Aug 1, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1970) Nolan Ryan Ks 13 In A Three Hit Shut Out

Tuesday August 4th 1970: The reigning World Champion Mets (57-49) were in second place one game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates (55-52), as they hosted Leo Durocher's Chicago Cubs who were two games behind the Mets in third place. The Cubs sent Joe Decker (2-5) to the mound against the young fire ball throwing; Nolan Ryan.

In the early stages of Ryan's career with the Mets he had some fine moments, this day was one of them. After a quiet 1st inning, Ryan struck out the side in the 2nd inning & then the first two batters of the 3rd inning. He would come up with a pair of strike outs in the 5th & 6th innings as well. 

Ryan rolled along with a season high 13 strike outs on the day, he shut the Cubs out on a three hitter & walked five.

His run support came mostly from a new Mets player; outfielder Dave Marshall. Marshall had two doubles on the day driving in three runs. In the bottom of the 1st, he doubled bringing in Bud Harrelson & Art Shamsky. Later in the 6th, his double brought in Cleon Jones. Jones added an RBI in the 7th, completing the 4-0 win.

In Ryans next start he would take a loss at Pittsburgh but strike out another ten batters. He would match his season high of 13 strike outs on September 9th against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Longest Serving Coach In Mets History: Brooklyn Born Italian / American- Joe Pignatano (1968-1981)

Joseph Benjamin Pignatano was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 4, 1929. He grew up less than a mile from Coney Island, where the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones now play, on West 15th Street.

As a boy on the streets of Brooklyn all Piggy did was play was baseball. It was either was hard ball, stickball or softball.

In 1948 he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was one of just two players who got selected. He was sent to Cairo, Illinois to play, then was given a check, released and sent home. With no money in his pocket he slept at a Chicago train station, until a cop felt sorry for him & put him up at a hotel for the night.

When he got home, his mother called the Dodgers wanting to know why her boy was tossed out on the street. No one knew why & as a result he was given another chance.

This time he did better & signed a contract. He played minor league ball until 1951 when he went into the military, serving two years in the Korean War. He returned to the minors playing through the ranks, batting a solid .299 in 1957 in the International League. From there he got his promotion to the Dodgers big league club, playing in his home town of Brooklyn at Ebbets Field.

He would only play in only eight games in 1957 hitting .214 (3-14) with one RBI. On Tuesday September 24th, 1957, he replaced Roy Campanella in the 5th inning of the last game ever played at Ebbets field. He went on to catch the last five innings of a shut out thrown by rookie pitcher Danny McDevitt.

In 1958 he went with the Dodgers to Los Angeles, becoming the backup catcher behind Johnny Roseboro. The third string catcher was future Mets coach Rube Walker who was finishing out the final season of his playing career.

Pignatano hit .218 in 63 games, with a career high 9 HRs, driving in 17 runs. In 57 games behind the plate he threw out 12 of 18 base runners attempting to steal (67%). In the Dodgers 1959 Championship season, he hit .237 in 52 games, playing mostly against lefthanders. He got to catch in 49 games throwing out 46% of base runners attempting to steal, posting a .997 fielding %.

Post Season: Pignatano singled advancing Gil Hodges to third base, in the 12th inning of the second game of a best of three playoff series with the Milwaukee Braves. Hodges would score on Carl Furillo’s hit, which led to the Braves Felix Mantilla making a crucial throwing error.

In the 1959 World Series Pignatano got to play one inning against the Chicago White Sox.

He played one more season in L.A. playing in 40 games, throwing out 12 of 19 base runners attempting to steal, but with Roseboro behind the plate & Norm Sherry becoming a favorite target of Sandy Koufax, Pignatano was sent to the Kansas City A’s.

There he had career highs in games played (92) hits (59) average (.243) doubles (10) walks (36) & RBIs (22). At the start of the 1962 season he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Jose Tartabul (Danny Tartabul’s father) and after only seven games had his contract purchased by the expansion 1962 Mets.

