Apr 28, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1968) Ron Swoboda Slugs Seven April HRs

April 1968: On April 30th the Philadelphia Phillies (8-9) came to Shea Stadium to face Gil Hodges New York Mets (7-9). Hodges was ending his first month as Mets Manager & was still observing what he had to work with. Both teams were just under .500 but were hoping for good things, for the Mets they were one year away from that Miracle Season.

Tonight's game was a classic pitchers duel as the Mets Don Cardwell went on to a five hit shut out, walking no one while fanning three. It was his first win of the year against two early losses. His opponent was the Phillies Chris Short, Short pitched 7 innings & allowed just one run but that was all New York needed.

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Ron Swoboda hit the game winning solo shot. It was Swoboda's 7th HR of the month, in which he had played in just 16 games. He also had collected 16 RBIs and was among the league leaders that early in the season.

In the second game of the 1968 season, the Mets visited San Francisco to play the Giants. In a great pitching matchup, Tom Seaver went up against Juan Marichal. The two Hall of Famers went at it, both  lasting eight innings. Seaver took a 4-2 lead into the 9th before running out of gas. The Giants Willie Mays singled & moved up on a passed ball, then scored on Jim Ray Harts base hit. Seaver was relieved by Danny Frisella and hits to Nate Oliver & Jesus Alou ended in a Mets loss.

The Mets hitting star of the day was Ron Swoboda. In the 1st Swoboda's RBI single started off the big day. Then in the 3rd inning with Ken Boswell & Tommie Agee on base, Swoboda cracked a long three run HR off Marichal into the windy San Francisco night. It was his 1st HR of the season & put New York up 4-0.

April 19th - April 21st 1968: This three day four game stretch for Swoboda was certainly a hot one. On April 19th he hit a solo HR off the Los Angeles Dodgers Claude Osteen, but the Mets went down 3-2.

The next day Tom Seaver & Bill Singer went at it, matching zeroes into the 6th inning. Bud Harrelson reached base for the Mets with a bunt single, and Art Shamsky later walked. Swoboda came up hitting a three run HR, his third of the year. The Mets went on to a 3-3 win behind Swoboda & Seaver.

Sunday April 21st was a classic double header matinee at Shea. The Dodgers took the first game but Swoboda remained hot, he hit a 4th inning two run HR off Dodger ace; Don Drysdale, in a five run Mets inning. A four run Dodger 8th & a two run 9th off Met pitchers Bill Short & Deick Selma ended in a 7-6 Met loss.

The Mets dropped the second game as well, but Swoboda stayed hot, hitting a 4th inning solo HR. He kept a five game hit streak in tact & had hit HRs in four straight games with seven RBIs.

On April 27th Swoboda hit another HR & drove in two more runs, although the Mets lost again, this time 5-3 at Cincinnati to the Reds.

 Unfortunately his hot streak ended & he would struggle the rest of the year. He would hit just 11 HRs with 59 RBIs in 132 games.

1969 World Champion Mets Third Baseman: "The Glider" Ed Charles (1967-1969)

Edwin Douglas Charles was born on April 29, 1933 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Charles grew up in a poor house in a family of nine children in the segregated south. He suffered the serious conditions of racism but overcame his hardships.

He was once a school drop out who later educated himself to earning a college degree later in life. His childhood hero was Jackie Robinson who's Brooklyn Dodgers played Spring Training in Charles childhood town. He would follow Robinson out of the ballpark onto the team bus with the other black children in awe of their hero.

The five foot nine inch, right hand hitting Charles worked hard to fight his struggles & excelled in baseball. He was eventually signed by the Boston Braves in 1952. He went off to military service during the Korean War from 1953-1955. When he returned he hit 19 HRs & batted .333 at Corpis Christie in the Big State League. Charles got to AAA for good by 1958 & spent four seasons there between Wichita, Louisville & Vancouver.

In 1961 he batted .305 with 13 HRs & 77 RBIs for the Mounties. Overall he spent eight long years in the Braves farm system, due to the fact that Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews had the Milwaukee third base position all secured. Charles wrote poetry of his experiences with racism playing in the segregated South during the 1950's & also wrote poems having to due with baseball. He was eventually traded to the Kansas City A’s in 1962 along with Joe Azcue and Manny Jimenez for Lou Klimchock and future Bronx born New York Met, Bob Shaw.

He got a break getting traded to Kansas City, he was able to see playing time in a town rich in Negro League baseball history. He was one of the top players in Kansas City Athletics history during their brief existence.

In his 1962 rookie season he was already 29 years old, Charles had career highs in batting (.288) HRs (17) on base % (.356%) & stolen bases (20), fourth most in the league.

At third base he was fourth in the league in fielding (.964%) fifth in put outs (145) & assists (285). He drove in 74 runs & had the honor of making the Topps All Star Rookie team as well.

