Sep 30, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1973) Mets Clinch NL Eastern Divison

October 1st, 1973: The fate of the 1973 New York Mets season, all came down to the last day of the regular season. The Mets had a scheduled double header planned at Wrigley Field to close out the season. If they could win the first game, the second game would not be necessary. The St. Louis Cardinals & Pittsburgh Pirates both lost their final games of the season.


These were the NL East standings, on Monday Morning October 1st, 1973:

New York Mets 81-79 -
St. Louis Cardinals 81-81 (1.0 back)
Pittsburgh Pirates 80-81 (1.5 back)
Montreal Expos 79-83 (3.0 back)
Chicago Cubs 77-83 (4.0 back)
Philadelphia Phillies 71-91 (11.0 back)


Less than 2000 fans came to a cloudy / rainy & soggy, Wrigley Field to see the Cubs try to play spoilers to knock the Mets out of winning the division. The game was to begin at 1100 am, but was delayed twenty minutes due to rain.

The Mets had won eight of their last ten games, nineteen of their last twenty seven in the month of September. They had gone from last place to first place since late August & were 13 games out in July.

The team had suffered injuries all season, & it wasn't until the final month all the regulars were healthy. The pitching had been spectacular as well, the starters & relievers as well.

Today Manager Yogi Berra gave the ball to his ace, the 1973 Cy Young Award winner; Tom Seaver (18-10 / a league leading 2.00 ERA & 248 strike outs) going up against knuckle curve ball pitcher; Burt Hooton (14-16 / 3.55 ERA / 132 Ks).

In the top of the 2nd inning, the hot hitting Cleon Jones hit a HR to put the Mets out in front 1-0. 

Coach Eddie Yost Congradulates Cleon Jones On HR
Jones had hit four HRs in his last six games & six HRs in his last ten games. Jones had driven in 17 runs in the final two weeks, over 14 games. He had also hit safely in ten of the last 14 games. Jones had missed a lot of action on the year; playing in 92 games finishing up with 11 HRs 13 doubles 48 RBIs & a .260 average.


In the top of the 4th, the Mets rallied as Rusty Staub singled to right field. Hooton then walked John Milner & Cleon Jones to load the bases. Jerry Grote's RBI Single

Jerry Grote
The durable Mets catcher; Jerry Grote came through with a single to center bringing home Staub & Milner to make it 3-0. Grote finished out the year hitting safely in 9 of his last 12 games with eight RBIs. Hooton was able to retire Don Hahn & Bud Harrelson on fly balls to end the threat.

In the 5th the hot Mets went to work; Wayne Garrett led off with a double & went to third on a Felix Millan bloop base hit to right field. Cubs manager; Whitey Lockman, the former New York Giants slugger, replaced Hooton with Mike Paul.

The hot Rusty Staub, who had been the Mets most reliable run producer all year, drove a base hit to right field scoring Garrett with the Mets fourth run.

Staub would have a big four hit day, after coming off a three hit, three RBI day yesterday. Staub finished the season with a 15 game hit streak, batting .279 with a .361 on base % & 15 HRs. He would lead the club in doubles (36) walks (74) & RBIs (76).

Next "the Hammer" John Milner hit a sac fly to center which brought home Millan. Milner would lead the '73 Mets in HRs (23) while driving in 72 runs & posting a .329 on base %. The Mets did not score again & left the bases jammed after Jerry Grote walked. It was 5-0 half way through.

Tom Seaver was not with his best stuff today, between the bad weather & a long September, Tom Terrific had only retired the Cubs in order in the 1st inning. In the 5th Ken Rudolph & Rick Monday both hit singles.

 
Tom Seaver Delivers
Tom Seaver Earns 19th Win of Season Then Don Kessinger & Billy Williams brought them both in with base hits of their own. Seaver got Ron Santo to pop out in foul territory & struck out Jose Cardenal, to end the inning. The score was New York 5 Chicago 2.

The Mets threatened in the 6th, as Harrelson doubled & Seaver singled. But Wayne Garrett hit into a fielders choice & Felix Millan hit into an inning ending double play 6-4-3. Seaver retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the inning.