He joined New York that summer & debuted on July 14th in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his first Mets at bat he doubled going 1-4. The next day he doubled again driving in a run against the San Francisco Giants. He played In 27 games with the ’62 Mets driving in two runs, batting .232.

In 25 games behind the plate he made just one error (.991%) with 100 put outs throwing out just 4 of 13 base runners attempting to steal. On the last day of the season at Wrigley Field, in his last career at bat, he hit into a triple play in the top of the 8th inning. It was a pop up back behind second base, Cubs infielder Ken Hubbs made the grab then got Ritchie Ashburn & Sammy Drake out on the bases.

Piggy played two seasons in the minors, winning the Internation League Championship in 1964. In his six season career he batted .234 with 161 hits 16 HRs 25 doubles & 62 RBIs. He threw out 45% of would be base stealers posting a .990 fielding %.

Pignatano worked in the off season as many players of his era did. He was a plumbers assistant for ten years &then worked at A& S department store for more than twenty years.

After his playing career he remained friends with his old team mate Gil Hodges. Hodges had become manager of the Washington Senators & in 1965 asked Pignatano to be his first base coach.

In 1968 he joined Hodges in his move to New York, becoming the Mets bullpen coach. He also served as a part time first base coach as a backup to Yogi Berra. In the bull pen his job was to get relief pitchers warmed up and report their status to Hodges.

On that coaching staff he worked with another former teammate, Mets pitching coach Rube Walker. Pignatano & Walker would start a coaching relationship that lasted 14 years, serving the longest terms of any coaches in Mets history. The two would serve under five different managers; Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, Roy McMillan, Joe Frazier & Joe Torre through the 1981 season.

Piggy's Famous Bullpen Vegetable Garden at Shea
Pignatano was famous for maintaining his tomato plants & vegetable garden in the Mets bullpen. In 1969 he found a wild tomato plant growing, he tended to it and nursed it throughout the season. As the Mets won the World Series, he felt the tomato plant was a good luck charm and maintained it throughout the seventies.

Pignatano, Walker & Hodges worked very closely, spending all their time together on the road. "On the road, we were always together. We talked about what we had to do and then we went out and did it. All three of us came from Washington and we inherited Yogi Berra and he fit just like a glove.

In 1969 Piggy helped groom Tug McGraw in the bullpen to becoming one of the game’s best relievers. "McGraw had to be the best," said Pignatano, "But Cal Koonce did a good job, Ron Taylor and Don Cardwell did nice jobs, too. But the guy that did the greatest job was McGraw." Pignatano was there for all the good times; the 1969 Championship, the close knit teams of the early seventies & the 1973 NL Pennant.

Piggy & Bud Harrelson at Citi Field
He was also there for the bad times. He was golfing with Gil Hodges when he suffered his fatal heart attack, and then suffered with the team’s demise after the passing of owner Joan Payson.

He said after Hodges & Payson passed, the people running the ball club wouldn’t spend the money to get good players or keep the ones they had. He blamed Charles Payson and of course M. Donald Grant for running the team into the ground.

After the Wilpon/Doubleday ownership took over in 1981, Joe Torre & his old coaches were fired. Piggy went along with his Brooklyn friend Torre to Atlanta and coached under him for three seasons. He then coached in the minor leagues until 1986, before retiring from baseball.

2007: Pignatano & Danny McDevitt
Throw Out First Pitch Before a Cyclones Game
His favorite years in baseball, were the ones he spent in New York, with the Dodgers & Mets. His biggest thrill of course was the 1969 Championship. Over the years he frequently visited Shea Stadium, Citi Field & appears at various Mets & Brooklyn Dodger events.

Honors: In 2007 he was at Ralph Kiner night at Shea Stadium, and was also honored at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn. He & pitcher Danny McDevitt threw out a ceremonial first pitch, prior to a Cyclones game, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the last game ever played at Ebbets Field.

Piggy attended the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 & was on hand for the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets team in 2009.

