Aug 31, 2015

1999 N.L. Wild Card Mets Utility Infielder: Luis Lopez (1997-1999)

Luis Manuel López Santos was Born on September 4, 1970 in Cidra, Puerto Rico. The five foot eleven infielder, was signed as an amateur free agent by the San Diego Padres in 1997. After six years in the minors he made a brief appearance with the Padres playing in 17 games in 1993.

He spent two seasons in San Diego as a reserve infielder, getting traded to the Houston Astros in Spring Training 1997. Two weeks later he was traded to the New York Mets for Tim Bogar.

Lopez batted .330 with 4 HRs 19 RBIs in 48 games at AAA Norfolk, getting brought up to the Mets squad in June 1997. He would play a utility role at short stop (45 games) second base (20 games) & third base (4 games). On September 14th he hit his only HR of the season, scoring the only run in a 1-0 Mets win over the Montreal Expos. On the year he batted .270 with one HR 12 doubles & 19 RBIs.

Lopez would play in 117 games in 1998 behind Carlos Baerga at second (50 games) & Rey Ordonez at short (39 games) in the middle of the Mets infield. He was a valuable defensive player that also hit .252 at the plate.

That year he hit two HRs one at Fenway Park in Boston during interleague play & the other at Shea. It came against the Atlanta Braves' Bruce Chen in the second inning. He later doubled home two more runs, off Dennis Martinez.

In the Mets 1999 Wild Card season, Lopez played in 68 games on the year, 33 at short stop, 16 at second & 9 at third base. On April 11th he drove in two runs having a three hit day, in a 6-3 win in Montreal.

On May 10th he hit one of two HRs on the season, the other came against the Dodgers in a 10-3 Mets loss. On the year he hit .212 with a .309 on base % 2 HRs 4 doubles & 13 RBIs. He did not play in the post season and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Bill Pulsipher in January 2000.

Lopez played two years in Milwaukee having his best year in 2000. He doubled home two runs in the Brewers 4-0 win over the Florida Marlins in early April. In May he hit a HR against the Braves & added another the next month.

At the end of August he found power hitting a HR on August 23rd & another on August 31st. That day he had a big three hit, three RBI day at Arizona. In September he hit two more HRs & had three multi RBI games. he finished the year batting .264 with 6 HRs 27 RBIs.

He spent two seasons there backing up Mark Loretta, Ronnie Beliard & Tyler Houston. He then moved on to the Baltimore Orioles (2002 /2004) & Cincinnati Reds (2005).

In a eleven year career, Lopez batted .241 with 390 hits 22 HRs 85 doubles 7 triples 10 stolen bases 151 RBIs & a .293 on base %.

Mid 2000's Mets Pitcher: Victor Zambrano (2004-2006)

Victor Manuel Zambrano was born August 6, 1975 in Los Teques, Venezuela. The six foot right hander began his career as an infielder before converting over to a pitcher. He was originally signed by the A.L. New York team in 1993. He was eventually released and signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1996.

In Tampa he pitched well enough to establish himself as the ace of their weak pitching staff. He had a good sinking fastball, to go along with a decent change up but suffered with control issues. He was good at holding runners on base and was a solid defensive player, due to the fact he was a former infielder.

He debuted in June 2001 as a relief pitcher going 6-2 with two saves & a 3.16 ERA. He may have had the best control of his career at this point, striking out 58 batters while only walking 18.

In 2002 he posted a 8-8 record & was beginning to get used in a starting role. In 2003 he won a career high 12 games, leading manager Lou Pinella's staff as the only picher to win in double figures. On the year he went 12-10 with a 4.21 ERA but had big control issues.

He led the American league in walks (106), wild pitches (15) & hit batters (20). Zambrano pitched 188 innings & had 135 strike outs as well. In 2004 he was having a decent year going 9-7 although he was leading the AL in walks & had posted an ERA over four, when he was involved in a big trade that was terrible for the New York Mets. Overall in three and a half seasons in Tampa, he went 35-27 with an ERA well above four.

