Nov 29, 2012

Mets 1978 N.L. ERA Leader: Craig Swan (1973-1984)

Craig Steven Swan was born on November 30, 1950 in Van Nuys, California. He was drafted at age 17, but chose to attend Arizona State University instead. There he was a top pitcher, setting a record in the 1972 College World Series allowing only one run over 18 innings pitched.

The six foot three, right handed Swan, had a good moving fastball in the low nineties and a hard slider. He was selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1972 draft. He had a brief cup of coffee in September 1973, debuting on against the Philadelphia on September 2nd, where he gave up four earned runs on nine hits in four innings pitched.

His next outing went better, pitching two scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs, two weeks later. He was with the club at the start of the 1974 season, having a great day on May 11th. At the plate he had three hits, driving in a run, scoring another while pitching six shutout innings to earn his first career win. In June he broke his arm and missed the rest of the season finishing up at 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA. He returned to AAA Tidewater in 1975, and was named the International League MVP going 13-7 with a 2.24 ERA.

Swan made the 1976 Mets staff as their fifth starter, behind Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman & veteran Mickey Lolich brought in from Detroit in the Rusty Staub trade. He lost his first decision then pitched a five hit complete game shutout in Atlanta to beat the Braves. He then beat the Big Red Machine in his next outing. He had a horrible May losing five straight decisions, and only won two more games the rest of the year.

He did have good stretch in June pitching into the 7th inning or beyond giving up two runs or less five different times. All he had to show for it were two wins, two losses and a no decision due to lack of run support. The no decision came during a 10 inning three hit shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over a stretch of three games he allowed just a single earned run in 26 innings (0.35 ERA) with 21 strikeouts. He finished the year 6-9 with a 3.54 ERA, 89 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched.

In 1977 he began the year with a 1-4 record, improving to .500 by the All Star break. His best month was July when he was 3-1, including pitching a three hit shutout against the eventual NL Champion Dodgers in Los Angeles. He finished the year at 9-10, the second most wins on the staff, with a 4.23 ERA & 71 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched, as the Mets sank to last place.

Swan began 1978 with a five hit shutout victory against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, in the 5th game of the season. Although he pitched well, he didn’t earn another victory until mid July. He had allowed two runs or less ten times, and had actually allowed no runs pitching into the 7th inning three different times. During that stretch he posted a 2.66 ERA going 1-5, but this was a Mets team that didn’t score many runs. 

He had a 13 strikeout performance on Independence Day, but gave up two 9th inning runs and took the 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was one of the very few bright spots for the Mets in the summer of ’78, winning seven straight decisions during July & August. On August 15th he pitched a five hit victory at Shea against the San Diego Padres, where he allowed no earaned runs. When he faced the Padres in San Diego on the next road trip he beat Gaylord Perry in a 2-1 pitcher's duel allowing just five hits.

Although he lost to the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers on August 20th at Shea, he struck out ten batters. He won eight of his last nine games, posting the league’s best ERA. On September 16th, he allowed one run and three hits over nine innings but again got no decision.

He finished the season leading the National League in ERA (2.43) posting a 9-6 record, pitching in 207 innings and striking out 125 batters. He pitched well at home, posting a 1.67 ERA at Shea Stadium, with a 5-2 record.

Swan was the Mets 1979 Opening Day starter & earned the win in a wild 10-6 win at Wrigley Field. In his next start he allowed just one earned run in nine innings pitched against the Expos but go no decision. On April 25th at Shea Stadium, he tossed a two hit shutout against the San Francisco Giants walking only one batter.

In June he won three straight games, allowing only three runs over three straight complete games. In San Francisco he tossed another shut out against the Giants, this time a six hitter with seven strike outs on July 25th. He won his first three games in August, then suffered four losing decisions.

He finished off the season with two victories at the end of September, giving him 14 wins on the year. That total was more than any of his two team mates combined in that dismal season. He averaged two walks every nine innings which was one of the league's best ratios as well.

For 1979 he led the staff in ERA (3.29) wins (14) strike outs (145) shut outs (3) complete games (10) innings pitched (251) starts (35) as well as HRs, hits & runs allowed. His numbers were pretty much all career bests as by now he had developed into a mature pitcher. In the off season, he became the highest paid Mets pitcher in history signing a large contract that got him $560,000 for the 1980 season.

