Jun 30, 2012

Former Mets Infielder: Wilson Valdez (2009)

Wilson Antonio Valdez was born May 20th, 1978 in Nizao Peravia Dominican Republic. The five foot eleven infielder was originally signed by the Montreal Expos in 1997. After six minor league seasons and some moving to various organizations, he got a call up with the 2004 Chicago Whites Sox. He was placed on waivers & picked up by the New York Mets but was quickly traded to Seattle.
He saw action in 42 games batting just .198 & then was traded to the San Diego Padres. He briefly ended up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007, then went on to Pitch in Korea for 2008. He signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians but was purchased by the New York Mets in May 2009.

Valdez debuted with the Mets on May 27th 2009 as a pinch hitter going 0-1 in a game against the Washington Nationals. On June 1st he tripled & doubled driving in three runs in a Mets 8-5 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. At the end of July he was batting .244 & was sent down to the minor leagues until late August. When he returned he saw a lot of September action, playing in 22 games that month.

On the year he played in 41 Mets games, (32 at short stop, two in the outfield, one at second & one at third) batting .256 with no HRs seven RBIs & a .326 on base %. After the season he signed on a as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies where he spent two seasons as a utility player.

In 2010 he played in 111 games batting .258 with 4 HRs & 35 RBIs. In the post season he appeared in three games going 1-3 in both the NLDS & NLCS. In 2012 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

Former MLB Pitcher & AA Binghamton Official Scorer: Steve Kraly

Steve Charles Kraly was born on April 18t, 1929 at Whiting, Indiana. The five foot nine left hander was signed by the A.L. New York club in 1949 at the age of 20. In the minor leagues he was a roommate of Mickey Mantle winning 18 games at Joplin in the Western Association. At Binghamton he was a 19 game winner & became a local star pitcher. He would settle in the area, get married & raise his family there.

Kraly went 19-2 over 22 starts for the Binghamton Triplets before receiving a promotion to the big league club. He would pitch just two games and go 0-2 with a save appearing in five games. He earned a World Series ring but did not pitch in the Series. The next year his arm would tighten up between the tendons and doctors said it was a blood clot, which today is diagnosed as an aneurysm. He would pitch in the minor leagues through 1960 with the Reds, Phillies & Tigers organizations.

In 1956 he returned to Binghamton going 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA. In 1961 his old manager Casey Stengel offered him a contract with the expansion New York Mets. Although his wife suggested he sign, he chose to work a regular job & raise his two kids.

He took a job working at IBM for the next thirty years. In 1992 baseball returned to Binghamton as the Mets farm team took the field. Steve Kraly became the ball parks official scorer & hold that position for almost another thirty years.

In 2008 he was honored with throwing out the first pitch on Steve Kraly bobble head night. "I didn't even know I was being considered for a bobble head," said Kraly. "I had been out of town, and when I got back home people were calling me 'bobble head.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' No one had told me anything. But this is really neat. I have a World Series ring, but to be on a figurine is the ultimate. I'm especially honored that this came from the fans."

Jun 27, 2012

45th Anniversary of The Odd Couple Movie Filming At Shea Stadium (1967)

On June 27th, 1967 Hollywood set up its cameras at Shea Stadium for a scene for the original movie version of “The Odd Couple”starring Walter Matthau & Jack Lemmon. Shea made it’s film debut in a game between the home town New York Mets & the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Originally Roberto Clemente was asked to be the batter in the movie scene, but he declined the part because he did not want to be portrayed as a weak hitter. Another Future Hall of Famer & star of the 1960 World Series, Bill Mazeroski took the part, getting paid $100 for his role.

The scene in the film takes place from the press box in the top of the 9th inning with the Mets holding onto a one run lead. Sports writer Oscar Madison is covering the game & gets an emergency phone call in the press box from his roommate Felix Unger. Oscar sarcastically comments to a sports writer while getting up, the Mets still have a chance if they make a triple play. On the phone call Oscar gets annoyed when Felix tells him not to eat too many hot dogs because he’s preparing dinner at home.

On the field during the phone call, Mets pitcher Jack Fisher pitches to Mazeroski who hits a bouncer to third baseman Ed Charles. Charles steps on third, throws to (Ken Boswell I believe) at second for one, who then throws over to Ed Kranepool at first, completing the triple play.

Legendary sports writer Maury Allen makes a cameo appearance & tells Oscar he just missed the greatest play he’s ever seen. Oscar yells into the phone at Felix “Are You Crazy, are you out of your mind?” A few Met players come out of the dugout to shake hands with the infielders.

Throughout the movie Oscar is seen wearing a Mets hat, which just goes to show you how popular the Mets were even before 1969. On the TV show, Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison also often wore a Mets hat. Keep in mind the Odd Couple TV show began in 1970 & ran through 1975, a very good period in Mets history. Both Oscar characters had pictures of Mets players on their wall too.

