Jun 24, 2016

Remembering The Polo Grounds & Ny Giants: (1907) An Angry Mob Wants To "Kill the Ump" At the Polo Grounds

May 21,1907: It was a classic match up for the day, the NY Giants star Christy Mathewson would go against Chicago Cubs ace, Three Finger Brown at the Polo Grounds.

The Giants had a one game lead over the Cubs for 1st place in the National League. These were the Cubs of Tinkers to Evers to Chance, World Champions & the last Cub team to win a World Series (1908). They were bitter rivals of the NY Giants.

The game turned out to be quite a pitchers duel. Giants catcher Roger Bresnahan, (who just last month became the first catcher to ever wear shin guards) would make two errors that would cost his team the game. The Giants 3-2 loss was Christy Mathewsons first of the year, but more importantly it put Chicago in a 1st place tie.

The crowd back in those days were very unruly. This is still back in a time where baseball was just becoming a gentlemans game, there was alot of drinking & fighting still going on.

The umpires of the game Hank O'Day and Bob Emslie had made a controversial call on the errors. They get mobbed by the Polo Grounds crowd and require police protection for their safety.

The NY crowd is egged on more by Giants manager John McGraw, who himself, will be thrown out of the game and seven others in 1907.

The next day AL ump Billy Evans needed a police escort after McGraws old pal Hughie Jennings incites a riot. Jennings who was the Detroit Tiger manager will be suspended for his actions.

Jun 23, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1999) Mike Piazza's Club Record 24 Game Hit Streak

May 25th 1999: Bobby Valentines Mets were in second place just one & 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Mets were in Pittsburgh taking on Gene Lamont's fifth place Pirates.

With the Mets already ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning, Mike Piazza hit his 9th HR of the year, a solo HR off Kris Benson. Piazza would have three hits & drive in three runs on the day. It was the start of his club record tying 24 game hit streak.

Piazza had come in to the game already batting .302 when the hit streak began. The next night Piazza got one hit in the 5-2 win over the Pirates. From there the Mets came home to Shea Stadium, hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks. This was the worst stretch of the year for the '99 Wild Card winning Mets team, as the would lose eight in a row, all six on the home stand & two of three in the subway series at the Bronx.

Piazza remained steady he would have three straight games, where he collected two hits, all against Arizona. He then would get a hit in all five of the next games as well.

On Sunday June 6th, the Mets finally broke out of their slump. They shelled New York's Roger Clemens in the Sunday Night Baseball subway series finale'. In the 3rd inning already ahead 4-0, Piazza blasted a long two run HR off Clemens, his tenth of the season. The Mets rolled on to a 7-2 win behind Al Leiter. The Mets went on to win 12 of their next 14, with a stretch of six straight mixed in as well.

The next night on June 7th, Piazza drove in two runs & hit a solo HR off the Blue Jays Roy Halladay, in an inter league game with the Blue Jays at Citi Field. The Mets swept that series from Toronto & Piazza had a four game stretch where he collected two hits in each game. The next series brought the Boston Red Sox to Shea & the Sox snapped the four game win streak. Piazza provided all the Mets runs with a two run HR off Tom Gordon.

With Piazza's hit streak at 18 games, the Mets moved on to Cincinnati for series with the Reds, whom they play in a tie breaking playoff game to determine the wild card winner at the end of the season.

The Mets swept that series in the midst of their six game win streak, in the first game Piazza hit his 13th HR continuing the streak at 19. On the night the Mets had HRs from John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo & Ricky Henderson in the 11-3 win.

Piazza would collect a pair of hits in each of the next two games, including scoring what turned out to be the winning run on Robin Ventura's HR in St. Louis. In the next two games at Busch Stadium, Piazza hit HRs in both games. his 14th & 15th respectively. The Mets took two of three & the Piazza hitting streak was at 22 games as the Mets came back home to Shea.

