Oct 4, 2016

1969 World Champion Mets Pitcher: Gary Gentry (1969-1972)

Gary Edward Gentry was born October 6, 1946 in Phoenix, Arizona. The six foot right hander went to Arizona State University, getting to the College baseball finals there in his first two years.

In 1967 he went 17-1 as a junior, setting a record striking out 229 batters in 174 innings. He then struck out 15 batters in 14 innings in the semi final game of the College World Series.

He was named All American & the College Player of the Year as ASU won the championship. He was the third straight Sun Devil player to be named Player of the Year following Reggie Jackson & Rick Monday. In 1976 Gentry was named to the Arizona State Hall of Fame.

After passing up three offers from other teams he was drafted by the New York Mets in 1967, in the third round. In 1968 he went 12-4 at AAA Jacksonville winning another championship there with future Mets; Tug McGraw, Duffy Dyer, Amos Otis, Jim McAndrew & Danny Frisella.

Gentry made the 1969 starting Mets staff; along with Nolan Ryan they were the youngest pitchers on the team at age 22. He debuted with a win in his first MLB start on April 10th, at Shea Stadium. He beat the expansion Montreal Expos, pitching into the 9th innings allowing just two runs.

He won his second start as well, allowing three runs in seven innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. In his third start he pitched better that he did in his first two games, allowing one run through nine innings but got no decision.

In May he lost three straight starts before beating the Reds in Cincinnati 11-3 in a game where he gave up 12 hits. On June 17th in the first game of a double header at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, he threw a two hit complete game 1-0 shutout to beat Billy Champion & the Phillies while, striking out nine batters.

Two weeks later he pitched a one run five hit shutout in St. Louis against veteran Mud Cat Grant & the Cardinals. In that game he struck out five batters. By the end of July, although he had pitched some gems, his record was at .500 (9-9) with a 3.71 ERA.

As the Mets were surprising everyone & proving to be a contender in the newly aligned NL East, Gentry was also making the baseball world notice him in the shadows of Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman.

On August 8th in the second game of a double header in Atlanta, he pitched nine innings of shut out ball allowing just four hits, but the Mets would lose the game when Ron Taylor allowed a Felipe Alou walk off base hit.

On August 19th he got another no decision after pitching another fantastic ten inning four hit shutout against Juan Marichal & the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. Tommie Agee won the game with a 14th inning walk off HR off Marichal earning Tug McGraw the victory.

In the September pennant race he was as a good as anybody, starting out the month with a 5-4 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles, pitching into the 9th inning. In his next win he shut out the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium on a six hitter where he struck out nine.

On September 24th he took the mound at in front of a sold out crowd at Shea Stadium, on what was to be a historic night in Mets history. Gentry went out & pitched a four hit gem, shutting out Steve Carlton & the St. Louis Cardinals.

More importantly the Mets clinched the Eastern Division title that night, getting to their first post season. Before the 1969 season was over, he added one more victory on September 28th, shutting out the Phillies for five innings.

As a rookie in the 1969 Championship season, Gentry went 13-12, in 35 starts (tied for the team lead with Tom Seaver) posting a 3.43 ERA. He struck out 154 batters, walked 81 in 233 innings of work, threw three shut outs and had six complete games.

His down side was giving up 24 HRs (6th most in the NL) and leading the team with 12 losses. He posted a perfect .1000 fielding % for the first of three times in his career.

Post Season: In the 1969 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Gentry started Game #3 at Shea Stadium, with the Mets going for the sweep.

But he had a rough outing, only pitching two innings, giving up two runs, including a HR to Hank Aaron. He was relieved by Nolan Ryan who went on to finish the game, earning the win advancing the Amazing Mets to the World Series.

In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Gentry got the start in Game #3, the first ever World Series game played at Shea Stadium with the Series tied at one game each. The rookie pitched well into the seventh inning, allowing no runs on three hits, while striking out four Orioles. He had some help though, as the game was highlighted by Tommie Agee's two spectacular catches in centerfield that prevented at least five Baltimore Oriole runs.

In the top of the 4th inning, after striking out Paul Blair, he allowed singles to Frank Robinson & Boog Powell.

After striking out Brooks Robinson, Elrod Hendricks ripped a shot to deep centerfield that Agee snagged with one of the best catches in World Series history. In the sixth, Agee once again made a spectacular grab on a Brooks Robinson fly ball, also with two runner on base.

In the second inning, Gentry helped his own cause by doubling off Jim Palmer to deep right center field over Don Buford's head. The hit scored Bud Harrelson with the game's first run.

It was his first hit since August 3rd, and he had only driven in one run all season.Gentry was relieved in the 7th inning after having two fly balls hit deep to centerfield. Nolan Ryan again came into for relief pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings combining for the 5-0

Tom Seaver & Gary Gentry survey the damaged
Shea Stadium pitchers mound after the
1969 NLCS as fans had torn up the field
Baseball Card Trivia: Gary’s 1970 Topps baseball card picture was the same photo used on his 1969 Rookie card, one he shared with Amos Otis.

In 1970 Gary got the ball for the fourth start of the year & pitched into the 9th inning, allowing just one run, beating the Cardinals in St. Louis 4-1. Two wins on the early West Coast road trip had him start out at 3-0.

On May 13th Gentry pitched one of the best games of his career, keeping the Shea crowd in suspense until the 8th inning. He flirted with a no hitter against the Chicago Cubs until Ernie Banks singled spoiling the no hit bid. It was the only hit he allowed in the game, as he struck out seven Cubs & finished with a one hit, 4-0 victory.

