Nov 22, 2014

Former Red Headed / Pie Throwing Mets Utility Man: Justin Turner (2011-2013)

Justin Matthew Turner was born on November 23rd, 1984 in Long Beach California. The red headed six foot infielder attended California State University at Fullerton, getting named freshman All American by Baseball America.

He was named to the 2003 College World Series All Tournament team as a short stop. In 2005 he was drafted in the 25th round by the AL New York club but did not sign. He signed in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round. Turner hit well in the minor leagues hitting .300 or better in five of six seasons.

In December of 2008 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Ryan Freel in exchange for Ramon Hernandez. He hit .300 at AAA Norfolk & and earned himself a September call up, debuting in Boston going 0-2 in a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. 

In 2010 he began the year with the Orioles but was hitless in five games, he was demoted & placed on waivers. On May 25th he was picked up by the New York Mets.

With the Mets he batted .333 in 78 games at AAA Buffalo making an impression on a team with a lot of openings at the big league level. At the start of the 2011 season, Terry Collins gave Brad Eamus the starting second base job out of Spring Training.

After just 14 games he lost his position & was gone. Justin Turner began the year at AAA Buffalo where he hit .300 in ten games and was brought up to the replace Eamus. He took over the spot & was the clubs main second baseman through the year, as Daniel Murphy took over at first base in place of the injured Ike Davis.

On May 7th Turner came in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter of a tie game with the bases loaded. He singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Guerrier putting the Mets ahead for the win. On May 15th in the middle of an eight game hit streak, Turner drove in five runs with a three run HR & a two run double, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros in Houston.

On May 19th his fourth inning RBI single was the only run of the game as he helped Dillon Gee to a 1-0 victory. The next day in the first matchup of the subway series with the cross town rivals, Turner drove in the first run of the game with a double off Freddy Garcia. Daniel Murphy would later hit a HR leading the Mets to a 2-1 win.

Turners incredible month of May had him drive in runs in seven straight games that week & then another six games closing out the month. He set a Mets Rookie Record with seven consecutive games with an RBI. 

He was also named the May NL Rookie of the month, becoming the first Met to win the award since it began in 2001. 

He stayed over the .300 mark into June before tailing off his hot hitting. On June 22nd, in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland Athletics he singled in the 8th inning scoring Jose Reyes with the go ahead run. The A's tied it in the 9th but in the bottom of the inning Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored the winning run. In the month he drove in eleven runs & then in July added a ten game hit streak.

On August 6th Turner hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 11-7 New York win. A month later on September 9th, he won another game with a ground rule double against Sean Marshall to beat the Chicago Cubs.

On September 22nd with the Mets down to the Cardinals 6-2 in the top of the 9th inning, Turner began a big Mets rally by walking with the bases loaded. He later came in to score the tying run on a Willie Harris base hit, as the Mets went on to an 8-6 win. On the year he played in 117 games batting .260 with four HRs 30 doubles 51 RBIs & a .334 on base %.

In 2012 Turner played more of a utility role, as Daniel Murphy took back over at second base. On April 26th Turner came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Florida Marlins 2-1 facing Heath Bell.

He drew a walk scoring David Wright with the tying run & the Mets won it on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' single.

He got to see more playing time when Ruben Tejada went down with injury, as he played shortstop in rotation with Jordanny Valdespin. Then Turner missed a month of action going on the DL from late May into late June. 

Trivia: The good natured fun loving Turner has always been known as the jokester in the Mets club house. Turner is the Mets main culprit at throwing a pie in the face of a player being interviewed after a good game played.

When Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history, it was Turner who gave Johan a pie in the face during the post game interview. It certainly did not seem the right time, after a history making moment to do something like that.

In June he doubled driving in two runs in the subway series helping the Mets to a much needed 6-4 win. At the All Star break he was batting .289 as the Mets finished off a successful first half of the season.

Their second half was nowhere near as good as they fell to fourth place. On August 25th he hit his first HR of the year & hit his second a month later at Citi Field in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 94 games he batted .269 with 2 HRs 13 doubles & 19 RBIs. The versatile Turner played at second base (14 games) first base (11 games) third base (11 games) & short (10 games).

In 2013 Turner proved once again to be a popular utility player for Terry Collins. Collins inserted the Red head into 23 games at third base, 18 games at short, 15 games at first base & 12 games at second base.

He saw a game at DH & a game in the outfield as well. In his first start of the year, he collected three hits & would have three different three hit games in April, finishing the month batting .368.

