Oct 31, 2016

Today In Mets History: (1969) Mets Click Their Heels With Two At Wrigley

Another look at how the 1969 Mets added to the so called Chicago Cubs curse:

JULY 16, 1969: As the Summer of '69 moved on, the surprising  New York Mets were dominating the first place Chicago Cubs head to head. After beating Tom Seaver 1-0 in the opener at Wrigley Field, the Cubs thirdbase man Ron Santo jumped up clicking his heels while leaving the field. This was a tradition for Mr. Santo & it did not sit well with the Mets. The Amazing's thought it was a bush league move, a sign of disrespect & they wanted revenge. The Young Mets would step up & take the next two.

The next day Al Weis hit his first HR of the year, a three run blast and Ken Boswell added a solo shot as the Mets won it 5-4. Weis would hit just two HRs in the regular season, but would become a slugger in the World Series. Tommy Agee drove in the other Mets run with a triple. Pitchers, Gary Gentry & Ron Taylor combined for the win.

In the rubber game, a full house packed Wrigley, and all the transistor radios in New York were tuned in on this Wednesday afternoon. Future Hall Of Famer Fergie Jenkins took the hill for Chicago, and the Mets battered him around in the 1st inning.

For the Mets, Tommie Agee doubled and scored on Ken Boswell's base hit. Cleon Jones singled and stole second. Wayne Garrett was intentionally walked and Ed Kranepool hit an RBI base hit, making it 2-0. Then, second string catcher J.C. Martin ( a .227 hitter) drove a base hit to left field scoring two more Mets  runs. It was now 4-0 Mets.

In the 2nd, Tommy Agee hit his 16th HR of the year and Wayne Garrett added an RBI making it 6-0 Mets.

Mets pitcher Don Cardwell got knocked out in the 2nd inning, giving up four runs, as the Cubs made a game of it. Jim McAndrew relieved him & didn’t fare much better, all of a sudden it was 6-5 by the time Cal Koonce took the mound in the 3rd.

But Koonce stopped the Cubs cold, he scattered just four hits over the next five innings, in a stellar relief performance getting the win. Ron Taylor closed out the 8th & 9th innings earning his 9th save of the year.

The Mets did add more runs, Al Weis hit his second HR in two days, in the 5th inning. Art Shamsky added a two run HR in the 8th inning, his 7th of the year making it 9-5 Mets.

After the game Tom Seaver jumped & clicked his heels outside the Mets dugout while smirking over at Ron Santo & the Cubs.

Not only were these Mets winning they weren’t taking anybodys garbage. They believed in themselves & were now only 4 ½ games back. People began to believe.
With all the talk of the Chicago Cubs being cursed, lets look back in history how the 1969 New York Mets played their part!

Oct 30, 2016

Italian / American Player With One Of MLB's Best Beards: Mike Napoli (2006-2012)

Michael Anthony Napoli was born on October 31st, 1981 in Hollywood Florida. The Italian American catcher / first baseman was drafted out of high school in Pembroke Pines, Florida by the Anaheim Angels. In 2004 at A Ball he hit 29 HRs with 118 RBIs getting promoted to AA in 1995 where he hit 31 HRs with 99 RBIs.

By 2006 he was on the Angels roster as their main catcher over Jose Molina. Napoli entered the major leagues with a HR in his first career at bat, coming against the Detroit Tigers. Overall in his rookie year he hit 16 HRs with 13 doubles in 94 games, although he only batted .228. By 2008 he brought his average up to .273 and would hit over 20 HRs in each of the next three seasons.

He competed for the catching job with Jeff Mathis, although Napoli was a far better hitter than Mathis, manager Mike Scioscia prefers a better defensive catcher. Mathis threw out 25% of base runners to Napoli’s 15%, & the Angels staff had better ERA of almost one run when Mathis was behind the plate. Scioscia had a closed door meeting with Napoli about his catching during the summer of ’09. Napoli led all catchers with eight errors in 2009 & his seven passed balls were fifth most in the league. But his power was needed in the Angels line up, he saw more time at DH as well as first base.

In 2010 he had his best Angels season playing in 140 games, with 108 hits, 26 HRs, 68 RBIs, 24 doubles & 60 runs scored. His batting average did fall to .238 & he struck out 137 times (7th in the league). In Anaheim he played in three post seasons, hitting a pair of HRs with four RBIs in the 2007 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

In January 2011 he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells. Four days later he was sent to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco. Napoli would share time during the regular season behind the plate (61 games) with veteran Yorvit Torrealba (98 games).

