Feb 29, 2016

The Story of the New York Mets Logo

On November 16, 1961 cartoonist Ray Gotto (1916-2003) unveiled the circular New York Mets logo, a symbol which has virtually gone unchanged since its birth 55 years ago.

Gatto was the illustrator of the "Ozark Ike" & "Cotton Woods" comic strips as well as having drawn many classic sports cartoons for the Sporting News.

He won a contest that the club sponsored in order to start up a fan base beating out over 500 other entries for his design. The prize was not only to have his logo used but also $1000. 


Artist Ray Gotto
The original New York Mets team colors are blue and orange, the colors represent the two former National League teams who left New York for the West Coast.

The orange represents the former New York Giants & the blue represents the Brooklyn Dodgers. Blue & orange are also the official colors of New York State.

The logo design is a round baseball with orange stitching and the Mets orange script lettering outlined in white across the middle.
The blue skyline in the background also has special meanings to the city of New York. At the far left is a church spire, symbolic of Brooklyn, which is known as the borough of churches.

The second building from the left is the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the tallest building in Brooklyn at the time of the logo design. Next to that is Manhattan's famous Woolworth Building and a then a general skyline view of midtown Manhattan, featuring the Empire State Building at the center. At the far right the United Nations Building is represented.
The white bridge is not supposed to be one specific bridge, but rather a representation of all bridges in the area. This is also to symbolize all boroughs of the city.

Trivia: An interesting note is that the Throgs Neck Bridge opened up for travel the same year, 1961. The Whitestone Bridge opened up in 1939. Both Bridges opened in coincidence with those years upcoming World’s Fair's in Queens.

In 1966 the Mets used that logo on their left uniform sleeve for the first time. It was used in that spot for three seasons but replaced in 1969 with MLB logo.
It has come & gone in that spot  on the players sleeve many times over the years.

In 1998 the Mets dropped the small orange NY on the left side of the logo, located just above the curl of the letter M. That season they also started using the black colors, an alternate logo featured the skyline in black, with the Mets in blue lettering with an orange shade. The bridge remained white & the stitching remained orange.

Trivia: In 2012 the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building slightly changed its shape, appearing a bit wider & it's dome flatter. Many agree this is due to the latest digital printing age. Also that year which was the teams 50th Anniversary, the black logo & uniforms were done away with.

Brooklyn's First Ball Park: The Union Grounds (1862-1883)

A long time ago, prior to the Civil War, in the very early days of baseball, ballparks like the Elysian Fields in Hoboken were wide open picturesque landscapes. There were no fences & no need to keep people away. They didn't even think about charging people to watch the events, especially since players did not get paid. So the more people that came the more welcome they were. That slowly started to change by the late 1850's.

By the 1860's ice skating was all the craze & elaborate balls for dancing on the ice while skating were held. On the corners of Marcy  & Rutledge Streets in  Williamsburgh, Brooklyn the Union Skating Ground was such a place.

Owner William Cammeyer saw the opportunity to get in on the growing popularity of baseball matches. (He owned a team that was already playing in Hoboken). A baseball facility was built for $60,000 (around $1.5 million in todays money) . Cammeyer contributed $20,000 & raised the other $40,000 in bonds. The majority of the revenue was thought to come from skating & at first no admission fees were thought to come from baseball matches.

On May 15th 1862, the Union Grounds located in Brooklyn across the East River from lower Manhattan was first opened for baseball. The ball park was baseballs first enclosed field ever to be constructed.

It had huge dimensions of over 500 feet from home plate to the outfield fences, with a brick three story pagoda building located in center field which was in play. The building was to offer a birds eye view of the on field action. The ball park was said to hold a crowd of up to 15,000 people.


Soon a 10 cents admission fee was added, for revenues of course but also to keep out rowdy drunks as well as gamblers who were a big problem in baseball's earliest days. Tall eight foot fences surrounded the facility so no one could get a free glimpse in.

Quotes: The Brooklyn Eagle- "The chief object of the Union Grounds reported is to provide a suitable place for ball playing, where ladies can witness the game without being annoyed by the indecorous behavior of the rowdies who attend some of the first-class matches.”

The field was home to the Brooklyn Eckfords of the National Association (1872) The New York Mutuals of the National Association (1871-1875) & the National League (1876); the Brooklyn Atlantics of the National Association (1872-1875) and the Hartford Dark Blues of the National League (1877).

The ballpark was also used briefly by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association as well as other neutral  local teams. There were also games played there by other ball clubs outside of the area billed as special events.

At the time Brooklyn was a booming Metropolis & baseball was becoming a very popular local pastime.

The site was still used for skating in the winter time, the pagoda in center field was filled with lanterns to give a glittering effect on the ice. At times Cricket matches were also played there. By 1877 baseball was no longer played there.

