Oct 16, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1973): NLCS: Game #3- "The Bud Harrelson Pete Rose Fight"

Remembering the 1973 N.L. Champion Mets:

Cincinnati Reds vs New York Mets

October 8th, 1973: NLCS Game #3

With the series tied at one game each, as 53,967 fans came out to a fired up Shea Stadium on a beautiful; autumn, Monday afternoon in New York.

It had been just four years since the very first NLCS in history was played here at Shea Stadium, as the 1969 Amazing Mets beat the Atlanta Braves to advance to their improbable World Series win. T Now in 1973, there was plenty of excitement in the air.

During batting practice, The Reds Joe Morgan approached Bud Harrelson at the batting cage, commenting on the remarks Harrelson made after Game #2. Harrelson had told the press "the Reds look like him out there hitting". Morgan grabbed Buddy by the jersey, saying “If you ever say that about me again, I’ll punch you”.

The Mets Rusty Staub intervened, he knew Morgan since their days together in Houston with the Astros. Morgan cooled off after talking with Staub, apologizing, to the Mets team mates. Morgan said that Pete Rose is not going to be as forgiving & will use the comments to try to fire up the Reds team.

The Mets principal owner Mrs. Joan Payson threw out the ceremonial first pitch & it was on to baseball.

Today's starters were the Mets lefthander; Jerry Koosman (14-15 / 2.84 ERA / 156 Ks/ 12 complete games / 3 shut outs). Since mid August he was 6-1 with a 1.16 ERA in that time, including setting a Mets record for scoreless innings. For Sparky Andersons Reds it was Ross Grimsley (13-10 / 3.23 ERA / 90 Ks / 8 complete games).

It was to be a memorable afternoon. In the home 1st, Rusty Staub started his big day at the plate by putting the Mets on the board with a solo HR.

In the Mets 2nd they exploded with four hits & four runs, running away with the game. Jerry Grote walked & Don Hahn drove a single to right field.

Bud Harrelson then lined out to right for the first out. The pitcher Jerry Koosman also singled, but Grote was unable to score as the bases were loaded. Wayne Garrett flew out to center but this time Grote did score & it was RBI sac fly, 3-0 New York.

Felix Millan who had set a Mets regular season record that year with 185 hits, singled to right bringing in Hahn with the fourth run. Sparky Anderson was done with Grimsley & brought in Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.47 ERA) to face Staub.

Rusty Staub was the Mets biggest run producer of the year & one their most clutch hitters. His 76 RBIs led the team & his 15 HRs were third to John Milner (23) & Wayne Garrett (16).

Hall delivered the pitch & Staub blasted it down the first base line, and the ball hit off the auxiliary scoreboard for a three run HR. The Shea fans went wild roaring as Staub quickly rounded the bases. It was now 6-0 New York.   He had already hit a HR in Game & now had his second HR with his fifth RBI & was batting .300 in the playoffs.

In the top of the 3rd, Dennis Menke hit a solo HR off Koosman putting the Reds on the board. After Darrel Chaney popped out, Larry Stahl, Pete Rose & Joe Morgan hit consecutive singles. Morgan's hit brought home the Reds second run, it was 6-2 New York.

In the bottom of the 3rd, Reds left hander Dave Tomlin (1-2 / one save /4.88 ERA) replaced Hall on the mound. He was greeted with a Jerry Grote base hit. He would advance & score as pitcher Jerry Koosman singled to right field.

Koosman had hit .103 in the regular season with three RBIs. In his 12 year Mets career he batted .121 with 2 HRs & 39 RBIs in 807 at bats.

In the home 4th, Felix Millan drew a walk & with one out, Cleon Jones doubled to right field bringing Millan home. Next, the Hammer; John Milner drove a base hit to right making it 9-2 New York in a wild Shea Stadium. The Mets were on the verge of pulling ahead in the Series & being one game away from the World Series. This wasn't sitting well with the Reds, who were getting very frustrated, especially Pete Rose.

From the dugout, Tom Seaver was keeping a close watch on Pete Rose. Jerry Koosman claims he also got Rose fired up earlier in the game. Rose knew Koosman was a hard thrower at times, but he was trying to keep the ball down & away with slow curveballs.

After his first at when he popped out, Rose got back to the dugout yelling at Koosman, "throw the ball you big, dumb donkey". Koosman heard him over the noisy crowd but never looked over.

When Rose came up later, Koosman tried to drill him with fastballs four times, but Rose got away each time. Tom Seaver recalled. "You knew somehow, somewhere Pete was going to do something. " Now Koosman almost hits Pete with a pitch, and I thought to myself; he's going to go to the mound after Jerry. He started on the grass, and then he came back to the baseline and went directly to first base."