His hot hitting cooled off but he proved to be a steady player, until mid June when he would miss a month of action on the DL. On August 9th, he had a two hit, three RBI day against the D-backs in Arizona, although the Mets took a 5-4 loss.

On September 8th, he hit a solo HR at Cleveland in the Mets big 2-1 win over the Indians who were fighting for a wild card berth. Turner had five hits & four RBIs in that series.

He ended the year at .280 with 2 HRs 13 doubles 16 RBIs & a .319 on base %. In his five year career he is hitting .260 with 219 hits 8 HRs 57 doubles 89 RBIs & a .323 on base %.

In February of 2014 he signed on as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, able to play closer to his home town. In L.A. he had a break through year, he played in 109 games due to injuries to Hanley Ramirez & Juan Uribe. Turner played 59 games at third base, 15 at short & 14 at second for the NL Western Champion Dodgers. Overall in 288 at bats he led the team in hitting while batting .340. Turner hit 7 HRs with 21 doubles 43 RBIs & posted a .404 on base %.

On June 26th, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, he came in as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning. Turner connected for a base hit off Adam Wainwright scoring Juan Uribe with the only run of a 1-0 Dodger win. 

On August 21st his two run HR led the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres, giving Clayton Kershaw his 15th win of the year. On September 23rd, Turner hit a bottom of the 8th inning HR off the San Francisco Giants; Madison Bumgarner, breaking a 2-2 tie & winning an important pennant race game. 

In his first post season, he appeared in two games of the NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, going 0-2. 

Early Eighties Mets Reserve Outfielder: Gary Rajsich (1982-1983)

Gary Louis Rajsich was born on October 28th, 1954 in Youngstown, Ohio. The six foot to, left hand hitter attended Arizona State University, getting drafted by the Houston Astros in the 11th round of the 1976 draft.

After five seasons in the Astro minor leagues, he was traded to the New York Mets organization in1981. At AAA Tidewater, he hit 24 HRs with 56 RBIs while batting .277 in 74 games for the Tides.

In 1982 he made the Mets club out of Spring Training, debuting as a pinch hitter in the second game of the season. On April 12th, he got his first start & got his first career hit, a double at Wrigley Field off the Cubs; Dickie Noles. On May 18th, he hit his first career HR, a three run shot off future Met Bruce Berenyi, in a 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He played in 80 games for the 1981 Mets, batting .259 with 2 HRs eight doubles, three triples & 12 RBIs.

In 1983 he was back at AAA Tidewater, where he hit .270 with 28 HRs & 83 RBIs, both second to Clint Hurdle. He got the September call up, playing in 11 games for the Mets batting .333 with a HR & three RBIs in 36 at bats.

A youtube video exists of Rajsich making a spectacular catch for the Mets, at Shea Stadium while playing right field.

 In April of 1984 his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals & he went on to slug another 29 HRs at AAA Louisville.

In 1985 he was sent to the San Francisco Giants with Jose Uribe, Dave LaPoint & David Green in exchange for Jack Clark. In 51 games with the Giants he hit .165 with ten RBIs. It would be Rajsich's last year in the majors, ending his four year career at age 31. In 149 games he hit .236 with 70 hits, three HRs, 17 doubles & 27 RBIs. In the minor leagues he had hit 158 career HRs with 590 RBIs in 972 games.

Retirement: After his MLB career he played with his brother in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in St. Petersburg, Florida.

He then became an MLB scout, getting credit for signing the Boston Red Sox; John Lester. He also scouted for the Toronto Blue Jays & currently is the Baltimore Orioles Director of amateur scouting.

Mid Seventies Mets Pitcxher: Tom Hall (1975-1976)

Thomas Edward Hall was born November 23, 1947 in Thomasville, North Carolina. He grew up in Riverside California, attending high school there a s a star player.

The six foot tall left handed pitcher was the Minnesota Twins third round pick in 1966. In 1967 at A ball Wisconsin, he went 14-5 which got him promoted the next year. In 1968 he was 10-4 overall at AA Charlotte & AAA Denver with an ERA under two. He was in the big leagues with the Twins by the end of the year.  