On Opening Day 1980 he beat the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, with a lineup of Frank Tavares, Eliot Maddox, Lee Mazzilli, Steve Henderson, Mike Jorgenson, Jerry Morales, John Stearns & Doug Flynn behind him. On May 9th he beat the Expos in Montreal allowing just one run on three hits. On May 25th he beat the Atlanta Braves throwing another three hitter, this time a shut out performance.

By mid-June he was 5-4 with a 2.21 ERA on another bad hitting team. After losing his next four decisions, he was placed on the disabled list in what turned out to be a torn rotator cuff. He made two more starts pitched poorly & was done for the season by mid August. He went 5-9 with a 3.58 ERA, pitching 128 innings striking out 79 batters & walking 30.

He started out pitching in 1981 but went down again, missing most of the season, appearing in only five games. In one freak accident he fractured a rib, when he was hit by a throw from John Stearns trying to nail a base runner. He really should be recognized for the amazing accomplishment of being maybe the first pitcher to successfully come back from rotator cuff surgery.

After suffering a loss on April 12th, he earned a win pitching one inning of relief on April 21st at Shea Stadium. By June he was back in the starting rotation, winning his first two starts in the month. After two early season starts he spent some time in the bullpen, earning a save and posting a 1.30 ERA in relief. On August 4th, the day Joel Youngblood made history driving in the winning run for two different teams, Swan hit his only major league HR.  

In September as the Mets were on their way to lose 97 games, Swan won four of his five starts, with a complete game in his final start.

In 1982 he was second for the Comeback Player of the Year Award, leading the team with 11 wins (11-7) with a .611 winning %, pitching in 37 games, 166 innings, 67 strikeouts & a 3.35 ERA. During Spring Training the next season, he Swan felt something pop in his arm but he pitched through the injury.

He pitched the second game of the season after Tom Seavers Opening Day return to New York, and beat Philadelphia 6-2. His arm trouble affected his throwing as he only won one more game on the year, going 2-8 with a 5.51 ERA.

In 1984, while the Mets were competing for the title, Swan managed only ten awful relief appearances before being released on May 9th. The Angels signed him two weeks later but after two bad appearances he was through.

After a 12 season career, he finished up Lifetime 59-72 with seven saves, 673 strikeouts and a 3.74 ERA in 1235 innings pitched. He has that one ERA title to his credit as well. Swan is 12th on the Mets all time list in victories (59) 11th in shut outs (7) 9th in complete games (25) 8th in innings (1230) & 9th in starts (184).

Retirement: As Swan was recovering from rotator cuff surgery he discovered the technique of Rolfing. It helped strengthen his muscles back into shape. He enrolled in the Rolfe institute in Boulder Colorado and went into the practice. His office is located in Greenwich Connecticut and his son has now joined his staff.

Swan now lives in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Connecticut. Among the patients he has helped, is former team mate, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Years ago, Swannie lost millions of dollars in bad investments, and credits Fred Wilpon in helping get his daughter into the University of Michigan.

Short Time Mets Outfielder: Matt Lawton (2001)

Mathew Lawton III was born in Gulfport Mississippi on November 30, 1971. The five ten left hand hitting Lawton was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1991 draft. In 1994 he hit .300 at A ball Fort Meyers & played in the Florida State League All Star Game.

As an outfielder he was rated a poor defensive player who sometimes made basic fundamental mistakes. But Lawton did make the best of his abilities and after two brief MLB appearances in 1995 /1996, he became the Twins everyday outfielder by 1997.

He had some good hitting seasons with the Twins, batting over .300 twice & hitting over 35 doubles three times. The speedy outfielder scored over 90 runs three times in his career and stole 23 or more bases four times. He drove in over 60 runs five times & manged to hit 15 or more HRs four times. He had his best season in 2000 making the All Star team, batting .305 with 44 doubles, 13 HRs and 88 RBIs. He was batting .293 through July of 2001 when the Twins traded him to the New York Mets for the popular pitcher Rick Reed.

Lawton made his Mets debut on August 1st in an 8-2 Mets win in Houston over the Astros. In that game Lawton had two hits & drove in a run while scoring another. On August 12th he hit the first of his two Mets HRs, scoring the only run of a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 26th his double broke up a 3-3 tie in the home 7th inning. The Mets went on on to barley win the game 6-5.

