Aug 30, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Seaver Wins 19th at Candelstick Park

August 31, 1969: Tom Seaver was Tom Terrific again tonight as he won his 19th of the season and the Mets coasted to an 8-0 victory at Candelstick Park. Seaver had some trouble early on; in the 2nd Willie McCovey tripled down the line, he walked Bobby Bonds & he stole second. Seaver bore down and struck out Dave Marshall & Jack Hiatt (looking) then got Hal Lanier to pop out.

In the 3rd Ken Henderson singled, then Seaver pelted Ron Hunt in the helmet and knocked him out of the game, he walked another but got out of it without any damage retiring Bonds on a fly ball.

The Mets broke out in the 4th inning, with the bases loaded Ron Swoboda doubled home two runs, Jerry Grote & Tom Seaver singled home three more. Later in the Met 5th, a walk, an error & single led to Al Weiss' bases loaded single scoring two runs & a Bud Harrelson single scoring another.

The Mets rolled along, but there was some drama in the 7th as Giants pitcher hit Seaver in the arm, retaliation for plunking Hunt earlier. All part of the real game in 1969 my friends. Seaver finished the complete game shutout striking out 11 for win #19 and putting the Mets 4 1/2 games behind the Cubs.

Aug 28, 2009

Anniversary of the Beatles Last Concert (1966) Candelstick Park

August 29th, 1966: It had been an exhausting madhouse for the Beatles 1966 Tour. On stage they couldn't hear themselves play, the technology of the day wasn't able to re-create the advancements they were making in the studio. As they were recording Revolver & the next project Sgt. Pepper on stage they were still doing basic songs like Rock & Roll Music. They wanted to focus their time on making music that would take rock & Roll to the next level.

1966 was a rough one for them, Lennon made his "more popular than Jesus comments" and the American South began Beatles boycotts, the KKK threatened then, & there were other death threats. They had just escaped the incident in Manila were the Marcos family turned the whole country against them, again they escaped with their lives in jeopardy.

Besides all that, the Touring was getting to stressful. There were no days off, no privacy. Their plane would fly into a city and the mania began. It was the sixties, riots, demonstrations, unrest and then the Beatles arrived in the middle of it all. They physically & mentally needed a break. They agreed this tour would be their last, maybe not for ever but for a long while. Paul was the last to agree but the decision was made.

The last gig on the 1966 Tour was Candlestick Park, in San Francisco. The night before they gave their last press conference as a touring act in Los Angeles. They did the press gig at the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, with pal David Crosby by their side. Then they went and played Dodger Stadium, a pretty new stadium at the time.

They arrived in San Francisco to a bunch of stone faced police man and were shuffled onto the tour bus. When they arrived at the Stadium, the gates were locked. More madness. The crowds noticed them and chased the bus. The driver had to circle the parking lot and leave the grounds to avo
id the fans. It was a scene right of A Hard Days Night, but it wasn't funny anymore. They arrived 20 minutes later into the open gates.

San Francisco treated the Beatles well. This was one of the safest places for them to end the tour. The music & art of Haight Ashbury was beginning to blossom into the pop culture world. Backstage was quiet, Brian Epstein knew it was the last gig and couldn't bring himself to attend. The Beatles ate dinner and entertained some friends & the press. Joan Baez & her sister visited the boys as well.

The opening acts took the stage at 8 PM. The Remains, The Cyrkle (Red Rubber Ball) then the Ronettes (minus Ronnie Spector, Phil wouldn't allow her on the tour.) Next the Beatles walked out at 930 PM in flowered shirts and dark green suits carrying their own instruments. They waved opened the show with Rock & Roll Music.

The driver of the armoured car was told to leave the engine on just in case a quick get away was needed. Twice guys tried to rush the stage , once during Baby's In Black & once during I Wanna Be Your Man. There was the occasional girl jumping on the field throughout the show.