He was nicknamed “the blade” & went on to have some fine seasons in the early seventies. He was primarily a reliever for four years in Minnesota, posting winning records every year, with the exception of 1971. In 1969 he was 8-7 making 18 starts in 31 appearances for the AL Champs that had two twenty game winners in Jim Perry & Dave Boswell. He made one appearance in the ALCS loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1970 he struck out 184 batters (8th most in the league) going 11-7 with four saves & a 2.55 ERA. By 1971 he was the Twins main reliever, leading the staff with nine saves, while posting a 4-7 record for the AL Western Champions. He pitched in two ALCS games against the Baltimore Orioles, taking the loss in Game #2 at home. In that game he served up a two run HR to Brooks Robinson & left the game behind 4-3. The Orioles went on to a 11-3 victory.

In December 1971 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Wayne Granger. Hall was fantastic for the 1972 Big Red Machine, going 10-1 with eight saves and a 2.61 ERA out of their tough bull pen. Reds manager Sparky Anderson earned the name "Captain Hook" as he liked to remove pitchers quickly, which was something not done too often in those days.

From late May through the end of the season Hall was 8-0 with six saves & eight holds to his credit. He did not blow any games or take any losses. In the 1972 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he got the win at Three Rivers Stadium in Game #2, pitching over four innings of one run relief.

In the 1972 World Series against the Oakland A's he made four appearances, earning a save in Game #6 which tied up the Series at three games apiece.  

Hall returned to go 8-5 with eight saves (third behind Clay Carroll & Pedro Borbon on the club) in 1973, getting to another post season with Cincinnati.

In the 1973 NLCS he made three appearances against the New York Mets getting no decisions. In Game #2 at Riverfront Stadium, he entered the game in 9th inning with the Reds behind 1-0. He gave up a single to Felix Millian, then a walk to Rusty Staub. Cleon Jones followed with a base hit to center field scoring Millan.

He would get charged with three runs before he was relieved by Pedro Borbon, in the Mets 5-0 win. That was the game Jon Matlack pitched a two hit shut out to even the Series. In Game #3 he allowed another run which ballooned his ERA up to a whopping 54.00.  

In April 1975 he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Mac Scarce. Hall made his Mets debut on April 16th in St. Louis, pitching two scoreless innings, finishing up a game with the Cardinals. On May 12th he earned a save against the San Francisco Giants preserving a win for Jon Matlack.

He got a rare start on June 4th & although he allowed three runs over five innings he still earned his first Mets win. Five days later he got another start, but he allowed five runs in four innings to the Atlanta Braves and was placed back in the bull pen. Over the last ten days in July, he earned three wins, two came in relief. The first was at home against Houston & the other on a road trip to Chicago.

On July 29th he got a start in St. Louis in the second game of a double header, although he gave up three runs the Mets supported him with eleven runs. Hall made 34 appearances for the third place '75 Mets, third most out of the bullpen, going 4-3 with one save. He would finish 15 games posting a 4.75 ERA. He struck out 48 batters in 60 innings pitched.  

In 1976 he earned a win on April 27th when John Milner & Bruce Boisclair drove in runs for a dramatic 9th inning finish. In his last Mets game, his former Reds team mates Ken Griffey & George Foster got him for two runs in the 11th inning for a loss. After just five appearances, posting a 5.75 ERA, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for a minor leaguer. He finished up his career there the next season.  

In a ten year career, Hall was 52-33 with 32 saves and a 3.27 ERA. He struck out 797 batters walking 382 in 852 innings pitched. Hall made63 starts in 358 games with seven complete games & three shut outs. He was certainly an under rated pitcher, especially at a time when mid relievers got no recognition.  

Retirement: After baseball he began a career as a supervisor for Rohr Aeospace in 1978. After that he became a postman for twenty years in the Riverside California area he grew up in.

Hall was elected to the Riverside Hall of Fame in 2002. He enjoys bowling, fishing, traveling with his wife, & spending time grandchild.

Nov 21, 2014

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Center Fielder: Jay Payton (1998-2002)

Jason Lee Payton was born on November 22, 1972 in Zanesville, Ohio. The five foot right hand hitting outfielder was a star player in high school at Ohio. He attended Georgia Tech. University where he was teammates with future Red Sox players; Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek.

Payton was rated as an outfielder with a strong arm & good speed, In 1994 he was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round (the 29th pick overall). In 1995 he hit .345 at AA Binghamton, getting promoted to AAA Norfolk by the mid season. In 1996 he played with the Gulf Port Mets, St Lucie Mets, Binghamton Mets & the Norfolk Tides batting .307 overall.

He missed all of the 2007 season due to injuries. In 1998 he went from St. Lucie to AAA Norfolk batting .261 & getting a September call up to the Mets. Payton debuted on September 1st 1998, coming the game to replace Tony Phillips in left field. Payton got two hits in his first two official at bats. That month he was impressive, batting .318 (7-22) with a walk & a double.