In an early September series sweep over the Florida Marlins, Lawton had six hits with three RBIs. Lawton would only play in 48 games as a Met right fielder, as his average dropped to .246 in 183 at bats, with 3 HRs 11 doubles & 13 RBIs. That winter he was involved in a multi player trade going to Cleveland with Alex Escobar for Roberto Alomar and a couple of minor leaguers.

Lawton spent three season in Cleveland, having his best year in 2004, batting .277 with 20 HRs & 70 RBIs making his second All Star team. In 2005 Lawton got caught up in a steroids scandal, he apologized and admitted using horse steroids.

He finished his 12 year career in 2006 batting .267 with 1273 hits 138 HRs 267 doubles 631 RBIs & 165 stolen bases.

Nov 28, 2012

Concert Review: The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks Extravaganza: Westbury, New York

Over the past few years I have gotten away from Christmas music during the Holiday Season. It's over saturation of the market way in advance has kind of turned me off, as well as the fact that everyone puts out a Christmas album these days, even those who don't believe in what Christmas is all about. That said, I've always enjoyed the rock & roll Christmas songs most notably Ronnie Spector & Brian Setzer.

Last night the Brian Setzer Orchestra's 9th Christmas Extravaganza rocked the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island. The local Long Island boy, from Massapequa, comes home almost every year to put on his special concert. It was an exciting night since it also was the opening night of a U.S tour that takes BSO right to Christmas over the next month.

Setzer first received fame as leader of the Stray Cats in the early eighties capturing a revival of rockabilly music. The Stray Cats were popular on Long Island & in Manhattan at places like CBGS & Max's Kansas City. When they heard of a rockabilly revival in England they packed up & went to London.

Soon they hit it big there, even attracting members of the Stones & Led Zeppelin to their shows. (Setzer later played as a guest in Robert Plant's Honey Dripper's project, even appearing on Saturday Night Live with him in 1984.) The Stray Cats album; Built For Speed made it to number two on the Billboard charts & stayed there for six months, spawning two top ten singles.

In the 1990's Setzer revitalized his career, as a new Swing movement was taking place, fronting the Brian Setzer Orchestra. He has had successful albums & tours since with the project. Years later, they are the last survivors of that Swing movement.

Setzer has taken it a step further, adding Christmas music into his mix of musical styles & taking it on the road. The result is a fantastic, a unique style that combines everything; rockabilly, swing, rock & roll, punk, big band, & Holiday music all fronted by a wailing guitar.

The band is led by Brian Setzer who is an incredible, well respected guitarist in his own right. He plays a classic variety of fifties & sixties guitars making a sound all his own. He also is an excellent singer whose voice is perfect for the styles of music he has perfected. The Theater in the round at Westbury, could hardly hold the entire ensemble of musicians on its tiny stage.

Setzer is backed by a full orchestra (12 piece horn section) a drummer, stand up bassist & two female singers (referred to as the vixens) one of which is his current wife.


The set list features Brian Setzer Orchestra songs, Christmas songs that make even the Scroogiest people feel good & of course Stray Cats classics.

I was a Stray Cat fan back in 1982, with our MC leather Jackets & long hair, chasing girls on the streets of the Bronx, the Stray Cat Strut was (still is) one of my favorites of all time. That tune alone was worth the price of admission.


It cleverly broke into the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, during the middle part, which took a bit away from it for me, but was still great as it faded back to Stray Cat Strut. Other highlights were Sexy & Seventeen, Fishnet Stockings & of course Rock This Town.


During the last segment of the show, Setzer, his drummer Tony Pia & stand up bass player Johnny Hatton, performed as a trio, ala Stray Cats.

They were fantastic during this portion of the night, maybe the best part of a really great show. The ladies came out as well joing the trio showing off their vocal talents too.

They rocked the house, especially during Rock This Town which had everybody up singing & dancing along. The full orchestra joined after the second verse in a grand finale.

The night had an appearance by the Grinch & of course Santa Claus who threw out Candy Canes to the crowd, fun stuff.



I'd also like to make note of the fantastic opening act Totsy, who are described as "burlesque pop with a forties throw back sound".

The Los Angeles based band were a real pleasant surprise. Lead by singer Beth Curry, who used to be a backup singer in the Brain Setzer Orchestra & guitarist Brett Boyett.

