Dec 10, 2018

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Regular Season Left Fielder: Derek Bell (2000)

Derek Nathan Bell was born December 11, 1968 in Tampa, Florida. The right handed hitting six foot two Bell, was selected in the second round of the 1987 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was 18 years old right out of high school.

In the minors he won a batting title at the A ball level batting .346 at Myrtle Beach. He later won the International League MVP at AAA Syracuse batting .349 with 93 RBIs & a .424 on base %. He was one of the minor leagues top outfield prospects by 1991 making his debut in Toronto that September.

Bell spent two brief seasons in Toronto before getting traded to the San Diego Padres for Darrin Jackson. Bell became a regular outfielder in San Diego hitting 21 HRs with 26 stolen bases & 72 RBIs in his first season there.

Drama: In 1994 although he hit .311 with a .354 on base % while stealing 24 bases he was involved in some highly publicized drama, in New York City before a Mets, Padres game at Shea Stadium. Bell & Scott Sanders were arrested for trying to pay an undercover police woman to perform oral sex. The Padres organization was totally embarrassed and Bell was gone at the end of the year.

He was involved in a huge 12 played deal sending him to the Houston Astros with five other players in exchange for Ken Caminitti & Steve Finley. Bell had his best seasons in Houston, as one of the “Killer B’s” getting to three straight post seasons there.

In 1995 he hit a career best .334 (4th best in the NL). The next year he hit 40 doubles, driving in 113 runs, striking out 126 times. The next year he hit a career high 22 HRs batting over .300 (.314) for the third & last time in his career, posting a .364 on base %.

The troubled Bell acted up again in Houston when he criticized manager Larry Dierker for dropping him to the sixth spot in the lineup. It came on the night Dierker had returned, from emergency brain surgery after passing out in the dugout earlier in the season. His team mates were not happy & the Astros fans were furious with him as well. Bell had worn out his welcome in Houston & his days were numbered.

Just before Christmas 1999 the Astros agreed to trade pitcher Mike Hampton to the Mets. They said the only way the deal would be made, was if the Mets took Bell as well as Hampton, in exchange for Roger Cedeno & Octavio Dotel.

Bell was thrilled to come to New York, "Christmas came early for me. I'm very happy” he told the press that week. He started out 1999 as the Mets regular right fielder, batting in the sixth spot on Opening Day in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. Six days later he was a Shea Stadium Opening Day hero, hitting a game winning 8th inning HR off Donnie Wall & his former Padres team mates.

The next week he had 12 hits in a five game span winning the NL Player of the week award. He hit safely in 15 of the next 18 games, collecting 36 hits during that span, with 13 multi hit games getting his average near .400.

On May 5th he had a game winning hit off Byung Hyun Kim to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the 9th inning.

In the subway series on June 9th, Mike Piazza hit a grand slam HR off Roger Clemens. That day Bell had an RBI single & then a two run double both off Clemens piling up the runs. Later in the game he hit a three run HR off Todd Eros as the Mets went on to a 12-2 romp. 

In the first week of July he hit three HRs while driving in 14 runs, including three games with three or more runs driven in. On July 1st he doubled in two runs & hit a two run HR in a 9-1 win over the Braves at Shea Stadium. Later that week on the road trip to Florida he hit HRs & drove in runs in back to back games. He then drove in a run in three straight home subway series games. It was his best overall month with five HRs 19 RBIs & six multi hit games.

He kept himself over the .300 mark until early August. On August 7th in Houston he hit a 9th inning HR off Octavio Dotel to break a 5-5 tie & win the game for New York against his old Astro team mates.In September he slumped off driving in just five runs in the month.

Bell ended up the Mets 2000 NL Pennant season hitting .266 with 18 HRs 31 doubles 68 RBIs & tied for the team lead with 8 stolen bases. He led the team in at bats (546) as well as strikeouts (125).

Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLDS, Bell sprained his ankle and went down for the rest of the post season. The injury opened the door for Timo Perez who enjoyed some brief success during the playoffs. Bell's contract expired at the end of the season, and the Mets didn’t peruse him.

He signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates but only hit .173 in Spring Training. He was told he needed to compete for an outfield position & the troubled Bell erupted again. He claimed he was going into Operation shutdown, saying he hasn't had to compete for a starting job since 1991.

The Pirates paid him his salary but released him and the troubled soul of Derek Bell never resurfaced again.

In his 11 year career he hit .276 with 1262 hits 134 HRs 668 RBIs 232 doubles 15 triples a .336 on base % & 170 stolen bases.

Drama: In 2008 he was arrested again on drug charges in Tampa Florida.

Former Met Who Came Over In Exchange For Len Dykstra & Roger McDowell: Juan Samuel (1989)

Juan Milton Samuel was born on November 10, 1960 in the Dominican Republic. The five foot eleven right hand hitting Samuel, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 1980 by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The free swinging second baseman swung at anything in his direction & struck out quite often. He once said about getting out of his native country & getting into the majors "You don't walk off the Island, You Hit."

After hitting .320 at A ball in 1982 he went through the minors in 1983 batting .330 with 15 HRs at AAA ball, playing in 65 games. He got a September call up & saw action in the post season as a pinch runner & one at bat in the World Series (0-1) against the Baltimore Orioles.

Samuel was penciled in as the Phillies 1984 second baseman & came flying out of the gate. He became the first player in history to reach double figures in HRs, doubles, triples & stolen bases in his first four seasons.

He also would lead the lead in strike out in those same four seasons, striking out over 100 times six straight years. In his career he struck out over 100 times eight seasons.

In his rookie year he led the NL in triples with an incredible 19, hit 36 doubles, stole 72 bases (2nd in the NL) & hit .272 with 15 HRs. He made the All Star team & even got some votes for the MVP Award. He also led the NL in at bats (701) plate appearances (737) & errors made at second base (33). He was never a great infielder making quite a bit of errors at second base and eventually moved to the outfield.

Samuel spent six years in Philadelphia, hitting a high of 28 HRs with 100 RBIs in 1987, again leading the league in triples (15) at bats, plate appearances, strike outs & errors at second base. By 1988 his numbers had dropped off 12 HRs, 67 RBIs, .243 batting average although he was still stealing over 30 bases a year. The Phils were ready to move him & got one of the best deals of the eighties.

The Mets on the other hand were getting itchy because they had not reached the World Series again since 1986 & made one of their worst trades of that period. In June of 1989 the Mets traded away Lenny Dykstra & Rodger McDowell for Mr. Samuel.

He came to New York to become the Mets centerfielder and in July the team would also trade away Mookie Wilson. This had failure written all over it. Dykstra went on to win an NL MVP Award down the road in Philadelphia & Samuel was gone playing in Los Angeles by the next season.

Samuel made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on June 19th against the Montreal Expos, he went hitless but drew a walk & stole a base. He hit his first Mets HR right before the All Star break & was batting .250 in the leadoff spot at the break. He began August with four straight multiple hit games, scoring five runs in that time.

It seemed he'd only drive in runs when the Mets were having big games, but on September 5th he singled off Chicago's Mitch Williams in the bottom of the 9th inning for a walk off win. He finished the year batting .228 with just 3 HRs 13 doubles 1 triple 28 RBIs & 75 strikeouts in 86 games since coming to the Mets. His best stat was his 31 stolen bases; a very good number considering his on base % was only .299%.

As for centerfield he only made three errors out there, posting a .986 fielding% with four assists. Right before Christmas he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Marshall & Alejandro Pena.

Samuel was never the top player he was in his early days, in Los Angeles he hit .271 with 12 HRs 58 RBIs & 23 steals in 1991 his best year in the two seasons he spent there. He became more of a utility player going to Kansas City, Detroit, Cincinnati & Toronto where he spent his last four seasons.

He retired in 1998 after 16 seasons with 1578 hits 287 doubles 12 triples 161 HRs 396 stolen bases 703 RBIs a .315 on base % & a .259 batting average.

Retirement: After baseball Samuel became a coach with the Detroit Tigers from 1999-2006, that year he returned to the Mets organization as manager of the Binghamton Mets. 

