Oct 22, 2015

1969 World Champion Amazing Mets Outfielder: Art Shamsky (1968-1971)

Arthur Louis Shamsky was born October 14, 1941, in St. Louis, Missouri. Art Shamsky grew up a Cardinals fan & his hero was Stan the Man Musial.

He went to the same high school as future big league pitcher Ken Holtzman. Other notable school alumni are Tennessee Williams & Mets outfielder Bernard Gilkey.

The six foot one, left hand hitting outfielder would also play at first base.

In 1959 Shamsky was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cincinnati Reds. At age 18 he was Pete Rose roommate for the 1960 Geneva Red legs, and homered in his first at-bat there.

He led all outfielders in assists & was second in the league with 18 HRs just ahead of future MLB sluggers; Tony Perez and Dick Allen. Shamsky got to the AAA Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres in 1963 & the following season hit 25 HRs behind Tony Perez’s league leading 34.

In April of 1965, Shamsky made the Reds team debuting against his favorite child hood team the Cardinals & striking out against Bob Gibson. He ended up getting in 64 games as a reserve outfielder behind Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson & Tommy Harper. He batted .260 with two HRs & 10 RBIs in 64 games played.

In 1966 he made the club once again as a reserve outfielder being used mostly as a pinch hitter. From August 12th through August 14th 1966 he tied an MLB record by hitting HRs in four consecutive at bats.

In the first game of a double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the 12th, he hit HRs against Al Mcbean in the 8th inning, Roy Face in the 10th inning & another off Billy O'dell in the 11th inning.

On that day he also became the first player in Reds history to hit two HRs in an extra inning game.

On the 14th he tied the consecutive HR record when he came in to pinch hit in the 7th inning & connected off Vern Law of the Pirates.

The other players who had accomplished this feat were; Ralph Kiner, Stan Musial, Hank Greenberg & Mickey Mantle. The bat that he used to set the HR record is on display in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame.

In just 234 at bats on the year he was second on the club to Deron Johnson with 21 HRs. He also had 14 doubles with 4 triples & 47 RBIs. In 1967 he battled injuries and hit just .197 with 3 HRs & 13 RBIs in 76 games. Before the 1968 season he was traded to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson.

Shamsky debuted on Opening Day 1968 getting two hits in the 5-4 Mets loss to the San Francisco Giants. In his first seven games as a Met he was batting .391 with five RBIs. On May 7th he hit a two run HR off Nelson Briles helping the Mets beat his childhood favorite Cards 4-2. At the end of the month he was batting .286 with 10 RBIs in 32 games played. 

From June 16th to the 26th he had a power surge belting four HRs in that period, driving in seven runs. His average fell of through the summer and he fell to .218 by mid August. On a road trip to Cincinnati he hit HRs in back to back games against his old team mates. On August 30th he hit a grand slam off Nelson Briles, leading tom Seaver & the Mets to an exciting 8-2 win at Shea Stadium.

In the week of September 3rd another power surge led to HRs in three of five games in the week. On September 20th he broke a 4-4 tie in Philadelphia with an RBI single scoring Cleon Jones in what turned out to bet he game winning run. He got to play 100 games in 1968 with 300 at bats, hitting .238 with 12 HRs 14 doubles 4 triples & 48 RBIs.

In the 1969 Championship season Shamsky started out on the DL when he injured his back in practice with his roommate Kenny Boswell. He then was sent to AAA Tidewater & hit a grand slam HR in his first game there.

Tides Manager Whitey Herzog said to him “what the hell are you doing down here”. After thirteen games he hit 4 HRs with 12 RBIs & was back on the Mets big league club in mid May.

Shamsky became the regular starter against right-handed pitchers, with Ron Swoboda starting against lefties in Gil Hodges platoon system. He was also a valuable late inning guy and pinch hitter, batting .385 as a pinch hitter, and .388 in the late innings. A month after he came up to the Mets team, he was batting over .300.

On June 6th he lined an 8th inning pinch hit single putting the Mets ahead of the San Diego Padres, in a game they won for their eighth straight win. That day he hit a pair of HRs & drove in four runs in the Mets 6-5 win over the Phillies. On June 14th he hit a HR off Don Sutton at Dodger Stadium, helping the Mets & Tom Seaver win a close 3-1 game.

On June 19th he brought his average up to .351 with a four hit day, highlighted by a pair of HRs & three RBIs in a win over the Phillies. That week he drove in runs in four of five games, hitting another HR two days later. Shamsky stayed hot in July batting well over .330 all month. On July 16th he hit a two run HR off Ted Abernathy in Chicago, helping the Mets beat the Cubs 9-5 and jumping to just four games back, in second place.