The eight piece band were very impressive & nice to look at too, with two lovely backing singers in their brunette bob wigs, corsets & fishnet stockings.


Songs included their single Dope on a Rope, Red Balloon & Santa Likes Naughty Girls Too.




Brian Setzer Orchestra Set List:
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
Sleighride
49 Mercury Blues
This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
Sexy & Seventeen
Stray Cat Strut
Your a Mean One Mr. Grinch
Drive Like Lightning Crash Like Thunder
Flight of the Bumble Bee
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Jump Jive & Wail
Run Run Rudolph
Jingle Bell Rock
Blue Christmas
Fishnet Stockings
Rock This Town

encores:
Nutcracker Suite
Getting In The Mood
Jingle Bells

Nov 27, 2012

Italian / American Player Turned Manager: Mike Sciosia

Michael Lorri Scioscia was born on November 27, 1958 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. He went to high school in the Italian American neighborhood outside of Philadelphia where Tommy Lasorda had grown up. Lasorda was certainly involved in helping to recruit the young catcher.

In 1976 he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a first round draft pick (19th overall). The six foot two, two hundred pound cather batted left handed but threw right handed. After five minor league seasons, he made the Dodgers big league team by 1980. Scioscia made his MLB debut on April 20th 1980 in the 11th game of the season.

He would play in 54 games that year & in the Dodgers 1981 Championship season, he took over as the main catcher replacing veteran Steve Yeagar.

Quotes: Tommy Lasorda was quoted as saying: When I made Mike the No. 1 catcher, the writers came to me and said, Yeager said you made Scioscia the No. 1 catcher because he's Italian." I said, "That's a lie. I made him the No. 1 catcher because I'm Italian."

By 1981 Fernando Valenzuela had come on the scene causing "Fernandomania" in Southern California. Scioscia went out & learned Spanish so he could communicate better with the new rookie sensation pitcher. The 1981 Dodgers consisting of the new guys; Scioscia, Valenzuela, & Pedro Guerrero as well as the old long time Dodger core veterans, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dave Lopes, & Bill Russell went on to win a long awaited Championship for Los Angeles, in that strike shortened season. In 93 games he hit .276 with 2 HRs & 29 RBIs.

Post Season: In the 1981 NLCS he hit a HR off Montreal’s Jeff Reardon in Game #1 helping the Dodgers to a 5-1 win. He hit .250 in the World Series playing in only three of the six games. In the post season overall he was he went 5-32 with two RBIs.

Although he was a decent hitter, Mike Scioscia was known for his great defense, and his incredible ability to block home plate. When blocking the plate he would be positioned on an angle down on both knees while making the tag with the ball in his catcher's glove, different from the most catchers style.

In 1985 he was knocked unconscious by the Giants Will Clark but still held onto the ball for the out. The next year he & the Giants Chili Davis were both knocked out cold, in another brutal home plate collision. That was the one Scioscia called the worst of his career.

He led the league in throwing out base runners caught stealing twice, (1988-1989). He would throw out over 40% of would be base stealers twice in his career with over 35% seven times. He led all catchers in put outs three times, assists & passed balls twice each. He also caught two no hitters in his career one from Fernando Valenzuela in 1990 & another thrown by Kevin Gross in 1992.

Scioscia went to two All Star Games, becoming the first Dodger catcher to start an All Star Game since Roy Campanella. He was a solid contact hitter, that did not strike out too much, averaging one strike out every 14 at bats during his career. In 1995 he batted a career best .296 with his second best average coming in 1981 when he hit .276. He was not much of a power hitter, hitting a career high 12 HRs in 1990.

Post Season: Scioscia returned to the post season in 1985, batting .250 in a series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

But it was the 1988 NLCS that Met fans always remember. In Game #4 the Mets were leading 4-2 in the 9th inning & had a 2-1 Series advantage. Mets ace Dwight Gooden was on the mound & walked John Shelby with Mike Scioscia coming to bat as the tying run.

He blasted a game tying HR, silencing & stunning the Shea Stadium crowd. The Dodgers would go on to win the game when Kirk Gibson hit his 12th inning HR off Roger McDowell. Although they took it to a Game seven, the Mets could never recover. A matter of fact it would be eleven years before they got to another post season.