He went to the Baltimore Orioles as their third base coach from October 2006 – 2010 serving as interim manager after Dave Trembley's dismissal in 2010.

From 2011 to 2017 he was the Philadelphia Phillies third base coach after former Met coach Sam Perlozzo moved over to first base. The new regime of Phillies coaches did not retain Samuel. At age 57 he found himself not involved with baseball for the first time in four decades.

Honors: In 2008 he was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park.

Short Time Mets Infielder Who Scored the Winning Run of the 2001 World Series: Jay Bell (2003)

Jay Stuart Bell was born on December 11th 1965 in Pensacola Florida. The slim six foot Jay Bell was an outstanding shortstop prospect getting drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins (8th pick overall) in 1984.

A year later he was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Bert Blyleven. He made it to the Indians big league club by 1986 but there wasn't much room for him with Julio Franco playing short stop having some big years.

In 1989 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a steal of deal for the Steel City. He played there seven years getting to three straight post seasons (1990-1992) losing each time in the NLCS. He would lead all NL short stops in fielding twice, put outs three times assists & games played five times each. He would win a Gold Glove in 1993 & make his first All Star team that year as well. He hit a career best .310 that season with 9 HRs 32 doubles 51 RBIs & a .391 on base %.

He was an excellent sacrifice hitter leading the league twice in that category (1990 & 1991). He hit HRs in each of his post season series with Pittsburgh, driving in four runs in 1992 against the Atlanta Braves. As his contract year was approaching he was traded to the Kansas City Royals with Jeff King for Joe Randa Jeff Granger, and Jeff Wallace.

As the era of inflated stats began Bell also saw an increase in his numbers. In 1997 he hit 21 HRs with 28 doubles 92 RBIs and a .291 batting average. After one year in K.C. he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamond Backs.

He would spend five years there getting to two more post seasons including a World Championship in 2001. He had a monster year in 1999 as he was now a full time second baseman, making the All Star team & getting votes for the MVP Award.

He hit 38 HRs with 32 doubles 112 RBIs a .289 average & a .374 on base %. He hit .286 with three RBIs in the NLCS against the New York Mets. He never matched those numbers again, in 2001 he hit .249 with 13 HRs 24 doubles & 46 RBIs as Arizona went all the way to an improbable World Series win.

2001 Post Season: By this point in his career he was sharing time with Craig Counsel & Junior Spivey. He saw action in three post season games but they were certainly memorable. He was 1-4 in the NLDS against St. Louis & then 0-4 against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

He then saw action in three games of the World Series & was in the center of action for the most memorable moment in D-backs history. In Game #6 of the 2001 World Series, Bell got the start and had two hits with an RBI in the Diamond Backs 15-2 victory. In the classic Game #7, Bell pinch hit for pitcher Randy Johnson in the 9th inning with two men on base. He sacraficed but the runner was forced at third base as he reached first safely.

After Tony Womack doubled to tie the game, Bell was on third base when Luis Gonzales hit his famous bloop single to centerfield. Bell ran in from third base & scored the game winning walk off run off Mariano Rivera. The D-backs won the World Series as Bell came home clapping his hands & jumping in joy.

He played one more year in Arizona enjoying the Championship reign, then signed on with the New York Mets for 2003, his final season.

Bell made his Mets debut on Opening Day going 0-1 as a pinch hitter. He would see action in 72 games, usually as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch hitter or getting a start when a regular rested. He was most versatile, behind Ty Wigginton at third base (14 games) Roberto Alomar at second base (13 games) Jose Reyes at short (12 games) & Jason Phillips at first base (13 games). He hit just .181, with no HRs one double & three RBIs (21-116) drawing 22 walks giving him a .319 on base %.

He retired from playing at the end of the season, finishing his 18 year career batting .265 with 1963 hits 195 HRs 394 doubles 67 triples 860 RBIs & a .343 on base %.

Defensively at short stop he posted a career .975 fielding % (44th all time) with 2309 put outs (81st all time) 4595 assists (62nd all time) playing in 1515 games (63rd most all time).

