Aug 31, 2016

Turn Back the Clock To Some Old Mets Advertisments:

What better way to make for a nicer day at Shea, Mets baseball & a big fat salty pretzel?

If you can't get to the ballpark, listen to the voices of experience: Lindsey, Ralph & Bob made it all come to life for so many of us.

Back in the late sixties, you could get your official Original Mr. Met wrist watch for only $9.99.

A Casey Stengel ad for Westinghouse dish washers in the early sixties.

Here's another great Yogi Berra Yoo-Hoo ad. Two great Hall of Famers.

The official beer of the Mets for years was extra dry Rheingold. Who could forget those little brown nip bottles?
1969 World Champion Met's outfielder Art Shamsky with model / actress Lauren Hutton in Harpers Bazaar, circa 1970.

Tom Seaver for the Men's Store at Sears, wearing that early seventies "comfort- shirt", and a classic seventies wide burgundy tie.

Gary Carter was the amazing clean up hitter for Northville Gasoline. Gary was quite the commercial success upon his arrival in New York in 1985.

Here's how Dwight Gooden also known as "Dr. K"- fixes his Ribs, with Kingsford charcoals.

Remember when half the Mets games were broadcast on Channel 9 & the other half were on cable's Sports Channel? They had you covered.

In the seventies the Mets were on New York's Country Music AM station, 1050 WHN.

David Wright represents Union Carpenters constructing the new Citi Field in 2007.

Aug 30, 2016

Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Mike Torrez (1983-1984)

Michael Augustine Torrez was born on August 28th 1946 in Topeka Kansas. The tall six foot five right hander was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 at age 17.

Torrez went 10-10 at AAA Tulsa & would make his MLB debut as a September call up for the 1967 World Champion Cardinals. 

On September 10th, he pitched to one batter & struck him out in a 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next year he began the year with the Cardinals & went 2-1 but was sent down in late May. He went 8-2 at AAA Tulsa in the Pacific Coast League as the Cards won another pennant & lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

In 1969 the Cards fell to fourth place & Torrez filled in on a staff of Bob Gibson (20-13) Steve Carlton (17-11) & Nelson Briles (15-13) going 10-4 with the best winning percentage on the staff. He fell to 8-10 in 1970 & in June of 1971 was traded to the Montreal Expos for Bob Reynolds. Torrez would spend four years in Montreal, having two 15 win seasons.

In 1972 he Balor Moore & Bill Stoneman made a good rotation, but the team had no offense. Torrez won 16 games (9th most wins in the NL) going 16-12 with a 3.33 ERA. He struck out 112 batters, but also walked 103 in 243 innings of work. Torrez would be among the league leaders in walks allowed through most of his career.

He would also give up lots of hits & runs as well, although he was a work horse pitcher. Ten times in his career he pitched over 200 innings. He also walked 100 batters or more six times (leading the league three times) & gave up over 100 runs seven times (leading the league twice). He was known as a nibbler, not having the best stuff but a guy who would nibble away at the corners of the strike zone.

In 1974 he won 15 games, tying Steve Rogers for the Expos team lead & went on a seven year stretch where he won double figures. That year Torrez married a girl from Montreal & was hoping to stay put to raise a family. But it was not to be, manager Gene Mauch was tired of his walking too many batters & a trade was made. 

In 1975 he went to the Baltimore Orioles in a big traded that sent he & Ken Singleton to the Orioles for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins & a Bill Kirkpatrick.

 The deal was terrible for Montreal, as McNally retired in May, Coggins got very sick & was released & Kirkpatrick never pitched for the team. The trade was great for Baltimore, Single became an All Star outfielder & Torrez a top hurler.

He won twenty games (20-9) fourth most wins in the AL, posting a 3.06 ERA in 270 innings (9th in the AL) , while leading the league with 133 walks. He was part of another talented staff that included Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar & Ross Grimsley, but the O's finished second to the Boston Red Sox ending their six year run as AL East champs.

That off season Torrez was traded to the Oakland A's who had just won five straight AL West Division titles & three World Series (1972-1974). It was a monster trade at the time, sending Reggie Jackson & Ken Holtzman to the Orioles for Torrez & Don Baylor.

Torrez had another good year there, going 16-12 with a 2.50 ERA. He tossed four shut outs as well (4th in the AL). The only other starting pitcher left from the A's Championship years was Vida Blue who went 18-13.

After starting out 1977 3-1 in April he was traded to the AL New York team for Doc Ellis, Marty Perez & Larry Murray. There he went 14-12 helping the club to a world championship. It was his only post season appearance of his long career. In the ALCS he took a loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game #3 at Kansas City. In the World Series he was the winning pitcher in Game #3 at Los Angeles & the winner in Game #6 at New York.

