Jan 5, 2016

Mid Seventies Mets Third Baseman: Roy Staiger (1975-1977)

Roy Joseph Staiger was born on January 6, 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The six foot right hand hitting third baseman was a high school star originally being sought after by the Los Angeles Dodgers but he turned down a contract from them in June 1969.

He then signed with the New York Mets as a first round draft pick in 1970 after their Amazing championship season, the 24th pick overall. Remember the Mets never ending quest in those days, was to land a regular third baseman.

In his second season at A ball Visalia he hit 19 HRs & improved to a .282 average, earning a promotion to AA Memphis in 1972. In 81 games there he hit .282 with a .306 on base % & just three HRs. 

In 1973 he was at AAA Tidewater but did not get called up, even though the Mets team suffered through injuries to the infield during the season. Tides like Brian Ostrosser & Lute Barnes got the call ups instead, not making much of an impact. Staiger spent three seasons at Tidewater improving his hitting to a best .282 in 1975 with 9 HRs 81 RBIs & 29 doubles in 137 games.

On September 12th 1974, he made his Mets debut at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, against the Cardinals playing at third base. He got his first MLB hit the next day, a double while also striking out twice. In 13 games in September 1975, he hit only .158 but was still going to be given a chance as the Mets main third baseman for 1976.

Joe Frazier was the new Mets skipper going into that season. Frazier had managed Staiger at AAA Tidewater and believed in him at the MLB level. He slowly fit Staiger into the line up, by the end of May he was splitting time with long time Met Wayne Garrett. In July Garrett was traded away & the position was Staiger's.

In early August he was at his hottest driving in runs in three straight games, & five of six games. In the first ten days of the month he had four multi hit games & overall drove in a dozen runs in the month. For the year Roy hit only .220 posting a .278 on base %, with 2 HRs and 26 RBIs in 95 games. His fielding was better, committing only nine errors, with a .967 fielding percentage, while showing great range.

The ’76 Mets finished 15 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, but were a better team than those stats showed. If Staiger's production had been better things may have been different. That year th Mets also had acquired Joe Torre, but the long time third baseman was put at first base, even though the club had Dave Kingman, Ed Kranepool & John Milner who all could play at the position.

In 1977 Staiger hit a HR in the second game of the season. It was a two run shot at Wrigley Field coming in the same inning where Dave Kingman had also blasted a two run shot. But he struggled at the plate again, not reaching the .200 mark in hitting until the last day of April when he had a two hit day. He began May with a HR at San Diego but it turned out to be his last in the major leagues.

After 32 games in mid June he was batting just .231 & he was sent back down to AAA Tidewater. He returned briefly in September but by now Lenny Randle had taken over third base. For the season he hit .252 with 2 HRs 9 doubles & 11 RBIs, as the Roy Staiger third base experiment was over.

He made a brief four game appearance with the AL New York team in 1979 after going there in exchange for Sergio Ferrer. Staiger finished his minor league career at AAA Columbus in 1980.

In four MLB seasons he played in 152 games batted .274 with 104 hits 4 HRs 19 doubles & 38 RBIs. Roy would only play four games going 3-11.

Staiger is holding at 16th all-time among Mets in games played at third base (142), as a Met he batted .228 lifetime with 4 HRs & 38 RBIs.

Trivia: He joins former Mets Jim Beauchamp & Jackson Todd, as the only Okie Mets.

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