In 1963 he hit .267 & was second on the club to Norm Siebern in HRs (15) . He had career highs in RBIs (79) runs scored (82) hits (162) & doubles (28). The Glider stole 15 bases (7th in the AL) posting a .395 on base %.

On the field he posted the leagues fifth best fielding % (.949). The next season his batting average fell to .241 but he still hit 16 HRs with 25 doubles & 63 RBIs. He was overshadowed by sluggers Rocky Colavito & Jim Gentile in the hitting department, although the Kansas City A’s still finished tenth in the AL.

In 1965 Charles played in 134 games and his power numbers dropped off to just eight HRs, as A's owner Charlie Finley moved the Municipal Stadium's fences back . The Glider had 19 doubles & 56 RBIs while batting .269.

In 1966 he improved his batting average to .286, playing in 118 games with 9 HRs 18 doubles 12 steals & 42 RBIs. By 1967 he lost his starting job to Danny Cater & a young Sal Bando was on the horizon just as the A’s were about to move to Oakland. Charles was the odd man out & on May 10th 1967 he was traded to the New York Mets for Larry Elliot & $50,000 cash.

Ed Charles was 34 years old when he arrived in New York, the oldest player on a very young Mets team that needed a veteran.

He helped to cheer up a young Cleon Jones when he was down on himself, especially when the media said he wasn't giving his all. Charles also helped ease tension with some of the newest players making adjustments to young veterans like Ed Kranepool & Ron Swoboda.

Charles debuted with his Mets uniform #5 on May 12th 1967 in St. Louis, hitting an RBIs sac fly off former Met Al Jackson. He became Known as “The Glider “because of his graceful base running and smooth fielding at third base. As he remembers he had made a diving stab at a ball & moments later Jerry Koosman came over to him saying ; "You sort of glide to the ball. That's it. You're The Glider from now on.'"

Charles got two hits that day & quickly took over the Mets third base spot. Ten days after his arrival he had a four hit day against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 5-2 Mets win at Shea, he would have another four hit day in August.

On June 9th the Glider hit his first Mets HR coming off the Giants Juan Marichal in an exciting Mets 8-7 Fourth of July victory. On June 26th Charles won the game with a walk off RBI single to beat Roy Face & the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For the season he hit .238 with a .319 on base %, 3 HRs 13 doubles 3 triples 32 runs scored & 31 RBIs. He played in 101 games & led the team in with seven hit by pitches (5th most in the NL) & six sacrifice hits (7th in the NL). At third he posted a .944 fielding % making 17 errors turning 16 double plays.

He was actually put on waivers at the end of the year but got invited back to Spring Training 1968. Through his hard work & determination he impressed new Mets manager Gil Hodges & made the ball club to go north.

In the "Year of the Pitcher" Charles ended up being one of the team’s best hitters, leading the club in HRs (15) batting a solid .276.

Charles had 102 hits, with 11 doubles a .328 on base % and 53 RBIs. He also helped solve the Mets third base problem by playing a good defense, posting a .954 fielding % (5th best in the NL).

After a slow start batting just .180 through the start of May, he got hot. On May 2nd he hit a two run HR, helping Nolan Ryan to a three hit 3-0 shutout win. In his next game Charles hit another HR & drove in five runs leading the Mets to a 7-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.

On May 20th he hit two HRs while scoring both Mets runs in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also had a walk off HR that night off Bob Veale helping Jerry Koosman to a win.

The Glider began June with HRs in back to back games & then hit two more three days later at Wrigley Field leading the Mets to a 5-3 win. Charles would drive in three runs in the second game of a double header against the Dodgers leading the Mets to a 5-3 win. He finished off an eleven game hit streak two days later with another three RBI day. His hitting continued through the summer, keeping his average above .300 into August before tailing off.

In the 1969 Championship season, Charles was now 36 years old, and the mentor of the ball club. He could remember back to two years ago when the younger guys would laugh after losing a game.

But now with Gil Hodges at the helm, they were playing serious baseball & a loss was no laughing matter. At the start of the season the Mets were hoping for Amos Otis to take over the position from Charles as the season went on, but that never worked out. Otis was a natural outfielder & the attempt of a transition was a mistake.

Charles ended up played against lefties in Gil Hodges platoon system, sharing time with a young Wayne Garrett. In 52 games at third base he posted a .946 fielding % turning nine double plays. He struggled at the plate as his age caught up with him, he didn't get over the .200 mark until the end of June then struggled to stay there all year. On May 31st he helped put the Mets ahead of the Giants with a three run HR off future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

He later added an insurance run, driving in all four Mets runs for the teams third straight win of an eleven game winning streak. On July 6th he hit a HR off the Pirates Luke Walker, tying the game helping lead New York to an eventual 8-7 win. On September 24th 1969, he had one of the biggest moments of his career, hitting a HR off St. Louis’ Cardinals future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

It was a two run shot helping the Mets win the game while clinching their first NL Eastern title at Shea Stadium, in front of 54,000 fans. It was the last regular season game of his career, as well as his last career HR. finally after eight losing seasons, Ed Charles played on a winning team.