Retirement: Bell coached Team USA in the 2010 & 2011 Pan American games, as well as the 2011 Baseball World Cup. He then worked for the AA Mobile Bay Bears as hitting coach in the D-backs organization later that year.

Dec 9, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1973) Utility Man Ted Martinez's Big Four RBI Game

Monday September 3, 1973: Yogi Berra's New York Mets (64-73) were just 5 1/2 games out of first place, although they were still in fifth place.

They had five teams to jump over but went 18-6 winning 18 of their last 24 games to capture the NL East title.

Today hosted Danny Ozark's Philadelphia Phillies (63-75 just 7 games back).

It was a Labor Day doubleheader at Shea Stadium in front of 30,748 fans. The Phils had veteran left hander & future Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton go up against lefty Jerry Koosman.

Starting Lineups

The Met bats were asleep for this game, except for utility infielder Teddy Martinez, who was inserted 8th in the line up as that days third baseman.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Rusty Staub & Don Hahn walked & Jerry Grote had siingled to load the bases. Ted Martinez came to bat with the bases loaded against Carlton. He delivered with a single driving in Staub with his first RBI of the night.

In the bottom of the 4th, Martinez hit his only HR of the season (he only hit seven HRs in 1480 career at bats) this was a solo shot also coming off Carlton.

In the 5th inning; Rusty Staub reached on an error & walks to Cleon Jones & an intentional pass to Don Hahn loaded them up again for Martinez. He teed off again off Carlton, as he doubled to right field scoring both Jones & Staub making it 5-0. Staub would have two hits & score two runs on the night.

Martinez finished off his career day with an 8th inning single, finishing up with four hits, a HR & four RBIs. On the 1973 season, Martinez batted .255 with one HR 11 doubles & 14 RBIs in 263 at bats. Koosman pitched a seven hit complete game shut out 

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Utility Player: Teddy Martinez (1971-1974)

Teodoro Noel Martinez was born on December 10, 1947 in Barahona, Dominican Republic. The slim six foot infielder was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets in 1966 at the age of 19. 

At A ball in 1968, he hit over .300 and played a solid defensive infield. By 1970 he was hitting .306 with 13 stolen bases at AAA Tidewater, and posting a .966 fielding %.

Martinez made his MLB debut on July 18th 1971 playing second base & batting 8th in a game against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. He stayed up for a brief four games that week, getting one hit in 16 at bats. He hit .297 at AAA Tidewater in 1971, as the clubs main second baseman. That July he got another call up filling in mostly at shortstop that month. He hit safely in his first four games, with another four game streak at the end of the month.

He hit his first career HR on September 7th against Nelson Briles of that seasons world champion Pittsburgh Pirates. He managed to get into over 90 games in each of the next three seasons as a utility middle infielder, also playing some outfield. In 38 games he hit .288 with 10 RBIs six stolen bases & 16 runs scored.

In 1972 he made the Mets Opening Day roster, and would see action in 102 games as a utility infielder. On May 5th his 14th inning single drove home the winning run against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving the Mets a walk off win keeping them in first place at that time. On May 18th his 1st inning triple scored Willie Mays & then after an error at home plate , Martinez himself scampered home. The Mets would win the game 2-0.

In late September he had one of his biggest offensive days of the year, gathering up three hits with two RBIs in a 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium. On October 1st he ended his season by hitting a surprise three run HR off the Pirates Bob Miller in a 7-3 Mets win at Three River Stadium.

The speedy Martinez, led the Mets in triples (5) & was third in stole bases (7). Martinez batted .228 hitting a HR five doubles and driving in 19 runs. Martinez posted a .994 fielding percentage at second base in 47 games, making one error turning nine double plays. He played 42 games at short posting a .983 %, making just three errors in 175 chances. The versatile Martinez even played 15 games in the outfield as well.

In 1973 the Mets acquired the steady second baseman; Felix Millan who never missed any time, so Teddy only played behind Bud Harrelson at short. He filled in when Harrelson went down with an injury, that season missing some time. He would play in 44 games at short posting .941 fielding % making 11 errors in 187 chances, while turning 12 double plays. He also played in 21 games in the outfield when needed. 

