Aug 28, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1971) Cleon Jones Hits Walk Off HRs Two Saturdays In a Row

Saturday August 21st 1971: Gil Hodges fourth place Mets (61-62) sent Tom Seaver (13-8) to the mound, trying to get the club to the .500 mark. Today they hosted Preston Gomez, last place San Diego Padres (47-80) sending Dave Roberts (11-12) up against Seaver in front of 26,584 fans at Shea Stadium.

It was a typical Tom Seaver low scoring pitchers duel as Dave Roberts matched Seaver along the way. Roberts would allow just two hits & one run going into the 9th inning, striking out seven. Seaver had scattered six hits striking out eight giving up just one run.

In the top of the 5th inning, Ed Spiezio hit a solo HR, his seventh of the season. Spiezo (father of big leaguer Scott Spiezio) would hit 39 career HRs in 1544 at bats.

In the bottom of the 7th, Cleon Jones led off with a triple. Tommie Agee brought him in with a sac fly tying up the game at one.

The score stayed that way going into the bottom of the 9th.

In the 9th, Larry Stahl walked & stole second with one out, but Seaver got "Downtown" Ollie Brown to line out & Spiezio to fly out to right ending the threat. In the bottom frame, Ted Martinez grounded out & Ken Boswell flew out.

Cleon Jones stepped in & was the hero of the day, hitting a walk off HR to end the game, giving Seaver his 14th win of the year.

A week later on Saturday August 28th 1971: The Mets (65-64) hosted Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (69-63). The Mets had already defeated L.A. in the first of this Saturday afternoon twin bill at Shea.

In the night cap, the starters were Gary Gentry for New York & the Dodgers Don Sutton. Sutton was outstanding on the day, shutting out the Mets through seven innings, allowing just three hits, striking out six. 

Gentry was also tough, as held the Dodgers scoreless until the the 8th inning. Duke Sims doubled to right field, and a young Bobby Valentine was brought in to pinch run. Next pinch hitter Tom Haller lined a base hit to right, scoring Valentine.

In the 8th Jim Brewer relived Sutton, he retired the first two batters but then catcher; Duffy Dyer doubled to center. Tommie Agee then singled to left field tying up the game 1-1. Tug McGraw came in & pitched a scoreless 9th inning.

In the bottom of the 9th, with two outs, Cleon Jones stepped in & was the hero once again. Cleon hit another walk off game winning HR, thrilling the crowd of 43,492 with a 2-1 Mets win. McGraw earned the victory bringing him to 9-5 on the year, while holding a 1.83 ERA.

Mets Backup Catcher: Anthony Recker (2013-2015)

Anthony Vito Recker was born on August 29th in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The six foot tow catcher attended Alvernia College in Reading, Pa. He was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 18th round of the 2005 amateur draft.

Recker played in the minors for seven years before getting an MLB call up & actually considered retirement from the game. He & a friend made a pact they would join the FBI if Recker's career did'nt go anywhere back in the late 2000's.

He did show some power in his minor league career hitting 15 plus HRs in both 2007 & 2009. His best year came in 2011 hitting .288 with 16 HRs & 48 RBIs, finally getting called up to the big leagues..

Recker debuted with the Oakland A's on August 25th in New York in a 22-9 debacle in which he caught the entire four & a half hour loss. He played in five games the rest of the season hitting .176.

In 2012 he began the year with Oakland in hopes of making it as backup catcher, but he hit just .129 through late May & was sent to the minors. In August he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Blake Lalli & then was placed on waivers in October.

He was picked up by the New York Mets, where he was to fill in as a backup catcher behind the newly acquired, veteran John Buck. Buck was to take the catching duties until Travis d'arnaud was ready to get to the big leagues full time.

Recker made his Mets debut on April 7th, getting a start behind the plate at Citi Field in a 4-3 Mets win over the Miami Marlins. In the 5th inning he doubled to bring in Ruben Tejada for his first hit & RBI.

On May 10th he hit his first career HR, coming at Citi Field in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On June 5th at Washington, he had a big two hit three RBI day in a 10-1 Mets win over the Nats. Recker singled off Dan Haren with the bases loaded bringing in a pair & then later doubled home Marlon Byrd in the 5th.

On June 18th he got the call to catch Zack Wheeler in his much anticipated MLB debut at Atlanta. Wheeler struck out seven, allowed no runs on four hits while earning a win, in his home town state.

On June 30th Recker pitched the 9th inning of a Mets 13-2 win over the Washington Nationals, to help out a tired bullpen.

 Although he was only batting .157, he was seeing more playing time from late June to early July & had a strong start to the month. Recker hit HRs in back to back games against the Arizona D-backs at Citi Field collecting three hits. 

On July 9th he homered off Barry Zito in San Francisco, as the Mets took three games from the reigning world series champs. On August 8th, his 4th inning sac fly scored Marlon Byrd in what turned out to be the games 2-1 winning run over the Arizona D-backs.