The Mets attacked again in the 7th, Staub had his third hit of the day with a base hit. After John Milner flied out, Cleon Jones drew a walk. Jerry Grote then grounded out as Staub went to third. He scored when Ron Santo made an error on Don Hahns ground ball, it was now 6-2 Mets.

In the 7th, Dave Rosello singled to right field & then Rick Monday blasted a two run HR, bringing the game to within two runs at 6-4. It was clear Seaver was tired & done for the day. In six innings he gave up four runs on eleven hit, no walks & two strike outs.


Tug McGraw Raises His Arm In Victory
Manager Yogi Berra came out & it was Tug McGraw time, McGraw had ten saves in September, six in the final two weeks, which was a lot in those days. He also had two wins in that time & had only allowed two earned runs the whole month in 28 innings, after this outing. McGraw retired his first three batters, ending the inning.

The Mets loaded the bases in the top of the 8th but Jack Aker retired Milner & Jones to end that inning. In the home 8th, the Cubs sent in two pinch hitters but McGraw retired the side in order. It all came down to the 9th inning.

Ken Rudolph led off with a base hit, bringing up the tying run at the place. But Tug got Dave Rosello to strike out & then went to a 3-2 count on Glen Beckert. McGraw went to his screw ball & got Beckert to hit a soft line drive to John Milner at first, the Hammer caught it stepped on first & it was all over.

Tom Seaver, Yogi Berra & Tug McGraw Ham it Up
At 82-79 the New York Mets were the NL Eastern Champions, from last place a month ago to clinching a playoff berth on October 1st. The second game of the scheduled twin bill was not necessary. The umpires diplomatically stated the field was too wet to play on.

Yogi Berra came into the clubhouse & yelled "the games off, get the champagne out!" The Mets clubhouse already ecstatic, began to celebrate.

Tug McGraw stood on top of an equipment trunk shouting his famous phrase "You Gotta Believe- You Gotta Believe"!! Yogi Berra told the press from a tiny office : "Its been a long year. I was on 14 teams that won but this has to be a big thrill because we had to jump over five clubs to do it. We were 12 games back & hurt. I told the guys, here Friday I'm proud of you whether you win or lose the next four. Just give me 100%".

All the players felt the same way, it was a team effort with contributions from everyone to get here. 11 of the players were left over from the Miracle Mets of 1969 & understood what winning as a team meant.

Bud Harrelson: "In 1969 it was some sort of Miracle that happened to us. We started out just hoping to do better than we did the year before & weren't expected to win. This year though we were so frustrated, we knew (tapping his heart) knew, that we should win. We had the talent & went everybody got down on us we knew they were wrong. To come back & win once we were able to play, I think of it as a much more mature feeling".

Tom Seaver said "Nothing will ever be like 1969, we were all so young then. Anyhow we've only taken one step of the three. We still have to win a playoff & a World Series to match 1969, but in a way it was more earned."

Wayne & Donna Garrett
Jerry Grote added "It was like 1969 because it was a team thing, everybody did something."

Wayne Garrett said: "Suddenly you look around during a game & see saw all the faces you were suppose to see on out there playing. Harrelson, Grote, Jones, Staub,- the regulars. It made a tremendous difference. We knew we had a good team if only we could get it out on the field."


Rusty Staub said "I simply come to play, I always do. A couple of months ago we were out of it & then we really put it all together."
Wille Mays Gets Doused with Champagane
Cleon Jones said "When I was out, I couldn't contribute, I don't think what I've done in the last month can offset that. But we're in now, that's what counts. I kept myself in shape when I was hurt & I feel strong & healthy. It's just fantastic, I can't express the way I feel."

The Mets received $5000 each player for winning the division. They flew to New York that evening arriving at 1110 PM, greeted by a reported 500 plus fans at La Guardia Airport. It was onto the playoffs with a date with the Cincinnati Reds. What a memorable season it was & what a memorable series was ahead.
 

Short Time 2006 Mets Pitcher: Jose Lima (2006)

Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima was born in the Dominican Republic on September 30, 1972. He was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1989, making his debut there in 1994. The colorful, animated pitcher, pitched there for three seasons, going 8-16 with three saves. He began as a started but by 1996 was put in a relief role.