He was in the middle of all the excitement on the second game of the season, even though he did not start the game. Martinez came in to run for Ed Kranepool, in the 9th inning of a 2-2 tie, after Eddie had singled against the Phillies Dick Selma (former Met). He advanced on a fielder's choice, then scored the game winning run on Willie Mays' base hit.

On June 27th in the first game of a double header, he doubled driving in a run in the Mets seven run third inning against the Phillies. The Mets barley held on winning 7-6. In the night cap his RBI sac fly was the only run the Mets scored in the 7-1 loss.

He saw a lot of action in August hitting safely in 13 of 22 games. He only saw action in seven games of the Mets incredible September stretch, but contributed on September 3rd with his biggest game of the year. 

With the Mets still 5 1/2 games out of first place in a tight race, Martinez led the team to victory with a four hit day. He drove in four runs in a Jerry Koosman 5-0 shutout over Steve Carlton & the Phillies at Shea Stadium. 

In that game Martinez hit his only HR of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning. He had come up twice with the bases loaded, (2nd inning & 5th inning) delivering both times with hits, including a double.

As all the Mets regulars got healthy in the final month, Martinez didn't see much playing time as the Mets went on a tear & won the Eastern Division. He did score two key runs in the final weeks of the season.

On September 9th in Pittsburgh, the Mets were down 4-1 to the first place Pirates, two & half games back. They came back with a big inning scoring five runs, led by a Wayne Garrett triple & RBI singles from Ron Hodges & Don Hahn. Martinez had come in to run for Hodges & scored what turned out to be the winning run.

On September 20th at Shea Stadium, in the game now known as "the ball off the wall game", he came in as a pinch runner after pinch hitter Jim Beachump singled off the first place Pirates, Jim Rooker. With the Mets down by a run, Wayne Garrett sacrificed Martinez over to second. He then scored on a Felix Millan base hit, tying the game.

The Pirates went ahead in the 9th but the Mets tied it up. In the 13th inning the Pirates Dave Augustine hit a ball that hit the top of the wall, came back in to Cleon Jones, who threw to Wayne Garrett who threw home to catcher Ron Hodges & nailed Richie Zisk trying to score. Hodges won it with a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th.

He played in 92 games overall, batting .255 with 67 hits, 11 doubles, 14 RBIs & five stolen bases. In the World Series he made two appearances as a pinch runner against the Oakland A's.

In 1974 he appeared in a career high 116 games, 75 of them at shortstop for an injured Bud Harrelson. He posted a .952 fielding % making 17 errors with a career high 32 double plays turned. 

He also played at second (11 games) third (12 games) & in the outfield (10 games) also filling in as a pinch hitter. Early in the season in May, he had a stretch where he drove in two runs in a game four times in a nine game span.

On July 7th, he led the offense in Tom Seaver's three hit shutout in San Francisco. Martinez had three hits & drove in four of the Mets six runs.

On July 28th he had a three RBI day, including a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 8th inning, scoring two runs in the Mets 4-1 win over the Montreal Expos. 

He helped an August 26th come comeback with a pinch hit RBI double against the Houston Astros in the 9th inning. He then scored the tying run on Felix Millan's base hit & Rusty Staub won it walk off style with another single scoring Bud Harrelson.

Teddy again led the team in triples with seven, batting .219 with a career high two HRs, 15 doubles 14 walks and 43 RBIs. 

That winter the Mets traded him to the St. Louis Cards in order to get two players, outfielder Mike Vail & infielder Jack Heidemann. As of December 2018 he is 84th all time in Mets games played.

After batting only .190 in 19 games he was traded to the Oakland A's batting .172 for the AL Western Champions. Martinez saw action in 45 games behind All Star short stop, Bert Campaneris. 31 games behind Phil Garner at second &14 games behind All Star Sal Bando at third. Martinez played a superb defense. at each spot. 

He made three appearances in the ALCS, as the A's lost to the Boston Red Sox ending their three year Dynasty reign as World Champions.