 Napoli would play at first base as well as designated hitter and have an incredible year at the plate. He hit .320 although his 369 at bats did not qualify him in the batting leaders, hit 30 HRs (10th in the league) with 25 doubles & 75 RBIs playing in 116 games over all. He saw more playing time behind the plate in September & by the post season he was the Rangers main backstop.

Post Season 2011: In the 7th inning of Game #3 of the 2011 ALDS he hit a two run HR off Tampa’s Dave Price putting the Rangers ahead 2-1, in a game they would win 4-3. In the Series he batted .357 (4-15). He had a good ALCS against the Detroit Tigers as well, batting .292 with an RBI & six runs scored.

In the World Series he became a household name & a Texas baseball legend as the fans in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex chanted Napoli -Napoli!! In Game #1 he hit a two run HR off Chris Carpenter to tie the game at two, although Texas went onto lose 3-2.

In Game #4 he greeted new pitched Mitchell Boggs with a tremendous three run HR in the 6th inning sealing the Rangers 4-0 win, tying the series at two games each. In Game #5 he came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning with the bases loaded & the score tied 2-2. Napoli lined a double to centerfield scoring two runs, leading the Rangers to a three games to two series lead.

In the classic Game #6 he broke a 4th inning 2-2 tie with an RBI single, overall in the series he lead all teams with 10 RBIs. He batted .350 (second for Texas behind Ian Kinsler) with seven hits & two HRs.

In 2012 Napoli returned with a one year deal to avoid arbitration. He  played in 108 games, slugging 24 HRs but his average fell to .227 with 56 RBIs. Texas lost their hold on first place in the final days of the season & lost the first round of the new one game Wild Card Playoff.

For 2013 he signed on with a one year deal for the Boston Red Sox, as the teams primary first baseman. Napoli was second to slugger David Ortiz on the club in HRs (23) & RBIs (92). His 38 doubles were tied with Ortiz for best on the Sox team. Napoli also went down swinging 187 times.

Post season 2013: In the ALDS against the Tampa Rays he went just 2-12. In the ALCS he was the hero of Game #3 at Detroit, hitting a HR off the Tigers' Justin Verlander, while scoring the only run of the game in John lackey's 1-0 victory. In Game #5 he hit a HR off Anibal Sanchez in the Red Sox three run 2nd inning.

In the Red Sox World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Napoli drove in three runs with a double in the Game #1 Red Sox 8-1 victory. He would get just one more hit in the five game series, an RBI single in the clincher game five.

That December he signed another deal with Boston for 2014. In 2014 as the Red Sox fell to fifth place, Napoli struggled all year with injury & sleep issues. He broke his finger in a game against the Chicago White Sox & it plagued him all season. Overall that year he hit .248 with 17 HRs 20 doubles & 55 RBIs.

Napoli suffered from sleep apnea &  under went facial reconstructive surgery to cure the issue up. "I've been dealing with sleep apnea for a long time, my whole career. I've tried numerous things and none of them worked. Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines ... It's just gotten to the point where I have to get this done." The procedure was a success & Napoli moved on.

But 2015 started out just as bad, in 98 games with the Boston Red Sox he hit just .207 & was traded to the Texas Rangers in August. He was used mostly against left handers during his second stint with the Rangers, batting .295 with 5 HRs 10 RBIs in 35 games. After the season he signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Napoli with his Mom
Family: Napoli has a very close relationship with his mother, Donna, who raised him & his brother. "It's a strong relationship, ever since I was a little boy," said Napoli. "My mom worked two jobs to make sure I had everything -- me and my brother. She always made sure I was at practice on time. She made sure I had the right equipment. There's a real strong bond between me and my mother." He sports a tattoo of her had written signature in a rose on his arm. She joked she was honored but with all the other ink on his arm, it's camouflaged.