In 1999 he was at A ball St. Lucie for seven games before getting promoted to AAA Norfolk. There he hit .389 with 8 HRs in 38 games. He had another September call up appearing often as a pinch hitter, batting 250 but not making the post season roster.  

In 2000 Payton took over the vacated center field job, with Brian McRae, Rickey Henderson & Rodger Cedeno all gone. Payton was a rookie with a lot of expectations on him as well as the team. The New York fans would always want more from him, but looking back Payton had a pretty good rookie year. On Opening Day, he was in the lineup batting in the second position & playing left field as the season opened up in Japan in a game with the Mets & the Chicago Cubs.

On April 8th he hit his first career HR & then hit another in his next game four games later. He found himself batting just .213 at the end of May as he only drove in three runs all month. Then he had a hot June, hitting safely in 20 of 23 games, raising his average over .300. He had a 12 game streak during the month reaching base in 17 straight games. In the first ten games of the month he hit four HRs, including an 8th inning shot breaking a 6-6 tie against the Baltimore Orioles on June 8th.
That day he drove in three runs in the Mets 8-7 victory.

In the month he hit six HRs & drove in 16 runs raising his average over the .300 mark. In July he had a ten game hit streak and then had his first four hit day in the midst of a six game hit streak in early August. On September 13th he hit a walk off three run HR in the 10th inning, off Milwaukee’s Juan Acevedo for the game winner. In mid September he hit HRs in back to back games with three RBIs in each.

On September 13th his three RBIs lead the Mets to a 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. On September 29th he hit his first grand slam, it came off Montreal's Mike Thurman leading the Mets to an 11-2 win over the Expos. In the Mets 2000 NL Championship season, Payton came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .291 with a .331 on base %, hitting 17 HRs 23 doubles & 62 RBIs in 149 games. In the outfield he made seven assists with a .981 fielding %.  

Post Season: In Game #2 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets entered the top of the 9th inning with a 4-1 lead. But Armondo Benitez blew the lead, serving up a three run HR to J.T. Snow sending the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, pinch hitter Daryl Hamilton doubled to center field. Payton then singled scoring Hamilton with what would be the games winning run. In the NLDS he went 3-18 (.176) with two RBIs.  

In the Game #1 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Payton hit a two run HR in the 9th inning in the Mets 6-2 win at Busch Stadium. In Game #2 Payton was the Mets hero, as he singled to center in the top of the 9th inning. The ball rolled off Jim Edmonds glove, allowing Joe McEwing to score, after he had entered the game as a pinch runner. Payton had his second 2000 post season game winning hit.

He would only get one more hit the rest of the way, batting .158 overall. In Game #5, he was in the middle of some big drama as Cardinal Pitcher Dave Veres hit him with a fastball near his left eye. The pitch knocked him down to the ground, but he shot back up immediately & charged the mound. Both benches cleared. Payton was restrained by manager Bobby Valentine & Benny Agbayani, as order was soon restored.

The Shea Stadium crowd (in which centerfieldmaz was in attendance) went even wilder then they had been. With the Mets already ahead 7-0 and only three outs away from the World Series, Shea was a madhouse. John Franco played peacemaker trying to calm the Shea Faithful down. They answered by singing “Na na na na, Say hey hey goodbye” & booing the Cardinals off the field.  

In the 2000 Subway World Series Payton did well, hitting .333 (7-21). He hit safely in all five games, including having two hits in each of the last two games. In Game #1 he singled & scored a run in the Mets three run 7th inning, on Bubba Trammels two run double. In Game #2 he hit a three run HR in the 9th inning off Mariano Rivera, bringing the Mets within one run of their eventual 6-5 loss.

In Game #5 he singled in the second inning & then scored when Al Leiter reached on an error. After a successful rookie campaign, even more was expected from Payton the next year.

It took him until April 30th to hit his first HR, as he drove in just nine runs in the month. He then battled injuries & missed over six weeks of action returning in late June. Upon his return he hit just one HR through all of July as his average fell to .246. The rest of the season was not too much more productive for him nor the Mets, who finished in third place. On the year he played in 104 games, abtting .255 with just 8 HRs 16 doubles & 34 RBIs. As the team struggled, the fans let everyone who was not producing have it, the boo birds got to Payton.  