He spent 1976 in the minors then got picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers, as a utility infielder. In Los Angeles he was part of two straight NL pennant seasons in 1977 & 1978. 

On August 21st, 1977 he tied a NL second baseman record, by turning five double plays in a game. He hit a career high .299 in 67 games that season, with a HR & 10 RBIs, while stealing three bases.

In 1978 he appeared in 54 games for L.A batting .255. hitting another HR with 5 RBIs & stealing three more bases.  He did not appear in any post season games for the Dodgers, either year. 

Martinez would play one more year in Los Angeles, finishing up his nine season career in 1979.

Overall he played in 657 games, batting .240, with 355 Hits, 50 Doubles, 16 Triples, 7 HRs, 108 RBI, 29 Stolen Bases, scoring 165 Runs and a .270 on base %.

At short he posted a .956 fielding % in 282 games turning 102 double plays, making 46 errors in 1038 chances. At second he posted a .994% in 168 games. In his Mets career he played in 353 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he has been a long time hitting coach for the Sinon Bulls, now in the Dodgers organization.

Dec 8, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1973): An Unusual Double Play Tops Off Rusty Staub's Big Day

Saturday June 9th 1973: Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (34-23) were in town in front of 47,800 fans at Shea for a Saturday matinee.

Yogi Berra's Mets (23-27) were still in fifth place in the season that would win them the NL Pennant. The man who would serve up Hank Aaron's famous 715th career HR, Al Downing would go against the Mets young lefty, Jon Matlack.

Starting Lineups

In the top of the 1st, Davey Lopes led off with a double & advanced to third on a Bill Buckner hit. He then scored on Willie Davis' grounder to second.

In the Mets home 1st, Teddy Martines led off with a base hit & advanced on a fielders choice. Willie Mays then drew a walk putting runners on the corners for "Le Grande Orange" Rusty Staub. Staub blasted a double to left field that scored but Mets runners & it was a 2-1 game.

In the 3rd the pesky Lopes bunted for a base hit. He advanced when Matlack committed an error in a pick off attempt. Lopes then stole third & scored on Bill Buckner's sac fly. 2-2 game.

In the bottom of the third, Hall of Fame New York hero, Willie Mays excited the fans with his 655th career HR, putting the Mets ahead with what turned out to be the winning run.

Strange Double Play: In the top of the 7th inning, a most unusual play occurred. Tom Paciorek led off with a double & Davey Lopes then singled putting runners on the corners. Lopes then made his move to steal second base, he gets caught in a run down play, as first baseman John Milner takes the throw he throws to short stop Jim Fregosi, who throws back to Milner who then throws to second baseman Felix Millan who tosses back to Milner who toss to Millan who eventually throws to right fielder Rusty Staub, now covering second, he takes the throw & tags out Lopes. Staub then fires to catcher Duffy Dyer nailing Paciorek who attempted to score on the play. Your usual 1-3-6-3-4-3-4-7-2 double play if you were keeping score!

In the 8th inning, Staub continued his big day, with Felix Millan aboard after collecting a base hit Staub doubled to left bringing in Millan with the Mets fourth run.

Jon Matlack went the distance nine innings, two runs, one earned, struck out four & walked three while scattering seven hits.

Mid to Late Seventies Mets Outfielder: Bruce Boisclair (1974-1979)

Bruce Armand Boisclair was born December 9, 1952 in Putnam, Connecticut. The tall slender six foot two, outfielder was drafted in the 20th round of the 1970 draft by the New York Mets. In 1972 he hit .348 at A ball Visalia, by far the best he average he ever hit for in his pro career. That season he also hit a minor league career high four HRs.

He was known for his base stealing as he stole 20 base at A ball Pompano Beach in 1971, followed by 16 more in 1972 with Visalia .In 1974 he played at AAA Tidewater, where he stole ten bases & batted .239 good enough to earn a September call up.

Boisclair made his MLB debut as a pinch runner, on September 11th, 1974 in a classic extra inning game. He entered the game as a pinch runner, in the 23rd inning of the Mets/ Cardinals marathon. He actually reached third base with two outs, but Cleon Jones flied out to end the inning. He went 3-12 that month and spent the next full season at AAA Tidewater where he hit .278 & stole 20 bases.

