Jun 29, 2009

1954 NY Giants Sweep Brooklyn at the Polo Grounds

July 1, 1954: The NY Giants completed a three game sweep against the rival Brooklyn Dodgers at the Polo Grounds, putting them four games up in first place. In 1954 Manager Leo Durocher had a great weapon off the bench, he was Dusty Rhodes. In the first game of the Series, the score was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Dodger pitcher Billy Loes walks the bases loaded. Durocher calls on Rhodes to pinch hit, he delivers a single up the middle scoring the winning runs.

In the 2nd game Johnny Antonelli pitched 7 innings allowing only one run & Hoyt Wilhelm closed out the last two innings as the Giants won 5-2. Whitey Lockman drove in three runs on the day, and Alvin Dark had an RBI single as well.
In the 3rd game of the Series, the Giants jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. In the Dodger 7th Roy Campanella & Carl Furillo tied it with back to back home runs. In the 8th, Dodger pitcher Erv Palica gave up a single to Whitey Lockman, a walk to Hank Thompson & an intentional walk to Don Mueller. After getting a force at home, up stepped Dusty Rhodes as a pinch hitter again. Rhodes comes through again with a two run single to right center field. The Giants went on to win it 5-2 to complete the sweep.

Today In Mets History: 2000- Mets Score Club Record 10 Runs in 8th Inning

June 30, 2000: Things looked bad going into the bottom of the 8th inning of this Friday night game at Shea. A crowd of 52,000 saw Mike Hampton give up 5 runs, and a guy named Eric Cammack (who pitched 8 career Met games in 2000) give up another 3 to the rival Braves. Down 8-1 the Mets scored a run as Robin Ventura grounded out to second base for the second out. But a two out rally led to the Mets scoring 9 more runs, a total of a club record 10 in the inning. As they went on to beat the Braves 11-8.

Todd Zeile & Jay Payton singled, then Benny Agbayani walked and the Braves pitching fell apart. Kelly Ligtenberg walked Mark Johnson & Melvin Mora putting the score to 8-5. Terry Mullhond walked Derek Bell and another run scored, next Edgardo Alfonzo singled in two more runs to tie the game. The crowd went wild as Mike Piazza came to bat and blasted a three run HR over the wall. It topped off the record setting inning and proved to be the winning run.

Armondo Benitez got credited with the win moving the Mets within two games of 1st place, and the next night a 9-1 victory brought them within a game. On that Saturday Al Leiter improved to 10-1 combining with Turk Wendell on a six hitter.

Jun 27, 2009

1983: Rusty Staub Ties MLB Consecutive Pinch Hit Record

June 26, 1983: In a game against the Phillies Rusty Staub came to bat in the 9th inning and singled to right field. It was Rusty’s 8th straight successful pinch hit tying an MLB record set by Dave Philley.

On the previous home stand he had five pinch hit appearances. The streak began on June 11th as he singled and drove in two runs off Montreal’s Jeff Reardon in the 7th inning. The next night he doubled in the 6th inning off Charlie Lea and drove in two more runs as the Mets beat Montreal 9-1, with Tom Seaver getting the victory.


The Cubs came to town and although they beat the Mets, Mike Proly was the next pitching victim. Staub singled in the 8th inning for his third straight pinch hit. The next night was a big one for Staub, in front of 10,000 fans at Shea the Mets & Cubs went into extra innings tied at 3-3. Staub came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 10th with Bob Bailor & Daryl Strawberry on base. He hit an opposite field single off Lee Smith scoring Bailor to win the game. Inserted in the lineup at first base the next day he went 3 for 4.

The Mets went north to Montreal, a place where Staub was already a legend. On the 1st night he singled in the 7th inning off Bill Gullickson for pinch hit #5 in a row. The Mets won the game 6-1. The next night the Mets lost a heartbreaker 4-3. Staub brought the Mets within a run, pinch hitting in the 9th, he hit his 1st home run of the year off Steve Rogers.

