Feb 22, 2019

Second Baseman On Two Mets World Series Teams: Ken Boswell (1967-1974)

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Kenneth George Boswell was born on February 23, 1946 at Austin, Texas. The six foot, left hand hitting infielder attended his home town Sam Houston College on a baseball scholarship. At first he went to school after being urged to do so by his parents, but He quickly realized he was tired of school & just wanted to play baseball. 

At the time, MLB rules required a player who started school, must graduate before signing a pro contract. But legendary Mets scout Red Murf found a way around those rules & signed Boswell in fourth round of the 1965 draft. In that same draft the Mets picked up Les Rohr (first round), Jim McAndrew (11th round) & Nolan Ryan (12th round). 

Quotes: “I signed for $8,000, which was a lot less than I would have gotten before the draft, but I guess it was more than my dad ever made,” Boswell said. “Actually, I was awfully lucky to be drafted by the Mets, because they needed ballplayers and I didn’t have to wait very long before being called up." 

In the minor leagues he hit well, hitting safely in his first 19 games in the New York / Penn. League. There he won the Rookie of the Year while batting .285. He struggled defensively in the infield, earning a good hit, poor glove title. After the 1966 season, the Mets had traded away regular second baseman Ron Hunt, with intentions of giving Boswell the position. But he got then got called away for military duty, where he'd spend his spring & summer. 

 On September 18, 1967 he made his MLB debut in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. Boswell started at third base, hitting a sac fly with a double off Jim Brewer, and driving in two runs in the Mets 7-2 win. Boswell hit safely in three of his first four games & added had a three hit day in Los Angeles on September 29th.

He hit his first career HR at Dodger Stadium the next day, off Don Drysdale, on the next to last game of the season. In the last game of the '67 season he booted a grounder, allowing the Dodgers to score two runs & win the game 2-1. Boswell said many of the guys were happy the game ended, because they all had plane tickets to get away & didn't want to play extra innings. Thats the way the attitude was in the clubhouse, until Gil Hodges changed all that the next season.

 In the 1968 off season Boswell injured his ribs, after falling on ice at his home. He entered Spring Training, battling Bobby Heise for the second base job. New manager Gil Hodges also acquired Al Weis & Phil Linz who all shared the playing time. 

Boswell started out 1968 getting two hits in each of his first two games which were played on the West Coast. He began with a six game hit streak, hitting safely in nine out of eleven games, with twelve hits. At the end of the month he hit solo HRs in consecutive games at Cincinnati. 

On May 21st he got an infield hit with two outs in the bottom of the 17th inning, in a long game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium. Infielder (former Met) Chuck Hiller made a bad throw to first & Tommie Agee scored the game's winning run. Boswell opened June with a five game streak then suffered a broken finger which sidelines him for two months.

When he returned he got back into a groove, hitting safely in his first two games. In September he did not hit any HRs nor drive in any runs, but he did hit safely in all but five games the entire month. He finished the year hitting safely in 15 of twenty games in September. 

He also settled in to playing a steady second base, posting a .965 fielding %, making a quality double play partner for All Star Bud Harrelson st short. Boswell was named a Topps All Star rookie playing in 75 games, batting .261 with four HRs, seven doubles, 37 runs scored 11 RBIs & a .300 on base %. 

1969 Championship Season: In the Mets 1969 Championship season he started the year by making three errors on Opening Day. In the first inning his error led to two unearned runs for Mets pitcher Tom Seaver. The Mets lost their eighth opening day in a row, this time in a historic game, against the expansion Montreal Expos. It was the first International game in history, as Canada was brought into the major leagues. 

Boswell did have two hits on that Opening day. The next day he hit his first HR of the season collecting two hits.7 a walk in the Mets 9-5 win. He had a good start to 1969, hitting safely in 19 of his first 23 games, giving him a .308 average. On April 30th, in Montreal, Boswell broke a 1-1 ninth inning tie with an RBI base hit leading to a Tom Seaver 2-1 win over  the Expos. 

In the first game of a May 4th double header at Wrigley Field, Boswell broke a 1-1 tie with a 5th inning base hit off the Cubs Bill Hands. The Mets would win the game 3-2, in another Tom Seaver victory. In the second game Boswell's double, scored the first run of the game as the Mets went on to another 3-2 win & a sweep of the Cubs in Chicago. This sent an early message to their NL East rival, that New York was going to be for real. In June Boswell served two weeks in the military reserves & then returned during a road trip to Philadelphia.

 On June 19th he helped the Mets complete a series sweep of the Phillies, with a 9th inning base hit off Turk Farrell, driving in Don Clendenon & Ron Swoboda with the games winning runs. The next day in front of 54,083 fans at Shea Stadium, Boswell had two more hits, including an RBI triple off the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer; Bob Gibson, helping Nolan Ryan to a win as well as getting his record to 3-0. 