In 1997 he was traded to the Houston Astros along with Brad Ausmus, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski and Daryle Ward in exchange for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller and cash. In Houston Lima would have his best seasons. He had a successful 1998 season, winning 16 games (16-8) tenth most wins in the NL. He posted a .667 win loss % also tenth best in the league. He posted a 3.70 ERA pitching in 233 innings. At the plate he even hit .138 driving in four runs.

He went on to have his best season in 1999, making the All Star team, going 21-10 (2nd most wins in the NL). He lead the NL in starts, posting a 3.58 ERA (9th in the NL) striking out 187 (7th in the NL) batters pitching in 246 (3rd in the NL) innings & throwing three complete games. When he started games, the fans in Houston would call it “Lima Time”.

In the post season he lost Game #2 of the NLCS 5-1 to the Atlanta Braves & Kevin Millwood. Even in those successful seasons he allowed over 100 runs both times & gave up over 30 plus HRs.

In 2000 the roof fell in on him he lead the league in earned runs (145) & HRs (48) going 7-16 with a huge 6.65 ERA. 2001 wasn’t much better (6-10 5.54 ERA). The wacky Lima was always up to something zany. Whether it was dying his hair light blonde, or sporting braids, he was always joking & smiling on any team he was with.

On the mound he was very emotional, pumping his fist or yelling up to the sky with some kind of emotion. It seemed no one enjoyed Lima Time more than himself. Over the next few years he was a spot starter & reliever for Detroit (again) Kansas City, Los Angeles & the New York Mets never regaining his top form.

In 2003 he was with the Newark Bears in the Atlantic league but got a break when the Royals came and grabbed him. The next season in L.A. (2004) he did go 13-5 although he posted a 4.07 ERA, allowing 33 HRs & 77 earned runs in 170 innings. In 2005 he posted the highs ERA of all time for a pitcher with 30 or more starts at 6.99. In February 2006 the Mets gave him a shot, and he began the year with the AAA Norfolk Tides.

He got called up when the staff needed some help in early May, but the Lima experiment didn’t last too long. Lima debuted as a Met on May 7th, getting the start at Shea Stadum against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings of work earning the loss. In his next start the Brewers roughed him up for five runs in Milwaukee in 9-6 Mets loss. On May 18th he took the mound in St. Louis but was gone in the 5th inning as well giving up five runs (four earned) in a 6-3 loss.


He was designated for assignment by May 20th, but then got another shot on July 4th. In his final start the Marlins pounded him as pitcher Dontrell Willis even blasted a grand slam off him. He went 0-4 with a 9.87 ERA allowing 19 earned runs, & 10 walks in just 17 innings pitched. His career was finished at the end of the year, and there was no more Lima time.

In his 13 year career Lima was 89-102 with five saves & a 5.26 ERA. He had 980 strikeouts, with 393 walks in 1567 innings of work in 348 appearances. He allowed 917 earned runs, & 267 HRs in that time.

Retirement: After his MLB playing days, he played in the Independent League, Korea & Dominican winter ball. He sang the National Anthem during his time in L.A. & wanted to peruse a singing career.

On May 22, 2010 he suddenly passed away from a heart attack, he was 37 years old. Later that night in Philadelphia, friend & Red Sox slugger David Ortiz wrote R.I.P Lima on his cap during a Sox – Phillies game.

Late Seventies Mets Pitcher: Kevin Kobel (1978-1980)

Kevin Richard Kobel was born October 2, 1953 in Buffalo New York. 

In 1971 after graduating from St. Francis High at Colden, New York he was quickly drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round of that year’s draft.

The six foot lefthander won 12 games at AA Shreveport in 1973 & was brought right up to the big leagues for a September cup of coffee.


Kobel was just 19 years old when he made his MLB debut on September 8th, in New York against the A.L. team. It didn’t turn out that well as he got pounded for four earned runs over two innings pitched. He made his first start on September 28th, going six innings allowing four runs earning the loss. He made just two appearances that season.

