Dec 18, 2014

Old Time NY Giants Player: Fed Merkle & The Legendary Story "Merkle's Boner" (1907-1915)

Frederick Charles Merkle was born December 20, 1888 in Watertown, Wisconsin. The six foot one, right handed hitting first baseman was raised in Toledo Ohio.

Merkle was signed by the New York Giants debuting at age 18, as the youngest player in the league in 1907. He only played in 15 games batting .255 going 12-47.

In the Crazy baseball year of 1908, he played in 38 games as a utility player at the major league level batting .268 with one HR seven RBIs (11-47) .

Merkle's Boner: During the 1908 baseball season the New York Giants & the Chicago Cubs were involved in a tight pennant race. On September 23rd the Polo Grounds in New York was packed with fans as the two teams battled in a tie for first place. The score was tied 1-1 going to the bottom of the 9th inning with the Giants Moose McCormick on first base.

Nineteen year old Fred Merkle came to the plate and singled to right field, as McCormick moved over to third base on the hit. The next batter Al Bridwell, singled bringing home McCormick with what was looked like the game winning run. The happy Giants fans emptied on the field, on their way to the exit through centerfield which was common in those days. Fred Merkle jumped for joy, then started walking toward the outfield club house where the locker room was then located.

The problem was he never touched second base. Cubs shortstop Johnny Evers screamed to his outfielder Solly Hoffman for the ball, so he could force Merkle on second base. Evers also alerted umpire Hank O'Day of the situation & the fact he was going to force the runner out.

Oddly enough, The same type of play happened a few weeks prior involving the Cubs & the same umpire. Meanwhile the Giants Christy Mathewson saw what was developing on the field & tried to get Merkle back to touch second base. The Giants third base coach" Iron" Joe McGinnity, ran over to cut the ball before it reached Evers.

As the ball came in to the infield, it was said McGinnity, Evers as well as a few Giants fans all fought for it. All hell had broken loose, some accounts say McGinnity got the ball and threw it back into the stands. Others say a fan grabbed it and was beaten up by Evers& had it taken away from him.

Others say the fan who retrieved the ball, got tackled by other Cubs players & they got the ball back tossing it to Evers. Some accounts say a new ball was brought in from the Cubs dugout having nothing to do with the play.

Either way Evers ended up with a ball and then he then touched second base to force Merkle out. Cubs manager Frank Chance argued his point, claiming Merkle never touched second base. Giants manager John McGraw was furious and argued his case that the run had scored & game was over. With hundreds of Giants fans on the field the Umpires were not going to reverse the call at that time, for fear of their lives.

They met under the stands and decided Merkle was out, and the winning run wouldn't count. The game would end in a 1-1 tie and the rule would from here on forever be enforced. The next day the New York fans awoke to the shocking turn of events in their morning newspaper.

As fate would have it, the Giants & the Cubs ended up tied at the end of the regular season. A one game playoff was played at the Polo Grounds to decide the 1908 National League pennant. Never before in the history of the game had so many people anticipated this much excitement for a game.

Crowds began to gather the night before, NYPD had extra police on site overnight as the crowds gathered. The Giants made sure no one filled up the bleachers on the overnight as well. It is estimated anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 people tried to get in to the park.

People were lined up on the hills of Coonans Bluff, 8th Avenue, & the Speedway which is now the Harlem River Drive. They climbed utility poles & the elevated 8th Ave. train tracks for a view. Some fans burned down a section of the fence to try to get in.

One poor fellow was cheering a play & fell off the elevated train tracks from which he was hanging on, to his death.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead on a Turkey Mike Donlin double, but the Cubs got to the Giants ace Christy Mathewson for four runs. In the end the Cubs ended up winning the game 4-2 in a very hostile environment. By game's end they feared for their lives as they exited past the angry crowd. The Cubs went on to win the World Series that year, but haven't won another Championship since some 103 years later.

John McGraw & the Giants team never blamed Merkle for losing the Pennant for them. But the fans as well as the press did, they never forgave him & Merkle took the play to his grave. It would forever be known as "Merkle's Boner" & a somewhat very good career was never recognized.

In 1909 he played behind Fred Tenney who was in his last season as the Giants first baseman. That year John McGraw's Giants finished in third place, Merkle hit just .191. By the time he was 20 years old, Merkle became the Giants regular first baseman, a spot he would hold for the next six & a half seasons.

John McGraw called Merkle a shrewd, aggressive player, as well as a very good hitter. Merkle hit .292 in his first full season, hitting 35 doubles (4th in the NL) 14 triples (8th in the NL) driving in 70 runs (10th in the NL).

