Apr 30, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1980) Pete Falcone Ties MLB Record Striking Out First Six Batters

Thursday May 1st 1980: A small crowd of just 5928 came out to see Joe Torre's Mets (6-11) already in 5th place take on the eventual 1980 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies (7-9) led by Dallas Green.

Tonight an old Mets nemesis, Lefty Steve Carlton took on Brooklyn's own Pete Falcone.

Starting Lineups

The game would start out with Falcone striking out the first six batters he faced, setting a Mets record while accomplishing that feat. It also tied an MLB record & had only been done four times proio in baseball history.

Falcone struck out Lonnie Smith & Pete Rose swinging & then got Gary Maddox looking at a called third strike. In the 2nd inning, he got sluggers Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski & then catcher Bob Boone to all go down swinging.

Falcone was going good until weak hitting reserve second baseman Lis Aguayo hit a two run homer in the 5th inning. The two runs would be all the Phillies needed in the 2-1 win. Carlton walked Eliot Maddox with the bases loaded for the Mets only run. Former Met legend Tug McGraw came on for the save as a Phillie.

The Italian American Falcone, a Brooklyn kid & cousin of Mets coach Joe Pignatano went 7-11 for the 1980 Mets, tied for second most wins on the staff.

He spent four years with the Mets, going 26-37 with a 3.91 ERA in 145 games 86 starts.

2006 NL Eastern Champion Mets Outfielder: Carlos Beltran (2005-2011)

Carlos Ivan Beltran was born April 27, 1977 in Manati Puerto Rico. The six foot one Beltran was a star baseball & volleyball player in high school.

The switch hitting outfielder was drafted in the second round of the 1995 draft by the Kansas City Royals at age 18. He was highly touted as a five tool player. quickly getting called up to the big leagues by 1998. He would take over the centerfield & lead off positions for the 1999 season. That year he was the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year  hitting .293 with 22 HRs 108 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.

He soon became a star player in a very small market in Kansas City. In 1999 he played in just 98 games due to injury, then had to battle a young budding Johnny Damon for the centerfield job. Damon was soon traded & Beltran rumors began to swirl as him coming to the Mets. It looked like a great fit but wouldn’t happen for a few more years.

In Kansas City he would drive in & score over 100 runs in four seasons. He would hit twenty HRs or more four times, twice 25 or better. He also hit 30 plus doubles twice, with a career high 44 in 2002. 

These were not the current KC Royals & back then times were bad in Kansas City. In 2004 The Royals didn’t have the money to sign Beltran and traded him to the Houston Astros in a three-team deal involving the Oakland A's. Octavio Dotel went to Oakland, Mike Wood, Mark Teahen & John Buck went to Kansas City & Beltran to the Astros.

In a strange but baseball first, Beltran was selected to the AL All Star Team just before the trade was announced. When Ken Griffey Jr. got hurt, Beltran became the first player to start  an All Star Game for the other league.

Post Season: He hit 23 HRs for the Astros helping them get to the post season. It was here that Beltran became a star having a great post season. In the 2004 Post season he would set a HR record hitting HRs in five straight post season games. A record broken by Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets in 2015. Beltran also tied a record with eight post season HRs. His NLCS Game #4 HR in the 7th inning off Julian Tavares broke a 5-5 tie & was the game winner. But the St. Louis Cards prevailed & went on to the World Series losing a historic one to the Boston Red Sox. 

That winter Beltran was the best offensive free agent on the market. He was highly courted by the New York Mets & Met GM Omar Minaya flew to Puerto Rico to meet with the Beltran family. Eventually at the last minute, he chose to come to the Mets, getting a huge seven year $119 million contract  with a no trade clause.

In 2005 Beltran quickly became popular  with the fans, especially after a three hit, three RBI Opening day that included a HR. He & Pedro Martinez also acquired that year, got the Mets t& new manager Willie Randolph o a third place finish (83-79). Beltran took over the centerfield job from Mike Cameron, as he moved over to left, something Cameron wasn’t happy about.

Quotes: Carlos is no doubt one of the best, if not the best defensive centerfielders in the game, and one of the best in Mets history. He plays with a smooth style, covers great range, goes back on a ball better than anyone, and had a strong accurate arm. 

On August 11th, at Petco Park in San Diego, Beltran & Mike Cameron collided in one of the worst outfield collisions in Mets history. Cameron missed the rest of the year with a concussion & temporary loss of vision. Beltran suffered vertigo but returned to the line up a week later. 