The Union Grounds were demolished in July 1883, half of the site became the 47th Regiment Armory, which still stands today.

Feb 28, 2016

Remembering the NY Baseball Giants: Christy Mathewson Tosses Three World Series Shutouts

The 1905 World Series saw two of the games all time best Managers go head to head against each other, the Giants John McGraw & the Philadelphia A's Connie Mack. The previous year McGraw refused to have his Giants play the newly upstart American League Champion, Boston club due to what he called inferiority. 1905 was different as McGraw acknowledged his AL opponents & respected Connie Mack, who was known for wearing a suit in the dugout.

Game #1 of the 1905 World Series saw two of the games best pitchers go head to head - the Giants Christy Mathewson (31-9) against the A's Eddie Plank (24-12). The game was played at Philadelphia's Columbia Park. Mathewson held the A's hitless until the 4th inning, as he served up a lead off base hit. He would just allow three more hits, all doubles (two ground rule doubles) while striking out six batters shutting out the A's for his first complete game win of the series.

 The Giants scored in the 5th inning, as Mathewson led off with a base hit & was forced out on Roger Bresnahan's grounder. He then stole second, then with two outs Turkey Mike Donlin singled bringing in Bresnahan with the first run. He would score on Sam Mertes ground rule double. In the 9th Bresnahan singled in the Giants third & final run in the 3-0 win.

The series was tied for Game #3, also played at Philadelphia, Mathewson went up against Andy Coakley. The Giant scored two runs in the 1st inning & never looked back. Mathewson was outstanding once again, he shut out the A's allowing just four hits while striking out eight & walking one in the complete game shut out.

The Giants put it away in the 5th, as they sent 12 men to the plate scoring five runs on three hits, with two walks and benefiting from two Philadelphia errors. In the 9th, Dan McGann doubled in two more runs topping off his three hit four RBI day in the 9-0 Giants win.

On Saturday October 14th, New York hosted the fifth & final game of the Series, as 24,187 came to the Polo Grounds to see Mathewson make history & wrap it up for the Giants.

It probably was not even a thought at the time, but Mathewson was about to complete the greatest World Series performance by a pitcher, as he threw his third complete game of the World Series.

Mathewson tossed a five hit shut out, striking out four & walking no one. He beat his opponent Chief Bender who allowed just two runs on five hits while taking the loss. In the 5th Bender walked two Giants, the first run scored as second basemen Billy Gilbert grounded into a double play ending the inning.

In the 8th, Mathewson drew a one out walk and it was only fitting he would score the final run as George Browne grounded out to second base.

In the 1905 World Series Mathewson was 3-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA. He allowed 13 hits in 27 innings striking out 18 batters while walking just one.

Late Nineties Mets Prospect & Short Time Player: Terrence Long (1999)

Terrence Deon Long was born on February 29, 1976 in Montgomery, Alabama. Long was the New York Mets first round draft pick in 1994 (20th pick overall) getting selected right out of high school. The outfielder remained in A ball for four years before making to AA Binghamton in 1998. There he hit .297 with 23 stolen bases, 16 HRs & 58 RBIs. 

Long went to Mets Spring Training in 1999 & made the team after having a good run. He would make three appearances as a pinch hitter as a New York Met, going 0-3. He was sent to AAA Norfolk, where he batted .326 with 7 HRs 20 doubles & 47 RBIs playing in 78 games.

 Then in July he was traded to The Oakland A’s for veteran pitcher Kenny Rodgers. Rodgers helped the Mets win the 1999 wild card race, going 5-1 with a shutout & two complete games. But he had a bad post season, going 0-2 & walking in the winning run of Game #6 of the NLCS in Atlanta. 

 Terrence Long went on to make his debut in Oakland the next year, as the teams main centerfielder. He batted in the leadoff spot & sparked an Oakland team to four straight post season appearances. In 2000 he batted .288 with a career high 18 HRs & 104 runs scored. He drove in 80 runs hit 34 doubles with four triples posting a .336 on base %. Long came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Seattle’s Kazuhiro Sasaki. Long & the A’s got to the 2000 ALDS where he only batted .158 but he did hit one HR in Game #3 off Orlando Hernandez. 

 Over the next two seasons, Long would play in every game of the regular & post seasons for the Athletics. He would hit 30 or more doubles for three straight seasons & hit 14 or more HRs for four straight years. With Oakland he would get to four straight posts seasons but lose in the first round each time. In 2001 Long would bat .283 with 12 HRs 37 doubles & a career high 85 RBIs. 

 Post Season : That year in the ALDS he hit .389 (7-18) with a pair of HRs & three RBIs. In Game #1 he hit a fourth inning, lead off HR off Roger Clemens & in the top of the 8th hit another off Sterling Hitchcock. 

