May 21, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1988) Mets Seven Game Win Streak & Benches Clear in L.A.

Saturday May 21st 1988: Davey Johnson's first place Mets (29-11) were riding a five game win streak, 4 1/2 games in front of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL East. 

Tonight they were in Los Angeles facing Tommy Lasorda's Dodgers (22-16) who were 1/2 game behind the Houston Astros. The starting pitchers were Dwight Gooden & Tim Belcher.

Doc Gooden came into the game with a 7-0 record, one of the best starts any Mets pitcher has ever had. Tonight the Doctor was in again, he pitched a complete game four hit shut out, he struck out six batters & walked just one. 

Gooden went to 8-0 on the season with a 2.77 ERA. Gooden would go on to start the All Star Game in Cincinnati & finish the year at 18-9 (5th most wins in NL) with 175 strike outs (8th in the NL) & a 3.19 ERA.

In the Mets 2nd, Howard Johnson singled, Mookie Wilson doubled & Dave Magadan drew an intentional pass.  Gooden came through with base hit putting New York up 2-0. The Mets put put up two more in the 5th, Lenny Dykstra doubled, then with two outs, Keith Hernandez & Kevin McReynolds both had RBI singles.

In the bottom of the 5th inning, with the Mets up 4-0, Gooden hit Dodger short stop Alfredo Griffin, on the hand with a pitch. He was removed from the game with a fracture. Howard Johnson was the first Mets batter in the 6th inning & he was hit by a pitch from new Dodger pitcher; Brian Holton. Tensions were high but nothing broke out- yet.
Sunday May 22, 1988: The Mets were now riding high with a 5 1/2 game lead in the East. On this day 44,826 filled Dodger Stadium to see the Mets; David Cone (5-0) go against Fernando Valenzuela (3-4).

The Mets wasted no time in attacking, in the 1st Mookie Wilson led off with a base hit, advanced on a fielders choice & stole third. Keith Hernandez drove him in with a base hit. Darryl Strawberry followed with his 11th HR of the season. With a 3-0 lead, in the 2nd Wally Backman singled and was moved up on a sacrifice. With two outs Kevin Elster walked & then Hernandez & Strawberry delivered with RBI singles making it 5-0 Mets.

In the home 6th, Cone threw two high & tight pitches to Dodger clean up hitter; Pedro Guerrero. On the next pitch he throws a 75 mph curve ball that bounces off Guerrero's shoulder and bounces off his head. With tensions still high from the previous night, Pedro glares at Cone, then swings his bat & flings it at him. 

The bat slowly rolled over toward shortstop Kevin Elster. As Guerrero walks toward the mound, he is stopped by Mets catcher Barry Lyons & a fast moving Howard Johnson. Both benches cleared & a lot of words were exchanged but no punches were thrown. Eventually calm prevails & everyone cools down. 

After the game; NL President Bartlett Giamatti suspends Guerrero for four games with a $1000 fine.

Cone gave up two runs that inning but that was all for L.A. on the day. The Mets went on to win the game 5-2 David Cone went six innings, two runs on four hits, six strike outs & three walks. 

Cone bests his record to 6-0 with a 1.75 ERA. Roger McDowell got his fifth save of the year. The Mets would sweep the series in L.A. and finish off a seven game win streak before being stopped in San Francisco.

Early/Mid Seventies Mets Pitcher: Hank Webb (1972-1976)

Henry Gaylon Matthew Webb was born May 21, 1950 in Copiague, Long Island New York. He has the distinction of being the second Met with the name Gaylon, remember 1960’s Mets pitcher Galen Cisco.

The only other creature I can think of with that name is Roddy McDowell’s chimpanzee character Galen, in the short lived 1974 cult classic Planet of the Apes TV show.

The tall six foot right handed pitcher known as “Hank” was drafted by the New York Mets in the 10th round of the 1968 draft. He was another of the many good Mets minor league pitching prospects of the early seventies. 

But it was tough to crack into those solid Mets pitching staffs in those days. Webb went 6-2 for the Marion Mets in 1969, then 5-2 at A ball Pompano Beach in 1970. By 1972 he was 12-8 overall, with a 2.87 ERA pitching through A ball & moving up into AA ball. He was 9-5 at AA Memphis that year posting a 227 ERA.

He got a September call up making his MLB debut on September 5th 1972 at Shea Stadium. He allowed two runs in one inning of work, earning no decision in the Mets 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Three days later he got his first start pitching seven innings, allowing four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He left the game while the Mets tied it up, although they eventually lost 9-4. He had another solid start against the Montreal Expos on October 3rd, allowing three runs over six innings, but got no decision in the Mets 4-3 win. Overall he allowed nine earned runs in 18 innings pitched in six games.

In the Mets 1973 NL Pennant season, Webb pitched in just two games in May, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings of work, to post an ERA over ten. He was sent down to AAA Tidewater where he went 8-9 (fourth most wins on the staff) with a 3.05 ERA.

The next season, on June 7th 1974 at AAA, Webb pitched a seven inning 1-0 no hit victory for the Tidewater Tides of the International League. He was 10-8 on the season at Tidewater, second to only Randy Sterling in wins. He pitched well enough to get another September 1974 call up.