On July 30, 2004 Zambrano was traded along with Bartolome Fortunato to the New York Mets for highly touted prospect Scott Kazmir. The deal became highly publicized as the Mets fans & the New York media were outraged about giving up the Mets top pitching prospect. Zambrano was never a proven ace & certainly wasn’t going to help the Mets get to the playoffs, despite what upper management thought.

The deal still haunted the Mets for years; the Kazmir/ Zambrabo trade goes down with the likes of the Joe Foy, Jim Fregosi, Juan Samuel & Bobby Bonilla deals. Kazmir became the ace of the young Tampa Rays staff, and pitched in the 2008 World Series, while Zambrano pitched in New York for parts of three seasons & was finished by 2007.

Zambrano made his Mets debut on August 5th in Milwaukee and gave up six runs over five innings of work to the Brewers. But even with such a bad outing, he earned a win that day, as David Wright drove in six runs leading the team to victory. Zambrano won his next start as well, allowing just one run over seven innings pitched in Houston against the Astros. He was then shut down for the rest of the year with an injury, finishing with a 2-0 Mets record by August 17th.

In 2005 he lost his first start to the Atlanta Braves pitching five innings allowing just two earned runs in the 4th game of the year. He then beat the Phillies for his first win on April 19th and was 1-3 by the end of April. But by the All Star break he was 4-8 with a 3.51 ERA. He would allow at least one earned run in every start he made & allowed four or more earned runs in seven different outings on the season.

By September he was in the bullpen pitching in relief, as he finished the year at 7-12 with a 4.17 ERA. He allowed 77 earned runs with 77 walks in 166 innings pitched, giving up 170 hits while striking out 112 batters. He wasn’t the most popular guy at Shea Stadium especially from there on as he never got any better.

In 2006 the Mets had a much better team, he earned a win in his first outing even though he allowed three runs. The Mets won the game beating the Nationals in D.C 13-4, it was his only win of the year. On May 6th after just five appearances, Zambrano suffered a torn elbow tendon and needed his second Tommy John surgery. He was done for the most of the next two seasons and the Mets released him.

He tried brief comebacks with Baltimore & Toronto going 0-3 in that time but his career over. In a seven year career Zambrano went 45-44 with three saves, 529 strikeouts 404 walks and a 4.64 ERA in 706.3 innings pitched in 187 games.

Drama: In October of 2009 his mother was kidnapped in Venezuela, but was luckily rescued three days later by the national police. Three of the four suspects were arrested for the crime.

In 2009 Zambrano pitched in the Taiwan baseball league. He also pitched for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, pitching two games against Team USA. In his second outing he threw three scoreless innings.

Late Eighties Mets Pitcher: David West (1988-1989)

David Lee West was born on September 1st, 1964 at Memphis Tennessee. The tall six foot six, lefty got signed by the New York Mets right out of high school, in the fourth round of the 1983 draft.

West won ten games or more for three straight seasons at Columbia & Jackson from 1985-1987.

In 1988 he was 12-4 with a 1.80 ERA at AAA Tidewater, earning himself a September call up to the Mets staff. He made his MLB debut at St. Louis on September 24th as the Mets starting pitcher. He pitched five innings & earned his first victory as the Mets romped the St. Louis Cardinals 14-1. He made one other appearance in relief at Philadelphia. In 1989 after six relief appearances, the Mets gave him two starts, in which he lost both games. Overall he was 0-2 in eleven appearances posting a 7.40 ERA.

At the end of July he was traded along with Rick Aguilera & Kevin Tapani to the Minnesota Twins, for former Cy Young winner, Long Island born Frank Viola. West went 3-2 the rest of the season in Minnesota posting a 6.41 ERA in ten games with five starts. Over the next two years he was used mostly as a starter, going 7-9 in 1990.

In 1991 he was 4-4 making 15 starts before going to the bull pen, posting a 4-4 record. In the ALCS he was the winning pitcher in the final Game #5 pitching a scoreless 5th inning as the Twins went on to win 8-5. In the World Series he had a nightmare of a 5th inning in Game #3 as he allowed four earned runs retiring no batters giving him an ERA measured at infinity. By 1992 he was put in the bullpen and only appeared in nine games during the regular season.

