Jan 16, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (2008) Carlos Delgado Ties Franchise Record With Seven Multi HR Games

In 2008 Carlos Delgado matched Dave Kingman for the franchise record of seven multi HR games in a season. Lucas Duda matched the feat in 2015 for the NL Champion Mets. Delgado's season went like this:

On April 27th, Delgado had just hit one HR in the opening month of the 2008 season. Willie Randolph's Mets were in second place just 1.5 games back as they hosted Bobby Cox's fourth Atlanta Braves.

Future SNY studio analyst Nelson Figueroa was on the mound on his way to his second win as Delgado helped him with two HRs in the 6-3 win. Delgado's first HR came off John Smoltz & the latter in the 9th inning off Will Ohman.

Friday night June 27th the Mets were in third place under new skipper Jerry Manuel who had replaced Randolph as manager. This became a record day for Carlos Delgado, as he would drive in nine runs & hit two HRs in the Mets 15-6 win across town in the subway series opener. 

Delgado came to bat in the 5th inning with the score tied at four. Carlos Beltran & Luis Castillo were aboard when he hit a three run shot off Edwar Ramirez for the 6-4 lead. In the 6th inning Delgado connected for a grand slam as David Wright, Castillo & Beltran were all aboard the bases. Delgado had now taken the team lead with 13 HRs.

On July 26th the Mets were in first place under Jerry Manuel, playing in St. Louis. Delgado connected for two HRs on this night, getting him to 22 on the season while hitting nine in the month.

On August 25th, the first place Mets hosted Cecil Cooper's Houston Astros in front of 49,791 at Shea Stadium. Delgado opened the day up with a three run HR off Brian Moehler. In the 7th, he connected for another three run HR, giving him six RBIs on the day & his fourth multi HR game.

Two days later the Mets were in Philadelphia fighting to hold on to first place. There was trouble in New York as the Mets were once again losing their grip on first place as they had done the year before in the final days of the season. Delgado had a good month driving in 24 runs & strong September as well. But the Mets would fall short of the post season once again.

In this game Delgado blasted two HRs, including an 8th inning solo shot off Rudy Seanez. It was his 30th HR of the season, this one putting the Mets ahead for good. Daniel Murphy & Brian Schneider added RBI hits in the inning.

In September Delgado continued his hot hitting, carrying the Mets team that still couldn't catch the Phils. In the month he hit 8 HRs with 22 RBIs. At no point was he hotter than early in the month in a two day span. On September 7th, the first place Mets hosted the second place Phillies in a double header at Shea Stadium. The Mets moved to two games ahead as they took both ends of the twin bill. In the second game, Johan Santana beat Hole Camels as Delgado led the way with two HRs both coming off Hamels.

Two days later Delgado tied the Mets team record of multi HR games in a season, as he had his seventh matching Dave Kingman in 1976.

The Mets still holding on to first place hosted Manny Acta's Washington Nationals in front of 50 plus thousand at Shea. In the 3rd inning he connected for a two run shot off John Lannon. In the bottom of the 6th, Carlos Beltran put the Mets ahead 9-8 with a two run HR. 

Delgado followed with a solo HR his 35th of the year. The Mets went on to a 10-8 win. Delgado finished the year with 38 HRs & 115 RBIs. His 38 HRs were third best in the league. In 1976 Kingman finished second in the NL HR race to Mike Schmidt.

Mid Eighties Mets Outfielder: George Foster (1982-1986)

George Arthur Foster was born December 1, 1948 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He grew up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, attending Lawndale high school where he was a top athlete.

The six foot one right hand hitting outfielder was drafted in the third round of the 1968 draft by the San Francisco Giants.

He would hit 14 HRs & bat .321 at A ball Fresno, in 1969 getting a brief September call up for eight games. He made 18 appearances in two years at San Francisco due to the fact that Willie Mays & Bobby Bonds were fixtures in the Giants outfield.

In May of 1971 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for short stop Frank Duffy & a minor leaguer. It was still a crowded outfield when he came over to the Big Red Machine, but Foster soon got a lot of playing time when centerfielder Bobby Tolan got injured.

Foster showed power as he hit 10 HRs & 18 doubles with 58 RBIs in 104 games while batting .234. He was still a backup outfielder in 1972 playing in just 59 games batting .200.

Post Season: In the 1972 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was on third base in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game #5, as a pinch runner.

Then Pirate pitcher Bob Moose, threw a wild pitch, allowing Foster to score the winning run which sent the Reds to the World Series. They lost the series in seven games, it was their second pennant in three years.