The Mets traded John Buck at the end of August & Recker was the clubs main back up catcher. In 50 games he hit .215 with 6 HRs 7 doubles & 19 RBIs. Behind the plate he has thrown out 21% of would be base stealers & posted a .990 fielding %.

The Mets were confident enough to go into 2014 with youngsters; Recker & Travis d'arnaud as their two main catchers. 

Recker with Mets Legend Rusty Staub  
On April 12th, in an inter league contest in Los Angeles / Anaheim, Recker hit a 13th inning game winning HR off Matt Shoemaker. Earlier in the game he had a two run single as well. He hit two HRs in April then would not hit another until July 6th, a three run shot against the Texas Rangers in a 8-4 Mets win. 

On August 11th, Matt den Dekker tied up a game with a 7th inning double at Citizen's Bank Park. Recker followed two batters later with a two run HR, sealing the Mets 5-3 victory.

In his next three games stretching over two weeks, he homered in them all. On August 31st, he hit a three run HR off the Phillies A.J. Burnett leading New York to a 6-5 win over Philadelphia.

On September 7th he blasted a two run shot off the Reds Mat Latos in a
4-3 Mets win at Cincinnati. He added another HR on September 11th.

In 58 games he hit 7 HRs with 27 RBIs nine doubles but hit just .201. But he played a fine defense in a back up role, throwing out 37% of would be base stealers & posting a .998 fielding %. For a brief period he was given the main job as Travis d'arnaud was sent down to fine tune his skills.

In 2015 he began the year backing up Travis d'Arnaud & enjoyed his first multi HR game in a May 14th game at Wrigley Field. But with highly touted prospect Kevin Plawecki getting promoted there wasn't much room for Recker, even after d'Arnaud went down with injury.

After 19 games he was batting just .143 & was optioned to AAA Las Vegas in mid June.

In 18 games at AAA Las Vegas he has hit 7 HRs while batting .292 while winning the June 29th Pacific Coast Leagues Player of the Week Award.

One Time New York Mets Outfielder: Claudell Wahington (1980)

Claudell Washington was born August 31, 1954 in Los Angeles, California. He did not play high school ball, but was spotted on a sandlot field in Berkley California, by the Oakland A’s scouts. He was signed to a contract in 1972, and quickly added to their World Champion roster by 1974.

Owner Charley O Finley loved speed on the bases & on the field. He threw Washington in a line up with six times AL base stealing champion Bert Campaneris, as well as 1973’s AL leading base stealer, Billy North. This made for an incredibly fast team that stole 164 bases, North (54) Campy (34) pinch runner Herb Washington (29) & Reggie Jackson added (25).

Washington was only 20 years old in his first season, he hit .285 with six stolen bases over 73 games. In the 1974 ALCS he went 3-11 with a double in four games against the Baltimore Orioles. In the first All California World Series in 1974, he hit .625 (4-7) with a walk & a run scored against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That year the A's won their third straight Series title. In 1975 he became a regular in the Oakland outfield alongside Jackson & North, as Joe Rudi moved over to first base.

Washington was one of the youngest players to make an All Star team ever being just 20. That year he was second in the league in steals with 40, leading his A's team mates. He hit .308 (5th in the league) scoring 86 runs with seven triples 24 doubles 10 HRs & 77 RBIs, as Oakland won their fifth straight A.L. West title. In the ALCS he hit .250 with a double & RBI losing to the Boston Red Sox.

As Charlie Finley sold off all his star players and the Oakland A’s Dynasty fell apart, Washington too was soon traded away. He was sent to the Texas Rangers for Jim Umbarger, Rodney Scott & cash prior to the 1977 season. He hit .285 & stole 21 bases in Texas before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Bobby Bonds midway through the 1978 season. He had another .280 season in 1979 and hit three HRs in a game that July. Washington would spend parts of three seasons with the White Sox days of their wild all black uniforms. He was hitting .289 in June of 1980 when he got traded to the New York Mets for minor leaguer Jesse Anderson.

In his first Mets game, on June 11th, 1980 he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He then became a regular in the ’80 Mets outfield alongside Steve Henderson & Joel Youngblood.

His biggest day came on June 22, 1980 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He became one of the very few players to hit three HRs in a game both leagues. That day he was 4-5 with three HRs & five RBIs. He hit two of the HRs off Dave Goltz & another off knunckle ball pitcher Charlie Hough ( a future Mets coach).

Claudell hit another HR in his next game, which came at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Starting on July 3rd he drove in runs in nine of his next ten games, gathering 15 hits over that period. He had ten multiple hit games in the month of August but cooled off in September. On October 1st, Fan Appreciation Day at Shea, he went 3-5 with a HR, a stolen base & two RBIs in the last home game of the 1980 season.