On May 27th Gentry had another fine outing, this one against Steve Carlton & the St. Louis Cardinals, also at Shea Stadium. He struck out nine Cardinals, pitching a three hit shutout as the Mets won 3-0. At the end of June he was 7-4 with a 3.62 ERA and then struggled a bit, taking a pair of losses in July without any wins. In August he earned a save on the 8th, when he came in to relieve Jerry Koosman in a wild 12-9 win in Pittsburgh. On August 12th he pitched a one run, four hit victory at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati to beat the Reds.

His next start came st Shea, where he pitched another one run four hitter to beat the Houston Astros. At the time of the win, the Mets were just 2.5 games behind the Pirates in second place. But the Miracle Mets fell short in 1970, as they fell to third place by season's end.

From mid August on Gentry finished out the year losing his last three decisions ( nine no decisions) ending with a 9-9 record, one save & a 3.68 ERA. He struck out 138 batters, walked 86 in 188 innings pitched, throwing five complete games with two shut outs.

In 1971 he got the second start of the season but lost 6-2 to the Montreal Expos at home, as he allowed three runs in 6.2 innings of work. On April 18th at Shea Stadium Gentry had a no hitter going into the 6th inning, against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a double header.

In the 6th he walked Ritchie Hebner, then allowed a triple to Roberto Clemente. Another run was scored on a ground out to Willie Stargell. It was the only hit of the game for the Pirates, as Gentry struck out six along the way. The Mets would score runs on HRs by Cleon Jones & Tommie Agee leading Gentry to another one hit victory.

On April 28th he pitched another complete game victory, only allowing one run to the Cardinals in St. Louis. In May he made five starts never allowing more than two earned runs, but only got credit for one win. On May 26th he pitched ten innings allowing just two runs to the Phillies but got no decision, as the Mets lost 3-2 in 12th inning on a Larry Bowa base hit scoring Tim McCarver. In June Gentry had his best month, going 4-1 with two fine performances in the final two weeks of the month.

On June 18th, he threw a two hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies, this time notching seven strike outs in the 2-0 win. Two starts later in Philadelphia, he beat Rick Wise tossing a four hit 4-1 win, although the Philly run was unearned.

Drama: That season The Gentry's had a family crisis at their home in Arizona. Their three year old son nearly drowned when he jumped into the pool at their house unattended.

Gary's wife Janet jumped into the pool & saved the boys life by giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Gentry had a temper as well, he let his emotions get to him more than once on the field. Not only did he aggravate umpires & opposing teams with his anger but also his own team mates. He once by tossed his glove in the air when he thought outfielder Cleon Jones had been lax on a fly ball.

In another instance he stood on the mound with his hands on his hips, looking toward centerfield after Tommie Agee had misjudged a fly ball. The fans were outraged when he showed up Agee & Gentry received a lot of angry fan mail.

He later said his anger was geared toward the umpires. Gil Hodges sat him down & gave him a talking too, explaining how he needed to control his temper in front of thousands of fans.

Gentry made just four starts in August (1-1) & was 2-2 in September as the Mets finished 83-79 in third place. Gentry finished the year at 12-11 (second most wins on the staff, behind Tom Seaver's 20) with a 3.23 ERA. He struck out 155 batters, walked 82 and was a work horse pitching 203 innings, while throwing three shutouts & eight complete games (both second to Seaver).

In the second game of the 1972 season, Gentry took a rough loss to Steve Blass & the World Champion Pirates. Altough he allowed just one run through six innings, Blass shut out the Mets 2-0.

He then went on to win three straight games, earning wins on the West Coast in San Diego & San Francisco, as well as a game at Shea against the Montreal Expos.

In San Francisco he threw a two hitter striking out five the Giants. But he then lost his next five decisions allowing five runs or more in four of those games, as his ERA soared to 4.06 by the end of May. On July 20th he pitched a complete game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles allowing just one run in the 2-1 win over Al Downing.

Gentry was 5-8 & ended up in the bullpen by August, but returned to the rotation in September. That month in his first two starts. he two only allowed one run each time, pitching beyond the 7th inning both times. His last two outings were rough as he never got past the second inning, allowing more than four runs each time.

Gentry put up a 7-10 record in 1972 and posted his highest ERA as a Met at 4.01. He struck out 120 batters with 75 walks in 164 innings of work, he also threw three complete games. Gentry was still young and had trade value with a promising future.

That winter he was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with reliever Danny Frisella in exchange for Felix Millan & George Stone. It was a great trade for the Mets, as they went onto the World Series with key contributions from both players.

After going 4-6 in 1973 Gentry developed bone chips in his elbow and only pitched in 17 starts over the next three seasons in Atlanta. He played his last game for the Braves on May 6, 1975. In 1975 he was re-signed by the Mets, but pitched just one game at AA Jackson getting released on June 19th.

During his seven -year career, he was 46-49 with a 3.56 ERA. In 157 games he threw eight shut outs with 25 complete games. He struck out 615 batters walking 369 batters in 902 innings pitched. His Mets career spanned 131 games, going 41-42 with a 3.56 ERA.

Honors: Gentry finally made his return to the Mets organization in 2009 at the 40th anniversary reunion of the 1969 Championship team.

Gentry stated in 2009 that he felt he wasn't welcome at Shea Stadium after Joan Payson passed away. He said the new ownership changed, as the Baltimore regime came over.

Gentry has lived in Scottsdale Arizona where he manages subsidized housing for senior citizens.

Quotes: Ron Swoboda in the Book Amazing- "His stuff was every bit as good as Seaver's. He had just as live an arm. When I wasn't playing I used to warm him up in the bullpen just to keep my own reflexes sharp."

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