In 1973 Foster hit 15 HRs at AA Indianapolis seeing action in just 17 games with the Reds. In 1974 he played as the Reds fourth outfielder batting .264 with 7 HRs in 276 at bats. By Spring Training 1975 his hitting matured & it was getting noticed by manager Sparky Anderson, as he crushed balls in batting practice.

Anderson asked Pete Rose, who was playing left field at the time, if he wanted to play third base so they could insert Foster into the everyday lineup, Rose agreed. Foster became the Reds regular left fielder for the next six years making five All Star teams & becoming one of the league's biggest sluggers.

In the Big Red Machine's 1975 World Championship year Foster hit .300 with 23 HRs 24 doubles & 78 RBIs posting a .356 on base %. He led all NL left fielders in fielding (.995%) for the first of three straight seasons, throwing out 11 base runners on the season.

Post Season: In the 1975 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he hit .364 going 4-11 with four runs scored. In the World Series against the Boston Red Sox he went 8-29 (.276).

In the classic Game #6 at Fenway Park, he broke a 3-3 tie with a two run double off pitcher Luis Tiant in the 7th inning. The Sox tied it on Bernie Carbo's 8th inning HR & won it on the classic Carlton Fisk walk off in the 12th.

In 1976 Foster earned the nickname “The Destroyer” as the Reds dominated the baseball world & won their second straight World Series.

This time with a sweep over the AL New York club. Foster led the league in RBIs (123) bashing 29 HRs (4th in the NL) with 9 triples (5th in the NL) a .530 slugging % (2nd in the NL) while batting .306.

He made his first All Star team & came in second in the MVP voting to team mate Joe Morgan. Foster had 172 hits (10th in the league) with 86 runs scored (9th in the NL) & nine sac flies (3rd in the NL).

He also became one of the most hated hitters by opposing pitchers because he would step out of the batter's box after every single pitch, something that wasn't done much in those days. Maybe now you could say he was ahead of his time? The Machine didn’t win any more World Series after that, as the Los Angeles Dodgers two year NL reign began in 1977.

But for Foster, he went on to continue tear up the league, putting up some of the biggest power numbers the league had seen in years.

He would lead the NL in HRs in both 1977 & 1978 while leading the league in RBIs three straight years from 1976 through 1978. In 1977, he won the NL MVP Award, with an amazing 52 HRs, becoming the only player to hit over 50 HRs in the previous twenty five years.

As mentioned he led the NL in RBIs (149) runs scored (124) slugging (.631%) & total bases (388). He also batted .330 (4th in the league) with a .382 on base % & 31 doubles. He made ten assists in the outfield while leading all left fielders in fielding once again (.978%).

Foster followed that season up leading the league in HRs (40) & RBIs (120) in 1978. He hit 26 doubles with a .360 on base %, but his batting average dropped to .281 & he struck out 138 times (second in the NL).

Drama: By 1979 he was annoying his team mates by arriving at the ballpark in a stretch limo & strutting around with an over inflated ego. His numbers fell off but he still had big production, 30 HRs with 98 RBIs & a .302 average.

His numbers dropped off over the next two seasons averaging 23 HRs each year, but he was still considered a top slugger, driving in over 90 runs each season. He became unhappy in Cincinnati and the Reds were unhappy with him as the days of the Big Red Machine were over. Gone too, were Pete Rose, Tony Perez & Joe Morgan.

In February of 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for Alex Trevino, Greg Harris & Jim Kern. He brought hope and excitement to a franchise in the dumps looking for something bright & a star to look up to.

He was hyped up by the organization & made the cover of the Mets 1982 yearbook along with new manager George Bamberger. Looking back, it must be remembered that it was a turning point for the Mets as they soon would acquire Keith Hernandez (1983) and start to bring up a bunch of good young players.

Foster was given a five-year; $10 million deal but never delivered big numbers for the Mets that was expected of him. He & new Mets Manager George Bamberger appeared on the cover of the 1982 Mets Yearbook with the words "By George We've got it".

Foster debuted on Opening Day 1982 in Philadelphia, batting third & playing left field. That day he had a hit, two walks & an RBI in the Mets 7-2 victory. Later in the week on the same first road trip of the year, he hit HRs in back to back games at Wrigley Field. At the end of the month of April he was struggling, batting just .171.

On May 2nd he hit a two run HR scoring the only two runs of the game, as veteran Randy Jones beat the Giants in San Francisco. Foster was struggling in New York hitting just three HRs in May & just two in June. By the All Star game a mid July seven game hit streak had him raise his average to .280 but he dropped off quickly in August.