In his first game back up he was involved in one of the longest games in baseball history. It occurred at Shea Stadium on Sept. 11, 1974 as the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals were tied 3-3 in the 25th inning. Webb came in to pitch in relief of rookie Jerry Cram, and faced St. Louis’ Bake McBride who greeted him with a single. With the speedy McBride on first base, Webb attempted to pick him off. He threw wildly to first base, and the ball bounced against the stands and McBride scored all the way from first base. It turned out to be the winning run, ending the deadlock after seven hours & four minutes.

Webb made just three appearances, also getting two starts. He allowed three runs in five innings against the Chicago Cubs but earned no decision. He ended the year getting pounded by the Phillies on September 25th, allowing five runs in four innings of work. He went 0-2 that September with a 7.20 ERA.

In 1975 he saw the most action of his career, getting up to the staff by May & quickly earning two losses in the first week. On June 8th he earned a victory after pitching just one inning, when Felix Millan scored on a bases loaded wild pitch in the 14th inning. 

On June 23rd he pitched eight innings allowing just one run, which came in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. But he took another loss because Ron Reed shut out the Mets on just five hits.

In July Webb pitched two complete game victories where he only allowed one run each time. The first came in Atlanta in a 3-1 win & the second was in the nightcap of a double header at Wrigley Field. His best outing came on August 25th when he threw a five hit shutout against the Padres in San Diego. 

In September he pitched in relief & made two more starts earning a win in St. Louis on September 13th, pitching seven innings. For the year Webb pitched in 29 games making 15 starts, going 7-6 with a 4.07 ERA in 115 innings pitched, striking out 38 batters while walking 62. It was the only time in five years with the Mets he ever recorded any victories.

In 1976 he was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and the next winter he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with minor leaguer Richard Sander in exchange for Rick Auerbach. 

He pitched in only five games for the 1977 NL Champion Dodgers before ending his playing career at AAA Albuquerque. In his six year career, Webb pitched in 53 games going 7-9 with 4.39 ERA, striking out 71 batters, while walking 91 in 169 innings pitched.

Family: Webb moved south to Clearwater, Florida after his baseball days. His son Ryan Webb is an MLB relief pitcher who has played for the San Diego Padres (2009-2010), Florida / Miami Marlins (2011-2013) Baltimore Orioles (20140 & Cleveland Indians (2015).

In 2010 Ryan Webb earned a win in an extra inning victory against his dad’s old Mets team on June 2nd. On September 23rd 2012, Ruben Tejada hit a base hit off Webb, in the bottom of the 9th inning scoring Jerry Hairston with the walk off win. 

On April 23rd 2013 he took a loss to the Mets pithing in the 7th inning but then came back for a win two days later. He would face the Mets five more times in 2013 with no decisions. Through April 2015 Ryan Webb is 16-18 with a 3.34 ERA in 318 appearances.

Former Mets Outfielder: Collin Cowgill (2013)

Collin Brannen Cowgill was born May 22nd, 1986 in Lexington, Kentucky. The five foot nine right hand hitting, left hand throwing outfielder, attended the University of Kentucky.

He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. He hit 12 HRs at A ball in 2008 & then followed with 16 at AA Mobile in 2010. In 2011 he tore up the Pacific Coast League at AAA Reno, hitting .354 with 13 HRs in just 98 games, earning him a call up to the big leagues.

Cowgill made his MLB debut on July 26th, 2011 going 0-4 in a 6-1 win over the Padres in San Diego. He saw action in 36 games batting .239 hitting his first career HR off San Diego's Erik Hamren on Augsut 28th. He got two at bats in the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers getting one hit.

In December 2011 he was traded to the Oakland A's along with Jarrod Parker & Ryan Cook in exchange for Craig Beslow & Trevor Cahill.

He made the A's club out of Spring Training and hit .271 through June with a HR & 9 RBIs. He was still sent down to the minors returning as a September call up. That winter he was traded to the New York Mets for a minor leaguer.

Cowgill had himself a good Spring Training, impressing manager Terry Collins. On a team where the outfield spots were up for grabs, Cowgill got the call as the clubs every day center fielder going North platooning with Jorday Valdespin.

On Opening Day 2013 at Citi Field, Cowgill debuted in a Mets uniform batting leadoff & having a career day. The Mets 11-2 win was topped off with his 7th inning grand slam HR off Brad Brach, scoring John Buck, Ruben Tejada & Valdespin.
Four games later in Miami he hit a solo HR in the Mets 7-3 victory over the Marlins.

From there things went down hill, he did drive in three more runs in the month but found himself batting just .160 on May 1st. With Valdespin playing well, Mike Baxter & a bunch of other young possibilities, Cowgill was sent down to AAA Las Vegas as Andrew Brown was brought up.

In June he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels where he saw action in 50 games batting .231 with two HRs & 8 RBIs. In 2014 he made the Angels club as a reserve outfielder going on to play in 106 games in Anaheim. Cowgill batted .250 with 5 HRs 10 doubles & 21 RBIs. In 2015 he is once again with the Angels.

Mid Sixties Mets Third Baseman: Ken Boyer (1966-1967)

Kenton Lloyd Boyer was born on May 20, 1931 in Liberty, Missouri. He was one of fourteen children, & two of his brothers player major league baseball as well; Clete Boyer (1955-1971 Kansas City, New York & Atlanta) Cloyd Boyer (1949-1955 St. Louis & Kansas City). Three other Boyer brothers played minor league baseball. 