The Mets came home to Shea on June 20 for a double header with the Cardinals. In the first game Rusty played right field and went 1 for 4. In the 2nd game he pinch hit for Carlos Diaz in the 6th inning, and singled in a run in the 6-4 Mets win. He played out field in the next two games and went hitless.

On June 24th he came to bat again as a pinch hitter and was hit by a pitch from Steve Carlton, safely reaching base. The next night he tied the record with a single off veteran Ron Reed as Tug McGraw got the win over Tom Seaver. Oh yes, the Mets of the past glory years were all out tonight. The streak was ended in St. Louis on June 29th as Bruce Sutter retired Staub on a ground out.

Jun 26, 2009

Today In Mets History: 2008- Carlos Delgado Sets Club Record With Nine RBIs

June 27, 2008: The Mets played a day/night cross town double header against the Yankees opening up a long weekend of NY baseball. The Mets were hanging around the .500 mark, 3 games out of first & Carlos Delgado was having a horrible year. But on this day it all came together for Carlos as he set a Mets record with 9 RBIs and got himself back on track to have a fine season.

In the top of the 5th inning after going 0-2, Delgado doubled scoring Luis Castillo & Carlos Beltran putting the Mets ahead 6-4. In the 7th Delgado connected for a mammoth grand slam HR off reliever Ross Ohlendorf, scoring Castillo, Wright & Beltran. Then in the top of the 8th inning Delgado connected again for a three run HR scoring Wright & Beltran, driving in his 7th, 8th & 9th runs of the game.

The Mets won the game 15-6, with Mike Pelfrey getting the win. David Wright had 4 hits & drove in 3 runs. Carlos Beltran homered & drove in 3 runs, and Luis Castillo had 2 hits, walked 3 times & scored 5 runs.


Delgado went on to have a great comeback season, carrying the Mets through out the year. He raised his average up to .271, hit 38 HRs, 32 doubles and drove in 114 runs.

Jun 25, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1976- Reserve Infielder Mike Phillips Hits For the Cycle

June 25, 1976: Joe Frazier's 3rd place Mets & Jim Marshall's 4th place Cubs, met for a Friday matinee at Wrigley Field to a crowd of just over 10,000. Jon Matlack going against Chicago's Ray Burris.

The Cubs biggest nemesis that day was a utility infielder playing short stop for the injured Bud Harrelson. His name was Mike Phillips. Phillips spent part of 1975 with the Mets after being picked up on waivers from the Giants; he would remain a Met until mid 1977. On this afternoon he had his best day, hitting for the cycle, going 4 for 5 in the leadoff spot, driving in two runs & scoring two runs.

Burris struck Phillips out to start the game. In his next at bat he doubled, then leading off the 5th he tripled and scored on an error. In the 7th inning he hit a two run HR, his 1st of the year and #5 of the 11 HRs in his career. In the 9th inning he saved the easiest for last, completing the cycle getting a single. The Mets won the game 7-4 as Dave Kingman hit his 24th HR of the year, a three run blast in the 3rd helping the effort. Matlack threw the complete game 4 runs, 9 hits, 6 Ks besting his record to 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA. He would finish the year with 17 wins (7th in the NL) 16 complete games (3rd in the NL) a 2.95 ERA (10th) & a league leading six shutouts.

Jun 24, 2009

Today in Mets History: 1971- Cleon Jones Sets Record by Drawing Six Walks in DH

June 25, 1971: Gil Hodges 2nd place Mets come to Parc Jarry in Montreal only 3 ½ games out, for a Friday twi-night double header. Cleon Jones will set a record by walking six times in the twin bill helping the Mets to the sweep.

In the first game Jones walked three times, off three different pitchers; Jim Btitton, Claude Raymond & Mike Marshall. He would score on Ed Kranepools two run single in the 7th for the winning run. Earlier Jerry Grote drove home Dave Marshall on a double and Marshall himself had an RBI single in the 5th.

Nolan Ryan scattered 11 Expo hits but only allowed one run to score in the complte game effort. Ryan had great control on this day walking only one, with 10 strikeouts earning his 7th win of the year against 4 losses.