The A's won the game 5-3 on the road. Long would hit safely in all five games, driving inn another run in the Game #4 loss. The A's started out the series with a two games to nothing lead, but lost the final three games. His average fell off to .240 in 2002 but he did hit 16 HRs with 32 doubles & 67 RBIs.

 In 2003 he hit just .245 & the A’s traded him along with catcher Ramon Hernandez to the San Diego Padres for Mark Kotsay. It was a big trade at the time, but neither player worked out for too long. In one season at San Diego, Long batted .295 in 136 games (just 288 at bats) but only hit three HRs with 28 RBIs. In the outfield he made twelve assists which was second most in the NL. 

After the season he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Darrel May & Ryan Bukvich. Longs career winded down quickly, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2006 but was released. He got picked up by the A.L. New York team, playing in 12 games. 

After eight seasons, Long batted .269 with 824 hits 69 HRs 166 doubles 21 triples 428 runs scored 376 RBIs & a .318 on base % in 890 games played.

1970's Italian / American Pitcher: Steve Mingori (1970-1979)

Steven Bernard Mingori was born on Leap year, 1944 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was a star player at his local Rockhurst high school, having his number retired there.

The five foot ten left hander went to Pittsburgh University and got signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. After posting ERA’s under thee for three straight seasons in the minors, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians organization in 1970. 

 The crafty left hander was tough on right handed hitters especially when he threw his famous screwball. Mingori debuted with Cleveland in August 1970, getting his first win against the Detroit Tigers on September 15th. The next year he posted a 1.43 ERA in 56 innings pitched, making 54 appearances as a middle reliever.

He then struggled in 1972 putting up am 0-6 record with a 3.95 ERA. In June 1973 he was traded to his home town to pitch for the Kansas City Royals as a middle reliever.

He went 3-3 with a save that year, and even got a rare start on the last day of the season. Although he went seven strong innings pitching against the Rangers in Texas he still ended up taking the loss. It was only one of two starts he made in his entire career. Mingori pitched well out of the Royals pen the next six seasons posting ERA’s under three four times. 

In 1974 he had a 23 2/3 scoreless innings streak, and in 1975 he posted a career high ten saves which put him amongst the league’s top ten relievers. In the middle to late seventies during the Mingori Royals era, George Brett would emerge as one of the games best hitters & the Royals would win straight AL Western titles. 

Post Season: In the 1976 ALCS he pitched to just one batter in Game #3 & gave up a game winning double to New York's Elliot Maddox although he took no decision. He came back to earn the save in Game #4, pitching two innings while allowing a HR to Greg Nettles. 

In 1977 he saw action in three ALCS games, his best moment coming when he put out the fire in Game #2 with two runners on & one out. He retired the next two hitters to hold the 3-2 lead until Dennis Leonard blew the lead in the next inning. 

In the 1978 ALCS, Mingori was tagged for three runs on five hits in Game #1 at Kansas City, pitching three innings of middle relief. 

In 1978 the Royals had a great bullpen, which was named "Mungo, Hungo, Duck and the Bird" by manager Whitey Herzog. Mingori (Mungo) Al Hrabosky (Hungo) Marty Pattin (Duck) and Doug Bird (Bird). Mingori posted a 2.74 ERA and was second on the team in appearances with 45.


The 1979 season would be his last year pitching, he went 3-3 with a 5.79 ERA On August 20th he had a horrid outing where he allowed eight runs in an inning and a third against the AL New York club. 

Lifetime he pitched ten seasons going 18-33 with 42 saves, 329 strike outs 225 walks and a 3.03 ERA in 385 appearances. 

Retirement: After baseball he briefly coached for the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the early nineties. He later suffered back issues due to his wiry pitching motion. In July of 2008 Mingori passed away at age 64 due to natural causes.

Early Nineties Mets Pitcher: Tony Castillo (1991)

Antonio Jose (Jimenez) Castillo was born March 1, 1963 at Quibor, Lara, Venezuela. The five foot ten left hander, was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1983. In his years at the A ball level he switched over to being a relief pitcher. He posted a best 14 saves in 1988 at playing at A ball Dunedin & AA Knoxville.

Castillo debuted in the majors with the Blue Jays in 1988 appearing in 14 games, earning his first career win against the Texas Rangers that September. He was back & forth from the minors up to the majors through 1993, getting traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Francisco Cabrerra for Jim Acker. Cabrerra is forever famous for getting the game winning walk off base hit in the 1992 NLCS Game #7, scoring Atlanta's Sid Bream.

Castillo pitched parts of three seasons with the Braves going 5-1 with a save in 1990 while posting a 4.23 ERA in 52 appearances. On August 28th, he was traded to the New York Mets, with a player to be named later (Joe Roa) for pitcher Alejandro Pena. Castillo debuted with the Mets on August 29th 1991 in Atlanta, finishing up a 2-0 loss to John Smoltz, in relief of Anthony Young.