Rock & Roll Music
She's A Woman
If I Needed Someone
Day Tripper
Baby's In Black
I Feel Fine
I Wanna Be Your Man
Nowhere Man
Paperback Writer
Long Tall Sally
As the show ended John Lennon
strummed the opening to In My Life
and they dashed off into the armoured car and drove off. The Crowd flashed its cameras & screamed. Off into the sunset the Beatles Concert days were over. They were relieved, the weight of the world off their shoulders. As George said "Its all over, I can stop pretending to be a Beatle now, people."

Aug 24, 2009

centerfieldmaz at the 1969 Mets Reunion & Autograph Show

It was an "Amazing" day at the Huntington Hilton on Long Island, for the 1969 Mets Autograph Reunion show. The line up was incredible: Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Bud Harrelson, Gary Gentry, Jerry Grote, Al Weis, Wayne Garrett, Ed Kranepool, Ed Charles, Ron Taylor, Rod Gaspar, Jim McAndrew, Duffy Dyer, Bobby Pfeil, coaches Joe Pignatano, Eddie Yost & special guest Dwight Gooden.

Centerfieldmaz was there taking pictures, getting autographs and of course buying old baseball cards. (I added nicely to my collection of pre '69 Mets.)

I couldn't get to everyone, so I pretty much went with the players I haven't met in the past. I did miss out on Garrett & Dyer who appeared before 11 AM. While mingling in the hallway I got to greet Seaver & Gooden on their entrances, I also got a hand shake & quick conversation from a pure gentleman; The Glider- Ed Charles. As he exited, Charles was thanking the fans for coming.

All the players were really pleasant and friendly, considering what a crowded mad house it was. The longest lines were for Nolan Ryan & Tom Seaver. What do you say to Tom Seaver? All I could say is thanks for all the great memories and making us a winner, he thanked me back! He was relaxed & willing to sign & take photos while making a little conversation.

I asked Ron Swoboda about his catch in Game #4 of the 1969 Series, he said he didn't know he was going to catch it, until after he dove and it hit the webbing of his glove, then he knew he had it. He said he was going to go for it all the way. He was just happy he did it in the World Series.

I asked Jerry Koosman when the Mets were going to retire his number? Telling him, centerfieldmaz has e-mailed the Mets with that request and got no reply. He said "the Mets didn't answer hunh, with a smile." What a clutch pitcher he was in the big games! I thanked him for all the thrills he pitched as well.

Cleon Jones was really kool, I asked him to sign a glove I have with a bunch of all time Mets signatures. I asked him to sign right next to his old pal Tommie Agee's signature, he did & smiled. He got up to accommodate me taking a few photos. I told him he was one of the best outfielders the Mets ever had & deserves more credit than he gets. He sincerely thanked me.

I told Al Weiss how do you manage to hit the biggest HR of your career to tie the last game of the World Series? Especially when you only hit seven in a ten year career? He said it just worked out at the right time. I also asked about the two he hit in the regular season, both in a key games. He quickly recalled they both came in July at Wrigley Field during the race with the Cubs.

Gary Gentry made a rare appearance,
and I must say, I haven't seen him in pictures or anywhere since the mid seventies when he was in Atlanta. He looks good, but he's no longer the young kid of '69. He is defiantly a fun guy and was having a great time. He drew long lines since its rare to see him.

I got to chat with Joe "Piggy" Pignatano, one of my favorite coaches of all time. The Italian American Brooklyn native, was all smiles & jokes, happy to take a few pictures with me and talk about his tomato plants in the bullpen. Yea he still lives in Brooklyn & goes to Cyclones games.

Last but not least, there was Doc Gooden. Who signed an 8 x 10 "Doc Gooden - be cool". How great is that? I told him how I use to go to all the games he pitched in 1984-1986, and what a thrill it was to watch him pitch and bring us to the top again. He thanked me, was very humble & appreciative. He seemed very happy to pose for pictures too.