Pignatano is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, & one of the most popular Mets coaches in team history. He still lives in Brooklyn and is the cousin of former Mets pitcher, Pete Falcone.

Former South Korean Born Mets Pitcher: Dae-Sung Koo (2005)

Dae-Sung Koo was born on August 2, 1969 in South Korea. The six foot one Koo, was a natural right handed pitcher, but an arm injury as a child forced him learn how to pitch left handed.

He began his pro career in Korea in 1993. Three years later he won 18 games & posted 24 saves with 183 strike outs.

He won a Gold Glove as well as being named the league's MVP. In 2000 he led The Korean National Team to a Bronze Medal pitching in the Summer Olympics.

The next year he went over to pitch in the Japanese Pacific League, pitching for the Orix Blue Waves team. In 2004 he became a starting pitcher & when Orix merged with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes he announced he wanted to pitch in America for the major leagues.

In 2005 he was signed by the New York Mets and had an impressive Spring Training earning him a spot on the Met pitching staff.

He debuted on Opening Day in Cincinnati getting credit for a hold, pitching a scoreless 8th inning. The Mets ended up losing the game when Braden Looper gave up back to back HRs to Adam Dunn & Joe Randa in the bottom of the 9th.

After six scoreless games he allowed three runs to the Washington Nationals on April 25th. In May Koo got credit for five holds, but also had two blown saves coming in Chicago & Florida.

His biggest Mets moment came in the May Subway Series matchup at Shea Stadium. Koo relieved Kris Benson with a two run lead, after Benson had thrown six shutout innings. Koo got a chance to bat against Randy Johnson & was nervous he never even swung the bat.

In his next time up, everyone was expecting another easy out, and Tim McCarver was telling everyone the same on the national televises Fox broadcast. But Koo shocked everyone, he swung & blasted the pitch over the centerfielders head all the way to the wall. He dashed into second with a stand up double.

The crowd went wild & the Mets dugout as well, as everyone all cheered “KOOOOOOOOO”. The next batter was Jose Reyes, he dropped a bunt down, & Koo advanced to third but then alertly saw no one was covering home plate. He made a mad dash for home & slid head first beating the attempted tag.

The crowd again roared “KOOOOOO” as a hysterical Mets dugout greeted him with high fives & a whole bunch of laughter. After the game the 35 year old said he hadn’t had an official at bat in 18 years, except some occasional swings in a batting cage.

Koo would pitch in 33 games as a middle reliever for the 2005 Mets, posting a 3.93 ERA, with 23 strike outs, allowing ten earned runs in 23 innings pitched.

His MLB Mets career was short lived, as his contract was sold back to Korea for the 2006 season. He was still pitching there, for the Hanwha Eagles organization at age 41.

Remembering Mets History: (2005) Dae-Sung Koo Has His Day In The Sun

Saturday May 21, 2005: On a Saturday afternoon's Fox Game of the week, Willie Randolph's Mets hosted this edition of the subway series, in front of 55,800 fans at Shea Stadium. Mets pitcher, Kris Benson threw six shutout innings, scattering just three hits in one of his finest outings. 

Benson was relieved by Korean born, Dae-Sung Koo who would actually get a chance to hit in the seventh inning.

In a previous meeting, Koo was afraid to even step in the batters box against pitcher Randy Johnson. 

In the Mets dugout, Mike Piazza thought the scenario was amusing. He told David Wright "I will donate a million dollars to charity, if he gets a hit".

Koo stands in and belts a 91 mph Johnson fastball off the center field wall for a double. As Koo was on second base, Jose Reyes bunted, Koo took off for third, on the play he rounded third in the madness. He dove into home plate, avoiding the tag & scored safely. He had his moment in the sun, looking up under the peak of the his helmet to the crowd roar.

Piazza can only laugh in amazement at Koo, realizing he has some big checks to write out to charity over the next few years.

The Mets belted out seven runs & fifteen hits on their way to a 7-1 win. It was also a big day for Jose, as he gets four hits, including his fourth triple of the year and drives in four runs.