Washington finished 1980 hitting .278 with 11 HRs 20 doubles 6 triples 21 stolen bases a .326 on base % & 54 RBIs. His time in New York with the Mets only lasted four months, after the season he fled, signing with the Atlanta Braves.

In his first year in Atlanta he hit .291 with 5 HRs 37 RBIs & 12 stolen bases. He spent over five seasons with the Braves, at Fulton County Stadium. He would steal thirty or more bases twice & have twenty or more swipes three times with the Braves. He hit 15 or more HRs twice in his time at Atlanta, batting over .280 twice as well.

In 1982 he won a divisional title under Joe Torre in Atlanta, hitting 16 HRs with a career high 80 RBIs & 33 stolen bases. The Braves lost to the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS as Washington hit .333 (3-9) with two walks.

In 1985 he was caught with possession of marijuana and was ordered to submit to a drug diversion program. In the latter part of his career, he hustled more & played with a much more positive attitude. This resulted in some good seasons, although he never reached the potential he had showed in his first two years at Oakland.

In 1986 he got traded to the A.L. New York club, hitting .308 there with 15 stolen bases 11 HRs &64 RBIs. He would spend three years there & In 1988 he moved on to the California Angels.

He spent parts of two seasons there & finished up his career back with New York in 1990. In his 17 year career he hit .278 stealing 312 bases with 1884 hits 164 HRs 824 RBIs 334 doubles 926 runs scored & 69 triples.

Honors: He has the distinction of striking out the most times against Nolan Ryan (39). He was also featured at bat, hitting the foul ball that Mathew Broderick caught in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

The game took place at Wrigley Field in which the Chicago Cubs hosted the Atlanta Braves.

Remembering Mets History: (2003) Joe Reyes Is Youngest Player To Hit HRs From Both Sides of the Plate

Thursday August 28th, 2003: Art Howe's fifth place Mets were certainly struggling at this point in time, but there was some bright spots in the teams future. Rookie speedster Jose Reyes had just been brought up in June adding some excitement.  Reyes was already batting over .300 & stealing bases like crazy, dazzling everyone with his speed, as well as his play on the field.

But on this day, he went into the record books for something else, his power. Jose Reyes became the youngest player in history to hit HRs from both sides of the plate.

The Mets (59-730 were in Atlanta taking on Bobby Cox's first place  Braves (85-48). Al Leiter went out & won his 13th game (13-7) beating former Met; Mike Hampton (12-6).

With the game still scoreless in the 5th inning, Reyes led off & hit a solo HR off Hampton from the right side. Later in the top of the 9th, with New York clinging to the 2-1 lead, Reyes hit a two run shot fom the left side of the plate off pitcher; Trey Hodges. The exciting young Reyes drove in all three runs in the 3-1 Mets win, while making history.

Former Mets Catcher: Henry Blanco (2010)

Henry Ramon Blanco was born on August 29th, 1971 in Caracas, Venezuela. The five foot eleven catcher got drafted as an amateur free agent in 1989 by the Los Angeles, Dodgers. The catcher spent seven years toiling in the minors before making to the Dodgers big league squad in 1997.

His best asset was always his good arm & his defensive abilities behind the plate. He made a career at being at being a solid backup catcher in Los Angeles (1997) then with the Colorado Rockies (1999) Milwaukee Brewers (2000-2001) Atlanta Braves (2002-2003) Minnesota Twins (2004) Chicago Cubs (2005-2008) San Diego Padres (2009) the New York Mets (2010) & Arizona D-backs (2011-2012) Toronto Blue Jays (2013) Seattle Mariners (2013).

Defensively, he has a strong arm and has excelled in throwing out base runners. In 1999 he led all catchers throwing out 39 runners, and would throw out over 30 runners twice more coming in second place in the league's top ten both times. In those seasons he led in caught stealing percentage, and has thrown out over 40% of would be base stealers seven times in his career. He is second best at that percentage (43%) among all active catchers. His .994 fielding percentage is 16th best all time behind the plate. In his career he has only made 37 errors in 892 games & over 6938 innings played.

Besides his defense he will always be remembered for his tattooed arms, not the most common site among baseball players until recently.

In 2004 he was the Twins main catcher in the year Johan Santana won his first Cy Young Award. Blanco played in 114 games hitting 10 HRs with 19 doubles & 37 RBIs. Behind the plate he caught 49% of runners trying to steal (best in the AL), thirty runners in all (second in the league). The Twins won the A.L. Western title that year. In Game #4 of the NLDS he hit a HR off Javier Vazquez in the 6-5 loss.

The next season a he signed a four year deal with the Chicago Cubs and played as back up, first to Michael Barrett & then Geovany Soto. There he became a popular player and earned the nickname of "Hank White".

In the 2008 Chicago Cubs NL Central Division winning season, Blanco hit for his personal career best .292 with a .325 on base % in 58 games.