Overall for the 1969 Amazing Mets, Charles appeared in 61 games, batting .207 with three HRs, eight doubles, one triple, four stolen bases & 18 RBIs in 169 at bats. But the Glider was more important to his team than the stats show, as many of the young players acknowledged his veteran leadership helped turn them into Champions.

Post Season: In the postseason, he platooned at third base with Wayne Garrett in the usual situations. Charles didn't see any action in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves right-handed pitchers, but did get a chance to play in the World Series. Charles dream came true, as he played in four World Series games going 2-15, for a .133 average.

In Game #2 in the top of the 9th inning at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Charles hit the first of three consecutive singles off Orioles pitcher Dave McNally. When he was on first base, he got the steal sign and took off as Jerry Grote singled to right field, Charles then glided into third base.

He would come around to score the game’s winning run on Al Weis’ base hit in the next at bat. In the bottom of the 9th with a runner on first & two outs, Jerry Koosman was relieved by Ron Taylor.

Charles took an extra couple of steps toward the third base line, just as the Orioles Brooks Robinson pulled the ball exactly where Charles was able to scoop it up. His throw was low but Don Clendenon dug it out of the dirt for the last out, giving the Mets their first ever World Series game victory.

Charles went hitless in games three & four, but he was on the field for the final out of the Series in Game #5. The image of him leaping in the air, with a big smile on his face, behind Jerry Grote & Jerry Koosman, as the last out was recorded at Shea Stadium, is forever etched in time as the Mets' celebrated the World Championship.

In the club house he said “We’re #1 in the world & you just can't get any bigger than this”. He appeared with the team on the Ed Sullivan show & got to recite a poem he wrote in 1962 at the ticker tape parade celebration.

Following the World Series, the Mets released Charles, and he decided to go out a winner, retiring at the age of 36. Charles always remained a dignified gentleman and was a class act all the way.

In his eight year career he batted .263 with 917 hits, 86 HRs, 421 RBIs, 147 doubles, 30 triples, 86 stolen bases a .330 on base % & 438 runs scored in 1005 games played.

He played in 279 Mets games batting .249 with 21 HRs 32 doubles 94 runs scored a .309 on base % & 102 RBIs. At third base he posted a .957 fielding % (83rd all time) turning 165 double plays making 122 errors in 942 games.

Retirement: Soon after retirement he worked for promotions for Buddha Records which distributed the 1969 Amazing Mets album.

He got to meet his hero Jackie Robinson in 1972 in Manhattan while putting together a line of baseball novelties. He then went on to scout for the Mets through the 1985 season.

He is credited for signing & Mets relief pitcher Neil Allen. Charles has worked with New York City’s Juvenile Justice Dept. helping kids in the Washington Heights section of the city as well as in the Bronx.

Charles was a frequent visitor at Shea Stadium, and still is at Citi Field, Spring Training, fantasy camps, and charity events. In 2007 he joined Mrs. Jackie Robinson along with Ralph Branca in honoring Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his breaking into the major leagues.

He made it a point to attend both Bob Murphy & Ralph Kiner Nights when they were honored at Shea Stadium.

Charles was at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 and on hand at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the 1969 Amazing Mets in 2009.

He still lives in New York City & said his only regret was not getting here sooner.

Life Long Mets Fan & Broadcaster: Gary Cohen (1988-2015)

Gary Cohen was born on April 29th, 1958 in Flushing New York. He was raised in Queens between Flushing & Jamaica attending the United Nations School.

He was true Mets fan idolizing Bud Harrelson, attending many games at Shea Stadium as a boy growing up. Cohen & his father were in the last section of Shea Stadium’s left field (Section 48) for Game #3 of the 1969 NLCS, making it all the way down to the field to get his piece of turf after the game, as the Mets won the pennant.

He attended Columbia University, graduating on the dean’s list while earning a degree in Political Science. He wanted to be a short stop following in Harrelson’s shoes but couldn’t hit well enough to remain on the baseball team. He loved basketball but was too short to play that sport.

He then moved into a broadcasting career, beginning by calling soccer games at Columbia University. From there he began to broadcast minor league baseball, for Boston's AAA Pawtucket club of the International League (1987-1988), the A ball Durham Bulls of the Carolina League (1986) and the A ball Spartanburg Spinners of the South Atlantic League (1983-1984). He would also do broadcast for Providence College basketball & football for Brown University.

His lifelong was to do to major league baseball, & at first he didn’t care what team would give hom a chance. But when it turned out to be the New York Mets, his dream came true. He grew up a fan of Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner as well as Marv Albert.

In 1988 he was called into the booth to work with Bob Murphy for one game. In his big chance he choked up & didn’t say anything. “Murph reached out with his hand and he patted my hand in a grandfatherly way as if to say don’t worry, you’re okay, you’ll be all right, and he just started talking and that took the pressure off,” said Cohen.