In 1993 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mike Hartley, there he became a strong middle reliever /set up man. He went 6-4 with three saves while making 76 appearances for the 1993 NL Champions. He pitched in six post season games but was not effective.

Post Season: In the NLCS he allowed five runs in just 2.2 innings pitched (13.50 ERA) & then West allowed three more runs in just one inning pitched in the World Series loss against the Blue Jays. His World Series ERA was 27.00. Overall he got beat up for eight earned runs over just four innings pitched, giving him an ERA of over 20.00 in that post season.

He spent four more season in Philadelphia, going 4-10 in 1994 as he attempted to once again become a starter. He was granted free agency, and pitched in Japan for one season in 1997.

In 1998 he appeared in only six games with the Boston Red Sox before finishing his ten year career at 31-38 with three saves & a 4.66 ERA in 569 innings pitched over 204 games.

Retirement: Since his playing days he teaches a youth baseball school with former major leaguer Garth Iorg.

Aug 29, 2015

Former Mets Prospect- Tug's Brother: Hank McGraw (1961-1966)

Henry Thomas McGraw was born on January 26th, 1943 in Oakland, California. He was the older brother & hero of Tug McGaw, who always looked up to his older brother.

The McGraw’s mother had mental issues & had to leave the home when they were boys. Hank, the eldest, took care of the two younger brothers after school while their dad was at work.

Their youngest brother Denny, had gotten in to trouble & was put in a mental institution after he hit a police officer. He blamed the family & they were told to stay away from him. Years later Denny McGraw killed his neighbor after an argument in broad day light, shocking Hank.

Hank was a hippie type of free spirited guy who like his brother marched to a beat of a different drummer. He had long hair & a moustache before it was acceptable in baseball. He once said he was suspended three or four months due to his hair & appearance.

Then a year or two later the Oakland A’s won the World Series with long hair, mutton chops & afros & it was accepted. Hank would sit with black players when there was segregation on team buses & restaurants in the sixties. He would make beaded glass jewelry that he wore & gave to his team mates for their girlfriends.

When the Mets wanted to sign Hank, he told them only if they looked at his younger brother Frank “Tug” McGraw, the rest is history. Hank was an outfielder, catcher & first baseman signed as one of the Mets first bonus babies back in 1961 before they were even in the league. In 1964 Hank drove in a career best 100 runs (third in the league) hitting 20 HRs & batting .268 with the A ball Salinas Mets as a team mate to Bud Harrelson.

In 1965 as Tug was making his MLB debut, Hank was promoted to AA Williamsport batting .252 with 18 HRs (5th in the league) & 71 RBIs (8th in the league).

The McGraw Brothers
That year he was the team’s primary catcher, handling pitchers like Jerry Koosman & future Mets; Bob Moorhead Rob Gardner & Les Rohr. The next season he played 59 games at Williamsport getting to the Jacksonville Suns, for just one game.

The Mets organization let Hank go to The L.A. Angels organization then he was borrowed by Baltimore where he won the EL HR crown. In 1969 as Tug was winning a World Series with the Mets, Hank batted .302 in 95 games at Reading (not qualifying) but would have finished third in the league.

Hank played 12 seasons of minor league ball finishing up in 1972; overall he hit .263 with 160 HRs & 490 RBIs.

After baseball he became somewhat of a drifter, growing his hair long, sporting a big walrus moustache & had a gold earring in his ear. In the early eighties he became a coach at a low level of the Phillies minor leagues.

He had a number of different jobs after baseball; coach, waiter, bartender, singer, ceramic maker, solvent factory worker, got married divorced & had a daughter whom he lost touch with.

Hank remained close to Tug until his death, & also hung around with his nephew country music star Tim McGraw as he toured the country with his band.

Mets All Time Team -SNY's 50th Anniversary special
Hank continues Tug McGraw's legacy helping run the Tug McGraw Foundation & telling stories of his brother career at various functions.

He was a guest, representing his brother on SNY's Mets All Time in 2012, honoring the clubs 50th anniversary.

Aug 28, 2015

One Time New York Mets Outfielder: Claudell Wahington (1980)

Claudell Washington was born August 31, 1954 in Los Angeles, California. He did not play high school ball, but was spotted on a sandlot field in Berkley California, by the Oakland A’s scouts. He was signed to a contract in 1972, and quickly added to their World Champion roster by 1974.