At first base he led the league in errors for the first of three straight seasons although he was second in assists, games played & fourth in put outs. He would be in the league's top ten in batting twice, RBIs & extra base hits five times each, doubles, HRs & stolen bases four times each.

In 1911 the Giants won another pennant, Merkle batted a modest .283 but received votes for the MVP Award due to his 49 stolen bases (4th in the NL). He also hit 12 HRs (5th in the NL) & had 84 RBIs (10th in the NL).

He struggled in the World Series loss to Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's, batting just .150 with one RBI. The Giants won the next two pennants as well, losing the World Series to the Boston Red Sox (1912) & Philadelphia A's again ( 1913).

In 1912 he had another big year batting .309 with 11 HRs (3rd in the NL) 22 doubles 84 RBIs (9th in the NL) & 37 stolen bases (5th in the NL). 

Post Season: In the 1912 World Series he batted .273 driving in a run in the Giants, Game #6 five run first inning Red Sox pitcher Buck O'Brien balked home a run with Merkle at bat, then he doubled to right field driving in a run. Buck Herzog drove in Merkle with another doubles in the next at bat. The Giants went on to a 5-2 World Series clinching win at the Polo Grounds.

In 1913 he fell to a .261 average , with 12 triples & 69 RBIs as New York won the pennant. In that World Series he hit .231 (3-13). The next year Merkle led the league in strike outs (80) as his average fell to .258. 

In 1915 he rebounded to a .299 average but midway through 1916 he was only hitting .237 when he was traded to the Brooklyn Robins for Lew McCarty. He got to another World Series that year with Brooklyn losing once again to the Boston Red Sox.

The next year his contact was purchased by the Chicago Cubs and he hit .297 his first season there with 25 doubles & 65 RBIs (4th in the NL) while stealing 21 bases. He got to his fifth World Series that year but lost to Boston once again. This would be the last World Series the Boston Red Sox would win until 2004.

In Merkle's five World Series he batted .239 (21-88) with one HR, one stolen base, nine walks & nine RBIs in 27 games. Merkle finished out his 16 year career with the AL New York club playing in 18 games over the 1925 & 1926 seasons.

He batted .273 life time, playing in 1638 games, with 1580 hits 61 HRs 81 triples 290 doubles 733 RBIs 232 stolen bases & a .429 on base %.

Retirement: After baseball he moved to Florida and during the Depression worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). After that he became a partner with a small manufacturer of fishing equipment in Daytona Beach. He refused to talk about baseball to reporters after he left the game. Merkle passed away of natural causes on March 2, 1956 at age 67.

After many years, Fred Merkle has received some love in his hometown of Watertown, Wisconsin. The city's main high school baseball field at Washington Park is named Fred Merkle Field. Also a black plaque honoring him was erected in the park on July 22, 2010.

In a humorous remembrance, Merkle's Bar & Grill, is a popular Wrigleyville bar just one block south of Wrigley Field in Chicago. It is named after Fred Merkle, and features his image prominently in the bar's logo and interior.

Dec 17, 2014

Mets First Baseman / Pinch Hitter: Josh Satin (2011-2014)

Joshua Blake Satin was born December 23, 1984 in Hidden Hills California.

Hidden Hills is one of the wealthiest cities in America, it is located at the western edge of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.

Some of its famous residents at one time or another were: Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne, Don Drysdale, Sean Penn, Nicolette Sheridan, Britany Spears, Lee Ann Rimes, Chad Kroeger (Nickelback singer) Melissa Etheridge, Jenifer Lopez & Marc Anthony as well as Kris & Bruce Jenner.

Trivia: Satin's mother once owned a clothing store with comedian; Howie Mandel's wife.

Josh was a high school baseball star, earning a three time all league selection. He was inducted into Harvard West Lakes High School Hall of Fame in Northern Hollywood.

Satin then attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a degree in political science. He was a star baseball player there as well, winning the 2005 Freshman of the Year & All Pac-10 Awards. The only other player to win both those awards was Xavier Nady.

Satin is Jewish & was recognized as one of the Nation's best Jewish players along with Ike Davis & Ryan Braun back in 2005.

The six foot two, right handed hitter was signed by the New York Mets in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. He played at Kingsport & then the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones in 2008. By 2010 he was with St. Lucie batting .316 getting promoted to AA Binghamton where he continued to bat over .300.

In 2011 he continued to hit well, batting .325 with 11 HRs / 60 RBIs in 94 games at AA Binghamton, making the All Star team.

On April 24th, he became the first player in Binghamton's twenty year history to hit for the cycle. He was soon promoted to AAA Buffalo where he hit .317 in 38 games.

He earned a September 2011 call up making his debut on September 4th at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. He got a hit in his first career at bat, coming off Livan Hernandez in a 6-3 Mets win. He would bat .200 with two RBIs in 15 games played.