On June 22nd 1999; the second place Mets (39-31) hosted the fifth place Florida Marlins. The Marlin pitchers held Piazza down without a hit until the 8th inning. In the bottom of the 8th, Piazza led off against pitcher; Vic Darensbourg. Piazza blasted his 16th HR, a long shot down the left field line. The streak reached 24 games, tying the Mets club record set by Hubie Brooks in 1984. On June 23rd Piazza was held hitless by the Florida Marlins in a 6-3 Mets win, officially ending the streak at 24.

The record still stands today, 17 years later. In 2007 David Wright joined Piazza & Brooks with a 24 game hit streak of his own.

The next night Piazza was finally stopped at 23 games, the Marlin pitchers Brian Meadows & Mike Mantei shut him down for an 0-4 night.

During the hit streak Piazza collected 37 hits, raising his average to .326. He hit eight HRs & drove in 18 runs. The Mets as a team went 14-10.

Remembering Mets History: (1969) Mets Sweep the Phillies In A Twi-Night Doubleheader As Slugger Dick Allen Gets Suspended

Tuesday, June 24th 1969: The Philadelphia Phillies arrive in town for a twi-night double header at Shea Stadium.

 Drama: In the late morning controversial Phillie slugger Ritchie Allen (soon to be known as Dick Allen) decides he wants to go to New Jersey to bet on a horse race. Allen went down to Monmouth Park, and played the ponies. He made his way back to Queens, arriving back at the ballpark after the game had started. 

Some in the Phillies organization believe he forgot there was double header, thinking it was just one game. Others claim he just didn’t care. According to Allen himself, he said he got stuck in New York's crazy traffic. In the end he was fined and suspended until the middle of July.

The Phils and Dick Allen had been battling each other all year. Most recently he had already been late for two games that month, but there were other issues. In all fairness to Allen he was never welcomed in Philadelphia.

He had been booed mercifully when he struggled early on. Things go so bad, he had to wear a batting helmet on the field because because the fans threw objects at him. He answered them, back by writing BOO in the dirt around 1st base with his foot while playing at the position. (Allen moved to St. Louis & then L.A. Eventually  he was with the Chicago White Sox & won the 1972 MVP Award.)
As for the double header at Shea; The second place Mets were five games back of the Chicago Cubs, with Tom Seaver (11-2) on the mound facing the fifth place Phils' Woodie Fryman (6-3). Phillie Larry Hisel led off the game with a HR, but that would be the only run the Phils would score in both games of the double header.

Starting Lineups

Tom Seaver went on to have another outstanding game. He would throw a complete game seven hitter, striking out nine batters & walking just one. He went to an 11-3 record on the season. with one of the leagues best ERA's at 2.53 on his way to his first Cy Young Award. 

In the home 3rd, Al Weis singled & was moved over on a Seaver bunt. Bud Harrelson then tripled scoring Weis making it 1-0. It was Harrelson's third triple of the year, he would have six on the season. The leagues leading hitter, Cleon Jones then brought in Harrelson with a base hit. It was all New York needed for the 2-1 win.

In the nightcap Mets Manager Gil Hodges sent Jim McAndrew (0-2) to  the mound to face Philadelphia's Jerry Johnson (3-6).

Starting Lineups

McAndrew had one of his best outings, shutting out the Phillies for eight innings, allowing just two hits. Ron Taylor came on for the 9th inning save & twin bill sweep.
As for the Mets offense;  In the bottom of the 4th, Tommie Agee reached on an error & Kenny Boswell singled.

Art Shamsky & Wayne Garrett both singled driving in runs. Ed Kranepool’s sac fly drove in Shamsky making it 3-0. McAndrew then drew a walk with the bases loaded for the 4th run. In the home 8th; Agee hit his 11th HR of the year capping off the 5-0 win.

1966 Mets First Round Draft Pick Who Never Played In Major Leagues: Steve Chilcott (1966)

Steven Lynn Chilcott was born on September 23rd 1948 in Lancaster, California. The five foot eleven catcher/ first baseman was the New York Mets number one draft pick in the 1966 amateur draft. The Mets chose Chilcott over outfielder Reggie Jackson. Jackson was chosen by the Kansas City Athletics & went on to a Hall of Fame career.