In 2002 he had already matched his previous years totals after just 84 games. He was batting .284 with 8 HRs & 31 RBIs at the end of July, but the organization had given up on him. He was traded to the Colorado Rockies for John Thomson & Mark Little. He would have his best season in the thin air of Colorado in 2003 batting .302 with career highs in HRs (28) doubles (32) hits (181) & RBIs (89).

The next year he signed with the San Diego Padres and found the Southern California air wasn’t as friendly to his hitting. He batted .260 with just 8 HRs & 55 RBIs in 143 games. Defensively he led all NL centerfielders with 11 assists. In 2005 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, then the Oakland A’s mid way through the season for Chad Bradford. That season Payton led all AL centerfielders in fielding, hitting 13 HRs with 42 RBIs in just 69 games after arriving in Oakland.

In 2006 he hit .296 with 10 HRs getting to another post season with the A’s. In the ALCS he batted .286 with a HR against the Detroit Tigers in a losing effort. Payton spent the next two seasons in Baltimore with the Orioles where his average fell to .256 in 131 games, with 7 HRs & 58 RBIs for the 2007 season.  

In March of 2009 he injured his shoulder while lifting weights causing him to miss the entire year. In 2010 he signed with the Rockies again, getting into just 20 games at the big league level batting .343, but was released at the end of the year.  

In his 12 year career, he batted .279 with 1157 hits 119 HRs 193 doubles 522 RBIs 30 triples & a .323 on base %. As an outfielder he posted a .987 fielding % in 1185 games.

Short Time 1973 N.L. Champion Mets Outfielder: Rich Chiles (1973)

Richard Francis Chiles was born November 22, 1949 in Sacramento California. The blonde haired blue eyed outfielder was drafted by the Houston Astros in the second round of the 1968 draft.

The five foot eleven outfielder was promoted to AAA Oklahoma City by 1969. In 1970 he batted .304 there with 24 doubles & 11 triples.

Chiles made his MLB debut at Wrigley Field in Chicago on April 15th, 1971 going 0-1 for the Astros as a pinch hitter. He was hitting well at the end of July, batting .343 when he started to see more playing time. In August he got to play in twenty games and drove in eight runs, but his average fell to .245 by the end of the month. He saw more action as a pinch hitter, where he set an Astros team record with 11 pinch hits. On the season he played in 67 games batting .227 with two HRs five doubles & 15 RBIs. He was back in the minors at AAA Oklahoma City in 1972 batting .263 with 7 HRs & 44 RBIs getting a September call up for nine more games.

In November 1972 he was traded to the New York Mets, along with Buddy Harris in exchange for 1969 World Series hero Tommie Agee. Chiles came out of Spring Training 1973 hopeful to get a chance as the Mets starting centerfielder behind the aging Willie Mays. But he was also fighting against Cleon Jones, Rusty Staub, Ed Kranepool, Don Hahn, George The Stork Theodore, & youngster Dave Schneck. Chiles made his Mets debut in the third game of the season, batting in the seventh position playing centerfield going 0-4.

He played in centerfield for eight brief games that April. His biggest day came at Shea Stadium on April 22nd in the second game of a double header, in a 13-3 Mets romp over the Montreal Expos. Chiles was 2-5 with an RBI double off former Mets prospect Steve Renko, scoring Ed Kranepool. Chiles would play only one more game for the Mets, it was in Houston on that same road trip. He was then sent down to the minors to play in the Pacific Coast League. With the Mets he hit only .120 (3-25) & was released in April of the next year.

He would play briefly for the Astros again in 1976, before getting drafted away as Rule V player in December. He then spent two seasons in Minnesota with the Twins batting .264 with 3 HRs & 26 RBIs playing in a career high 108 games. In 1978 he batted .268 as the Twins fourth outfielder behind Dan Ford, Glenn Adams & Hosken Powell. Chiles then played in the AAA Pacific Coast League through 1980.

In a six year career he hit .254 lifetime with 157 hits 6 HRs 37 doubles 2 triples & 76 RBIs in 284 career games.

Retirement: After his playing days he opened a hitting clinic in Woodland, California. As a youth future Red Sox player, Dustin Pedroia would practice hitting at his facility.

Three Time World Series New York Giants Pitcher: "Prince" Hal Schumacher (1931-1942 / 1946)

Harold Henry Schumacher, nicknamed Prince, was born on November 23, 1910 in Hinckley, New York on the Southern end of the Adirondack Mountains.

Hal began attending Lawrence University but had to quit due to financial reasons, even though he was an exceptional student in academics as well as in sports. He was offered a contract by the New York Giants, but he told them he’d only sign if they paid for him to finish his education, which they did.