“He went out of his way to make it okay and I never forgot that, that’s going to always be my greatest memory,” The next season (1989) he became Murphy’s partner in the radio booth, filling in for Gary Thorne who left the position.

His smooth baritone voice & incredible knowledge for the game makes him a natural. He never stops studying the game he has loved & lived his whole life.

He once said in an interview in the Queens Tribune: The people who you’re talking to can’t see what you’re describing so you have to describe it as fully as you can. You can’t decide when you’re 21 that you want to be a baseball broadcaster, you have to have been a fan of the sport from the time you were little. You have to know the rules, you have to know the terminology, you have to know the history, and you have to keep up with it all the time.”

Cohen took over the as the Mets lead radio broadcaster when the great Bob Murphy retired after the 2002 season. He worked well with sidekick Howie Rose until 2006 when he became the Mets lead television broadcaster on the SNY network as well as the Mets local Chanell 11 games.

At this point he was teamed up with Mets legends Keith Hernandez & Ron Darling from the 1986 Championship squad.

The three have become a very popular team, and work very well together. They have formed a charity which can be accessed through the website: www.pitchinforagoodcause.org.

Gary’s signature calls are "It's outta here!" when a player hits a home run & "Swing and a miss, he struck him out!" after a big strike out.

In 2006 he returned to the radio booth since the Mets post season games were not televised on the local networks. He was behind the mike for the great Endy Chavez catch, robbing St. Louis Jim Edmonds of a HR.

In addition the Mets he has done baseball on the CBS Radio Network. Rose was also the radio voice for St. Johns basketball from 1995-2002 when WFAN lost its broadcasting rights.

Since then he has covered Seton Hall basketball on WABC, & has a brief run with New York Rangers hockey. He has done U.S.A. Men’s & Women’s Olympic Hockey on CBS Radio (1992-1994-1998)

Cohen is a listener of WFUV radio, lives in Connecticut with his wife Lynn, & has three daughters & two sons as well as three dogs.

Apr 27, 2016

Mets Pitcher Who Set Team Record For Most Consecutive Rookie Wins: Dillon Gee (2010 - 2014)

Dillon Kyle Gee was born April 28th 1986 in Cleburne, Texas. 
He pitched two no hitters in high school & then went on to a successful college career.

The six foot one right hander attended the University of Texas at Arlington, getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 22nd round in 2007.

Gee was 3-1 at Brooklyn in 2007 for the A ball Cyclones getting promoted to St. Lucie in 2008. After going 8-6 there with a 2.92 ERA (5th in the league) he was given the Sterling Award & named to the All Star team. That year he also led the Florida State League with the lowest walk rate in the league. He was pushed up to AA Binghamton where he went 2-0 allowing four runs in 18 innings pitched (1.33 ERA).

In 2009 he was limited to just nine games due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He recuperated well in 2010 going 13-8 for the Bisons with 165 strike outs in 161 innings although he posted a 4.96 ERA.

On September 7th he made his first major league start with a call up to pitch against the Washington Nationals. He pitched seven innings allowing just one run on two hits earning his first win. He also made Mets history becoming the first Met pitcher to record an RBI in his first career at bat. The hit was a single off Yunesky Maya scoring Ruben Tejada.

In his next decision he allowed three runs over seven innings but took a loss to the Atlanta Braves. He then went to Philadelphia & earned a win pitching another seven innings allowing two runs on five hits. In five starts that September he was 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA striking out 17 batters in 33 innings.

In 2011 Dillon Gee began the year pitching  three games at AAA Buffalo before getting back to the Mets pitching staff. In his first outing on April 17th, he pitched into the 6th inning, allowing just one run on five hits as he beat Tommy Hanson & the Atlanta Braves 3-2 at Turner Field. The Mets offense was led by Josh Thole who had two RBI singles.

Gee followed with his second start on April 23rd at Citi Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He won that one 6-4, pitching six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, striking out five. In the Mets 3rd inning Jason Bay & Ike Davis had back to back HRs. Bay would drive in three runs on the night & Daniel Murphy had two hits with two RBIs as well.

After three relief appearances & two no decisions Gee went on a roll winning five straight games, bringing some excitement to a dull Mets season.

On May 19th he pitched into the 8th inning, allowing just two hits, shutting out the Washington Nationals & beating Livan Hernandez in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

On May 25th Gee, gave up four runs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, exiting after six innings. But the Mets had a big five run 2nd inning, which included a two run double from Carlos Beltran & two runs being scored on walks with the bases loaded thanks to Cubs pitcher; Casey Coleman. Gee was now 4-0 on the season.

On May 30th, Gee went up against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. The Mets supported him with seven runs once again, Josh Tole leading the charge with two runs driven in. Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada & Angel Pagan all had three hits on the night. Gee struck out a season high batters, allowing three runs on five its over sven innings, getting to 5-0.