As for Chilcott he is the only position player to be chosen first overall & never make the major leagues. Chilcott was a star athlete at Antelope Valley high school, playing both baseball & football. He attracted a lot of attention & the scouts came out to see him. Among those coming out to watch him play, was Mets manager Casey. Chilcott remembered that the day Stengel came out, hundreds of more people came just to see him.

Stengel & the Mets were convinced that Chilcott was their man; they gave him a $75,000 signing bonus to start. It made sense, that Stengel picked the catcher, since he had spoken of how important catchers were & his most prized player during his heyday was his own catcher Yogi Berra. Also at the time there was some question about Reggie Jackson’s attitude & character. Many baseball people at the time did believe that both players were destined to solid MLB careers.

In 1967 Chilcott batted .290 at A ball with the Winter Haven Mets, with 290 at bats he did not qualify for the batting race in which he would have come in fourth.

In a game that season, he was leading off second base, when a pitcher attempted to pick him off. He dove into second base landing on his right shoulder. It was then he suffered an injury that he could never fully recover from & it ruined his once promising career. The next year he was promoted to Visalia but hit just .189.

In 1969 as the Mets were winning the World Series, Chilcott only played in seven games at Visalia, after undergoing surgery. He also suffered a broken hand as well as chronic back issues the rest of his career. In 1970 he went from AA Memphis & got to AAA with the Tidewater Tides where he hit 11 HRs in 199 at bats. The next year he hit .265 with 17 HRs & 68 RBIs, striking out 95 times in 345 at bats.

The Mets gave up on him & he played his final season in 1972 in the AL New York’s club minor leagues for 24 games. After 337 minor league games his career was over by age 24, batting .248 with 39 HRs & 153 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days, he went back to school & then worked as a temporary fire fighter in Santa Barbara. He then went into the construction business as a full time contractor.

Jun 22, 2016

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 team & pitcher Dallas Green were not amused. Neither was MLB 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 Lucille Ball Show as himself. In Boston he was praised by Hall of Famer; Ted Williams as the best outfielder Williams ever saw.

2015 NL Champion Mets Italian / American Reserve Outfielder: Darrell Ceciliani (2015)

 Darrell Ceciliani was born on June 22nd 1990 in Tracy, California. At a young age he moved to Madras, Oregon, growing up there on a family cattle ranch. In the off season he still works at the Family Farm.

The six foot one left hand hitting outfielder, attended Columbia Basin College at Pasco Washington. He was selected by the New York Mets in the 4th round of the 2009 draft. Ceciliani is a good swift runner known more for speed & contact hitting rather than his power.

He spent 2009 in the Rookie League at Kingsport, getting promoted to A ball Brooklyn Cyclones in 2010. He had a fine year there, making the All Star team & finishing with the highest batting average in Cyclones history, batting .351 with 21 stolen bases & 12 triples in 68 games. He credits former Met Wally Backman, the Cyclones manager at the time, as well as coach Benny Distefano for bettering his hitting.

In 2011 he went to the Savanah Sand Gnats falling off to a .259 average, hitting more doubles than usual with 23. In 2012 he was at A ball St. Lucie, having a fine year hitting .329 but constant leg injuries limited him to just 23 games.

In 2013 he was promoted to AA Binghamton, having his healthiest season. Ceciliani played in 113 games, mostly in centerfield (58 games) & left (48 games). He hit .268, never a power hitter, he hit just 6 HRs, with 17 doubles & a career high 44 RBIs. On the base paths, the swift Ceciliani stole 31 of 38 bases and had six triples.  

Ceciliani got a surprise chance to play with the Mets at Spring training in 2014, donning one of the highest uniform numbers #93. He appeared on Sunday March 22nd, going 0-1 grounding into an 8th inning ending double play in the Mets 3-1 win over Washington. He spent 2014 at AA Binghamton batting .289 with 7 HRs 16 stolen bases & 54 RBIs while scoring 59 runs in 106 games.