On August 13th he contributed with a game tying 7th inning single in Chicago, in a game the Mets went on to win 6-4. On September 1st he hit a two run HR off Verne Ruhle at Shea Stadium, in a 5-1 win over the Astros.

The Mets finished last again in 1982 going 65-97, as the arrival Foster did not change things much. He went on to bat a weak .247 with a .309 on base %.

He was second on the club to Dave Kingman in HRs (13) & RBIs (70). Foster hit 23 doubles with two triples & struck out 123 times (4th most in the NL). These were certainly not any where near the numbers he had posted with the Big Red Machine & the New York fans were disappointed.

The next season had some bright spots to it, starting out with the return of Tom Seaver in New York. Young Daryl Strawberry went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award & the team showed improvement, especially with the arrival of Keith Hernandez in June.

Foster began with two hits on Opening Day & a HR the next day. He hit three HRs in April but his average fell to .220. On May 5th he blasted a walk off three run HR off the Reds Frank Pastore, giving the Shea Faithful a dramatic win.

Two days later he blasted another HR, while gathering up three hits & three RBIs against the Reds for a 10-5 Mets win. He hit a three run HR in Pittsburgh the next week & then another on May 23rd in New York. That night his 8th inning sac fly off the San Francisco Giants Greg Minton proved to be the game winning run.

Overall he had a good May, with six HRs & 20 RBIs raising his batting average forty points. In July he had two walk off RBI hits in the final week of the month; the first was a double on July 25th scoring Keith Hernandez to beat the Atlanta Braves.

Then in the second game of a double header on July 31st, he drove in Mookie Wilson while grounding out in the bottom of the 12th inning of a scoreless game.

Another infield grounder scored the game winning run on August 8th, against Jeff Reardon the Montreal Expos. Beginning on August 19th he hit HRs in three straight games, including a grand slam in San Francisco against the Giants in a 7-2 win.

On September 5th, he hit another walk off game winning HR, this one off Al Holland beating the eventual NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. On September 15th Foster broke a 4-4 tie in the home 7th inning, with a two run HR off the Cardinals Dave Lapoint. The Mets went on to the 6-4 win. On September 23rd he hit a pair of HRs at Wrigley Field, driving in three runs in a losing effort. Then on October 1st he hit a three run HR leading the Mets to a 5-4 win at Shea Stadium.

On the year he put up better numbers than 1982, leading the team in most offensive categories. He had 28 HRs (6th in the NL) with 19 doubles & 90 RBIs (8TH in the NL). But he only batted .241 with a .289 on base % & 111 strike outs.

By 1984 the Mets were true contenders Foster was now in the shadows of second year slugger Daryl Strawberry & All Star Keith Hernandez. He began the year with a three run HR & four RBI day on April 6th in Houston, leading the Mets to an 8-1 win over the Astros. Two days later he singled with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th inning, driving in two runs giving the Mets a 3-1 win over the Astros.

On April 25th, Keith Hernandez led off the top of the 11th inning with a double off Greg Harris in Montreal. Foster hit a base hit to score him in what was the games winning run, 2-1 over the Expos. He closed out April by driving in runs in seven of his last ten games. On May 7th he hit an 8th inning HR off the Cubs Warren Brusstar, tying the game & leading up to a Keith Hernandez walk off single. In May he hit six HRs but then followed up with just one in June.

In July he hit two HRs in the first three games of the month, which were both one run Mets victories. That month he hit safely in 20 of 22 games & drove in twenty runs as well. In August he hit six HRs with back to backs in a pair of games mid month, in the heat of the pennant race.

On September 2nd he hit a game winning base hit off the San Diego Padres, Rich Gossage bringing the Mets within five games of the first place Chicago Cubs.

There was a lot of excitement on the home stand, as rookie phenom went against the Cubs on September 7th. Centerfieldmaz was there in the crowd of 47,000 to witness Dr. K throw a one hit, eleven strike out shutout against the Cubs. That night Foster hit a three run HR in the big 10-0 Mets win. 

The Mets fell out of the race in the next few weeks but there was a lot of promise for the future of the team, the most optimism since the mid seventies.

Foster hit four more HRs in the month to finish with 24 on the year. He batted .269 (his best career Mets season average) while driving in 86 runs (third on the club) with 149 hits 22 doubles & a .311 on base %. He struck out 122 times (5th most in the NL). By this time he was not playing too well in the outfield, although he made just seven errors on the year posting a .976 fielding %. The Mets did have better players developing around him.