In the night cap Jones walked three more times as Danny Frisella got the win in relief of Ray Sadecki. The Mets won this one 4-2. Buddy Harrelson got 3 hits including a 2nd inning double tying the game and then a two out RBI single in the 5th driving in the winning runs. The other run was driven in by Ken Singleton. Frisella went to 4-2 on the year, pitching 4.1 inning of relief for the win.

Today In Mets History: 1969- Mets Sweep Dick Allens Phillies In Twi-Night Doubleheader

June 24,1969: The Phillies arrive for a Tuesday twi-night double header at Shea. In the late morning controversial Phillies slugger Ritchie Allen (soon to be known as Dick Allen) decides he wants to go to New Jersey to bet a horse race. He arrived back at the ballpark after the game started. Some believe he forgot about the double header, others claim he just didn’t care. Allen said he got stuck in NY traffic. He was fined and suspended until the middle of July.

The Phils and Allen had been battling all year. He had already been late for two games that month, plus there were other issues. In all fairness to Allen he was never welcomed in Philly. He was booed mercifully when he struggled & had to wear a helmet on the field because because the fans threw objects at him. He answered them back by writing BOO in the dirt around 1st base. (Allen moved to St. Louis & L.A. before winning the 1972 MVP Award with the White Sox.)

As for the double header in 1969; Larry Hisel led off the game with a HR off Tom Seaver. But that would be the only run the Phils would score in both games of the double header. Seaver went on to throw a complete game seven hitter, striking out nine Phillies. He was now 11-3 on the year, enroute to his 1st Cy Young Award. Cleon Jones & Bud Harrelson drove in a run apiece.

In the nightcap Jim McAndrew won his first game of the season, combining on a two hit shutout. Ron Taylor closed out the 9th, as the Mets won it 5-0 to complete the sweep.
In the bottom of the 4th, Tommie Agee reached on an error & Kenny Boswell singled. Art Shamsky & Wayne Garrett drove them both home with singles. Ed Kranepool’s sac fly drove in another & McAndrew drew a walk with the bases loaded for the 4th run. In the 8th Agee hit his 11th HR of the year capping off the 5-0 win.

Jun 23, 2009

Today In Mets History: 2007- Mets Trounce A's in '73 World Series Rematch

June 24, 2007: A beautiful Sunday afternoon brought a crowd of over 50,000 to Shea for an inter-league game between the Mets & A’s. This weekend series marked the 1st time the A’s had returned to Shea since the 1973 World Series, 34 years ago.


Willie Randolph’s Mets were in 1st place with a three game lead, and all was good as the Mets rode off with a 10-2 victory. John Maine got his 8th win of the year, going 7 innings allowing two runs on five hits & striking out six Athletics. His ERA was 2.87 with an 8-4 record as he made a good case for the All Star team. Guillermo Mota & Scott Schoeneweis pitched the 8th & 9th innings, not allowing any hits.

Jose Reyes lead off the game in exciting fashion as he doubled to right and scored on Jack Custs throwing error. John Maine drove in the 2nd run with a sac fly. In the 3rd, Damion Easley hit a two run double scoring David Wright & Paul Loduca. Jose Reyes singled off Joe Kennedy in the 4th driving in Carlos Gomez, putting New York up 4-0. The A’s got as close as 4-2, but in the 7th, Jose Valentin hit a three run HR over the left field wall making it 7-2. Carlos Beltran topped it off with a cheap single past 3rd in the 8th, scoring Julio Franco & Reyes, as the Mets rolled 10-2.

Jun 22, 2009

Today In Mets History: Jimmy Piersall Touches 'Em All- Backwards

June 23, 1963: In the 1st game of a Sunday double header at the Polo Grounds, Casey Stengel’s young Mets took on Gene Mauch’s Phillies. New Yorks Carl Willey threw a complete game two hit shut out, while striking out six. Willey bested his record to 6-6 with a 2.62 ERA beating future Mets manager Dallas Green.