On June 4th, Gee bested his record to 6-0, tying a Mets rookie record for consecutive wins. That night he shut out the Atlanta Braves for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 5-0 win.

On June 10th he had his longest outing to date, going eight innings allowing just a run, in a 8-1 Mets win in Pittsburgh over the Pirates.

The 2011 Mets seemed to support Gee with runs more than any other pitcher. At this point the club was 31-32, six games back.

Gee pitched at least seven innings in four of these five straight wins, getting to 7-0 with a 3.05 ERA.

The 7-0 start set another Mets record for best start to a season by a rookie pitcher since Jon Matlack went 6-0 in 1972.

On June 21st he took his first loss in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland A's. He did not pitch as well in the second half of the season although he was 5-3 toward the end of the season. At the end of August he allowed just one earned run in two separate outings, both ending in victories where he pitched at least six innings.

For the season Gee led the Mets in wins (13) going 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA. He struck out 114 batters walked 71, hit 14 batters pitching in 160 innings in 30 games.

In 2012 he was penciled in as the 5th starter, but his first start didn't turn out so well.

He gave up four runs taking a loss to the Washington Nats pitching into the 6th inning. On April 16th, he pitched seven innings in Atlanta, beating the Braves 6-1 for his first win of the year. His next outing was bad as well, allowing seven runs & a career high twelve hits, to the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants.

In May he went 2-1 beating the Blue Jays in Toronto & the San Diego Padres, where he struck out a career high nine batters, at Citi Field. He followed with two decent outings pitching into the 7th inning both times, allowing two runs in each game but earned no decisions.

On June 9th he took a tough 4-2 loss in the subway series, bit followed up with a win over the Baltimore Orioles, striking out another nine batters. All in all in June he was 1-3 & his ERA had crept up to 4.42.

On July 7th he beat Jeff Samardzija & the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field, allowing just one run in eight innings of work. Following that start he felt a numbness in his arm & a blood clot was found in his throwing shoulder. He was shut down for the season, undergoing surgery in St. Louis on July 13th.

His season ended at 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA, 97 strike outs & 29 walks in 109 innings in 17 games. This was the first part of the downfall of the Mets as well, after the All Star break they suffered a horrible losing streak & never recovered.

In 2013 he returned to pitch six games in Spring Training, going 1-2 posting a 5.87 ERA. He struck out 18 batters walking nine in 23 innings of work. 

Gee got the start in the third Mets game of the year, it came at Citi Field against the San Deigo Padres. Although he allowed just one run on three hits over 6.1 innings, six Padres pitchers held the Mets to one run & they took a 2-1 loss. His next two starts did'y go so well as he first allowed seven runs to the Philadelphia Phillies & then five runs to the Colorado Rockies both on the road.

On April 21st, he finally got his first win, shutting out the Washington Nats over 5.2 innings in a 2-0 Mets win, giving Jordan Zimmermann his first loss of the year. Gee would lose three of his next four decisions in May & be 2-6 with a 6.34 ERA before turning things around.

On May 30th, he defeated the AL New York club in the subway series sweep, allowing just one run on four hits, pitching into the 8th inning. Gee struck out a season high 12 batters while earning the win. From there he pitched well winning three straight games & seven of nine decisions. He allowed just three runs in twenty innings over the three game win streak. On June 17th, he took a heart breaking loss at Atlanta after shutting out the Braves for 8 2/3 innings. He agave up a two run walk off HR to Freddie Freeman for the loss. 

On July 14th he finally got to the .500 mark with a win against a hot Pirates team in Pittsburgh. In his next start at Citi Field he again shut out the Braves, this time over seven innings but earned no decision as the Mets were blanked 2-0. In August he went 3-1, only allowing more than two runs in a game  once in six starts.

On August 19th he beat the Twins in Minnesota, allowing just one run into the eighth inning while striking out nine. On August 30th, he edged out 15 game winner Jordan Zimmermann again in a 3-2 Mets win, pitching into the 8th inning. Gee Pitched into the 7th inning or beyond twelve times during the year, all from May 30th on. 

He pitched well again & finally earned a win against the Braves on September 4th. He went 2-2 in September and also pitched  six shut out innings over the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 15th, but got no decision.

Although he wasn't as dominating as Matt Harvey was all year, he still led the Mets staff in wins with twelve (12-11) starts (32) & innings (199). He was second among starters in strike outs (142) & walked just 47 batters, whil pitching two complete games.

With Matt Harvey out for the 2014 season & an injury to Joantan Neise, Gee was named the Mets Opening Day starter. He earned the right with a good Spring Training performance & being one the Mets main pitchers, if not the main pitcher over the last three seasons. 

Gee pitched into the 7th inning on Opening day, allowing four runs, but the bullpen blew it for him as the Mets took a rare Opening Day loss 9-7 to the Washington Nats. He earned no decisions in his next two starts, allowing three runs or more both times. 