On Opening Day 1985 he broke a 2-2 tie in the third inning, with a HR off St. Louis' Joaquin Andujar. The Mets went on to win it on a walk off HR by the latest new comer to New York, Gary Carter. Foster hit another HR against the rival Cards later in the month, leading to a 7-6 win in St. Louis. The day prior he had hit a three run blast in a losing effort in Philadelphia.

On May 29th he completed a four run Mets comeback, with the game winning RBI single in the top of the 8th inning in San Francisco, off the Giants Scott Garrelts. The next day he drove in the first run of a 2-1 Dwight Gooden victory as well.

He was struggling to keep his average above .200 into late May, but did go on to drive in some key runs. On June 1st he had a bases loaded RBI in the first game of a double header at San Diego, leading New York to a 5-3 win. Later in the month he blasted a long grand slam against the Chicago Cubs, Ray Fontenot in a 5-3 win at Shea Stadium.

In July he drove in 23 runs having his most successful month. From July 9th through the 13th he had a big week, gathering up two four RBI games. On July 21st he drove in five runs in a wild 15-10 win over the Atlanta Braves, highlighted with a two run HR.

In September he hit four HRs driving in eleven runs as the Mets chased the Cardinals for the NL East title. In a big three game series in St. Louis the final week of the season, Foster went hitless in two of the games inwhich the Mets lost. In the second game he had three hits with a solo HR off Joaquin Andujar in the Mets 5-2 win.
In 1985 Foster played fewer games (129) as Danny Heep, a young Lenny Dykstra, John Christensen & Tom Paciorek all got to see some action. Foster kept his numbers the same hitting 21 HRs with 24 doubles & 71 RBIs. He batted .263 with a .331 on base % . He struck out 87 times which was the least number of times, since he came to New York. He also drew 46 walks an improvement from the 30 he drew the previous season.

But on the down side with such a talented & exciting new Mets team, Foster was becoming very unpopular. His lack of hitting and lax outfield play began to anger the fans. He was wearing out his welcome and his value grew less as the Mets began to emerge as a Powerhouse championship caliber team.

By 1986 he became a target of constant booing whenever he came to bat or walked onto the field.

He was the Opening Day left fielder & batted sixth. In the sixth inning he doubled driving in Daryl Strawberry with the third run of a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit well enough to be at .300 by the end of April which kept the fans happy for a while. On April 24th he drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning, with a base hit off Todd Worrell in St. Louis. On May 18th he had a big day hitting a pair of HRs with four RBIs, in a 8-4 win against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

When the Dodgers came to Shea Stadium on May 27th, he hit a grand slam off Tom Niedenfuer, which sparked an eventual bench clearing brawl when Niedenfuer hit Ray Knight with a pitch in the next at bat. Not only had he taking his time running around the bases, but he was one of the last Mets on the field to join in the fight which he had antagonized. This didn't make him the most popular guy in the clubhouse either.

Foster hit four more HRs that week, one more against the Dodgers two nights later & then three against the San Diego Padres, including a pair in the 11-2 win on June 2nd.

After hitting six HRs in the month of June he didn't hit any in July and went just 7-47.His average fell to .232, he had lost the confidence of his team, his manager & the fans. With the emergence of super rookie Kevin Mitchell & the home coming of the popular Lee Mazzilli, Foster was expendable.

By August after he had been benched, the Mets released him outright on August 7th. He accused the team of racism but that didn’t get noticed much, as his replacement was Kevin Mitchell. Two Years later he told the press : ''What I said wasn't intended to be racial at all,''

Foster said. ''I was just saying the team was showing favoritism to Dykstra, who had just come up. But I never got a chance to explain what I meant. The next day, Davey told Frank Cashen that Foster goes or I go, And the I was gone. "

''Some people expected me to hit a home run every time I got up. I think it was because a lot of them looked at me and saw a dollar sign. I only wish they knew how hard I tried to succeed in New York, If anything, I may have tried too hard and put too much expectations on myself."

He was picked up by the Chicago White Sox playing in 15 games, hitting a HR in his debut but batting just .216 overall.

Mets All Time List: In his five year Mets career he played in 655 games (32nd on Mets all time list) he hit 99 HRs (13th on the Mets All time list) with 361 RBIs (16th on the Mets All Time list). He had 94 doubles while batting .254, striking out 496 times (18th on the Mets all time list).

