Aug 23, 2016

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Top Pinch Hitter: Jim Beauchamp (1972-1973)

James Edward Beauchamp was born August 21, 1939 in Vinita, Oklahoma. Beauchamp attended Oklahoma State University, the same school that would later see Robin Ventura, Jeromy Burnitz, and Pete Incaviglia, get to the major leagues.

The six foot two right hand hitting outfielder, first baseman was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958. He spent over a decade in the minor leagues making brief call ups to the big leagues. In the minor leagues he was more of a power hitter, hitting over 20 HRs four times. He also showed some speed, stealing over twenty bases three times.

In 1963 Beauchamp won the Texas League MVP, at AAA Tulsa hitting 31 HRs with 105 RBIs while batting .337. He was first called up to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963 striking out against the Cincinnati Reds Joe Nuxhall in his first MLB at bat.

Although he was a promising prospect, he was traded to the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, along with Chuck Taylor for outfielder Carl Warwick. Beach was back in the minors in 1964, hitting 34 HRs with 83 RBIs while batting .285. He would bounce back & forth to the majors over the next two years, hitting below .200 at the big league level both times in less than thirty games both years.

In 1965 he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves, where he played four games, spending all of 1966 at AAA Richmond, hitting .319. In 1967 he played four games in Atlanta when the Braves franchise changed cities. In October 1967 he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds, spending two seasons there as a reserve player.

In 1969 he played in a career high up to that point 43 games, batting .250. In 1970 he played with both the Houston Astros (31 games) and St. Louis Cards (44 games) batting .238 overall. The journeyman never made it as a full time player in the big leagues, appearing mostly as a reserve outfielder & pinch hitter. He had 46 lifetime pinch hits and became a well respected bench role player.

In October of 1971, he came to the New York Mets with Harry Parker, Chuck Taylor and Tom Coulter in exchange for Art Shamsky, Rich Folkers, Jim Bibby and Charlie Hudson.

On April 22nd 1972, he made his dramatic debut as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs. With the bases loaded he singled to center field off Steve Hamilton, scoring Tommie Agee with the winning run as the Mets swept the twin bill 7-6.

On June 28th, he came up with a pinch hit RBI single, off the Expos Woodie Fryman, breaking the 2-2 tie with the winning run at Montreal.

On August 21st he hit a pair of HRs against his old Astros teammates, including a 9th inning walk off against pitcher Jim Ray. The next day he hit another HR, had three hits and drove in all four Met runs, helping Tom Seaver to a 4-2 win over those same Astros. On the last day of the season he hit a two run HR in the 6th inning leading the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos. Beauchamp would have five pinch hits on the year (going 5-23) as well as seeing action at first base.

In his first year as a Met he hit .242 with five HRs 42 RBIs, ten runs scored & seven walks in 58 games with 120 at bats.

In the 1973 Mets pennant season, Beauchamp hit a career best .279, driving in 14 runs with a double, a triple, & seven walks while playing in 50 games. Nine of his 17 hits came as a pinch hitter as he became Yogi Berra’s most reliable Mets pinch hitter off the bench.

On April 22nd, in his first game of the ’73 season, Beauchamp had a two run pinch hit single off Joe Gilbert, against the Montreal Expos in a 13-3 Met win. On April 26th he got a start at first base & in the 5th inning tied up the game with an RBI single scoring Willie Mays. The Mets went on to a 2-1 win.

On May 13th in Pittsburgh he had big day, starting at first base, going 2-4 against the Pirates while driving in four runs in the 6-4 Mets win.

On July 9th, Tom Seaver & Don Wilson had a pitchers duel going, until the Houston Astros scored a 7th inning run on Lee May's HR. Beauchamp came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th with two on & two outs. He delivered with a base hit off Wilson to tie the game. The Mets went on to a 2-1 extra inning victory.

By the end of July he was hitting just under .300 (at .298) and was very important part of the Mets run to winning the NL East. He would go three for twelve the rest of the year as a pinch hitter. In two important September games against the Pirates, who were holding on to first place, Beauchamp had two big pinch hits. On September 18th in Pittsburgh, his 9th inning single ignited a five run rally where the Mets came from three runs behind to win the game.

Two nights later on September 20th, at Shea Stadium, his 8th inning single led to the game tying run. Ted Martinez came into run for him & Felix Millan delivered the RBI base hit scoring Martinez. This was the famous “Ball off the Wall” game where the Mets would win it in extra inning win, and move to within ½ game of first place. 

He did not see action in the NLCS and was 0 for 4 in the 1973 World Series, pinch hitting in four of the seven games against the Oakland A’s. He was released by the Mets before the 1974 season began and chose to retire.

Beauchamp finished his ten year playing career batting .231 hitter with 153 hits 14 HRs 18 doubles 90 RBIs & 79 runs scored playing in 393 games. In his Mets career he played in 108 games, hitting for a .254 average with five HRs, 33 RBIs.

Retirement: Immediately after retirement he began to coach & manage in the Houston Astros organization.

He later became the Atlanta Braves bench coach (from 1991- 1998) during the Braves glory years under Bobby Cox, appearing in four World Series. He met Cox as a team mate back at Richmond in 1967, there the two developed a friendship. In 1999 he became the Braves minor league outfield coordinator.

Family: Jim is the father of minor league player and manager Kash Beauchamp. His other son, James, Jr., signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982 but did not make the majors.

Passing: In Spring Training of 2007, Beauchamp began to feel sick, he was soon diagnosed with Leukemia. When leukemia and pneumonia put the 67 year old Beauchamp in an Atlanta-area hospital, Manager Bobby Cox was very upset he could that he could soon lose a long time friend dear to him and the Braves organization.

In 2007 Braves alumni Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Ryan Langerhans, and Cox visited Beauchamp in the hospital. They were forced to wear sanitized gowns and masks.

 "He's been a part of our organization forever," Cox said. "All of these young kids love him. He taught all of the Major League outfielders how to play the outfield." Sadly Beauchamp Passed away on Christmas Day 2007.

Honors: In the 2007-2008 seasons, the Braves wore a patch on their uniform sleeve in his honor that simply said “Beach”.

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