After four years with the Cubs, Blanco signed on with the New York Mets in 2010 to share catching responsibilities with Rod Barrajas.

In his first Mets game on April 10th, he got the start behind the plate catching Oliver Perez. Perez would allow four quick runs & be gone. In the 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals, Blanco drove in a run on a sac fly and had two hits. On May 8th, he hit his first Mets HR & it was an exciting one. It was a walk off game winner at Citi Field against the San Francisco Giants. That night he had a big three hit game and would close out the month with another three hit game against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

On June 10th he hit another HR at big Citi Field, a two run shot against the San Diego Padres. Rod Barajas was hitting a lot of HRs early on & seeing the majority of the playing time in New York, until he was traded late in the season. Then young catcher Josh Thole began to get into games with Blanco seeing less time. Overall Behind the plate, in 46 games Blanco threw out 11 of 22 base runners attempting to steal (50%). He was let go to free agency after the season & signed on with the Arizona D-backs at the age of 39.

He played two seasons there as a back up to Miguel Montero, making the post season in 2011 going 0-1.

In 2013 he was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays appearing in just 15 games before getting released. He was picked up by the Seattle Mariners and hit a grand slam HR on June 15th, his first game in a Mariners uniform. It came during a 4-0 "King" Felix Hernandez shutout of the Oakland Athletics. At age 41 he was one of the oldest players in the league & retired at the end of the season.

In a long 16 year career he is a .223 hitter with 72 HRs 145 doubles 11 triples 298 RBIs & a .288 on base %. Behind the plate he has caught 914 games throwing out 43% of would be base stealers. He has also helped turn 78 double plays (97th all time) & made 5659 put outs (84th all time).

Drama: In 2008 his brother Carlos was kidnapped in Venezuela, and the criminal’s asked for 200 million Venezuelan bolĂ­vares. Henry attempted to negotiate but his brother was sadly found dead shortly after.

Aug 27, 2015

Late Seventies / Early Eighties Mets All Star: Joel Youngblood (1977-1982)

Joel Randolph Youngblood III was born on August 28, 1951 in Houston, Texas. The versatile six foot right hand hitting Youngblood, was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds right out of high school, in 1970.

He spent five years in the Reds minors not seeing much hope with all the talent on the Big Red Machines big league club. He the Reds team out of Spring Training 1976 in their second straight World Series Championship season. He only hit .193 in 55 games as a utility man & did not play in the post season.

He was soon to be traded twice in 1977, first to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bill Caudill during the spring. In St. Louis he hit only .185 in 25 games, and was sent to the New York Mets for short stop Mike Phillips. The trade happened on June 15th 1977, the same day Tom Seaver was traded away in what is known as The Midnight Massacre. Also that night the Mets traded away slugger, Dave Kingman. The Youngblood for Phillips deal didn’t get many headlines behind those two stories.

Youngblood proved to be a pretty good all around player for the Mets, playing all over the diamond at every position except catcher & first base. He would also become a reliable pinch hitter through the years. When Youngblood arrived in New York, it marked the end of Joe Torre’s playing career. Torre removed himself from the active roster to open a spot for Youngblood.

He made his Mets debut at Wrigley Field on June 24th going 1-4 in a 5-0 Mets loss to the Cubs. Youngblood got hits in his first three Mets games, but fell to .217 by the end of July. On August 1st he singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Mike Garman, driving in the walk off game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

On September 11th he had a three hit day at Wrigley Field, driving in three Mets runs in their 7-3 win. On the last day of the season he had another three hit day, driving in two runs in the Mets 6-4 win over his old Cardinal team mates in St. Louis. After his arrival in New York in 1977 he got into 70 games, batting hit .253 with no HRs 11 doubles a .296 on base % & 11 RBIs.

Starting out in 1978 he was used as a defensive replacement & pinch runner for the month of April. He slowly began to get inserted in the lineup, & by August had earned a regular job in the outfield.

In late June he helped fuel a 9th inning Mets come from behind rally with a single & runs scored in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. In July he hit HRs in back to back games against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The first HR came against Tom Seaver as Jerry Koosman beat out his old tem mate in a 4-2 Mets Reds classic.

On July 20th he doubled off Joe Sambito in the bottom of the 9th inning for a game winning hit against the Houston Astros. On July 26th Youngblood had a big five RBI game against the Reds at Shea Stadium. In the 3rd inning he tripled with the bases loaded scoring Steve Henderson, Willie Montanez & John Stearns. In the 5th he then hit a two run HR, all the hits came off Mike Lacoss. On August 9th he had a big five hit day, with two doubles, two singles & a triple, driving in one run, while scoring two more runs as well in a 10-3 Mets win at Montreal.