Beltrans first season in New York was an adjusting one for sure, as he hit just .266 with 16 HRs & 78 RBIs. All these were career lows at that time in seasons where he played over 100 games. He did hit 34 doubles & stole 17 bases. 

In the 2006 off season, the Mets made even bigger moves than the previous year. They signed slugger Carlos Delgado, catcher Paul LoDuca & closer Billy Wagner. The Mets were ready to compete for the Championship. The addition of the big bats around him & his second year in New York resulted in a big year for Beltran.

He tied Todd Hundley's Mets single season HR record of 41(5th in the NL) , he hit the most HRs of any Met on the road (26) and tied a Mets grand slam single season mark with three. Overall he batted .275 with 116 RBIs (7th in the NL) 38 doubles 95 walks (10th in the NL) & a .388 on base %. In the outfield he won the first of three straight Gold Gloves making 13 assists posting a .995 fielding %. That year he came in fourth in the MVP voting.

He started out April with four HRs then began May with four HRs in the first week. He hit HRs in three straight games May 5th -May7th with the Mets taking two of three of those games. Beltran would hit ten HRs that month, twice coming in back to back games. He also drove in 26 runs that month.

On May 19th, after the AL New York club beat up Geremi Gonzalez for four runs in the top of the 1st, Beltran started the Mets come back with a three run HR off Randy Johnson. The Mets won the game 6-5.

In June he drove in runs in eight straight games, with multiple RBI games in five of them. On June 9th, Beltran hit two HRs in a 10-6 win the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He had hit one previous day as well. He closed out June with three HRs in four games, totaling eight for the month.

Beltran started for the Mets in the All Star Game & was joined by five other Mets players. He was the only player in the game to have more than one hit as well.

He had a huge July belting 10 HRs with 32 RBIs. On July 16th he hit a grand slam HR at Wrigley Field in a 13-7 Mets win, where they clubbed five HRs. The next day in Cincinnati Beltran hit another grand slam, this one off Eric Milton for his 27th of the season in an 8-3 Mets win. On a road trip to Atlanta where the Mets swept the Braves, he started out the first game with two RBIs. On July 29th he hit two HRs & drove in five runs, the next day for an encore he hit two more HRs & drove in five more runs. He entered August with 32 HRs & hit his 33rd on the first day of the month in Florida.

In the final two weeks of August he hit six HRs with 14 RBIs as the Mets continued to roll as well. On August 22nd he hit a walk off HR against Jason Isringhausen to beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Post Season: In the first two games of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Beltran was hitless. In Game #3 he had two hits, including an RBI single in the top of the 6th inning. In that inning the Mets scored three runs to take a 7-5 lead enroute to their 9-5 win.

Betran got just one hit in the ext two games in which the Mets lost. In Game #4 he hit a solo HR off Anthony Reyes tying up the game. David Wright would hit another two batters later. The Mets went on to score eleven runs, Beltran topped it off with his second HR of the game in the 12-5 Mets win.

2006 NLCS: On October 12th 2006, Beltran hit a two run HR off Jarod Weaver in the 6th inning scoring Paul LoDuca who had singled. Beltrans two runs provided Tom Glavine with what he needed as he Guillermo Mota & Billy Wagner combined on a four hit shut out, to take game one.

Beltran would get one hit in each of the next three games, but his fate was sealed on the one hit he did not get. In Game #7, the game was tied 1-1 until the top of the 9th inning when Yadier Molina hit a two run HR off Aaron Heilman. The Mets manged to get Jose Valentin & Endy Chavez aboard with base hits. With two on & no one out Cliff Floyd struck out looking. Jose Reyes then lined out leaving it up to Beltran. Beltran would watch a third strike on an Adam Wainwright curve ball, endingthe game & the Mets dream of getting to the World Series. It was alla shock & something Beltran would never live down. Mets fans would never forget & or forgive him.

In 2007 Beltran would have another big year with 33 HRs (8th in the NL) 33 doubles 112 RBIs (7th in the NL) batting .276 with a .353 on base %. He struggled the first three months of the season, batting  just .230.

That June he hit six HRs, including two twice in back to back games on June 29th & June 30th. In July he hit 5 HRs with 13 RBIs as the Mets remained in first place & things looked good for another post season berth.