The Hilton was definatley not prepared for the huge turn out. The lines were long and unorderly until you actually got up front past the security & the ropes. Problem was all the players were in the same area across the back so it was a madhouse anywhere in the vicinity. The dealer tables should have been arranged differently and a bigger venue should have been use overall.

What a great afternoon, with alot of great memories. Its hard to believe its 40 years since those miracle Mets, the first team to go from worst to first. As Bud Harrelson said any underdog team that wins,or comes from last to first is always compared to the '69 Mets.

If only todays Mets could learn from the '69 team! Friday night Citi Field honored the Mets in a brief pregame ceromony. Bringing out most of the same lineup that was at todays show, plus a few others. The ceromonial first pitch was thrown out by The Big Three; Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, & Nolan Ryan. Yea, even Ryan came back for this celebration, it was his first return to a Mets event since 1972.

Aug 22, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1964- Willard Hunter Earns Both Wins In Twin Bill Sweep

August 23, 1964: The '64 Mets were on one of their hottest streaks of the season just coming off five straight & in the midst of nine wins in eleven games. In this twin bill sweep at Shea Stadium, Newark, New Jersey's own Willard Hunter earned both victories. Strangely Hunter only pitched a combined 1.2 innings in both games and would only win three games all year and four total in his Mets career.

In the first game Galen Cisco took the Mets into the 8th with a 1-1 score. Larry Bearneath pitched a perfect 9th. In the 10th Bill Wakefield gave up a single ^ a walk which got him the hook in favor of Hunter. Hunter got the last two outs of the inning easily, including getting Hall of Famer Billy Williams to ground out. In the bottom of the 10th, George Altman doubled, which led to two intentional walks to get to young Ed Kranepool. Krane delivered with an RBI game winning single bloop to left.

In the nightcap, Altman & Bobby Klaus both homered as did the Cubs Billy Williams. The game went into the 9th inning tied at 4-4. Hunter came in to pitch, and after three batters retired the side. The Mets, Klaus led off with a single off the Cubs Joe Amalfitano. After a Ron Hunt sacrifice, Amalfitano intentionally walked the next two batters to lead the bases. Jim Hickman popped up & then shortstop Charley Smith singled home the game winner. It was his second hit & RBI on the day, he had 20 RBIs all year.

Hunter got his second win of the day, he was now 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA. His next two decisions were both losses, he lost in the bottom of the 9th at Houston on September 19th & gave up a walk off HR to Dennis Menke at St. Louis during the last week of the season. He finished up 3-3 with 5 saves and a 4.41 ERA. Hunter had come over from the Dodgers with Charley Neal the previous year, he was out of the major leagues the next season, going 4-9 lifetime, 5 saves and a 5.68 ERA.

Aug 21, 2009

Concert Review: The Moody Blues - Radio City Music Hall 8/20/09

Of all the venues in the New York area, there is no place like Radio City Music Hall. Comfortable padded seats, leg room, full bar and the best sound on earth. Last night inside from the summer heat of midtown was a great concert by the Moody Blues. The crowd is a mix of original fans, second & third generation fans. A pretty mellow show, some of the early classics bring the crowd to a standing ovation. The second set builds up and by Just A Singer in a Rock & Roll Band, the crowd is on their feet cheering & dancing right through the end. The sing along during Questions is definatley one of the highlights, as is Tuesday Afternoon, Just A Singer & Ride My See Saw. But Nights In White Satin is one of the best concert songs you'll ever see anyone do!

It was my second Moody Blues show and again they do not disappoint. Their blend of symphonic, psychedelia, classical rock & roll is done to perfection on stage with a seven piece band. The band has sold well over 70 million albums world wide, received 14 gold & platinum discs, and remain one of the most successful touring bands in the business. You have to see them to really appreciate them, and then you realize what a great library of music they have. A staple of the classic rock radio era, when I was growing up, the Moodies songs bring me back to many different periods of life, with their music as a soundtrack to so many events. I will never forget borrowing my Uncle Mikes Days of Future Passed album, and hanging out in Ben's basement partying and drifting away into the music.