In 2012 he spent the year with AAA Buffalo, except for a June 5th quickie with the Mets filling in for Mike Baxter, where he went 0-1. He was designated for assignment, cleared waivers then went on to hit .286 with 14 HRs & 60 RBIs posting a .391 on base %.

In Spring Training 2013 Satin impressed by hitting .455 with a .647 on base % in 16 plate appearances. He started the year at AAA Las Vegas he was hitting .305 with 9 HRs 32 RBIs & a .420 on base % earning him a shot with the Mets, when Ike Davis was struggling at the plate in New York.

Satin joined the Mets on June 12th at Citi Field, wetting his feet as a pinch hitter in his first three games. On June 20th, he drove in the winning run, with a 7th inning pinch hit double, off Mike Minor, scoring Omar Quintanilla at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Mets went on to a 4-3 win.

On June 25th he began a twelve game hit streak where he had seven doubles, drew six walks, drove in seven runs & had four multi hit games.

On July 1st, with the Mets down 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Satin singled off Arizona's JJ Putz to score Marlon Byrd with the tying run. Later in the 13th inning, Satin doubled & got to third when the bases loaded. He then came home scoring the tying run on an Andrew Brown double that won the game 5-4 over the D-backs.

Two days later he hit his first career HR in a 5-3 loss to Arizona. at Citi Field. Satin drove in runs in four straight games that week.

On July 7th, he doubled driving in the second run of a 2-1 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. It would be almost a month before he drove in another run & his bat cooled off in the second half of the season. He ended the year hitting .279 with 3 HRs & 17 RBIs.

He began 2014 with the Mets but was sent back to AAA Las Vegas by early May batting a dismal .107. He returned in September but was hitless in seven at bats ending the season with a .086 average. Satin was granted free agency & signed with the Cincinnati Reds for 2015.

With Ike Davis having such a difficult time at the plate, Satin has earned himself a platoon role at first base. After 28 games, Satin is batting .342 with nine doubles, 15 runs scored, 18 walks & a .473 on base % (through July 25th).

Quotes: "I don’t want to be a guy that you look back in a year and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that was a fun two weeks for this kid. The best two weeks of his life. But now we have to move on.’ "I want to be a part of this team’s future."

Late Nineties Mets Pitcher: Greg McMichael (1997-1998)

Gregory Winston McMichael was born on December 1st, 1963 in Knoxville Tennessee. The tall six foot three right hander attended the University of Tennessee playing for the Volunteers baseball team. He was drafted in the 7th round of the 1988 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He was released in 1991 & got picked up by the Atlanta Braves two weeks later.

Two years later he was on the Braves staff saving 19 games behind main closer Mike Stanton. McMichael went 4-6 making 63 appearances posting a 4.67 ERA over 52 innings pitched. In the 1993 NLCS he was the losing pitcher in Game #1 in Philadelphia, when pinch hitter Kim Batiste doubled home John Kruk with the winning run.

In 1994 he became the Braves top closer as he saved 21 games, while finishing 47 games going 4-6 for the second straight year, posting a 3.84 ERA in 51 games. In the Braves 1995 Championship season, McMichael was one of the game's best middle relievers, as he went 7-2 with 20 holds posting a 2.79 ERA in 67 appearances.

Post Season: After allowing a run in the NLDS he had a great NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, he earned an 11th inning save in Game #1 as the Braves took a 2-1 win. He then was the winning pitcher in Game #2 as the Braves scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning. In three games he was 1-0 with a save & a 0.00 ERA in 2.2 innings pitched. He then made three World Series appearances against the Cleveland Indians allowing two runs in three innings.

He went 8-3 in 1996 then was traded to the New York Mets in November 1996 for pitcher Paul Byrd. He would pitch in parts of two seasons in New York, mainly as a mid reliever.

His season did not start out well as he although he began April with two holds, he then blew three saves & was 0-2by the end of the month. By the All Star break he was at .500 and kept his ERA at 2.47. He would earn credit for 19 holds as a set up man, also saving seven games behind John Franco out of the bullpen. McMichael posted a 7-10 record, as he blew eleven saves posting a 2.98 ERA.

In 1998 he was 4-1 although his ERA was high at 4.06 by early June, when the Mets traded him & Dave Mlicki to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Brad Clontz & Hideo Nomo. He went 9-1 and strangely was traded back to the Mets for Brian Bohanon a month later. He would pitch in 22 more games going 1-1, and an overall 5-2 as a Met on the season.