On September 11th 1991 he made his first start of the season, in was in Chicago at Wrigley Field. He went six innings allowing no runs on three hits earning the victory. He would make two more starts getting to the fifth inning both times, allowing just one earned run in those starts but getting no decisions. In his last Mets outing he was credited with a hold as New York defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in 11 innings giving John Franco a victory. He would pitch in just ten games for the Mets the rest of the season, posting a 1.90 ERA in 23 innings of work.

In January 1992 he was traded along with Mark Carreon to the Detroit Tigers for Paul Gibsson. He spent the season AAA Toledo going 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA & then signed as a free agent back with Toronto the next year. He would spend parts of the next four seasons as a Blue Jays reliever saving a career best 13 games in 1995 going 1-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 55 appearances.

In 1993 he was part of the Toronto World Championship team, going 3-2 on the year & making four post season appearances. In the Woirld Series against the Philadelphia Phillies he was the winning pitcher in the wild Game Four 15-14 Blue Jays win.

Castillo was traded to the Chicago White Sox & finished out his ten season career there in 1998. Overall he was 28-23 with 22 career saves, posting a 3.93 ERA, striking out 333 batters walking 179 in 526 innings over 403 games.

Feb 27, 2016

The First Brooklyn Cyclone Player To Make the Mets Big League Club: Brain Bannister (2006)

Brian Patrick Bannister was born on February 28, 1981 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is the son of former big leaguer Floyd Bannister, who pitched in the majors for 15 seasons, with the Houston Astros (1977-1978) Seattle Mariners (1979-1982), Chicago White Sox (1983-1987) & Kansas City Royals (1988-1989) going 134-143 lifetime with a 4.06 ERA. 

 Floyd had double figures in victories for seven straight seasons, including two 16 win seasons with the White Sox in the eighties. In 1982 while pitching for the Mariners, Bannister led the AL in strike outs (209) going 12-13 pitching 247 innings (8th in the AL) posting a 3.43 ERA (8th in the AL).

Bannister was a good strikeout pitcher, having the best strike out per nine inning ratio in 1983 & 1985. He was in the league's top ten in strike outs five times, finishing his career with 1723 (108th all time). He was also in the top ten in ERA three times. In his career he also allowed 291 strike outs (53rd most all time). 

Brian Bannister attended the University of Southern California and starred as both a starting pitcher as well as a closer there. The six foot two right hander, was drafted by the New York Mets in the seventh round of the 2003 draft. In 2003 he pitched for the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones, going 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 12 games. 

 In 2006 when he made the Mets pitching staff, he became the first Cyclones player to make it to the big league team. He was honored at Brooklyn's Keyspan Park in September 2006, having his number retired by the Cyclones on Brian Bannister bobble head night. In 2004 he went from A ball St. Lucie to AA Binghamton & was highly touted at this point in his career. In 2005 he was 9-4 at AA Binghamton getting promoted to AAA Norfolk. There he was 4-1 witha 3.18 ERA in eight games.

In 2006 he had a good spring training & made it to the Mets staff as a fifth starter. Bannister debuted at Shea Stadium in the Mets second game of the season, pitching six innings against the Washington Nationals, allowing three runs getting no decision.

In his second career start, at Washington he earned his first career win, allowing just one run in seven innings. On April 16th he got his second win, it came against the Milwaukee Brewers where he allowed just one run in five innings. After five starts he pulled a hamstring while running the bases in San Francisco & went on the DL with a 2-0 record. 

He missed four months, returning back in late August, in his first start he took a loss to the Phillies allowing four runs in six innings of work. He was sent right back to AAA Norfolk after the game, but returned to make two relief appearances in September.

On the season he would go 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA, striking out 19 batters in 38 innings while walking 22. Bannister was a good hitter as well going 4-12 with three doubles and two RBIs, good enough for a .333 average. 

Over the winter the Mets traded him to the Kansas City Royals in order to boost up their bullpen, as they acquired Ambiorix Burgess. In Kansas City, Bannister was put right into the rotation, and had a great start, winning the Pitcher of the Month Award in June. He went on to make the Topps All Star Rookie team, leading the staff in wins with 12 (12-9). He posted a 3.67 ERA pitching 216 innings making 34 starts. 

He struggled the next season on a 4th place Royals club, losing 16 games (second most losses in the league) while allowing 29 HRs, posting a 5.76 ERA. He went an identical 7-12 the next two seasons, and in 2010 his ERA climbed to a whopping 6.34. In 2011 he signed to pitch in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, but left before the season started due to concerns with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. 

Retirement: Bannister has now retired from the game in both countries. He is also a professional photographer and had his work published in the NY Times, NY Daily News as well as other publications. 

Bannister is also the founder of Loft 19 Photography Studios in Phoenix, Arizona.