With a good Spring Training in 1974 he was given a spot in the Brewers rotation alongside Jim Slaton, Jim Colborn, Clyde Wright & Billy Champion. Kobel went 6-14 on the year, with two shut outs posting a 3.99 ERA for the 5th place Brewers team. Arm troubles set him back & he only pitched seven games in the Pacific Coast League at AAA Sacramento in 1975.

In 1976 Kobel returned to pitch 32 games at AAA Spokane going 7-12 but struggled with a 5.50 ERA. He was brought up to the Brewers in September pitching three games, two of them against the AL New York team. He took his only decision, a loss, on September 17th after blowing a save. The next year he spent the entire season at AAA Spokane, improving to 12-6 with a 4.94 ERA making two saves.

Kobel looked like he belonged on the Welcome Back Kotter television show, teaching the sweat hogs with his beard & puffy hair.

But instead the Gabe Kaplin look alike, worked hard to get back to pitching.

The New York Mets gave him a chance in 1978 as he began the year at AAA Tidewater, going 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA. He got called up to a weak Mets staff at the end of May. Kobel made his Mets debut on May 20th finishing off a 9-4 loss at Shea Stadium. In his first nine appearances the Mets lost every game, although Kobel was only the losing pitcher of record in one of them.

On July 8th he got a start against the Chicago Cubs & pitched six shutout innings to earn his first victory in four seasons. In early September he threw a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just one run on two hits.

On October 1st, he won the last game of the year, allowing only one run through seven innings of work at Wrigley Field in Chicago. On the season he would go 5-6 with a 2.91 ERA, getting 11 starts and making 21 relief appearances.

In 1979 he began the season in late April with two relief appearances. He was then thrown into the starting rotation and pitched well. He was 2-0 that month, going into the 8th inning three times while never allowing more than two runs in any start.

Unfortunately he only got credit with one win in those games. On June 16th, Kobel threw a three hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. It turned out to be his last really good outing of his career.

The rest of the way he went 3-6 for the last place Mets, finishing the year at 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA. He only struck out 67 batters while walking 46 in 162 innings pitched.

1980 proved to be the end of the line for Kobel, after 14 games he was 1-4, giving up 19 earned runs in 24 innings. He was sent back down to AAA Tidewater in mid June & never got back to the big leagues.

In his six season career he went 18-34 with 205 strikeouts in 405 innings pitched, posting a 3.88 ERA in 115 games.

Italian / American Father & Son MLB Players With New York Ties: Sal & Drew Butera

Salvatore Philip Butera was born September 25, 1952 in Richmond Hill, Queens. His parents had emigrated from Italy, settling in Brooklyn, New York at first, then moving over to Queens.

After Sal was born, the family moved to Long Island where Sal grew up playing ball in high school at Bohemia, NY. He attended Suffolk County Community College, getting signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1972.

The six foot right hand hitting catcher, would spend eight years in the Twins minors leagues. He didn’t hit for power & hit a best .278 in the minor leagues in 1977. In 1980 he made the Twins club out of Spring Training, starting out as the back up to Butch Wynegar.

In 1981 Butera saw most of the action behind the plate, appearing in 62 games for the Twin; hitting .240 with no HRs & 18 RBIs. He had a strong arm and nailed 54% of base runners attempting to steal, while posting a .970 fielding percentage. But lack of power & hitting made him Tim Launders back up the following season.

He was sent to the Detroit Tigers (1983) appearing in four games & then the Montreal Expos(1984-1985). In 1985 he became former Met catcher; Mike Fitzgerald’s back up in Montreal, seeing action in 67 games.

That season he hit his first career HR, it came at Wrigley Field off Cub pitcher Ray Fontenot. Overall he hit just .200 & struggled behind the plate throwing out just 17% of would be base stealers. That December he was Traded along with Bill Gullickson to the Cincinnati Reds for John Stuper, Jay Tibbs, Dann Bilardello & Andy McGaffigan.

He remained with the Reds until midway through 1987 when he was dealt back to Minnesota, just in time to win a World Series there. He backed up Tim Launder once again, who was struggling himself at the plate, batting .191 on the season. Butera hit .171 in 51 games with the Twins, improving his defense to throwing out almost 30% of base stealers.