Clete was signed by his local St. Louis Cardinals in 1949, originally getting tried out as a pitcher but he hit too well & was shifted to third base. Boyer served two years in the military before returning to the Cardinals and becoming a regular by 1955. 

In his rookie year he hit .264 with 18 HRs62 RBIs 22 stolen bases & led the league in caught stealing with 17. From there he only got better; Boyer would play in seven All Star Games & win five gold gloves. He batted over .300 five times, while hitting 20 or more HRs & driving in 90 or more runs eight different times. 

In 1964 he won the NL MVP Award leading the Cardinals to a World Championship. He hit .295 leading the NL in RBIs (119) with 24 HRs 30 doubles 10 triples & a .365 on base %. He was also one of the leagues best third baseman, and one of the best in the sixties.

 Post Season: In the 1964 World Series he hit a Game #4 grand slam HR, off Al Downing to lead the Cards to a 4-3 victory. His brother Clete Boyer who was playing for the A.L. New York team later admitted, he was happy for his brother, because it was his first World Series. 

In Game #7 the two became the only brothers in history, to both HR in the same World Series game. Ken had three hits & scored three runs in that game as the Cards won it 7-5, winning their first championship since 1946. Overall he hit .222 in the Series with two HRs six RBIs & five runs scored. 

 Boyer was named the Cardinals team Captain by this time and appeared on the leader board in most major categories throughout these years. He was in the Top Ten in RBIs seven times, hits- on base percentage & batting average five times each as well as HRs, triples & runs scored four times each. He drove in 90 or more runs seven straight seasons tying Pie Traynor’s record for third baseman. He ranks second behind Albert Pujols in Cardinal history for HRs by a right handed batter & third overall. 

Defensively he won five gold gloves at third base, and led the league in games three times, double plays five times, assists twice & put outs once. In 1957 he played one season in centerfield & led all NL outfielders in fielding (.996 %). 

He began to have back problems after the Cardinals championship season & was traded to the New York Mets in October 1965 for Al Jackson & Charley Smith. He became the Mets main third baseman for the 1966 season. 

 Boyer debuted on Opening Day batting third & driving in the first run of the season with a 1st inning sac fly, in the Mets 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.In his first seven Mets games, he had seven hits, with three doubles & drove in runs in each game. On April 19th he hit his first Mets HR, it came against the St. Louis Cardinals, off his former team mate; Larry Jaster. 

On April 26th he hit a three run HR at Wrigley Field in Chicago, off Ernie Broglio in a wild 14-10 Mets win over the Cubs. By the end of April he was batting .395 with two HRs & 11 RBIs after just eleven games. In May he drove in runs in three straight games, hit just one HR & saw his average fall to .278. 

In June he had ten multiple hit games bring his average up to .295 by the middle of the month. On June 3rd he hit a HR off the L.A. Dodgers Don Drysdale, then singled in his next at bat in the 6-2 Mets win. He hit four more HRs in the next two weeks, but wouldn't hit another until the end of July. On July 27thhis two run HR off the Astros Larry Dierker, helped Bob Friend to a 3-2 win in Houston. 

In the first week of August he had six hits, with three HRs & six RBIs overall. In September Boyer had a ten game hit streak with a stretch where he drove in at least one run in five straight games. Even though he suffered from a bad back, he led the team in RBIs (61) & doubles (28). He was second on the club to Ed Kranepool, in HRs (14) third in hits (132) as well as batting (.266). At third base he posted a .951 fielding % making 21 errors (third most at 3B in the NL) with 292 assists (second in the NL). 

He began 1967 with New York as the third baseman. On June 6th, he drove in the only run of the game, with a 10th inning sac fly off the Pirates Roy Face. 

The run helped Don Shaw to the complete game win in Pittsburgh. After 56 games into the '67 season, Boyer was batting just .235 with three HRs & 13 RBIs when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Billy Southworth & a player to be named later. The Mets would eventually send Sandy Alomar to the White Sox & receive J.C. Martin to complete the deal. Boyer would finish his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1969 season. 

In a 15 year career, he played in 2034 games (212th all time) with 2143 hits (202nd all time) 282 HRs (160th all time) 1104 runs scored (247th all time) 318 doubles, 68 triples, 1141 RBIs (179th all time) 105 stolen bases & a .349 on base%.

At third base he played 1785 games (21st most all time) with 3652 assists (20th all time) 1567 put outs (32nd all time) & 264 errors (41st all time). He won five Gold Gloves, made eleven All Star teams & was in the leagues top five in fielding eight times. 

Retirement: After his playing days he managed for seven seasons at the minor league level. He was a Cardinals coach in the 1971 & 1972 seasons then replaced Vern Rapp as manager in 1978. After finishing fifth that year he brought them to a third place finish the following season, but was let go after 51 games of the 1980 season, while in fourth place.

Boyer passed away at age 51 in 1982 after a battle with cancer.

Honors: His uniform number 14 was retired by the Cardinals in 1984. Boyer is the only Cardinal to have his number retired & not be in the Hall of Fame, although he received votes in fifteen different years.

May 20, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1998) Mets Acquire Mike Piazza Fom the Florida Marlins

The ground work on this massive Mets deal, was laid a week earlier when the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Mike Piazza & Todd Ziele to the Florida Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson & Jim Eisenreich.