In 1999 he began the Mets Wild Card Champion season in New York, but after 19 games, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics along with Jason Isringhausen for pitcher Billy Taylor. Looking back McMichael said; "It was a great experience living in New York and playing for the Mets. They are a class organization and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play with some great guys like John Olerud, Todd Hundley, Carlos Baerga and Fonzie (Edgardo Alfonzo)."

In 2000 he returned to Atlanta for 15 games before a second rotator cuff injury ended his eight season career. McMichael was 31-29 with 53 saves in 453 appearances, posting a 3.25 ERA with 459 strike outs in 523 innings with 193 walks.

Retirement: After his playing days he opened a baseball facility north of Atlanta which he still runs with his brother in law & former team mates Terry Pendleton & Mark Lemke.

Former Mets Coach Turned New Arizona Manager: Chip Hale (2009-2011)

Walter William Hale, known as Chip Hale, was born on December 2, 1964 in San Jose, California. The five foot eleven left hand hitter, threw right handed.

He attended the great baseball school of the University of Arizona, getting signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1987, in the 17th round.

In 1991 while playing for the Portland Beavers, he hit the famous fly ball that outfielder Rodney McCray attempted to catch by running through the outfield wall. The highlight was a constant back in the nineties & is still often shown.

Hale hit as high as .280 twice in the minor leagues, making his MLB debut in 1989. Hale played for the Twins for six seasons as a utility infielder, hitting a career best .333 in 1993 in 186 at bats.

In 1997 he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing there for one season. He ended his seven season baseball career, getting into 333 games; batting .277 with 159 hits 7 HRs 27 doubles & 78 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days he managed in the minor leagues for the Arizona D-backs, winning a Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year Award.

In 2006 he coached with the Diamondbacks big league club, under Bob Melvin. He remained there for three seasons, then came to the New York Mets in 2009 as their third base coach.

After the dismissal of Mets manager Jerry Manuel in 2012, Hale seemed to be a prime candidate for the job. He was interviewed, by the Mets chose to go with Terry Collins.

After spending the 2011 season on the Mets coaching staff, he signed on as the bench coach for the Oakland Athletics for 2012.

Surprising everyone, he & manager Bob Melvin led the A's to a Western Divisional crowns in consecutive seasons (2012 & 2013) This was the teams first playoff berth in six seasons.

Under Hale as batting coach, the 2013 Athletics hit the third most HRs in the AL (186) the second most doubles (301) & fourth most triples (25) while batting .254 (9th best as a team).

 In 2014 the A's were the best team in baseball until they traded away their best hitter in Yoenis Cespedes, after that their offense folded up & the club bareley made the playoffs, getting eliminated in the wild card ga,e by the Kansas City Royals. The A's were first in the AL in triples & walks, third in runs scored & 8th in HRs (146).

In October of 2014 he was named the new manager of the 2015 Arizona D-backs.

Dec 16, 2014

Dave Kingman: Part One- The First Mets Years (1975-1977)

David Arthur Kingman was born December 21, 1948, in Pendleton, Oregon. The big six foot six right handed power hitter became known as Kong for his size, strength & long HRs. Kingman went to high school in Illinois & was drafted twice in the late sixties.

The first time as a first round pick in 1968 by the Baltimore Orioles but he did not sign. He then attended the University of Southern California where he became a star college player. He was converted to an outfielder there by legendary coach Rod Dedeaux, leading the Trojans to the College World Series championship in 1980. Kingman was next drafted in the first round, as the number one pick overall by the San Francisco Giants in 1970.

He made his debut in 1971 after a brief spell in the minors where he slugged over .550%. In his first MLB game he appeared as a pinch runner for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. In his second MLB game he hit his first career HR, it was a grand slam off Dave Guisti against that years World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The next day he hit two more HRs in the second game of a double header against the Pirates.

Kingman had a sweeping swing and with his strength began to get a quick reputation as a slugger. He was one of those players that when he came to bat, everyone stopped whatever they were doing to watch him. He played third base for the 1972 Giants, and had a strong arm, but made 14 errors in just 59 games, eventually becoming a first baseman. In 135 games he hit 29 HRs (6th in the NL) with 17 doubles & 83 RBIs but only batted .225 and struck out 140 times.

Kingman would hit many HRs, but always hit for low averages striking out quite often. He would strike out over 120 times six straight seasons from 1972-1977.

In 1973 he played in 112 games, hit 24 HRs with 10 doubles & 55 RBIs batting just .203. He drew 41 walks which improved his on base % to .300. That year he pitched in two games for the Giants as well, one against the Cincinnati Reds & the other against the L.A. Dodgers in May. Over four innings he walked six batters, allowing four runs on three hits.

In 1974 Kingman led all first baseman in errors (13) posting a .983 fielding %. He also struck out 125 times (4th in th NL) while hitting 18 HRs with 55 RBIs batting .220. In the off season the New York Mets in need of some power, purchased him from the Giants for $150,000.