Post Season: He got to catch a game in the ALCS, against the Detroit Tigers, playing in Game #3 & getting two hits.


In the World Series win over the St, Louis Cardinals, he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter. 

He attended a Twins Championship Team Anniversary years later; joining fellow Long Islander; Frank Violia & Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven among others.

Sal finished his nine year career in Toronto with the Blue Jays in 1988. Overall he played in 359 games, batting .227 with 182 hits, 8 HRs 24 doubles & 76 RBIs.

Retirement: In the early nineties he managed in the Astros organization, then returned to the Blue Jays as a bullpen coach in 1998. Since 2008 he has been a special assistant to the Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous.


__________________________________


Sal Butera's son: 
Andrew Edward Butera, known as Drew, was born on August 9, 1983 in Evansville, Illinois. He was also a catcher getting drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2005 draft.

He spent the 2005 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones batting .217, getting promoted to AA Binghamton the next season.

In 2007 he was traded along with minor leaguer Dustin Martin to the his Dad's old Twins team, for Luis Castillo. He didn’t hit much for average or power, but defensively; he threw out 45% of would be base stealers in his minor league career. 

 In 2010 he was promoted to the Twins big league club as Joey Mauer's backup catcher. At the big league level he still threw out over 40% of base stealers, but hit under .200.

By 2011 he was known for keeping the Twins pitching staff calm behind the plate, while calling a good game. He became Carl Pavano's private catcher & on May 3rd caught Francisco Liriano's no hitter.

He hit just .167 in 93 games , throwing out 31% of base runners trying to steal on him. In 2012 he played in 42 games throughout the season, but still could not hit over the .200 mark, finishing up at .198.

In 2013 he played for the Italian National Team, as their catcher in the World Baseball Classic. He spent most of his season at AAA Rochester, getting to the Twins for two brief games in July. Later that month he was traded to the L.A. Dodgers for a player to be named later. Since then he had mostly played at AAA Albuquerque for their Isotopes team. 

In 2014 he was the Dodgers reserve catcher behind main back stop; AJ Ellis. Through August he was batting .196 with 3 HRs & 13 RBIs.

In a four year career he hit .182 with 5 HRs 21 doubles & 41 RBIs in 186 games. In 183 games at catcher he tossed out 33% of would be base stealers.

Trivia: The Butera’s are the first father son combo to play for the Minnesota franchise.

Sep 29, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (1981) Pete Falcon HRs, Drives in Three Runs & Tosses A Shut Out

Tuesday September 29th, 1981: In the crazy year of the 1981 MLB Strike, the New York Mets were a bit better in the second half  of the year (24-28) than the first half (17-34). That year the season was divided by the strike as the half way point.

On this date, Joe Torre's Mets were in Philadelphia playing Dallas Green's Phillies in front of 20,110 at Veterans Stadium. The Mets Pete Falcone went up against Mark Davis. Since the strike Falcone, a local Brooklyn born, Italian American pitcher was 2-0 being used as a starter & reliever. Falcone had lowered his ERA at 3.03 & was pitching well. This was his best outing of the year & one of his best in his four years with the Mets.


Falcone allowed just four hits & two walks on the night, as no Phillies baserunner even reached second base. Falcone only struck out one batter on the night but kept the Phils in check recording 17 fly ball outs. On top of that Falcone had a great night at the plate too.

In the top of the 3rd inning he hit a solo HR, the only HR of his career in 416 at bats. Later in the 6th inning with New York already up 5-0, Falcone lined a single to right field with the bases loaded, scoring John Stearns & Doug Flynn.

 Falcone drove in three of his season career high five RBIs that night. He bested his record to 4-3 & lowered his ERA to 2.71. Falcone was a pretty good pitcher on four years of worth of bad Mets teams.

The Mets offense supplied him with a total of nine runs, Falcone drove in three of them, also Dave Kingman hit his 22nd HR of the year. John Stearns & Ron Gardenhire supplied RBIs as well.