On April 16th he finally earned that first win, with his best game to date. Gee helped the Mets complete a sweep in Arizona, as he shut out the D-backs in seven innings, allowing just three hits. He took a 3-0 loss against Adam Wainwright & the St. Louis Cards next, but only allowed two runs in that start.

On April 27th he threw eight shut out innings against the Miami Marlins & then on May 4th six scoreless in Colorado to beat the Rockies, getting to a 3-1 record. It was back on the DL for Gee, as he missed two months of action, returning on July 9th. He was solid in that start throwing seven innings while allowing just one run to beat the Braves at Citi Field. But from there he earned five straight losing decisions over seven games. Gee closed out August with back to back victories & then went 1-2 in September. 

He finished out the year 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA, striking out 94 batters walking 43 in 137 innings making 22 starts. His wins & strike outs were the lowest among the starters & his 4.00 ERA was second highest to Bartolo Colon who was a 15 game winner.

In the off season Gee was the subject of many trade talks & rumors. He took it all in stride & went about his business realizing he couldn't do anything about it but pitch well. Although he was shopped there were no deals made. 

It was assumed Gee would pitch out of the bullpen or possible fight for a fifth spot in the rotation with Rafael Montero. When the Mets got news that Zach Wheeler needed Tommy John surgery & would miss the whole season, Gee found himself back in the rotation after having a solid Spring. 

His first start of 2015 came on April 11th in Atlanta, in the Braves home opener. A couple of Mets errors & Gee serving up five runs earned him his first loss.

In his six year career (through 4/15/15) he is 40-35 with a 3.95 ERA making 107 starts. He struck out 466 batters & walked 205 in 644 innings pitched.

Family: Dillon & his wife Kari Ann had their son born in November 2013.

Legendary Italian / American NY Giants Pitcher: Sal "The Barber" Maglie (1945 / 1950-1958)

Salvatore Anthony Maglie was born on April 26, 1917 in Niagara Falls, New York. His father Giuseppe came from a prosperous family in Italy but when he immigrated to America, his lack of education could only get him certain jobs for small pay. He ended up a pipe fitter who later ran a grocery store, and di well for himself. A young Sal would also work in that store, but had a love for baseball.

His parents wanted him to work and forget about sports. But Sal snuck out to play. He was a good basketball player too, even getting a scholarship in which he turned down. The six foot, two inch tall right hander, attended Niagara University where he played baseball becoming a pitcher.

At first he worked in the local Niagra chemical plants while pitching for company teams. After failing  a few tryouts, Maglie eventually began his pitching career with a semi pro team out of Buffalo, New York. There he was noticed by former big leaguer Steve O'Neill who gave him a shot. Maglie once beat the legendary Satchel Page in a 1-0 duel in those years.

He had some bad years with the AA Buffalo Bisons & fell down to the Pony League then to Class A, where he finally had a good year, winning 20 games. In 1942 he failed a physical & was not admitted to the US military during World War II. With many of the players getting drafted, Maglie was signed by the New York Giants in 1942.

After a poor year, he resigned & went back to work in the chemical plant for two years. He returned to baseball in 1945 pitching with AAA Jersey City Giants.

He would get called up for the Giants later that year & was already 28 years old. Maglie debuted on August 9th, 1945 pitching middle relief in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 14th, he got his first start & threw a complete game 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds, at the Polo Grounds. In early September he tossed back to back shut outs, beating the Phillies & Chicago Cubs. He finished up at 5-4 with a 2.35 ERA.

In 1946 he jumped over to the Mexican League in order to make more money, something other players had done also. The MLB Commissioner at the time Happy Chandler; then put a ban on players who jumped leagues. Maglie did not get a chance to return to the big leagues for another four years, 1950- when the ban was lifted. By this time he was 33 years old. 

But it was now, that the legend of Sal Maglie was to be born. He became known as "Sal the Barber," because he gave close shaves to the batters. Famous for throwing pitches up & in, under their chins. On the mound he would stare down, at his hitters with an angry look. He donned a five o’clock shadow, with a razor stubble beard, which added to his menacing look.

Quotes: Maglie said “When I’m pitching, the plate is mine”.

But off the mound he was a known as gentle, courteous, good-natured guy. One sports writer actually wrote" when Maglie spoke he sounded like a priest’s in a confessional ”.

Maglie was a key part to the success of the New York Giant teams of the early 1950s. He began the 1950 season in the bullpen and was 5-3 by late July, getting placed into the starting rotation.

From there on he was sensational, going on an incredible eleven game winning streak. In August he tossed five complete games going 6-0 with a save to his credit. On August 26th, he began a stretch were he threw four straight complete game shut outs. 

On August 26th he shut out the Cardinals in St. Louis although he gave up eleven hits he allowed no one to score. In his next start at Pittsburgh, he allowed just five hits while walking two batters, shutting out the Pirates 3-0. 

