May 23, 2015

Former N.L. Rookie of the Year & Late Seventies Mets Pitcher: Butch Metzger (1978)

Clarence Edward Metzger was born on May 23, 1952 in Lafayette, Indiana. The six foot right hander went to high school in Sacramento, California at La Salle, getting drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 1970 draft.

Metzger was a starter in the minor leagues, by 1973 he was 10-3 at A ball Amarillo getting moved up through the ranks. In 1974 he was 12-10 at AAA Phoenix getting a call up to the Giants that same year.

At Candlestick Park he only pitched in four games before getting traded down the Coast to the San Diego Padres along with Tito Fuentes in exchange for infielder Darrell Thomas. He got a cup of coffee in 1975 after going 15-7 at AAA Hawaii, but was still having serious control issues.

By 1976 he made the Padre staff and surprised everyone by winning the Rookie of the Year Award, sharing the honors with future Met, Cincinnati’s Pat Zachary. Metzger pitched strictly as a reliever getting to 10-0 by August and already had himself eleven saves.

Going into September he tied former New York Giants pitcher Hooks Wiltse's record of winning the first twelve decisions to start out a career.

Metzger finished out the year at 11-4 with 16 saves (5th most in the league) posting a 2.92 ERA. He finished the most games in the league (62) striking out 89 batters in 123 innings pitched.

In 1977 he struggled again with control issues, walking 12 batters in 22 innings pitched, and not earning any saves or wins. He was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher John D'Acquisto & infielder Pat Scanlon. He went 4-2 with seven saves posting a 3.11 ERA for the rest of the 1977 season, pitching in a solid St. Louis Cardinal bullpen.

But the Cards soon traded away their main closer “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky to the Kansas City Royals for Mark Little. Metzger too became expendable getting placed on waivers where he was picked up by The New York on April 5, 1978.

Metzger pitched middle relief in 25 games for the ’78 Mets getting credit for three holds. His biggest highlight came on May 27th when he earned a win pitching one inning, in the 9-7 Mets win at the Houston Astrodome.

Overall he was 1-3 with a 6.51 ERA, walking 23 batters in 37 innings with 21 strike outs. The Mets were not impressed and were concerned about his control issue history. By July his contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies, but he never made it out of the minor leagues.

Retirement: In his five year career Metzger was 18-9 with 23 saves & a 3.74 ERA, pitching 293 innings, walking 140 batters while striking out 175.

After baseball the former Rookie of the Year, became an longtime MLB scout.

He was elected to the Sacramento, La Salle high school Hall of Fame in 2013.

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