Party at Napoli's: Napoli was a great success for the first place Cleveland Indians helping them get to the World Series. The popular Napoli inspired a Cleveland fan from Parma, Ohio to come up with a t-shirt slogan "Part at Napoli's" after hearing about the famous bash at his place after the Sox World Championship. The shirt was give to him as a present & when Napoli was seen on a post game interview wearing it, demand was outstanding. The shirt raised $150,000 in monies that went to the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

In just his second game in a Cleveland uniform, he hit a 7th inning HR at Cleveland to help defeat his former Boston Red Sox team mates. The first HR of his season came off Junichi Tarzawa proved to be the game winner breaking the 6-6 tie. He closed out April with 4 HRs & 11 RBIs. He had a huge May driving in 25 runs while hitting 7 HRs. At the end of the month through June 12th he drove in runs in 14 of 19 games while hitting safely in 17 of 19 games. On June 2nd, his 9th inning sac fly was the walk off game winning heat, to beat the KC Royals in a come back Indian win.

He closed out July starting a 16 game hits streak, in that stretch he hit HRs in five straight games & drove in ten runs as well. On August 11th he had a four hit, four RBI day including a three run HR in a 14-4 win over the LA Angeles.

He closed out the season having the best year of his career, having career highs in HRs (34) RBIs (101) bits (133) runs (92) games played (150) & matching his walks total (78). His veteran presence among the young players speaks way beyond the big numbers he put up. 

Quotes: Terry Francona- "The numbers are really good, but all of the other things aren't overstated. I mean, what he's done is legit, and it's powerful. Sometimes you just get lucky along the way where you get pretty special people and you try to take advantage of it."

Post Season 2016: In the ALDS Napoli helped his Indians surprise the Boston Red Sox with a three Game sweep of the series. He went 2-12 in the series with a Game #1 double.

In the ALCS he was quiet for the first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. But in Game #3 at Toronto, he started out with a 1st inning RBI double & then made history in his next at bat.

He broke a 1-1- with a 4th inning HR that made him just the fifth player in MLB history to hit HRs for four different teams. The Indians went on to a 4-2 win & a commanding 3-03 series lead. They won it in five games, as Napoli went on to his third World Series in just six years, all with different teams.
After the winning the AL pennant early & having a few off days, Napoli encouraged his team to celebrate in Las Vegas but that was rebuffed by management.

In the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Napoli got a hit & scored the second run of the series in Game #1. In Game #2 he got two hits in the 5-1 loss. As the series moved to Wrigley Field, everyone was looking for a high scoring affair, as  the Cubs hosted a World Series game for the first time since 1945.

But Napoli saw the winds blowing in & told his team mate Andrew Miller that he predicted they would win 1-0 that night. Sure enough Napoli was right as the Indians won a 1-0 squeaker over the Cubs.
He was upset he did not get the start in Game #4, but did come in later to finish it out as the Indians took a 3-1 World Series lead. In the Game #5 loss he got a hit in the 7th inning & represented the tying run, but was left stranded on base.

In his eleven year career Mike Napoli has been to three World Series, playing in eight post seasons batting .234 with 8 HRs & 29 RBIs.

Overall in his career he has played for four teams batting .252 with 238 HRs 213 doubles 678 RBIs a .465 slugging % & a .352 on base %. He has been a catcher, a first baseman, out fielder & DH.

Family: Napoli had been linked to a realation ship with model Alison McDaniel. He currently has been dating nursing student Sophia Phalen.

Oct 29, 2016

2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Pitcher: Steve Trachsel (2001-2006)

Steven Christopher Trachsel was born on Halloween 1970, in Oxnard California. He attended Long Beach State University, getting to the College World Series there.

The six foot three, right hander was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the eight round of the 1991 draft. He won 13 games at AA Charlotte in 1992 getting promoted to AAA Iowa where he went 13-6 in 1993.

He got a September call up going 0-2 in three games. He was on the Cubs staff for good in 1994 going 9-7 with a 3.21 ERA. He would spend seven years in Chicago with three winning seasons. Trachsel went 13-9 in 1996 but fell to a 8-12 record in 1997. After allowing the second most HRs in the league the previous two seasons, he allowed 32 league leading HRs in 1997, posting a 4.51 ERA.

In 1998 he had one of his best seasons in Chicago, going 15-8 with a 4.46 ERA making the All Star team. That season he went into the history books, as he served up Mark McGwire’s 62nd HR, which passed him for the single season all time HR mark.

In 1999 he led the league in losses, going 8-18 with a 5.56 ERA, allowing another 32 HRs and was granted free agency after the season. In January of 2000 he signed with the Tampa Devil Rays but was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 31st, going a combined 8-15 (second most losses in the AL). That off season he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets for the 2001 season.