On September 4th, he defeated the Phillies 9-0, in the second game of a double header in Philadelphia. Then on September 9th, he beat Brooklyn's Preacher Rowe in a 2-0 win at the Polo Grounds.

He finished the year at 18-4 (8th most wins in the league) while leading the league in ERA (2.71) winning % (.818%) and shutouts (5). He struck out 96 batters in 206 innings coming in tenth place for the overall MVP Award. He was also second in the league with ten hit batters.

In the Giants miracle run of 1951, Maglie was the ace of the staff & arguably the best pitcher in the league. That year the rival Brooklyn Dodgers had two twenty game winners; Preacher Roe (22 wins) & Don Newcombe (20 wins).

But the Giants had two twenty game winners of their own; Maglie & Larry Jansen, who both won 23 games. Maglie (20-6) & Jansen tied for the league lead in wins.

On May 4th, he pitched a one hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, at the start of an eight game winning streak. In that stretch, he also tossed a two hit shut out against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Maglie would add a three hitter along the way & find himself at 15-4 by the end of July.

The Giants were ten games back at the start of August & were thought to be dead in the pennant race. They would go on an incredible come back stretch to tie the Dodgers by the last day of the season. From August 12th to the end of the season he was 8-1 with six complete game wins. In September alone, he beat the Brooklyn Dodgers three times. On September 9th, he beat Ralph Branca in a 2-1 win at Ebbetts Field.

On October 3rd he was the starting pitcher in one of the most famous games in baseball history. Maglie, shut out the Dodgers in the third & final game of the 1951 NL Playoff series forced by the tied record. He held down the Dodgers into the 8th inning, before surrendering four runs, leaving down 4-1. It seemed he would be the losing pitcher, until Bobby Thompson connected for the most famous walk off HR in history, sending the Giants to the World Series.

He finished up second in both ERA (2.93) & complete games (22). He struck out 146 batters (third in the league) pitched 298 innings & recorded four saves.

He made the All Star team and came in fourth in the MVP voting. (This was before the Cy Young Award was given to pitchers). At the plate he hit his first career HR, driving in five runs and batting .152. 

Post Season: In the 1951 World Series, Maglie took the loss in Game#4 of the World Series, losing at the Polo Gounds
to AL New York's Allie Reynolds. Reynolds had an extra days rest because of the previous day’s rain out. Sal gave up four runs on six hits in five innings pitched,  including a two run HR to Joe DiMaggio.

In 1952 he was already 35 years old & just in his third full season pitching in the majors. He had a great start to the season, beating the Philadelphia Phillies at the Polo Grounds on Opening Day, striking out eight batters.

In his second start he pitched a two hit shutout at Ebbets Field striking out eight Dodgers. Through his first nine starts he won every game, allowing more than two earned runs in only one of those games.

He was 11-2 with a 3.06 ERA entering July & made another All-Star team. He was undefeated in August as well going 3-0 with another shut out on August 19th, coming against the Chicago Cubs. He finished the year at 18-8 (second most wins in the NL) with a 2.92 ERA (tenth in the NL) pitching in 216 innings striking out 112 batters. Although he had such a great year, he was starting to have back issues, that would limit his effectiveness.

In 1953 his numbers began to decline as his age caught up to him slowly. He pitched in 27 games with 145 innings, eight less starts & 50 less innings than the previous year. His record slipped below .500 for the first time, with an 8-9 record.

He rebounded with 14 wins in the Giants 1954 Championship season, becoming the number three man on a staff. That group included; twenty game winner Johnny Antonelli & 17 game winner Ruben Gomez.

Maglie began the season with an Opening Day 4-3 win against Brooklyn at the Polo Grounds. He started out strong at 4-0 with a five hit shutout pitched on April 25th, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Phillies. In the month of July, he went 4-1 with a pair of saves added in relief efforts.

Over the last two months of the year, he pitched well but had seven no decisions going 3-1 in that time. On the season he went 14-6 (9th most wins in the NL) with two saves, striking out 117 batters (8th in the NL) in 218 innings pitched, posting a 2.96 ERA (8th in the NL).

For his efforts he even received votes for the MVP Award, coming in 22nd in that voting.

Post Season: In 1954 “The Barber” opened up the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, in Game #1 at the Polo Grounds. Just like the 1951 Series, Maglie had a troubled first inning.

Cleveland lead-off batter; Al Smith singled, then the 1954 AL batting champ Bobby Avila singled as well. Maglie was then able to retire Larry Doby on a grounder and Al Rosen on a pop-up. Then Vic Wertz came to the plate & doubled to deep right-center and the Indians had a 2-0 lead. This was enough for Leo Durocher to get Don Liddle to warm up in the bull pen.

Maglie reared back to get the next out. The Giants eventually tied the game & Maglie then cruised all the way to the eighth inning. He was relieved going 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, with two walks & two strike outs.