Randy Johnson hit the showers and took the 7-1 loss. Davis Wright gets two hits & drives in two runs, Miguel Cairo belts a HR against his former team & Mike Piazza has two hits also.

Kris Benson (six innings), Koo  (1.1 innings) Roberto Hernandez (0.2 innings) & Braden Looper (one inning) combined for a five hitter, as Looper allows a run in the 9th. The Mets kept peace getting two games behind the first place Florida Marlins.

Jul 31, 2015

The Newsest Met Slugger: Yoenis Cespedes (2015)

Yoenis Cespedes was born October 18th 1985, in Campechuela, Cuba. His mother Estela Milanes was a softball pitcher in the 2000 Olympics & his father was a former Cuban League catcher. At age ten he was sent to a state school to focus on baseball. He played in Cuba at Granma, from the ages of 17 to 24 being a .319 career hitter.

In 2011 he & ten family members defected from Cuba landing in the Dominican Republic. Then the right hand hitting outfielder was signed by the Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent in 2012. He was considered a five tool player & one of the best to come out of Cuba in a generation.

He was ready for Opening Day 2012. In his second career game he hit his first career HR & then hit HRs in the next two as well, driving in two runs in each game. In his first month he hit five HR with 19 RBI. On June 21st he hit his first walk off HR it came against the LA Dodgers. He began the year in center field but quickly became the A's regular left fielder, when Cocoa Crisp returned from injury. Cespedes led the team in batting (.292) while coming in second on the club in HRs (23) RBIs (82) & doubles (25). He also had 16 steals, five triples & a .356 on base %. 

His strong arm in the outfield led him to six assists (4th in the AL). Oakland won the AL West that year & Cespedes hit .316 in the ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers. 

At the 2013 All Star Game in Citi Field, he was chosen by A.L. team Captain Robinson Cano as a last minute addition to participate in the HR Derby. He put on a show hitting 30 HRs, beating Bryce Harper while becoming the first player to win the Derby while not been selected to the actual game. On the season he battled through injuries, but still hit 26 HRs with 80 RBIs while batting .240 in 135 games.

Post Season: That year the Athletics won another divisional title under manager Bob Melvin, beating the Texas Rangers by five games with a strong finish winning 16 of their last 22 games. They once again lost the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers, with Cespedes hitting a HR in Game #1. Overall he drove in four runs batting .381 with a .409 on base %. 

In 2014 he had another good start at the plate & on the field. In late May he put on a show nailing runners with his strong throwing arm. He had three put outs in games against the Toronto Blue Jays & Baltimore Orioles. On May 31st against the Anaheim Angels he threw out both Chris Iannetta & Kole Calhoun at the plate. On June 10th, again against the Angels, he made a 300 foot throw home to nail Howie Kendrick & then the next night threw out Albert Pujols at third base.

Cespedes along with six other A's players went to the All Star Game that season. He was leading in the balloting but lost out to Adam Jones in the final week of voting. He participated in the HR derby again & became the first player since Ken Griffey Jr. to win back to back derby's. In the actual game in Minnesota he was 0-2.

The Athletics had been in first place most of the season, with fine young pitching & Cespedes being one of the teams best bats. On July 31st, the A's traded him to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jon Lester & Johnny Gnomes. By mid August Oakland fell out of first place & barley made a wild card spot at the end of year. They would lose the Wild Card game to the eventual AL Champion  Kansas City Royals. In 51 games in Boston, he hit 5 HRs with 10 doubles & 33 RBIs batting .269.

Overall he had a fine year driving in 100 runs (9th in the AL) for the first time in his career, he batted .260 with 22 HRs, 36 doubles (3rd in the league) 6 triples, 89 runs scored (10th in the AL) & seven sac flies (10th in the AL). In the outfield he led the league in assists (16) & put outs (204).

In December he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.The year did not go as planned in Detroit, after playing in a league leading 102 games Cespedes was batting .293 with 18 HRs 28 doubles 62 runs scored & 61 RBIs. On July 31st hours before the trade deadline, he was sent to the New York Mets for a pair of minor leaguers. Cespedes.