Feb 26, 2016

A Wild Life Of A Short Time Met Who Once Scored Three Game Winning Runs In Two Weeks: Rusty Tillman (1982)

Kerry Jerome Tillman, known as Rusty; was born on August 29, 1960 in Jacksonville, Florida. The six foot right hand hitting outfielder, attended Florida College & was the first player out of the school to make it to the big leagues. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the tenth round of the 1979 draft.

He began playing in the Mets organization in 1979 in the Northwest & New York Penn. Leagues. In 1980 he hit .316 at A Ball Lynchburg, getting to AA Jackson in 1981 where he hit .278. In 1982 he reached AAA Tidewater playing for manager Jack Aker, with teammates Ron Darling, Walt Terrell, Bruce Bochy, Mike Fitzgerald, Mike Cubbage & Jose Oquendo. In 108 games with the Tides, Tillman hit .322 second on the club to veteran Gil Flores.

On June 6th he got called up & made his debut as a pinch hitter in a 6-3 Mets win over the Reds at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. His next three games would be exciting, as he secured his place in Mets history (although most forget the uneventful 1982 season) as he scored either the winning runs or insurance runs in that time.

On June 9th he had his first big Mets moment, when he came in as a pinch runner for Dave Kingman in the 9th inning. The Mets were down 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, when George Foster singled scoring Bob Bailor to tie the game. Tillman advanced to third base & scored the game's winning run on a Hubie Brooks Fielder's Choice off reliever Kent Tekulve.

A week later on June 18th, the Mets rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader in St. Louis. Elis Valentine singled with the bases loaded, bringing the Mets to within a run 3-2. Rusty Tillman came in to pinch run for Valentine. George Foster then tied the game with a base hit & Mike Jorgensen followed with a walk. After Dave Kingman popped out, Wally Backman singled to right field scoring Jorgensen & Tillman with the games winning runs 5-3.

Two nights later, the Mets & Cards were tied 3-3 in St. Louis in the tenth inning. George Foster led off the inning with a base hit off Bruce Sutter & Tillman came in to pinch run. John Stearns followed with a triple scoring Joel Youngblood & Tillman putting New York up 5-4. The Cards scored one off Jesse Orosco in the bottom of the inning, but Tillman's insurance run proved to be the game winner.

Tillman was sent back to Tidewater, returning to the Mets in September. He would get only one hit in 12 at bats in the month, ending the season at .154 (2-13).

In 1983 he entered the year positive, playing under Davey Johnson at AAA Tidewater. But his average fell off to .255 with 8 HRs 63 RBIs, as he was overshadowed by young star Daryl Strawberry (.333 average) & sluggers Clint Hurdle (22 HRs / 105 RBIs) & Gary Rajsich (28 HRs / 83 RBIs).

In 1984 he only played in 44 games & his average fell off to a poor .219. By Spring Training 1985 he was traded to the San Diego Padres for Rick Lancellotti, who would never play as a Met at the big league level. Tillman would eventually get to the Oakland Athletics (1986) playing 22 games batting .256 & hitting his first career HR, coming off Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

It was during that season that Tillman claims he smuggled steroids in from Mexico for team mate Jose Canseco. He said he took charter flights back to the U.S & got away with it, because no one was checking a big league ball players bags back then. When supplies ran low he would have a friend meet him at the border & he would bring the steroids back to the clubhouse for Canseco & other players.

Two years later he hit his only other HR, it came with the San Francisco Giants (1988) his only hit of the year, as he appeared in just four games. He finished his playing career in the minors the next season. He later claimed that he may have been blackballed due to his steroid running.

Retirement: Tillman had a rough life after baseball; steroids, drug use & other bad choices led him to being homeless. He was living in a tent in the woods in the Jacksonville area in the mid 2000's. According to a 2008 article in the Florida Union Times, he was selling his blood plasma to buy his only luxuries: cell phone minutes, Copenhagen snuff and Sonic banana smoothies.

In his tent he had a television which he ran on a car battery & rode a bicycle that a pastor in rec. center had given him. He had a daughter with his ex-girlfriend & was allowed to see her only to tuck her in at night. After that he went back to the woods. The article ended with him taking a job with an old friend as a plumbers assistant & coaching baseball at his old high school.

Mid Nineties Mets Pitcher: Pete Smith (1994)

Peter John Smith was born on February 27, 1966 in Abington, Massachusetts. The six foot two right hander, was a 1984 first round draft pick (21st pick overall) for the Philadelphia Phillies. A year later he was traded along with Ozzie Virgil, to the Atlanta Braves for Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson. 

Smith would debut with Atlanta in September 1987 pitching in six games as a starter. The next year he was 7-15 with a 3.69 ERA, tying a young Tom Glavine for the team lead in wins. That year the Braves finished last going 54-106. In 1989 he was 5-14 on another last place Braves team. Smith remained in Atlanta for seven seasons as the Braves got better & went to two consecutive World Series. 

