (24th pick overall) by his hometown San Diego Padres in 1979.

A year later he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as a player to be named later in the deal that sent Gene Tenace & Rollie Fingers to the Cardinals. Fingers was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a huge deal four days later.

As for Geren, it almost took him a decade to get to the big leagues, after spending five years at AAA ball where he eventually was signed by the AL New York club.

He hit .271 at AAA Columbus in 1988 getting three call ups throughout the season. That year he appeared with his family, on the daytime version of the game show Family Feud. His family won the $5000 grand prize.

He spent two years as back up to Don Slaught, taking over as the clubs main backstop in 1990.

On July 1st, he was the catcher behind the plate when Andy Hawkins tossed a would be no hitter, although he lost the game 4-0 due to New York's errors. The game has been erased as a no hitter since baseball rules have changed. That year Geren hit just .213 with 8 HRs & 31 RBIs as the AL New York team finished seventh in the East.

In 1991 Matt Nokes took over as catcher, and Geren hit .219 in a backup role. He was placed on waivers that winter, going to the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox & San Diego Padre organizations over the next two years.

In 1993 he made his last appearance in the majors sharing time at catcher with Kevin Higgins & Brad Asmus in San Diego. In his five year career he hit .233 with 22 HRs 21 doubles & 76 RBIs in 307 games. He threw out 38% of would be base stealers & had 126 assists with a .992 fielding %.

 Retirement: After his playing days, Geren managed in the Boston Red Sox & Oakland A's farm systems. In 1999 he won the Manager of the Year Award in the California League. He was also a Red Sox minor league roving catcher instructor.

In 2003 he became an Oakland A's coach through 2005 under Ken Macha. In 2007 he became the A's manager and his club never finished above .500 in his four plus years at the helm.

In 2010 the A's finished at 81-81 making the .500 mark. In June 2009 he was fired & replaced by Bob Melvin. After he was fired he was criticized by some of his players for lack of communication skills. Huston Street & Brian Fuenetes were among some of his critics.

In 2012 he was hired as a New York Mets bench coach, replacing Ken Oberkfell under Manager; Terry Collins. He held that position for four seasons, winning the National League Pennant with the Mets in 2015. Geren was known to rely heavily on stats & was praised by the team for the statistical aptitude in which he used. The team was quoted as saying he has a "strong working knowledge of advanced analytics." 

After the Mets World Series appearance, he took a job with the Los Angles Dodgers as their teams bench coach in 2016. His reason for leaving New Yorl was to be closer to his family in Southern California.

Family: Geren and his wife, Pam, reside in the Bay Area suburb of Danville with their sons, Brett and Bobby.

Former Mets Late 2000's Manager: Jerry Manuel (2008-2010)

Jerry Manuel was born December 23, 1953 in Hahira, Georgia soon moving with his family west to Cordova, California.

He was picked in the first round of the 1972 draft, by the Detroit Tigers, the 20th pick overall. He was a solid middle infielder never known for his hitting. Life time he was a .150 hitter, going 19-127 in his brief career. He made his debut in 1975 as a September call up, going 1-18 in six games. The next season he hit only .140 in 43 at bats and found himself toiling in the minors for the next three years.

In 1980 he was traded to the Montreal Expos for former Mets backup catcher, Duffy Dyer. He spent two seasons playing sparingly in Montreal; hitting a career best .200, with 3 HRs & 10 RBIs in 27 games in 1981. The 1981 strike shortened season was the only time the Expos ever made the post season. I

In the first round of the playoffs, Manuel went 1-14 playing in five games as Montreal defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. In the NLCS he appeared as a pinch runner only, against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. He played two games in San Diego in 1982 and ended a quick five season career playing in 96 career games with 19 hits 3 HRs, 6 doubles one triple 13 RBIs and a .150 average.

Retirement: Manuel began as a scout in the White Sox organization then moved over to the Expos organization for the next eleven years. In 1991 he became the Expos third base coach, remaining there through 1996. In 1997 he was bench coach under Jim Leyland winning a World Series title with the Florida Marlins.

The next season he was hired as the White Sox manager, a position he held for six seasons. After two straight second place finishes, his 2000 White Sox won 95 games and a division title earning him the Manager of the Year Award.

They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. His Sox finished second four times during his time at the helm, posting winning records three times along with one 81-81 season. He is fourth all time in wins in White Sox history, posting a 500-471 record.

Trivia: Along with GM Ken Williams, the two made up the first African American manager/General Manager combo in baseball history.

In 2005 he was hired by the New York Mets as a first base coach under new skipper Willie Randolph. The next season he was promoted to bench coach, a position he would hold for the next season as well. He wanted to be manager again badly, and announced if he didn’t get a big league job by 2009 he would leave to head up a baseball program at William Jessup University in California.

On June 17, 2008 when Willie Randolph got the axe, Manuel was named the Mets interim manager becoming the 19th manger in Mets. On his first day on the job, he removed Jose Reyes from a game and had an argument with him in the dugout runway. Reyes returned to the dugout and apologized to his team mates for the incident.

Manuel’s easy going style, sense of humor & contagious laugh made him interesting at media press conferences. Manuel’s impact was felt right away as he brought the Mets from .500 to first place into September going 55-38 under his leadership. They held a 3 ½ game lead with two weeks to go, but they ended up blowing it all down the stretch. Their playoff hopes faded when they lost on the last day of the season, at the final game ever played at Shea Stadium.

In 2009 injuries plagued the Mets in their inaugural season at Citi Field, they finished fourth 70-92. It was their worst effort in six seasons, finishing 23 games out of first place.

Mets ownership gave Manuel another chance for 2010 and at the Winter meetings he himself admitted he’s on the hot seat. Things didn't get better, he finished the year at 79-83 in fourth place, 18 games back. Manuel was fired at the end of the season.