Cespedes expected to be traded & was following the afternoon trade deadline dealings on TV. With nine minutes to go he saw that he was traded to New York & his manager confirmed the deal. He said he feels no pressure playing in New York & will just go out play his game & have fun.

Quotes: "Honestly, I don’t know much about the Mets, given the fact that they are in the National League. But the one thing I can tell you that I do know is how good their pitching is."

GM Sandy Alderson: "He's a very dynamic player, We think he's going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived."

Remembering Mets History: (1963) Jimmy Piersall Rounds The Bases Backwards

Sunday June 23, 1963: In the first game of a Sunday double header at the Polo Grounds, Casey Stengel’s young Mets (27-44) took on Gene Mauch’s Philadelphia Phillies (31-39). 

New York pitcher Carl Willey had a great day, as he threw a complete game two hit shut out. Willie walked no one striking out six batters. He bested his record to 6-6 with a 2.62 ERA, best on the Mets staff. That day he earned the win over Phillies pitcher &  future Mets manager; Dallas Green.

The Mets scored first, in the 3rd inning apaif of walks to Tim Harkness & Ron Hunt set the stage for a Duke Snider RBI single. 

In 5th inning a strange but funny & classic thing happened. Jimmy Piersall a character in his own right, led off the inning with a HR. It was a milestone in his playing career, being the 100th HR for him. Piersall dropped the bat and went to circle around the bases. But he did so running backwards.

Piersall was a veteran two time All Star & gold glove outfielder in his days with the Boston Red Sox. He was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown due to emotional exhaustion. He related it back to his father, who had put a tremedous amount of pressure on him in becoming a pro ball player.

He did make a successful comeback taking over centerfield in Boston after Dom DiMaggio's reign. But it certainly did not come without any drama. He fought with his own teammates, and other players as well. Once in a huge brawl he beat Billy Martin to a pulp. During another game he went up to the grand stands to heckle an umpire. 

In 1964 he came to the plate wearing a Beatles wig & playing air guitar on his bat. Eventually he was traded to the Cleveland Indians then to the Washington Senators in exchange for Gil Hodges. Piersall was ejected from games, six games in 1960.

Legend has it he was once seen sprinting back & forth in the outfield when Ted Williams came to bat. He was the subject of the great baseball movie “Fear Strikes Out” starring Tony Perkins in 1957.

On hitting his 100th HR, Piersall had observed Duke Snider hit his 400th home run just a few weeks earlier. He noted that there wasn’t much fan fare for such a great feat. He vowed when he hit his 100th HR, he would do something to make it festive. 

He certainly did, the Polo Grounds loved it, as he trotted around the bases backwards, even some of his team mates  laughed. He never tripped and even shook third base coach; Cookie Lavagetto's hand on the way around.
The Phillies & pitcher Dallas Green were not amused, nor was Commissioner Ford Frick who was in attendance that day. The Mets organization didn’t like it either, Manager Casey Stengel was so angry, he cut Piersall from the team two days later.

The Mets won the game 5-0 and the night cap as well 4-1.

Trivia: Jimmy Piersall once appeared on The Lucy Ball Show as himself. In Boston he was praised by Ted Williams as as the best outfielder he ever saw.

Late Eighties Mets Player: Greg Jefferies (1987-1991)

Greg Scott Jeffries was born August 2, 1967 at Burlingame, California. Jeffries was drafted right out of high school in San Mateo, California, in the first round (20th pick overall) in 1985.

He became a minor league success right away, winning two minor league MVP Awards & a Player of the Year Award as well. He was hyped up as the next great Mets hitter, even Davey Johnson said “he could hit .300 on his head”. In 1987 he batted .367 at AAA Tidewater with 20 HRs & 101 RBIs.