The scene was filmed before a real game between the Mets & Pirates. When the actual game began, Mets manager Wes Westrum had Dennis Bennet take the mound against Pittsburgh’s Woodie Fryman. The Mets line up had Bud Harrelson leading off, Cleon Jones in center, Tommy Davis in left, Ron Swoboda in right batting clean up, Hawk Taylot behind the plate, Ed Charles at third, Eddie Kranepool at first, & Jerry Buchek at second.

The Mets hit Woodie hard in the bottom of the 1st, inning. Bud Harrelson lead off with a single, then Cleon Jones reached on base with an error. Tommy Davis then singled home Harrelson, & Ron Swoboda blasted a three run HR to put the Mets up 4-1. In the 2nd the Mets Jerry Buchek & the 9th place hitter- pitcher Bennet both singled. Bud Harrelson hit a sac fly ball that scored Buchek. In the top of the 4th inning, Bennet was replaced by Dick Selma after allowing two runs on seven hits with the Mets leading 5-2.

Selma earned his first win of the year by throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings striking out four Pirates. On the big day of the movie, Bud Harrelson had three hits, Ron Swoboda & The Glider Ed Charles both had two hits each. The Mets win put them at 25-41 in ninth place, 17 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals who would go on to win the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games.

Former Mets Number One Draft Pick: Shawn Abner (1984)

Shawn Wesley Abner was born on June 17, 1966 in Hamilton, Ohio. The six foot one right handed hitting Abner was a high school baseball & football star in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, He set many school records there and had his uniform number 16 retired in both sports. In his 1984 sophomore year, Abner became a number one draft pick, the first pick overall selected by the New York Mets.

The scouts said he was a “can’t miss” prospect, just as the recent Mets previous number one draft pick selections Dwight Gooden & Daryl Strawberry. Interestingly that year the Mets had first attempted to sign Mark McGwire but his family was unwilling to commit to a pre draft deal. The organization was unwilling to commit to McGwire not knowing if he would eventually sign a deal, so they chose Abner.

In 1985 at the A ball Lynchburg he hit .300 with 16 HRs 30 double 11 triples & 89 RBIs winning the Carolina League MVP award. He then dropped to off to a .266 average at the AA level but was still considered a highly touted prospect. After winning the 1986 World Series, the Mets made their big league team outfield even stronger, by acquiring Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres. In that trade they surrendered the hot prospect Abner along with rookie star Kevin Mitchell & another highly touted prospect the Bronx's own; Stan Jefferson.

In the Padre organization, Abner hit .300 sat AAA Las Vegas, in 1987, earning a September call up, where he debuted against the Braves in Atlanta on September 8th. In 16 games that month he hit .277 with two HRs & seven RBIs. Abner struggled the next few years as well going between the minors & the big leagues. He did not turn out to be the Padre outfielder of the future like expected. In 89 games in 1988 he only hit .181 with two HRs & five RBIs.

He hit under .200 again in 1989 (.176) playing in just 57 games. By 1990 he raised his average up to .245 seeing action in 91 games but showed no power with just one HR in 184 at bats. In 1991 he was hitting only .165 in July & was traded to the California Angels for Jack Howell. His stay was brief as he was released at Spring Training 1992 then signing with the Chicago White Sox. In 1993 Abner had his best year batting .279 with one HR, ten doubles & 16 RBIs in 97 games played as a reserve outfielder. Then a knee injury shut him down ruining the rest of a once promising career.

In 1995 he was back in the Mets organization attempting to rehab the injury at AAA Norfolk. He batted .258 there in eleven games with no extra base hits & one RBI. After six career seasons he batted .227 with 191 hits 11 HRs 39 doubles a .269 on base % & 71 RBIS in 393 games played.

Retirement: Since his playing days he has worked at a beer distributor in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. His two sons have played high school football there as well.

Jun 25, 2012

Concert Review: The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour (Jones Beach Theater, New York)

I went into this concert very skeptical & almost attempted to sell off the tickets. I wasn't sure if the Beach Boys could pull it off & was afraid it would be a show of backing musicians covering for the originals. Boy was I wrong..............


A beautiful cool evening on the shores of theJones Beach Theater, made for a perfect setting for the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour. Last time I saw the band was at Live Aid & at this same venue way back in 1984.

This current show blew me away, it was an incredidible celebration of a fantastic musical library the Beach Boys posses. The surf songs, the party songs, the love songs, the psychaeldic songs, the car songs & the timeless summer sixties music we all have grown up on. Of course how can you mention the Beach Boys without talking about their incredible harmonies. Those harmonies were so good they even inspired the Beatles & tonight they were right on cue.