Owner Charley O Finley loved speed on the bases & on the field. He threw Washington in a line up with six times AL base stealing champion Bert Campaneris, as well as 1973’s AL leading base stealer, Billy North. This made for an incredibly fast team that stole 164 bases, North (54) Campy (34) pinch runner Herb Washington (29) & Reggie Jackson added (25).

Washington was only 20 years old in his first season, he hit .285 with six stolen bases over 73 games. In the 1974 ALCS he went 3-11 with a double in four games against the Baltimore Orioles. In the first All California World Series in 1974, he hit .625 (4-7) with a walk & a run scored against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That year the A's won their third straight Series title. In 1975 he became a regular in the Oakland outfield alongside Jackson & North, as Joe Rudi moved over to first base.

Washington was one of the youngest players to make an All Star team ever being just 20. That year he was second in the league in steals with 40, leading his A's team mates. He hit .308 (5th in the league) scoring 86 runs with seven triples 24 doubles 10 HRs & 77 RBIs, as Oakland won their fifth straight A.L. West title. In the ALCS he hit .250 with a double & RBI losing to the Boston Red Sox.

As Charlie Finley sold off all his star players and the Oakland A’s Dynasty fell apart, Washington too was soon traded away. He was sent to the Texas Rangers for Jim Umbarger, Rodney Scott & cash prior to the 1977 season. He hit .285 & stole 21 bases in Texas before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Bobby Bonds midway through the 1978 season. He had another .280 season in 1979 and hit three HRs in a game that July. Washington would spend parts of three seasons with the White Sox days of their wild all black uniforms. He was hitting .289 in June of 1980 when he got traded to the New York Mets for minor leaguer Jesse Anderson.

In his first Mets game, on June 11th, 1980 he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He then became a regular in the ’80 Mets outfield alongside Steve Henderson & Joel Youngblood.

His biggest day came on June 22, 1980 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He became one of the very few players to hit three HRs in a game both leagues. That day he was 4-5 with three HRs & five RBIs. He hit two of the HRs off Dave Goltz & another off knunckle ball pitcher Charlie Hough ( a future Mets coach).

Claudell hit another HR in his next game, which came at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Starting on July 3rd he drove in runs in nine of his next ten games, gathering 15 hits over that period. He had ten multiple hit games in the month of August but cooled off in September. On October 1st, Fan Appreciation Day at Shea, he went 3-5 with a HR, a stolen base & two RBIs in the last home game of the 1980 season.

Washington finished 1980 hitting .278 with 11 HRs 20 doubles 6 triples 21 stolen bases a .326 on base % & 54 RBIs. His time in New York with the Mets only lasted four months, after the season he fled, signing with the Atlanta Braves.

In his first year in Atlanta he hit .291 with 5 HRs 37 RBIs & 12 stolen bases. He spent over five seasons with the Braves, at Fulton County Stadium. He would steal thirty or more bases twice & have twenty or more swipes three times with the Braves. He hit 15 or more HRs twice in his time at Atlanta, batting over .280 twice as well.

In 1982 he won a divisional title under Joe Torre in Atlanta, hitting 16 HRs with a career high 80 RBIs & 33 stolen bases. The Braves lost to the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS as Washington hit .333 (3-9) with two walks.

In 1985 he was caught with possession of marijuana and was ordered to submit to a drug diversion program. In the latter part of his career, he hustled more & played with a much more positive attitude. This resulted in some good seasons, although he never reached the potential he had showed in his first two years at Oakland.

In 1986 he got traded to the A.L. New York club, hitting .308 there with 15 stolen bases 11 HRs &64 RBIs. He would spend three years there & In 1988 he moved on to the California Angels.

He spent parts of two seasons there & finished up his career back with New York in 1990. In his 17 year career he hit .278 stealing 312 bases with 1884 hits 164 HRs 824 RBIs 334 doubles 926 runs scored & 69 triples.