On July 8th in an epic battle against the first place Chicago Cubs, Boswell hit a his famous 9th inning pinch hit bloop double off future Hall of Famer; Ferguson Jenkins. With the Mets down 3-1 in the 9th, Boswell blooped a pop fly to short left, it fell in front of Cubs outfielder Don Young & the hustling Boswell ended up on second base. Donn Clendenon would also reach base & Cleon Jones would double bringing in Boswell & Clendenon to tie it. Ed Kranepool ended it with a base hit, as Don Young made another miscue in left field. Art Shamsky who had walked, came home & scored the game's winning run, as the Shea crowd of 55,000 went wild. The walk off win brought a huge excitement to Mets fans & all of baseball were believing more in those Miracle Mets. 

The Mets/ Cubs rivalry was bubbling over as the Mets were proving to they were really contenders. On the road in Chicago, he hit a HR in a 5-4 Mets win & then had a pair of hits the next day, helping New York take two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field.On the year he killed the Cubs, batting .365 against them. 

Boswell then made a few base running mistakes as well as some mental fielding errors, which put him in Gil Hodges dog house. In the first game of that series at Wrigley Field he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, in the 8th inning of the 1-0 loss. 

He also was thrown out at third base trying to advance on an infield ground ball in the 12th inning of a one run loss against the Cincinnati Red a week later. He also made crucial errors in two games at Shea, against Houston at the end of the month. The Astros went on to sweep the Mets in the heat of the pennant race., Boswell sat down, spending some time on the bench, the lesson seemed to work. 

Boswell remembered “He had such a high level of concentration; he was thinking about the game all the time, and he tried to get the players to think that way. Gil changed the whole attitude on the club. He was a real disciplinarian, too.” 

He was hot down the pennant stretch, batting over .400 from the end of August through September, hitting safely in 21 out of 27 games. In the first eleven games of September he played in, Boswell drove in eight runs. On September 2nd, the Mets took a 5-1 lead over the Dodgers, but L.A. came back with three runs making it a 5-4 win with Boswell's hit being the 8th inning game winner.

On September 10th, he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning, with a walk off single off Expos pitcher Bill Stonemann. It came during the first game of a double header. In the second game, Boswell had three hits with a run scored & another RBI, in the sweep. It was on this historic night, the Mets moved into first place after the 7-1 victory. 

 During the Amazing 1969 season, Boswell hit .328 with runners in scoring position & tied for the team lead with ten game winning RBIs. boswell hit a career high .279 and leading the club with seven triples (9th in the NL). 

He hit 14 doubles, with three HRs, 32 RBIs and 48 runs scored playing in 102 games overall. He was the team’s main second baseman playing 96 games at second base in a platoon with Al Weis. He posted a .959 fielding %, making 18 errors turning 51 double plays, mostly due to the superb play of Buddy Harrelson at short. 

 1969 NLCS: In the 1969 NLCS, Boswell tore up the Atlanta Braves pitching staff. He played in all three games batting .333 (4-12) hitting two HRs and leading the team with five RBIs. In Game #1 he drew a walk in the second inning & scored on a Phil Niekro passed ball with Bud Harrelson at the plate. 

In Game #2 at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Boswell hit one of three Mets HRs on the afternoon. It was a two run 4th inning shot off Milt Pappas in the Mets 11-6 romp. He homered again in Game #3 at Shea Stadium, another two run shot, this time of Pat Jarvis. The HR put the Mets ahead 3-2 in the fourth inning. In the 5th inning he singled, driving in Cleon Jones with another run in the Mets 7-4 win, completing the Series sweep. Coach Joe Pignatano dropped Boswell’s HR as it landed in the right-field bullpen, Boswell told him after the game “Hey, Piggy, you’ve got hands like me.” 
Tommie Agee Ken Boswell & Cleon Jones

World Series: Due to Gil Hodges platoon system & the Baltimore Orioles left handed pitching rotation, he only saw action in one game (Game #3) of the 1969 World Series, going 1-3. 

 Trivia: After the first two World Series games, he returned to New York with his father showing him around New York city. He pointed out the girls in their see through bras & short miniskirts, which amazed his dad. After the Mets won the World Series, fame came to Boswell as well as the other players. 

He was still a bachelor and received a lot of mail from girls asking him over for dinner. Boswell remembers: "The girls from Brooklyn keep writing and inviting me to go try their spaghetti, but they'd have a better chance if they made spare ribs" said the Texas born Boswell. "When I get home to Austin they are going to have a Welcome Home, Ken Boswell Parade. I hope they mean me and not some other Ken Boswell." 