 In the Braves 1991 NL Pennant season he only made ten starts, as he spent time in the minors, appearing in 14 Braves games going just 1-3. He had his best season in 1992, as the Braves won another pennant. Smith began the year at AAA Richmond going 7-4 with a 2.14 ERA , getting up to the Atlanta staff in early August. 


He surprised everyone, as he went 7-0 with a 2.05 ERA, making 11 starts with two complete game victories. He pitched three games in the 1992 post season, all in relief, allowing one run in six innings pitched. He would fall off the next season dropping to 4-8 with a 4.37 ERA, allowing 15 HRs in 90 innings. That winter Smith got traded to the New York Mets for Bob Gallagher.

 In 1994 Smith was the Mets third starter behind Bret Saberhagen & Bobby Jones. The rotation also included Mike Remlinger & Jason Jacome. He debuted on April 5th, 1994 in the Mets second game of the year. He got his first Mets win that day, in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The win helped the Mets sweep the series & begin the year at 3-0. Smith gave up six runs over five innings in his second star, losing 6-1 at Houston. 

He lost three straight decisions in April, as his ERA rose to near six. At the start of May he defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching seven innings of work. Two more losses followed, until he a threw a eighth inning, one run complete game victory at Shea Stadium over the Cincinnati Reds.

 Smith's biggest problem was giving up HRs, he would serve up HRs in six straight games twice on the year. On May 22nd he allowed four HRs to the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium, in an 8-3 Met loss. Smith allowed two HRs in a game seven times on the year. From June to early August he won just one more game, going 1-5, when the baseball strike ended the season. 

Smith allowed the most HRs in the National League that season (25). He won just four games, going 4-10 with a 5.55 ERA making 21 starts with 62 strike outs & 42 walks in 131 innings pitched. The Mets did not resign him after the season & he moved on to pitch for the Cincinnati Reds going 1-2 in 1995. Smith then went to the San Diego Padres (1997) where he made 37 appearances going 7-6 with a 4.81 ERA. In 1998 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles pitching as a middle reliever closing out his career. 

 In his 11 year career Smith was 47-71 with 640 strike outs 404 walks in 1025 innings pitched, allowing 16 HRs with a 4.55 ERA in 231 appearances.

Feb 24, 2016

Late Sixties Mets Pitcher: Don Shaw (1967-1968)

Donald Wellington Shaw was born on born on February 23, 1944 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The six foot left hander attended San Diego State University getting drafted by the New York Mets in 1965, down in the 35th round. Shaw went 6-2 at the A ball level, at Marion & Auburn in 1965, showing some good stuff. 

By 1967 he had become one of the Mets Chairman of the Board, M. Donald Grant’s favorite players. Shaw soon found himself on the '67 Mets big league staff. Trivia: This Mr. Shaw was no relation to Bronx born pitcher Bob Shaw, who was also on the 1967 Mets staff. 

 Donnie Shaw made his debut on Opening Day 1967, closing out a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He appeared in two more games, before he recorded two saves on back to back days, at the end of April. On April 23rd Shaw took his first loss, blowing a save to the Philadelphia Phillies. First he served up a tie breaking HR to Dick Allen & then a two run double to former Met, Phil Linz. On May 2nd he earned his first career win, although he only pitched to one batter in the top of the 12th inning. In the bottom of the inning, Ed Kranepool tripled , scoring Al Luplow & then he scored on a John Sullivan walk off RBI single. 


On August 1st, he pitched five scoreless innings striking out five Astros at the Houston Astrodome, in a 5-1 Mets victory. In the next two weeks he took a relief loss to the Giants, then earned a two inning save against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home. Two days later on that home stand, although he gave up two earned runs in the 8th inning, he earned the 11-9 win against the Pirates. It was the last game he pitched in that season. 

Shaw would make 40 relief appearances with the '67 Mets, going, 4-5 with three saves posting a 2.98 ERA. Shaw allowed seventeen earned runs in 51 innings pitched, striking out 44 batters & walking 23. That off season he was supposed to go to the Chicago White Sox along with Tommy Davis, in a deal to get Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee. But the trade was balked because M. Donald Grant, still favoring his pitcher, said “we’re not trading my Donnie Shaw”. It was decisions like this that drove Mets Minor league Director of Player Development Whitey Herzog crazy. 


Setbacks only got Shaw into seven games in 1968 and he was eventually picked by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. Shaw made history on Opening Day 1969, as the winning pitched in the first game in Montreal Expos history. The win came at Shea Stadium against his old Mets team mates. Shaw pitched 35 games as a mid reliever with the Expos, going 2-5 with a save. 

 He pitched in just 14 games in 1970 in the minor leagues & returned with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. He had his best season there going 7-2 with two saves & a 2.65 ERA in 45 games. In May of 1972 he was traded to the Oakland A’s, pitching in just three games there for the eventual World champions.