Overall in his 18 year career Foster hit .274, with 348 HRs (94th all time) & 1239 RBIs (137th all time).

He had 1925 hits, 702 extra base hits, 307 doubles, 106 intentional walks, and 986 runs scored in 1977 games played.

He struck out 1419 times (75th all time) & he grounded into 196 double plays (109th all time).

In left field he has played in 1549 games (16th most all time) with 97 assists (30th all time) making 50 errors (56th all time).

Retirement: After his retirement, he lived in Greenwich Conn. & helped coach kids play baseball. Foster is now a born-again Christian, motivational speaker, and still spends time instructing youth baseball.

Honors: He returned to Shea Stadium for the closing ceremonies in 2008 and received well deserved cheers. He was also inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2003.

In 2013 he was representing the Mets in New York at the All Star Game Fan Fest. 

Former Italian / American Pitcher Known For His Most Unique Appearance: Don Mossi (1954-1965)

Donald Louis Mossi was born January 11, 1929 in St. Helena California, located in the Bay area.

The Italian American pitcher became famous for being a bit strange looking. He was known as one of the funniest looking players in baseball history. One his nicknames was “the Sphinx of Ears” due to the physical nature of his very large ears. through it all, the six foot one left hander was very good natured with a great sense of humor.

In the minor leagues Mossi never had a losing record as he rolled along becoming a top prospect. Mossi signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1949 and made his debut there five seasons later. He spent five years in Cleveland having a great 1954 rookie year for the AL Champion Indians. Mossi went 6-1 with seven saves (4th in the AL) posting a terrific 1.94 ERA. 

Post Season: He made three appearances in the 1954 World Series, where the Indians were swept in a big upset by the New York Giants. Mossi pitched four scoreless innings, finishing off two of those games.

Back in those days the Indians were talented with a star studded pitching staff, having the likes of Hall of Famers: Bob Feller & Early Wynn. Also top stars of the day: Mike Garcia & Bob Lemon. So Mossi was moved to the bullpen full time after the World Series, becoming one of the league’s best relievers . 

If this was today, Mossi would have been a star closer. Mossi credits Bob Feller & Bob Lemon with helping himself as the other young pitchers on the Staff.

In 1955 he saved nine games (6th in the AL) going 4-3 with a 2.43 ERA. The next year his 11 saves were second best in the league, going 6-5 with a 3.95 ERA. In 1957 Mossi was put back in the starting rotation and made the All Star team. He was 11-10 with 97 strikeouts in 159 innings pitched appearing in 36 games with 22 starts. At the end of 1958 he got traded to the Detroit Tigers with Ray Narleski for Al Cicotte and Billy Martin.

He had his best season in Detroit in 1959 winning 17 games (17-9) fourth most wins in the AL. He posted a 3.36 ERA, striking out 125 batters (8TH in the AL) pitching in 228 innings (9th in the AL). Over the '59 & '60 seasons Mossi beat the A.L. New York ball club seven straight times, more successful than fellow Tiger team mate Frank Lary, who was known as the AL New York Killer.

In 1961 he went 15-7 (6TH most wins in the league) with the AL’s third best ERA at 2.96 ERA, striking out a career high 137 batters, pitching a career high 240 innings with 12 complete games.

That year he had the league’s best strikeout per walk ratio & the best walk per nine inning ratio at 1.7 %. He had come in second in that category the season before & is 170th lifetime with a 2.2%. The Tigers won 101 games that season under future Mets G.M. Bob Scheffing, but finished second to New York.

He fell off to 11-13 the next year and was back spending more time in the bullpen before the Tigers bought back his contract at the end of the year. He posted two more seasons of seven saves first in Chicago with the second place White Sox in 1964.

 He then saved seven games with the Kansas City A’s before finishing his career due to arm troubles in 1965. 

Lifetime Mossi was 101-80 with 50 saves and a 3.43 ERA in 401 games over a twelve year career. He was a quality pitcher and one of the better relievers of his day in a time when relievers did not play a big role.

He had one of the best strikeout to walk ratios of his day, and had excellent control walking 385 batters in 1548 innings pitched. Mossi also posted nine seasons of perfect fielding percentages finishing at .990 % which was one of the best all time when he retired.

Trivia: In Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, Mossi was listed on the "All-Ugly Nine" team. In reference to his large ears, Bouton said "Mossi looked like a cab going down the street with its doors open."