Brooklyn Born Italian / American Mets Pitcher: Pete Falcone (1979-1982)

Peter Frank Falcone was born October 1, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. The six foot, two left hander attended Lafayette High School in Brooklyn.

This is the famous school the Mets John Franco & Dodgers Sandy Koufax graduated from as well as 21 other major leaguers including brothers, Bob & Ken Aspromonte, Al Ferrara, Kevin Baez, Luis Lopez & Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

Falcone is also second cousin to long time Mets coach Joe Pignatano. After high school Falcone attended to Kingsborough College in Brooklyn, getting drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 1973 draft. That year he we was 8-1 in the Pioneer Rookie league posting a 1.50 ERA. In 1974, he jumped through all three levels of the minor leagues going 12-8, averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings. He was brought up to the Giants staff the next year.

Falcone debuted at Candlestick Park on April 13th 1975, pitching eight innings against the Atlanta Braves & earning his first career win. In just his third start he tossed a five hit shut out against the Houston Astros, striking out nine in his best performance of the season.

In his 1975 Rookie season the southpaw went 12-11 finishing up third on the third place Giants team in staff in wins. He lost out to his young, Giants teammate John Montefusco in the Rookie Pitcher of the Year voting. Falcone struck out 131 batters in 190 innings walking 111 while posting a 4.17 ERA. After the season, the Giants traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Ken Reitz.

In 1976 for the fifth place Cardinals, Falcone was pretty much the ace of the staff that featured Lynn McGlothlen (13-15) & John Denny (11-9). Falcone won 12 games(12-16) posting a 3.23 ERA with 138 strike outs pitching in a career high 212 innings. He was toughest with runners on base, holding them to a batting average under .200 in those situations.

He dropped to 4-8 the next season and spent some time in the bull pen where he pitched five games in relief earning one save. He missed more time in 1978, pitching in only 19 games dropping to 2-7 with a 5.76 ERA.

That off season he was traded to the New York Mets for Tom Grieve & minor leaguer Kim Seamen. Prior to joining the Mets, Falcone was 0-9 with three no decisions while pitching against them in his career.

At first he was shocked when he was traded from an improving Cardinals team that seemed to be heading for contention. But eventually he appeared at a Manhattan baseball banquet & realized how good it was to be back in New York. Arriving at Shea Stadium he was reunited with his second cousin, Coach Joe Pignatano, as well as fellow Italian American Brooklyn boys Lee Mazzilli & manager Joe Torre.

Falcone debuted in the fourth game of the 1979 season, at Shea Stadium pitching eight strong innings against the Montreal Expos. Even though he only gave up two runs he earned no decision and the Mets lost the game 3-2. His Mets career started out on a losing note going 0-5 not earning his first victory until the end of June on the 25th. That night he pitched a five hit shutout against the eventual World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. His best month was in August, where he won three games (going 3-3) including back to back victories.

Falcone had beaten the Chicago Cubs on a late July home stand & then added another win in his next start in the second game of a double header on August 2nd. He also then won back to back starts in the middle of the month, beating the Braves in Atlanta & the Astros at Shea, pitching beyond the 7th inning both times.


Overall In his first year as a Met he led the team in losses with 14, going 6-14 posting a 4.16 ERA. He gave up 24 long balls (6th most in the league) & had control problems, leading the team in walks (76) & wild pitches (10) fourth most in the league. He would finish in the top ten in that category three times in the next four seasons. Falcone struck out 113 batters in 184 innings pitched, good enough to average 5.5 K’s per nine innings, 10th best in the league.

Falcone with Keith Hernandez
He started out 1980 as the Mets #4 starter, behind Craig Swan, Pat Zachary & Ray Burris. Falcone won his first outing beating the Chicago Cubs 5-0 at Shea Stadium. On May 1st, in a game at Shea Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies, he tied a record by striking out the first six batters of the game. Although Falcone pitched a fine game, allowing two runs on just three hits while striking out eight, over seven innings, the Mets lost 2-1 to Steve Carlton.

He won his next two starts beating Atlanta & then the Houston Astros where he only allowed one run in eight innings pitched. In June he had a rough month not pitching beyond the 5th inning in four different starts going 0-2. He also made three relief appearances that month.