From there on, he would spend his entire career with the New York Giants pitching 13 seasons and appearing in three World Series. He threw fast ball which was called a "heavy ball" in those days so hard, it sounded like a cannon ball when it hit the big catchers mit. He made a brief debut in April 1931 pitching just two innings in two games for manager John McGraw. He returned in June & July then got his first career win that September.

The next season Bill Terry took over as manager & by 1933 Schumacher became second on the Giants staff to Carl Hubbell, winning 19 (19-12) fifth most victories in the league, with seven shutouts, 96 strike outs and a 2.16 ERA (3rd in the NL) pitching 258 innings (8th in the NL). He made baseballs first All Star team that year and got some votes for the MVP award. That June he had his proudest moment when he graduated from Lawrence University and Manager Terry took, the whole team up North for the ceremony.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the 1933 World Series in the Polo Grounds, he pitched a five hit complete game win over the Washington Senators. He returned in Game #5 at Washington D.C. but got no decision pitching into the 6th inning leaving in a 3-3 tie. The Giants would win it & capture the Championship when Mel Ott hit a tenth inning game winning HR.

Schumacher had his best season in 1934 as he even topped his teammate Hubbell, winning 23 games (23-10) striking out 112 batters (7th in the NL) making 36 starts (3rd most in the NL) pitching in 298 innings (4th in the NL) with a 3.16 ERA (6th in the NL), 18 complete games (6th in the NL) & two shut outs. He also led the league with 10 wild pitches.

At the plate he was one of the leagues best hitting pitchers, hitting 6 HRs with 15 RBIs batting .239.On a hot day in St. Louis, while pitching Schumacher collapsed from heat exhaustion. He actually had no heart beat t one point, but was revived. He was packed in ice & recuperated right away. He would win 19 games again in 1935 (19-9) with a 2.89 ERA, making his second All Star game.

That year his average dropped a bit to .196 but he drove in 21 runs while hitting two HRs. He had an an off year in 1936 due to arm problems. The shoulder issues affected his fastball so he learned to throw a palm ball to go along with his overhand curve, That year he went 11-13 but the Giants still won another pennant, losing in the World Series.

Post Season: In that World Series he got beat up in Game #2 allowing five runs in just two innings, taking the loss. He came back to win Game #5 although he scattered ten hits & allowed six walks. He still pitched a complete ten inning game with ten strikeouts, taking a 5-4 win. At one point in the game he had the bases loaded with no one out, he then struck out Joe DiMaggio &Lou Gerig. He then got Bill Dickey to fly out to right field.

From there Schumacher went on to have four straight 13 win seasons, followed by two straight 12 win seasons, finishing above .500 all but one time. He would get to one more World Series (1937) taking the loss in Game #3.

In his 13 year career "Prince Hal" was 158-121 with seven saves posting a 3.36 ERA. He pitched 2482 innings in 391 games, making 329 starts striking out 906 batters walking 902. He threw 138 complete games with 26 shut outs. At the plate Schumacher was one of the best hitting pitchers during his time batting .202 with 15 HRs & 102 RBIs.

Military: He enlisted with the Naval Reserves in 1942 during World War II, serving America for four years. He lost his brother in the war & was devestated only pitching one more year after his Naval discharge.

When he returned he briefly pitched with the Giants in 1946 going 4-4 with 3.91 ERA in 24 games.

Retirement: After playing baseball he worked for the Adirondack Bat Company in upstate New York for twenty years. After that he worked at Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

He passed away from stomach cancer at Cooperstown, New York in 1993 at age 83. He was survived by his wife of 47 years, a son, daughter & four grand children.

Nov 20, 2014

Late 2000's Mets Utility Player: Damion Easley (2007-2008)

Jacinto Damion Easley was born in the Bronx, New York on November 11, 1969. The family soon moved to Mt. Vernon, New York just over the Bronx border. When his parents divorced he moved out to California with his father & he then attended Long Beach State University. There he got drafted by the local California Angels way down in the 30th round in 1988.

By 1992 he hit .289 at AAA Edmonton in the Pacific Coast League getting the call up to the Angels team. He was a utility infielder for the Angels from 1992-1996 hitting a best .313 in 73 games in 1993. In 1994 he struggled batting just .214 in 88 games. In 1995 he saw a lot more playing time, a career high 114 games but struggled again, batting just .216. In July of 1996 he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Greg Gohr.