Whenever Trachsel pitched, you were in for a long game, he was nicknamed “the Human Rain Delay”. He was probably one of the slowest workers on the mound in Mets history. He walked a lot of people and didn’t strike out to many, which led to large pitch counts.

He made his Mets debut on April 7th as the team’s fifth starter and he was shelled. He allowed ten earned runs in five innings pitched against the Montreal Expos. He would lose his first four starts & go 1-9 by the end of June.

But the up & down Trachsel then went out to win eight of his next ten games. In his last game of the year on October 2nd, he threw a two hit shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates striking out seven batters in front of the home crowd. He finished the season at 11-13 with a 4.46 ERA.

He followed up going 11-11 in 2002 lowering his ERA to 3.37. In 2003 he started out the year at 0-2 but had a good streak to win four in a row.

On June 15th in an interleague game at Anaheim against the Angels, Trachsel flirted with a no hitter into the 6th inning, when David Eckstein singled. It was the only hit he allowed on the day, pitching a one hit shutout victory, while walking four.

On August 18th in a game against the Colorado Rockies at Shea Stadium, he once again flirted with a no hitter into the 6th inning. This time it was Chin-hui Tsao who doubled for the only hit of the game.

He closed out the final two months of the year 7-3 finishing as the clubs winningest pitcher. For the year he was 16-10 (5th most wins in the NL) with a 3.78 ERA, striking out 111 batters pitching in 204 innings throwing the two complete game shutouts.

The next year he fell off to 12- 13 but pitched another 200 plus innings striking out 117 batters posting a 4.00 ERA.

He started to suffer back problems which led to a herniated disk and him missing most of the 2005 season. He returned on August 26th in San Francisco and pitched eight shut out innings, striking out six batters. He made six starts in September but lost each one to go 1-4.

He came back in 2006 winning the fourth game of the season but found himself at 2-4 at the end of May. As the Mets team went on a roll so did Trachsel, he won seven straight decisions and twelve of thirteen games over a three month period. The Mets were giving him a lot of run support as he never allowed fewer than two runs in any of those wins.

On the season he won 15 games again (7th most in the NL) which tied Tom Glavine for tops on the Mets staff. He only lost eight in 30 starts (165 innings pitched) and posted a 4.47 ERA. The Mets won the Eastern Division title & went to the post season in 2006 and that’s where his troubles began.

Post Season: He got the NLDS start in Game #3 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, giving up two runs on three hits and was finished by the 4th inning. In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals he got shelled in Game #3, giving up five runs in the 1st inning at Busch Stadium. Ten of the twelve batters he faced reached base, when Willie Randolph came to the mound he asked to be removed from the game due to a contusion on his thigh.

From that point on he lost the confidence of his manager, his team, and upper management. They felt he gave up & didn’t seem to care. So the 15 game winner was pushed to the background and never seen again in a Mets uniform.

In his six year Mets career he was 66-59 with a 4.09 ERA. He walked 354 batters and allowed 124 HRs, which is certainly a high amount. The next season he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles going 6-8 & then was traded to the Chicago Cubs. After the season he resigned with the Orioles for 2008 going 2-5 in his final ten games.

Overall he went 9-16 after leaving the Mets and finished his 16 year career at 143-159 with 7 saves, 1591 strike outs & 943 walks in 2501 innings pitched. He posted a 4.39 ERA allowing 348 HRs, 20 complete games & seven shut outs.

Mets Leader Board: He is tenth on the all time Mets list with 66 victories & eleventh with 59 loses. He is 15th in Mets history with 580 strike outs & 12th in starts with 160.

Retirement: In 2011 he returned to New York attending the ten year anniversary of the 911 attack ceremonies at Citi Field.

Oct 28, 2016

The 2012 N.L.Cy Young Award Winner: R.A. Dickey (2010-2012)

Robert Alan "R. A." Dickey was born October 29, 1974 in Nashville, Tennessee. He majored in English Literature with 1 3.3 GPA at the University of Tennessee, before getting drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1996.

That year he was a member of the US Olympic baseball team that won a bronze medal at the summer games in Atlanta. Dickey was the winning pitcher in two of the games.

