Sep 29, 2016

Brooklyn Born Italian / American Mets Pitcher: Pete Falcone (1979-1982)

Peter Frank Falcone was born October 1, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. The six foot, two left hander attended Lafayette High School in Brooklyn.

This is the famous school the Mets John Franco & Dodgers Sandy Koufax graduated from as well as 21 other major leaguers including brothers, Bob & Ken Aspromonte, Al Ferrara, Kevin Baez, Luis Lopez & Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

Falcone is also second cousin to long time Mets coach Joe Pignatano. After high school Falcone attended to Kingsborough College in Brooklyn, getting drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 1973 draft. That year he we was 8-1 in the Pioneer Rookie league posting a 1.50 ERA. In 1974, he jumped through all three levels of the minor leagues going 12-8, averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings. He was brought up to the Giants staff the next year.

Falcone debuted at Candlestick Park on April 13th 1975, pitching eight innings against the Atlanta Braves & earning his first career win. In just his third start he tossed a five hit shut out against the Houston Astros, striking out nine in his best performance of the season.

In his 1975 Rookie season the southpaw went 12-11 finishing up third on the third place Giants team in staff in wins. He lost out to his young, Giants teammate John Montefusco in the Rookie Pitcher of the Year voting. Falcone struck out 131 batters in 190 innings walking 111 while posting a 4.17 ERA. After the season, the Giants traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Ken Reitz.

In 1976 for the fifth place Cardinals, Falcone was pretty much the ace of the staff that featured Lynn McGlothlen (13-15) & John Denny (11-9). Falcone won 12 games(12-16) posting a 3.23 ERA with 138 strike outs pitching in a career high 212 innings. He was toughest with runners on base, holding them to a batting average under .200 in those situations.

He dropped to 4-8 the next season and spent some time in the bull pen where he pitched five games in relief earning one save. He missed more time in 1978, pitching in only 19 games dropping to 2-7 with a 5.76 ERA.

That off season he was traded to the New York Mets for Tom Grieve & minor leaguer Kim Seamen. Prior to joining the Mets, Falcone was 0-9 with three no decisions while pitching against them in his career.

At first he was shocked when he was traded from an improving Cardinals team that seemed to be heading for contention. But eventually he appeared at a Manhattan baseball banquet & realized how good it was to be back in New York. Arriving at Shea Stadium he was reunited with his second cousin, Coach Joe Pignatano, as well as fellow Italian American Brooklyn boys Lee Mazzilli & manager Joe Torre.

Falcone debuted in the fourth game of the 1979 season, at Shea Stadium pitching eight strong innings against the Montreal Expos. Even though he only gave up two runs he earned no decision and the Mets lost the game 3-2. His Mets career started out on a losing note going 0-5 not earning his first victory until the end of June on the 25th. That night he pitched a five hit shutout against the eventual World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. His best month was in August, where he won three games (going 3-3) including back to back victories.

Falcone had beaten the Chicago Cubs on a late July home stand & then added another win in his next start in the second game of a double header on August 2nd. He also then won back to back starts in the middle of the month, beating the Braves in Atlanta & the Astros at Shea, pitching beyond the 7th inning both times.


Overall In his first year as a Met he led the team in losses with 14, going 6-14 posting a 4.16 ERA. He gave up 24 long balls (6th most in the league) & had control problems, leading the team in walks (76) & wild pitches (10) fourth most in the league. He would finish in the top ten in that category three times in the next four seasons. Falcone struck out 113 batters in 184 innings pitched, good enough to average 5.5 K’s per nine innings, 10th best in the league.

Falcone with Keith Hernandez
He started out 1980 as the Mets #4 starter, behind Craig Swan, Pat Zachary & Ray Burris. Falcone won his first outing beating the Chicago Cubs 5-0 at Shea Stadium. On May 1st, in a game at Shea Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies, he tied a record by striking out the first six batters of the game. Although Falcone pitched a fine game, allowing two runs on just three hits while striking out eight, over seven innings, the Mets lost 2-1 to Steve Carlton.

He won his next two starts beating Atlanta & then the Houston Astros where he only allowed one run in eight innings pitched. In June he had a rough month not pitching beyond the 5th inning in four different starts going 0-2. He also made three relief appearances that month.

In July he won back to back starts first beating the Montreal Expos at home & then Just after the All Star break he beat his old Cardinal team mates pitching eight innings at Shea to even his record at 5-5. He would pitch six innings or beyond eleven times during the year but only got wins six of those times.

By the last month of the season, Joe Torre was using him out of the bull pen where he earned a save against the Expos on September 17th. In his last two outings of the year he was back in the starting rotation. On September 30th Falcone threw a complete game, two run victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Overall for the 1980 fifth place Mets, he finished 7-10, with a 4.52 ERA, leading the team with 109 strikeouts as well as 89 runs allowed.

In 157 innings pitched he made 23 starts in 37 outings with one complete game. Falcone was never a great pitcher, but it must be noted he did suffer from lack of run support & bad luck. He was always at his best, pitching with runners in scoring position throughout his career.

In 1979 he held hitters to a .210 average with runners in scoring position. In 1980 & 1981 the league hit just .220 &.211 respectively against him with runners in scoring position.

In the 1981 strike shortened season, he was used as a reliever for most of the year, until getting some starts at the end of August. He pitched strongly at the end of September going 3-0, all complete game performances. On September 29th he pitched a four hit shutout against the Phillies at Veterans Stadium & then closed out the season with a 2-1 victory over the Expos at Shea Stadium. Although he only pitched in 95 innings, with nine starts, he finished the year at 5-3 with three complete games, a shutout and a save, while posting a 2.55 ERA.

In 1982 he had a good start to the year going 3-0 with two holds, while posting a 3.39 ERA by June 1st. On May 19th he beat Burt Hooton & the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 while pitching into the 9th inning. That night he struck out seven Dodgers in the game at Shea Stadium. He then went 1-4 in June & was on a personal four game losing streak entering the month of July.

On September 12th he pitched his best game of the season, a three hit one run win over the Cardinals which was to be his last career Mets win. 1982 would be his last year with the Mets, appearing in 40 games on the season going 8-10 with two saves & a 3.63 ERA.

In 1983 he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves rejoining manager Joe Torre & his Cousin, Coach Joe Pignatano, whom had both gone to Atlanta the previous year. In his Mets career Falcone went 26-37 in 145 games with a 3.91 ERA. For the 1983 Braves, Falcone went 9-4 with a 3.64 ERA striking out 59 batters pitching in 106 innings while holding batters to a .235 average with runners in scoring position. 1984 would be his final season; he was 5-7 with a 4.12 ERA. 

That September he told an Atlanta paper he planned to retire after the season at age 30; “I’m just tired of baseball, I’m tired of the life style, and I can’t see any reason to go on doing it.”

Falcone left the game after a ten year career, going 70-90 with 865 strikeouts, 671 walks, and a 4.07 ERA in 1435 innings pitched in 325 appearances. He held batters to a .234 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Joey & Pete Falcone
Retirement: In 1989, he played in the Senior League and posted a 10-3 record for the Orlando team.

Family: Pete's son Joey Falcone is a U.S. War veteran, who saw his best friend die in the hills of Afghanistan during battle. Joey Falcone is now an outfield slugger playing in college at Staten Island.

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