In September of 1987, at age 19 Jefferies got a September call up, debuting in Los Angeles going hitless on September 6th. Overall in six games he was 3-6 as a pinch hitter on the season. The next year, he spent most of the year at AAA Tidewater because there was no where to put him on the talented big league club. He hit .282 at AAA Tidewater & got brought up at the end of August.

He went on a tear right away, getting nine hits in his first five games, batting .475. On August 29th his second game of the season, he hit a two run HR in the Mets 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres. In the first nine days of September he hit four HRs driving in seven runs.

On September 19th his base hit in the bottom of the 9th was a walk off game winner aginast the Montreal Expos. He would stay hot all through the September Pennant race, batting .321 in 109 at bats, with 6 HRs, 8 doubles & 17 RBIs. Although he only played 29 games he received votes for the Rookie of the Year Award.

Post Season: He played in all seven games of the 1988, NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Playing mostly at third base, while slugger Howard Johnson moved over to short stop. Jeffries played a solid defense, hitting .333 (9-27) with two doubles, an RBI & four walks. It would be his only post season appearance.

The Mets had to find a place for him on the field and ended up trading away the popular Wally Backman to open up the second base spot. Jeffries found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated & with a Starting Lineup Action figure before he even played one full season.

After two hits on Opening Day, Jeffries struggled in 1989 not getting over the .200 mark until late June. On June 15th he won the game with a walk off single beating the Chicago Cubs 4-3. The next day he homered & drove in four runs in the Mets wild 15-11 win at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

He hit well in July raising up is average while hitting safely in 16 of twenty games. On September 7th he hit a pair of HRs & drove in five runs in a 13-1 Mets romp over the St. Louis Cards at Shea.

On the year the Mets finished second six games behind the Chicago Cubs, Jefferies batted only .258 with 12 HRs 28 doubles 56 RBIs while posting a .314 on base %. He stole an impressive 21 bases playing in 141 games. At second base he made 12 errors posting a .975 fielding % turning 41 double plays.

Drama: Jefferies didn’t adjust to the hardships of playing in New York at the big league level so quickly. He was constantly frustrated and complained often enough to earn a reputation as a whiner by his team mates & the fans.

He would throw his bat in frustration when he struck out & was called a baby. threw his bat in the dugout he was called a baby, (it wasn’t until years later that things like that made other cry babies like Paul O’Neill be considered intense).

He wrote an open letter to Sports Radio 66 WFAN, when it was a new station criticizing his team mates for not supporting him. This only buried him deeper & the fans let him have it. He heard the boos loudly at Shea when he didn’t do well.

In 1990 things did get better, he led the NL in doubles (40) and raised his average up to .283, with 15 HRs, 68 RBIs scoring 96 runs. But the fans still wanted more due to the hype he had received early on. The Mets finished second once again, this time four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, which also frustrated the fans.

Jefferies became a target of the team's inability to capture the NL East in the past two seasons. He got hot from June 7th through June 14th in the midst of a twelve game hit streak, driving in eight runs with five straight multi hit games. On June 24th he led the Mets with a HR & Four RBIs to beat the Phillies 6-5 at Shea Stadium.

Throughout the summer he was hitting above .300 most of the time, driving in runs in five straight games two separate times. On August 3rd he topped off a Mets top of the 9th inning three run rally in St. Louis, driving in the winning run with a single off reliever Lee Smith.

A week later his three RBIs helped the Mets beat the Phillies 8-4 at Shea Stadium. In September he fell from a .297 average to finish the year at .282. At second he posted a .976 fielding % making 12 errors turning 49 double plays.

In 1991 he drove in the Mets first run of the year with a first inning double, leading to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. On April 20th he broke a 1-1 tie in Montreal with an 8th inning double scoring the game winning run. After missing the first two weeks in May he hit safely in 12 of 14 games raising his average up to .284.

In July he missed another week of action, then returned to drive in ten runs in the week of his return. As the season went on he kept status quo finishing the year at.272 with 19 doubles, 9 HRs & 62 RBIs & a .336 on base % in 136 games. His time was up in New York, and he was traded with Kevin McReynolds & Keith Miller to the Kansas City Royals for All Star pitcher Bret Saberhagen.