The music was great as a nine piece band backed the original four surviving members. I did not expect this show to be so good, even more so it was great. It can be safe to say that the Beach Boys have provided us with an incredible soundtrack to beach & summer memories throughout our lives, tonight was just another dose of just that added in.






The Beach Boys 50th anniversary Tour band consisted of its original surviving members: Mike Love who's vocals are still fantastic, he has a good stage presence as he slowly moves about the stage giving the band most of its movement. Love is a cousin of the Wilson's and sang lead on a majority of the bands hits. Love was one of the first rock musicians to get involved with meditation & he accompained the Beatles to India in 1968 to study meditation under the Maharishi. Love continued to tour with the Beach Boys doing most of the lead vocals as Carl Wilson took charge of the musical arrangements, After his passing Love kept touring by leasing the Beach Boys name & using mostly backing band members.

My man, little Al Jardine (the only original non relative Beach Boy) may have stole the show with his fantastic lead vocal on Help Me Rhonda. It was a major highlight, as he got the fans dancing & singing real loud. The multi instramentalist brings good life on stage playing his guitar & having a good old time, doing it. He & Bruce Johnston's enthusiasm just rolls off into the crowd.

Bruce Johnston joined the band in 1965 (after the departure of Glen Campbell) he was very livley on stage behind his keyboards, always smiling while leading the crowd in sing along & hand clapping. He looked to be having a great time as well. Mike Love joked about Johnston being the author of the sappy Barry Manilow tune, I Write the Songs. Johnston cracked back something like "yea & Kokomo is any better".....

And of course Brian Wilson, the creative writing genius of the band who's advanced visions of music in the sixties may have actually led to his downfall. Brian has suffered from mental illness, drug, alchohol & weight problems. In the sixties he stopped touring with the band to create more of their music. His master piece was the Pet Sounds, album inspired by the Beatles Rubber Soul. In 1966 The incredible ground breaking song Good Vibrations took months & $50,000 to record.

But it hit number one on the charts & is considered one of the greatest po/rock songs of all time. It & Pet Sounds inspired Paul McCartney during the Sgt. Pepper period. When Brian heard A Day In The Life, he was devestated telling himself he could never top that. His work on his next masterpiece SMiLE was abandon & would not get completed until 2004. Recently with his problems behind him, he has had a sucessful solo album & tours.

Brain Wilson's presence is apparanet on the stage, he is to be respected & respected. But it seemed at first he is just sitting there. Is he actually playing the piano at all? Often I saw his hands hanging by his side. He doesnt talk much or look at the crowd.  Is he involved at all. With my binoculars I kep trying to figure him out. But Then all of a sudden he will sing an incredible harmony or backing vocal. In the second set after the instrumental, Love, Jardine Johnston all huddle around the piano backing Brian as he leads them on an incredible version of Add Some Music To Your Day. Then Brian continues to be masterful on my favorite Beach Boy songs Sloop John B. & Good Vibrations. Other Wilson highlights were Heroes & Villans & Sail on Sailor. The only time he got up was during the encores Kokomo.

The Beach Boys had a nine piece band backing them up, they were great but kept their place as a backing band in the back ground. Actor / sometime Beach Boy John Stamos came out to play the drums on a few tunes for an added treat. David Marx played bass & sang, he was was a young teen when he first joined the Beach Boys in the early sixties. David lived across the street from the Wilsons according to what Mike Love said on the intro's. He left the band in 1965 then returned a decade ago.

There were two touching tributes to the two other Wilson Brothers who have since passed on, Dennis & Carl. There were two seperate video clips of the two singing lead vocals (Dennis on Forever & Carl on God Only Knows) with the band on stage playing behind them as a back up. This was also an incredible addition to the show celebrating the bands history, a real touching tearful tribiute.There were also photos through the years added in the video montage.

Dennis Wilson the only real surfer in the band was the bands drummer & also a rhaspy backing vocalist. He was the wildest of the Wilson Brothes who was actually friends with Charles Manson & the Family until he realized what they were all about. Luckily he broke free from the bunch just in time. Dennis drowned in 1983 at age 39.

Carl Wilson was the youngest brother, a fine guitar player who also played a variety of instruments as well as produced. His vocal work on Good Vibrations, God Only Knows & I Can Hear Music are among his vocal highlights. Carl helped keep the band together in the days of Brians departure. The very spiritual Carl Wilson passed away after a battle with cancer in 1998 at age 51.