During Spring Training 1970, Manager Gil Hodges told Boswell he believed he could be a solid second baseman. Boswell worked hard, to prove his manager correct, turning himself into a superior second baseman. He gave all the credit to Hodges for believing in him. 

He was spectacular at times, setting an MLB fielding record; going 85 games without making an error at second base. He finished up the year committing just two errors in 450 chances, setting a Mets fielding record at the position, leading the league with a .996 fielding %. 

He had a good start at the plate as well, hitting .300 into mid May. On May 30th the Mets rallied from being down 3-1 to the Houston Astros. After New York tied the game & knocked out pitcher Larry Dierker, Boswell hit an infield single off Ron Cook, scoring Cleon Jones from third base in what turned out to be the winning run. He then hit safely in 10 of 12 games in June while driving in ten runs in the month. 

On Saturday June 19th, he had a three hit, three RBI day in the Mets 13-3 win in front of 44,000 at Shea Stadium. Four days later at Wrigley Field he drove in two runs, to tie up the game in the top of the 9th inning, with a two out game tying base hit off Phil Regan. The Mets won the game in the tenth inning, and Boswell had himself another three RBI day, that included an earlier bases loaded walk. He missed three weeks of action in July with an injury & in mid August Boswell had a great five game stretch getting 11 hits, and driving in five runs. 

On an early September home stand he had another three RBI day on September 8th in a 10-5 win over the Montreal Expos. Then on September 10th he had a big four hit day, against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets fell short of another Eastern title in the final weeks of September in that 1970 season. Boswell played In 105 games batting .254, with five HRs 13 doubles a career high 41 walks, a .331 on base % & 44 RBIs. 

In 1971 he was rewarded for his efforts the previous year, by seeing more playing time, 116 games overall with 109 games at second base. He posted a .973 fielding %, making 12 errors in 437 chances turning a career high 56 double plays. On the down side, Boswell didn't hit much, although he did have some big hits as he did in 1969. On May 22nd with the Mets down 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning to the Atlanta Braves, Boswell tied up the score sith a single off Cecil Upshaw of the Atlanta Braves. New York won it in the 11th on a Donn Clendenon walk off base hit. On June 28th his single in the top of the 8th inning off Philadelphia's Rick Wise broke a 1-1 ties and proved to be the winning runs in the Mets 3-1 win. 

 In mid July he drove in eight runs from July 15th through July 25th in the midst of a ten game hit streak. On July 25th, his bottom of the 8th inning single put New York up 7-4 against the Astros and it seemed meaningless. But Houston scored two more runs & Boswell's run proved to be the one that gave the Mets the 7-6 win. 

On August 7th he hit a grand slam HR off Atlanta's Mike McQueen, and drove in five runs in the Mets 20-6 romp over the Braves in Atlanta. Over the early August, two week road trip, Boswell had a ten game hit streak, drove in ten runs & hit three HRs getting his average to its highest point of the season at .283. 

In September his season was cut short by a shoulder injury, when he couldn’t even swing the bat due to the pain. He finished up hitting .273 with a career high 20 doubles. He hit five HRs with 36 walks 40 RBIs & a .334 on base %. 

At the end of Spring Training 1972 the Mets were stunned by the sudden passing of Gil Hodges. Boswell struggled at the plate finding himself under the .200 mark, most of the year until mid September. On May 29th, he won the game with a top of the 9th inning three run HR off the Cardinals Tony Cloninger, breaking the 3-3 tie in St. Louis. In the month of July he had just one hit in 34 at bats, spending a bit of time on the bench to regroup. He showed a power surge from August 27th through September 8th, hitting four HRs, that included a four hit day in Houston on September 2nd. 

He finished up the season with a career high nine HRs but his average fell to .211 & his on base % was just .274. The Mets used utility man Ted Martinez more at second base that season & they were concerned about Boswell’s shoulder entering the 1973 season. In the off season they acquired All Star second baseman Felix Millan from the Atlanta Braves (along with pitcher George Stone) for Gary Gentry & Danny Frisella. 

1973 Mets Pennant Season: In the Mets 1973 NL Championship season, Boswell saw action in just three games at second base, behind the steady Millan who played in 153 games at the position. Boswell played 17 games at third base & saw the most playing time as a pinch hitter. He was 12-51 as a pinch hitter; bashing the only two pinch hit HRs the team had that year. Both HRs came in Mets losses on the road, at Los Angles & Chicago. 

On April 22nd in the first game of a double header, Boswell pinch hit for Tom Seaver in the bottom of the 9th, with the Mets down 1-0. He singled to center off one of the games best relievers, Montreal's Mike Marshall. Jim Fregosi scored the tying run but the Mets would end up losing the game after former Met; Tim Foli, singled off the Mets short termed reliver Phil Hennigan in the 10th. In the second game, he would enter the game in the 6th inning & came through with another RBI single. The Mets trounced the Expos 13-3 in that one.