Justin Hayward's voice still sounds the way he did on the albums. He sings most of the lead vocals except on songs he didn't write. He is a muti talented musician/ vocalist/ song writer. Hayward is a great guitar player carrying the Moodies through the show, mostly on his own with great rhythm & lead guitar work. He did the 1st set wearing a denim vest looking very casual with semi long blondish hair with a tint of grey to it. Hayward has aged well, and pretty much has the same face & body weight he's always had. He joined the Moody Blues in 1966 after Denny Laine (of Wings) departed and changed the band into the a more commercial yet classical rock style. The release of Days of Future Passed in 1967 was one of the first symphonic/ rock concept albums. Certainly a masterpiece. Hayward has written many Moodies classics; Nights In White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon, Questions, The Voice, Wildest Dreams, Story In Your Eyes, & Never Comes the Day.

John Lodge can also still sing like he did on the albums, not only was his bass playing the backbone to the Moody Blues sound, he also played some acoustic guitar, and an amazing instrument that was a double neck bass/guitar combination. I never saw that before. Lodge is a member of the Moodies since 1966, joining just before Hayward. He has penned some of their biggest tunes; Ride My See Saw. Just A Singer in a Rock & Roll Band, Slide Zone, & Gemini Dream. He is a very Christian man and has been married to his wife since 1968, they have 2 kids.

Graeme Edge is the lead drummer (of which now there are two on stage) and one of the founding members of the band. Graeme comes out from his kit and talked about the 40th anniversary of men landing on the moon & Woodstock. He then does a great percussion march across the stage during his rendition of Higher & Higher, as he recites his lyrics while the band jams behind him. He also recites his composition Late Lament which he penned off the great Days of Future Passed album. Edge has written much of the poetry found on most of the Moodies classic albums. He now resides on Florida's Gulf Coast with his girlfriend.

The Moody Blues played about a 2 hour 2
0 minute set with an intermission in between. The original three are accompanied by a second drummer/percussionist, Gordon Marshall (since 1991) two keyboard players, responsible for the orchestration & sound effects, Paul Bliss ( since 1991) & Bernie Barlow. Then last and certainly the most important member besides the original three; Nordra Mullen, a very talented female vocalist/musician, who played the flute, acoustic guitar, tambourine & some beautiful vocals.

MOODY BLUES Set List: 8/20/09- Radio City Music Hall
The Voice
The Day We Meet Again
Stepping In A Slide Zone
The Afternoon (Tuesday Afternoon)
Lean on Me Tonight
Never Comes the Day
Peak Hour
I Know Your Out There
Wildest Dreams
Isn't Life Strange
The Other Side of Life
Higher & Higher
Are You Sitting Comfortably
I'm Just A Singer In A Rock & Roll Band
Late Lament
Nights In White Satin
encore: Ride My See Saw

Aug 17, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Mets Sweep Back to Back Doubleheaders

August 16/17, 1969: Back in the heat of the Summer of '69 as the Woodstock concert was going on in Upstate New York, back in Queens the 2nd place Mets were taking some giant steps forward. Although still 9 1/2 games back of the Cubs, the Mets were eyeing Gil Hodges 1st goal & that was to win 85 games.

The last place Padres rolled into Shea Stadium for a weekend of back to back double headers. Music all weekend at Woodstock, Mets winning baseball all weekend at Shea.

Saturday Game one: Tom Seaver was his Cy Young self again throwing 8 innings of shutout ball allowing only four Padre hits & 2 walks as he won his major league leading 17th of the year. It was the most of Tom's career at that point. He tired in the eighth and Ron Taylor was brought in to close the door with a perfect 9th & his 11th save.

The Met bats didn't exactly help much but Tommie Agee drove in Bud Harrelson with a single in the 5th inning. A guy named Bobby Pfeil inserted in the line up at third base, drove in one of his 10 Mets career RBIs in the seventh inning. (The reserve infielder Pfeil, played in 62 games for the Mets in 1969 hitting .232.)