Honors: He has the distinction of striking out the most times against Nolan Ryan (39). He was also featured at bat, hitting the foul ball that Mathew Broderick caught in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

The game took place at Wrigley Field in which the Chicago Cubs hosted the Atlanta Braves.

Former Mets Catcher: Henry Blanco (2010)

Henry Ramon Blanco was born on August 29th, 1971 in Caracas, Venezuela. The five foot eleven catcher got drafted as an amateur free agent in 1989 by the Los Angeles, Dodgers. The catcher spent seven years toiling in the minors before making to the Dodgers big league squad in 1997.

His best asset was always his good arm & his defensive abilities behind the plate. He made a career at being at being a solid backup catcher in Los Angeles (1997) then with the Colorado Rockies (1999) Milwaukee Brewers (2000-2001) Atlanta Braves (2002-2003) Minnesota Twins (2004) Chicago Cubs (2005-2008) San Diego Padres (2009) the New York Mets (2010) & Arizona D-backs (2011-2012) Toronto Blue Jays (2013) Seattle Mariners (2013).

Defensively, he has a strong arm and has excelled in throwing out base runners. In 1999 he led all catchers throwing out 39 runners, and would throw out over 30 runners twice more coming in second place in the league's top ten both times. In those seasons he led in caught stealing percentage, and has thrown out over 40% of would be base stealers seven times in his career. He is second best at that percentage (43%) among all active catchers. His .994 fielding percentage is 16th best all time behind the plate. In his career he has only made 37 errors in 892 games & over 6938 innings played.

Besides his defense he will always be remembered for his tattooed arms, not the most common site among baseball players until recently.

In 2004 he was the Twins main catcher in the year Johan Santana won his first Cy Young Award. Blanco played in 114 games hitting 10 HRs with 19 doubles & 37 RBIs. Behind the plate he caught 49% of runners trying to steal (best in the AL), thirty runners in all (second in the league). The Twins won the A.L. Western title that year. In Game #4 of the NLDS he hit a HR off Javier Vazquez in the 6-5 loss.

The next season a he signed a four year deal with the Chicago Cubs and played as back up, first to Michael Barrett & then Geovany Soto. There he became a popular player and earned the nickname of "Hank White".

In the 2008 Chicago Cubs NL Central Division winning season, Blanco hit for his personal career best .292 with a .325 on base % in 58 games.

After four years with the Cubs, Blanco signed on with the New York Mets in 2010 to share catching responsibilities with Rod Barrajas.

In his first Mets game on April 10th, he got the start behind the plate catching Oliver Perez. Perez would allow four quick runs & be gone. In the 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals, Blanco drove in a run on a sac fly and had two hits. On May 8th, he hit his first Mets HR & it was an exciting one. It was a walk off game winner at Citi Field against the San Francisco Giants. That night he had a big three hit game and would close out the month with another three hit game against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

On June 10th he hit another HR at big Citi Field, a two run shot against the San Diego Padres. Rod Barajas was hitting a lot of HRs early on & seeing the majority of the playing time in New York, until he was traded late in the season. Then young catcher Josh Thole began to get into games with Blanco seeing less time. Overall Behind the plate, in 46 games Blanco threw out 11 of 22 base runners attempting to steal (50%). He was let go to free agency after the season & signed on with the Arizona D-backs at the age of 39.

He played two seasons there as a back up to Miguel Montero, making the post season in 2011 going 0-1.

In 2013 he was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays appearing in just 15 games before getting released. He was picked up by the Seattle Mariners and hit a grand slam HR on June 15th, his first game in a Mariners uniform. It came during a 4-0 "King" Felix Hernandez shutout of the Oakland Athletics. At age 41 he was one of the oldest players in the league & retired at the end of the season.

In a long 16 year career he is a .223 hitter with 72 HRs 145 doubles 11 triples 298 RBIs & a .288 on base %. Behind the plate he has caught 914 games throwing out 43% of would be base stealers. He has also helped turn 78 double plays (97th all time) & made 5659 put outs (84th all time).

Drama: In 2008 his brother Carlos was kidnapped in Venezuela, and the criminal’s asked for 200 million Venezuelan bolívares. Henry attempted to negotiate but his brother was sadly found dead shortly after.