1st Set:
Do It Again
Little Honda
Catch A Wave
Hawaii
Don't Back Down
Surfin' Safari
Surfer Girl
Please Let Me Wonder
Marcella
Wendy
Then I Kissed Her
Kiss Me, Baby
Getcha Back
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)
Disney Girls
Isn't It Time
California Saga
Cotton Fields Be True to Your School
Don't Worry Baby
Little Deuce Coupe
409
Shut Down
I Get Around

2nd Set:
Pet Sounds (Instrumental)
Add Some Music to Your Day
Our Prayer
Heroes and Villains
Sloop John B
Wouldn't It Be Nice
I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
Sail on, Sailor
All This Is That
That's Why God Made the Radio
In My Room
Forever
God Only Knows
Good Vibrations
California Girls
Help Me, Rhonda
Rock and Roll Music
Do You Wanna Dance?
Surfin' U.S.A.

Encore:
Kokomo
Barbara Ann
Fun, Fun, Fun

Jun 22, 2012

Former New York Giants Pitcher: Hooks Wiltse (1904-1915)

George Leroy Wiltse was born on September 7, 1879 in New York City. Wiltse earned the nick name Hooks, due to his hooking curveball, he was one of the few pitchers of the dead Ball Era to use a curve more effectively than his fast ball. He began his career, pitching in the New York State league for two seasons with the Troy Trojans winning twenty games. In 1904 he joined the major leagues and pitched for John McGraw’s New York Giants. He set a record that stood for 73 years by winning the first 12 decisions of his career. He would go 13-3 with a .813 winning percentage, and posting a 2.84 ERA.
Hooks went on to two consecutive 15 win seasons from there, with the best strikeout per nine inning ratio in the league. The Giants won the World Series in 1905, but Hooks did not pitch, due to the fact Christy Mathewson had thrown three shutouts & the other three starts were made by Joe McGinnity & Red Ames. On the Fourth of July in 1908 he had a perfect game going until he hit the last batter in the 9th inning with a pitch. He ended up pitching a ten inning no hitter instead winning it 1-0. For the season Wiltse pitched in 330 innings posting a 2.24 ERA with 118 strike outs.

He was 23-14 second on a staff with 37 game winner Christy Mathewson. He & Mathewson combined for 60 of the Giants 98 wins on the season. Together the righty lefty duo, combined for 435 Giants wins over an 11 year period. Together they would win four pennants & one World Series title. He followed that up with another 20 win season (20-11) posting a career low of 2.00 ERA.

Over his first six seasons his ERA gradually had gotten lower. He also made relief appearances, and although his number of what we today call saves, were very low, he was still atop the league’s best each season. He saved a career best six games in 1906, and would total 33 in his career. He would put in two more winning seasons with the Giants (1911-1912), completing an 11 year career in New York.

In 1911 he pitched two games of relief in the World Series but allowed seven earned runs in just three innings. Over the next few seasons he was used as a relief pitcher & in 1915 went on to pitch in the Federal League going 3-5. He finished his career at 139-90 with 965 strike outs posting a 2.47 ERA pitching in 357 games & 2112 innings pitched.

Retirement: After his playing days he was a player manager in the minor leagues. Wiltse lived until 80 years old, passing away in Long Beach, New York in 1959.

Jun 20, 2012

Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher: Lary Miller (1964-1965)

Larry Don Miller was born June 19th 1937 in Topeka, Kansas. The six foot left handed pitcher attended the University of Kansas getting signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. Miller pitched in the Dodgers organization through 1964 having his best season there that year going 8-0 with a 1.68 ERA at AAA Albuquerque.

He was called up to the Dodgers staff in June debuting in Cincinnati taking a 2-1 loss to the Reds. Later in the season the Mets would tag him for three runs over six innings at Shea Stadium as he took his eighth loss of the season. He went 4-8 with a 4.18 ERA for the sixth place Dodgers. That October he was sent to the New York Mets for Dick Smith.  

Miller began the year with AAA Buffalo going 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA making a good impression, getting called up to a poor 1965 Mets staff in June. He debuted as a Met in Pittsburgh against Pirates on June 3rd, getting hit for three runs not recording an out in the inning. He would pitch mostly middle relief work for the '65 Mets team. On June 20th in the first game of a double header in Los Angeles, although he allowed a sac fly RBI to Jim Lefebvre to tie the game, he earned the win as Roy McMillan's sac bunt scored Charley Smith in the top of the 8th inning for a 3-2 Mets win.

In July he was beat by the St. Louis Cardinals in a rare start as they scored four runs on him in the first three innings. In September he lost three decisions ending the year at 1-4 with one hold & a 5.02 ERA in 28 appearances. In 1965 he went 10-12 at AAA Jacksonville third in wins to Tom Seaver & Galen Cisco while striking out 121 batters. He got a September call up pinching in four games going 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA.

In his first game back up he got the start at Shea Stadium allowing a Dick Allen HR while losing to Jim Bunning & the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0. In his final appearance he allowed HRs to Willie McCovey & Jim Ray Hart in San Francisco on September 17th 1965. Miller pitched in the minors through 1969 finishing up in the Pacific Coast League with Phoenix. He was 58-51 in the minors in nine seasons with a 3.43 ERA.