In May during a four game stretch at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Boswell had two more successful pinch hit at bats. On May 24th, the Mets & Dodgers went into the 19th inning with a 3-3 tie. Rusty Staub broke the tie with a double scoring Cleon Jones. Boswell then pinch hit & singled home Staub giving the Mets a 5-3 lead. He would score on Ed Kranepool's double & the Mets went on to a n eventual 7-3 win. On May 27th, Don Sutton had shut out the Mets into the 8th inning & was holding on to a 2-0 lead. Boswell belted a pinch hit HR to bring the Mets within a run, but they lost it 2-1.

On August 1st he got a start at third & he drove in a pair of runs with a two hit game, at Pittsburgh in a 5-2 win over the Pirates. On August 26th Bowsell had a bottom of the 9th inning, two run pinch hit single off San Francisco's; Elias Sosa, but the Mets fell short by a run losing to the Giants 5-4. 

Boswell had a quiet September playing in just 11 games  but did go 3-8 with three walks & one RBI. as a pinch hitter. In the famous "Ball on the Wall Game" which was a big night for the Mets on their way to taking over the NL East from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bowell led off the bottom of the 9th inning with a pinch hit base hit, representing the tying run on base. He would score on Duffy Dyer's double sending the game to those famous extra innings in which the Mets won 4-3. In the 13th Boswell drew a walk to reach base again.

On the season he was still solid on the field making only one error in 37 chances (.973 fielding %). Overall as a reserve player he appeared in 76 games, batting .227, with two HRs two doubles 14 RBIs & a .303 on base %. 

 1973 Post Season: Boswell went 0-1 in the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds. In the World Series against the Oakland A's he went a perfect 3-3 (.1000) as a pinch hitter tying a pinch hit World Series record. 

His hits came against future Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers (Game #1) & Catfish Hunter (Game #6). In the 8th inning of Game #6 at Oakland, he singled to right field & advanced to third on Wayne Garrett's base hit. He then scored a run on Felix Millan's base hit, bringing the Mets within a run. 

 In his post season career (eight games) Boswell batted .421 (8-19) with two HRs two runs scored & five RBIs. 

In 1974 manager Yogi Berra said he wanted Boswell for his bat & thought about using him in the outfield. That lasted just seven games, but he did see more time at second base (28 games) & third base (20 games) . Boswell was once again, one of the teams main pinch hitters, going 9-42 in that role (.213). On May 5th, he pinch hit for Bud Harrelson, in the bottom of the 9th, with the Mets down by a run against the San Diego Padres. Boswell tapped a base hit up the middle, scoring Teddy Martinez with the tying run. New York won it on a John Milner walk off HR. On August 5th he hit a 7th inning, two run pinch hit HR off Montreal’s Dennis Blair, to tie the game the Mets would go on to win 10-4. 

 In 96 games he hit just .216 with two HRs six doubles 15 RBIs & a .277 on base%. On October 29, 1974 he was traded back near his home in Texas, going to the Houston Astros for Bob Gallagher. 

That winter the Mets took a baseball tour of Japan, Boswell, along with Duffy Dyer & Ray Sadecki, all declined to make the trip. That winter GM Joe McDonald traded all three players away, many felt it was because they didn't make the trip. 

Boswell left the Mets as the all time club leader in games played at the second base position up to that point in time. Boswell spent eight seasons with the Mets, batting .250 with 528 hits, 31 HRs 74 doubles 15 triples 26 stolen bases 193 RBIs & a .312 on base %, appearing in two World Series. 

He played for Houston through 1977, hitting a high of .262 with eight doubles & 18 RBIs in 1976, becoming one of the league’s top pinch hitters. He batted .308 in that role setting a team record that stood until 2006 with twenty pinch hits. 

Boswell finished his eleven season career hitting .248 with 625 hits 31 HRs 91 doubles 19 triples 27 stolen bases 244 RBIs 240 walks & a .313 on base %. At second, he posted a .979 fielding percentage in 566 games played at the position. He turned 280 double plays making 52 errors in 2440 chances. He played 82 games at third base & eight games in the outfield. 

 On a sad note, Boswell was not on hand for the 40th anniversary of the 1969 team due to a misunderstanding with the organization. Boswell claims he had a hard time acquiring tickets during the 2006 season when the Mets visited Houston on a road trip. He also stated that he wasn’t invited to the team's locker room to meet any of the players, especially #12, manager Willie Randolph. 

Randolph a fellow second baseman claims that he wore the uniform number 12 because Ken Boswell was his favorite Mets player when he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn. 