From 1974 to 1986 a party was held each year in Cincinnati by two Reds employees in honor of Mossi & his odd appearance. The parties were fun & attended by hundreds of people. As usual the good natured Mossi took it all in stride & would even donate personal memorabilia for the events.

After his playing days he didn't have much involvement in baseball, appearing at one old timers game thanks to the coaxing of old friend Al Rosen. Mossi still resides in Northern California with his family.

Jan 15, 2019

Mets Promising Young Infielder: Jeff McNeil (2018-)

Jeff McNeil was born on April 8th 1992 in Santa Barbara, California. In high school he played three seasons as basketball player, averaging 17 points a game. 

He was also more interested in gold but a disappointing performance in the 2009 Junior Amateur Championship had him focus more on baseball. He did not start playing baseball until his senior year.

After getting noticed by Cal State where he got a scholarship he moved over to Long Beach State in his junior year. There he was named to the All Bug West team getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 2013 draft.

He missed a lot of action due to injuries in 2016 & 2017 playing in only 51 games in those years. He began 2018 at AA Binghamton where hit .327 with 14 HRs & 43 RBIs in 57 games. 

He was moved  up to AAA Las Vegas where he hit .368 in 31 games with a .427 on base %. That was enough for the weak hitting Mets with a need for an infielder to call him up.

Trivia: In the minor leagues he began using  his now familiar, knobless bats given to him by former Mets hitting coach Lamar Johnson. Johnson served as Mets hitting coach in 2014 getting replaced by Kevin Long, then moving as a minor league hitting instructor.

Big Leagues: McNeil made his MLB debut on July 24th, appearing as a pinch hitter collecting a hit in his first at bat in a 6-3 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. 

Two days later he made his first start batting 7th & playing third base in a game at Pittsburgh, where the Mets beat the Pirates 12-6. McNeil got a base hit & drew a pair of walks. On July 31st he hit his first career HR, a solo shot off Tanner Roark in Mets embarrassing 25-1 loss against the Washington Nats. He seemed to fit in quickly with big league pithing & began to heat up his hitting in August.

On August 4th he had his first four hit game, including a double in Zack Wheelers 3-0 win in Atlanta against the Braves. Two days later he hit his second career HR, coming off the Reds Keury Mella, in a Mets 6-4 win in Cincinnati. 

In late August he had another four hit game, that week he also hit triples in two games on August 18th & again on the 22nd. At the end of August he was batting .330, as a bright spot on a dark season with not much hitting. His tendency to put the ball in play & not strike out too often have been keys to his success, something many MLB players lack these days.

In September, he saw regular action driving in ten runs, he finished the season hitting safely in 12 of his last 16 games. In September he had nine multi hit games, including another four hit game on September 23rd against Washington in D.C. where he hit his third HR of the season. 

For 2018, in 63 games (225 at bats) McNeil batted .329 with a .381 on base %, hitting 11 doubles, with 6 triples (second on the team) 3 HRs & 19 RBIs, while stealing seven bases as well. 

McNeil opened a lot of eyes and there was already high future expectations for the youngster. He was tied for sixth in the Rookie Of The Year voting, not receiving more votes because of the short time he played. 

When the Mets acquired Robinson Cano in November 2018, McNeil's fate became unclear. Manager Mickey Calla way stated he would play more at short behind Amed Rosario as well as at third base & outfield as a back up, but would be in the line up often.

Former Met Infielder: Jorge Velandia (2000-2003)

Jorge Luis Velandia was born on January 12th 1975 in Venezuela. The utility infielder was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1992 & spent five years in the minor leagues. In that time he never hit much, but showed a good glove getting traded over to the Padres organization.

In 1997 he hit a career best .273 & was called up to the Padres for 14 games. He was traded up the coast to the Oakland A’s where he played in a career high 63 games in 1999 batting just .182 stealing two bases.

In September of 2000, he was traded to the New York Mets when Rey Ordonez was lost for the year, to possibly back up Mike Bordick if needed. But Velandia didn’t hit at all.

He appeared in small parts of the 2000 & 2001 seasons going hitless in 16 at bats over a course of 21 games, drawing 4 walks. He was back at AAA Norfolk in 2002 batting just .201with 6 HRs & 37 RBIs.

In 2003 he was called up again & saw the most playing time of his Mets career. In 23 games he posted a .976 fielding % at short making only three errors in 108 chances turning 13 double plays. 

At the plate he was 11-58 good for a .190 average. He also drove in eight runs hitting three doubles.