When he came to the Mets in Spring Training 1975, Mets manager Yogi Berra said "What I saw of him at third, I didn't like. But he gives us a pretty good guy on the bench and he's insurance in the outfield if Cleon Jones can't do the job.”

Kingman started out as a fourth outfielder but ended up playing in 132 games with over 500 at bats, taking over Cleon Jones position in left field. The lack of playing time for Jones led to his eventual release after a public feud with manager Yogi Berra.

Kingman debuted on Opening Day in right field batting 5th, he showed New York his power right away with a 4th inning HR off Philadelphia's Steve Carlton. That day the other newly acquired Met, Joe Torre had a game winning RBI single in the 9th to give Tom Seaver his first win of his third Cy Young season. In his third & fourth games he hit back to back HRs in Pittsburgh against the Pirates, making his presence known.

On JUne 3rd he hit a three run HR off Houstons Ken Forsch leading to a Mets 4-3 win over the Astros at Shea. In July he won the NL Player of the Month Award & had a massive month, with 13 HRs & 31 RBIs earning the nick names “Kong” & “Sky King” in New York. Although Sky King had more to do with his long fly balls.

On the Fourth of July in Philadelphia he hit a 9th inning HR off Tug McGraw leading up to two run Jerry Grote HR giving the Mets a 4-3 win. Later that week he hit HRs in back to back games in Atlanta, with a three run shot off Carl Morton on July 8th leading Jerry Koosman to a 4-3 win. On July 20th at the Houston Astrodome he hit two HRs, had three hits and drove in six runs in the Mets 10-9 win over the Astros. He hit two more HRs at the end of the month in a game against Pittsburgh and won Player of the Week honors as well.

In the final five days of July, spanning nine games (two double headers) Kingman hit five HRs with 12 RBIs as the Mets went 6-3. On August 24th at Candlestick Park in San Francisco he hit a grand slam HR off the Giants Jim Barr, leading the Mets to a 9-5 win over the Giants. He hit eight more HRs in the month of September, including two in a September 10th game against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. On September 18th, KIngman hit a walk off game winner against the Chicago Cubs pitcher Darold Knowles.

For the 1975 season Kingman led the team with 36 HRs (second in the N.L.) setting a Mets single season record. He also led the club in slugging % (.464%) strikeouts (153 which were also second most in the league) & believe it or not stolen bases (7). He hit 22 doubles and drove in 88 runs second to only Rusty Staub, while batting only .231 with a poor .284 on base %. He played 111 games in the outfield & 58 games at first base.

Quotes: "Everybody's always talking about my strikeouts. If I played every day, I could strike out maybe 400 times. I have no idea how many home runs I could hit if I played every day. I've never played every day." - Dave Kingman, 1975.

In 1976 he hit four HRs in the first week of the season, including two at Wrigley Field on April 15th, leading New York to a 10-8 with his five RBIs. He hit three more in a two day span in Pittsburgh the next week. Kingman started out April with nine HRs, and averaged eight in each of the next three months. On May 7th he hit two HRs and drove in five runs to beat the San Diego Padres at Shea Stadium, helping Jerry Koosman to a victory.

On May 12th he had another multi HR game hitting a pair driving three Mets runs in a 6-3 win at Atlanta. On June 4th at Los Angeles Dodgers Stadium, Kingman blasted three HRs, two off knuckleball pitcher Burt Hooton & another off veteran Al Downing. He drove in a club record eight runs that day, helping Tom Seaver to an easy 11-0 shutout for his fifth win of the year. On June 17th in New York he hit a walk off HR against Charlie Hough to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers once again, this time 1-0.

He hit three HRs in the week leading up to the All Star game in Philadelphia in which he played along with team mates Tom Seaver & Jon Matlack. Kingman went 0-2 in the National Leagues 7-1 win in that Mid Summer Classic. He returned for the second half & hit a HR right after the break, helping the Mets to a 3-1 win in Houston. Kingman then missed a month of action while going on the DL.

He finished the year with 37 HRs coming in second once again in the National league to Mike Schmidt. This was not a category any other Met before Kong was usually seen on any of the the leader boards. He led the team in RBIs (86) runs scored (70) slugging (.506%) & strike outs (135) hitting only 14 doubles with a .238 average.

As a Met that season Kingman possibly hit the longest HR ever at Wrigley Field, blasting it out of the park, past Waveland Avenue onto Kenmore Ave. four houses down. It fell 15 feet short of the window of a woman watching the game on TV. Mets announcer Ralph Kiner once said “Kingman can hit them out of any park, including Yellowstone”.