Jun 9, 2012

Remembering One Time Fleetwood Mac Member & Solo Artist: Bob Welch (1945-2012)

Today centerfieldmaz would like to give mention to the life of musician Bob Welch who passed on this week. In the fall of 1977 my favorite song was Bob Welch's Ebony Eyes. At the time I was eleven years old and music became a big part of my life. In New York WPLJ radio was the top rock station & Ebony Eyes was in constant rotation. Those were the hey days of Creem magazine where Welch would often get featured along with his old group Fleetwood Mac. It was then that a pre teen centerfieldmaz fell in love with Stevie Nicks!  I even learned to draw a caricature of Welch, as I was a young aspiring artist in those days too. He was easy to draw with his glasses, lopsided hat & long hair. My Stevie Nicks caricatures didn't turn out so well. I drove my little brother crazy playing Ebony Eyes on the cassette player & drawing those pictures with colored pencils.

Bob Welch was born on August 31st in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in Beverly Hills, the son of Hollywood Producer/ Screenwriter Robert Welch. Robert Welch had produced movies for the likes of Bob Hope & Bing Crosby, as well as the Thin Man television series (1958-1959).

His mother Templeton Fox; was a singer in both television as well as movies in the sixties & seventies. Bob Welch played clarinet & guitar, eventually forming a local L.A. band but they went nowhere. He dropped out of U.C.L.A & moved to Paris, France where he became friends with future CBS Newsman Ed Bradley.

In 1971 he was invited to try out for Fleetwood Mac, through the referral of a friend. Fleetwood Mac led by Peter Green at the time, got its name from members Mick Fleetwood & John McVie. He got the gig without actually auditioning or ever playing his guitar. At the time the band had just brought in singer/keyboardist Christine McVie who was married to bassist John McVie. The band would record four albums with Welch, none of which became big hits: "Future Games", "Bare Trees" "Penguin" and "Mystery to Me". "Bare Trees" contained the Welch song "Sentimental Lady" which would become a big hit for him as a solo artist.

Fleetwood Mac went through many lineup changes as well as legal issues in the next couple of years. Eventually they became a quartet of Mick Fleetwood, The McVie's & Welch recording the album "Heroes Are Hard To Find" which became a minor hit in the US reaching #34 on the album charts. The band went on tour but it took its toll on Welch. He felt estranged from the rest of the band & his marriage was also falling apart.



Although he did help develop a new sound in the band he would not be there to enjoy the next stage of their career. In December 1974 he left Fleetwood Mac, getting replaced by Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks. The rest is Rock & Roll history. Mick Fleetwood continued to manage Welch's solo career.

In September 1977 with Fleetwood Mac enjoying the super success of its masterpiece album; "Rumors", Welch also released a hit album. His album "French Kiss" hit #12 on the US charts & spawned off three hit singles. The revamped "Sentimental Lady" became a top ten hit. The pop rock "Ebony Eyes" was a staple on rock radio & one of the biggest rock tunes of the year. Also the song "Hot Love,Cold World" was also a minor hit.

His follow up album "Three Hearts" was certified Gold in 1979, with featured the hit "Precious Love".

After that, he released four more albums but his popularity declined. He developed a drug addiction and stopped performing. In 1985 he married his second wife Wendy & cleaned up his heroine addictions. After that he primarily became a song writer living in Memphis Tennessee.

In the nineties he got into a legal battle with the band over royalties & was not invited to thier Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. In 2012 he had spinal surgery & it was reported he would never fully be recovered.

On June 7th, 2012 Bob Welch took his own life with a self inflicted gunshot to his chest. A suicide note he left behind said, he did not want his wife to have to care of him as an invalid. He was 66 years old.

Jun 2, 2012

Remembering Mets History: Johan Santana Tosses The First No Hitter In Mets History (2012)

I sat watching this game not in my centerfieldmaz room but in the living room with a chance at the TV after a long day/week of work. As the game rolled on I thought (as I did every time a Mets pitcher went into the 5th inning with a not hitter) this could be the night. But usually it doesn't work out so the tension didn't mount for me until the 7th / 8th innings.

By then I didn't move from my spot on the couch, no calls, no texts no moves. I admit it was one of my happiest regular season Mets moments as an emotional wave went through me. After all these years & all the great pitchers that I have seen get close to a no hitter, tonight the Mets finally had a pitcher toss a no hitter.

As a diehard fan from a very young age, I remember my favorite player of all time Tom Seaver getting so close five times, but ending up with one hitters. Yes, I remember the 35 one hitters by the likes of: Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry ( twice), Jon Matlack (twice), David Cone (twice), Steve Trachsel (twice), Terry Leach, Bobby Jones, Sean Estes, Tom Glavine, John Maine, Pete Schourek, Jonathon Niese , RA Dickey & the combined efforts as well.