It is considered one of the worst deals in Dodger history. It all ahppened as the end result of contract disputes with L.A. & Piazza as he was becoming a free agent at the end of the season.

The Marlins had won the World Series the year before and wanted to cut salary, they dropped over 22 million on this trade alone. They had a big league fire sale, dumping all their big players. 

In getting Piazza, it would give them a big chip to trade for more top prospects. The New York Mets had just aquired Al Leiter after the 1997 Marlin Championship season, for pitching prospect; A.J. Burnett. At this point both teams GMs were on good terms, making good in leading up to the Piazza deal.

Todd Hundley was the Mets catcher at the time and he was down with a long term injury. Alberto Castillo was the back up catcher and he wasn't going to be an every day big leaguer. The Mets under Bobby Valentine were changing direction & moving forward. Piazza would give them the catcher they needed, and one of the best hitters in the league.

On May 22, 1998 the new broke in New York to the delight of Mets fans; The Mets had got Mike Piazza in exchange for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnell, & Geof Getz.

The rest is Mets history. Piazza went on to become one of the best players in franchise history. After a slow start in 1998, he became a New York icon, that season bringing them within one game of the playoffs. The next two years he led them to two playoff berths, and an NL pennant, going to the World Series. He came close to winning an MVP Award, made seven All Star appearances, set many offensive records becoming the face of the franchise. He set a record for most HRs by a catcher in a Mets uniform and is one day destined for Cooperstown joining Tom Seaver as Mets immortals.

Preston Wilson did well for Florida, he hit over 23 HRs in all four seasons he played there, driving in over 100 RBIs once and never hitting above .280.

He was gone by 2003, when they won their next World Series. Yarnell was a top AAA pitcher at the time of the trade but soon faded & Goetz never made the big leagues.

Brief Member of the 1969 Amazing Mets: Bobby Heise (1967-1969)

Robert Lowell Heise was born on May 12, 1947 in San Antonio, Texas. The six foot infielder attended Vacaville high school in Vacaville California, and played baseball in the Peninsula League during the winter of 1965.

Bud Harrelson was attending a game there that Heise was playing in one day. Harrelson was impressed on what he saw Heise do. Harrelson told Mets scout Roy Partee, “this kid Heise, has a little talent” so he checked him out. Partee & the Mets organization agreed, giving Heise a deal in 1966.

Heise first served in the U.S. Marines then went on to bat .298 at A ball in the Carolina League with the Durham Bulls. He got a big jump through the ranks, as he joined the Mets big league club on September 12th 1967 as the starting second baseman in a game against the Atlanta Braves. In his MLB debut he was 1-for-4, getting a base hit with two outs in the ninth inning. He represented the winning run but was caught stealing to end the inning, the Braves won it on Hank Aaron & Joe Torre's hits in the bottom of the inning.

Heise played in sixteen games that September going 20-62 good for a .323 average, he had four doubles & three RBIs. On September 19th he doubled off the Dodgers Bill Singer, driving in two runs tying the game. He would score on Tommy Davis' base hit helping the Mets to a 6-4 win.

Heise played 114 games at AAA Jacksonville the next year, with a lot of soon to be Mets like; Tug McGraw, Gary Gentry, Danny Frisella & Ken Singleton just to name a few. He was a September call-up once again batting only .217 in six games.

In 1969 he was the AAA Tidewater Tides main short stop, although he made 25 errors at the position. He got a four game September call up to the eventual World Champion Amazing Mets. He hit safely in three of the four games he played in, & did not make the post-season roster. After the World Series, on December 12th 1969 he was traded with Jim Gosger to the San Francisco Giants for Ray Sadecki and Dave Marshall.

In San Francisco, Heise was a utility infielder hitting his only career HR on June 30, 1970, off the San Diego Padres, Danny Combs at Candlestick Park. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Floyd Wicker in June 1971 & hit .254 for the rest of the year.

He spent two seasons as utility man in Milwaukee, batting .266 in 1972, and .204 in 1973. He would end up spending brief periods of time in 1974 with the St. Louis Cardinals & the California Angels.

He then went to the Boston Red Sox for two seasons playing behind Rico Petrocelli & Butch Hobson at third. Rick Burlson at short, Jerry Remy & Denny Doyle at second. He was on the 1975 AL Champion Red Sox team, batting .214, driving in 21 runs with five game winning hits, playing in 63 games. His best day was during a July 6th doubleheader in Cleveland, where he went 4-for-7 with five RBIs on the day, against the Indians. He drove in three runs in a 5-3 Red Sox win in the first game of that twin bill.

In the post season, he watched from the bench not seeing any action in one of the greatest World Series ever played, as Boston fell to the Big Red Machine in seven games. Heise went to the Kansas City Royals in 1977 with his former minor league instructor from the Mets years, Whitey Herzog.

There got into 54 games for the NL Western Champion Royals, batting .258. In an 11 year career he hit .247 with 283 hits, one HR, 43 doubles, three triples, 104 runs scored, a .280 on base %, 86 RBIs & 30 sacrifice hits in 499 career games played.

Retirement: Bobby became a corrections police officer, at San Quentin prison and worked as a fire fighter for 16 years. He then retired, suffered a bout with cancer, beat it, and is now cancer-free.