 Retirement: As of late, Boswell is a rancher & sells antique autos in Austin, Texas.

Remembering Mets History: (1973 Pennant Season) Ken Boswell's Pinch Hitting Recap

In the 1972-1973 off season, the Mets traded away pitchers Gary Gentry & Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher George Stone & second baseman Felix Millan. Millan was a recent All Star, a solid second baseman & a steady singles hitter.

The Mets were obviously looking for an upgrade at second base. Boswell's had not been hitting & his defense was also not up to par for every day play. With the acquisition of Millan, his playing time was certainly going to be limited. The steady Millan would appear in a team high 153 games that season. He also led the team in hitting .290, hits 185 & runs 82.

Ken Boswell became a utility player & the teams top pinch hitter. He had secretly wanted to be traded but was not the type of gut to say "play me or trade me". Boswell embraced his role & did a good job as a pinch hitter. He collected a dozen pinch hits on the season (12-51) batting .255 in that role.

Ken Boswell got his first pinch hit at bat on April 15th, going 0-1 in the Mets 7-1 loss to the Phillies at Philadelphia. In the first game of an April 22nd double header, he tied up the game against Montreal with a pinch hit single in the bottom of the 9th inning. The hit came off relief ace Mike Marshall scoring Jim Fregosi. The Mets would lose the game in extra innings when ex-Met Tim Foli singled off Phil Hennigan. Neither Hennigan or Fregosi would be around for the pennant stretch.

In the second game of that double header, Boswell added another RBI in the Mets 13-3 win. In late May he hit a pinch hit HR off the Dodgers Don Sutton, in a classic pitchers duel between Jerry Koosman & Sutton who won the game 2-1. Boswell had two more pinch hits driving in runs in that final week of that month as well.

In June he collected three more pinch hits, including a pinch hit HR off the Cubs ace Rick Reuschel. The HR tied up another pitchers duel, this one with Reuschel & Tom Seaver, coming in the 8th inning at Wrigley Field.

He got just five starts from early July to the first week of August & drove in runs in three of those games. On August 6th, Boswell drove in Wayne Garrett with a 6th inning single off Reggie Cleveland. The RBI brought the Mets within a run of a game they would blow open for a 10-3 win. On August 26th, Boswell came to bat against Elias Sosa of the San Francisco Giants with New York down 5-2 in bottom of the 9th inning. He drove a single up the middle scoring two runs, bringing the Mets within a run although they fell short in the end 5-4.

On September 7th, with the Mets in the heat of the pennant race just four games back, the Mets had an exciting come back win at Montreal. In the top of the 7th with the Mets down 1-0, Boswell drew a pinch hit walk off Mike Torrez tying up the game. The Mets went on to a 4-1 win.

On September 20th, with the Mets just 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, the two team matched up in what became known as the "ball on the wall game'.

Prior to that famous play, the Mets were down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Boswell led off the inning with a pinch hit base hit off former Met Bob Johnson. He would score the tying run on Duffy Dyers pinch hit double. Boswell remained in the game & drew a walk in the home 13th, his walk moved John Milner up to second base. Milner scored on rookie catcher Ron Hodges' game winning single. Hodges had tagged out Richie Zisk at the plate after a fly ball landed on top of the Shea Stadium wall in left field & bounced to Cleon Jones who hit the relay man Wayne Garrett who threw out Zisk at home.

Three days later with the Mets now in first place, they topped the St. Louis Cards at home 5-2. Boswell successfully pinch hit in the 6th inning & scored another run after Wayne Garrett tripled him in.

The Mets won the pennant on the last day of the season & faced a heavily favorite Big Red Machine in the NLCS. The Mets took the series in five games & Boswell had just one at bat in that series. His World Series was much better, although he saw action in just three games, he came up with three pinch hits which was a World Series record. The hits also came against two future Oakland A's Hall of Famers.

In Game #1 Boswell pinch hit for Jon Matlack in the 7th inning & singled off Rollie Fingers. With the Mets down 2-1 he represented the tying run but was forced out in a double play. In Game #6 he singled off Catfish Hunter in the 8th inning with the Mets down 2-0. He advanced on Wane Garrets base hit & scored on Felix Millan's single. The Mets lost that game 3-1.

In Game #7 he connected for another pinch hit single off Rollie Fingers. That came in the 7th inning with the Mets down 5-1 as they saw their dreams of another Championship dwindle away.

Feb 21, 2019

centerfieldmaz Remembers the Monkees Peter Tork

Peter Halsten Thorkelson was born February 13th, 1942 in Washington D.C. Although his early Monkees bio claimed falsely that he was born in New York City. As a child he exceled in music, playing piano, then guitar, banjo & the bass. 