The Intelligent right hander was offered a contract over $800,000 until a doctor noticed his arm hanging in an odd way. An x-ray found a missing ulnar collateral ligament and the Rangers lowered their offer to $75,000.

Doctors said he shouldn’t be able to turn a door knob let alone, pitch in the major leagues. Upset & angry he found a spiritual enlightment and moved on. He began a minor league career that lasted straight 14 seasons where he pitched at least three games at the level every seasons.

Dickey made his MLB debut in Texas on April 22nd, 2001 finishing off an 11-2 win over the Oakland A's pitching one scoreless inning. He made four appearances & was sent down to AAA Oklahoma in early May. 

In 2002 he pitched 38 games making 13 starts going 9-8 for Buck Showalter's fourth place Rangers. The next year he pitched 25 games going 6-7 with limited success. He pitched just nine games the next year & was back in the minor leagues.

He eventually realized his forkball pitch which he called “the thing”, was actually a hard knuckle ball. He realized he needed to perfect the knuckler to stay in the major leagues.

In 2006 the Rangers gave him a shot to show off his new knuckleball, but he hadn't perfected it yet. He allowed six HRs in his first start of the season, tying fellow knuckle baller Tim Wakefield’s MLB record.

He pitched just the one game in Texas & then spent the entire year at AAA Oklahoma going 9-8. He was granted free agency at the end of the year & then signed with the Milwaukee Brewers to a minor league deal.

His new knuckle ball was successful as he went 12-6 with a 3.80 ERA at AAA Nashville, winning the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Year Award. He would get drafted away from the Brewers, as a Rule V pick by the Seattle Mariners. In 2008 in Seattle he went just 5-8 with a 5.21 ERA.

On August 17th he set an MLB record with four wild pitches in a single inning, during a game against the Minnesota Twins. In the inning he allowed two runs on a single, with two walks, a passed ball the four wild pitches & retired one batter.

The record tied a mark with Hall of Famers Walter Johnson & Phil Niekro. After one season with the Mariners he then signed on with the Minnesota Twins.

In 2010 he was signed by the New York Mets and began the season at AAA Buffalo. On April 29th he allowed a single to the first batter he faced then retired the next 27 batters in a row, for a one hitter. He was 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA by May when the Mets brought him up to their staff.

He made his debut against the Nationals earning no decision after pitching six innings allowing only two runs. Dickey then went on to win his first six decisions as his knuckleball surprised all N.L. hitters. He was 6-2 at the All Star break posting a 2.62 ERA.

On August 13th he pitched a one hit shutout at Citi Field against Cole Hammels & the Phillies. He pitched another complete game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in mid September for his 11th victory on the year.

He struggled the rest of the way taking losses in his last three decisions of the year, although he only allowed one run in seven innings against Milwaukee on September 27th.

He finished up 2010 with the best year of his career & as a pleasant surprise on a disappointing Mets team; he was 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA (7th best in the N.L.). He pitched in 27 games, posting 174 innings & striking out 104 batters while walking only 42. 

At the plate he was one of the leagues better hitting pitchers, batting .255 with two doubles & five RBIs.

He began the 2011 season, pitching in the third game of the season earning a win against the Florida Marlins allowing just one run in six innings. He then lost his next five decisions, finding himself 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA by mid May.

In early June he had some success, pitching into the 8th inning twice allowing one run against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field earning a win. But he then allowed three runs to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, taking a loss.

Dickey’s 2011 wasn’t going as successful as 2010, by mid August he was 5-11. He closed out that month, pitching seven shutout innings against the Florida Marlins in the second game of a double header, earning a win. He won his first two starts in September as well, highlighted by tossing seven shutout innings in Florida beating the Marlins 1-0 on September 7th. 

On September 24th Dickey earned no decision in a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies where he threw seven innings while allowing just a run.

He ended the year at 8-13 with a 3.28 ERA striking out 134 batters with 54 walks in 208 innings of work. On the mound he led all pitchers with 58 assists.

In 2012 Dickey started the second game of the Mets season beating the Atlanta Braves. He had a solid April going 3-1 then went on a roll from there. On May 6th he pitched eight solid innings, allowing just one run on four hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks for his fourth win.

He rolled through the month undefeated, finishing up May at 7-1. At the end of the month he was the N.L. Pitcher of the month with two outstanding performances that week. He struck out eleven Pirates in Pittsburgh on May 22nd, followed by a ten strikeout performance at Citi Field on May 27th against the San Diego Padres.