In the 5th inning, Rose got aboard with one out. The next batter was Joe Morgan who grounded to Millan, into a 3-6-3 double play completed by John Milner at first base.

At second base Pete Rose goes in hard, with a pop up, cheap shot slide into shortstop; Buddy Harrelson. The two exchanged words as Harrelson called him a "cheap shot @#$% sucker".

It was what Rose wanted, he grabbed the skinny Harrelson by the top of his jersey, and threw him to the ground, jumping on top of him.

In the word of Mets announcer Bob Murphy-"Rose outweighs Harrelson by about thirty five pounds..." The overall reaction was Rose was acting like a big bully, picking on the much smaller short stop shortstop.

Mets Third baseman; Wayne Garrett came over from his third base spot, jumping on top of Rose to try to pull him off of Harrelson. Then all hell broke loose at Shea Stadium, on & off the field.

It was the third out of the inning, so players were on their way to the dugout, focused on jogging away from the field. When everyone realized what was going on, both benches emptied, as well as the teams respective bull pen's. There was a lot of pushing, shoving & milling around in the infield for a bit.

Then Reds reliever; Pedro Borbon, landed a sucker punch from behind to the head of Mets pitcher; Buzz Capra. Capra attacked Borbon, as backup catcher Duffy Dyer, got in some retaliatory punches of his own, before being pulled out of the melee by Willie Mays.

As Borbon left the field, he picked up a cap & put it on his head, thinking it was his. To the crowds delight, it was a Mets cap, when Borbon finally figured it out, he pulled it off his head and took a bite out of it, then threw it down. It was Buzz Capra's Mets cap & he claims to still have it to this day.

When order was finally restored on the field, the game continued, with Rose returning to his position in left field. But now it was chaos in the stands, especially overlooking left field. The Shea Faithful let Rose know how they felt & they weren't nice about it. The scene got very ugly & dangerous, as the Mets fans let Rose have it.

A variety of objects showered down from the upper deck, anything from papers, programs, hot dogs, beer cups, batteries, and finally a whiskey bottle. The bottle landed just a few feet away from Rose, just missing his head during Felix Millan's at bat.

Rose showed the low class he had, by actually tossing some stuff back. He never never thought he could have hurt an innocent child or innocent bystander. But times were different in 1973 & no action was taken against him.

Rose called time & walked toward the infield, informing Umpire Ed Sudol & his manager; Sparky Anderson. The Reds Manager Anderson, went to the umpires to stop the game, claiming it was too dangerous for his team on the field. The Reds were pulled from the field.

Anderson said; “Pete Rose gave too much to baseball to die in left field at Shea Stadium”.

The umpires met with NL President Chub Feeney, who was in attendance at the game and came to a decision; that the game may have to be forfeited unless order was restored in the stands. At risk of losing a playoff game in which they had a seven run lead, the Mets sent a peace delegation to left field.

Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones and Yogi Berra walked out to left field, pleading with the rowdy fans to calm it down. The New York fans cheered, as their team walked out to left field and obeyed their request. Cleon Jones said " the fans hadn't seen Willie in quite a while & were happy to see him".

At first the team thought Berra & Mays would be enough, even NL President Chub Feeny agreed. He thought if he went out there that they'd throw things at him too. He even considered sending Tom wife; Nancy Seaver out there as a peace maker, since she was so loved in New York. Feeny said he thought of it, but didn't know where she was sitting.

Order was soon restored enough to continue the game. Pete Rose was booed mercifully, upon his return to the field. From that day on it would be that way for him at Shea Stadium & for Met fans (like myself) we have never forgiven him.

Bud Harrelson quickly became Americas favorite little guy, underdog hero.

Harrelson was already an All Star short stop because of his outstanding defense. This in an era when short stops were smaller guys who were not known for hitting. Harrelson was among the best of the lot. Any Mets pitcher  of his era, always said Harrelson stopped many huts from getting through & was the anchor of the infield in 1969 as well as in 1973.

The Mets rolled along to the 9-2 victory. Koosman went the distance in another fine post season performance, his third career post season win with out any loses.

He allowed two earned runs, on eight hits without any walks. Along the way he struck out nine Reds, including rookie Ed Armbrister three times.

Offensively it was Staubs day, two hits both HRs & four RBIs. John Milner, Felix Millan & Koosman himself all had hits with RBIs.

Wayne Garrett added an RBI & Don Hahn & Cleon Jones both had two hits apiece.

The Mets took a 2-1 lead in the championship series, on their way to the World Series & another pennant.