That winter he signed on as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. He would spend seven seasons in Boston winning 16 games in each of his first two seasons. His 16 wins were 8th best in the league in 1979. He would finish second on the Red Sox staff to Dennis Ekersley both seasons. Also on the staff were Luis Tiant & Bill Lee, making up one of the league's best.

But it was a heartbreaking season in 1978 for the Sox, They fell apart, losing 17 games in the standings after holding a big lead in the AL East. They rebounded to come back & force a one game playoff after being down 3 1/2 games with 14 to go.

Torrez capped off the season, with one of the biggest blows against the Red Sox in modern history. It was Torrez who gave up the 7th inning, three HR, deep to left field over the Green Monster, to weak hitting short stop; Bucky Dent. Boston had been up 2-0 but were now behind & never came back. The Sox lost a heart breaker finished second & then third the next year.

In 1979 Torrez led the league once again in walks & earned runs. In 1980 he fell to 9-16 the worst record he had since 1973. In the strike shortened 1981 season he rebounded to a 10-3 record posting a 3.68 ERA. After going 9-9 in 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for a player to be named later.

Torrez joined the 83' Mets staff that included the return of Mets legend Tom Seaver, Craig Swan & youngsters Walt Terrell & Ed Lynch. Torrez made his Mets debut on April 9th, in the third game of the season, at Shea Stadium. Torrez gave up five runs in six innings, taking a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He lost to the Cardinals in St. Louis in his second start, beginning the year at 0-2. 

Torrez then made three relief appearances before getting a start on April 27th in Cincinnati. He went eight innings allowing just one run on three hits, earning his first win 2-1 over the Reds. In his next start he went nine innings, but without run support took a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Torrez was 2-6 by the end of May with an ERA over five. He had a good stretch at the end of June winning three straight games, including a three hit one run victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium on June 26th.

Torrez was a streaky pitcher that season, after three straight wins he lost four straight dropped six of seven. But at the end of August, Torrez won another three straight, beating the San Francisco Giants twice & the Los Angeles Dodgers. On August 31st, he pitched a complete game one run victory beating the Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela.

In September he went 1-3 to finish the year at 10-17, the most losses in the National League. He also topped the league in earned runs allowed (108) & walks (113). He pitched 22 innings struck out 94 & posted a 4.37 ERA.

Torrez began the year with Mets in 1984 but this was a completely different team, the pitching staff now had Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling & Sid Fernandez on board. Torrez actually got the nod to make the Opening Day start that season, taking a loss at Cincinnati. He was shelled for six runs on six hits, exiting in the second inning.

Torrez pitched into the six inning allowing no runs in his next start, but got no decision in the Mets 3-1 win. In that game, Torrez hit the Houston Astros young All Star short stop; Dicke Thon in the face with a fastball, fracturing his orbital bone almost ending his career. Thon recovered but was never the same player.

On April 21st Torrez made the start but was gone after allowing three runs in the 1st inning. On May 13th the Dodgers tagged him for four runs at Dodger Stadium, as he exited in the 5th inning taking a 5-3 loss. On June 3d, he pitched 8 innings & although he gave up ten hits, only allowed one run to The St. Louis Cardinals. But that day Dave LaPoint was better shutting out the Mets & Torrez 1-0.

On June 9th, Torrez got his only win of the year, beating the Expos in Montreal. By the end of June he 1-5 with a 6.30 ERA when the Mets gave him his release.

Torrez signed with the Oakland Athletics, pitched in two games ending his career at age 38. In his long 18 year career he was 185-160 (150th all time in wins / 119th in losses).

He had 1404 strike outs, 1371 walks (23rd all time), 1340 earned runs (69th all time most) allowed in 3042 innings (126th all time) over 494 games. He threw 15 shut outs, 117 complete games as well as 103 wild pitches in 458 starts (76th all time) & posted a 3.96 ERA.

Retirement: In 2011 he was named General Manager of the Newark Bears as they began play in the Canadian American Association, but was fired that summer.

Aug 26, 2016

Late Eighties Mets Pitcher: John Mitchell (1986-1989)

John Kyle Mitchell was born on August 11, 1965 in Dickson, Tennessee. The six foot two, right-hander was drafted out of high school while at Nashville in 1983, by the Boston Red Sox in the seventh round.

Tragedy: After his 1983 minor league season, he & two team mates Anthony Latham and Scott Skripko went fishing off the coast of Florida. Their boat capsized, and they were left clinging for life, for twenty hours before being rescued.

Tragically the owner of the boat & Latham both drowned. Mitchell said he held on to a bucket & some debris during the time it took to get rescued. Years later he named his child in honor of his fallen team mate.