He began 2015 with the AA Las Vegas 51's under his old Cyclones Manager; Wally Backman. After 37 games he was batting .336 with 5 HRs 7 doubles 17 RBIs & six steals. That got him promoted to the Mets big league squad in mid May.

On May 19th he made his MLB debut appearing as a pinch hitter & collecting a base hit off Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. On May 24th he got his first start going 0-4 at Pittsburgh in a 9-2 Mets loss. Thru the rest of May he went 0-6 as a pinch hitter, as his average fell to .125.

On June 1st he drove in his first run, a base hit at San Diego in a 7-0 Mets loss. On June 11th he started a personal four game hit streak that brought his average up to .270.

On Sunday June 14th, he hit his first career HR, it came in a 10-8 Mets comeback win over the Atlanta Braves, keeping the Mets in first place by 1/2 game. That day he also threw out Cameron Maybin at the plate to save a run. That week he got five hits in ten at bats.

He remained on the roster until July 5th when he was sent back to AAA Las Vegas.
In 39 games for the Mets he batted .206 with one HR & 3 RBIs. In February of 2016 he was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash or player to be named later.

 Trivia: Ceciliani has six tattoos, some of which include "strength & loyalty' down his arms, which he credits to his mother. He also has a Bible quote rom Philippians 4;13 on his ribs: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

From his young cattle ranch days, he is also branded with; Rocker 3 Ranch on his chest.

Ceciliani claims he has worn the same sox in all his big leagues games so far.

Quotes: Darrell Ceciliani- I try to play the game with a chip on my shoulder. Go out and play hard all the time. I play with a football mentality. Just a chip on my shoulder. I go out and battle. It's a dog fight."

Jun 21, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1994) John Franco Sets All Time Save Mark For Lefties

Wednesday June 22nd 1994: Dallas Green's Mets (33-38) came to Atlanta to face Bobby Cox's Braves (45-24). A large Georgia crowd of 47,907 were on hand to see the Mets Pete Smith (3-7) go up against Cy Young Award Pitcher; Greg Maddox (10-2).

The Braves struck Smith first as Roberto Kelly & Jeff Blauser hit back to back HRs in the Atlanta home 1st inning. In the top of the 2nd, Jeff Kent doubled for the Mets & Ryan Thompson then singled him in with a two out base hit, making it 2-1 Braves.

The game stayed that way until the 8th inning, as both pitchers dueled it out & settled in. Todd Hundley & Ryan Thompson started off the 8th with base hits. Shawn Hare pinch hit for the Mets & delivered with an RBI single to tie the game.

A Young Fernando Vina then reached for the Mets, on an error as he attempted a sac bunt. Braves third baseman Bill Pecota threw wild to Fred McGriff at first, both Thompson & Hare scored putting the Mets up 4-2. With Vina on third, Jose Vizcaiano hit a sac fly making it 5-2 Mets.

The Mets Mauro Gozzo pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Then in the 9th John Franco came on to close it out & secure himself a spot in MLB history. Franco got Javey Lopez to line out for the first out. Bill Pecota flew out & Mark Lemke then flew out to right field to end the game.

With this save, Franco's 253rd of his career & his 17th of the season, John Franco became the all time saves leader for left handed pitchers.

Franco would go on to lead the NL with 30 saves that season.

He ended his career with 1,119 appearances, third most all time. He has 424 saves, placing him fourth on the all-time list & is still first among left-handers.

In 14 years with the Mets (1990-2004) Franco saved 276 games for New York, first on the Mets all time list. Franco became Mets team Captain & was elected to the clubs Hall of Fame.

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Reserve Catcher: Ron Hodges (1973-1983)

Ronald Wray Hodges was born on June 22, 1949 in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Although he shared the same name, he was not related to Gil Hodges in any way.