Scioscia hit .364 in that Series as his team advanced, going on to shock the Bash Brothers & the Oakland A’s in the World Series. After a 13 year career, the lifelong Dodger had to retire due to injuries taking their toll on him by the age of 34.

He finished his career batting .259 with 68 HRs 198 doubles 446 RBIs & a .344 on base % with two World Series titles.

Behind the plate he caught in 1395 games (39th most all time). He made 8335 put outs (23rd all time ) with 737 assists (89th all time). He threw out 500 base runners trying to steal (64th all time) 34%.

Retirement: After his playing days he coached for the Dodgers organization until he was hired by the Los Angeles Angels f Anaheim as their manager during the 1999 season. With Scioscia at the helm the Angels had their most successful period in their history, winning five AL West titles, & their first World Series title in 2002. Scioscia won the Manager of the Year Award that season becoming the 17th person to win a World Series as both Player & Manager.

He is the first manager to reach the post season in six of his first ten seasons, and has become the Angels all time leader in victories. In 2009 he won another Manager of the Year Award & had his contract extended through 2018.

On May 8, 2011 Scioscia became the 56th manager to win 1,000 or more games and just the 23rd to have all 1,000 or more victories with a single team He is the major league's longest tenured manager going into the 2013 season.

Family: He met his wife Anne while she was bringing him cookies at Dodger Stadium. Together they have two children & live in Westlake Village, California. His son Matt Scioscia was drafted in the 45th riund of the 2011 draft by the Angels.

Nov 24, 2012

Mid Seventies Mets Pitcxher: Tom Hall (1975-1976)

Thomas Edward Hall was born November 23, 1947 in Thomasville, North Carolina. He grew up in Riverside California, attending high school there a s a star player.

The six foot tall left handed pitcher was the Minnesota Twins third round pick in 1966. In 1967 at A ball Wisconsin, he went 14-5 which got him promoted the next year. In 1968 he was 10-4 overall at AA Charlotte & AAA Denver with an ERA under two. He was in the big leagues with the Twins by the end of the year.  

He was nicknamed “the blade” & went on to have some fine seasons in the early seventies. He was primarily a reliever for four years in Minnesota, posting winning records every year, with the exception of 1971. In 1969 he was 8-7 making 18 starts in 31 appearances for the AL Champs that had two twenty game winners in Jim Perry & Dave Boswell. He made one appearance in the ALCS loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1970 he struck out 184 batters (8th most in the league) going 11-7 with four saves & a 2.55 ERA. By 1971 he was the Twins main reliever, leading the staff with nine saves, while posting a 4-7 record for the AL Western Champions. He pitched in two ALCS games against the Baltimore Orioles, taking the loss in Game #2 at home. In that game he served up a two run HR to Brooks Robinson & left the game behind 4-3. The Orioles went on to a 11-3 victory.

In December 1971 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Wayne Granger. Hall was fantastic for the 1972 Big Red Machine, going 10-1 with eight saves and a 2.61 ERA out of their tough bull pen. Reds manager Sparky Anderson earned the name "Captain Hook" as he liked to remove pitchers quickly, which was something not done too often in those days.

From late May through the end of the season Hall was 8-0 with six saves & eight holds to his credit. He did not blow any games or take any losses. In the 1972 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he got the win at Three Rivers Stadium in Game #2, pitching over four innings of one run relief.

In the 1972 World Series against the Oakland A's he made four appearances, earning a save in Game #6 which tied up the Series at three games apiece.  

Hall returned to go 8-5 with eight saves (third behind Clay Carroll & Pedro Borbon on the club) in 1973, getting to another post season with Cincinnati.

In the 1973 NLCS he made three appearances against the New York Mets getting no decisions. In Game #2 at Riverfront Stadium, he entered the game in 9th inning with the Reds behind 1-0. He gave up a single to Felix Millian, then a walk to Rusty Staub. Cleon Jones followed with a base hit to center field scoring Millan.

He would get charged with three runs before he was relieved by Pedro Borbon, in the Mets 5-0 win. That was the game Jon Matlack pitched a two hit shut out to even the Series. In Game #3 he allowed another run which ballooned his ERA up to a whopping 54.00.  