Shaw ended his five season career in 1973 at age 29. He was 13-14 lifetime with six saves, 123 strike outs, 101 walks in 188 innings pitched posting a 4.01 ERA appearing in 138 games (one start).

Feb 23, 2016

Early Nineties Mets Outfielder: Ryan Thompson (1992-1995)

Ryan Orlando Thompson was born November 4, 1967 in Chestertown, Maryland. The six foot three right hand hitting Thompson was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 1987 draft. He was sent to the New York Mets as the player to be named later in the Jeff Kent for David Cone trade of 1992.


Thompson was a highly touted outfield prospect after hitting .282 with 14 HRs in 1992 at Toronto's AAA level. He debuted at Shea Stadium on September 1st 1992 going 0-2 in a game against Atlanta. On September 22nd he hit his first career HR & drove in three runs in the Mets 9-7 win over the Chicago Cubs. On September 28th, Thompson hit a pair of HRs in the first game of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium, although the Mets still lost 7-6. He closed out the month batting .222 with 3 HRs & 10 RBIs in 30 games.

In 1993 he began the year with the Mets but was only hitting .125 at the end of April. He was sent down to AAA Norfolk where he batted .259 hitting 12 HRs in 60 games. He returned to New York in late July. In his third game he hit a HR against the Florida Marlins & helped tie the game up in the bottom of the 9th with an RBI single off Bryan Harvey. He then scored the walk off winning run when Eddie Murray doubled to right field.

On August 27th he hit a three run HR against the Colorado Rockies driving in all three runs in the 3-2 win. On September 4th at Wrigley Field he hit two HRs & drove in three runs, then added another HR the next day driving in the only run in the 2-1 Mets loss. On the year he ended up hitting hit 11 HRs with a career high 19 doubles & 26 RBIs batting .250 in 80 games. There was hope for him becoming a regular outfielder with a bright future at Shea Stadium.

He was the Mets Opening Day centerfielder in 1994, batting eighth in the order, just ahead of Dwight Gooden. Thompson started off the season with a pair of hits & two RBIs in the Mets 12-8 win at Wrigley Field. From April 8th through the 14th he got hot, gathering up six hits with seven RBIs & three HRs. On May 14th he hit a grand slam HR off Atlanta’s John Smoltz, in the Mets 11-4 win over the Braves. He had a good month with five HRs & twenty RBIs although his average dropped off to .225.

He had a four RBI day at Pittsburgh then another in Colorado later on in June. In July he drove i runs in three straight games at the start of the month then drove in runs in four straight games toward the end of the month.


One of his biggest issues was staying healthy, Thompson kept getting injured and never lived up to the hype he was billed up to. His '94 season was over by mid August finishing up playing in just 98 games. He still showed some promise, posting career highs in games (98) HRs (18) & RBIs (59). He only hit .225 with one stolen base & a .301 on base%.

In 1995 his injury woes continued, as he spent time on the DL that summer playing in a total of only 75 games. He got into his first game on May 30th & drove in two runs with a base hit. In June he hit five HRs with 10 RBIs through June 20th batting over .300.

On August 24th he came to bat with the Mets down 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning. With two men on, Trecor Hoffman threw a wild pitch & then Thompson singled to tie the game. Chris Jones pinch hit for New York & singled home Thompson with the winning run. On the year he ended up batting .251, with 7 HRs 13 doubles 31 RBIs & a .306 on base % for the second place Mets.

In his four seasons with the Mets, Thomson played 283 games batting .239 with 39 HRs 53 doubles & 126 RBIs, while only stealing eight bases. In Spring Training of 1996 he was traded along with Reid Cornelius to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Mark Clark. He played only eight games at the big league level spending that season & the next in the minors.

In 1998 he Thompson played one season in Japan. In 1999 he returned to the big leagues, playing for the Houston Astros, then the AL New York team in 33 games in 2000. One moment that brought him some attention that season, is when he hit a line drive off the face of Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie. In 2001 he made a brief stop in Florida playing 18 games for the Marlins & then 62 games for the Milwaukee Brewers the next year.

Thompson finished his nine season career with a .243 average 305 hits 52 HRs 52 doubles 176 RBIs & a .301 on base % in 416 career games. In the outfield he posted a career .986 fielding% with 14 assists in 393 games.

Trivia: Thompson must also be remembered for one of the classic Mets moustache's of all time. Very similar to the Jose Valentin and Kieth Hernandez styles. 

Late 2000's Mets Reserve Catcher: Gustavo Molina (2008)


Gustavo Eduardo Molina was born February 24, 1982 in La Guaira, Vargas Venezuela. The six foot one catcher, was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 2000 at age 18. Molina played six years at the A ball & Rookie leaguye levels before getting to AA in 2006. 