He returned to the Mets squad in the bicentennial year, making the club as a fourth outfielder. He took over Rusty Staub’s old uniform number 4, after Staub had been traded to the Detroit Tigers that off season. Boisclair had ten hits in an April stretch where he hit safely in seven of nine games.

On April 27th, the Mets came back from a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the 9th inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves. After John Milner tied the game up, Boisclair won it with a walk off double off Pablo Torrealba. He didn't drive in another run for two months, but he hit well enough playing as a reserve to remain over .300 into late July. On July 15th he had a 7th inning pinch hit, RBI single off the Houston Astros J.R. Richard helping the Mets to a 3-1 win.

On August 15th he helped Jerry Koosman in his five hit shut out win against the World Champion Big Red Machine, by driving in the only run of the game. On August 28th he hit his first career HR coming off the Los Angeles Dodgers Rick Rhoden at Shea Stadium. He had another hot streak hitting safely in 16 of 20 games toward the end of the season.

On the season he hit a solid .287, with two HRs 13 doubles 13 RBIs 28 walks & a .350 on base % playing in 110 games with 286 at bats. The tall Boisclair still had his speed, and led the slow footed Met team with nine stolen bases.

Showing some promise for a good future, he returned next year starting out April hitting safely in 9 of 11 games. He drove in three runs against the Chicago Cubs on April 17th, in one of Tom Seaver's last wins in a Mets uniform, a 6-0 shutout. Boisclair went on a hot streak, driving in a total of ten runs in his next eight games. He was batting .364 at the end of April but in May fell off to .286 driving in just one run all month.

He had two more three hit games the week of May 21st & was consistent throughout the year when he played. On June 15th, the night Tom Seaver was traded away in "The Midnight Massacre" Boisclair hit a two run HR, at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in the Mets 6-5 win.

On August 22nd he drove in both runs of a Mets 2-1 win over J.R. Richard & the Houston Astros. In September he drove in 14 runs and kept his season average up near .300 & had six multi hit games. In the last week of the season he drove in runs in five of seven games. On the season he hit a career best .293 in 307 at bats. He also had career highs in on base (.359 %) doubles (21) RBIs (44) & hits (90) while leading the team in sacrifice hits as well.

In 1978 he began the year in hitting a two run HR in the third game of the season, in a tight 6-5 win over the Montreal Expos. On April 19th, he drove in both runs of a 2-0 Pat Zachary shut out against the Cardinals in St. Louis. ON May 8th he drove in the winning run off Pedro Borbon in the top of the 10th inning at Cincinnati, scoring Lenny Randle. At the end of May he drove in runs in three straight games, including hitting a three run HR in the first game if a May 29th double header.

Bruce’s career soon took a nose dive, he only drove in four runs in the last four months of the season & his batting average plummeted to. 224 on the season.

In 1978 he played in 107 games (214 at bats) with 4 HRs 7 doubles 15 RBIs & a .293 on base %. By 1979 he only played in 59 games partly due to July injuries & partly due to his .184 batting average.

In 98 at bats he had six extra base hits with four RBIs & a poor .210 on base %. He was released at the start of the 1980 season, and then went to Japan to play for the Hanshin Tigers.

He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays but never resurfaced in the majors again. He finished his brief five season career with a .263 lifetime average, 241 hits 10 HRs 47 doubles 6 triples 18 stolen bases a .324 on base % & 77 RBIs in 410 games played.

Former New York Giants Italian / American Star Catcher: Gus Mancuso (1933-1938)

August Rodney Mancuso was born on December 5, 1905 in Galveston, Texas. The Italian American catcher was known as Gus or the nickname “Blackie”. 

He began his career in St. Louis in 1928 with the Cardinals and played on two pennant winners in 1930 & 1931 as a back up to Jimmie Wilson. In 1931 Mancuso played in 56 games as catcher & threw out a league leading 54% of would be base stealers. The 1931 Cardinal team won the World Series beating Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's after losing to them the prior season. In 1932 he became the teams regular catcher although they fell to sixth place in the NL.