After attending high school & college in Connecticut, he moved to New York City's Greenwich Village. There he became part of the Folk scene with many others, like himself, who would become pop & rock stars in the sixties. The likes of Bob Dylan, John Sebastian (The Lovin' Spoonful), Cass Elliot, John Phillips & Denny Doherty of the Mammas & Pappas, Ritchie Havens, and Steven Stills (of Buffalo Springfield & Crosby Stills & Nash).

Peter & Stills became good friends, in fact it was Stills, who had auditioned, but did not get the role in the Monkees. But when asked if he knew anyone who resembled himself, with the so called Nordic look, he suggested Peter. He encouraged Peter to go for the part & he got it, becoming Peter Tork, as the world would forever know him. He was the oldest of the four Monkees, age 24 in 1966. He played the part of the dumb, silly one, when in fact he may have been the most intelligent one of the group.

Tork the thought the Monkees were going to be a real band, but soon learned he was to be an actor in his role. After bringing some musical changes to the powers that be for the song "Last Train to Clarksville" he was told, you don't understand, everything has been finished already. But Tork did get to play as a backing musician on many of the early songs. He even co-wrote "For Pete's Sake" which closed out the show in the second season.

The Monkees were basically to be a TV version of the Beatles Hard Days Night movie. Professional song writers & professional musicians did the songs, & the actors, acted out being the band. The Monkees did do their own lead vocals. Eventually the four Monkees became more involved & played their own instruments as well as wrote their own songs. Tork was to be the bands bass player, although he was a better guitar player, as well as keyboardist. One of Tork's most famous musical pieces was the intro on piano to "Daydream Believer".

The Monkees were huge at their peak,
everything from records to tv, to film to a full line of bubble gum cards, lunch boxes & full merchandising supported the band. The Monkee mobile was one of the hottest cars ever produced & is still popular today. The TV show would only run for two seasons, (winning an Emmy Award for best comedy) but play on for generations in reruns.

At the time, the Monkees were not looked at as a joke by the rock world since they were the first of the counterculture, young peoples generation to make it to prime time. Even the Beatles loved the Monkees, John Lennon calling them the best thing since the Marx Brothers. The two groups actually became friendly & Peter Tork played on George Harrisons first solo effort, Wonderwall.

Tork eventually left the Monkees by the end of 1968. Exhausted by the grueling schedule of recording (six albums in two years) constant touring & filming a tv show, as well as the 1968 psychedelic film Head. Named that by the Monkees so they could bill it as- "from the people who gave you head."

Tork went on to a solo career but it didn't take off. He got married & had a son, money problems had him living in the basement of David Crosby's house. He eventually took on jobs as a music teacher, a school teacher, baseball coach & musician. Things did get better for Tork along the way.

In the mid seventies he reunited for a Christmas record with Davy Jones & Mickey Dolenz. By the mid eighties the three were back (sans Nesmith) as the Monkees. The 20th Anniversary tour was a big success, new songs with another Greatest Hits album, all sold well. MTV helped launch the Monkees back on TV again & a whole new generation, as well as the ones from the past were all lovin' the Monkees.

Tork would reunite with the Monkees throughout the years as well as record as a solo artist & session man. He would make TV appearances on Wings, Boy Meets World, 7th Heaven & my favorite The King Of Queens, as leader of a wedding band. Tork is also member of the Long Island Musicians Hall of Fame.

In his personal life he was married four times & has three children. In 2009 he was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the tongue. He was given all clear after surgery by 2010. He passed away in Mansfield, Conn at age 77.

Quotes: Mickey Dolenz- " There are no words right now, heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother Peter".

Mike Nesmith- “Peter Tork died this AM. I am told he slipped away peacefully. Yet, as I write this my tears are awash, and my heart is broken. Even though I am clinging to the idea that we all continue, the pain that attends these passings has no cure. It’s going to be a rough day. I share with all Monkees fans this change, this ‘loss,’ even so. PT will be a part of me forever. I have said this before — and now it seems even more apt — the reason we called it a band is because it was where we all went to play.” 

“A band no more — and yet the music plays on — an anthem to all who made the Monkees and the TV show our private — dare I say ‘secret’ — playground, I can only pray [Peter’s] songs reach the heights that can lift us and that our childhood lives forever — that special sparkle that was the Monkees. I will miss him — a brother in arms. Take flight my Brother.”

The First Mets Player To Start An All Star Game: Ron Hunt (1963-1966)

Ronald Kenneth Hunt was born on February 23, 1941 in St. Louis, Missouri The infielder was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, spending time in the low minors for three seasons. In 1962 he batted .309 at AA ball when he was purchased by the New York Mets that October. 