In July he won back to back starts first beating the Montreal Expos at home & then Just after the All Star break he beat his old Cardinal team mates pitching eight innings at Shea to even his record at 5-5. He would pitch six innings or beyond eleven times during the year but only got wins six of those times.

By the last month of the season, Joe Torre was using him out of the bull pen where he earned a save against the Expos on September 17th. In his last two outings of the year he was back in the starting rotation. On September 30th Falcone threw a complete game, two run victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Overall for the 1980 fifth place Mets, he finished 7-10, with a 4.52 ERA, leading the team with 109 strikeouts as well as 89 runs allowed.

In 157 innings pitched he made 23 starts in 37 outings with one complete game. Falcone was never a great pitcher, but it must be noted he did suffer from lack of run support & bad luck. He was always at his best, pitching with runners in scoring position throughout his career.

In 1979 he held hitters to a .210 average with runners in scoring position. In 1980 & 1981 the league hit just .220 &.211 respectively against him with runners in scoring position.

In the 1981 strike shortened season, he was used as a reliever for most of the year, until getting some starts at the end of August. He pitched strongly at the end of September going 3-0, all complete game performances. On September 29th he pitched a four hit shutout against the Phillies at Veterans Stadium & then closed out the season with a 2-1 victory over the Expos at Shea Stadium. Although he only pitched in 95 innings, with nine starts, he finished the year at 5-3 with three complete games, a shutout and a save, while posting a 2.55 ERA.

In 1982 he had a good start to the year going 3-0 with two holds, while posting a 3.39 ERA by June 1st. On May 19th he beat Burt Hooton & the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 while pitching into the 9th inning. That night he struck out seven Dodgers in the game at Shea Stadium. He then went 1-4 in June & was on a personal four game losing streak entering the month of July.

On September 12th he pitched his best game of the season, a three hit one run win over the Cardinals which was to be his last career Mets win. 1982 would be his last year with the Mets, appearing in 40 games on the season going 8-10 with two saves & a 3.63 ERA.

In 1983 he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves rejoining manager Joe Torre & his Cousin, Coach Joe Pignatano, whom had both gone to Atlanta the previous year. In his Mets career Falcone went 26-37 in 145 games with a 3.91 ERA. For the 1983 Braves, Falcone went 9-4 with a 3.64 ERA striking out 59 batters pitching in 106 innings while holding batters to a .235 average with runners in scoring position. 1984 would be his final season; he was 5-7 with a 4.12 ERA. 

That September he told an Atlanta paper he planned to retire after the season at age 30; “I’m just tired of baseball, I’m tired of the life style, and I can’t see any reason to go on doing it.”

Falcone left the game after a ten year career, going 70-90 with 865 strikeouts, 671 walks, and a 4.07 ERA in 1435 innings pitched in 325 appearances. He held batters to a .234 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Joey & Pete Falcone
Retirement: In 1989, he played in the Senior League and posted a 10-3 record for the Orlando team.

Family: Pete's son Joey Falcone is a U.S. War veteran, who saw his best friend die in the hills of Afghanistan during battle. Joey Falcone is now an outfield slugger playing in college at Staten Island.

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Milner Hits Third Grand Slam of Season & Matlack Wins 17th

Monday September 27th, 1976: Joe Frazier's third place Mets had put in a good season (85-71) but were 11 1/2 games out of first place & their season was over. With just a few games left to play, just only 2929 fans came out to a rainy Shea Stadium as the Mets hosted Charlie Fox's sixth place Montreal Expos (53-103).

The Mets sent Jon Matlack to the mound,to face Larry Landreth. The Mets left hander, Matlack, was enjoying one of his finest seasons winning a carrer high 17 games (17-9), earning that 17th win on this night. Matlack went the distance, seven innings, in the rain shortened 10-2 Mets win. Matlack allowed three runs on seven hits, walking three while striking out one.