On August 19th he hit two HRs in Washington driving in four runs in the Mets 8-2 win. The next game on August 21st, Beltran had three hits with a HR & four RBIs as they came from behind to beat Trevor Hoffman & the Padres. The next night the Mets lost but Beltran had three more RBIs. On August 29th he hit another grand slam HR, a 9th inning shot to win the game 5-2. He drove in all five runs that night.

In September the Mets had a huge collapse one of the worst in baseball history. They lost 12 of 17 games, blowing a seven game lead they had on September 12th. They were still up one game on September 26th  but lost four of their last five games blowing their chance for the playoffs. Beltran hit 7 HRs with 25 RBIs & hit safely in 13 of the last 15 games. During the teams five game losing streak in the final week, he did hit three HRs including two in a 9-6 loss to the Washington Nats.

In 2008 he played in all but one Mets game, batting .284 with 27 HRs doubles & once again 112 RBIs with a .376 on base %. This year was even more heartbreaking for the Met fans as on the last day of the season, the Mets lost to the Florida Marlins killing their chances to make the playoffs. Beltran hit the last HR by a Mets player in Shea Stadium in the final game. It was also the final game played at Shea Stadium & the closing ceremonies featured many great Mets from the past.

In 2009 the Mets flopped as it all fell apart mostly due to injuries & an aging team. Beltran would play in just 81 games missing action from the end of June to early September. Before the injury he was once again voted to the All Star team.

That April 29th he drove in his career 1000th run. When he went down in June the Mets were still in second place but barely over .500 at 28-24. When he returned they were 62-76 in fourth place 17 games back. On his return he doubled & two nights later hit a HR. He would bat .325 with 10 HRs & 48 RBIs.

In 2011 the Mets were terrible again & it was only matter of time until Beltran was traded as his contract was running out. On April 9th he hit a pair of HRs against the Washington Nats in an 8-4 Mets win at Citi Field. On May 12th he had his last huge day as a Met. That day in a 9-5 Mets win at Colorado he blasted three HRs & drove in six runs. He would hit six more HRs thru July in a Mets uniform. On July 28th he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for top draft pick pitcher Zack Wheeler.
Mets Career: In his seven year Mets career, he has played in 839 Mets games (18th on the all time list) he has 878 hits (14th on Mets all time list) with  149 HRs (6th on Mets all time list) 208 doubles (7th on Mets all time list)  17 triples, 559 RBIs (6th on Mets all time list) bat .280 & scored 551 runs (8th on Mets all time list).

His stay was short in San Francisco as the Giants fell short of a wild card spot & finished second in the West. After the season he signed as two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team he had held his bat back on in Game #7 of the 2006 NLCS. 

His first year in St. Louis was his best in five years as he stayed healthy, Beltran hit 32 HRs  with 26 doubles, drove in 97 runs & played in 151 games. He went just 1-4 in the NL Wild Card game beating the Atlanta Braves. In the NLCS he hit two HRs driving in four runs in the five game win over the Washington Nationals. In the NLCS loss to the San Francisco Giants, he batted .300 with another HR.

In 2013 he batted .96 in 145 games with 24 HRs & 84 RBIs. He had another big postseason driving in 15 post season runs with 15 hits. He hit both his HRs in the NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He then drove in six runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS & six more in the World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox.                 

After that season he signed on with the AL new York club at age 37. In his first season there he batted just .233 with 15 HRs playing in 109 games. In 2015 he hit .276 with 19 HRs & 67 RBIs.

In His 18 year career through 2015, Beltran is batting 280 with 2454 hits, 392 HRs 503 doubles 1443 RBIs & a .355 on base % in 2306 games. In the outfield he has played in 2127 games making 74 errors in 5260 chances with 139 assists.

Beltran and his wife Jessica have two daughters, the family live in Port Washington, Long Island during the season & Mantai Puerto Rico during the winter months.  He is a Christian & when he stole his 300th base, to make the 300 300 club, a gold cross popped out of his jersey. He told reporters after the game "all the Glory was God's".                    

Former Mets Catcher & Helmet Inventor: Charlie O'Brien (1990-1993)

Charles Hugh O’ Brien was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 1, 1960. The six foot two Charlie O attended Wichita State University, hitting 25 HRs with 116 RBIs while leading his team to the 1982 College World Series.

That year he was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round as a catcher. Initially he hit .291 with 14 HRs at AA Albany in the Eastern League in 1983 but dropped off significantly the next two seasons. In 1985 the solid defensive catcher, got a September call up batting .273 in 16 games.