In Detroit he became the Tigers regular second baseman. He also played short stop stop, third base & DH in his time there. He turned his career around, with three 20 plus HR seasons, & three 30 plus doubles seasons. In 1997 he hit 22 HRs with 72 RBIs posted a .362 on base percentage while scoring 97 runs & stole 28 bases.

In 1998 he had his best year making the All Star team & even participated in the HR derby. He had career highs in hits (166) HRs (27) RBIs (100) & doubles (38). He would spend six seasons in Detroit averaging around a .255 batting average. In 2000 he led all AL second baseman in fielding after coming in second the two previous years.

In Detroit he set a Tiger record at second base with 99 consecutive errorless games. He signed a two year deal with the Florida Marlins in 2004, but never matched his numbers he reached in Detroit. Easley hit a best .240 with 9 HRs in 2005 playing in 102 games. He moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 batting .233.

In 2007 he signed on with the New York Mets as a free agent. He certainly proved to be a pleasant surprise, giving it 100% everyday in a Mets uniform. On the field he was the ultimate all around player, playing every position except catcher in his two seasons in New York. Easley debuted as a Met on April 9th as a pinch hitter gong 0-1. On April 24th he hit a HR in the bottom of the 11th inning tying a game against the Colorado Rockies. The Mets went on to win it 2-1.

Easley seemed to made the best of his chances when he got to start & kept doing all the little things when he got that chance. On May 3rd he hit a three run HR against the Arizona Diamond backs in a 9-4 win at Arizona. On May 13th he had three hits with another HR & four RBIs in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. On August 2nd he became the 24th Met in history to hit an inside the park HR. It came in the top of the 6th inning in a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee of pitcher Cris Capuano.

Later that month he injured his ankle in an ugly incident while sliding into second base in a game at Washington against the Nationals. The painful injury cost him the rest of the season, and it was a big blow to the Mets playoff hopes as well. Overall for 2007 he batted .280 in 76 games, hitting 10 HRs with 6 doubles 26 RBIs, 24 runs scored 24 runs & a .358 on base % in just 193 at bats.

He got more playing time in 2008 batting .266 with 6 HRs 10 doubles 44 RBIs & a .322 on base % in 113 games. On June 3rd he had a three hit day in San Francisco, hitting a 5th inning bases clearing double helping the Mets in a 6-3 win. On June 18th he hit a HR in the top of the 10th inning off Justin Speier to beat the Anaheim Angels 5-4. In the first week of July he drove in seven runs in the midst of a ten game hitting streak. In the month he had 15 RBIs, with two separate three RBI games.

That month he was seeing steady playing time due to all the Mets injuries. On August 12th he was hit by apitch in the top of the 8th inning with the bases loaded. David Wright scored from third base with the games winning run to beat the Washington Nationals.

The next night Easley drove in two more runs & had two more multi RBI games that month. On top of his hard play, Easley was an all around good guy and got the job done quietly. He wasn’t resigned for 2009 & retired at the end of the year.

In seventeen MLB seasons Easley batted .253 with 1386 hits, 163 HRs, 287 doubles, 735 runs scored, posted a .329 on base % & had 684 RBIs in 1706 games played. He is 36th All Time getting hit by pitches with 132 & was in the league’s top ten in that category six times.

During his long playing career he never reached the post season. As an active player Easley had played in the most games since the 1994 wild card playoff era without reaching the post season. On a funny note Easley shows a striking resemblance to Popeye’s cartoon pet dog- Jeep.

Retirement: Easly is currently a coach in the San Diego Padre organization.

Original 1962 Mets Player: Gus Bell (1962)

David Russell Bell was born on November 15, 1928 in Louisville, Kentucky. The six foot left handed hitting Bell became known as Gus, in honor of Italian / American catcher Gus Mancusco.

Gus Bell was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947. He hit .325 at A ball Albany in 1949, followed by a huge start to his minor league season in 1950. He was batting over .400 with 6 HRs after 38 games when he got the call up to the big leagues.

He batted behind Pirate slugger & future Mets announcer Ralph Kiner for three seasons. In his rookie year, Bell hit .282 with 8 HRs & 22 doubles. In 1951 he had his best season in Pittsburgh as he led the league in triples (12) hit 16 HRs & batted .278 while driving in 89 runs with a .330 on base %. On June 12th he hit for the cycle in the first game of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies. After the season he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds for Cal Abrams, Gil Henley & Joe Rossi.

He was thrilled to return to his hometown area, near Louisville as a local star. He had some good seasons in nine years at Cincinnati playing in the shadows of Reds sluggers Ted Kuzewski & Frank Robinson.

