Jun 30, 2016

Original 1962 Mets Pitcher: Craig Anderson (1962-1964)

Norman Craig Anderson was born July 1, 1938 in Washington D.C. The six foot right-handed pitcher attended Lehigh University, where he became the school's star pitcher.

Anderson struck out 289 batters in 189 innings and pitched a no hitter there as well. He became the first player to make it to the big leagues from Lehigh University when he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. He briefly pitched in the minor leagues at AA Tulsa, posting a 1.68 ERA, getting brought up to the majors that same year.

He debuted on June 23rd pitching three scoreless innings in relief of Ernie Broglio, while earning his first career victory against the San Francisco Giants. In that game he got a hit scored a run & benefited from a grand slam by Stan the Man Musial. He would go 4-3 with a save & posting a 3.26 ERA with St. Louis in his rookie season. In October of 1961 he became an original New York Met when he was the 16th selection in the expansion draft.

Anderson made his Mets debut In the third game of the teams history, relieving Al Jackson in the 8th inning at the Polo Grounds. That day he pitched two scoreless innings allowing two walks & two hits. On April 24th, 1962 he gave up four runs (two of them earned) taking his first loss of the year, coming at Cincinnati to the Reds.

On May 6th, he entered a game in the 8th inning & pitched four innings to the 11th. He earned his first victory as Gil Hodges singled home the winning run in the Mets top of the 11th. The win would be the start of a personal career best three straight wins in three straight appearances.

His biggest day came on May 12th at the Polo Grounds in a double header against the Milwaukee Braves. At this point in time the team was 5-12, but on this day they would take both ends of a double header from the Braves, enjoying the most exciting day in their short seventeen game existence . Craig Anderson would make Mets history by getting the wins in both games.

In the first game he relieved Roger Craig in the 7th inning with the Braves ahead 3-2. After pitching two scoreless innings, Hobie Landrith came to bat & hit a two run pinch hit walk off HR off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, to win the game. In the nightcap Anderson was the last of six Mets pitchers to take the mound, pitching a perfect 9th inning in a 7-7 tie.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, local hero Gil Hodges hit his own dramatic walk off HR to win the second game. It was like a World Series victory for the 20,000 fans in attendance at the Polo Grounds on that day. Anderson would save two games on the road in Milwaukee the next week, and have a 3-1 record with three saves & a 2.08 ERA.

Unfortunately from that point on, he would go on to lose his next 16 decisions on the season, and never earn another victory in his big league career. He would lose three games in June, and get a start at the end of the month. He never got the second out of the inning, as he allowed six runs (four earned) to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, as the Mets took a horrible 13-3 loss. Anderson then took four losses in July, although two of them were complete games where he allowed just three runs each time. In August he lost starts to The Phillies, Reds, Dodgers & Cardinals. In September he was in the bullpen, blew one save earned another & took a loss.

He finished the 1962 season leading the team in appearances with 50. He was 3-17 (sixth most losses in the NL) with a 5.38 ERA, allowing 78 runs on 150 hits, walking 63 batters, while striking out 62 in 131 innings pitched. He spent most of 1963 in the minors going 9-12 at AAA Buffalo, getting a September call up at the end of the year. He made the start in the last game ever played at the Polo Grounds on September 18th, 1963. Although he left in the fourth inning, he took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits to the Philadelphia Phillies.

He spent part of May 1964 with the Mets, pitching in just four games. On May 24th he took a loss to the Houston Colt 45’s at the Astrodome in his only start that year. That loss gave him 19 straight losing decisions (over the past three seasons) breaking Roger Craig’s record of 18 straight losses, set in the Mets inaugural season, 1962.

Anderson’s consecutive loss record held for three decades, until Anthony Young lost 27 straight decisions in the early 1990’s. During that period, Anderson sent Young a message of encouragement when he finally snapped the losing streak. He sent him a message saying “I hope you win 27 in a row” signed Craig Anderson- ’62 Mets.

Anderson went back to AAA Buffalo in 1964 and won 12 games, going 12-7 with a 2.96 ERA. He never got back to the big leagues, pitching two seasons in the minors before retiring from playing in 1966. In his four year MLB career, Anderson pitched in 82 games, going 7-23 with a five saves & a 5.10 ERA. He struck out 94 batters in 192 innings, walking 81 batters & pitched two complete games.

Retirement: He then went back to Lehigh University serving as athletic director & baseball coach for 34 years. He now lives in Dunnellon, Florida & serves as a substitute teacher.

He says the teaching keeps him young. Anderson has appeared at three Original Mets reunions & autograph signings shows.

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