The hitting star of the night, was "the Hammer' John Milner. Milner came up with four hits, two HRs, six RBIs, highlighted by a grand slam. In the home 3rd, Jon Matlack singled to center field. Rookie Lee Mazzilli reached on an error advancing Matlack to third. Felix Millan then followed with an RBI sac fly. Milner then stepped in & blasted a two run HR, making it 3-0. It was Milners 14th HR of the year.

In the 6th inning, Matlack got his third hit of the night, he would drive in a run & score two runs as well, not bad for the pitcher. Mazzilli then was hit by a pitch & Felix Millan singled.
John Milner stepped in & blasted a grand slam HR. It was Milners third grand slam of the season, his 15th HR. He would be second on the club to Dave Kingmans 37 HRs & one of just three Mets (Kingman, himself & Ed Kranepool) to hit double figures in HRs.

Sep 28, 2014

Remembering Mets History: (2008) The Closing Ceromonies At Shea Stadium



Sunday September 28th, 2008: I had to put aside the 2008 Mets  after they lost this final contest, the last game evr to be played at Shea Stadium. I did not want them to ruin the closing ceremonies for me. 
For me this ceremony was one of my greatest moments at Shea Stadium. Many all time great Mets of the past assembled on the field for the last time. 

It was extremely emotional when Mets Hall of Famer; Tom Seaver threw out the final pitch to Mike Piazza. Then the two Mets legends walked off into center field & closed the gates to the Beatles song "In My Life".

Many players from the 1969 World Champion Amazing Mets, to the 1973 NL Pennant winners. The 1986 World Champion teams & players from the 2000 NL Pennant winners as well were all present. There were earlier Mets players on hand as well from the teams first few years & players from other points in team history.

 Its was finally time we all put aside the hard feelings we had for George Foster &  Dave Kingman, and to remember the good times they had on some bad teams. Dwight Gooden made a very emotional return to  Shea Stadium on this day as well.

For me it was the 1969/1973 Mets that made the day. Besides my favorite of all time Tom Seaver, there were legendary Hall of Famers Willie Mays & former Met Manager Yogi Berra. 

Members of both 1969 & 1973 featured; A Met who's number should be considered for retirement Jerry Koosman, as well as the great shortstop Bud Harrelson.The longest career player in Mets history; Ed Kranepool was there. 

The man who hit .340 in the 1969 Amazing season, Cleon Jones, knelt down on one knee, just like he did in 1969 making the final catch of the World Series, when he was announced.  Pitcher Jim McAndrew, a member of the 1969 & 1973 staff was also there.







 One of the most under rated players of all time, but a very popular Mets figure and  a key player in the 1973 Pennant winning team-Rusty Staub got a huge hand from the crowd.  

1969 Third baseman; The Glider- Ed Charles, as well as the third baseman from both 1969& 1973 teams Wayne Garrett were on both there. 

The 69 right field platoon of Ron Swoboda & Art Shamsky made their appearances. The leading hitter from the 1973 team; second baseman Felix Millan was there & folk hero "the Stork" George Theodore also on hand.



Then the 1986 World Champs had plenty of representation, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Doctor K; Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Howard Johnson, Bobby Ojeda, Jesse Orosco, Lenny Nails Dykstra, Lee Mazzilli, El Sid Fernandez, Tim Tueful & Wally Backman.

It was also great to see other Mets from various points in team history: slugger Dave Kingman made his return to Shea after so many years. 

The first Met All Star; Ron Hunt, later All Star; John Stearns were both on hand. Late seventies Mets Doug Flynn, & Craig Swan. early sixties Mets Jack Fisher, Frank Thomas & Al Jackson.





Eight years after since the last Mets Pennant winner, the 2000 club featured; Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, Todd Ziele, John Franco, Al Leiter, and one of the all time Mets greats; Mike Piazza.

There were touching tributes to announcer Ralph Kiner, long time groundskeeper Pete Flynn who drove the Beatles to the stage in 1964 & Paul McCartney to the stage for Billy Joel's Last Play at Shea in 2008. Other tributes went to Bill Shea's family, Bob Murphy's wife; Joy Murphy, Tommie Agee's wife & daughter, Tug McGraws children & Gil Hodges' wife & son.

It was a great way to close out Shea Stadiums history.