Aug 27, 2015

Early Nineties Mets Speedster: Chuck Carr (1990-1991)

Charles Lee Glenn Carr was born on August 10, 1967 in San Bernardino, California. The switch hitting speedy outfielder was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in the 9th round of the 1986 draft. Over the next two years he moved to three organizations mostly due to his bad attitude.

By 1989 he was with the New York Mets, stealing 47 bases at AA Jackson, but only hitting .241. In 1990 he made a one game appearance with the Mets in late April, filling in a quick roster spot going 0-1. Back at Jackson, he stole 48 bases in 93 games & was promoted to AAA Tidewater. In 20 games there, he hit .259 stole six more bases & was briefly brought up to the Mets big league squad again in August.

He mostly was used as a pinch runner in two games, stealing a base against the San Diego Padres in a 2-1 Bob Ojeda win on August 25th. With the Mets, Carr first donned uniform #1, this just a season after Mookie Wilson had been traded to Toronto, he then switched to uniform #27.

In 1991 he was up for two games in June, where he was used as a pinch runner stealing another base. He was sent back to AAA Tidewater but hit just .195.

He was back with the Mets from August 16th - August 28th but hit just .182 on the year in 12 games. In December 1991 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals organization for a minor leaguer.

From there he was chosen as the 14th pick of the expansion Florida Marlins. He became one of the teams first top players, as he led the NL in stolen bases (58) as well as caught stealing (23) batting .267 with 19 doubles & 75 runs scored. He played a centerfield as well & came in fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. That was the Year Mike Piazza won the Award. He would play outfield alongside Jeff Conine & Gary Sheffield the next two seasons, stealing 32 & 25 bases respectively.

By 1995 he fell off to a .227 average & his attitude wasn't the most positive one in the clubhouse. In November of 1995 the Marlins signed free agent Devon White & the writing is on the wall for Carr. He is soon traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a minor leaguer.

On Opening Day 1996 he had a huge debut for the Brew Crew, hitting a HR, driving & scoring three runs in the 15-6 win at Anaheim over the Angels. His hitting fell off & he was still batting .274 at the end of May when he went down for the season with injury. While playing with the Brewers he was best remembered for popping up on a 2-0 pitch, after being given the take sign by third base coach; Chris Bando.

Carr was leading off the inning, with Milwaukee down 4-1 to the Angels. The call came from then Brewer Manager; Phil Garner. When questioned Carr said " That aint Chuckies game. Chuckie hacks on 2-0." Carr was soon released from the team, at the time he was batting just .184.

He finished the season & his playing career in Houston with the Astros that same year. In his eight year career, Carr batted .254 with 435 hits, 81 doubles, 7 triples, 13 HRs 123 RBIs, 144 stolen bases & a .316 on base %. He played in 484 games in the outfield making 28 assists with a .984 fielding %.

Retirement: By 1999 he was playing in the Independent Atlantic League for the Atlantic City Surf. In 2000 he played for Bud Harrelson, who had been his manager with the Mets, on the Long Island Ducks. Carr later became a minor league coach in the Astros organization.

Former Italian / American Pitcher Turned Broadcaster: Tom Candiotti (1983-1999)

Thomas Caesar Candiotti was born August 31, 1957 in Walnut Creek, California. The six foot three right hander was a knuckle ball pitcher that would pitch 16 seasons in the major leagues.

He was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1980 but was claimed in the Rule 5 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. An injury had him miss the entire 1982 season.

He debuted in August of 1983 making a relief appearance against his old Royals team. On August 17th he made his first start & pitched a complete game victory over the Boston Red Sox. He won his first four games & then lost his next four, going 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA in his first season. 

After two seasons in Milwaukee he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. In 1986 he had a breakthrough season, leading the league with 17 complete games, posting a 16-12 (9th most wins in the AL) record with 167 strike outs a 3.57 ERA (10th in the AL) .

He had an off season the next year losing 18 games, for the Indians team that lost 101. Candiotti then went on to win 13 games or more for the next four years. In 1992 he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, and spent the next seven years in their rotation.