The Mets scored first, on a 3rd inning Duke Snider single. Then in the 5th inning a strange thing happened. Jimmy Piersall (who had 3 hits on the day) led off with a home run, it was the 100th of his career; he dropped the bat and ran around the bases, backwards!!

Piersall was a veteran two time All Star & gold glover. He was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown due to emotional exhaustion. He blamed the pressure his father put on him in becoming a ball player. He made a successful comebck taking over centerfield in Boston after Dom DiMaggio. But not without drama; He fought with his own teammates, and others. Once in a huge brawl he beat Billy Martin to a pulp (kudos there). During another game he went up to the grand stand to heckle the umpire. In 1964 he came to the plate wearing a Beatles wig & playing air guitar on his bat. Eventually he was traded to Cleveland then to the Senators for Gil Hodges. He was ejected from six games in 1960, and was once seen sprinting back & forth in the outfield when Ted Williams came to bat. He was the subject of the great baseball movie “Fear Strikes Out” starring Tony Perkins in 1957.

Piersall observed when Duke Snider hit his 400th home run there wasn’t much fan fare. He vowed when he hit his 100th he would do something to make it festive. The crowd loved it, as he trotted around the bases backwards, his team mates even laughed. He never tripped and even shook coach Cookie Lavagetto's hand on the way round.
The Phillies & pitcher Dallas Green were not amused, nor was Commissioner Ford Frick who was in attendance that day. The Mets organization didn’t like it either, Casey Stengel was so mad he cut Piersall from the team two days later.

Piersall once appeared on The Lucy Ball Show as himself for television fame. In Boston he was praised as the best outfielder Ted Williams ever saw.After his playing days, he worked in the front office for Oakland & Texas. He was a broadcaster for the White Sox (1977-1981) and instructor for the Cubs until 1999. He will turn 90 this year.

Today In Mets History: 2000- Mets Batter Pirates in Nine Run Third Inning

June 23, 2000: A Friday night crowd of over 40,000 gathered at Shea to see the 2nd place Mets vs the 3rd Pirates. The Mets bats were alive tonight belting out 12 runs and 14 hits. Nine of those runs were scored in the 3rd inning as they knocked out eight hits, sending 13 batters to the plate. Pirate pitcher Bronson Arroyo was charged with all nine runs before being relieved by Jeff Wallace.

With one out Derek Bell walked & Eduardo Alfonzo singled. Mike Piazza followed with his 21st HR of the season putting New York up 4-0. Next Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile & Jay Payton all singled, 5-0 Mets. Benny Agbayani walked and Melvin Mora doubled to cleared the bases, he was driven in by Alfonzo making it 10-1 New York. Everyone in the starting lineup got a hit (except the pitchers spot) Alfonzo, Ziele, Agbayani & Payton all had 2 hits each.
Bobby Jones cruised to the victory, striking out eight Pirates; allowing only five hits through 8 innings, Rich Rodriquez finished it up in the 9th. For Jones it was only his 2nd victory of the season & his best outing until that point, his ERA was still over eight. He would improve, ending up 11-6 for the 2000 NL Champion Mets.

Jun 21, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1980 Claudell Washington Hits 3 HRs In Los Angeles

June 22, 1980: Joe Torre’s Mets took on Tommy Lasorda’s Dodgers on this Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. A good crowd of 43,000 settled in to see New York's John Pacella (who always seemed to lose his cap) take on L.A.'s Dave Goltz.

Claudell Washington started out the Mets 1st by hitting a two run HR, his first of the day. John Pacella was gone by the 2nd as Torre replaced him with Mark Bomback. The Mets struck again in the 4th when short stop, Jose Moreno (Moreno had a brief 37 game stint with the 1980 Mets) tripled home two runs. Then in the 5th with Eliot Maddox aboard Claudell hit his 2nd HR of the day, putting New York up 7-3. But he wasn’t done yet, in the top of the 7th with knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound, Claudell hit his 3rd HR of the afternoon, sealing the 9-6 Mets victory for Mark Bomback who was now 4-1 on the season.