In 1986 he got traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with two minor leaguers for pitcher Moose Hass. He played three seasons in Milwaukee and never hit like he did in college ever again, putting up a best .234 with 6 HRs 35 RBIs in 1989. In Milwaukee he was primarily B.J. Surhoff’s backup catcher, putting up strong defensive numbers. He threw out 43% of runners attempting to steal in 1989 & tossed out at least 36% every season in Milwaukee.

In August of 1990 he was traded to the New York Mets for two players to be named later, who turned out to be Julio Machado and another player named Kevin Brown. He didn’t hit much but became known around the league as one of NL's best defensive catchers. O’Brien battled Mackey Sasser & Rick Cerone for the Mets catching job in 1991. Although he did not win the starting role, mostly due to his hitting, he became Dwight Gooden’s personal catcher.

With the Mets, O’Brien would also catch former Cy Young winners Bret Saberhagen & Frank Viola, adding to a career total of eleven Cy Young winners he would call pitches for in his career. O’Brien became famous for his long curly hair over the collar look, similar to Gary Carter.

O'Brien debuted in New York on September 1st with the first place Mets catching Julio Valera who earned his first win that day, beating the San Francisco Giants. On September 8th O'Brien had a rare big day at the plate getting three hits with three RBIs in a Mets 12-2 win over the Phillies.

On September 11th he had another three RBI day in a Mets 10-8 win over the Cardinals topped off by a walk off Daryl Strawberry HR. In the month he hit .162 with nine RBIs in 28 games played. Behind the plate he threw out a league best 46% of would be base stealers 16 of 35.

In 1991 his first full season as a Met he hit .185 with two HRs, six doubles & 14 RBIs. But it was his defense that made him such a good player, in 1991 he posted a .988 fielding % throwing out 32% of would be base stealers. At the plate he enjoyed a three hit day on May 15th driving in a run against the Padres at San Diego.

Later that summer he drove in three runs in a 904 win over the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He hit his first HR of the season on August 22nd in a Mets 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 30th he hit a solo HR helping David Cone beat the Reds 3-2 in Cincinnati.

In 1992 as Todd Hundley's backup catcher, he threw out 46% of would be base stealers, second best in the National league while posting a .991 fielding %. At the plate he hit .212 with 2 HRs 12 doubles & 13 RBIs. On May 1st he hit a two run HR in Atlanta against the Braves in an 8-7 win. O'Brien added another HR in late August in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. On September 14th O'Brien drove in three runs with a bases clearing double in a Mets 10-8 win at Wrigley Field.

In 1993 he had his best year at the plate & hit a career high .255 with 4 HRs 11 doubles & 23 RBIs appearing in 67 games. In early May he had a three game stretch where he had seven hits while driving in runs in three straight games. On May 25th his double in the top of the 9th inning drove in two runs putting the Mets ahead for good, after rallying from being down 4-1.

Again in July he had a three game stretch where he drove in runs in each game, enjoying a four game hit streak. In August he had another four game hit streak & had two different games where he drove in more than one run. On September 22nd, he hit a two run HR in Pittsburgh scoring Jeromy Burnitz for the game winning runs. He averaged 67 games behind the plate in each of his three seasons with the Mets.

O’Brien was not resigned for 1994 as Kelly Stinnett was given the backup catcher’s role. Charlie O went to the Atlanta Braves as a free agent & became the personal catcher of Cy Young winner Greg Maddox. He also was Steve Avery’s main catcher as the Braves went on to win the 1995 World Series. O’Brien went 2-5 in the NLCS good for a .400 average and 0-3 in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

He became unpopular with Met fans, when he was involved in a brawl at Shea, leveling short time Met John Cangelosi . Cangelosi had charged the mound after getting hit by a pitch from John Smoltz a second time that season. Charlie O tackled the little Cangelosi from behind wrestling him to the ground.

After two seasons he moved onto to the Toronto Blue Jays backing up Pat Borders and having career highs in 1996 in HRs (13) & RBIs (44) hitting .238. In Toronto he would catch Pat Hentgen in his CY Young season adding to his list of award winners. O’ Brien had brief stints in Anaheim, Chicago & Montreal before retiring in 2000.