In November of 1985 Mitchell came over to the New York Mets in the Bobby Ojeda deal. He pitched at AAA Tidewater in 1986, going 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA, getting a September call up. He debuted at Shea Stadium on September 8th pitching one inning relief against the Montreal Expos. He made three relief appearances & had one start taking a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies allowing four runs on seven hits in five innings pitched.

The following year he remained on the staff most of the year, filling in when injuries took certain pitchers out of the rotation. On July 19th Mitchell pitched a complete game victory, allowing just one run on five hits to the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium.

He got 19 starts going 3-6 with a 4.11 ERA. He struck out 57 batters in 111 innings pitched and pretty much became a forgotten man on the 1980’s Mets teams.

Over the next two seasons he would only appear in just three Mets games, pitching mostly at AAA Tidewater going 10-9 with a 2.34 ERA in 1988. That year he tied Wally Whitehurst for second on the Tides staff behind David West in wins. In 1989 he was 11-11 second to Blaine Beatty on the Tides staff.

By 1990 he was sent to the Baltimore Orioles for Keith Hughes, there he went 6-6 with a 4.64 ERA finishing his brief MLB career. In five seasons Mitchell was 9-14 with a 4.35 ERA, posting 107 strike outs with 93 walks in 240 innings pitched in 51 appearances (37 starts).

He spent four seasons in the minors & then four more seasons in the independent leagues before leaving baseball in 1998. Overall in minor league ball he is 97-82 with a 3.34 ERA in 247 games.

Retirement: Since his playing days Mitchell has worked for for a company that makes municipal castings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Late Nineties Mets Centerfielder: Brian McRae (1997-1999)

Brian Wesley McRae was born August 27, 1967 in Avon Park, Florida, the son of former MLB player

Hal McRae. Hal McRae was born on July 10, 1945 in Avon Park, Florida. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965 making it to the big leagues in 1968 for brief 17 games. He would spend three more seasons with the Reds, winning two pennants in the early days of the Big Red Machine, playing as a reserve outfielder.

McRae hit .248 with 8 HRs & 23 RBIs for the 1970 NL Champion Reds, playing in 70 games. He had a great World Series that year against the Baltimore Orioles batting .455 (5-11). In Game #2 he had two hits including an RBI double, then had another double driving in two more runs in Game #5.

McRae hit .278 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in the 1972 season, having another good World Series batting .444 (4-9) with two RBIs against the Oakland A’s. In November 1972 he was Traded by the Cincinnati Reds along with Wayne Simpson to the Kansas City Royals for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum. McRae arrived in Kansas City just as the Royals were entering their best days.

He spent fifteen seasons there, winning a World Series in 1985, an AL Pennant in 1980 & six AL West titles. He would bat over .300 seven times, including a career best .332 in 1976 coming in second to team mate George Brett.

He would make three All Star teams, lead the league in doubles twice (1977 & 1982) RBIs once (1982) on base % once (1976) & hit by pitches once (1977). In the 1980 World Series he hit .375 against the Phillies & went 0-1 in the 1985 World Series against the Cardinals. In his 19 year career McRae batted .290 with 2091 hits 484 doubles 66 triples 191 HRs 1097 RBIs & a .351 on base %.

As a young kid, Brian McRae became a big fan of his dad’s teammate, Pete Rose during his years in Cincinnati. He was a good athlete in high school, playing football as well as baseball. He decided if he wasn’t chosen as a first round draft pick, he would go to college. He wasn’t even around on draft day, not expecting anything, when he got a phone call that he was actually was drafted in the first round, by the Kansas City Royals.

He was originally a second baseman getting converted to an outfielder in the minor leagues. His MLB career certainly wasn’t as good as his father’s, the switch hitting McRae never made the playoffs & was predominantly a singles hitter.

He was the Royals everyday centerfielder from 1990-1994, playing for his father, Hal McRae who was the teams manager. He had his best season there in 1993, batting .282 with 177 hits, 12 HRs, 9 triples, 14 stolen bases, & 69 RBIs. In 1994 he hit .273, then as the 1995 season was about to start, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for future Met, Derek Wallace. McRae hit well in his first season at Wrigley Field leading the NL in at bats (580) batting a career high .288 with 167 hits (4th in the league) with 12 HRs 48 RBIs & 38 doubles.

McRae would hit 30 or more doubles for the next three seasons. In the outfield he posted a .992 fielding % (4th in the NL) leading all outfielders with 345 out outs. The next year he hit 17 HRs with 66 RBIs batting .276. His numbers dropped during the 1997 season, & that August he was traded to the New York Mets along with Turk Wendell & Mel Rojas for Lance Johnson, Mark Clark & Manny Alexander.

In his first game as a Met he went 3-4 with a triple, a walk and RBI against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. On August 23rd he hit his first Mets HR coming against the Padres at Shea Stadium.

