Remembering the 40th Anniversary of the 1973 N.L. Champion New York Mets.
'73 World Series Preview
The Mets improbable climb from last to first in the final month, led them to a big win over the Cincinnati Reds, who had the best record in baseball in 1973.
Now they had to go against the reigning World Champion, Oakland A's.
The 1973 New York Mets were mostly about pitching. Led By that year's Cy Young Award Winner; Tom Seaver (19-10 ) also led the league in ERA (2.08) strike outs (251) & complete games (18).
|Koosman - Seaver - Matlack|
He led the league in that category five times, wins four times & ERA three times.
The all time Mets left hander, Jerry Koosman was second to Seaver on the staff. (14-15 / 2.84 ERA / 12 complete games / 3 shut outs & 156 Ks).
Koosman's career was overshadowed by Seavers, but Kooz woul be in the leagues top ten in strike outs eight times, ERA six times & wins four times. In the post season he was 4-0 with 31 strike outs in 40 innings with a 3.79 ERA.
The 1972 Rookie of the Year; Jon Matlack was the latest Mets superstar pitchers (14-16 / 3.20 ERA / 14 complete games / 3 shut outs / 205 Ks third in the NL to Seaver).
Matlack would be a four time 15 game winner, make three All Star teams & be in the leagues top ten in strike outs (7 times) shut outs (6 times) ERA & complete games four times each.
George Stone who had come over from Atlanta before the season, was the staff's surprise at 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 27 games.
One of the games top relief pitchers of his ERA was the Mets leading fireman out of their bullpen (5-6 / 25 saves / 3.87 ERA). The colorful Tug McGraw was the teams main cheerleader as well. McGraw began the rally cry "You Gotta Believe" that season.
He would pound his glove on his thigh after a big strike out or at the end of a game, which was message of affection to his wife Phyllis.
From August 22nd on, he had gone 5-0 with 12 saves, allowing just four earned runs in 43 innings. Although he never led the league in saves, he came in second twice & was in the top ten seven times, making two All Star teams.
Veteran Ray Sadecki (5-4 / one save/ 3.39 ERA / 87 Ks in 116 innings) did a fine job for New York as a starter & reliever that season. He had won a World Series as a twenty game winner for the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals. Jim McAndrew (3-8 / 5.38 ERA / one save) Buzz Capra (2-7 / 4 saves / 3.86 ERA) would go on to lead the NL ERA in 1974 with Atlanta.
The Mets offense was certainly not big by any means. If only there was another bat or two in its line up, the pitching staff of the seventies may have gone to more World Series.
Rusty Staub was the main run producer ( he led the team with 76 RBIs /36 doubles / 74 walks & .361 on base %.
He hit 15 HRs / with a 279 average & 77 runs scored ). Staub was a six time All Star, who had a career 2716 hits & became of the games best pinch hitters in his later career.
Young slugger; John Milner hit a team best 23 HRs (72 RBIs / 12 doubles / .239 average / 69 walks / .329 on base %). Wayne Garrett hit a career high 16 HRs (20 doubles / 58 RBIs / .256 average /.348 on base % & 76 runs scored).
Felix Millan led the team in hits (185 hits / .290 average / 23 doubles / 82 runs scored). Millan, (a three time All Star)was one of the best defensive second baseman of his time, a two time Gold Glove winner, was in the leagues to five in fielding- eight times.
Millan was the toughest man in the league to strike out, four times in his career, including in 1973.
Cleon Jones (11 HRs 13 doubles 48 RBIs .260 average in 92 games) was one of the Mets hottest hitters down the stretch. Jones was a Mets outfielder for 12 seasons, batting over .290 three times.
|Mets Short Stop Bud Harrelson|
Bud Harrelson (.258 / .348 on base % / 12 doubles / 3 triples & 20 RBIs) was a two time All Star & a Gold Glove winner.
Don Hahn had become the main centerfielder (93 games / .229 / 2 HRs 10 doubles / 21 RBIs) was not known for his hitting, but would have a solid World Series.
Mays led the league in HRs & stolen bases four times. He led the league in slugging five times, triples three times & runs scored twice. Mays won a batting title, finished runner up three times & led the league in hits once. A lifetime .302 hitter, with 328 hits (12th all time) & a .557 slugging% (20th all time).
Mays hit 660 HRs (4th all time) with 523 doubles (42nd all time),140 triples (64th all time), 2062 runs scored (7th all time), 1464 walks (21st all time), 338 stolen bases (118th all time) & 1903 RBIs (11th all time).
The Mets bench included Ed Kranepool (.239 average / 12 doubles / 1 HR / 35 RBIs ) who played 100 games in the outfield & at first base. Steady Eddie is one if the games best all time pinch hitters & the all time Mets leaders in games played.
The clubs top pinch hitters behind Krane were veteran Kenny Boswell ( a member of the 1969 Amazings) & Jim Beauchamp (.279 / 14 RBIs).