In 1992 he had the second best ERA in the league at 2.65, but lost a league leading 15 games. He then posted four losing seasons in five years, going 7-7 in 1994 for a .500 season. In 1996 he made one relief appearance in the NLDS loss to the Atlanta Braves.

In the final year of his contract he went 10-7 & that off season signed on with Oakland Athletics. In 1998 Candiotti once again led the league in losses, going 11-16 and then retired after the 1999 season at age 42.

Candiotti was a better pitcher than his stats show, he was a work horse who put in a lot of innings with quality starts & low earned run averages. His knuckle ball gave him longevity, pitching over 200 innings nine times, giving him 2725 over his 16 year career.

He went 151-164 with a 3.73 ERA in 410 starts (111th all time) in 451 games. He struck out 1735 (108th all time) including five seasons of 140 or more. He threw 68 complete games & 11 shut outs, walked 883 (172nd all time) & allowed 250 HRs (107th all time).

Retirement: Candiotti is an accomplished bowler averaging over 200 in Arizona Bowling leagues. He has earned himself a spot in the Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis & is only the second pro athlete to be inducted.

After baseball he worked as a special assistant to the GM in Cleveland, then went in to broadcasting. He did games for ESPN, worked on Baseball Tonight & covered the Little League World Series. He is currently a broadcaster for Arizona Diamondbacks games.

His ex-wife Donna, is a successful realtor & did a tell all interview about being a baseball wife, that can be found on line. 

Aug 25, 2015

One Time Italian / American Mets Pitcher: Ricky Bottalico (2004)

Ricky Paul Bottalico was born on August 26, 1969 in New Britain, Connecticut. He played high school ball at Hartford, and was discovered playing in a semi pro league there. The six foot right hander was signed the Philadelphia Phillies in 1991.

He began his minor league career as a starter, but with a fastball in the upper nineties & a hard curve, he was converted to a reliever. After one season, he became a closer and moved quickly through the organization. He saved over twenty games in both 1993 & 1994 getting to the Phillies big league club for good by 1995.

In 1996 he became the teams closer, replacing Heathcliff Slocumb. Bottalico was the Phillies sole representative at the 1996 All Star Game played right at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. That season he had his best year, posting 34 saves for the first of two straight seasons, finishing up eighth in the NL both times. He went 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA, striking out 74 batters in 67 innings.

After five seasons with the Phillies, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Garrett Stephenson for Jeff Brantley, Ron Gant and Cliff Politte. In 1999 he saved 20 games in St. Louis, going 3-7 with a 4.91 ERA and was let go to free agency.

He signed with the Kansas City Royals and had his last quality year as a closer there, saving 16 games. He went back to the Philadelphia Phillies (2001-2002) then to the Arizona D-backs (2003) before signing with the New York Mets for 2004.

He began the year at AAA Norfolk where he pitched only five innings before getting called up to the Mets in early May. Bottalico made his Mets debut, pitching in relief of Jae Weong Seo at Shea Stadium, on May 5th in an 8-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. On May 18th he pitched two scoreless innings of relief earning a win against the St. Louis Cards.

On June 1st he earned a win against his old Phillie team mates, when the Mets scored three runs in the top of the 9th inning for a 4-1 win. After taking a loss in an extra inning, game he won his third Mets game during an inter league match up against the Cleveland Indians. By the end of June his ERA was still under two & he was a fine addition to the Mets bullpen.

But then he blew leads in back to back games of the subway series matchups, relieving Mike Stanton who got into trouble as well, although the Mets came back to win both games. The first on a Shane Spencer fielder's choice in the bottom of the 9th off Tanyon Sturtze & then next on a 4th of July, 8th inning HR by Ty Wigginton off Tom Gordon.

Bottalico would appear in 60 games for the Mets, going 3-2 with 12 holds credited to him, 61 strike outs & 34 walks in 69 innings pitched with a 3.38 ERA. He was granted free agency in November & signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 2005. There he went 2-2 getting two more saves, making 40 appearances.

In his 12 year career he was 33-42 with 116 saves, 575 strike outs & 316 walks in 628 innings, posting a 3.99 ERA in 562 appearances.