Quotes:" You know, I have an American League Championship ring, and it says Boston Red Sox on it. And it's a thing that I'll get to pass down to my son, and he'll pass it down to his kid."

Mid Nineties Mets Backup Catcher: Brook Fordyce (1995)

Brook Alexander Fordyce was born on May 7, 1970 in New London, Connecticut. He attended high school in the town of Uncasville, Conn., which is now the location of the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino.

The catcher was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft by the New York Mets. He spent six years in the Mets organization, before making the team out of Spring Training in 1995.

He made his MLB debut as a pinch runner in Colorado on April 26th. In his first MLB at bat he walked as pinch hitter and scored his only career Mets run that same day. He made two more pinch hit appearances getting his only Mets hit, which was a double, on May 12th against the Montreal Expos. That season the Mets had Todd Hundley as their main catcher with Kelly Stinnett & Alberto Castillo as backups. Fordyce was placed on waivers two days later & got picked up by the Cleveland Indians.

Fordyce was soon signed by the Cincinnati Reds, playing there for three seasons. With the Reds he played behind catchers Joe Oliver & Ed Taubensee under managers Ray Night & Jack McKeon.

In 1999 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for a minor leaguer, becoming the team’s main catcher that season. That year he hit .297 with 9 HRs 25 doubles & 49 RBIs in 105 games played. He made eight errors behind the plate & threw out 33% of would be base stealers.

In 2000 after 40 games with the White Sox, he was batting .272 & got traded on July 31st to the Baltimore Orioles for Harold Baines & Charles Johnson. In Baltimore Fordyce would hit .322 with 9 HRs the rest of the season, finishing with career bests in batting average (.301) & HRs (14) for the season. He would spend four seasons in Baltimore, becoming a solid defensive catcher.

In January of 2002 he collapsed after hitting his head in the bathroom of his Ft. Lauderdale home. An artery had burst & sent five pints of blood gushing into his stomach.

He spent four days in intensive care & almost died from losing too much blood, while not having enough blood reach his head. He recovered well enough to return for 56 games later that season.

In 2003 he was the Orioles main catcher hitting .273 with 6 HRs & 31 RBIs. That season he finished third in the A.L. with a .996 fielding %, he had also finished third in 2000 with a .990%.

Retirement: Fordyce retired after the 2004 season, finishing a ten year career, batting .258 lifetime, with 467 hits 41 HRs 103 doubles & 188 RBIs in 623 games played. Behind the plate he played in 591 games posting a .988%. 

He currently owns and operates a baseball training center in Stuart, Florida.

New York Giants Hall of Fame Centerfielder: Edd Roush (1916 / 1927-1929)

Edd J. Roush was born May 8th, 1893 in Oakland City, Indiana. The young Roush, grew up on a farm milking cows & played baseball so he could get away.

Quotes: Edd Roush"I didn't expect to make it all the way to the big leagues; I just had to get away from them damn cows."

He made it all the way to the big leagues & the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of the better defensive centerfielders of his day & a good hitter as well, winning two batting titles, while finishing second twice.

He came up with the Chicago White Sox in 1913, playing just nine games. He played two seasons in the Federal League before landing for a short time with the 1916 New York Giants. In 39 games he hit just .188 before getting traded with Christy Mathewson who was at the end of his career to the Cincinnati Reds for Buck Herzog & Red Killefer. It was with the Reds that Rousch would spend twelve years playing the best years of his Hall of Fame career.

In his second year with the Reds he won the 1917 batting title, batting .341. He would come in runner up twice once to Rogers Hornsby & once to Zach Wheat. In 1918 he led the league in slugging (.455) & sac hits (33). In 1919 he won his second batting title, hitting .321 with a .380 on base %, for the National League Champion Reds.

Post Season: This was the famous Black Sox World Series, where the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the Series. Roush drove in the first run of the Game #2 Reds 4-2 win in Cincinnati. In Game #5 he tripled, driving in another two runs, in the 5-0 win at Chicago. But overall he struggled batting .214 in the series (6-28). It was Roush's only World Series appearance.

Roush would hit over .300, eleven straight years, thirteen times overall. He would hit ten or more triples seven straight years, doing it eleven times in his career. With his speed he stole over twenty bases six times, was in the league's top ten five times, with a career best 36 (second in the NL) in 1920. That season he also drove in a career best 90 runs.

In 1923 he led the league in doubles with 41, he would hit thirty plus doubles, twice in his career. He was known to swing a 48 ounce bat, one of the biggest in the game during his day. Roush rarely struck out, having the best at bat per strike out ratio three times in his career. At 28.3, he is 29th all time in that category (260 strike outs in 7363 at bats).

In centerfield, he was the league's top fielder (percentage wise) three times, while leading in double plays from center field twice. He also led the league in assists in 1919 (22) & was in the top three in that category seven times. In 1927 he was traded to the New York Giants for High Pockets Kelly.

In just his third game with the Giants, he hit a bases clearing double, helping them in a 6-3 win at the Baker Bowl over the Philadelphia Phillies. The next day he drove in two more runs, in a 7-6 win over the Boston Braves. In late August he had a big series against his old Reds team mates, with five hits, five runs scored & five RBIs in a three game set at the Polo Grounds.