In his next game he homered again, in Montreal helping the club to a 5-2 win. On August 20th he hit a two run HR & drove in four runs off Gaylord Perry at Shea Stadium, helping Jim McAndrew shut out the San Francisco Giants 6-0. When the Dodgers came to town three days later, Shamsky hit a HR off Jim Brewer helping the Mets win another close one 3-2.

On September 7th he hit a two run HR at Shea, leading the Nolan Ryan to his fifth win & helping the Mets get to 2.5 games of the first place Cubs. 

On September 9th in front of a sold out house at Shea, Shamsky homered in the 7-0 Tom Seaver victory over the Cubs Fergie Jenkins. The win put New York within a half game of first place. 

Shamsky would drive in a run in four of five games he played in that week, including one the night of September 10th when the Mets took over first place after a 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos.

In thee first game of a September 21st twin bill at Shea Stadium, Shamsky homered & drove in arun in the next game as well, as the Mets swept the Pittsburgh Pirates. The night before the Mets clinched the NL East, Shamsky singled scoring Tommie Agee while tying up a game against the St. Louis Cards.

On the 1969 season Art had five game winning RBIs, while batting an even .300 with a .375 on base %, playing in 100 games on the year. He showed power with 14 HRs (second on the club to Tommie Agee) nine doubles, a .432 slugging % & 47 RBIs in only 303 at bats. In the outfield he posted a .992 fielding % making just one error, turning two double plays making two assists.

Post Season: He started all three games of the NLCS, where he batted .538, leading all batters going 7 for 13. In Game #1 he led off the second inning with a base hit off Phil Niekro. In a piece of Mets trivia, it was Shamsky who crossed the plate with the first ever Mets post season run, scoring on a Jerry Grote base hit.

In Game #2 at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, he had another three hits, going 3-4, driving in Cleon Jones with a run in the 2nd inning. On the day he had three hits. In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, he got another hit (1-4) scoring on his roommate ken Boswell’s two run HR off George Stone in the 5th inning.

In the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, he started only Game #3 going hitless, at Shea Stadium. Shamsky also went 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter during that Fall Classic.

Honors: In 1969 after the Amazing Mets Championship run, he enjoyed fame as did many of the New York players. He he appeared in Harpers Bazaar Magazine with model & future actress Lauren Hutton.

In 1970 Art was played in a career high 122 games having another good season. He led the team batting .293 with a .371 on base percentage. He hit 11 HRs (4th on the club) 19 doubles, & 49 RBIs. Despite only 402 at bats, he was 7th in the league with 13 intentional walks.

He played 58 games in the outfield posting a perfect .1000 fielding %. He also played in 56 games at first base (.995 fielding %) behind Don Clendenon & Ed Kranepool.

By 1971 injuries ruined his season. Shamsky’s batting average fell over 100 points, in only 68 games & 135 at bats he hit just .185. With Rusty Staub arriving in the outfield for 1972, Shamsky’s days in New York were done. He was traded by the Mets along with Rich Folkers, Jim Bibby & Charlie Hudson, to his childhood favorite team, the hometown Cardinals in exchange for Jim Beauchamp, Harry Parker, & Chuck Taylor.

His dream of playing in St. Louis fell short, as he was released at the start of the season, and then picked up by the Chicago Cubs. He played 22 games in Chicago and then moved on to the Oakland A’s that year but nagging back problems forced him to retire at age 32.

In a short eight year career he batted .253 with 426 hits 68 HRs 60 doubles 15 triples 233 RBIs and a .330 on base % winning one World Series.

Retirement: After Baseball, he remained in New York and became involved in real estate as a consultant with First Realty Reserve.

He also worked as a sports broadcaster for eight years, including tenure with the Mets from 1979 to 1981.

For a brief period he owned a midtown restaurant, "Legends” in Manhattan. Shamsky co wrote the book, “The Magnificent Seasons,” with Barry Zeman about the 1969 New York sports season.

In 2006, he was embroiled in a bitter public divorce from his second wife, Kim.

In 2007 Art was manager to one of the six teams for the short lived professional Israel Baseball League. He has appeared at two New York area Beatlefest- Beatles conventions promoting his 1969 heroics.

Honors: He was at the closing ceremonies on the final day at Shea Stadium in 2008. In 1994 Shamsky was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Trivia: In the American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and Robert's childhood bulldog was named Shamsky Number 1, after 1969 Met, Art Shamsky.

On a trip to Cooperstown the Romano Brothers talk about the 1969 Mets. Teammates Art Shamsky, Tommie Agee, Jerry Grote, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Tug McGraw & Ed Kranepool all make an appearance on the show. (Episode: 'Big Shots' - Series 3, Episode 19).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Always used to see him in the Tudor Park area of Manhattan right across from the UN. Very visible and approachable. A stand up guy for sure!