For the year, he hit .252 with 7 HRs, 12 doubles 8 triples (10th in the NL) & 30 RBIs. In the outfield he only made one error in 50 games there, posting a .989 fielding percentage, with eight assists. He went to arbitration in February of 1979 looking for $91,000 but settled for $78,000, from the Mets tight organization.

He started out 1979 as a backup player, but when Eliot Maddox injured his foot, Youngblood got the outfield job and stole the show. In the last week of April he went on a tear, hitting four HRs while driving in runs in six straight games. He finished April batting .350 & was hitting over .300 into early June. On May 6th his 8th inning fielder's choice tied the game in which the Mets went to win 5-4 over the Giants in San Francisco.

In the final two weeks of May he hit three HRs drove in seven runs & had a seven game hit streak. He began June with a HR in Atlanta in a 5-4 Mets win & a HR in Cincinnati three days later on a 6-2 Mets win. In August he was still hitting .290 & drove in 15 runs on a weak hitting team. He was one of the better players on a bad ball club, as the Mets finished last again at 63-99 thirty five games behind the Pirates who went on to win the World Series.

Youngblood tied for the team lead with 158 games played and led the club with HRs (16) doubles (37) which were 7th most in the league, runs scored (90) & intentional walks (7). He hit .275 and stole 18 bases although he certainly was not known for his speed. He only stole 60 bases in his career spanning 1408 games. The Mets liked what they saw and gave him a deal worth just under a million dollars.

In April of 1980 he played in 15 games, driving in a dozen runs in ten of those games. He drove in runs in seven straight games and was hitting over .350. On May 6th he hit a two run HR in the bottom of the 9th inning off the Reds Mario Soto, bringing the Mets within a run in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Mets would tie it up but lose in the 14th inning. On June 7th the Mets fell behind the Pirates 5-4 in the 11th inning of a game at Shea. Youngblood tied it up with a double off Bert Blyleven, as the Mets went on to win it with a Ron Hodges pinch hit single.

In June had six straight multiple hit games, & in the next two and a half weeks drove in 13 runs. He began August hitting safely in 14 of 15 games, getting over the .290 mark. He finished out the year with 16 RBIs in the last month. On September 29th he gave the Shea crowd of 1800 people a thrill by hitting a walk off two run HR against Grant Jackson & the Pittsburgh Pirates. Youngblood finished the year with a .276 average, stealing 14 bases, hitting 8 HRs with 69 RBIs, & 26 doubles. All in all he was still a bright spot on a bad team; he only struck out 69 times in 514 at bats. He led the club with nine sacrifice hits & was walked intentionally seven times.

In 1981 Youngblood was off to a terrific start, on an early May home stand he had 13 hits over four games including two four hit days. By June he was among the league leaders in hitting, batting .359, with 10 doubles and a .398 on base percentage.

Then he injured his knee sliding into second base at the Astrodome, when he returned healthy, the players went on strike. When it was settled almost two months later, Youngblood was picked to represent the Mets in the All Star Game, going 0-1 as a pinch hitter at Cleveland Stadium in the NL’s 5-4 victory. By now the Mets were even running subway ads featuring Youngblood as the teams star with their new campaign "The Magic Is Back". 

When he returned to Shea he was so valuable with his ability to play all different positions, it hurt his chances at being an everyday outfielder like he wanted to be. He ended up reinjuring his knee and only played in 43 games all season, batting a career best .350 in 143 at bats with 4 HRs 10 doubles & 25 RBIs.

In 1982 the Mets had a new manager in George Bamberger. A young speedy outfielder named Mookie Wilson was on the scene as well as veterans George Foster & Ellis Valentine. Youngblood was playing but not seeing as much time as he would have liked. In May he had a seven game hit streak, and drove in runs in each game of a series with the Dodgers. On May 15th he hit a three run HR off Ted Power to lead New York to a 6-4 win. As the season went on he became more of a pinch hitter & was unhappy with his playing time. Youngblood soon wanted to be traded. He was hitting .257 with 12 doubles 3 HRs & 21 RBIs in early August.

Record Setting Day (A Tale of Two Cities): On August 4th the Mets were playing a day game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Bamberger knew a trade was being disused but put Youngblood in the line up anyway. He struck out in his first at bat then drove in two runs with a base hit in the 3rd inning off Ferguson Jenkins putting the Mets ahead 3-1. Then strangely the manager took Youngblood out of the game, he was surprised and went over to talk to him. Bamberger informed Joel he had just been traded to the Montreal Expos.

Montreal were short players and wanted Youngblood to join the ball club as soon as he could, hoping he could make it to the night game scheduled that night in Philadelphia. He left the dugout showered, packed his bags and got a cab to the airport. Then he realized he forgot his glove, and had to go back to the ballpark, then eventually caught the next flight to Philly. He arrived at Veterans Stadium just as the game began; there the Expos already had a uniform with his long name spelled out on the back.