I was even at Shea Stadium in September 1984 for Dwight Gooden's one hitter, when a Ray Knight's miscue at third base was ruled a hit. Just like announcers Gary Cohen & Howie Rose said, I almost felt like I'd never see one in my lifetime.

But last night Johan Santana the greatest Mets pitcher of this era finally did it as Cohen called it: "He struck him out! It has happened. In their 51st season, Johan Santana has thrown the first no-hitter in New York Mets history.”

Oh Bob Murphy I can hear your call if you were still with us for the happy recap!! The game began with the surprising 2012 New York Mets one game out of first place in a tight NL East. Johan Santana was 2-2 but suffered from lack of run support as his 2.75 ERA proves. His return from shoulder surgery this season has been very successful. Remember, in his last outing he threw a complete game four hit shutout against the San Diego Padres.

Tonight the Mets certainly gave him enough run support, eight runs led by Lucas Duda with a three run HR & an RBI sac fly. Things got interesting in the 6th inning when a Carlos Beltran line drive was called foul when it appeared it may have been fair on replays.

In any event that the way it goes, the ruling stands, foul ball. Then in the 7th Queens native, Mike Baxter chased a Yadier Molina fly ball to deep left over his head. He made a spectacular leaping catch crashing into wall & injuring himself in heroic fashion. Daniel Murphy made a nice grab at a liner from Carlos Beltran in the 8th inning, as did Andres Torres for the first out of the 9th off the bat of Matt Holiday.

With the Shea fans on their feet going wild and the rest of us at home hanging on to the edge of our seats, Allen Craig flied out to Jeff Nieuwenhuis for out number two. As the tension mounted like it was the World Series, I thought of Tom Seaver & Dwight Gooden, Jimmy Qualls, Joe Wallis & Leron Lee (see below). Then with two strikes Santana struck out David Freese for the historic third out, for the first time in Mets history Mets fans saw a Mets no hitter. A tear jerker for sure. Oh what a great day in Mets history & it will be remembered forever.

The announcers knew how important it was to the us long time fans as did Santana himself. He said "I am very happy & happy for you guys, the first one" as he acknowledged the Citi Field crowd after the game. A special Thanks to manager Terry Collins & pitching coach Dan Warthen who let Santana finish out the game with 134 pitches, almost twenty more pitches than they wanted him to throw.

Across the country another great Mets pitcher, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan who was throwing out the first pitch at a game in Anaheim between his former Angels team & his current team he's the GM over, the Texas Rangers commented on the feat.

"They've had a lot of history of one-hitters, and it's because of the great pitchers they've had there," Ryan said. "When you think of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden there, and some of the other guys, it's amazing they never did."

"Short of Tom Seaver, I couldn't think of a better guy to have this recognition," Mets third baseman David Wright said.

A Look Back at Three No Hitters Tom Seaver Took Into the 9th Inning

JULY 9th 1969

If there was ever a night in which a sports team first earned respect & recognition as a true contender, it was July 9th 1969. It is one of the most important nights in Mets regular season history as well as one of the greatest Mets regular season games.

The Mets were an expansion team in 1962 and lost a record 120 games. The team consisted mostly of washed up veterans & below average young players who never had a chance to develop. By 1969 they had finished last all but one year, but had some good young players who came through their system as well as some of the best young pitching arms in baseball.

By July 9th 1969 the Mets were playing the best baseball in their short history under manager Gil Hodges. The Mets were taking on the first place Chicago Cubs, whose manager was the old New York Giants legendary Manager Leo Durocher. The Cubs were the best team in the NL at that time, with Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins & Billy Williams, as well as slugger Ron Santo, former Met Jim Hickman (21 HRs) Todd Hundley's dad Randy Hundey & 20 game winner, New Jersey's own Bill Hands.

But the Mets were creeping up to the Cubs in the standings, surprising everyone & were the talk all around baseball. The Cubs didn't take them seriously and many others outside of New York also thought they were a farse. On July 9th 1969 that all changed. The night before Jerry Koosman beat Fergie Jenkins putting the Mets just 3 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the standings. Going into the seond game of the series 51,000 fans piled into Shea Stadium to witness Tom Seaver go up against Ken Holtzman.

In the Mets line up that night was Tommie Agee CF- Bobby Pfeil 2B- Cleon Jones LF- Donn Clendenon 1B- Ed Charles 3B- Ron Swoboda RF- Jerry Grote behind the plate & Al Weis at short stop as Bud Harrelson was in the Military Reserves.

