May 7, 2015

Yonkers Born Mets Pitcher Who Pitched In The First Night Game At Shea Stadium: Steve Dillon (1963-1964)

Stephen Edward Dillon was born on May 20th 1943 in Yonkers, New York.

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 York Mets in the first year draft. He pitched at AAA Buffalo going 4-6 with a 4.94 ERA. He got a September call up pitching in one game, making his MLB debut on September 5th 1963 against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Dillon pitched the 6th inning allowing two runs on three hits, exiting in the 7th.

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 a hit in a 9-4 loss to the Pirates.

On May 6th 1964, he pitched in the first ever night game at Shea Stadium. He came into the game in the 8th inning & finished off the Mets 12-4 loss to the Pirates.

He was the fifth Mets pitcher that night; Bill Wakefield got the start, relieved by Ron Locke in the 5th & then Larry Bearnarth. In the 6th inning, Ed Bauta came on gave up two runs in two innings & was relieved by Dillon to start the 8th.

Dillon allowed two runs, including a 9th inning solo HR to Vada Pinson. Pinsons blast hit the massive Shea scoreboard in right field. Legend has it, Mets manager Casey Stengel told him " Listen, if another player hits a home run off that scoreboard and breaks it, you're paying for it."

It would be Dillon's last appearance in the major leagues.

He was sent to the NY / Penn. League that year as well as pitching in Williamsport where he was 1-5.

Retirement: Dillon finished his playing career in 1965 & became a New York City Police Officer for twenty plus years.

Honors: In July 2009, Dillon returned to the Mets, on the pitchers 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.

Steve Dillon now resides in Baldwin, Long Island.

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