In April 1975 he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Mac Scarce. Hall made his Mets debut on April 16th in St. Louis, pitching two scoreless innings, finishing up a game with the Cardinals. On May 12th he earned a save against the San Francisco Giants preserving a win for Jon Matlack.

He got a rare start on June 4th & although he allowed three runs over five innings he still earned his first Mets win. Five days later he got another start, but he allowed five runs in four innings to the Atlanta Braves and was placed back in the bull pen. Over the last ten days in July, he earned three wins, two came in relief. The first was at home against Houston & the other on a road trip to Chicago.

On July 29th he got a start in St. Louis in the second game of a double header, although he gave up three runs the Mets supported him with eleven runs. Hall made 34 appearances for the third place '75 Mets, third most out of the bullpen, going 4-3 with one save. He would finish 15 games posting a 4.75 ERA. He struck out 48 batters in 60 innings pitched.  

In 1976 he earned a win on April 27th when John Milner & Bruce Boisclair drove in runs for a dramatic 9th inning finish. In his last Mets game, his former Reds team mates Ken Griffey & George Foster got him for two runs in the 11th inning for a loss. After just five appearances, posting a 5.75 ERA, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for a minor leaguer. He finished up his career there the next season.  

In a ten year career, Hall was 52-33 with 32 saves and a 3.27 ERA. He struck out 797 batters walking 382 in 852 innings pitched. Hall made63 starts in 358 games with seven complete games & three shut outs. He was certainly an under rated pitcher, especially at a time when mid relievers got no recognition.  

Retirement: After baseball he began a career as a supervisor for Rohr Aeospace in 1978. After that he became a postman for twenty years in the Riverside California area he grew up in.

Hall was elected to the Riverside Hall of Fame in 2002. He enjoys bowling, fishing, traveling with his wife, & spending time grandchild.

Three Time World Series New York Giants Pitcher: "Prince" Hal Schumacher (1931-1942 / 1946)

Harold Henry Schumacher, nicknamed Prince, was born on November 23, 1910 in Hinckley, New York on the Southern end of the Adirondack Mountains.

Hal began attending Lawrence University but had to quit due to financial reasons, even though he was an exceptional student in academics as well as in sports. He was offered a contract by the New York Giants, but he told them he’d only sign if they paid for him to finish his education, which they did.

From there on, he would spend his entire career with the New York Giants pitching 13 seasons and appearing in three World Series. He threw fast ball which was called a "heavy ball" in those days so hard, it sounded like a cannon ball when it hit the big catchers mit. He made a brief debut in April 1931 pitching just two innings in two games for manager John McGraw. He returned in June & July then got his first career win that September.

The next season Bill Terry took over as manager & by 1933 Schumacher became second on the Giants staff to Carl Hubbell, winning 19 (19-12) fifth most victories in the league, with seven shutouts, 96 strike outs and a 2.16 ERA (3rd in the NL) pitching 258 innings (8th in the NL). He made baseballs first All Star team that year and got some votes for the MVP award. That June he had his proudest moment when he graduated from Lawrence University and Manager Terry took, the whole team up North for the ceremony.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the 1933 World Series in the Polo Grounds, he pitched a five hit complete game win over the Washington Senators. He returned in Game #5 at Washington D.C. but got no decision pitching into the 6th inning leaving in a 3-3 tie. The Giants would win it & capture the Championship when Mel Ott hit a tenth inning game winning HR.

Schumacher had his best season in 1934 as he even topped his teammate Hubbell, winning 23 games (23-10) striking out 112 batters (7th in the NL) making 36 starts (3rd most in the NL) pitching in 298 innings (4th in the NL) with a 3.16 ERA (6th in the NL), 18 complete games (6th in the NL) & two shut outs. He also led the league with 10 wild pitches.

At the plate he was one of the leagues best hitting pitchers, hitting 6 HRs with 15 RBIs batting .239.On a hot day in St. Louis, while pitching Schumacher collapsed from heat exhaustion. He actually had no heart beat t one point, but was revived. He was packed in ice & recuperated right away. He would win 19 games again in 1935 (19-9) with a 2.89 ERA, making his second All Star game.

That year his average dropped a bit to .196 but he drove in 21 runs while hitting two HRs. He had an an off year in 1936 due to arm problems. The shoulder issues affected his fastball so he learned to throw a palm ball to go along with his overhand curve, That year he went 11-13 but the Giants still won another pennant, losing in the World Series.