The six foot one catcher was drafted three different times Baltimore (1970) Kansas City & Atlanta (1971) but didn’t sign with anyone, until 1972. That year he was the second round draft pick of the New York Mets. He spent 1972 at A Ball Pompano Beach bashing 15 HRs with 15 doubles & 48 RBIs in 112 games.

Hodges began 1973 in AA Memphis hitting only .173 but took a giant leap forward very quickly. All of a sudden he was called up to the Mets big league squad when injuries struck Jerry Grote & short time backup catcher Jerry May. Hodges was needed to help back up Duffy Dyer, who had taken over the main catchers job. Hodges made his Mets debut on June 13th 1973 at Shea Stadium against the San Francisco Giants.

He was behind the plate catching Tom Seaver’s eighth victory of his 1973 Cy Young season. In the 7th inning he got his first career hit at the plate.

Hodges caught the next game as well, helping Jon Matlack to a victory, getting another hit & driving in his first career run. Hodges hit safely in eleven of his first thirteen games and seventeen of his first twenty two. He found himself batting over .300 into July, before tailing off just in time for Jerry Grote to get healthy.

He received good reviews from the pitching staff and settled right in with the 1973 Pennant team as the number three catcher. He threw out 43% of the base runners trying to steal & posted a .992 fielding percentage, making only two errors. 

 In late September the Mets were the hottest team in baseball & were in fourth place in the NL East but just 2 1/2 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 18th in a crucial three game series at three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh the Mets came back from a 4-1 deficit in the 9th inning. After Felix Millan tripled home two runs, Hodges singled scoring Millan with the tying run.

The Mets went on to win the game 6-5. Hodges was involved in a famous play that was important to the Mets 1973 pennant run. On September 20th The Mets were in a tight pennant race with three teams, including their opponent of the evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With two outs & the game tied in the 13th inning, Ritchie Zisk was on first base. Dave Augustine lined a shot over the head of left fielder Cleon Jones. The ball hit off the top of the wall, and bounced back into Jones' glove. He grabbed it, turned & threw a perfect relay to short stop Bud Harrelson.

Harrelson then threw a perfect bullet to Hodges at the plate. Hodges blocked the plate perfectly and tagged Ritchie Zisk for the third out. It was an exciting play that electrified the team & the Shea fans in the year of "You Gotta Believe".

In the bottom of the inning, with two on, Hodges singled home John Milner with the winning run. It is considered one of the key points to the 1973 pennant season & is known as “the ball off the wall” game.

Overall in 45 games Hodges hit .260 (33-145) with one HR two doubles eleven walks & 18 RBIs. Hodges was on the Mets' postseason roster in 1973 and played in one game of the World Series, drawing a walk in his only appearance. Hodges remained a backup catcher with the Mets for the next decade.

He was there from the 1973 Pennant, through the down years when Shea Stadium became known as "Grant’s tomb". Hodges was also there for the resurgence of the Mets in the mid eighties Dwight Gooden & Keith Hernandez’ squad. He averaged getting into 50 to 60 games a year each season; backing up main catchers Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, John Stearns, Alex Trevino & Mike Fitzgerald.

In 1974 Hodges was back on the club as a backup catcher. On April 28th his 8th inning two run HR broke up a tie game with the Giants in San Francisco and ended up being the game winner. In 59 games on the year Hodges hit .221 with 4 HRs 4 doubles & 14 RBIs. Behind the plate he had one of his worst years making 12 errors posting the lowest fielding % of his career (.959%) while only throwing out 20% of would be base stealers. He would never make double figures in errors again until the 1983 season.

In 1975 he spent most of the season at AAA Tidewater, playing in only nine games with the Mets. On September 20th, he hit a two run walk off HR against the Philadelphia Phillies Gene Garber & hit another HR the next day as well. 