Velandia was gone from the Mets and out of the big leagues for four seasons, returning with the 2007 Tampa Rays. The next year he finished his eight year career with a .975 fielding% & a .189 batting average with 2 HRs & 23 RBIs.

Short Time New Jersey Born Mets Reserve Catcher: John Sullivan (1967)

John Peter Sullivan was born January 3, 1941, in Somerville, New Jersey. The six foot tall catcher graduated from Bernardsville, High School, threw right handed but hit left handed.

He was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1959 and showed some power hitting 13 HRs while batting .322 in the New York / Penn. League. He played at AAA Syracuse appearing in a handful of games in 1963 /1964.

By 1965 he was the Tigers Opening Day catcher due to injury to Bill Freehan. Sully eventually got his first big league hit, which was a HR against the Kansas City A's. Soon regular catcher Bill Freehan took over the position, remaining as the teams main catcher until 1976 with ten All Star appearances.

Sullivan hit two HRs that season, with a career high 11 RBIs, and .267 average, as the backup catcher to Freehan in 34 games. After spending the next year in the minors, he was drafted away by the New York Mets in the 1966 Rule 5 draft.

Sullivan served as the primary backup to Jerry Grote in his first full season behind the plate (1967) appearing in 65 games, batting only .218 with no HRs, five doubles and six RBIs in 147 at bats. In a late July West Coast road trip, he got five of his six season RBIs, enjoying two different multi hit games.

In 1968 the Mets brought up Duffy Dyer as backup catcher & also acquired J.C. Martin ending Sullivan's brief stint in New York. He was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies, playing in only 12 games for 1968. He never made the big leagues again, going to the Baltimore Orioles & Kansas City Royals organizations, playing through 1972.

Retirement: After his playing days, he managed in the Royals farm system from 1973-1979. He then coached in the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves & Toronto Blue Jays, winning two World Series in Toronto (1992 & 1993).

Jan 14, 2019

Remembering Former Mets 1980's Pitching Coach: Mel Stottlemyer (1984-1993)

Melvin Leon Stottlemyer was born on November 13, 1941 in Hazleton, Missouri. The tall sinkerball right handed pitcher was signed by the AL New York club as an amateur free agent in 1961.

He won 17 games in the Carolina League in 1962, getting promoted to AAA in 1962 where he struggled at 7-7. In 1964 he went 14-3 getting promoted to the big league club in mid June.

On September 26th 1964, he pitched a two hit shutout against the Senators in Washington & went 5-5 at the plate. Stottlemyre went 9-3 behind Whitey Ford, Jim Bouton & Al Downing posting the staffs best ERA at 2.06 pitching in 13 games. 

Mel was an instant star, making the cover of the Sporting News & getting to the 1964 World Series.

1964 World Series: In the World Series, Stottlemyre faced St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame pitcher, Bob Gibson three times in the seven-game Series. 

Stottlemyre beat Gibson in Game #2, pitching seven innings, allowing three runs. In Game #5 he earned a no decision, as he gave up just two runs in seven innings while striking out six. This game evened the series at one game apiece. 

He took the loss in the decisive Game #7, being removed in the 4th inning after giving up, three runs, three hits & a walk as St. Louis won the game & World Series behind Gibson’s great pitching.

Stottlemyre would pitch ten more seasons with the AL New York team and never make another post season appearance as they would only finish as high as second one time in those years. Mel would have three twenty win seasons for himself, making five All Star teams. He led the league in complete games & losses twice & innings once. 

In his second season, 1965- he went 20-9 (second most wins in the AL) leading the league in complete games (18) & innings pitched (291) posting a 2.63 ERA. He made his first All Star appearances that year as well. 

The next year his team finished in last place, tenth of ten, and Mel led the league with twenty losses (going 12-20). After a .500 (15-15) season in 1967, he won twenty games again in “The Year of the Pitcher” 1968. 

In 1968, Mel was 21-12 (third most wins in the AL) throwing 19 complete games (2nd in the AL) with six shut outs (2nd in the AL) pitching in 278 innings posting a 2.45 ERA. In 1969, as the Amazing Mets won the World Series, the AL New York team was in fifth place posting a 80-81 record. 

Stottlemyre won twenty games for the last time in his career that season. He was 20-14 (third most wins in the AL) with a league leading 24 complete games, posting a 2.82 ERA. Going into the seventies he would win 15 or more games three times over the next four seasons.

He led his staff in wins in 1971, coming in second to Fritz Peterson the next two years. In 1972 he led the league in losses for a second time (18). In 1973 he was 16-16 with 19 complete games & a 3.07 ERA as his team finished fourth 80-82. Stottlemyre tore his rotator cuff in June of 1974 falling to 6-7 ending his season after 16 games.

