Dec 22, 2015

Remembering Mets Opening Days of the Past: 1978 Koos Opens Up His Last Season in NY

Mayor Ed Koch Throws Out First Pitch of 1978
The Mets opened the dismal '78 season on April 7th, just over a week after trading away Bud Harrelson. Shea Stadium had made a change that year, as they cut down the foul lines from 341 feet to 338 feet. Previously the corners had a beige brick wall with an orange line above it. If the ball had hit above the line, it would have been an official HR.

A small crowd of 11,736 came to Shea Stadium to see Joe Torre's Mets take on Dick Williams; Montreal Expos. For the first time in a decade Tom Seaver was not the Mets Opening Day starter. He had started every Mets Opening Day since 1968, but now he was opening up with the Cincinnati Reds. Long time Met; Jerry Koosman got the ball & went up against Montreal veteran; Steve Rogers. 

New Mets that year included "The Hot Dog" Willie Montanez, Ken Henderson, Tom Grieve, Eliott Maddox & the return of Tim Foli.  

The Mets 1978 Opening Day lineup:
Lenny Randle 3B
Tim Foli SS
Steve Henderson LF
Willie Montanez 1B
Ken Henderson RF
Lee Mazzilli CF
John Stearns C
Doug Flynn 2B
Jerry Koosman P

In the bottom of the 2nd, Willie Montanez doubled, Ken Henderson followed with another double making it 1-0.

With one out John Stearns walked & Doug Flynn followed with a base hit bringing in Henderson for a 2-0 Met lead. The score remained that way until the 6th, when Gary Carter hit a solo HR, making it 2-1 Mets.

In the home 6th, Steve Henderson singled & got to second on a ground ball out. Lee Mazzilli then doubled bringing Henderson home to make it a 3-1 Mets lead.

It was all Koosman needed as he went the distance, allowing just one run on eight hits. He struck out seven & walked no one.
Koos would have the worst year of his career going 3-15 but posted a decent 3.75 ERA. The Mets were bad, the environment around the club was a long way off from what Koosman was  had lived in the good old days.

All his old team mates & friends were now gone & he too demanded a trade. He would get dealt to his home state of Minnesota in exchange for a minor leaguer & Jesse Orosco.

In his 12 years with the Mets, Koosman was 140-137 with 1799 strike outs, 820 walks & a 3.09 ERA. He threw 26 shutouts with 108 complete games.

The '78 Mets would finish last again, going 66-96.

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