In June he would be even better, winning the Pitcher of the Month Award going 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA.

On June 7th Dickey pitched a complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out nine Cardinals lowering his ERA to 2.69. On June 7th the Mets were 1.5 games behind the Washington Nationals, surprising everyone with their winning.

But after losing two straight from the Nationals they were in jeopardy of a sweep. Dickey ended any chance of the Nats sweep by throwing 7.1 shutout innings earning win number nine.

On June 13th Dickey took the mound in Tampa Florida, he allowed a first inning single to B.J. Upton on a ball David Wright failed to play cleanly. No one thought about it, as Dickey went about his business.

He went on to retire the next the next twenty two batters until Elliot Johnson reached on an error in the ninth. In the inning there were two passed balls & a run scoring ground out. He finished the game with a one hit 9-1 victory, while striking out 12 batters.

He established a Mets record of 32.2 scoreless innings besting Jerry Koosman's old record from 1973. The Mets attempted to appeal the official scorer's decision on ruling Wright's play a hit, but MLB denied the appeal. 

Dickey entered his next start, by having only allowed one earned run, with three walks & 50 strikeouts over his five previous starts.

On June 18th he went out & pitched another one hitter, this time a shutout, striking out a career high 13 Baltimore Orioles at Citi Field. He became the first NL Pitcher since 1944 to throw back to back one hitters. He had now won six straight starts, winning nine straight decisions, while becoming the first pitcher in the league to reach eleven victories.

Another amazing stat has Dickey being the only pitcher in MLB history to throw back to back one hitters & have over ten strikeouts in each of those games. In history only Nolan Ryan & Sandy Koufax have ever thrown one hitters in the same season.

He was named to the 2012 NL All Star team, but did not get the start which angered a lot of Mets fans as manager Tony Larussa went with San Francisco's Matt Cain. Dickey came in to pitch a scoreless 6th inning, allowing a base hit in the 8-0 National League win at Kansas City.

Quotes: Hall of Fame Pitcher and fellow knuckleballer Phil Niekro commented on Dickey's 2012 performance saying "I had a few streaks, but nothing like he’s going through.

I don’t know if any other knuckleballer has ever been on a hot streak like he has been. He is just dynamite right now." Mets manager Terry Collins also stated he never saw anything like the streak Dickey was on in June.

The Mets quickly faded away from the race after the break with a long losing streak, broken up by Dickey as he beat the first place Nationals on July 19th in Washington. 

In August he went 3-2 highlighted by two complete games, both against the Marlins. On August 9th at Citi Field he struck out ten Marlins becoming the first pitcher to toss four complete games on the year.

 On August 31st, he pitched a complete game shutout in Miami string out seven, becoming the first Mets pitcher since Al Leiter to win 17 games in a season. 

On September 5th he earned win #18 beating the Cardinals in St. Louis. He then lost his next two starts & it was looking doubtful he would reach twenty wins. But as usual he bore down winning #19 on September 22nd at Citi Field.

On September 27th he took the mound at Citi Field & pitched into the eighth inning, striking out 13 Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing three runs on eight hits. He earned the win becoming the first Mets pitcher since Frank Viola to win twenty games.

Dickey ended the year at 20-6 (second in the NL in wins) while leading the league in strike outs (230) starts (33) innings pitched(233) , batters faced (927) complete games (5) & shut outs (3).

His fielding was also excellent, posting a .933 fielding %, second in the league in assists (44).

In September Dickey who entered the last year of his contact- along with the clubs best hitter David Wright, said he would only sign an extended contract if the team aggressively perused Wright.

In December he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Mike Nickeas, as the Mets decided to go with youth, getting Top prospects Travis d'Arnaud & Noah Syndergaad along with veteran John Buck.

In Toronto he debuted on Opening Day taking a loss to the Cleveland Indians, allowing four runs on five hits in six innings. He was 0-2 before earning his first win, which was a 3-2 victory at Kansas City where he pitched into the 7th inning. On April 18th, he shut out the Chicago White Sox for six innings, striking out seven batters for his second win.

On May 14th, he struck out ten Giants during an interleague game going six innings in a Blue Jays 9-6 win. On May 20th, he earned his fourth win pitching eight innings to beat the Tampa Rays 7-5.