But soon drama began to surround the HR hitter. Kong didn’t want to be in the lime light and didn’t like the media. He wanted to be left alone, and found New York a difficult place to play. He was very anti social and was known as a difficult team mate. One Mets teammate stated publicly that Kingman had "the personality of a tree stump.

By 1977 he wasn’t happy with the team that was in shambles. He hit a three run HR at Wrigley Field in the second game of the season, leading the team to a 8-6 win. He hit six in the month of April with 18 RBIs, batting .294 all in just 17 games. He drove in seven runs in four straight games in the middle of the month & had another huge day in Dan Diego on the 29th.

Kingman blasted two HRs while driving in six runs, leading New York to a 9-2 win in front of 43,000 at Jack Murphy Stadium. He cooled off from there & He wanted out as well as some of the others in the Mets club house. He hit his last HR for the Mets that season on June 5th in the second game of a double header at Philadelphia. He drove in all three runs in the Mets 3-2 win . After 58 games he was batting a low .209 with 9 HRs and 29 RBIs.

On the June 15th 1977 trade deadline, the same day Tom Seaver was traded on what is now known as the Midnight Massacre, Kingman was also dealt away. Kong was sent to the San Diego Padres for Bobby Valentine & Paul Siebert.

His stay was short in San Diego & as the journey man would play for four different teams in 1977. In the last three-months of the season he was traded, waived, and had his contract sold, becoming the first player to play in four divisions in one year. Kingman was also the only player to hit HRs in all four divisions in the same month. After 54 games with 11 HRs in San Diego he was put on waivers then picked up by the California Angels. Then his contract was sold to the A.L New York club where he hit four HRs in eight games.

In 1978 he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs, & in the Friendly confines of Wrigley Field he hit 28 HRs with 79 RBIs while batting .266 in 119 games, missing some action due to injury. He had his biggest year in 1979, hitting a career best .288 while leading the N.L. in HRs (48) Slugging percentage (.613%) and strikeouts (131). He drove in 115 runs which was second most in the league, had 72 extra base hits (3rd in the NL) scored 97 runs and made his second All Star team.

In June he homered in four straight games, five of six games, while driving in runs in seven straight games. At the end of July he tied an MLB record hitting five HRs in two consecutive games against his old Mets team mates. He set another record by hitting three or more HRs in a game twice in one season.

He made ten errors in the outfield & former 1962 Met Ritchie Ashburn said if Kingman needed to repair his glove he’d have to get a welder. Soon Kingman wore out his welcome in Chicago too, after playing only 81 games in 1980 he was traded back to the New York Mets for Steve Henderson in February of 1981.

Dave Kingman: Part Two- The Second Coming To New York (1981-1983)

David Arthur Kingman returned to New York in 1981, going 0-3 on Opening Day in a 2-0 Mets win in Chicago At the end of May 1981 he had a tremendous stretch where he hit HRs in four straight games, beginning with a grand slam against the Philadelphia Phillies Dick Ruthven on a May 25th 13-3 Mets win.

Kingman homered in each of the three game set with the Phillies, and the first game in the series with the Chicago Cubs. After the first game,  he would hit HRs in his next two games as well, extending his streak to six out of seven games with a HR.

In that seven games stretch he drove in 13 runs & won the NL Player of the Week Award. In June Kingman hit three HRs in the first eleven days of the month just before the players strike took over. The strike lasted two months.

In his first game back he hit a three run HR leading New York past the Cubs at Wrigley Field 7-5.

On August 18th he hit a pair of HRs at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium helping Ed Lynch to a 4-0 shutout over the Braves. Kingman hit another grand slam on August 22nd in Cincinnati off the Reds Frank Pastore in a 7-4 Mets win.

He played in 100 games in the strike shortened 1981 season, hitting 22 HRs (3rd in the league) with 59 RBIs, leading the league in strike outs (105) while batting .221. On the field he was terrible, leading the league in errors as a left fielder (7) in 49 games with a .927 fielding % & coming in second with 13 errors at first base in 56 games (.974 fielding %).

In 1982 he became the first New York Met to lead the league in HRs, hitting 37. He also set a new Mets’ single-season record, which stood until Darryl Strawberry hit 39 in 1987.

Kingman drove in 99 runs but batted just .204 with only 9 doubles in 149 games. He also led the NL in strikeouts (156) for the second straight season. He began the year with a big five RBI day in the third game of the season.

That day at Wrigley Field he hit a three run shot off Doug Bird & then singled home two more runs off Dick Tidrow in the 7th inning. On April 13th he hit a three run in Philadelphia off Steve Carlton leading to a 5-3 Mets win. On April 18th he hit two HRs against Montreal in a 7-6 losing effort. He drove in runs in five straight games that week. Overall Kingman drove in 19 runs in the first month of the season.