Don Liddle did relieve Maglie & gave up a long fly ball off the bat of Vic Wertz. It resulted in the famous Willie Mays over the shoulder catch, perhaps the most famous defensive play in baseball history. The Giants went on to win it in the bottom of the 10th on a three-run walk off pinch hit HR by Dusty Rhodes. Maglie got no decision & did not get another appearance in the four game Series sweep.

The following season, Maglie struggled suffering from back issues, in 23 games he was 9-5 with a 3.75 ERA into July when he was placed on waivers. He was picked up by the Cleveland Indians where he finished the year going 0-2.

In 1956 he began the year in Cleveland but after two games, he was purchased by his long time rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers for $1000. He made a great comeback and pitched great down the pennant stretch.

On June 4th he pitched a three hit shutout at Milwaukee to defeat the Braves. On August 14th he pitched seven scoreless innings against his old Giants team mates earning no decision in Brooklyn's 3-1 loss.

On September 1st he beat them at the Polo Grounds, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings pitched. On September 25th, Maglie had his best game of all, throwing a no hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies at Ebbetts Field.

Years later he said "The last pitch I threw was a fastball, low and outside. Marty Blaylock was the batter and he hit the pitch on the ground to the second baseman, Jim Gilliam. Gilliam scooped it up and threw him out to end the game." The game would put Brooklyn just 1/2 game behind the Milwaukee Braves in the battle for first place. Four days later Maglie beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a double header securing the Dodgers spot in first place, clinching at least an NL tie.

On the year he was 13-5, with the league's third best winning % (.733%) He had nine complete games & 2.87 ERA (4th best in the NL) helping the Boys of Summer win another the Pennant.

On the mound he also posted a perfect .1000 fielding %. He finished second to team mate Don Newcombe in the first balloting for the Cy Young Award, and was also second to Newcombe in MVP voting.

Post Season: Maglie opened the 1956 World Series against the AL New York club with a 6-3 complete game win at Ebbets Field, striking out ten batters. He was the opposing pitcher in Game #5 when Don Larsen threw his famous perfect game. Maglie was also good on that day, allowing just two runs on five hits, but obviously took the loss. Maglie went 1-1 in that Series allowing five runs in 18 innings, pitching two complete games and striking out 15.

In 1956 he appeared on the TV show what's my line, where blind folded celebrities try to guess who a person is by questioning.

He went 8-6 the next season, ending up on the A.L New York club at the end of the season. He became one of very few players to have played on all three New York clubs before the Giants & Dodgers left for California. He began 1958 in the A.L. & then finished his career with the St. Louis Cardinals going 3-7 for the entire 1958 season.

In his ten year career, Maglie was 119-62 with 14 saves, throwing 25 shut outs (173rd all time) with 93 complete games, posting a 3.15 ERA (228th all time). He compiled a .657 winning %, 19th all time & was the ninth best in history when he retired. Maglie struck out 862 batters with 562 walks in 1723 innings.

Although he was known as the Barber, and did come in the top ten in his league, four times in hit by pitches, he hit just 44 batters in his entire career.

Retirement: After his playing days Sal served two terms as pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox (1960-1962/ 1966-1967). In 1969 he was also the pitching coach for the Seattle Pilots, in their only year of existence.

Many pitchers gave Maglie credit as as he became a well respected pitching coach. Hall of Fame Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale & 1967 Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg both credited Maglie with teaching them how to master pitching inside to hitters. Red Sox pitcher (future Met coach) Bill Monbouquette also gave credit to Maglie when he struck out 17 batters in a 1961 game.

During the Red Sox Impossible Dream season of their 1967 pennant, Maglie was the teams pitching coach but there were issues. He had signed a two year deal & when new manager Dick Williams came along, they didn't get along. Williams wanted his own guy.

Also that year, Maglie's wife Kay died of cancer & ate 49 he was a widower with two sons. After the Sox won the pennant, they lost the World Series in seven games to the Boston Red Sox & Maglie was fired the next day. He was outraged at Williams & publicly said so. He the got the job in Seattle with Pilots.

After baseball he worked as a wholesale liquor salesman & a coordinator for the Niagra Falls Convention Bureau.

Maglie’s reputation made him a popular New York favorite & he appeared at many Mets old timers games.
 Family: Maglie married to his first wife Kay back in 1941. While with the Giants, they lived in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York. They adopted two boys, one made a career in the Air Force. Sadly the other son, had issues with drugs & alcohol after his mothers death. He passed away in 1982.

Sal Maglie suffered a brain aneurysm in 1981 but did recover. After the death of his son, his health deteriorated & he was placed in a Nursing Home in 1987. He passed away in Niagara Falls, New York in 1992 at age 75.

Honors: Maglie is inducted in The Italian American Sports Hall of Fame & has a baseball stadium named after him, in his home town of Niagara Falls. A highly acclaimed book about his life in & out of baseball was written by Judith Testa in 2007.