He hit .304 For the third place 1927 Giants, with 7 HRs, 27 doubles & 58 RBIs. The next year injuries limited him to 46 games. He came back the next year at age 36, hitting .324 with 8 HRs & 52 RBIs, playing centerfield alongside Mel Ott & Freddy Leach. He was sent back to the Reds to finish his career in 1931.

In his 18 year career, he hit .329 with 2376 hits, 339 doubles, 182 triples, 268 stolen bases & 981 RBIs with a .369 on base % in 1967 games. He played 1607 games in center (24th all time) with a .972 fielding %. He made 190 assists (third best all time) as well as 124 errors committed (also third all time) & 27 double plays turned (7th all time).

Honors: It took him 24 years, but in 1960 the veterans committee elected him to the Baseball Hall of Fame, entering with Jackie Robinson & Bob Feller. He was also elected to the Reds Hall of Fame & Joe Morgan said of him "he's the best of us all".

On June 24th, 1970 he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the last game played at old Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Roush insisted until his death, that even if the 1919 White Sox had not thrown the World Series, his Reds still would have won.

Passing: Roush survived until the age of 94, when he passed away in Bradenton, Florida in 1988.

May 19, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1999) Robin Ventura Becomes the Only Player To Hit Grand Slams In Both Ends Of A Double Header

Thursday May 20th 1999: Bobby Valentine & the New York Mets (22-18) get set to play a twi-night double header against Phil Garner's Milwaukee Brewers (18-20) at Shea Stadium.

The starting pitchers in the first game were  Al Leiter & Jim Abbot, both were pitchers of record, but neither had a great day. The game turned into a huge run explosion with an 11-10 Mets win, a combined 21 run 25 hit day.  

In the bottom of the first robin Ventura began his historic day. The Mets began a two out rally, as John Olerud & Edgardo Alfonzo both walked & Mike Piazza got an infield single. Ventura then hit a grand slam off Abbot making it 4-0.

For the Mets Benny Agbayani hit two HRs himself, a three run shot in the 5th & a solo shot in the 7th inning. Agbayani had four hits & five RBIs in the game. Never to be left out, Mike Piazza added a 6th inning two run HR as well.

The second game was a Mets Blowout, New York scored ten runs on 12 hits as Masato Yoshi took the win over Steve Woodward. The Mets scored early as Ventura continued his big day, leading off the 2nd inning with a double. 

Then a John Olerud double put them on the board. In the 4th inning, Agbayani tripled & was brought in by Luis Lopez. Roger Cedeno then singled him in to put the Mets ahead 5-0.

Cedeno stole second & third, as Alfonzo walked & Olerud was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Ventura stepped in. The Brewers changed pitchers as Horatio Estrada was brought in. Ventura greeted him with a long blast, sailing down the right field line. It stayed fair and was long gone for Ventura's second grand slam of the day. This put the Mets ahead 9-0 & they cruised from there.

Ventura became the first & only player to date to hit grand slams in both ends of a double header. In his career Ventura is tied for fifth (with Willie McCovey) All Time with 18 grand slam HRs.

Late Nineties Mets Utility Player: Jim Tatum (1998)

James Ray Tatum was born on October 9th 1967 in Grossmont, California.  He is the only player to ever come from Grossmont. The six foot two, right hand hitter was signed by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 1985 amateur draft. In 1992 he was selected by the Colorado Rockies as the 44th overall pick in the expansion draft.

Tatum spent seven years in the minor leagues, before getting a big league promotion, missing all of 1989. At AAA Denver in 1992 he hit .329 with 36 doubles & 101 RBIs, earning himself a September call up. In 1993 he played a career high 92 games & led the majors with 17 pinch hits, but hit just .204.

In 1996 he played for the Boston Red Sox (two games) & San Diego Padres at the big league level. Tatum played 14 years in the minor leagues, hitting .292 with 1318 hits 22 HRs  275 doubles & 152 RBIs.

In 1998, Tatum signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. Tatum debuted on Opening Day as a pinch hitter in the Mets 1-0 thirteen inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

On April 22nd, he had his day in the sun as he came to bat as a pinch hitter, in a 7-7 tie at Shea Stadium. Tatum hit a walk off three run HR against Doug Henry to beat the Houston Astros 10-7.

Tatum was seeing quality playing time early on, as he batted .300 with two HRs & ten RBIs in the month of April. In May he fell off to a .220 average with just two RBIs playing in thirteen games. By mid June he was sent down to AAA Norfolk & would not return to the majors again. For the Mets he hit .180 with two HRs one double & 13 RBIs & a .211 on base %.  He would play at first base, outfield, third base, DH & even catcher (four games) for New York.

In a five year career he batted .194 with three HRs seven doubles & 13 RBIs.

Early Eighties Mets Second Round Draft Pick: Floyd Youmans (1982-1984)

Floyd Everett Youmans was born on May 11, 1964 in Florida. The right handed pitcher was a child hood friend of Dwight Gooden in Tampa. The two pitchers went to the same high school & were teammates on the baseball team.

In 1982 he was the New York Mets second round pick, behind Dwight Gooden and his future looked bright. He did well enough at A ball Columbia winning 12 games to get the promotion to AA in 1984. He then bounced back & forth from A to AA before getting traded to the Montreal Expos along with Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald and Herm Winningham in the Gary Carter deal.