Oct 15, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1973): NLCS Game #2- Jon Matlack Tosses Two Hit Shut Out Againt Big Red Machine

October 7th, 1973- NLCS Game #2: 
                                        New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

Starting Lineups
New York Mets       Cincinnati Reds
1Wayne Garrett3B1Pete RoseLF
2Felix Millan2B2Joe Morgan2B
3Rusty StaubRF3Tony Perez1B
4Cleon JonesLF4Johnny BenchC
5John Milner1B5Andy KoscoRF
6Jerry GroteC6Dan Driessen3B
7Don HahnCF7Cesar GeronimoCF
8Bud HarrelsonSS8Darrel ChaneySS
9Jon MatlackP9Don GullettP

1973 NLCS Program
Riverfront Stadium Edition
54,041 Fans attended Game #2 of the 1973 NLCS at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Todays starters were for New York; Jon Matlack (14-16 / 205 Ks / 3.20 ERA) going up against the Reds Don Gullett (18-8 / 153 Ks / 3.51 ERA). Gullett was second on the Reds staff in wins & strike outs. 

With the mighty Big Red Machine up one game to none, many thought the next home game for the Reds was to be in that years World Series. It was not to be, as the Mets had different plans.

The 1973 Mets got to the post season on pitching. They had one of baseballs elite starting staff's & one of the best bullpens as well. In Game #2 it was all about the Mets pitching, all about Mr. Jon Matlack. 

The Mets Jon Matlack
Throws Two Hit Shut Out
Matlack put in one of the best pitching performances in Mets history, as he shut down the Big Red Machine, throwing a two hit shut out. He struck out nine Reds batters while walking three, He only allowed two base runners to get as far as second base, the whole game. 

Don Gullet pitched well himself, shutting down the Mets in the first three frames. In the top of the 4th inning, Rusty Staub connected for a HR putting New York up 1-0. Staub was just getting hot & would go on to hit four HRS & drive in ten runs through the rest of the 1973 post season.

In the home 5th, Matlack walked veteran Andy Kosco. Kosco had singled in the first inning & then would single again in the 7th accounting for both Reds hits. Matlack then struck out Dan Driessen & Cesar Geronimo. Geronimo was a victim to Matlack, striking out three times on the day. But he then walked short stop Darrel Chaney putting a runner in scoring position.

Rusty Staub hit a 4th Inning HR 
Reds manager; Sparky Anderson wasted no time, seeing how tough Matlack was today, he knew he needed a run. He sent up pinch hitter Phil Gagliano, taking Gullett out of the game.

Anderson was quick with a hook for his starting pitchers, earning the nickname "Captain Hook". He knew he had a solid bullpen who got regular work.

Matlack struck out Gagliano as well ending the threat & the most trouble he'd be in all afternoon.

The Reds reliever; Clay Carroll (who had led the NL in saves in 1972 with 37) shut the Mets down over the next three innings as well. Carroll was 8-8 on the year with 14 saves & a 3.69 ERA. In the top of the 9th, Anderson brought in the lefty; Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.37 ERA) in to pitch.

With one out, Felix Millan singled & Rusty Staub drew a walk. The  late September, hot hitting Cleon Jones then singled to centerfield. Center fielder Cesar Geronimo, attempted to get Millan at home both he scored easily & both base runners advanced.

Matlack & His Catcher Jerry Grote.
Grote had a two run 8th inning single
Pedro Borbon who was saving a spectacular year (11-4 / 14 saves / 2.16 ERA) relieved Hall and was told to intentionally walk John Milner to load the bases. Mets catcher; Jerry Grote then singled home Staub & Jones, making it 4-0 New York.

Center fielder Don Hahn & then singled but Milner was unable to score, as the bases were loaded once again. Bud Harrelson followed with a base hit, giving the Mets a commanding 5-0 lead. In the inning they sent ten men to the plate, scored four runs on five hits & two walks. 

Matlack retired the side in order in the bottom of the 9th, getting Joe Morgan & Tony Perez to fly out. He ended the game by striking out Johnny Bench. The Mets wrapped up a 5-0 victory & were headed back to Shea Stadium tied at one game apiece.

Matlack's wife congratulates him after game
Matlack's wife joined him on the field in celebration after the game. In the visiting locker room, the joyous Mets also celebrated Matlack’s great performance.

The Mets light hitting short stop; Bud Harrelson joked to the press that the Reds looked like him hitting out there today.

Those words would not sit well with the Reds & be used as bulletin board material. It set the stage for one of the most famous brawls in baseball history coming up in the next game. For now the Mets happily boarded a flight back to New York for Game #3.