The Blue Jays season did not go as expected, with injuries & lots of struggles. Dickeys year went up & down as he pretty much stayed at .500 all season. 

On June 5th, he had one of his best games with Toronto; pitching a one hit shut out into the 9th inning. He left the game with one out finishing up a two hit shut out win over the Giants in San Francisco. 

In July he got to the .500 mark (8-8) but then lost three straight & had to play catch-up once again. He did, finishing up the year winning four of five decisions, while going to the 8th inning three times. 

On September 22nd, he took a loss to the AL Eastern Champion Red Sox but struck out a season high 11 batters. He finished the year winning a Gold Glove & leading the AL in starts (33) going 14-13 (8th most wins in AL) with 174 strike outs 70 walks & a 4.27 ERA in 217 innings. He allowed 35 HRs which was second most in the AL.

In 2014 he was pretty much at .500 most of the year, earning wins followed by losing decisions. The Jays had a fine season, contending for a playoff spot into September, Dickey along with Mark Buehrle led the pitching staff.

From August 20th through the end of the year he went 4-0 pitching into at least the 6th inning every time, giving three seven inning outings as well. 

He ended the year at 14-13 with a 3.71 ERA and pitched 215 innings for the 4th straight year. He led all pitchers in hit by pitches (14) & served up 32 HRs (3rd most in the AL).

In 2015 the Blue Jays won the A.L. Eastern Division, with the help of AL Sluggers Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion & Jose Bautista, along with trade deadline acquisitions David Price & Troy Tulowitzki.  Dickey went 11-11 behid Buehrle, Marco Estrada & Drew Hitchinson. Dickey posted a 4.00 ERA & pitched over 200 innings (209) for the fifth straight year.  He struck out 123 batters & walked 61.

Post Season: Dickey pitched Game #4 of the ALDS earning no decision in the 8-4 win at Texas over the Rangers. He allowed just one run & struck out three in 4.2 innings of work, In the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals, he took the Game #4 loss serving up two HRs, four hits & five hits in just 1.2 innings of work.

In 2016 the Jays returned to the post season, winning the wild card as well as the ALDS losing to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. In the regular season, Dickey now a late rotation starter, took a back seat to twenty game winner J.A. Happ (20-4) & 15 game winner Aaron Sanchez (15-2). His best performance was a three hit eight inning shut out over Texas on May 13th. He did not pitch in the post season. & wasn't on the post season roster. The 42 year old may be at the end of his career.

Personal: Off the field he is a born again Christian, married with four children. His favorite hobby is reading, he is notorious for having a stack of books in his locker at all times.

In 2012 he wrote a book of his own about the amazing journey of his life where he found success as well as God in his life. The book called Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest or Truth, Authenticity & the Perfect knuckleball.

The book was a huge success & inspiration to many, in a season where he personally found the most success of his own career.

His story has become an inspiration to many people. He has made rounds doing interviews in the baseball world, Christian publications, & television shows, including a stop by on David Letterman. Even Forbes magazine did an article on how C.E.O.'s can learn from Dickey's book to make a successful company.

In his 13 year career he has pitched in 338 games going 100-93 with a 3.98 ERA, 1212 strike outs & 533 walks in 1709 innings.

The Only Catcher In Mets History To Catch A Mets No Hitter: Josh Thole (2009-2012)

Joshua Michael Thole was born on October 28th 1986, the day after the Mets won the '86 World Series.

Thole was born & raised Breese, Illinois. The six foot one, left hand hitting catcher was drafted out of high school in the 13th round of the 2005 draft by the New York Mets.

Thole never showed any power at the plate but showed good defensive skills & was a good singles hitter. He hits much better against right handed pitching. He spent two seasons in the Rookie League, then two seasons at A ball.

He hit .300 with a minor league career high of five HRs at A ball St. Lucie in 2008 followed by a .328 year at AA Binghamton. That year he was praised by Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen on how good his defensive skills were behind the plate, as early as Spring Training. With the Mets going nowhere in the pennant race he was brought up to the big league club on August 31st.

He was being primed as the Mets catcher of the future, recieving extra tutoring by veteran Brian Schneider who knew his days were going to be over at the end of the season.

In his first career at bat, Thole singled against the Rockies; Jason Marquis in Colorado & then stole second base. He drove in a run in each of his last three games on the year, finishing up with a .321 average (17-53).