Youmans went 20-8 in various levels of the Expos system and got called up in the middle of the 1985 season. He went 4-3 with a good 2.45 ERA (best on the staff) in 77 innings & 14 games for Montreal.

On June 8th 1986, he tossed a one hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies, striking out eight. A month later on July 9th, he tossed a two hit 2-1 win over the Houston Astros. In 33 games, he was third in the league with 202 strikeouts, posting another good ERA (3.53). He did have control issues, which led to leading the league in walks (118) and a 13-12 record.

Drama: It all fell apart by 1987, as Youmans checked himself into rehab. He admitted to using cocaine & eventually alcohol as well. He was suspended for sixty days, as he failed to comply with his drug-testing program & did not return to the major leagues that season. In December '87 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Kevin Gross. That August, Youmans was injured, needed Arthroscopic shoulder surgery and his career was done.

Retirement: In five MLB seasons, he was 30-34 with a 3.74 career ERA, 424 strike outs in 539 innings pitched.

He attempted two comebacks; first during the 1993 Players Strike as a replacement player, & later on in Canada but nothing came of either attempt. He also pitched in Independent baseball in the mid nineties.

Retirement: In 2008 & 2009, Youmans was the pitching coach for the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League.

May 18, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1986) Doctor K Tosses Two Hit Shut Out

Tuesday May 6th 1986: 41,722 fans including centerfieldmaz & his little brother came to Shea Stadium to see two undefeated pitchers go head to head. 

The first place Mets (17-4) already running away with the division had the reigning Cy Young Award winner; Dwight Gooden (4-0) on the mound, which was always a special night in those days. His opponent was Bob Knepper & the western division first place Houston Astros. This was an early preview of that years NLCS.

The two pitchers matched zeros along the way until the fifth inning, when George Foster hit his first HR of the year. By this point Foster's days were numbered & he was not the most popular figure on the team. 

In the 7th, Foster led off the inning with a walk & Rafael Santana reached on an error that was a possible double play ball. Gooden then gave the crowd a huge thrill as he tripled driving in both runs making it 3-0. Charlie Kerfield was brought in to replace Knepper & gave up a single to Kevin Mitchell scoring Gooden. 

Gooden didn't allow any hits until the 5th inning, when Glen Davis led off with a base hit. Kevin Bass walked giving the Astros two base runners, something they only did twice in the game. In the 9th Gooden had the one hitter in tact & the fans were eager to close it out. But Gooden walked the lead off man, then after a ground out, Craig Reynolds singled for the Stros second hit of the night. Then Jose Cruz got aboard, when Tim Teufel booted the ball loading the bases. 

Gooden then got Glen Davis to ground into a double play, sealing the two hit shut out & besting his record to 5-0, lowering his ERA to a league best 1.04. On the night he struck out seven & walked two.

2000 NL Champion Mets Relief Pitcher: Turk Wendell (1998-2001)

Steven John "Turk" Wendell was born on May 19, 1967 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The six foot two, right-handed pitcher attended Quinnipiac College, setting single season strikeout & ERA records there. Wendell was then drafted in the fifth round of the 1988 draft by the Atlanta Braves.

He began his minor league career as a starter, going 11-11 in 1989 at both the A & AA levels. He fell to 5-12 the next year moving into the bullpen as a relief pitcher. In September of 1991 he was traded with Yorkis Perez to the Chicago Cubs for Damon Berryhill and Mike Bielecki.

He debuted with the Cubs in 1993, pitching in just thirteen games over his first two seasons. He would spend parts of five seasons with the Cubs, becoming their closer by the 1996 season. That year he appeared in 70 games, with 18 saves, going 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA. In 1997 the Cubs closer duties went Terry Adams, as Wendell fell to a 3-5 record in mid relief appearing in 52 games.

In August of 1997 he was traded to the New York Mets along with Brian McRae and Mel Rojas for outfielder Lance Johnson, who was coming off a career year. (The Mets later sent Mark Clark and Manny Alexander to complete the trade.)

Wendell soon became a work horse reliever for Bobby Valentine, with good control & a good fastball. He also became popular with the Shea fans due to his zany antics. Wendell wore a necklace around his neck made from teeth of various animals he had hunted down. He would wave to the centerfielder before each inning & wouldn’t start pitching until the outfielder waved back. He would start out each inning by drawing three crosses in the dirt on the pitcher’s mound. He would crouch down on the mound when his catchers would stand up back of the plate. 

Turk chewed black licorice instead of tobacco and would hide in the corner of the dugout to brush his teeth between innings. For good luck he superstitiously leapt over the white base line on his way to the dugout. He would also have the umpire roll the ball to him instead of having it thrown back. He wore #99 in honor of Charlie Sheen’s Wild Thing character in the movie Major League, and signed a three year contract in 2000, worth $9,999,999.99 in honor of his number. His most famous trademark was when he would slam down the rosin bag before getting set to pitch, drawing a huge cheer from the Shea Faithful.

Turk Wendell made his Mets debut on August 9th at Shea Stadium pitching one inning of relief against the Astros. On September 2nd he pitched four innings in an interleague game against the Toronto Blue Jays & earned a save. On Opening Day 1998 he came in for the 13th inning pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies. He earned the victory after a four hour & thirty five minute season winning home opener.

