Apr 27, 2015

Early Seventies Mets Infield Prospect: Lute Barnes (1972-1973)

Luther Owens Barnes was born April 28, 1947, in Forest City, Iowa.

He attended Oregon State University getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 21st round (482nd pick overall) in 1969.

As a second baseman there wasn’t much room for Barnes with Ken Boswell & then Felix Millan both steadily holding the position through the mid seventies. He certainly wasn’t seeing any action at short with All Star Bud Harrelson in that spot. The five foot ten infielder even lost out to the solid reserve, Teddy Martinez for any back up duties.

In 1970 Barnes hit .290 in 121 games at AA Memphis. By 1971 Barnes was the AAA Tidewater Tides main second baseman playing for managers Hank Bauer & then former New York Giant Johnny Antonelli. He turned 51 double plays posting a .962 fielding % in 121 games at the position while hitting .273.

Barnes got a major league call up that summer, debuting with the Mets on August 6th 1972 at Shea Stadium in a 12-2 Mets romp over the Chicago Cubs. Lute got a base hit driving in Teddy Martinez in his first MLB at bat. Three days later he got to start at short stop in a 8-3 Mets win at St. Louis. He had a big day getting two more hits with a triple, two walks & two runs scored. He was hitting .750 after his first two career games & would have three more multiple hit games that season.

On September 12th he drove in two runs with a triple off the Phillies Ken Reynolds leading New York to a 4-2 win at Veterans Stadium. Ten days later he hit into a double play in the 8th inning of a game against the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The play scored the winning run & helped Tom Seaver beat Steve Carlton 2-1.Overall he played in 24 games total, batting .236 with two triples & six RBIs.

In 1973 he was back as AAA Tidewaters main second baseman posting a .985 fielding %, he stole 23 bases but hit just .226. He still got another September call up playing in three games for the 1973 NL champion Mets.

On September 13th he pinch ran in the 12th inning in a tie game at Philadelphia. He scored what would be the games winning run on Wayne Garrett's base hit, bringing the Mets within two games of first place. He got two pinch hit appearances, getting an RBI single against the Montreal Expos in what would be his last career at bat.

In 27 MLB games he hit .243 (18-74) with two doubles, two triples, six walks & seven RBIs. He posted a .959 fielding % in 14 games at second & short, with a .100% in six games at short. Barnes played in the minor leagues through the 1975 season, retiring at age 28.

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