In 2010 he began the year at AAA Buffalo after 48 games he was batting .267 with 2 HRs 19 doubles & 19 RBIs. The Mets year began with Rod Barajas & Henry Blanco as the teams catchers. Thole debuted in late June & by July was seeing steadier playing time.

On July 19th, he hit his first HR , it came in Arizona & by the end of the month he was batting .318.

By August he was the teams main catcher, as Barajas went to the Dodgers & although Thole wasn't hitting with power he was remaining at .the .300 mark.

On October 1st, Thole hit a walk off HR against the Washington Nats Tyler Clippard leading to a 2-1 Met win.

In 2011 Thole saw his first full season at catcher, he tossed out 21% of base runners trying to steal, posting a .997 fielding % (3rd best in the NL) while allowing 16 passed balls (most in the league). R.A. Dickey's knuckle ball didn't help that stat out too much. On April 17th, at Turner Field putting the Mets up 1-0. He later singled in the 5th driving in what turned out to be the games winning run.

On April 29th he drove in all three Mets runs in loss at Philadelphia & then had another three RBI day a month later on May 29th in a 9-5 win against the Phillies at home.

On July 20th he singled off the Cardinals Jason Motte tying up the game, setting the stage for an Angel Pagan walk off HR. In San Diego on August 15th, Thole hit his second HR of the year & then drove in another run in the 5th inning, leading the Mets to a 5-4 win over the Padres.

In September he had another three RBI day, this time gathering up three hits as well in a 12-2 over the Braves in Atlanta. On the year he hit .268 with 3 HRs 17 doubles 40 RBIs & a .345 on base % in 114 games.

Thole was the Opening Day catcher in 2012 & had a pair of hits in Johan Santana's 1-0 win over the Braves at Citi Field.

In April he had a ten game hit streak, finishing the first month hitting well enough be batting .317. On April 29th he hit his only HR of the year, it came off 49 year old Jamie Moyer in Colorado in a 6-5 Mets win against the Rockies.

In May he suffered a concussion after a home plate collision with former Met Ty Wigginton. As a result he missed a month of action returning in early June.

When he got back the Mets were surprising everyone playing well enough to be in second place, only a few games behind the Washington Nationals.

On June 2nd, Thole became the first catcher in Mets history to be behind the plate for a no hitter. Although many have come close, it was on this night; Johan Santana threw the first no hit game in franchise history beating the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-0 win.

Another thrill for Thole that season, was being behind the plate & catching R.A. Dickey, who became the Mets first twenty game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.

After the All Star break the Mets long losing streak pretty much ruined the season. Thole struggled as well, possibly never recovering fully from the concussion, he batted .234 with one HR 15 doubles & 21 RBIs, posting a .296 on base % in 104 games.

Defensively he threw out 24% of would be base stealers, allowed 18 passed balls (mostly due to Dickey's knuckleball) & posted a .992 fielding %.

On December 17, 2012 he was involved in a big trade that sent himself, R.A. Dickey & Mike Nickeas to the Toronoto Blue Jays for highly toted catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud.

He began the 2013 season at AAA Buffalo, now an affiliate of the Blue Jays batting .322 in 41 games.

He joined the Jays in June, playing behind main catcher; JP Arencibia who hit 21 HRs. Thole only hit .150 with one HR, which came in New York against the A.L. club that August. 

In 2014 he was the Jays back up catcher behind veteran Dioner Navarro. The '14 Jays put in a fine season, contending for a playoff spot until September winning 83 games (83-79). In 57 games Thole hit .248 with seven RBIs. His nine passed balls behind the plate put him at 6th most in the league in that category, mostly due to R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. The following season he played in just 18 games with the Blue Jays.

For the 2016 AL Wild Card Champion Blue Jays; Thole won the second string spot, behind Russell Martin. In 50 regular season games he hit just .169 but posted solid defense with a .997 fielding %. Although Dickey's knuckleball gave him 17 passed balls on the season, second most in the AL. Thole is also second among active catchers with 80 passed balls. 

In his eight year career in 478 games, he is batting .242 with 9 HRs 53 doubles 111 RBIs & a .306 on base %.

In 439 games at catcher, he threw out 24% of would be base stealers, posting a .994 fielding%.

Family: Thole & his wife Kathryn have a one son. Their Maltese poodle is deaf & Thole has taught the dog sign language with amazing results