Two days later he got another win in extra innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although he was a primarily middle reliever by the end of August he was 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA. On the year he would make 66 appearances going 5-1 with four saves, eleven holds and a 2.93 ERA over 76 innings. 

In 1999 he allowed an earned run in Florida in the season opener, but got no decision in the 6-2 loss to the Marlins. After that game he would only allow one more earned run over his next sixteen appearances, going through mid May. In that time he gathered up nine holds and kept his ERA at 1.57 well under two. He had a good July as well, earning his second win on July 5th, and then earned his third save on July 26th coming against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That month he earned five more holds but did blow a save & took a losing decision against the Expos.

After two straight losses during the first week of September, he came back to earn wins in back to back outings that next week. He finished the year setting a Mets team record with 80 appearances, while getting credit for 21 holds amongst the tops in the NL, going 5-4 with 77 strike outs 37 walks in 85 innings pitched, with three saves & a 3.05 ERA.

Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks he was the winning pitcher in Arizona, after pitching a scoreless 8th inning. The Mets then had Edgardo Alfonzo hit a 9th inning grand slam HR leading to an 8-4 win.

In the NLCS he earned another win against the Atlanta Braves when John Olerud singled home the winning runs off John Rocker in the 8th inning of Game #3 at Shea Stadium. Overall in the 1999 post season he made seven appearances going 2-0 allowing three runs over seven innings pitched. He struck out five & walked six in 7.2 innings of work.

In 2000 he began the year with five holds in the month of April, earning two victories during the week of April 20th. The wins both came at home, first on April 20th he pitched a scoreless 11th inning then got the win courtesy of Melvin Mora's walk off HR.

In May he had a rough start blowing two saves & taking two losses in the first two weeks. On May 21st he earned a win at Shea against the Arizona Diamondbacks & then two days later earned another victory in San Diego after pitching two scoreless innings against the Padres. He earned himself four more winning decisions over the last two months as the Mets chased the Braves for the Eastern title & won the NL Wild Card title.

Wendell finished with a career high eight victories, going 8-6 with one save, leading the team in appearances once again (77) while posting 17 holds, & a 3.59 ERA. He struck out 73 batters in 82 innings of work. He also did a lot of charitable work with children in the New York area & won the New York Press' Good Guy Award for the 2000 season.

Post Season: In the 2000 post season he appeared in two games of each series, including earning a strange win in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In Game #2 of the NLCS, he entered the game in the 8th inning and allowed J.D. Drew to tie up the score at 5-5. He intentionally walked slugger Mark McGwire then struck out Craig Paquette to end the St. Louis threat. The Mets scored a run in the 9th inning on Jay Payton’s RBI single and Turk ended up with the win.

On the eve of the 2000 World Series he said " The AL NY Teams Stadium, I dont give a hoot about it. We played there before." In the 2000 Subway World Series he was the loser in the twelve inning loss in the opening game. Wendell served up former Met Jose Vizcaiano’s game winning base hit. Turk would make one more appearance in that Series, overall allowing one run on two hits, with two strike outs &a walk in 1.2 innings of work. Wendell pitched in two post seasons with the Mets going an overall 3-1 in thirteen appearances, striking out 14 batters in 12.2 innings pitched, allowing four runs on six hits.

In 2001 he made 40 appearances going 4-3 with six holds & a 3.51 ERA into late July . On July 27th he was traded along with fellow reliever Dennis Cook to the Phillies for Bruce Chen & Adam Walker. 

In his five seasons with New York, he never posted a losing record or had an ERA above 3.60. He made 285 Mets appearances (12th all time in Mets history) going 22-14 with ten saves, 55 holds and a 3.34 ERA, striking out 259 batters in 312 innings while walking 147.

Wendell, was always outspoken & never afraid to speak his mind. When asked if he thought Barry Bonds & Sammy Sosa used steroids, he said yes. He also said everyone in baseball; players, coaches, managers & owners alkie knew about steroid use. He spoke out against steroid use and believed everything in Jose Canseco’s controversial book “Juiced”.

In 2001, he hit Vladimir Guerrero with a fastball saying; “ If he doesn’t like it, he can freaking’ go back to the Dominican and find another line of work." Less than a month later, he was ejected from a game against the St. Louis Cardinals for throwing behind catcher Mike Matheny. After the game, he told the media "When Rick Ankiel is out there throwing balls everywhere, why don't they throw him out of the game?"

After his Mets days his career was plagued by injuries, even missing the entire 2002 season. He went 3-5 in those last three seasons, finishing up his career in Colorado with Rockies in 2004. In his 11 year career, he went 36-33 lifetime with 33 saves, posting a 3.93 ERA with 515 strikeouts & 324 walks in 645 innings pitched making 552 appearances.

Retirement: In 2006 he visited the Troops in Afghanistan as part of MLB’S Heroes of the Diamond tour. He says he was so inspired by that trip he tried to enlist but was denied because he is color blind.

Wendell owns Wykota Ranch, a 200-acre hunting and fishing camp in Larkspur, Colorado.

In 2010 he told the Daily News he believes there should be a worldwide draft in baseball, and told former union president Donald Fehr just that. “These kids are coming over from Japan, Cuba or whereever and they’re giving them $30 million and they’ve never set foot in a minor league facility and they’ve just robbed every kid in Triple-A that’s competing for that spot.”