In 1976 he had one of his best years, he started off the season well driving in six runs in seven games played in the month of April. In the eight game of the season he had three hits & drove in two runs in the Mets 17-1 debacle of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On April 26th his two run single off Atlanta's Dick Ruthven led the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Braves. He got a chance to play in 16 games in July and drove in 12 runs over that period, playing a solid defense as well. He hit HRs in back to back games in a series in Atlanta driving in five runs over the two games. He saw less playing time at the end of the season, finishing the year with 4 HRs & 24 RBIs batting .226 in 56 games.

He followed that up in 1977 batting .265 with a .992 fielding percentage in 66 games throwing out 34% of would be base stealers. He increased his percentage in throwing out base runners each season from then on, reaching a career high 43% by 1980.

On April 22nd 1978 Hodges helped New York win a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago with an 8th inning two run single off the Cubs Rick Reuschel. On the year he batted .255 with seven RBIs in 47 games.

In 1979 his average fell to a measly .163 in 59 games played. The next year he improved to .238 but did not hit a HR for the third straight season. In the 1981 strike season his HR drought was over when in the seventh game of the season he hit a HR against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium in a 4-3 Mets loss.

In the short season he hit over .300 (43 at bats) driving in six runs in 35 games. That season he also had some success being used as a pinch hitter, getting five pinch hits in the month of September.

Drama: On a road trip to Montreal, he and Mets pitcher Dyar Miller were suspended without pay for three days by Mets' manager Joe Torre. The two were drinking in at the bar of the hotel where Mets coach Chuck Cottier, reminded them they were violating a club rule. There was to be no patronizing of a bar of in a hotel where the team was staying.

According to a statement issued by the team, the two players refused to leave the bar. Hodges said ''I guess a clean record doesn't count; I've never been involved in this kind of thing before. The more I think about it, the madder I get.''

In 1982 he had career highs in HRs (5) doubles (12) runs scored (26) & RBIs (27) playing in 80 games overall under new manager George Bamberger. Hodges had multi RBI games in each of the first three months. In early June he hit HRs in back to back games, as he also drove in three runs in the Mets 6-3 win at Cincinnati. On September 8th Hodges hit his only career grand slam, it came off the Pirates Grant Jackson in Pittsburgh.

In 1983 he saw the most playing time of his career behind the plate, seeing action in 96 games. He was finally the team’s main catcher after ten seasons, ahead of Junior Ortiz, Ron Reynolds & Mike Fitzgerald. In 110 games he hit .260, matched his career high 12 doubles, drew 49 walks posting a .358 on base percentage. He didn’t hit any HRs & only drove in 21 runs.

In 1984 Hodges was the back up catcher to Mike Fitzgerald as the Mets were now contending for first place for the first time in almost a decade. Hodges was thrilled to be back on a winning club where he started out.

On July 2nd Hodges was behind the plate catching the league's new phenom pitcher Dwight Gooden as he beat former Met Mike Scott 4-2 in a game at Shea Stadium. On July 12th he hit his last career HR helping New York to an 8-6 win over the Braves in Atlanta. On September 25th Hodges caught his last game, a 6-4 Mets win that began with Ron Darling on the mound getting relieved by Ed Lynch. On September 30th, the last game of the year, he made his last appearance as a pinch hitter in Montreal going hitless.

In his 12 year career Hodges played in 666 games, batting .240 with 342 hits 56 doubles two triples 19 HRs a .342 on base % 224 walks & 147 RBIs. He caught 445 behind the plate (6th most in Mets history) throwing out 31% of would be base stealers. He posted a .978 fielding % making 52 errors in 2358 chances.

Defensively he had 2095 putouts making 52 errors in 445 games (3326 innings) posting a .978 fielding percentage, throwing out 31% of base runners attempting to steal. Retirement: After baseball Hodges sold real estate in his home town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

New York Giants Hall Of Fame Pitcher: "The Meal Ticket" Carl Hubbell (1928-1943)

Carl Owen Hubbell was born June 22, 1903 in Carthage, Missouri. The six foot left hander became known as King Carl & The Meal Ticket.