Also on the bench were backup catchers; Duffy Dyer & Ron Hodges. Infielder Teddy Martinez & outfielder George the Stork Theodore.
|Mets Manager; Yogi Berra|
The A's were a star studded flamboyant bunch of players who changed the look of major league baseball. They were known as "the Swingin' A's" & were baseballs most raucous bunch.
The A's had long hair, sported moustaches & beards, something that was not done in baseball since the late 1800's. When the teams outspoken All Star; Reggie Jackson arrived to Spring Training 1972, with a beard, he opened the doors. Owner Charlie Finley would soon pay his players $200 each, if they grew facial hair for a Father's Day Moustache Day promotion.
|A's Ball Girls|
On Sundays the team wore traditional white uniforms with green & gold trim. Manager Dick Williams & his coaches wore White Caps as opposed to the players green with a yellow bill.
He introduced ball girls to field foul balls in foul territory, one of the first was Debi Jane Sivyer, who saved her money & began to sell cookies. Debi later became successful entrepreneur; Debi Fields of the famous Mrs. Fields Cookies.
Finley was a strong supporter of the designated hitter rule, he tried to introduce florescent orange baseballs, & mechanical rabbits to bring umpires baseballs. Even though he was a master at certain promotions, he was never able to market his team correctly.
Although they won three straight Championships, they suffered from poor attendance, in the large metro area of the San Francisco Bay.
He gave his players good bonuses to sign with his club but then as they became stars he refused to give them big increases. When he began to lose players to free agency he tried selling them off until Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in. Maybe most famously he used a mule named; Charlie O as the teams mascot. He paraded him around the field & brought him to press conferences to any the media.
|A's Ace; Catfish Hunter|
Next was; Vida Blue (20-9 / 3.28 /158 Ks/ 4 shut outs / 13 complete games) Blue had won the 1971 Cy Young Award 7 was a three time Twenty game winner. The Big Three was rounded off by; Kenny Holtzman (21-13 / 2.97 ERA / 157 Ks / 4 shut outs / 16 complete games). Holtzman had thrown a no hitter with the Chicago Cubs where he was a 17 game winner in 1969 & 1970. In Oakland he won 19 games or better three straight years (72-74).
John Odom, whom Finley had wear the name Blue Moon on his uniform for publicity reasons, had an off year at 5-12, was a former three time 15 game winner. Odom also a quick runner & at times was used in a pinch running role.
|Tug McGraw & Rollie Fingers|
In his career he would save 341 games 910th all time) which was the most at the time of his retirement. He won a Cy Young & MVP Award & led the league in saves three times. Fingers adopted his trademark handle bar moustache prior to the '72 season.
Also out of the pen were; Darold Knowles (6-8 / 9 saves / 3.09 ERA ) Horatio Pina (6-3 / 8 saves / 2.76 ERA) & Paul Lindblad (1-5 / 3 saves / 3.67 ERA).
With all that pitching the A's had an even more powerful offense. Although no one hit over .300 (except Jesus Alou who came over in August- .306 average) they were loaded. They were a perfect example of how each individual contributed to a team effort.
Hall of Famer (the 1973 AL MVP) Reggie Jackson (32 HRs / 117 RBIs / 22 steals/ .293 average) Jackson would lead the AL in HRs four times & MR. October would play on five World Series Championship teams in the 1970's.
Team Captain Sal Bando (29 HRs / 32 doubles / 98 RBIs .287 average) was one of the top RBI men in the league during that era, making the leagues top five four times. From 1969-1977 Bando would be in the leagues top ten in HRs four times walks every season.
The 1972 World Series MVP; Gene Tenace (24 HRs 18 doubles / 84 RBIs / .259 average) was the first baseman, who also played at catcher. Tenace led the league in walks twice & was in the top ten in that category eight times. He was in the leagues top ten in on base % six times & HRs four times.
Joe Rudi was one of the best defensive outfielders of his era (12 HRs 25 doubles /66 RBIs / .270 average). Rudi hit over .300 twice & led the league in hits, doubles & triples one time each.
Veteran Deron Johnson (20 HRs /81 RBIs .246 average) had come over from the Phillies in May & was often used as a DH. Catcher Ray Fosse & fine defensive backstop hit .256.
|Bert Campaneris & Bud Harrelson|
The A's spark plug was six time AL stolen base champion; Bert Campaneris, was one of the game's best leadoff men (34 steals/ 17 doubles / 6 triples / .259 average). Campaneris had also made six All Star appearances, led the league in triples & at bats.
Alan Lewis "the Panamanian Express" played in 35 games in the regular season & never had an at bat, he was used solely as a pinch runner (7 steals). In his six year career he was primarily used in that role & had just scored a run in the '73 ALCS vs. Baltimore.
On the bench they had Jesus Alou (.306 in 108 at bats), Angel Mangual (.224) & Vic Davalillo (.188) as the main pinch hitters. Ted Kubiak- 106 games (.220), Mike Andrews (18) & Many Trillo (17) were usually used as late inning replacements at second base.
The A's would have to play the World Series without their top base stealer, as Billy North got injured at the end of the season & was finished for the year.
|A's Manager; Dick Williams|