The HRs were only Washington’s 2nd-3rd & 4th of the season. He became the third Met in history to have a three HR day; (Jim Hickman 1965 & Dave Kingman 1976). Claudell Washington was a speedy outfielder who came up with Oakland in 1974, he won a World Series there, then went to Texas & the White Sox. On June 7, 1980 he was traded to the Mets for minor leaguer Jesse Anderson.
This was Washington’s biggest day as a Met, 4 hits, 3 HRs and 5 RBIs. It was his only season with the Mets playing in 72 games, batting .275 with 10 HRs, 42 RBIs, 16 doubles and he could still run stealing 17 bases. He opted for free agency at the end of the year & went to Atlanta.

Jun 19, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1971- Dramatic 15 Inning Walk Off

June 19, 1971: As Bob Murphy would say it was “a beautiful Saturday for baseball” as 52,171 fans turned out at Shea to watch Tom Terrific go against Philadelphia's Rick Wise. Frank Lucchesi’s Phillies were in floundering in last place, as Gil Hodges Mets were in second only 2 ½ games out.

Seaver certainly wasn’t having his best day; allowing 4 runs on 12 hits, striking out only 2, before being relieved by Ron Taylor in the 6th. Rick Wise was sailing along until the 6th inning. Ed Kranepool doubled, Ken Singleton singled and Ken Boswell singled scoring Kranepool. Jerry Grote & Tim Foli reached on errors scoring while two more runs scored, tying the game at four. The game went to the bull pens and both sides did a great job. Woodie Fryman & Joe Horner held the Mets scoreless for seven more innings, so did the . The Mets Tug McGraw & Danny Frisella did the same. Tug allowed only allowed 2 hits until the 12th inning giving way to Frisella. Frisella struck out six, but walked four and allowed four hits. In the top of the 14th, Phillies short stop Larry Bowa stole home giving the Phillies the lead.

But the Mets wouldn’t let this one slip away, with one out in the bottom of the 14th; Ken Singleton hit a dramatic home run to tie the game back up. Frisella came out for the 15th and with one out allowed 2 singles then struck out the next two batters. The stage was set for Donn Clendenon, who had come into the game late as a pinch hitter, going 3 for 4. With two outs he connected for a walk off game winning home run over the right field fence, (his 6th of the year) sending the crowd into frenzy. After 4 hours and 40 minutes, 15 innings later the Mets took the win 6-5. Billy Wilson got the loss & Frisella got his third win of the year.

Jun 17, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1989- Doc Gooden Gets 100th Career Win

June 19, 1989: Being the huge Dwight Gooden fan I was, I attended this game knowing Dr. K had a chance to earn his 100th career victory. I had been at so many Gooden classics in those days: the 16 K game in 1984, the night he set the rookie strike out mark, his one hitter, his 20th win in 1985, his 1st MLB home run, and the NLCS classic duel with Nolan Ryan to name a few.
On this Monday night the 2nd place Mets only 1 ½ games behind Chicago, took on the Expos in front of a good crowd of just over 40,000. Gooden wasn’t perfect but good enough for his 100th career victory. In 7 innings he struck out 9 Expos allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. Rick Aguilera came in the game for two perfect innings and got his 6th save.

All the offensive power was supplied by Howard Johnson, who hit two home runs down the right field line off Kevin Gross. One in the 1st inni
ng with one on & one in the 2nd inning with one on, they were HoJo’s 17th & 18th of the year. He would enjoy a great season hitting 36 HRs, 101 RBIs, and 41 doubles while leading the league in runs scored with 104.

The win put Gooden at 9-2 on the year with a 2.56 ERA amongst the league’s best. But he wouldn’t win another game for the rest of the season as a shoulder injury shut him down, finishing 9-4. The Mets missed the playoffs coming in second, six games behind Chicago.

New York Giants Broadcaster: Russ Hodges "The Giants Win the Penannt"

NY Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges made the legendary call for the baseballs most famous home run. Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world” in the bottom of the 9th inning of the 1951 NL Playoff at the Polo Grounds.