In 2007 he began the year with the Sox big league team, playing ten games as a pinch hitter or late inning replacement at catcher. In mid May he was sent back to AAA Charlotte getting put on waivers in July. He was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles returning to the big leagues as a September call up. He hit .111 in 27 at bats that season. 

In December 2007 he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. Molina would play just two games for the Mets, making his debut on April 26th, 2008. He was one of five catchers used by the Mets that season, including main back stop Brian Schneider (110 games), Ramon Castro (52 games), Raul Casanova (20 games) & Robinson Cancel (27 games). 


Molina was behind the plate catching John Maine at Shea Stadium, in a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. Billy Wagner would help out with the save. Molina singled off Tim Hudson in his first Mets at bat. He went 1-3 with a walk on the night. Four days later he made his second & last Mets start, going 0-4 in a 13-1 debacle of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played out the rest of the year at AAA New Orleans batting just .206, he was granted free agency at the end of the year. 

After spending 2009 in the minors, he played four games with the Boston Red Sox in 2010 & three games with the A.L. New York club in 2011. He was granted free agency in November 2012 after playing in their minor leagues.

Feb 21, 2016

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: JJ Putz (2009)

Joseph Jason Putz was born February 22, 1977 in Trenton, Michigan. The tall six foot five right hander, attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor going on to pitch in the major leagues with a long line of other Wolverines.

In his college days he shared a dorm with New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. Putz was drafted three different times, lastly by the Seattle Mariners in the 6th round of the 1999 draft.

In the minors he was mostly a starting pitcher, switching to a reliever in 2003 when he saved 11 games in 41 appearances. Putz debuted in 2003 with a good fastball at around 97 mph. Over the next two years he became a middle reliever behind closer Eddie Guardado, going 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 2005. That year Guardado taught him to throw a split finger fast ball & it changed Putz into a much better pitcher.

He took over the Mariners closer role in 2006 & saved 36 games (6th in the league) going 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA. The following year he was spectacular, leading the A.L. in appearances (65) going 6-1 with a 1.35 ERA & 40 saves (second in the league). He won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award & set a Mariner record of 30 consecutive saves.

Elbow injuries nagged him throughout the 2008 season & he fell to a 6-5 with 15 saves (3.88 ERA) in 47 appearances. In December of 2008 Putz came to the New York Mets along with Sean Green & Jeremy Reed in a three team trade also involving the Cleveland Indians.

The Mets sent away fan favorite Endy Chavez, along with Joe Smith, Aaron Heillman & Jason Vargas in the trade. There was a lot of excitement for 2009 at the new Citi Field with Putz expected to rebound from his injury, accepting a set up role behind new Mets closer Frankie Rodriguez. Putz pitched for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Putz appeared in the first two games of the season, getting credited with two holds in the Mets first two wins in Cincinnati against the Reds.

On April 17th he earned his first win it came against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field.

On April 21st he came into a tie game (4-4) at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals, he gave up an RBI double & sac fly RBI taking the loss. A week later he blew an 8th inning save when Florida's Cody Ross drove in two runs giving the Marlins the lead & the eventual win. 

Putz had a decent May with two saves & six holds, allowing seven earned runs over 17 innings. His ERA was at 3.81 at the end of May before he suffered more elbow problems. In his last three outings he allowed seven runs in 1.1 innings over three games before getting shut down for the rest of the season.

On June 1st the Pirates got him for three runs in less than inning of work & then on June 4th they got him for two more runs over one inning in Pittsburgh. His ERA ballooned to 5.22 as he finished the year at 1-4 with two saves allowing 18 runs in 29 innings.

The Mets chose not to pick up his option in 2010. He went to the Chicago White Sox & served as set up man to Bobby Jenks going 7-5 with a 2.83 ERA. He recorded 14 holds & three saves while making 60 appearances. In December 2010 he signed with the Arizona D-Backs & was penciled in as their closer for 2011.

He recorded 45 saves (third most in the NL) for the 2011 NL Western Champion D-backs, posting a 2.17 ERA going 2-2 in 60 appearances finishing 52 games (7th in the NL). He followed up 2012 with 32 saves & a 1-5 record posting a 2.82 ERA.

In 2013 the D-backs closer role went to Heath Bell (15 saves) & Brad Ziegler (13 saves). Putz made 40 appearances, with six holds & a 2.36 ERA in 34 innings. He would pitch in just 14 games in 2014 before ending his big league career.

Putz & his family resided in the Pelham Manor section of New York during his time in New York. He now lives in Peoria, Arizona in a residence he kept ever since pitching in the Cactus League.

Trivia: He enters the game to the tune of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck".

In his twelve year career he made 572 appearances, going 37-33 with 189 saves posting a 3.98 ERA. In 566 innings he struck out 599 batters & walked 184.