In a 15 year career he was a lifetime .221 hitter, with 493 hits 56 HRs 119 doubles a .303 on base % & 261 RBIs. He posted a .990 lifetime fielding % making only 47 errors in nearly 5800 innings. He threw out a career 37% of would be base stealers (265 runners) posting a .990 fielding %.

Inventor: The biggest thing Charlie O’Brien will be remembered for is pioneering the hockey-style catcher's mask used today by many catchers. While playing with the Blue Jays he invented the new style mask, and worked with the Van Velden Mask Co. of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to develop his idea. The new design, called the All-Star MVP, was approved by MLB in 1996 and O’Brien was the 1st to use it.

Retirement: Since baseball O'Brien, a life long hunter & lover of the outdoors, now runs one of the premier whitetail deer operations in the country, Catch 22 Ranch. His hunting success and knowledge of deer hunting has led him to be one of the key members and hosts of the ever-popular hunting show Deer Thugs.

Family: O’Brien’s son was a star basketball player & catcher at his dads old college at Wichita State. In 2011 he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 18th round.

Remebering Mets History (2016) Mets Score Franchise Inning s Record With 12 Runs & Yoenis Cespedes 6 RBIs

Terry Collins second place Mets (13-7) were riding a six game win streak as they entered a weekend series with Bruce Bochy's San Francisco Giants (12-11). A crowd of 39,764 settled in to Citi Field on chilly rainy evening.

The Mets were hot & tonight would erupt in total fire with a historic third inning. Steven Matz took the mound for New York & cruised along with six scoreless innings striking out four scattering seven hits getting his record to 3-1. Jerry Blevins allowed the only Giants run, Logan Verrett continued his good pitching with a scoreless 8th besting his ERA to 0.52. Hansel Robles mopped up.

Tonight marked the first time in six games that Yoenis Cespedes returned to the Mets line up after bruising his right leg.

The Mets got to Padre starter Jake Peavey with a historic third  inning, scoring 12 runs the most in franchise history. The Mets sent fifteen men to the plate collecting eight hits & four walks including a Cedpedes grand slam that set a Mets record for most RBIs in an inning.

Curtis Granderson & David Wright started out the inning with a walks. Michael Conforto then hit his tenth double of the year bringing in Granderson with the first run.

Yoenis Cespedes then drove a single to center field bringin in Wright & Conforto, making it 4-0 Mets. Lucas Duda then drew a walk, followed by a Neil Walker double off the right field wall. The Giants Bruce Bochy changed pitchers bringing in a gut destined to benefit the Mets -Mike Broadway!

Asdrubal Cabrera then doubled making it 6-0 Mets & the inning continued. Kevin Plawecki walked, Steven Matz went down on strikes. Granderson, who had led off the inning then singled, scoring Cabrera making it 7-0 Mets. David Wright then singled, next Michael Conforto delivered again, another with a base hit, scoring Plawecki making it 8-0.

The inning wasn't over yet, Yoenis Cespedes, the thirteenth Met to bat in the inning came up & made Mets history. Cespedes blasted an amazing memorable grand slam HR, sending the Citi Field crowd into a frenzy. Cespedes set a Mets record with six RBIs in a single inning & totaled the Mets run output in the inning to 12, setting a franchise record, passing the previous 11 run inning set in 2006. Amazing.

Quotes: Terry Collins on Cespedes- "You just get used to him doing something big. And he came through again."

Cespedes now has seven HRs with 23 RBIs & is batting .313. How good does that signing look now?

Quotes: " I said it during Spring Training, a lot of fans are expecting me to do what I did last year. But my focus is just on doing my job and continuing to help the team."

Quotes: Terry Collins on the Mets Historic inning: "That's pretty amazing," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It was just one of those freaky things that you don't ever expect to have against a team as good as the Giants."

Even though it's early, at the near end of April, the Mets are breathing down the necks of those Washington Nats, who after such a hot start are only 1/2 game ahead.

Apr 29, 2016

Remebering Mets History: (1973) Jerry Koosman Wins NL Pitcher of the Month

Jerry Koosman started out the New York Mets 1973 season terrific himself. He won the N.L. April Pitcher of the Month Award.
Jerry Koosman made his 1973 debut pitching in the third game of the season. On April 11th 1973 Koosman took the mound in St. Louis against the Cardinals Reggie Cleveland.