Nightcap: Another pitchers duel in which 5 Pardre pitchers held the Mets down to only four hits. Jim McAndrew held the Pad's down to only one run on 3 hits over seven innings, while striking out seven, earning his 4th victory. Tug McGraw came on to earn his 8th save pitching the last two frames.

In the 4th inning Cleon Jones launched his 12th HR of the year to tie the game. Then in a crazy chess match between Gil Hodges & Preston Gomez in the seventh inning, Jerry Grote drove in the winning run. The inning saw three pitching changes & three pinch hitters. With all the maneuvers Ron Swoboda led off and reached on an error, Bud Harrelson was intentionally walked & with 2 out Grote singled. And the crowd roared............

Sunday was a Shea classic; Banner Day" & another twin bill sweep for the Mets.

Game one: The Mets won another squeaker 3-2, as Jerry Koosman came out and threw a complete game five hit shutout . No need to use the bullpen as Kooz sailed along striking out 5 & walking only 2 earning his 10th win of the year (10-8). The Mets were down 2-0 into the 5th, when Harrelson & Clendenon both singled off Joe Neikro. Then catcher Duffy Dyer hit his 2nd HR of the year to put the Mets ahead for good 3-2. (Dyer would only hit 3 HRs all season).

In the night cap the Mets handed the woeful Padres their 10th loss in a row & fourth in two days at Shea. Don Cardwell got the start and didn't allow any runs through seven innings pitched. Cal Koonce started the 8th with a 3-0 lead but exited after giving up two runs. Ron Taylor the Mets ace of the bullpen in '69, saved it with two scoreless innings. his 12th save of the year.

With a scoreless game in the bottom of the 7th, Ed Kranepool singled, Al Weis came in to run for him, then Jerry Grote walked. Bud Harrelson tripled to the deepest part of centerfield as both runs scored for a 2-0 lead. J.C. Martin pinch hit and scored Harrelson with a sac fly.

The Mets started a six game winning streak and a twelve out of fourteen stretch taking them to the end of August. They were getting very hot and everyone was contributing to get wins. The Miracle was gaining momentum.

Aug 15, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1987- Mets Rap Out a Club Record 23 Runs

August 16, 1987: The wind is blowing out today at Wrigley Field. The Mets score a club record 23 runs beating the Cubbies 23-10. Yes Mets vs. Cubs, not Giants vs. Bears.

The Mets scored three runs in five different innings, plus had a seven run sixth inning. They knocked out 21 hits, including HRs by Darryl Strawberrry (29th) Howard Johnson (28th) & Len Dykstra (9th). Strawberry also had a triple, double, & walk, with four hits overall, driving in five runs and scoring five runs. Hojo & Dykstra, who also had four hits, both drove in three runs. A a matter of fact everyone in the starting line up had at least one RBI except Rafael Santana.

Ron Darling got the win, despite giving up 5 runs, on only 4 hits in six innings. Jesse Orosco did worse, giving up 4 runs in one inning. The losing pitcher was Greg Maddox, he allowed 7 runs before the 4th inning. But a Cub pitcher named Drew Hall really got roughed up. He gave up 10 runs in only one inning pitched, balooning his ERA above nine.

Aug 13, 2009

Looking Back at the 1900 New York Giants Baseball Club

In honor of the Mets wearing 1900 NY Giants uniforms, here's a look back at that team:
The turn of the century NY Giants were not yet the Championship Dynasty they would become during the decade. In 1900 they were an an 8th place team, with some colorful characters & legendary players, forgotten in time. John McGraw wouldn't arrive as manager until late in the 1902 season. In 1900 Buck Ewing started the season as manager. He was considered the greatest catcher of his time and is a member of the Hall of Fame, but after a 21-41 start as manager he was fired. His replacement was George Davis who improved the team to play just above .500 (39-37). In 1901 he was fired after going 52-85 & finishing in seventh place. Davis was a good clean player, unlike most of his time. In April of 1900 Davis & team mates Kid Gleason & Mike Grady stumbled upon a raging tenement building fire. They ran into the burning building, Davis rescued two women and a child from the blaze. Afterward he humbly said, "I didn't do much. I just went up the ladder the same as the rest of the boys and helped to carry down women and children." His face was blistered from the heat, but he played in that nights game anyway.