On the home stand he hit three more including two against the San Francisco Giants in the Mets 15-6 win on August 27th. He closed out 1997 hitting .248 with 5 HRs 4 doubles & 15 RBIs for the Mets in 45 games. During his days with the Mets Brian’s favorite rock band was Metallica.

In 1998 after missing Opening Day he went on to play in 159 games, as the clubs centerfielder. In the final week of June he hit four HRs driving in six runs gathering up seven hits. In mid July McRae hit HRs in back to back games in a home series against the Montreal Expos, leading New York to wins in both games. At the end of the month he once again homered in back to back games, this time in Chicago & at home against the San Diego Padres.

In September '98 the Mets made a run for the wild card race into late September. On September 19th McRae hit a 9th inning game tying two run HR off the Astros Billy Wagner in Houston. Later in the top of the 13th he put the Mets ahead with a double scoring Mike Piazza & Edgardo Alfonzo. He ended the year leading the Mets in doubles (36) triples (5) & stolen bases (20). Personally he posted career highs in HRs (21) & RBIs (79) while batting .264 with 80 walks & a .360 on base percentage.

In 1999 the Mets were a better team with more players who could play the outfield. He struggled in April batting just .197. In May he hit safely in 15 of 19 games & at the start of June drove in a run in all three games of the Subway series. On June 13th he hit a two run HR against the Boston Red Sox leading to a 5-4 Mets win. Three days later he broke a 6th inning tie with a two run single in Cincinnati, driving in three rusn in the Mets 5-2 win over the Reds.

On July 31st after playing in 96 games he was only batting .220 with 8 HRs 36 RBIs & 320 on base % . He was carrying a $3.5 million salary and the Mets decided he wasn’t in their future. McRae was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Daryl Hamilton. Hamilton would be a key role player in the Mets Wild Card run as well in the post season.

A week later McRae was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was their centerfielder but eventually lost his position to Vernon Wells. He was released and his career was over by 2000 at the age of 32. McRae played ten seasons batting a lifetime .261 average, with 1336 hits, 103 HRs, 264 doubles, 37 triples, 493 walks, a .360 on base %, 532 RBIs, & 196 steals. As a Met in parts of three seasons, he hit .249 with 34 HRs, 130 RBIS & 53 doubles in 300 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he moved into the booth, first as a Chicago Cubs studio analyst. He then went to ESPN as a Baseball Tonight analyst & to MLB radio as well.  He is also part owner of Radio station WHB 810 AM in Kansas City

McRae works closely with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation charities

Aug 18, 2016

Short Time 1999 Mets Wild Card Pitcher: Jeff Tam (1998-1999)

Jeffrey Eugene Tam was born on August 19, 1970 in Fullerton, California. The six foot one, right hander attended high school in Melbourne, Florida where he led the Florida Space Coast League in hits & RBIs.

He then attended Florida State University, playing for the Seminoles under legendary college baseball coach; Mike Martin.

In 1993 he was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent. In 1994 & early 1995, he was a replacement player during the MLB strike, which barred him from membership in the MLB Players Association.

When play resumed, Tam went 0-2 at AA Binghamton. The next year there he went 6-2 with a solid 2.44 ERA which got him promoted to AAA Norfolk in 1997. He posted an ERA near five, but went 7-5 with six saves for the third place Tides.

In 1998 he notched 11 saves with a 1.83 ERA earning him a call up to the Mets big league club. Tam debuted on June 30th 1998, pitching the 5th inning of a 6-3 loss, in an interleague game against the Blue Jays in Toronto. In his fifth career game, he blew a save opportunity, allowing three runs to the Montreal Expos.

On July 12th, he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings against the Expos at Shea Stadium, earning his first career win. He would get credit for a hold on July 19th but was sent back down to the minors at the end of July, with a 3.97 ERA. He returned in September for five games, taking a loss to the Houston Astros in his last outing.

In 1999 Tam was placed on waivers & got picked up by the Cleveland Indians where he pitched just one game. By August he was placed on waivers by Cleveland & found himself back on the Mets.

He would pitch in middle relief for the 1999 Wild Card Mets, posting a 5.40 ERA in ten games, striking out eight batters in 11.2 innings. He did not pitch in the post season.

That November he signed with the Oakland A's as a free agent. Tam pitched as a reliever in Oakland for three seasons, making the playoffs each year winning two AL Western titles. In those years Tam went a combined 6-9 with six saves & a 3.27 ERA in 182 appearances. He pitched in two 2000 post season games as well.

In 2003 he signed on as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays going 0-4. He signed on with the Colorado Rockies but did not make their big league club.

In his six year career he went 7-14 with seven saves, 146 strike outs 98 walks in 251 appearances. In 2008 he pitched for the Independent League Bridgeport Blue Fish.