The Mets wasted no time as Tommie Agee led off with a triple & Bobby Pfeil doubled to score Agee. The Shea fans were up & excited right away not knowing the treat they were in for. In the 2nd inning the Mets got two base runners on errors at short & third base. Tom Seaver helped his own cause with a single to right & Agee then doubled home Al Weis; 3-0 Mets. Cleon Jones added a solo HR in the bottom of the 7th as by this time the crowd was going crazy.

Tom Seaver said he felt like he could throw the ball where ever he wanted that night, hit every corner & have every pitch go exactly where he wanted. His fast ball was over powering, he struckout the lead off batter Don Kessinger in the first. In the second inning he blew away the side and just rolled along from there. That night Cubs hitter Al Spangler struk out three times, Ernie Banks, Kessinger, & Ted Abernathy all went down on strikes twice each. Seaver did not allow any hits nor any walks along the way & was going into the 9th with a perfect game.

In the 8th inning he struck out Banks & Spangler for K's #10 & #11. In the top of the 9th with the Shea crowd on their feet, Randy Hundley led off & cowardly attempted to bunt for a hit, but was the ball was played cleanly for the out by Seaver. The next hitter was a guy named Jimmy Qualls.

Qualls was playing in just his 18th game & Seaver wasn't familiar with him. Seaver was a genius in knowing the hitters, thier weakness & ho to get them out. But with Qualls he had never faced him nor had any scouting reports. Qualls singled to centerfield ruining the no hit bid as well as the bid for a perfect game. Seaver just slapped his glove as the Shea crowd gave him a huge standing ovation. The next batter popped out & Don Kessinger flied out to Cleon Jones for the third out to end what became known as "The Imperfect Game".

The Mets Fell as far as ten game back on August 13th but on September 9th they took over first place & never lost their lead. The Amazing Mets went on to win the 1969 World Series as one of the best underdog stories in baseball history.

Tom Seaver won his first Cy Young Award that Year leading the league in wins (25) going 25-7 with a .781 winning %. He struck out 208 batters (tenth in the NL), the first of a record setting nine straight seasons with over 200 strike outs. He posted a 2.21 ERA (4th in the NL) with 18 complete games (7th in the NL), five shut outs (6th in the NL) 273 innings pitched & 36 starts. This was the first of five one hitters thrown by Tom Seaver & the third in Mets history up to that point.

As for Jimmy Qualls, he would play in 43 games in 1969 batting .250 (30-120) with no HRs 5 doubles 3 triples & 9 RBIs, posting a poor .266 on base %. He would get traded to the Montreal Expos in April 1970 & play most of the year in the minors. He played in just nine games getting one hit in nine at bats. He spent the next two years in the minors while getting traded to the Chicago Whites Sox where he played eleven games in 1972 going 0-11. Qualls ended his career in the minors in 1973 as Tom Seaver went on to win his second Cy Young Award. Qualls was a lifetime .223 hitter.


JULY 4TH 1972


On the Fourth of July 1972 the Mets were in second place just one game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 43-27 record, the third best record in the NL. Yogi Berra was the teams manager just three months after Gil Hodges suffered his fatal heart attack in Spring Training.

That day Shea Stadium was filled with an excited Holiday crowd for a double header with the Mets & San Diego Padres. The Padres sported their bright yellow uniforms & were in last place in the West under manager Dom Zimmer, an original 1962 Met.

That day the great Willie Mays was batting leadoff & playing centerfield for New York with Bud Harrelson at short, Wayne Garrett at third, John Milner (the rookie slugger) in left field & batting cleanup, Jim Fregosi was at third base (just a few months after being acquired in the Nolan Ryan trade) Ed Kranepool at first, Teddy Martinez in right field & Duffy Dyer behind the plate as Seaver's battery mate.

In 1972 Tom Seaver was 21-12 (second in the NL in wins) with 249 strikeouts (second in the NL) & a 2.92 ERA. It was the only season in a four year span Seaver did not win the NL ERA title or the NL strike out title. Although that season he had the league's best strike out per nine inning ratio (8.53). He pitched 262 innings (7th in the NL), threw three shut outs with 13 complete games (8th in the NL).

In the 4th of July 1972 game Seaver began blowing Padre hitters away early on, as he had six strike outs in the first four innings. In the bottom of the 3rd inning the Padres helped out Seaver, after Bud Harrelson singled, Kirby walked four straight batters giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. That's all Seaver would need as he rolled along into the 9th inning with 11 strike outs and a no hitter in tact. It was the second time Seaver took his no hitter into the 9th inning, the first since that classic night in July 1969.

Previously in the top of the 8th, Seaver allowed two walks and had a close call when Derrell Thomas a line drive to right, but it was caught by Teddy Martinez. Martinez was an infielder & only played 54 career games in the outfield. In the top of the 9th inning the Shea Fans were on their feet & going wild with every pitch as Seaver went after history. The first batter Dave Roberts grounded out to second base and Leron Lee came up next.