He got dressed and walked into his new team’s dugout getting greeted by Montreal manager Jim Fanning. Fanning inserted him in right field to replace Jerry White in the sixth inning. He came to bat in the top of the 7th and singled off the Phillies Steve Carlton making baseball history. He became the first player to get two hits on the same day for two different teams. He also accomplished the feat, against two future Hall of Fame pitchers, not a bad day for Mr. Youngblood.

He finished the season hitting only .200 for Montreal (.240 overall) and became a free agent signing with San Francisco in the off season. The Giants made him an everyday infielder and he had his best year at the plate in 1983. He batted a career high .292 with 17 HRs 20 doubles a .356 on base % & 53 RBIs. He struggled on the field in 1984 making a league leading 36 errors at third base. He played in 95 games and hit .270.

By 1986 he became one of the league’s best pinch hitters, gathering 16 pinch hits. Overall he batted .255 with 5 HRs & 28 RBIs. In 1987 he had 13 pinch hits & broke his wrist chasing a foul ball in September. That year he missed a chance at playing in the post season as the Giants won the Western Division. In 1988 he had 15 pinch hits and hit .252 overall as utility player. He went back where he started, finishing his career in Cincinnati after the 1989 season.

In his 14 year career, Youngblood hit .265, with 969 hits 80 HRs, 180 doubles, 23 triples, 422 RBIs, a.329 on base % & 60 stolen bases. In his career the versatile all around player played 745 games in the outfield, 218 games at third base, 173 games at second base, 7 games at first base, 3 at short & one at catcher.

Retirement: Joel became a roving batting instructor for the Baltimore Orioles in 1991. He then managed the Kane County Cougars and went on to coach for the Cincinnati Reds & Milwaukee Brewers in the minor leagues.

From 2009 - 2012 he was the outfield & base running minor league coach for the Arizona D-backs. In 2010 he also was the Diamondbacks third base coach.

Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Mike Torrez (1983-1984)

Michael Augustine Torrez was born on August 28th 1946 in Topeka Kansas. The tall six foot five right hander was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 at age 17.

Torrez went 10-10 at AAA Tulsa & would make his MLB debut as a September call up for the 1967 World Champion Cardinals. 

On September 10th, he pitched to one batter & struck him out in a 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next year he began the year with the Cardinals & went 2-1 but was sent down in late May. He went 8-2 at AAA Tulsa in the Pacific Coast League as the Cards won another pennant & lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

In 1969 the Cards fell to fourth place & Torrez filled in on a staff of Bob Gibson (20-13) Steve Carlton (17-11) & Nelson Briles (15-13) going 10-4 with the best winning percentage on the staff. He fell to 8-10 in 1970 & in June of 1971 was traded to the Montreal Expos for Bob Reynolds. Torrez would spend four years in Montreal, having two 15 win seasons.

In 1972 he Balor Moore & Bill Stoneman made a good rotation, but the team had no offense. Torrez won 16 games (9th most wins in the NL) going 16-12 with a 3.33 ERA. He struck out 112 batters, but also walked 103 in 243 innings of work. Torrez would be among the league leaders in walks allowed through most of his career.

He would also give up lots of hits & runs as well, although he was a work horse pitcher. Ten times in his career he pitched over 200 innings. He also walked 100 batters or more six times (leading the league three times) & gave up over 100 runs seven times (leading the league twice). He was known as a nibbler, not having the best stuff but a guy who would nibble away at the corners of the strike zone.

In 1974 he won 15 games, tying Steve Rogers for the Expos team lead & went on a seven year stretch where he won double figures. That year Torrez married a girl from Montreal & was hoping to stay put to raise a family. But it was not to be, manager Gene Mauch was tired of his walking too many batters & a trade was made. 

In 1975 he went to the Baltimore Orioles in a big traded that sent he & Ken Singleton to the Orioles for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins & a Bill Kirkpatrick.

 The deal was terrible for Montreal, as McNally retired in May, Coggins got very sick & was released & Kirkpatrick never pitched for the team. The trade was great for Baltimore, Single became an All Star outfielder & Torrez a top hurler.

He won twenty games (20-9) fourth most wins in the AL, posting a 3.06 ERA in 270 innings (9th in the AL) , while leading the league with 133 walks. He was part of another talented staff that included Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar & Ross Grimsley, but the O's finished second to the Boston Red Sox ending their six year run as AL East champs.

That off season Torrez was traded to the Oakland A's who had just won five straight AL West Division titles & three World Series (1972-1974). It was a monster trade at the time, sending Reggie Jackson & Ken Holtzman to the Orioles for Torrez & Don Baylor.

Torrez had another good year there, going 16-12 with a 2.50 ERA. He tossed four shut outs as well (4th in the AL). The only other starting pitcher left from the A's Championship years was Vida Blue who went 18-13.