Jefferies hit .285 with 10 HRs & 75 RBIs in one season at Kansas City, then got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Felix Jose & Craig Wilson.

In St. Louis he moved over to play first base, and had his best career year. He hit .342 (3rd in the NL) with a .408 on base %, 16 HRs, 24 doubles 83 RBIs & 89 runs scored. He made the All Star team that season & the next as well.

In 1994 he hit .325 (7th in the NL) with 12 HRs 55 RBIs in the strike shortened season. After contract disputes with Cardinals management, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1995.

Jefferies was yet again in the top ten in batting that year (hitting .306, bashing 31 doubles. He hit .292 the following year playing in 104 games.

By 1997 he was entering the twig light of his career, as his average fell to .256, In the middle of the 1998 season he was traded to the Anaheim Angels for a player to be named later.

He finished up the year, hitting .300 but was not resigned. He went to the Detroit Tigers but injuries got the best of him, making him a part time player. He played two more seasons in Detroit, finishing his 14 year career in 2000. 

Overall he hit .289 lifetime, with 1593 hits, 300 doubles, 27 triples 126 HRs, 663 RBIs 196 stolen bases & a .344 on base %.

Retirement: He currently lives outside Sacramento California, coaching high school baseball & varsity football.

He is married to his second wife and has four children. He looks back at his time in New York, wishing he was a little more mature back then. He said the 1988 playoffs spoiled him, and he misses the chance of not playing in a World Series.

Former Mets Manager: George Bamberger (1982-1983)

George Irvin Bamberger was born August 1, 1925 in Staten Island, New York. The six foot right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Giants in 1946. His dream came true as he made the 1951 home town New York Giants pitching staff. He only pitched in two games allowing four runs in two innings of work. Needless to say he didn’t make the World Series roster.

In 1952 he appeared briefly in five games, allowing four runs in four innings. He spent the next six years in the minors and fifteen years overall, mostly in the Pacific Coast League winning 216 games there overall. He had one last hurrah in the majors, pitching three games with the Baltimore Orioles in 1959. He stayed in their organization at various levels and then became one of the best pitching coaches in the game during the late sixties/ early seventies.

In 1968 he was first named pitching coach for a mighty Orioles team under manager Earl Weaver. He was a firm believer in the four man pitching rotation, feeling the more a pitcher used his arm without abusing it, the stronger it became. He would hold the position for the next decade, getting to three World Series, producing 18 twenty game winners, including a record of four on the same 1971 staff . That historic season Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, & Pat Dopson all won twenty games for Bamberger.

In his time as pitching coach he also had the privilege of coaching four Cy Young winners; two during his tenure- Mike Cuellar (1969) & Jim Palmer (1973 / 1975-1976) Then after his departure Mike Flanagan (1979) & Steve Stone (1980). Bamberger's pitching staff were first in the American League in ERA every season from 1968 through 1973. His staff was first in wins five times as well.

In 1969 he sat in the dugout at Shea Stadium during the Worland watched the young New York Mets staff out pitch his own mighty heavily favored Orioles staff. Little did he or anyone else, know he would be in the dugout managing the Mets 13 years later.

In 1978 he was hired as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers and got them to over 90 wins for the first time in their ten year history. He won the A.L. Manager of the Year Award, with his team finishing in third place at 93-69. It was a tough division and the Brew Crew improved to finished second to his old Baltimore team in 1979, winning 95 games. In 1980 he suffered a heart attack during Spring Training, and was sidelined for a the first few months of the season. After 92 games the Brewers were only at .500, and he resigned as their manager.

Meanwhile, in New York a new ownership took over the Mets ball club and Joe Torre was fired as manager after five losing seasons. The new General Manager for the Mets was Frank Cashen, who had been the GM in Baltimore during Bamberger's years when he was the Pitching Coach. Cashen went right out and hired his old pal Bambi, as the Mets manager for the 1982 season.