Remembering Mets History: (1973) 1973 NLCS Game #1 -Bench's HR Spoils Seaver's Good Outing

New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

October 6th, 1973: NLCS Game #1

Managers Yogi Berra & Sparky Anderson

 Starting Lineups:
The 1973 National League Championship Series opened up on Saturday afternoon; October 6th, 1973 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. A crowd of 53,431 fans attended the game, that took two hours to play . The day began a bit rainy & cloudy, but the sun broke through at times as playoff baseball was played.

The series opened with the both clubs top aces going at it; Tom Seaver (19-10 / 251 Ks / 2.08 ERA) for the Mets & Jack Billingham (19-10 / 155 Ks / 3.04 ERA) for the Reds. Billingham led the league in shut outs (7) starts (40) & innings (293).

The Mets threatened early in the 1st inning, as Wayne Garrett led off with a base hit & was sacrificed over to second by Felix Millan. Rusty Staub drew a walk & John Milner ripped a single to centerfield. As the ball flew off the turf quickly & with the arm of Cesar Geronimo, Garrett was held at third base. But with the bases loaded & one out, Cleon Jones grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the threat.

In the top of the 2nd, Bud Harrelson drew a two out walk & scored as Mets pitcher, Tom Seaver, drilled a line drive into left center field helping his own cause.

It was the only run Billingham would allow on the afternoon, as he pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out six & walking three.

Tom Seaver drives in the Mets only run
Seaver had held down the Reds until the 8th inning, when Pete Rose tied the game with a HR. Through 8.1 innings, Seaver had only allowed more than one base runner in an inning just once, that was back in the second inning.

Seaver struck out 13 Reds, a post season franchise record that still stands today. He gave up six hits on the day, while walking no one. It was a fine performance but the lack of offensive support created the end result.

Riverfront Stadium Cincinnati, Ohio
In the 9th Tom Hall (8-5 / 8 saves / 3.47 ERA) started the inning but walked Rusty Staub & was relieved by the Dominican right hander; Pedro Borbon.

Bench's HR Wins It
Borbon had a spectacular year going 11-4 with 14 saves & a 2.16 ERA. He retired the next three Mets & the game went tied into the 9th inning.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, with one out Seaver gave up the game winning walk off HR to Johnny Bench. It was a devastating blow as the Mets fell behind in the series, one game to none.

Oct 14, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1969): World Series Game #5: Koosman Clinches Amazing Mets World Series Championship

Thursday, October 16th 1969: World Series Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. 

On this day, the biggest miracle in sports history became a reality. On this day the New York Mets, once loveable losers, became Champions of the World, the Miracle Mets. On this day the team became officially known the Amazing Mets, a title that would stay with the team forever.

The Mets began the year as 100-1 odds to be world series champions. They would forever define the underdog winner in sports. As Bud Harrelson recently said, any under dog team that ever comes back to win, is always compared to the '69 Mets. In just eight short seasons, a team that had finished last six times were now the Champions of the baseball world. What a way to end the sixties.

Manager Gil Hodges, sent Jerry Koosman (17-9 / 2.28 ERA / 180 K's) to the hill. Koos was the winner of Game #2 at Baltimore, he was soon to become the best Mets post season pitcher in team history. 

He got the call for Game Five, facing off against Earl Weaver's Oriole pitcher; Dave McNally (20-7 / 3.22 ERA / 166 K's). McNally was the loser to Koosman in Game #2.

57,397 fans filled Shea Stadium to witness the Miracle of all baseball miracles. There was no stopping the Mets on this day even after they fell behind early on. 

The Mets drew two walks in the 1st inning, but nothing came of it. Koosman had a shaky 3rd inning, first allowing a single to Mark Belanger. He then served up a two run HR to the opposing pitcher; Dave McNally & then a solo blast to Frank Robinson. All of a sudden it was 3-0 Orioles.

Koosman came in to the Mets dug out angry at himself, he threw his glove down to the ground. He told his team "I'll hold them right there, you guys go out & score some runs."

Koosman did exactly that, holding the mighty Orioles down the rest of the way, allowing just one more hit & one walk. He retired 19 of the next 21 batters & no other bird even got near second base.

In the 6th inning, Frank Robinson complained he was hit by a pitch. Umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree. 

Robinson left the plate & went to the dugout, dropped his pants & put ethyl chloride on his leg. Dimuro did not change his mind or look at the wound, he just told Weaver to get him back at bat or he'd be out.

It wasn't until the bottom of the 6th inning, when the Mets made another Amazing come back. It all started when Gil Hodges pulled the famous "shoe polish incident". 