As a young boy he would throw stones against his barn door, he got so good he was able to hit them on a hole the size of a dime. In his career Hubbell’ s best pitch was a screwball, he threw it so often it left his arm twisted and had his palm facing outward after his baseball career.

Hubbell attended high school at Meeker Oklahoma & was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers. He was first sent to minor league Toronto & then to Decatur Georgia as well as the Texas League. After two years of frustrations, he was released by Detroit, because player manager Ty Cobb feared the screw ball would hurt his arm.

In 1926 the New York Giants signed him, manager John McGraw said "after all Christy Mathewson threw a screw ball pitch called the fade away." Hubbell went 10-6 in his 1929 rookie year, with a 2.83 ERA. On May 8th, he threw a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first by a left hander in over a decade.

He then won 17 games or more over the next four seasons, coming in second place for the ERA title three times. By 1933 he established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. He would win twenty or more games for five straight years, leading the league in wins three of those times. He would lead the league in ERA three times & winning percentage twice. In that time he threw over 300 innings each year, leading the league one time in that category as well as in complete games, strike outs & shut outs all one time.

He won his first MVP Award in 1933, going 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA & ten shut outs, pitching in 308 innings, all the best numbers in the league. He led his Giants to a pennant & a World Series win over the Washington Nationals.

Post Season: In the 1933 World Series he opened up Game #1 & threw a complete game five hit victory over Washington at the Polo Grounds. The Senators scored two un earned runs as Hubbell struck out ten batters. In Game #4 at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C., he went ten innings and allowed just one unearned run, leading the Giants to their third victory of the Series. They would win the Worlds championship in five games.

Hubbell followed with two more twenty win seasons, but the Giants finished second in 1934 & third in 1935. In 1934 he led the league in ERA (2.30) complete games (25) & saves (8). His 23 wins (23-12) in 1935 were second best in the league, but he also allowed a league leading 27 HRs.

In the 1934 All Star Game, played at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell accomplished one of his most remembered feats. He struck out five consecutive batters headed to the Hall of Fame; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Then after allowing a single he struck out Left Gomez to make it six Hall of Famers going down on strikes in two innings. Overall he played in nine All Star games throughout his career.

In 1936 he had another incredible year & won his second MVP Award. During a stretch from July 1936 which lasted to the end of May 1937, he won a record 24 straight games. Hubbell pitched 46 1/3 scoreless in that time. By mid July he was 10-6, when the streak began.

On July 17th he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0 & then two days later he came in relief earning another win over the Reds in Cincinnati. On the next home stand he earned four wins; beating the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds & Pirates. In August not only did he go 6-0 but also earned himself a pair of saves in relief. All of his wins were complete games & on August 12th he tossed a two hit shutout over the Dodgers in Brooklyn. In September he went 6-0 once again, allowing just one run, pitching complete games three times that month.

He finished the year at 26-6, leading the league in wins, winning percentage (.813%) & ERA (2.31). He struck out 123 batters & walked 57 in 304 innings in 42 games (34 starts) leading the Giants to another pennant.

Post Season: In the 1936 subway series he won Game #1 at the Polo Grounds, allowing just one run in nine innings, striking out eight in the Giants 6-1 win. He returned in Game #4 buy took the loss across the Harlem River to Monte Pearson. Hubbell allowed three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings. The Giants lost the series in six games.

The Meal Ticket returned in 1937 and was receiving a lot of attention. In the second game of the season he shut out the Brooklyn Dodgers on a three hitter. At home in the Polo Grounds he won his next three starts, two of them complete games. It was on the road from there & he won in St. Louis, Pittsburgh & Cincinnati bringing the streak to 24 straight regular season wins.

On May 31st, 1937 at New York's Polo Grounds, the NYFD had to turn away a crowd of an estimated 20,000 fans who did not have tickets for the game, for public safety. An incredible 60,000 had already jammed into the Polo Grounds and the surrounding hills, to watch Carl (The Meal Ticket) Hubbell continue his win streak.