After starting out 1977 3-1 in April he was traded to the AL New York team for Doc Ellis, Marty Perez & Larry Murray. There he went 14-12 helping the club to a world championship. It was his only post season appearance of his long career. In the ALCS he took a loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game #3 at Kansas City. In the World Series he was the winning pitcher in Game #3 at Los Angeles & the winner in Game #6 at New York.

That winter he signed on as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. He would spend seven seasons in Boston winning 16 games in each of his first two seasons. His 16 wins were 8th best in the league in 1979. He would finish second on the Red Sox staff to Dennis Ekersley both seasons. Also on the staff were Luis Tiant & Bill Lee, making up one of the league's best.

But it was a heartbreaking season in 1978 for the Sox, They fell apart, losing 17 games in the standings after holding a big lead in the AL East. They rebounded to come back & force a one game playoff after being down 3 1/2 games with 14 to go.

Torrez capped off the season, with one of the biggest blows against the Red Sox in modern history. It was Torrez who gave up the 7th inning, three HR, deep to left field over the Green Monster, to weak hitting short stop; Bucky Dent. Boston had been up 2-0 but were now behind & never came back. The Sox lost a heart breaker finished second & then third the next year.

In 1979 Torrez led the league once again in walks & earned runs. In 1980 he fell to 9-16 the worst record he had since 1973. In the strike shortened 1981 season he rebounded to a 10-3 record posting a 3.68 ERA. After going 9-9 in 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for a player to be named later.

Torrez joined the 83' Mets staff that included the return of Mets legend Tom Seaver, Craig Swan & youngsters Walt Terrell & Ed Lynch. Torrez made his Mets debut on April 9th, in the third game of the season, at Shea Stadium. Torrez gave up five runs in six innings, taking a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He lost to the Cardinals in St. Louis in his second start, beginning the year at 0-2. 

Torrez then made three relief appearances before getting a start on April 27th in Cincinnati. He went eight innings allowing just one run on three hits, earning his first win 2-1 over the Reds. In his next start he went nine innings, but without run support took a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Torrez was 2-6 by the end of May with an ERA over five. He had a good stretch at the end of June winning three straight games, including a three hit one run victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium on June 26th.

Torrez was a streaky pitcher that season, after three straight wins he lost four straight dropped six of seven. But at the end of August, Torrez won another three straight, beating the San Francisco Giants twice & the Los Angeles Dodgers. On August 31st, he pitched a complete game one run victory beating the Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela.

In September he went 1-3 to finish the year at 10-17, the most losses in the National League. He also topped the league in earned runs allowed (108) & walks (113). He pitched 22 innings struck out 94 & posted a 4.37 ERA.

Torrez began the year with Mets in 1984 but this was a completely different team, the pitching staff now had Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling & Sid Fernandez on board. Torrez actually got the nod to make the Opening Day start that season, taking a loss at Cincinnati. He was shelled for six runs on six hits, exiting in the second inning.

Torrez pitched into the six inning allowing no runs in his next start, but got no decision in the Mets 3-1 win. In that game, Torrez hit the Houston Astros young All Star short stop; Dicke Thon in the face with a fastball, fracturing his orbital bone almost ending his career. Thon recovered but was never the same player.

On April 21st Torrez made the start but was gone after allowing three runs in the 1st inning. On May 13th the Dodgers tagged him for four runs at Dodger Stadium, as he exited in the 5th inning taking a 5-3 loss. On June 3d, he pitched 8 innings & although he gave up ten hits, only allowed one run to The St. Louis Cardinals. But that day Dave LaPoint was better shutting out the Mets & Torrez 1-0.

On June 9th, Torrez got his only win of the year, beating the Expos in Montreal. By the end of June he 1-5 with a 6.30 ERA when the Mets gave him his release.

Torrez signed with the Oakland Athletics, pitched in two games ending his career at age 38. In his long 18 year career he was 185-160 (150th all time in wins / 119th in losses).

He had 1404 strike outs, 1371 walks (23rd all time), 1340 earned runs (69th all time most) allowed in 3042 innings (126th all time) over 494 games. He threw 15 shut outs, 117 complete games as well as 103 wild pitches in 458 starts (76th all time) & posted a 3.96 ERA.

Retirement: In 2011 he was named General Manager of the Newark Bears as they began play in the Canadian American Association, but was fired that summer.

Early Nineties Mets Speedster: Chuck Carr (1990-1991)

Charles Lee Glenn Carr was born on August 10, 1967 in San Bernardino, California. The switch hitting speedy outfielder was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in the 9th round of the 1986 draft. Over the next two years he moved to three organizations mostly due to his bad attitude.

By 1989 he was with the New York Mets, stealing 47 bases at AA Jackson, but only hitting .241. In 1990 he made a one game appearance with the Mets in late April, filling in a quick roster spot going 0-1. Back at Jackson, he stole 48 bases in 93 games & was promoted to AAA Tidewater. In 20 games there, he hit .259 stole six more bases & was briefly brought up to the Mets big league squad again in August.