In Bell's first year in Cincinnati he had a career high 30 HRs (7th in the league) with 37 doubles (5th in the league) & 105 RBIs while batting .300 for the sixth place Reds. it was the first of three straight seasons he drove in over 100 runs. He would make his first two All Star games in 1953 & 1954.

Bell would have three seasons where he hit 20 or more HRs, as well as four seasons with 100 plus RBIs, coming in the league’s top ten in both categories three times. Besides hitting .300 twice he hit over .290 four more times with the Reds, as well as having two 100 plus runs scored seasons. Bell made four All Star teams and was one of the league’s top players during his years. He led all centerfielders in fielding % twice & when he played in right field he led right fielders in fielding twice as well.

His arm got him double figures in assists eight times including a high of 18 in 1951. In 1955 he batted .308 with 188 hits (third in the league) with 27 HRs (10th in the NL) 30 doubles (5th in the NL) & 108 RBIs (10th in the NL) posting a .361 on base %.

On May 26th, 1956 he hit HRs in three consecutive at bats in a game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. That day Bell along with team mates Ted Kluzewski & Bob Thurman became just the second set of players from the same team, to hit three HRs in a single game. That day Bell had five hits with seven RBIs in the 10-4 win. 

Later that year, on September 21st he drove in eight runs in a 14-5 win over the Milwaukee Braves. That day he gathered up four hits with a grand slam HR, a double & a walk. Bell made the 1956 All Star team, as the starting centerfielder going 0-1 in the NL's 7-3 win.

In 1957 he was included with six other Reds players that made the All Star team. The Reds fans were accused of stuffing the ballot boxes illegally with their votes. Bell remained on the All Star team as a reserve player, although his team mate Wally Post was removed completely from the roster.

Bell entered the '57 All Star game as a pinch hitter for Frank Robinson in the 7th inning. He singled off future Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, driving in Willie Mays and Ed Bailey in the 6-5 NL loss.

Over the next few years his numbers fell off, although he did drive in 115 runs in 1959, his fourth season with over 100 plus RBIs. For the 1961 NL Champion Reds he played in 108 games, with 235 at bats as his career began to wind down at age 32. He hit .255 with 3 HRs 10 doubles & 33 RBIs as a back up to outfielders to Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson & Wally Post. In the '61 World Series he went 0-3 as a pinch hitter.

In the off season, although he was way past his prime, he was chosen as the eighth pick by the New York Mets in the 1961 expansion draft. He became an original Met, batting in the fifth position playing right field in the teams inaugural 1962 Opening Day lineup.

He made Mets history getting the first franchise hit, a single in the 2nd inning at St. Louis, off pitcher Larry Jackson. On April 17, 1962 he hit his only Mets career HR, it came against the Houston Colt 45’s in the Polo Grounds. Bell would only play just 30 games in New York, batting only .149 (15-141) with 1 HR, two doubles, ten walks, & six RBIs while scoring eight runs.

On May 21st, he was sent to the Milwaukee Braves as the player to be named later for Frank Thomas. He returned back to the Polo Grounds with the Braves in late June for a three game series. On June 20th in the first game of a double header, he hit a three run HR off Mets pitcher Ray Daviault, leading his team to the win. He finished his playing career in 1964 at age 35.

Retirement: After 15 seasons he batted .281 with 1823 hits, 206 HRs, 311 doubles, 66 triples, a .330 on base % & 942 RBIs. In the outfield he posted a .985 fielding % with 57 assists (94th all time).

Family: Gus Bell is the first in a long line of family members to play baseball. His son is long time player &; manager Buddy Bell, who was born during his dads second season playing in Pittsburgh.

In 18 seasons Buddy made five All Star Games & won six Gold Gloves at third base, playing for Cleveland (1972-1978) Texas (1979-1985/ 1989) Cincinnati (1985-1988) & Houston (1988).

In 2405 games he batted .279 with 2514 hits (93rd all time) 201 HRs 425 doubles (134th all time) 56 triples 836 walks (217th all time) 1151 runs scored (203rd all time) & 1106 RBIs (197th all time) a .341 on base %.

Gus Bells grandsons are MLB players David & Mike Bell.

Gus Bell passed away at age 67 in Montgomery, Ohio. Every year, the Gus Bell Celebrity Golf Tournament is held in his honor in the Cincinnati area.

Proceeds benefit the Down Syndrome Association, his granddaughter Traci, to whom he was very close, suffers from Down Syndrome.