Steve Dillon: Former Bronx Native Who Pitched in The First Night Game at Shea Stadium Then 58 Years Later at Old Timers Day at Citi Field (1963-1964)

Stephen Edward Dillon
was born on May 20th, 1943, in Yonkers, New York. He was raised in the Bronx & attended Cardinal Hayes High School. 

The five-foot ten left-handed pitcher was originally signed by the A.L. New York club in 1962. That year he was 14-7 in the Florida State League at Fort Lauderdale.

In November of 1962 he was drafted away by the new National League team, the New York Mets in the first-year draft. 

He pitched at AAA Buffalo going 4-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 31 games, making 22 starts. 

Mets Debut: He got a September call up making his MLB debut on September 5th, 1963, in St. Louis. Dillon came in relief of Roger Craig the 6th inning with two men on & one out. He got Dick Groat & Bill White to both ground out. 

In the 7th, he gave up three hits including a two-run triple to Tim McCarver, in the Mets 9-0 loss to the Cardinals.

In 1964 he found himself on the Mets staff at the start of the year. He pitched one inning of relief at Pittsburgh on April 24th, allowing a run on Donn Clendenon's sac fly, in a 9-4 loss to the Pirates.

First Night Game at Shea: On May 6th, 1964, the first ever night game was played at Shea Stadium, the Mets hosted the Cincinnati Reds. Dillon was the fifth Mets pitcher of the night, as he came on in the 8th inning with the Mets down 10-4. 

He retired the side in order. In the 9th he gave up a mammoth HR to Vada Pinson, that bounced off the massive Shea Scoreboard. 

Trivia: Dillon later said when he was in the dugout, Mets manager Casey Stengel told him " Listen, if another player hits a home run off that scoreboard & breaks it, you're paying for it."

Dillon then walked Frank Robinson, allowed a base hit to Johnny Edwards & an RBI single to Leo Cardenas. He finished off the Mets 12-4 loss to the Reds that night. It would be Dillon's last appearance in the major leagues.

He was sent down to the NY / Penn. League soon after. He pitched at A Ball Auburn where he was 5-3 with a 3.53 ERA, then at AA Williamsport where he was 1-5 with a .594 ERA. 

In 1965 he spent the year between Auburn & Williamsport once again going a combined 6-3. At Williamsport he posted a 7.50 ERA in six games. After the season he ended his baseball career at 23 years old.

Retirement to NYPD: During the off season & after his playing days Steve worked at Howard Clothes on Fordham Rd. in the Bronx. 

In 1969 at age 26, he became a New York City Police Officer
spending twenty-one years on the force. He then worked private security for another thirty years. 

Family: Steve Dillon & his family of five children, stayed in New York, living in Baldwin, Long Island. His son Steve Dillon Jr. was a NYPD Detective & has been Director of Security at Citi Field since 2017.

Honors: In July 2009, Dillon returned to the Mets, on the pitcher's mound. He was honored throwing out the ceremonial first pitch (along with former Mets pitcher Bill Wakefield).


That night the Mets played the Cincinnati Reds & remembered the first night game played at Shea Stadium, 45 years earlier, between the same two teams. Dillon & Wakefield had both pitched on that evening in 1964.

2022 Old Timers Day: The Mets hosted their first Old Timers Day in 28 years & brought back 65 former players & managers. Long time Mets media director, Jay Horowitz called Dillon in March to see if he was interested.

Quotes- Steve Dillon: "I said, I'm more than interested. Since this began in March it's taken over my mind. Waiting for it to happen. I'm really looking forward to going there. It's going to be an honor to meet all these guys & say hello".

Dillon prepared by throwing to guys at his Raquetball club. 

In the Old Timers Day game, 79-year-old Steve Dillon relieved Jesse Orosco & pitched to batterymate, Todd Zeile. Dillon got to pitch to Mookie Wilson & Daniel Murphy who both collected hits. He was then relieved by Pedro Martinez. It was quite a day for Dillon.

Dillon has stayed friends with Ed Kranepool through the years on Long Island. He was a teammate with Cleon Jones, Frank Thomas, Jay Hook, Ken Mackenzie, Craig Anderson & Ron Swoboda (in the minors) all who were also on hand for the festivities.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

The Story of the New York Mets Logo