“Hartung down the line at third, not taking any chances. Lockman without too big of a lead at second, but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one. Branca throws. There's a long drive. It's gonna be, I believe -- The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant! And they're going crazy! They're going crazy! Oh-ho!”

Legend has it, the only reason the broadcast exists is because a Dodger fan began recording the last inning to hear the Giants announcer Hodges, "cry" after the last Giants lost. Hodges said the next day the fan called him and said “you have to have this tape” and mailed it to him. It has since become one of the most famous calls in baseball history.
Russell Patrick Hodges, (no relation to Gil) was born in Dayton, Tennessee on June 18, 1910. He began his broadcasting career in 1939 bouncing around with the Cubs, Senators & Reds. In the 1940s the NY Giants & the A.L. NY team shared the same broadcast team, covering just home games. Hodges landed the job alongside Mel Allen. By 1949 he was strictly a Giants broadcaster and would call the Thomson home run in 1951, the 1954 World Series Championship, and the last season at the Polo Grounds in 1957. He moved with the Giants to the West Coast and called the 1962 World Series as well. After 13 seasons in San Francisco he retired in 1970 . His signature home run call was “Bye Bye Baby” as the Giants theme song played behind him.

Hodges also called many boxing bouts covering such greats as Jake Lamotta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Joe Louis & the famous Ali vs. Sonny Liston bout in 1965. In 1971 he died of a sudden heart attack in Mill Valley California, he was 61 years old. Hodges is in the Baseball Hall of Fame & Sports writers Hall of Fame. The Giants broadcast booth is named after him & long time partner Lon Simmons.

Jun 16, 2009

Today In Mets History: 2008- Mets Fire Manager Willie Randolph

where were you when the Mets fired Willie Randolph? I was in the Vatican Museums in Rome, Italy!

JUNE 17, 2008: On this day last year, the Mets management had enough with Willie Randolph. In the wee hours after the Mets had beaten the Los Angeles Angels 9-6 in Anaheim, Willie was fired as Mets manager. The Randolph era came to an end after 3 1/2 years. Willie’s record was 302-253, the second-highest winning percentage in franchise history, trailing only Davey Johnson.

In Randolph's 1st year at the helm 2005, the Mets had played better than they had in four years finishing over .500 in 3rd place. In 2006 they won their 1st NL east title in 18 years and fell one game short of the World Series. 2007 was a disappointment as they blew a 7 game lead with 17 left to play, including a loss on the final day of the season. The Mets were struggling in 2008, playing at around .500 in 4th place at the time of Willie’s firing. Along with Willie, coaches Rick Peterson, & Tom Nieto also went packing. Randolph was still owed 2.2 million dollars on his salary.

In a press conference the next day, GM Omar Minaya, announced Mets bench coach Jerry Manuel, would take over as interim manager. The axing of Randolph came less than a week after Minaya told reporters Randolph had the support of the teams ownership. Under Manuel the Mets would play much better but still miss out on the playoffs. Again losing to the Marlins on the last day of the season, finishing second. In 2009 Randolph is bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and Jerry Manuel was named Mets manager.

Today In Mets History: 2003- Jae Seo Throws Combined One Hitter

June 17, 2003: The Mets took on the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium in front of a crowd of 10,359. The two teams fought to stay out of last place and remain at around .500. Florida’s Carl Pavano went up against the Mets Jae Seo.

Seo was pitching one of the best games of his career when he was removed in the seventh inning by manager Art Howe. He had only allowed one hit, no runs & no walks while striking out four. David Weathers and Armondo Benitez went the rest of the way and were also untouchable. Neither pitcher allowed a base runner. The combined one hitter was the 25th in Mets history as they won the game 5-0. Seo went to 5-2 on the season dropping his ERA to 2.66. Carl Pavano also pitched well allowing only two runs while pitching into the 9th inning.