Bamberger told The New York Times: ''My whole idea is to throw the ball over the plate. The most important pitch is a strike. But the trick is to change speeds. Trying to pinpoint a pitch is crazy. Throw the ball down the middle, but don't throw the same pitch twice. Change the speed.''

In 1982 the Mets started out a little better than the previous years. In June they were still at .500 and more fans were coming to the ballpark. There really wasn’t much pitching there for Bamberger to work with, the staff was led by Craig Swan who would win 11 games. Charlie Puleo (9-9) Pete Falcone (8-10) a young Mike Scott (7-13) & a veteran Randy Jones (7-10) made up the starting rotation. As Pat Zachary (6-9) & Ed Lynch (4-8) also saw some starts.

To Bamberger's credit, Jesse Orosco said Bambi helped him develop his slider while he was in his rookie season. As for the lineup Dave Kingman’s bat wasn’t enough to carry the team, although he hit 37 HRs & drove in 99 Runs he only batted .204. George Foster (13 HRs & 70 RBIs) & Ellis Valentine (8 HRs & 48 RBIs) both came to New York with expectations, but they neither proved too change the team around.

The few bright spots were youngsters Mookie Wilson & reliever Neil Allen. At the end of the year the Mets didn’t finish much better than the previous season, going 65-97 in last place 27 games back of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. 

In 1983 after a 16-30 last place start to the season, Bamberger resigned. He said “I probably suffered enough , I'm going fishing”, feeling all the stress of losing in New York was going to give him another heart attack. He was replaced by big Frank Howard for the rest of the 1983 season. In 1984 Davey Johnson would take over and enjoy a successful run throughout the 1980's.

Bamberger went back to Milwaukee & did two more years as the Brewers manager (1985-1986). His team finished last both seasons winning an identical 71 games each year. In 1986 he retired for good, moving to North Redington Beach, Florida with his wife of 53 years. In 2004 he passed away at age 80.

Late Nineties Mets Pitcher: Brian Bohanon (1997-1998)

Brian Edward Bohanon was born August 2, 1968 in Denton, Texas. The big six foot two left hander was a first round draft pick (19th pick overall) for the Texas Rangers in 1987.

He began his career in 1990, as a starter in Texas, going 4-7 over two seasons. He spent five seasons with the Rangers and then moved on to the Detroit Tigers. He made 52 appearances going was 1-1 in ten starts .

Next it was off to Toronto where he was primarily a middle reliever for the Blue Jays in 1996. For 1997 he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Bohanon made his Mets debut on April 6th 1997, in the sixth game of the year. He earned a win, pitching seven innings allowing just two runs against the Giants in San Francisco. He lost his next game coming in relief in the 14th inning of a game in Los Angeles. As the month went on he got hit hard, allowing two runs in each of his next four outings. He was sent to AAA Norfolk & had his best minor league season there, going 9-3 earning him a Mets call up again by late July.

He would get put into the starting rotation & pitch into the 7th inning four times in his first five games. But in that time only got one win while losing twice. He finished out the year 3-1 from August 30th on, winning two games in September. He ending up with a 6-4 record, posting a 3.82 ERA, allowing 95 hits in 94 innings pitched, striking out 66 batters. He pitched beyond the 5th inning ten times in 14 games that he started, giving up less than two runs in five of those games.

In 1998 he was back in the Met bullpen and after going 2-4, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Greg McMichael. The first time he went up against the Mets again he took a loss, even though he only allowed one earned run through six innings of work.

Bohanon went on to the Colorado Rockies, enjoying success in 1999 & 2000. He was a 12 game winner both seasons pitching over 177 innings both years, including a career high 197 in 1999. In his last outing against the Mets in 2001 he gave up eight runs at Coors Field, taking the loss. He retired after the 2001 season.

In a 12 year career he pitched in 304 games, with a 54-60 lifetime record, posting two saves and a 5.19 ERA. He struck out 671 batters while walking 489 in 1116 innings of work.