He mostly was used as a pinch runner in two games, stealing a base against the San Diego Padres in a 2-1 Bob Ojeda win on August 25th. With the Mets, Carr first donned uniform #1, this just a season after Mookie Wilson had been traded to Toronto, he then switched to uniform #27.

In 1991 he was up for two games in June, where he was used as a pinch runner stealing another base. He was sent back to AAA Tidewater but hit just .195.

He was back with the Mets from August 16th - August 28th but hit just .182 on the year in 12 games. In December 1991 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals organization for a minor leaguer.

From there he was chosen as the 14th pick of the expansion Florida Marlins. He became one of the teams first top players, as he led the NL in stolen bases (58) as well as caught stealing (23) batting .267 with 19 doubles & 75 runs scored. He played a centerfield as well & came in fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. That was the Year Mike Piazza won the Award. He would play outfield alongside Jeff Conine & Gary Sheffield the next two seasons, stealing 32 & 25 bases respectively.

By 1995 he fell off to a .227 average & his attitude wasn't the most positive one in the clubhouse. In November of 1995 the Marlins signed free agent Devon White & the writing is on the wall for Carr. He is soon traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a minor leaguer.

On Opening Day 1996 he had a huge debut for the Brew Crew, hitting a HR, driving & scoring three runs in the 15-6 win at Anaheim over the Angels. His hitting fell off & he was still batting .274 at the end of May when he went down for the season with injury. While playing with the Brewers he was best remembered for popping up on a 2-0 pitch, after being given the take sign by third base coach; Chris Bando.

Carr was leading off the inning, with Milwaukee down 4-1 to the Angels. The call came from then Brewer Manager; Phil Garner. When questioned Carr said " That aint Chuckies game. Chuckie hacks on 2-0." Carr was soon released from the team, at the time he was batting just .184.

He finished the season & his playing career in Houston with the Astros that same year. In his eight year career, Carr batted .254 with 435 hits, 81 doubles, 7 triples, 13 HRs 123 RBIs, 144 stolen bases & a .316 on base %. He played in 484 games in the outfield making 28 assists with a .984 fielding %.

Retirement: By 1999 he was playing in the Independent Atlantic League for the Atlantic City Surf. In 2000 he played for Bud Harrelson, who had been his manager with the Mets, on the Long Island Ducks. Carr later became a minor league coach in the Astros organization.

Former Italian / American Pitcher Turned Broadcaster: Tom Candiotti (1983-1999)

Thomas Caesar Candiotti was born August 31, 1957 in Walnut Creek, California. The six foot three right hander was a knuckle ball pitcher that would pitch 16 seasons in the major leagues.

He was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1980 but was claimed in the Rule 5 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. An injury had him miss the entire 1982 season.

He debuted in August of 1983 making a relief appearance against his old Royals team. On August 17th he made his first start & pitched a complete game victory over the Boston Red Sox. He won his first four games & then lost his next four, going 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA in his first season. 

After two seasons in Milwaukee he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. In 1986 he had a breakthrough season, leading the league with 17 complete games, posting a 16-12 (9th most wins in the AL) record with 167 strike outs a 3.57 ERA (10th in the AL) .

He had an off season the next year losing 18 games, for the Indians team that lost 101. Candiotti then went on to win 13 games or more for the next four years. In 1992 he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, and spent the next seven years in their rotation.

In 1992 he had the second best ERA in the league at 2.65, but lost a league leading 15 games. He then posted four losing seasons in five years, going 7-7 in 1994 for a .500 season. In 1996 he made one relief appearance in the NLDS loss to the Atlanta Braves.

In the final year of his contract he went 10-7 & that off season signed on with Oakland Athletics. In 1998 Candiotti once again led the league in losses, going 11-16 and then retired after the 1999 season at age 42.

Candiotti was a better pitcher than his stats show, he was a work horse who put in a lot of innings with quality starts & low earned run averages. His knuckle ball gave him longevity, pitching over 200 innings nine times, giving him 2725 over his 16 year career.

He went 151-164 with a 3.73 ERA in 410 starts (111th all time) in 451 games. He struck out 1735 (108th all time) including five seasons of 140 or more. He threw 68 complete games & 11 shut outs, walked 883 (172nd all time) & allowed 250 HRs (107th all time).

Retirement: Candiotti is an accomplished bowler averaging over 200 in Arizona Bowling leagues. He has earned himself a spot in the Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis & is only the second pro athlete to be inducted.

After baseball he worked as a special assistant to the GM in Cleveland, then went in to broadcasting. He did games for ESPN, worked on Baseball Tonight & covered the Little League World Series. He is currently a broadcaster for Arizona Diamondbacks games.

His ex-wife Donna, is a successful realtor & did a tell all interview about being a baseball wife, that can be found on line.