The 1900 pitching staff had a young rookie named Christy
Mathewson who would go on to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time. (373 wins 3rd All Time- 2.13 ERA 8th all time) But in his first season he was 0-3 pitching in only six games, giving up 32 runs in 33 innings, with a 5.08 ERA. The ace of the staff was Bill Carrick who won 19 games, the problem was he lost 22 games. He pitched an incredible 341 innings pitched, giving up 415 hits while only walking 92 batters (3.53 ERA). The #2 man had a great name, Pink Hawley. He went 18-18, leading the league with 34 complete games. Four years earlier in 1895 he pitched a league leading 444 innings.

Win Mercer was a handsome young bachelor who was very popular with the ladies. He was third in the rotation going 13-17, with a 3.86 ERA. He still holds the record for most stolen bases by a pitcher in a single season with nine. Mercer is 77th all time with 251 complete games. In the early days of the twentieth century, the Polo Grounds had specific day games for women called Ladies Days. In 1897 t
he popular ladies man Mercer, was ejected from a Ladies Day game. The women were furious, many of them had come just to see him play. A mob of ladies swarmed onto the field and began to beat the umpire. His clothes were ripped & he fell to the ground. The police had to break it up. It's whats known as The Ladies Day Riot of 1897. Sadly Mercer committed suicide two years later in San Francisco. Reports differ, some say he owed alot of gambling debts, he could never pay back, others say it was due to a woman.

Another legend from the '00 squad was a deaf rookie pitcher named Dummy Taylor. Taylor who couldn't speak is credited for starting the use of signals to communicate with team mates on the field. Dummy led the league with 27 losses in 1901, but would have 3 straight 16 plus win seasons from 1904-1907. In 1904 he was 21-15, third behind Mathewson & Iron Joe McGinnity who both won over 30 games for the champion Giants. Taylor was 116-106 lifetime with a 2.75 ERA. After baseball he went on to teach deaf education in Kansas, living until 82 years of age.

1900 was the so called Dead Ball Era, the Giants leader in HRs w
as Charlie 'Piano Legs" Hickman who hit nine. Most of Piano Legs' HRs were inside the parkers, he also led the team with 91 RBIs and hit 91 career triples. With so few HRs, running was a big part of the game back then. The Giants' thick mustached George Van Haltren, led the league with 45 stolen bases. Every starter on the team had at least 10 steals with five of them stealing over 20.

The '00 Giants had four .300 hitters led by right fielder Kip Selbach who posted career-highs with a .337 average, & 176 hits. He also scored 98 runs & stole 36 bases.

Dirty Jack Doyle, was teams Captain. In'00 he stole 34 bases, batting .267 driving in 66 runs. Doyle was an Irish immigrant who attended nearby Fordham University. Known as Dirty Jack, because he fought with everyone; umpires, fans, team mates & epically with John McGraw. He & McGraw were teammates in Baltimore, and they hated each other. When McGraw was named manager in 1902, he cut Doyle, even though he was hitting over .300. Dirty Jack once slugged an ump who called him out on a stolen base attempt. A riot broke out as fans jumped onto the field and joined in. The police had to intervene & arrested Doyle. Another incident occurred at the Polo Grounds in 1900 when a fan was harassing him. He jumped into the stands and beat him up re injuring his hand. Strangely after baseball Doyle becamee a Police Captain in Holyoke Mass., a baseball umpire (1911) and a highly respected scout for the Cubs.

The Giants second baseman was Kid Gleason, from Camden, New Jersey. He only hit .248, but went down in history as manager of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, who were accused of throwing the World Series.
Quite a cast of characters indeed, oh the Giants of yester year.