Retirement: Since his playing days he has become a Phillies analyst for Com Cast Sports in Philadelphia.

Aug 24, 2015

Remembering Mets History: (1969) Mets Pitchers Allow Just Three Earned Runs Over Six Games

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
Saturday August 16th, 1969: A big crowd came out to Shea Stadium to see Gil Hodges second place Mets (63-51) host Preston Gomes last place San Diego Padres (35-82) in a afternoon doubleheader.

Tom Seaver took the mound, shutting down the Padres for eight innings allowing no runs on four hits with four strike outs. Ron Taylor closed the door in the 9th with his 11th save, securing Seaver's 17th win (17-7). 

In the Mets 5th, Tommie Agee singled in Baud Harrelson for the first run. Bobby Pfeil singled in Jerry Grote for a 7th inning insurance run. The Padres Tommie Sisk took the loss (0-7).

In the night cap, another fine Mets pitcher Jim McAndrew won his fourth game, pitching seven innings allowing just one run on three hits, striking out seven Padres. Tug McGraw came on for two scoreless innings of relief sealing the double header sweep.

The game was tied going into the 7th inning, when Ron Swoboda reached on an error. With two outs, Bud Harrelson drew a walk & then Jerry Grote singled, bringing in the winning run.

Sunday August 17th, 1969: As the Woodstock Festival was going into it's third day in Upstate New York the Mets hosted the Padres & swept them once againin a Twin Bill at Shea Stadium.

In the first game Jerry Koosman tossed a complete game victory, allowing two runs & five hits. He went to 10-8 on the year defeating Joe Niekro. A Duffy Dyer three run HR in the 5th was all the offense needed.

In the night cap, Don Cardwell beat Clay Kirby in another 3-2 squeeker. Cardwell threw seven shut out innings, he was relieved by Cal Koonce & Ron Taylor who pitched the final two innings. The two Padre runs were both unearned, coming on two Mets errors in the 8th.

In the 7th inning, Ed Kranepool singled & Jerry Grote walked. Bud Harrelson followed with a triple bringing both runners in. J.C. Martin followed with a sac fly for the game winning run.

Tuesday August 19th, 1969: The third place San Francisco Giants (64-56) came to Shea Stadium for a mid week series.

As usual all the old NY Giants fans came out & a big crowd of 48,968 settled in for what was to be a great game. The Mets sent young Gary Gentry to the mound to face off against future Hall of Famer; Juan Marichal.

Gentry was excellent going a full ten innings shutting out the mighty Giants, on just four scattered hits. He walked four & struck out five.

The only problem for the Mets was Marichal was just as good, Marichal stayed in the game pitching all the way into the bottom of the 14th inning. Up to that point he allowed no runs on just five hits, walking one & striking out 13 Mets.

With one out in the 14th, Tommie Agee stepped in & hit a dramatic walk off HR off Marichal, his 21st HR of the year. It was an exciting win for the Mets, as the win streak went to five games. Although they were still eight games out of first, the Mets were already the Amazing Mets & believed they could win this thing. Now they were proving it to the world.

Wednesday August 20th, 1969: In this game it was Jim McAndrew's turn to shine once again, in this outstanding week of Mets pitching. In the 1st inning McAndrew allowed a double to Don Mason & then a triple to Mason in the 3rd inning.

Out of all the powerful hitters in the Giants line up, like; Willie Mays, Willie McCovey &  Bobby Bonds, it was Mason (a career .205 hitter) who got the only two hits of the day off McAndrew.

McAndrew was outstanding, shutting out the Giants on two hits, six strike outs & three walks. He bested his record on a star studded staff to 5-5 as a quality fill in guy during the 1969 Miracle Mets season. McAndrew would also be a part of the 1973 Mets Pennant winning staff. On this day he beat another Hall of Famer; Gaylord Perry.

The Mets got to Perry for six runs, led by an Art Shamsky three run HR & RBI double. Another Bud Harrelson RBI triple accounted for a run, along with a Tommie Agee RBI.

In this week of great Mets pitching the staff allowed just three earned runs in 54 innings of work. The Mets won six straight,  and 14 of 16 games going into September. They were now just four games behind the fading Chicago Cubs.