Lee singled up the middle to centerfield spoiling the no hit bit. The next batter Padre slugger Nate Colbert (who was second in the league with 38 HRs that season) grounded into a double play to end the game. Seaver did earn the win his 11th of the season, going 11-4 at that time, lowering his ERA to three. It was the fourth one hitter thrown by Tom Seaver who was just 27 years old at the time & the ninth in Mets history.

The spoiler that night Leron Lee, played eight years in the major leagues. He was with the St. Louis Cardinals (1969-1971) San Diego Padres (1971-1973) Cleveland Indians (1974-1975) & Los Angeles Dodgers (1975-1976). He was primarily a reserve outfielder playing in 614 career games, batting .250 lifetime with 404 hits in 1617 at bats. He hit 31 HRs 83 doubles 13 triples with a .307 on base % & 152 RBIs.

In 1977 Lee went to Japan & became a star player for the next decade. He led the league in HRs & RBIs in 19777 & won a batting title in 1980. He hold one of the highest all time batting averages in Japan. Lee revolutionized Japanese baseball, before he arrived most American players were past their prime when they went to play there. He changed their view of former American players coming over to play the game there. Leron Lee was the Oakland A's batting coach in their 1989 Worlds Championship season. Leron Lee is the uncle to current MLB player Derek Lee.


SEPTEMBER 24th 1975

On September 24th at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the Mets were 11 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates in third place with 1 80-78 record. Roy McMillan was the Mets interim manager after Yogi Berra had recently been fired. Tom Seaver took on the Cubs pitcher Rick Reuschel who was 11-17 on the year leading the NL in losses. The Cubs were in fifth place 17 1/2 games back and their manager was former Met Jim Marshall.

That season Seaver was to win his third Cy Young Award, leading the league in wins going 22-9, leading the league in strike outs (243) & was third in ERA with a 2.38 average. That year Seaver pitched 280 innings with 15 complete games (both third best in the NL), he threw five shut outs (4th in the NL) & made 36 starts (7th in the NL).

On that Wednesday afternoon the Mets line up had Del Unser in CF- Felix Millan 2B- Mike Vail -LF, Rusty Staub -RF, Dave Kingman -3B, Ed Kranepool -1B, Ron Hodges catching, & Mike Phillips -SS for the injred Bud Harrelson. Seaver shut the Cubs down going into the 9th inning, not allowing any runs nor any hits. It wasn't the usual Seaver game where he was blowing hitters away, as he had only six strike outs going into the 9th. Seaver was attempting to make Mets history in front of less than three thousand Cub fans, taking a no hit bid for the third time in his career.

As the 9th inning began at Wrigley Field Seaver looked better than he had maybe the whole game, he struck out Don Kessinger & Cubs slugger Rick Monday. Then came the the rookie outfielder Joe Wallis who was playing in his 15th career game. Wallis singled to right field breaking the hearts of Seaver & Mets fans everywhere. With Jose Cardenal up, Wallis stole second base. Cardenal was intentionally walked & Seaver struck out one of the best Cubs hitters; Andre Thorton.

Unfortunately, Rick Reushel wasn't throwing a no hitter but was shutting out the Mets on just four hits himself. The game went to extra innings, Tom Terrific started the 10th inning and got the first out. He them gave up a single to Manny Trillo & double to catcher George Mitterwald. Trillo was nailed at the plate as Gene Clines threw a relay to short stop Mike Phillips who then threw home to Ron Hodges who stood his ground & tagged out Trillo. The Mets went hitless against reliever Ken Crosby in the 11th. In the bottom of the inning Skip Lockwood came on to pitch for New York, relieving a tired Seaver.

Lockwood allowed a single to Monday then a walk to Joe Wallis. Cardenal bunted over the runners & Andre Thorton was intentionally walked. Then Lockwood walked Bill Madlock (the 1975 NL batting champion) to force home the winning run. As Bob Murphy would say "Oh What a wild one at Wrigley.... It was the fifth & final one hitter thrown by Tom Seaver. It was also the twelfth of thirty five one hitters in Mets history.

Joe Wallis had a five year MLB career playing with the Cubs from 1975-1978. In 1975 he hit a career high .286 (56 at bats) with one HR & four RBIs. The next season he played in 121 games batted .254 with 5 HRs & 21 RBIs. In June of 1978 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Mike Vail who was the Mets left fielder that day at Wrigley Field when Wallis spoiled the no hitter. Wallis played in Oakland through 1980 when he was released after hitting .141 in 23 games. In his career Wallis was a .244 hitter with 216 hits 16 HRs 36 RBIs a .317 on base % & 68 RBIs.