Post Season: In that World Series he got beat up in Game #2 allowing five runs in just two innings, taking the loss. He came back to win Game #5 although he scattered ten hits & allowed six walks. He still pitched a complete ten inning game with ten strikeouts, taking a 5-4 win. At one point in the game he had the bases loaded with no one out, he then struck out Joe DiMaggio &Lou Gerig. He then got Bill Dickey to fly out to right field.

From there Schumacher went on to have four straight 13 win seasons, followed by two straight 12 win seasons, finishing above .500 all but one time. He would get to one more World Series (1937) taking the loss in Game #3.

In his 13 year career "Prince Hal" was 158-121 with seven saves posting a 3.36 ERA. He pitched 2482 innings in 391 games, making 329 starts striking out 906 batters walking 902. He threw 138 complete games with 26 shut outs. At the plate Schumacher was one of the best hitting pitchers during his time batting .202 with 15 HRs & 102 RBIs.

Military: He enlisted with the Naval Reserves in 1942 during World War II, serving America for four years. He lost his brother in the war & was devestated only pitching one more year after his Naval discharge.

When he returned he briefly pitched with the Giants in 1946 going 4-4 with 3.91 ERA in 24 games.

Retirement: After playing baseball he worked for the Adirondack Bat Company in upstate New York for twenty years. After that he worked at Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

He passed away from stomach cancer at Cooperstown, New York in 1993 at age 83. He was survived by his wife of 47 years, a son, daughter & four grand children.

Nov 23, 2012

Mets Infielder: Justin Turner (2011-2012)

Justin Matthew Turner was born on November 23rd, 1984 in Long Beach California. The red headed six foot infielder attended California State University at Fullerton, getting named freshman All American by Baseball America. He was named to the 2003 College World Series All Tournament team as a short stop.

In 2005 he was drafted in the 25th round by the AL New York club but did not sign. He signed in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round. Turner hit well in the minor leagues hitting .300 or better in five of six seasons.  

In December of 2008 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Ryan Freel in exchange for Ramon Hernandez. He hit .300 at AAA Norfolk & and earned himself a September call up, debuting in Boston going 0-2 in a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. In 2010 he began the year with the Orioles but was hitless in five games, he was demoted & placed on waivers. On May 25th he was picked up by the New York Mets.

With the Mets he batted .333 in 78 games at AAA Buffalo making an impression on a team with a lot of openings at the big league level. At the start of the 2011 season, Terry Collins gave Brad Eamus the starting second base job out of Spring Training. After just 14 games he lost his position & was gone. Justin Turner began the year at AAA Buffalo where he hit .300 in ten games and was brought up to the replace Eamus. He took over the spot & was the clubs main second baseman through the year, as Daniel Murphy took over at first base in place of the injured Ike Davis.

On May 7th Turner came in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter of a tie game with the bases loaded. He singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Guerrier putting the Mets ahead for the win. On May 15th in the middle of an eight game hit streak, Turner drove in five runs with a three run HR &two run double, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros in Houston. On May 19th his fourth inning RBI single was the only run of the game as he helped Dillon Gee to a 1-0 victory.

The next day in the first matchup of the subway series with the cross town rivals, Turner drove in the first run of the game with a double off Freddy Garcia. Daniel Murphy would later hit a HR leading the Mets to a 2-1 win. Turners incredible month of May had him drive in runs in seven straight games that week & then another six games closing out the month. He set a Mets Rookie Record with seven consecutive games with an RBI. He was also named the May NL Rookie of the month.  

He stayed over the .300 mark into June before tailing off his hot hitting. On June 22nd, in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland Athletics he singled in the 8th inning scoring Jose Reyes with the go ahead run. The A's tied it in the 9th but in the bottom of the inning Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored thw winning run. In the month he drove in eleven runs & then in July added a ten game hit streak. On August 6th Turner hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 11-7 New York win.

A month later on September 9th, he won another game with a ground rule double against Sean Marshall to beat the Chicago Cubs. On September 22nd with the Mets down to the Cardinals 6-2 in the top of the 9th inning, Turner began a big Mets rally by walking with the bases loaded. He later came in to score the tying run on a Willie Harris base hit, as the Mets went on to an 8-6 win. On the year he played in 117 games batting .260 with four HRs 30 doubles 51 RBIs & a .334 on base %.  