The game was scoreless going into the 7th inning, when Jeromy Burnitz hit his 11th HR of the season. In the 9th, Ty Wiggington, hit his 5th HR of the year and Burnitz was walked intentionally. Jason Phillips then singled home a run.
19 year old rookie Jose Reyes scored a run with a sac fly & then Roger Cedeno drove in Phillps for the 5th run. The Mets took the 2 of 3 in Florida and won 6 of their last 8. But they collapsed, coming home to loose 9 out of the next 10. It was a bad year for the Mets as they would finish in 5th, 34 ½ games behind these same Marlins who went on to win the World Series.

Jun 15, 2009

Mike Piazza Coaching Baseball In Italy

These days as Mike Piazza awaits his induction into Cooperstown, he is serving as an Ambassador to baseball, promoting the game in Italy. Piazza being of Italian heritage played on the 2006 Italian National Team in the World Baseball Classic. This past March he was their hitting instructor.

Recently he was holding clinics in Tuscany on hitting. Also coaching the players as they prepare for competition in The European Champion Cup & the World Baseball Cup. Italy has improved greatly in world baseball competition, most notably their victory over the heavily favored Team Canada in the WBC.

Alexi Maestri is the first Italian player to sign with an MLB club, the Cubs. He currently pitches for the Tennessee Smokies but suffered a huge set back as a shoulder injury shut him down for the rest of the year. Alex Liddi is one of the top prospects in the Mariners system, a third baseman who is only 18 years old. He is expected to get up to the major league level in 2012. Alot of hope on Euopean baseball players coming to the American game rides on his shoulders.

Piazza is just one of a few former MLB players promoting the game around the world, after latin America, Japan & the likes, Europe is it's latest target.

Jun 14, 2009

Donn Clendenon Arrives at Shea On the June 15th, 1969 Trade Deadline

The 1969 NY Mets added the final piece of their puzzle on the June 15th, 1969 trade deadline. The Mets were in 2nd place, 9 ½ games behind the Cubs but were starting to attract some attention. They had great pitching and some good hitting but lacked a strong power threat. They found their man in Donn Clendenon.

Clendenon had a controversial year prior to his arrival in New York. In January 1969 he was left unprotected by the Pirates and was selected in the expansion draft by the Montreal Expos. He was then traded to Houston for Rusty Staub. But Clendenon wasn't happy about going to Houston, he had had a falling out with manager Harry Walker in their Pittsburgh days. Instead of going to Houston he announced his retirement. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and told the teams to work something out. Mostly due to the fact, Montreal had promoted Rusty Staub as the face of their new organization. The Expos sent Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn to Houston and Clendenon continued to play for Montreal, in 38 games he hit .240 , with 4 HRs & 14 RBIS.

On June 15th Clendenon was traded to the Mets for Steve Renko & Kevin Collins. As soon as he arrived in New York he made a difference, scoring two game winning runs in his first two games. He hit 12 HRs with 37 RBIs in 72 games, platooning at first with Ed Kranepool. Clendenon gave the Mets power against lefties and more strength off the bench. They overcame the 9 ½ game deficit, and on September 24th Clendenon's three run HR helped the Mets clinch the NL East title.

In the 1969 World Series, Clendenon was the Series MVP. He set a record with three HRs in a five game series, and his home runs in Games Two, Four and Five meant the winning run each time. He hit .357 with 3 HRs, a double, 2 walks, and 4 RBIs.

In retrospect his teammates raved about his presence on the club: Tug McGraw said "he was probably the key to our whole season,". Wayne Garrett called Clendenon the last ingredient the team needed. Art Shamsky called him the catalyst and Bud Harrelson, said "We never had a three-run homer type of guy, yet he was humble, never cocky, our MVP.”

Tom Seaver remembers his wife spotted Clendenon in the hotel lobby when he joined the team."I know who you are," Nancy said. "Donn was wearing an island shirt and vest, he turned to her and suavely kissed her hand. Nancy thought Donn was charming; he knew she was my wife and put on a little show. "It's great to be a Met" he said.