In 1933 Mancuso got traded along with Ray Starr to the New York Giants for Ethan Allen, Jim Mooney, Bob O'Farrell and Bill Walker. In New York he would become one of the best catchers in the game during the 1930’s. Manager Bill Terry credits Mancuso with turning the pitching staff around and helping the Giants go from sixth place to winning the World Series in 1933. They would also win two more pennants in 1936 & 1937.

Mancuso helped a great Giants pitching staff become one of the game's best, as he caught Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell's screwball and three other Giants greats; sinker baller Hal Schumacher, knuckle baller Freddie Fitzsimmons & Roy Parmalee. Not only did he handle a pitching staff well, It was almost impossible to steal on Mancuso.

He would throw out 50% or more of would be base runners seven times in his career & never have a percentage under 38% in any season. His caught stealing percentages were among the league's top three catchers six different seasons.

In his career he averaged 48%, which is 24th best all time. He led the league in put outs three times & in catching base runners attempting to steal twice, coming in second place two other times in that category. He would catch 120 games or more in four straight seasons with the Giants. With all the work behind the plate, he also led the NL in errors three times & passed balls twice.

In 1933 the Giants won their first pennant in nine years, Manager Ralph Terry gave alot of credit to his catcher. Mancuso was so good defensively he came in sixth in the MVP voting even though he batted .264 with 6 HRs & 56 RBIs. In the 1933 World Series he had a bunt single in Game #2 contributing to a six run Giant sixth inning. In the final Game #5 he doubled home a run in the Giants 4-3 win over the Washington Senators.

In 1935 he hit .298 making the All Star team as a reserve catcher. In an extra inning game that season at the Polo Grounds against the St. Louis Gas House Gang Cardinals, Mancuso caught all 27 innings of the contest. In the 1936 Giants NL Pennant season, he had his best year at the plate. He batted .301 with 23 doubles a .351 on base % while having career highs in HRs (9) RBIs (63) hits (156) & runs scored (55). 

He led the league's catchers in putouts, base runners caught stealing, & finished second in assists. That year he finished eighth in the MVP voting. In the World Series he hit .263 (5-19) with two doubles & an RBI. The popular New York catcher even got his face on a 1930’s Wheaties cereal box.

The Giants repeated as NL Champions again in 1937, as Mancuso threw out 60% of would be base stealers (2nd in the league). He led the league in put outs for the third time, was second in assists (104) & 5th in fielding at .982 %. He missed time when a foul tip broke his ring finger on his right hand.

Harry the Horse Danning became the clubs main catcher & when Mancuso returned they shared time at the position. In 86 games Mancuso batted .279 with 4 HRs & 39 RBIs. He made another All Star game & and getting to his fifth career World Series.

He spent six seasons in New York, before going on to being a backup catcher with the Chicago Cubs (1939) Brooklyn Dodgers (1940) & St. Louis Cards (1941-1942).

He returned to the Giants in 1942 when Danning was serving in the military. Mancuso was at that time, 37 years old, he shared time with 35 year old veteran Ernie Lombardi and also served as a pitching coach. He didn’t hit well in his later years; batting only .198 in 94 games in 1943 followed by a .251 average in 78 games for 1944. He then played his final season in Philadelphia when his old Giants battery mate Freddie Fitzsimmons became the manager.

He finished his 17 season career playing in 1460 games, batting .265 with 1194 hits 53 HRs 197 doubles 16 triples 545 RBIs & a .328 on base %. Behind the plate he had 5613 put outs making 148 errors in 6564 chances. In 1360 games behind the plate he posted a .977 fielding % while throwing out 48% of base runners.

Retirement: He became a coach for the Cincinnati Reds in 1950, and then managed in the minor leagues. Outside of baseball he was a newspaper columnist, a beer distributor, as well as a broadcaster working with Harry Caray.

His brother Frank Mancuso played four seasons for the St. Louis Browns in the mid 1940’s. Gus Mancuso passed away in Houston, Texas in 1984 at the age of 78. He is a member of the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.