In days before successful pitching Surgeries, his career was over at age 32. In 11 seasons he was 164-139 with a 2.97 ERA, recording 1257 strikeouts 40 shut outs & 152 complete games over 2661 innings pitched in 360 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he began a coaching career, as a roving instructor for the expansion Seattle Mariners in 1977. 

Mets Coaching Career: After five years in his new home state of Washington, he was hired as pitching coach for the New York Mets. Mel arrived on Davey Johnson’s staff in 1984 & helped develop the great young Met pitchers of that era.

First there was the phenom Dwight Gooden, who went on to having one of the best Rookie seasons by any pitcher, followed by a Cy Young Award season in 1985. But there has been criticism that Stottlemyre may have over pitched Gooden in his early years. He was also accused of later ruining him by having him throw less fast balls in order to save his arm.

In any event Ron Darling, David Cone, Sid Fernandez, Jesse Orosco, Bobby Ojeda & Rick Aguilera all benefited from Stottlemyre’s coaching. His staffs were among the best in baseball in the ten years of his coaching the New York Mets. 

In his first season the Mets went from being 12th in the league in wins in 1983 to third with 90 wins in 1984. They were second in saves (50) & strike outs (1028). 

 The 1985 staff was even better; second in the league in wins (98), third in ERA (3.11) complete games (32) shut outs (12) & first in innings pitched (1488). 

Mel’s 1986 staff was the best in baseball, coming in first with most wins (108) & strike outs (1081). His staff posted the lowest ERA in the NL (3.13), had the most innings pitched (1484) were second in strike outs (1484) while going on to win the World Series.

 Two years later the 1988 staff was number one overall again; wins (100) ERA (2.91) strike outs (1101) & second in complete games (17) saves (46) & shut outs (17). But that season the Mets lost the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

From there things got slowly worse and after two disastrous seasons in 1992 & 1993, all the remains of their championship were gone. After serving ten years as Met pitching coach under five different managers (Davey Johnson, Bud Harrelson, Mike Cubbage, Jeff Torborg & Dallas Green) Stotllemyre too was gone. 

In 1994 he had a two year stint as the Houston Astros pitching coach. He then served under Joe Torre with the AL New York team beginning in 1996 & remained there for ten years winning four World Series. 

In the end he had enough of Boss George, the final straw coming after he congratulated Angles Manager Mike Scoscia after winning the 2005 ALDS over his team. The boss ignored manager Joe Torre & Stottlemeyr's pitching staff’s accomplishments. 

Stottlemyre resigned in 2008 & was named pitching coach of the Seattle Mariners near his home in Washington. He retired from baseball in 2009.

Family: Stottlemyre's two sons, Todd and Mel Jr. both followed their father in becoming major league pitchers. 

Mel Jr. pitched one season in Kansas City (1990) going 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in 13 games pitched. He was then a long time coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. 

Todd enjoyed a 14 year MLB career with the Toronto Blue Jays (1988-1994) Oakland Athletics (1995) St. Louis Cardinals (1996-1998) Texas Rangers (1998) Arizona Diamondbacks (1999-2002).

He won 14 or more games four times, going 138-121 lifetime with a 4.33 ERA. He pitched in seven post seasons winning two World Series, both with the  Toronto Blue Jays (1992-1993). His last post season appearance was in the 1999 NLDS with the Arizona Diamondbacks beating the New York Mets in Game #2.

Mel & his wife lost another son after he fell into a coma at just eleven years old. 

Health: Mel Stottlemyre Sr. was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a deadly blood cancer. He is an avid supporter of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Doctors are amazed at how long he was been able to battle the rare disease which affects just 1% of Americans. 

Medically his cancer was in remission but returned in 2013 & the treatments were tougher for him to take than in the past. He did appear at the 2013 Old Timers Day in the Bronx.

Passing: On January 14th 2019, Mel passed away at age 77.

Quotes- Dwight Gooden: “Mel was more than a pitching coach to me. He was a dear friend. Everything I accomplished in the game was because of him. He taught me so much more than balls and strikes. I’ll miss him dearly.”

Ron Darling: “One of the classiest men I have ever known on or off the field. A wonderful pitching coach and father figure to the young pitchers on our Mets teams in the 1980s. Devotion to his wife Jean, his sons and his pitchers will never be forgotten by New York or those he mentored. Today is the saddest day.”