At first The Mets were using him as a bullpen catcher during spring training 1963. “Larry Burright wasn't doing too well at second base" Hunt recalled "I went up to Casey after a game in the Polo Grounds and said, I’m Ron Hunt #33. I'm not a bullpen catcher, I can play second base. If you want me to go to the minors every day until you need me, I'll do it.”

“I guess Casey took a liking to me, he said, `Do you want to play that badly, son? You're in the lineup tomorrow." 

Hunt became the Mets main second baseman for the next four seasons, and in 1963 he was one of their most steady players in his rookie year. In just his third game he had three hits including an exciting walk off game winning double in the bottom of the 9th inning, off Milwaukee's Claude Raymond.

A week later he drove in one of two runs in Carl Willeys three hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs. He kept his average over .300 with a ten game hit streak, hitting safely in 17 of twenty games through mid May.

 In June he had a four hit day against the Reds in Cincinnati & then the next day drove in two runs leading New York to a 4-1 win over the Reds. He went into September hitting safely in twenty of twenty two games and then drove in runs in four straight games in the middle of the month. For the season he led the team in hits (145) batting average (.272) doubles (28) runs (64) & on base percentage (.334) as well as sacrifices & hit by pitches (13).

Hunt would become famous, actually legendary, for getting hit by pitches, leading the team every year in that category from 1963-1966. The thirteen HBP in 1963 was a club record that would stand for 34 years until John Olerud broke it in 1997. 

 That year Hunt also hit a career high 10 HRs & 28 doubles with 42 RBIs finishing as runner up to Pete Rose for the Rookie of the Year Award. 

 In 1964 he started out the season getting two hits on opening day in Philadelphia. On April 17th, 1964 he started at third base and batted in the third position in the first game played at the new Shea Stadium.

Mets Firsts:  He doubled in the 4th inning, getting the first Mets extra base hit in the new ballpark, then scored the teams first run, when Jesse Gonder singled him home. Three games later, Hunt hit the first home run by a Mets player in the new Shea Stadium.

In May he had a nine game hit streak & hit safely in 13 of 16 games. Hunt was hitting really well getting over the .300 mark & never looking back all year. In mid June he had a twelve game hit streak & had multi hit games in eight of those. 
First Met to Start All Star Game: By July he was hitting .312 and got to represent the Mets  in a starting position as the National League's second baseman, in the 1964 All Star game.

The game was played in the brand new Shea Stadium in New York just across from the 1964 Worlds Fair in Queens. This was the only All Star Game ever held in Shea Stadium.

The anticipation mounted as he awaited his turn at bat in between innings in the on deck circle. Hunt received a tremendous standing ovation from the home town fans when he came to bat in the bottom of the third inning. He led off the inning with a single off Dean Chance. Overall he was 1-3 in the game.

In the second half of the year Hunt continued his fine hitting. He put together an eight game hit streak in July with another six game hit streak in August. 

On August 28th during a wild 12-10 Mets win at Wrigley Field, it was Hunts bases loaded single in the 8th inning that tied the game. That day he had three hits, drove in three runs & scored two runs as well. In September he missed three weeks of action due to injury, returning to close out the season. 

He finished the 1964 season leading the team with a .303 average & getting hit by 11 pitches. He hit six triples with 6 HRs 19 doubles 59 runs scored & drove in 42 runs. He posted a .357 on base % & his six stolen bases were also enough to lead the slow footed club.

At second base his .979 fielding % was fourth best in the NL, and he was fourth in assists (317) & fifth in put outs (244). 

 Injuries limited him to only 57 games in 1965, as he season didn't start until April 30th & then he missed another three months during summer. On August 27nd he hit three doubles off a 44 year old Warren Spahn after he had been released by the Mets & was now pitching for the San Francisco Giants. On September 28th The Mets Dennis Ribant threw 11 innings of shutout ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the bottom of the 12th the Mets loaded the bases of Elroy Face & Hunt delivered the walk off game winning base hit, giving New York an exciting 1-0 win.

The Hunt's Grocery Shopping in Maspeth Queens
For the 1965 season. Hunt hit .240 with 12 doubles, one HR, 10 RBIs & a .309 on base % in 196 at bats. 

Quotes: Hunt recalls his personal early days with the Mets: "My first contract was for $7,000, we couldn't afford to live in New York, so my wife Jackie found us a place in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I drove an 18-wheeler for $2.85 an hour in the offseason. 

Casey called me in the office about a month into the season and he said, 'Son, you need a raise.' I said, 'Yes, sir.' He said, 'How's $500 sound?' I said, 'Is that $500 a month?' He said, 'No! That's 500 a year.' So I called my wife - and it's still the same wife, 37 years now - and she said, 'We'll take it!' When the Mets moved to Shea in 1964, Ron & his wife moved into a basement apartment in Maspeth.