In 2012 Turner played more of a utility role, as Daniel Murphy took back over at second base. On April 26th Turner came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Florida Marlins 2-1 facing Heath Bell. He drew a walk scoring David Wright with the tying run & the Mets won it on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' single. He got to see more playing time when Ruben Tejada went down with injury, as he played shortstop in rotation with Jordanny Valdespin. Then Turner missed a month of action going on the DL from late May into late June.

When Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history, it was Turner who gave Johan a pie in the face during the post game interview. It certainly did not seem the right time, after a history making moment to do something like that. Although the good natured fun loving Turner has always been the jokester in the Mets club house.  

In June he doubled driving in two runs in the subway series helping the Mets to a much needed 6-4 win. At the All Star break he was batting .289 as the Mets finished off a successful first half of the season.

Their second half was nowhere near as good as they fell to fourth place. On August 25th he hit his first HR of the year & hit his second a month later at Citi Field in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 94 games he batted .269 with 2 HRs 13 doubles & 19 RBIs. The versatile Turner played at second base (14 games) first base (11 games) third base (11 games) & short (10 games).

Two Time Eighties Mets Infielder: Bill Almon (1980/1987)

William Francis Almon was born on November 21, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island. The six foot three right hand hitter, attended Brown University, getting drafted as the number all around pick by the San Diego Padres in 1974. After flying through AA & AAA minor league ball, the Padres brought him up right away that September after just 39 games.

He played in 16 games batting .316 with three RBIs. He spent most of the next two seasons down at AAA, having a rough 1975 season batting .228 while making 48 errors at short stop (.939%). He was brought up for six brief games that September as well. The next season at AAA Hawaii he batted .291, making 36 errors at short for a .947 fielding %.  

In 1977 he became San Diego’s main short stop, leading all NL shortstops in put outs (303) errors (41) and sacrifice hits (20). He batted .261 with 2 HRs 18 doubles & 43 RBIs while stealing 21 bases. He was the Padres short stop again in 1978 but his days were numbered in 1979 when a young Ozzy Smith arrived on the scene. That year Almon played 65 games at second base & just 25 games at short stop. 

In December of 1979 he was traded along with Danny Briggs to the Montreal Expos for former All Star second baseman Dave Cash. On July 7th, 1980 after playing just 18 games he was granted free agency and four days later he signed with the New York Mets.

It would be the first of two brief stints with the Mets. Almon played a utility role backing up Frank Tavares at short stop, as well as Doug Flynn at second base. He played in 48 games batting .170 with 19 hits in 112 at bats, with no HRs and four RBIs. He made his Mets debut coming in as a pinch runner on July 11th in Pittsburgh. In his fifth Mets game, he had a big four hit day, scoring four runs in a big Mets 13-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati. The fifth place Mets released him that December.  

He went on to play for Tony LaRussa with the Chicago White Sox for two seasons, having a fine season in 1981. He was back in a starting role, playing in 103 games in the strike shortened season, batting .301 (349 at bats) with 16 stolen bases, posting a .969 fielding % .

He played two seasons in Chicago & then signed a two year deal with the Oakland A’s playing there as their main short stop. In 1983 he had career highs in doubles (29) stolen bases (26) & RBIs (63). He went to the Pittsburgh Pirates for two seasons dropping off to a .219 average in 1986.  

In May of 1987 he came back to the Mets in a trade for Al Pedrique who had played in six Mets games going 0-6 at the plate. Almon played in 49 games for the ’87 Mets, at short stop (22 games) second base (10 games) & first base (2 games). On June 24th he had his big Mets moment, as he singled in the bottom of the 9th inning against Cubs closer, Lee Smith. The hit drove in Kevin McReynolds with the game winning walk off run. Overall he hit .241 with three extra base hits while driving in four runs.

He wrapped up his 15 years career in 1988 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lifetime he batted .254 with 846 hits, 138 doubles, 36 HRs, 296 RBIs, & a .305 on base %. At short stop he posted a lifetime .960 fielding percentage (616 games) at third base .927 % (212) games, in the outfield (.990 %) 161 games second base .973 % (102 games) & he even played one game at catcher.  

Retirement: After his playing days Almon went back to Brown University as their baseball coach from 1993-1996.