Today In Mets History: Duke Snider Hits 400th Career HR

June 14th, 1963: At Crosley Field in Cincinnati, the Mets & Carl Willey took on the 5th place Reds & Bob Purkey. In the 1st inning after a Ron Hunt single, former Brooklyn Dodger Duke Snider hit his 400th career home run. The 37 year old Snider spent one season with the Mets and hit 14 HRs driving in 45 runs playing in 129 games. He finish his career in 1964 in San Francisco with 407 lifetime HRs. He is currently 43rd on the all time list.

The Mets would win the game 10-3 that day as Frank Thomas had four hits & drove in four runs. There were also RBI singles from Ron Hunt, Tim Harkness & Jimmy Piersall. Willey would get the win putting his record to 5-5, he allowed two runs, one scored by a rookie named Pete Rose. Roger Craig got the save.

Jun 13, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1980- Steve Henderson Hits a Walk Off HR

June 14, 1980: The Mets didn’t have much to get excited about in 1980. Steve Henderson who came over highly touted in the Seaver trade, probably had his best moment as a Met on this day. The Mets actually had a thing going at the time, winning 8 of 10 games & 14 of 22, they were in 4th place only six games back. The last place San Francisco Giants were in town. Their pitcher; John "the Count" Montefusco went into the 8th inning with a 6-2 lead. The Mets Pete Falcone didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning, allowing five runs. Mark Bomback & Ed Glynn settled things down, then Jeff Reardon took over striking out the side in the 9th.

The Mets came to bat in the 9th down by four they weren’t known for coming back in 1980, so most of the 22,000 fans had gone home. But that night “the magic was back". The Giants Greg Minton (who became a fine reliever) came in to close the door on the Mets. Doug Flynn wanted to make something happen & he buntedfor a base hit. He was moved to third on 2 ground outs, then was driven home by Lee Mazzilli. Frank Tavares walked & Claudell Washington singled to score Mazzilli. Mets trail 6-4.

Up to the plate came Steve Henderson. He had struck out three times on the night, and hadn’t hit a home run since July of 1979, some 226 at bats ago. Giants manager Dave Bristol brought in Allen Ripley to pitch to Henderson. Manager Joe Torre told Henderson just go up & take your swings. Ripley greeted Henderson with a high tight one, leveling him to the ground. It pissed him off. On the next pitch Henderson connected for a three run walk off HR and the Mets celebrated like they won the pennant. It was one of the few good times on the season for the Mets & the Shea Faithful. Mets win 7-6.

Jun 12, 2009

NY Giants Christy Mathewson Throws Second Career No Hitter & Wins 300th Game

June 13, 1905: In one of the best pitching duels of all time Christy Mathewson and the New York Giants came to Chicago with a 7 game lead in 1st place, leading the Cubs by 10 games. The Giants & Cubs had quite a rivalry in those early days of the 20th century. Today Mathewson went head to head with Three Finger Mordecai Brown the Cubs ace. Both pitchers pitched no hitters into the 9th inning. Mathewson was perfect no hits, no walks but Bill Dahlen the Giants shortstop committed two errors, allowing two Cubs to reach base.

In the top of the 9th inning the Giants scored a run after getting Brown for two hits. It was all Matty needed as he completed his 2nd career no hitter. Matty would go on to win a league leading 31 games that season against only 9 losses. It was his 3rd straight season winning 30 or more games. He also led the NL in ERA (1.28) & strike outs (208) earning him the pitchers triple crown. The Giants also won the World Series and Matty had maybe the best week a pitcher ever had, throwing three complete game shutouts in the World Series. He became one of baseballs 1st true idols, a good Christian man who never did any wrong, except shutting out opposing teams.

Seven years later 1912, Christy Mathewson won his 300th career game as the New York Giants beat the Chicago Cubs at the Polo Grounds 3 - 2. That year Matty would go 23-12 with a 2.12 ERA, leading the Giants to another World Series although they lost to Boston. Mathewson would win 373 games in his career 3rd best all time.