In May he hit six HRs while driving in twenty runs but his average fell to .218.On May 11th he homered in four runs in a Charlie Puleo four hit shutout against the Padres at Shea Stadium. On May 19th he hit a first inning three run HR off Tom Seaver, now pitching for the Reds, leading New York to a 4-2 win in the first game of a double header at Shea.

On June 19th he hit a two run HR & drove in two more runs with a double, leading the Mets to an 8-5 win over the Cardinals in St. Louis.

In July, Kingman hit a HR on the Fourth of July & another the next day both in losing games. He then hit HRs in consecutive games in San Diego right before the All Star break. When he returned he hit HRs in the next three straight games, in a series in Los Angles where he drove in nine runs.

On July 17th he hit two HRs in 6-5 loss to the Dodgers where he drove in four of the Mets runs. It seems whenever he got hits, they were HRs. In September he hit five HRs in the first ten games of the month but he struggled to keep his average above .200.

That year the Mets had the slugging bats of both Kingman & George Foster but finished sixth 65-97. Kingman & Foster combined for 279 strike outs & a .225 average. The following year, 1983, was Kingman’s last as a Met.

In the month of April he hit four HRs playing in 17 games, batting just .197. On May 11th he hit a two run HR off the Houston Astros Mike Scott, leading Tom Seaver (now back with the Mets) to a 3-0 shutout in Houston. On May 24th he hit a pair of HRs off the Giants Mike Krukow & then another the next day in a 7-6 loss to San Francisco.

On June 10th after already having driven in two runs in the game, he hit a walk off HR off Bryn Smith to beat the Montreal Expos. From that point on he only hit two more HRs & no more after July 2nd. He suffered injuries, saw little playing time & was no longer a full time player with the Mets as the team was improving.

Kingman only hit a dismal .198 playing in just 100 games with 248 at bats, hitting 13 HRs 25 doubles & 29 RBIs while striking out 57 times. It seemed as though his career was winding down as it was, but he did go on to have three more 30 plus HR seasons.

The Mets were changing & became a contender with a team full of All Stars. Kingman was a troubled soul at this point but one must wonder what his numbers would have added to the team.

In his Mets career Kingman played in 664 games, hit 154 HRs (5th on the Mets all time list) drove in 389 runs (14th on the Mets all time list) batted a dreadful .219 and struck out 672 times (6th on Mets all time list).

In addition he had 509 hits with 70 doubles 6 triples 29 stolen bases 211 walks & a .287 on base %.

Over the next three years Kingman would sign three different one year contracts; with the Oakland A’s. He would hit at least 30 HRs with 90 RBIs in each of those years.

In 1984, he won the Comeback Player of the Year Award with 35 HRs a career-high 118 RBIs while batting .268 with 23 doubles & 44 walks. In 1985 he hit 30 Hrs with 90 RBis but drpooed to a .238 average. In 1986, Kong hit 35-HRs with 94 RBIs while batting just .210 on the season.

Drama: That same year he got into trouble with the league & was fined $3500 when he sent a live rat to a female sportswriter in Oakland. The sports writer who worked for the Sacramento Bee claimed Kingman had harassed her in the past, saying "the locker room was not a place for woman". The A’s told him if something like that happened again, he’d be released.

He became a free agent & no one went after him in the free agent market, even after hitting all those HRs the prior season. Kingman went off & retired.

In his 16-season career, Dave Kingman batted .236, with 1575 hits 442 HRs (38th all time), he averaged a HR in every 15.1 at bats which is the 15th best average in history.

He posted a .478 slugging % (195th all time) with 707 extra base hits (178 all time) 1210 RBIs (141st all time) 901 runs scored , 1575 hits, 240 doubles, 25 triples and 85 stolen bases & a .302 on base % in 1941 games played.

He also struck out 1,816 times, in 6677 at bats the 14th-highest strike out total in history. His 41 errors in left field are 77th most all time. In the outfield he made a total of 53 errors in 648 games with a .957 fielding %. At first base he made 73 errors in 603 games with a .985 fielding %.

Retirement: After initially declining the offer, he surprised everyone by appearing at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

He was greeted warmly, and deservedly so. Kong was one of the biggest HR hitters in Mets history & should be remembered for it.

In 2013 he was on hand representing past Mets, at the MLB Fan Fest prior to the All Star Game at Citi Field.

Remembering Mets History: Dave Kingman Blasts Three HRs & Drives in Eight Runs in L.A. (1976)

June 4, 1976: One month before America was to turn 200 years old, the country was celebrating its bicentennial year. 