In 1966 he had a great May after a slow start, including getting 17 hits on a ten game home stand in the beginning of the month. On May 20th at Candlestick Park he drove in five runs, with a HR, three hits & a hit by pitch helping the Mets to a 7-5 victory.

Another Mets First: On June 5th, he became the first Met to hit an inside the park HR, it came off of non other than Sandy Koufax, in the first game of a double header loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On June 17th his 8th inning double off the Reds Bob McCool drove in Johnny Lewis & Chuck Hiller giving the Mets the lead, as they went on to win 6-5 over Cincinnati. He was batting .293 at the break & made another All Star team. He had another hot streak in August getting 19 hits in a ten day stretch while hitting safely in ten of eleven games raising his season average over .295. 

On the next to last day of the season, he helped Jack Fisher preserve his six hit shut out by driving in the only run of the game. Hunt's base hit off Houston's Larry Dierker in the bottom of the 9th inning, scored Eddie Bressoud for the Mets 1-0 win over the Astros. 
He would finished the year once again leading the team in batting average(.288) hits (138) on base % (.356) and hit by pitches (11). Hunt hit three HRs with 19 doubles 63 runs scored & 33 RBIs.

In November of 1966 he and Jim Hickman were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Tommy Davis. It was the first trade between the two rivals since they had moved to the West Coast. 

Hunt was heartbroken after the trade, & took time for him to adjust. On the year he batted .263 & was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Tom Haller that winter. Hunt played three seasons as the Giants main second baseman in San Francisco, leading all second baseman in errors in 1968 (20) then posted the league’s fourth best fielding % in the next year. 

On September 17th, 1968 his HR was the difference in Gaylord Perry’s no-hitter at Candlestick Park as the Giants edged Bob Gibson & the St. Louis Cardinals 1-0. He led the NL in getting hit by pitches in each of his final seven seasons including 25 hit by pitches in 1968. That year he hit just .250 but posted a .371 on base % while drawing 78 walks (3rd in the NL). 

In 1969 he was hit 25 times by pitches, setting an MLB record on April 29, that season getting plunked three times in a game against the Reds. On eof them came from his former Mets team mate Jack Fisher. In 1970 he batted .281 with 6 HRs 17 doubles & posted a .394 on base %. The following year Tito Fuentes took over at second base as the Giants went on to win the NL Western title. That December he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Dave McDonald, there he became a popular player again, this time in Canada. 

On September 29th in a game against the Chicago Cubs at Jarry Park, Milt Pappas plunked Hunt with a pitch. That was the 50th pitch he was hit with on the season, setting a new record for batters in the 20th century. Pappas argued that the pitch was a strike & Hunt got in the way of the ball. Legendary managers Leo Durocher & Sparky Anderson had similar claims throughout the year. 

 Hunt posted his best on base % (.402%) up to that point in his career (4th in the NL) while batting .279 with 41 walks 20 doubles 5 HRs & 38 RBIs. He only struck out 41 times in 528 at bats, 638 plate appearances, while hitting 20 doubles for the first of two straight seasons. That season he also had career bests in runs scored (89) (8th in the league) & games (152). 

In 1973 he batted a career high .309 with a career best .418 on base %. He received votes for the MVP award, coming in 26th while playing in 113 games, & getting hit by 26 pitches.

Hunt also set an Expo record by only striking out 19 times in 401 at-bats. Late in the 1974 season after 115 games, he was batting .268 with 15 doubles & 26 RBIs but was placed on waivers, getting picked by the Cardinals on September 5th. He got to finish his career in his hometown of St. Louis playing in 12 September games that month. 

In his 12-year career Hunt batted .273 with 1439 hits 39 HRs 223 doubles 23 triples 745 runs scored a .368 on base % & 370 RBIs in 1483 games played. He was also one of the most difficult batters to strike out, fanning 382 times in 5235 at-bats.

Upon his retirement, his 243 Hit by pitches were a MLB career record, but since he has fallen to sixth on the all time list. 

Hunt played in 1260 games at second base (67th all time) posting a .976 fielding % turning 685 double plays with 156 errors in 6402 chances. His 2734 put outs & 3512 assists are both 72nd most all time for second baseman. He also played in 158 games at third & two games at short. 

Trivia: His motto was, “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball”. Hunt insisted that he never deliberately got hit by a pitch. On occasion, he was said to have worn a wetsuit underneath his uniform to ease the pain from being hit by a pitch. 

Retirement: After his playing days he owned a liquor store, then sporting goods store in the St. Louis suburb of Wentzville. He also raised cattle & still works his farm. 

Since 1985 he runs The Ron Hunt Baseball Association, a non-profit instructional league for teens, & still runs the annual fund raiser in New York. 

Hunt returned to the Mets for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.