Remembering The 1973 N.L. Champion Mets: George Stone Beats Padres For Mets Fifth Straight Win

This is another post remembering the 40th anniversary of the 1973 N.L. Champion Mets.

At the end of May 1973, the Mets were on a long west coast road trip, losing nine of twelve games in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego & Cincinnati. 

George Stone
June started out as a brutal month for the Mets as well, they lost six of seven games & fell to 8.5 games back of first place. Injuries had taken Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson & catcher Jerry Grote all out of the lineup. Tug McGraw was struggling in the bull pen, although he had eight saves through May, his ERA by mid June was over five. With the Mets on a four game win streak, a Sunday afternoon June 17th, brought a crowd of 32,641 to Shea Stadium, to watch George Stone take on the Padres Bill Grief.

In the Mets 1st inning, Felix Millan & Rusty Staub singled with one man out. Then John Milner hit a double play ball to second baseman Derrel Thomas, but Thomas booted the ball allowing Millan to score with the first Mets run.

George Stone rolled along before allowing the Padres to tie the game in the 7th inning, with a pair of singles, followed by a Dave Roberts ground out. Stone would go into the 8th inning, allowing just the one run on four hits.

In the Mets 7th inning, catcher Ron Hodges hit his first (and only) HR of the year, putting the Mets ahead for good. In the home 8th, a pair of Mets singles by Staub & Ed Kranepool set up for Wayne Garrett’s RBI base hit, adding an insurance run.

Mets pitcher Phil Hennigan relieved Stone in the 7th inning, in the 9th he got into trouble as catcher Fred Kendall singled & second baseman Derrell Thomas, walked putting the tying runs on base. Manager Yogi Berra came out of the dugout & called upon Tug McGraw to put out the fire.

McGraw made things interesting, throwing a wild pitch advancing the runners into scoring position. With one out, he struck out first baseman; Ivan Murrell & got Gene Locklear to fly out to Ed Kranepool in left field to end the game, with the Mets winning 3-1.

The Mets finished the day with a 28-29 record, seven games behind the Chicago Cubs & two games behind the Montreal Expos.

This game was George Stone's third start. Stone had come over from Atlanta in the Felix Millan trade, starting the year as a mid reliever.

On May 2th he got his first win, which came in relief. With a May injury to John Matlack & a need for another starter, Stone got the role at the start of June. He went 0-2 until he beat the Padres tonight at Shea. From there he won ten of his eleven decisions s going 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA, as a pleasant surprise & a key figure in the Mets winning the NL East.

It was in the World Series that Mets fans will always wonder why Manager Yogi Berra didn't start Stone in Game #6. He had made just one relief appearance in Game #2, but Berra chose to use Tom Seaver on three days rest. Matlack was used in Game #7 on three days rest as well. If Stone had gotten the nod in Game #6, Seaver & Matlack would have been available for a Game #7 if necessary.

Nate Colbert: early seventies Padres slugger
1973 Padres notes: The 1973 San Diego Padres were just in their fourth year of existence, donning their bright yellow road uniforms. They finished last (sixth place) in their division every year from 1969-1974. In 1973 they went 60-102 under manager Dom Zimmer, who had replaced Preston Gomez 11 games into the 1972 season.

The Padres improved a bit offensively from the previous season; Johnny Grubb led the him in hitting batting .311 while coming in sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Nate Colbert, who had hit 38 HRs with 111 RBIs in 1972, led the club with 22 HRs 25 doubles & 80 RBIs.

Dave Roberts was second with 21 HRs & 64 RBIs, batting .286. Cito Gaston had 16 HRs with 57 RBIs batting .250. Other players of note were catcher Fred Kendall 10 HRs 22 doubles 59 RBIs & a .282 average & Jerry Morales who hit .281 with 9HRs & 34 RBIs in 122 games.

Future Met; Randy Jones was the only pitcher on the staff with a winning record; going 7-6 with a 3.16 ERA. The pitching staff consisted of Steve Arlin who won 11 games (11-14) & Bill Grief who had won ten games (10-17). Future Brewers star Mike Cauldwell led the team with ten saves (5-14).


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