The third place New York Mets (25-27) went to Los Angeles for a weekend series with the second place Dodgers (30-21). The Mets did make a nice summer run that season but fell short finishing third at 86-76. The Dodgers won 92 games (92-70) but had no chance catching the Big Red Machine.

On Friday night June 4th, a huge crowd of over 52,000 packed Dodger Stadium to see Tom Seaver (4-4) go against Burt Hooton (4-5). It was to be all Mets tonight, as the offense exploded for 11 runs. On the mound, Seaver was masterful pitching a three hit shutout. He walked just one and struck out eight along the way, besting his record above .500 to 5-4.

As good as Seaver was, Dave Kingman stole the show. Kong blasted three HRs that night, one longer than the next, and drove in a Met record at the time eight runs. (Broken in 2008 by Carlos Delgado)

In the 4h inning, he hit his first HR of the night. It came off Hooton, with John Milner aboard, 2-0 Mets. In his next at bat in the 5th inning, he hit his second of the night, also off Hooton. This was a three run shot with Wayne Garrett & Mike Phillips aboard. It came in a five run 5th inning, as Ed Kranepool followed Kingman with a solo shot of his own.

Kingman's third HR of that night, was in the 7th inning off pitcher; Al Downing (the man who gave up Hank Aarons 715th). It was a two run shot, with Phillips & Milner aboard. Topping off the Mets 11 run, 14 hit night. 

The three HRs already gave Kingman a total of 20 on the season, in just the first two months. People were talking about a record breaking season.

Unfortunately, Kingman went down for over a month from July 19th - August 27th due to injury. He ended up with 37 on the year, which was second best in the NL & a Mets single season record at the time as well. He would drive in 86 runs (10th in the NL) but bat just .238 & strike out 135 times.

Dec 15, 2014

Mets Late Inning Relief Pitcher: Jeurys Familia (2012-2014)

Jeurys Familia was born on October 10th, 1989 in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. The six four, right handed pitcher signed with the New York Mets in 2008.
Familia began his career in A ball; with the Gulf Coast Mets in 2008 going 2-2 with the leagues 8th best ERA at 2.79. He advanced to Savannah going 10-6 in 2009 then to St. Lucie in 2010 where he went 6-9 with a high  5.58 ERA.

Surprisingly he was chosen to play in the Futures game, where he came in relief in the 7th inning with his team down 7-1. He served up three straight doubles, including one to Mike Trout.

In 2011 he went to AA Binghamton going 4-4 as a starting pitcher with a 3.49 ERA in 17 starts. He was promoted to AAA Buffalo the next year going an overall 9-9 with a 4.73 ERA, making 28 starts.

Familia got a September call up & debuted with the Mets on September 4th, 2012 pitching one inning of scoreless relief in a 5-1 loss at St. Louis.

He would finish three games that month, unable to close out a 16-1 debacle against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. That day he allowed five runs on three hits in that 9th inning. On October 1st, he got his first start which came in Miami against the Marlins. He only allowed one hit but walked six batters & was removed after four innings.

In 2013  he started out the season on the Mets roster, debuting on April 4th, in the third game of the season. He allowed an earned run in each of his first two outings then settled in making four scoreless appearances. On May 3rd, he earned his first career save, pitching the 10th inning in a 7-5 win at Atlanta over the Braves.

On June 9th he underwent surgery to have bone spurs removed from his elbow & went on the DL. He wasn't expected to pitch again in 2013 but made a return on September 17th, pitching part of the 9th inning in a 8-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s really a tribute to how the kid worked to get back because we certainly didn’t expect him to be back this year at all,” Manager Terry Collins said. He allowed two hits, two walks & an earned run in his return.

In 2014 Familia was the Mets work horse out of the bullpen, leading the club in appearances (76) while posting the pen's best ERA (2.21). 

He was the 2014 Opening Day losing pitcher at Citi Field, starting the 10th inning of a 5-5 tie with the Washington Nats, he gave up two hits, a passed ball & sac fly before getting relieved by John Lannan.Lannan would eventually serve up a three run HR. Two games later he gave up two more runs in another Met loss to Washington & his ERA soared to over twenty. On April 25th he earned his first win of the year, coming against the Miami Marlins, getting him to 1-2.

Familia settled in nicely & after the All Star break earned his second win of the year & earned five straight holds lowering his ERA to 1.81. In mid August he earned three saves from August 9th to August 20th.

In September he suffered a loss to the Marlins in Miami in an ugly inning where he gave up a double, a walk, a wild pitch, an error & a fielders choice run scoring play. But he then earned seven more holds as well as a save finishing off the year as the Mets main 8th inning guy leading to Jenrry Mejia.

He was 2-5 with 23 holds, 16 games finished, 73 strike outs & 32 walks in 77 innings of work.