But it was on this day that he took his 1st loss in ten months losing 10-3 to the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the things that makes baseball so great are the unsung heroes, that shine for a day to break or spoil a record. Today it was Brooklyn Dodger, back up catcher Paul Chervinko, making his first MLB start of a short 45 game career. Chervinko would contribute with two RBIs helping Brooklyn defeat the Giants & beat Hubbell for the first time on the season.

In June after earning a save, he went on a personal four game losing streak. He rebounded with a July that had him throw four complete game victories. He finished the year at 22-7, leading the league in wins (22) win percentage (.733) & strike outs (159).

Post Season: The Giants went on to win another pennant that season & Hubbell made his final World Series appearance. In Game #1 he gave up four runs & was knocked out of the game in the 6th inning, taking the loss to Lefty Gomez.

He came back in Game #4 to salvage the only game of the Series for the Giants. He pitched a two run, six hit complete game in a 5-3 win. In six World Series starts in his career, he was 4-2 with 32 strikeouts in 50 innings and a 1.79 ERA. At the plate he even had four hits in 19 at bats.

Hubbell went on to win double figures in the next five seasons for the Giants but the glory days were behind him. The Giants suffered a series of bad seasons, finishing a best third twice in those years. His last year pitching was 1943, Hubbell was 4-4 with a 4.91 ERA at age 40 & he was released.

Lifetime he was 253-154 (44th all time in wins) with 1677 strike outs (127th all time) 227 walks & a 2.98 ERA (165th all time) in 3590 innings pitched (62nd all time). He threw 260 complete games (69th all time) & 36 shut outs (63rd all time) in 433 starts (89th all time).

He was so respected by his peers, he was elected to the Hall of Fame four years after he retired, before the five year rule. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the class of 1947. He was also a good hitter, batting a career .191 with 4 HRs 30 doubles & 101 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days, Giants owner Horace Stoneman, put him in charge of player development. He held that position for 35 years through the 1979 season. After that he became a scout through the next decade until the time of his death.

Honors: He was the first player in the NL to have his number retired (#11) and he was the last New York Giants player to still be involved in baseball.

Passing: In 1988 Hubbell passed away after complications following a series automobile accident. It was thiry years to the day that his team mate Mel Ott died of the same cause. He is interred in Meeker Oklahoma.

Jun 20, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1986) Mets Pounce On Cubs As The Kid Drives In Four Runs

Friday June 20th 1986: Davey Johnson's first place Mets (45-18) were rolling over the NL East, proudly holding a ten game lead over the division.

Today, Sid Fernandez went up againstScott Sanderson & Gene Michael's, last place Chicago Cubs (25-78). A large crowd of 44,817 piled into Shea Stadium for this Mets Cubs match up.

Starting Lineups

The Cubs scored first as Leon Durham had an RBI sac fly & Ron Cey added a base hit RBI, in the 4th inning to make it 2-0. But in the bottom of the 5th the '86 Mets attacked. Mookie Wilson & Wally Backman led off with singles. Kieth Hernandez then drove a base hit to the outfield brining in Mookie with the first run. Gary Carter tied the game up with a sac fly to centerfield.

In the home 6th inning Keith Hernandez his fifth HR of the season, putting New York ahead.

The Mets exploded in the bottom of the 7th inning, scoring six runs with three hits. Ray Knight led off with a triple and Cubs pitcher Ray Fontent then threw a wild pitch, easily scoring Knight. Kevin Mitchell walked & pinch hitter Ed Hearn reached on an error.

Tim Tuefel then doubled scoring Hearn making it 6-2 New York. Darryl Strawberry was walked intentionally to put two men on for "the Kid". The big blow came as Gary Carter blasted a three run HR, blowing the game open to 9-3.

In the 8th inning, Ed Hearn who stayed in the game to catch, replacing Gary Carter hit a solo HR to top off the 10-3 Mets win. It was Hearn's second HR of the year, his second on the week, he would hit four on the year in 49 games, 136 at bats.