Dave McNally threw a pitch to Cleon Jones, that either bounced first or hit Jones in the foot. The ball then rolled into the Mets dugout. Hodges picked up the ball & walked out to home plate umpire; Lou Dimuro

He showed DiMuro a ball with a shoe polish smudge on it, saying "Lou the ball hit him". Seeing the polish as proof that Jones indeed was hit by the pitch, Umpire Dimuro agreed & awarded Jones first base. 
Gil Hodges: "There was a big polish mark across the ball, I'm just glad our club house gut keeps our shoes nice & polished."

Trivia: Years later, Jerry Koosman said that Hodges had come over to him in the dugout & told him to rub a ball on his shoe. That made the smudge & that was the ball that Hodges had brought to the umpire. Even Art Shamsky stated that Gil always kept a ball with polish on it in his jacket.

Baltimore manager Earl Weaver (who had already been thrown out of one Series game) came out to argue the call. He was bit more careful this time & pretty much knew he had no case. He also felt the same aura going around New York, that his team was about to be done.

Next up came World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, in amazing 1969 Mets fashion, he followed with his third HR of the Series. He put the Mets with in a run, it was now a 3-2 game, sending Shea Stadium into a frenzy.
In the Mets home 7th, the weak hitting; Al Weiss who had never homered at Shea Stadium, and only had hit two HRs all season (in 247 at bats) blasted a HR over the left field wall tying the game. Shea Stadium, the whole city of New York & the whole world it seemed went nuts. 

The underdog little guys every where found a new hero in Mr. Al Weiss. He would hit an amazing .455 in the World Series.

Al Weiss said: " I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know how far it go. I dont have enough experience in judging those things."  His father was ecstatic,it was a dream to see my boy in a World Series, but to see him be the batting hero is too much!"

All Star short stop Bud Harrelson made some outstanding fielding plays in the Series & it was acknowledged by broadcasters Curt Gody & Tony Kubek. Harrelson had made 17 assists in the five game series. 

On Al Weiss, Harrelson said "I thought we had them when Weiss hit it out to tie it. You could almost see them collapse & go whoosh. Heck Clendenon is getting paid to hit, Al isn't. In my mind he's the MVP." 

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Cleon Jones doubled off O's reliever Eddie Watt to lead off the inning. Ron Swoboda, then came through with his second hit of the day. It was his fifth hit in the last two games as well. Swoboda doubled down the left field line, scoring Cleon Jones with the go ahead run. Swoboda then scored as well when Jerry Grote reached base on pitcher Eddie Watt's error.

Koosman came out to complete his five hit World Series victory. Frank Robinson led off with a walk, but Koosman got Boog Powell to ground out in a force play & Brooks Robinson to fly out to right field.

The final out was made by future Mets manager; Davey Johnson. He hit a fly ball to left field, Cleon Jones got down on one knee, made the catch and sealed the Championship. At first Koosman later said, he thought it may have been a HR saying to himself "ut oh". But he was relieved as he saw Cleon Jones kneel down with his glove up. 
At 3:17 PM, Cleon Jones closed his glove on the final out of the 1969 World Series, it is an image that is now iconic in Mets history. Jones jumped & hugged his buddy Tommie Agee & the two ran to the dugouts for saftey, as fans poured onto the field.

Koosman's line score was: nine innings, three runs on five hits, five strikeouts with one walk. After the final out, Koosman leaped into the air into catcher; Jerry Grotes arms. The Glider; ed Charles leaped in the air & did a jig style of a dance. This scene is forever etched into the minds of Mets fans, as the 1969 World Series win became real.


It was his second win of the World Series going an overall 2-0, allowing four runs on seven hits in 17.2 innings. He could have easily been the Series MVP as well, but the honors went to slugger; Don Clendenon who set a five game World Series record (at the time) hitting three HRs . "I know the whole thing seems like a dream, but if it is I don't want to wake up" said Clendenon.


The fans poured onto the field & celebrated wildly. They tore apart the grass taking turf for souvenirs. After the players jumped for joy & hugged each other on the field, they ran for the safety of the Mets club house. In side it was a wild celebration, as champagne flew every where.

The media crowded in & all the lost game coverage began. Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner did interviews for television, as did NBC's Tony Kubek,
 Gil Hodges received a phone call from the President of the United States. Hodges told the press "It's been a year of miracles & I'm just thanking God it's over. It was a colossal thing they did. These young men showed that you can realize the most impossible dream of all. I'm so proud of them all."
Ron Swoboda said " This will give heart to every loser in America, we are the saints of lost causes".
Quotes: Tom Seaver "It was the greatest collective victory by any team in sports."