The Mets helped out Koosman right away in the 1st inning. Bud Harrelson, Felix Millan & John Milner all singled. Cleveland then threw a wild pitch to Rusty Staub scoring Harrelson. Rusty then knocked a base hit into the outfield putting the Mets up 2-0. In the 3rd, John Milner hit his first HR of the season to make it 3-0.

In the 3rd St. Louis scored, when Jose Cruz tripled & scored when Jim Fregosi booted a ground ball.

In the 5th Felix Millan tripled  bringing in Duffy Dyer. Millan would score on a passed ball charged to catcher Ted Simmons.

Koosman pitched seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) striking out four Cardinals. He was relieved by Tug McGraw who had a shaky 9th inning. Jose Cruz led off with a single & pinch hitter Tim McCarver drew a one out walk.

Lou Brock then grounded out but Ted Sizemore singled scoring a run, putting the Cardinals just one run behind. This was only the start of Tug McGraws troubles, something he would not work out until August when he became un hittable.

Manager Yogi Berra decided to remove McGraw with new comer to the Mets bullpen; Phil Hennigan. Hennigan got pinch hitter Bernie Carbo to fly out to centerfielder Rich Chiles, earning his first save.

On April 19th, Koosman made his first start at Shea for the 1973 season, facing Rick Reuschel & the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs scored first when Jose Cardenal drove home former Met Jim Hickman with an unearned run. Hickman had reached base on an error by Rusty Staub. But it was the only run Koos would allow on the day, as he sailed along on to a complete game five hit 3-1 victory.

The Mets offense came in the 4th inning; John Milner singled & then Wayne Garrett doubled driving him in. Next Jerry Grote singled to score Garrett with run number two. In the 8th inning, John Milner hit his fourth HR of the season giving the Mets an insurance run in the 3-1 win.

April 25th:  Koosman & the 9-7 Mets went against Leo Durocher's Astros at the Houston Astrodome, which was labeled the 8th wonder of the world. Koosman's opponent that day was Don Wilson.

Wilson was a fine pitcher, who put up double figures in wins in each of his eight seasons. In 1968 he tied what was then a record, striking out 18 batters in a game. He had won 15 or more games three times in his career & posted ERA's under three, three times in his career for poor Astros tams.

In 1971 he had his best year going 16-10 with a 2.45 ERA (third behind Tom Seaver & San Diego's Dave Roberts) & 180 strike outs (7th in the NL).

Unfortunately in January 1975, Wilson was found dead at his home, in the passenger seat of his Ford Thunderbird from carbon monoxide poisoning. The garage was connected to the house, his son was also killed, as his wife & daughter were hospitalized but survived. Don Wilson was just 29 years old.

In the April 25th game, Koosman rolled along to another complete game victory, beating the Astros 5-2. He struck out three, walked two & allowed six hits. He served up a HR to Doug Rader (nick named the Red Rooster) & a sac fly to Cesar Cedeno.

The Mets offense was led by Le Grande Orange; Rusty Staub who hit a pair of solo HRs against his old team mates. Staub had come up with Astros in the early sixties & was one of Houstons first star players.

These HRs were Staub's first two of the season, up to that point he was batting just .151.

In the top of the 3rd inning, Bud Harrelson & Felix Millan both singled. John Milner delivered with a two run double & then scored when left fielder, George the Stork Theodore singled him home.

AApril 29th 1973: Koosman closed out his big month with his best outing on the 1973 regular season. He pitched a four hit shut out in Atlanta beating the Braves Carl Morton in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

Morton was the 1970 Rookie of the Year while pitching in Montreal, going 18-11 posting a 3.60 ERA, but lead the league with 125 walks. He would win 15 or more games three times with Atlanta with a best 17 wins in 1975.

Koosman struck out four & walked just one batter, lowering his ERA to 1.06.

The Mets manufactured their only run in the 2nd inning. Ed Kranepool had a one out base hit, followed by a Wayne Garrett base hit advancing Kranepool to third base. Jerry Grote then delivered a sac fly for the games only run as Kranepool scored.

On the month Koosman went 4-0 with three complete games in four starts.

He allowed just four earned runs in 34 innings, striking out 14 batters while walking 7 & posting a 1.06 ERA. He was the leagues top pitcher up to that point.

All Time Mets Fictional Player & the Great Hoax of Sidd Finch (1985)

On April Fool's Day 1985, Sports Illustrated asked veteran writer George Plimpton to come up with a sports type of April Fools article for that weeks edition. He came up with the fictional story of Siddhartha Finch, a rookie pitcher who was training with the Mets at Spring Training camp.

Finch was to have been raised at an English orphanage, later being adopted by an archaeologist who would later die in a plane crash. Finch attended Harvard University & then learned to master yoga in Tibet which helped his pitching style. He wore a heavy boot on one foot & had to choose between a baseball career or playing the french horn. He was said to have a fastball that could reach 167 miles per hour, which right there should have killed the stories truthfulness. But in any event, the story was published & many believed it.

The Mets organization joined in as actual pictures where taken of a guy named Finch (actually he was Joe Berton a teacher from Illinois) with Pitching coach; Mel Stottlemeyer & outfielder Lenny Dykstra. The Mets even gave him a uniform #21.

The story went out & some fans were thrilled about Finch being on the Mets staff. Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more info on Mr. Finch. One of the New York papers called the Mets saying how he was upset Sports Illustrated got the scoop before he did. 

Reportedly two baseball GM's asked MLB Commissioner Peter Uberroth is it was safe for his batters to stand in against the hard throwing Finch. 

The Mets went as far as to give Sidd Finch a locker at Al Lang Stadium between Darryl Strawberry & George Foster. The major networks as well as Florida news papers attended a press conference on April 2, 1985 where Finch announced his retirement.

The next week Sports Illustrated printed the story of his retirement as well & then the following week announced it was a hoax.

It remains one of baseballs best practical jokes ever done. In the end Plimpton would turn the story into a 1987 novel.

Apr 28, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1968) Ron Swoboda Slugs Seven April HRs

April 1968: On April 30th the Philadelphia Phillies (8-9) came to Shea Stadium to face Gil Hodges New York Mets (7-9). Hodges was ending his first month as Mets Manager & was still observing what he had to work with. Both teams were just under .500 but were hoping for good things, for the Mets they were one year away from that Miracle Season.

Tonight's game was a classic pitchers duel as the Mets Don Cardwell went on to a five hit shut out, walking no one while fanning three. It was his first win of the year against two early losses. His opponent was the Phillies Chris Short, Short pitched 7 innings & allowed just one run but that was all New York needed.

In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Ron Swoboda hit the game winning solo shot. It was Swoboda's 7th HR of the month, in which he had played in just 16 games. He also had collected 16 RBIs and was among the league leaders that early in the season.

In the second game of the 1968 season, the Mets visited San Francisco to play the Giants. In a great pitching matchup, Tom Seaver went up against Juan Marichal. The two Hall of Famers went at it, both  lasting eight innings. Seaver took a 4-2 lead into the 9th before running out of gas. The Giants Willie Mays singled & moved up on a passed ball, then scored on Jim Ray Harts base hit. Seaver was relieved by Danny Frisella and hits to Nate Oliver & Jesus Alou ended in a Mets loss.

The Mets hitting star of the day was Ron Swoboda. In the 1st Swoboda's RBI single started off the big day. Then in the 3rd inning with Ken Boswell & Tommie Agee on base, Swoboda cracked a long three run HR off Marichal into the windy San Francisco night. It was his 1st HR of the season & put New York up 4-0.

April 19th - April 21st 1968: This three day four game stretch for Swoboda was certainly a hot one. On April 19th he hit a solo HR off the Los Angeles Dodgers Claude Osteen, but the Mets went down 3-2.

The next day Tom Seaver & Bill Singer went at it, matching zeroes into the 6th inning. Bud Harrelson reached base for the Mets with a bunt single, and Art Shamsky later walked. Swoboda came up hitting a three run HR, his third of the year. The Mets went on to a 3-3 win behind Swoboda & Seaver.

Sunday April 21st was a classic double header matinee at Shea. The Dodgers took the first game but Swoboda remained hot, he hit a 4th inning two run HR off Dodger ace; Don Drysdale, in a five run Mets inning. A four run Dodger 8th & a two run 9th off Met pitchers Bill Short & Deick Selma ended in a 7-6 Met loss.

The Mets dropped the second game as well, but Swoboda stayed hot, hitting a 4th inning solo HR. He kept a five game hit streak in tact & had hit HRs in four straight games with seven RBIs.

On April 27th Swoboda hit another HR & drove in two more runs, although the Mets lost again, this time 5-3 at Cincinnati to the Reds.

 Unfortunately his hot streak ended & he would struggle the rest of the year. He would hit just 11 HRs with 59 RBIs in 132 games.