Apr 25, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1988) Keith Hernandez Drives In Seven Runs

Tuesday, April 26, 1988 : On this night Davey Johnson's second place Mets 912-6) visited Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, to face Chuck Tanner's last place Braves (3-14). The pitchers for tonight were Dwight Gooden vs. Tom Glavine.

This game was all about Keith Hernandez, the Met first baseman had a fantastic night one of his biggest ever. Hernandez hit two HRs and drove in seven runs, including a career milestone 1,000th RBI.

He started out the game by going 0-2, but then in the 5th inning with Mookie Wilson aboard Keith blasted a a two run HR off Glavine to tie up the game at four. In the 7th he grounded out on a force play bringing in Mookie Wilson once again.

In the 8th inning with the Mets ahead 6-4, Keith came up with the bases loaded, facing former Met Charlie Puleo. Mex lined a HR over the Center field fence for a grand slam HR & giving him seven RBIs on the night. The HRs were his first two HRs of the season & capped off a 13-4 Mets win.

Dwight Gooden would get the win & go to 5-0 on the young season, as he pitched the complete game victory.

Gary Carter was off to a great start as he hit his 7th HR of the young season, a solo shot off Glavine. Kevin Elster doubled and drove in two runs, Mookie Wilson doubled, drove in a run & scored three runs. Howard Johnson & Tim Teufel added RBI base hits as well.

Tom Glavine did not get a decision as the loss went to Jack Acker. Glavine got roughed up for four runs, five hits & three walks in just two innings of work. Glavine would go on to lead the NL in losses with 17 in 1988. The Braves used six pitchers that day.

Former Mets Pitcher Turned 1986 NLCS Public Enemy Number One: Mike Scott (1979-1983)

Michael Warren Scott was born on April 26th, 1955 in Santa Monica, California.

The six foot two right hander attended Pepperdine University getting drafted in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft by the New York Mets. Scott pitched two seasons at AA Jackson going 14-10 with a 2.94 ERA in 1977 getting promoted to AAA Tidewater. He finished the year then pitched three more seasons at AAA Tidewater, going 10-10 in 1978. 

Scott pitched well enough in Spring Training to make the 1979 Mets staff. He made his MLB debut on April 18th 1979 pitching two innings relieving Pat Zachary in a game against the Montreal Expos.

He got his first start on April 24th & pitched five innings getting the win over the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. He pitched in 14 games until mid June getting just one more decision, a loss before getting sent down to Tidewater until September. He made four appearances with the Mets that month going 0-2 with a hold in relief. He finished up at 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 18 games.

In 1980 he was 13-7 at AAA Tidewater leading the staff in ERA, and was tied with Ed Lynch for the team lead in victories. He got the September call up going 1-1 in six appearances. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he started out at 1-4 going into late May. On May 29th he pitched a one run complete game beating the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

A week later he allowed just one run against the Astros in Houston & won his second straight decision. He followed that by losing six of his next seven decisions, into late September. He then beat the Montreal Expos on September 27th, shutting them out for 6.1 innings. On the year he was 5-10 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 136 innings.

In 1982 he pitched the second game of the season, but was beaten the Cubs in Chicago. Scott then beat the Phillies & the Cubs allowing just two earned runs over 17 innings of work. He was 4-5 in early June when he was switched to the bull pen. He earned three saves that month & was back in the rotation by July.

Scott went 2-4 before going back to the bullpen. From that point through the end of the season, he was 0-5 and his ERA went to 5.14. He finished the year at 7-13. In December he was traded to the Houston Astros for Danny Heep.

In his first season in Houston he was 10-6 with a 3.72 ERA but in 1984 he fell to a 5-11 record with a 4.68 ERA. Things then turned around after Scott began to throw a split fingered fastball that he learned from former Mets pitcher Roger Craig. Craig began teaching this pitch in the eighties & has now become a staple in the game. In 1985 it all came together for Scott he went 18-8 with a 3.29 ERA.

But in 1986 Scott was even better, winning the NL Cy Young Award. He was 18-10 (3rd in the NL in wins) leading the league in strikeouts (306) strike outs per nine innings (10.0) ERA (2.22) innings (275) & shut outs (5). After the All Star break he was 9-4 throwing three complete games, going into the eighth inning or beyond seven times. In that stretch he also had eight games where he struck out at least ten batters, enjoying a season high 14 on September 14th at San Diego. 

On September 25th, Scott threw a no hitter at the Astrodome against the San Diego Padres. In the game he struck out 13 batters & the win clinched the NL Western Division title for the Astros. It was considered one of the top five games ever played at the old Astrodome. That year he finished tenth in the MVP voting & made his first All Star appearance.

1986 Post Season: Scott opened up the NLCS against Dwight Gooden in Game #1 at the Astrodome. He was spectacular beating the mighty Mets 1-0 in the pitchers duel allowing just five hits, striking out 14 Mets.

As not only were the Mets were shocked, but they also began to see strange things happen to the baseball & had some evidence to prove it. They accused Scott of scuffing up the baseballs & actually kept some balls for proof. Scott was never caught in the act or ever found guilty of the charges. No matter what he got into the Mets hitters heads.

He became known as "Mike Scuff" and the target of boo birds & Mets fans public enemy number one.

He returned in Game #4 to beat Sid Fernandez 3-1 in another complete game effort. Sid allowed just four hits to Scotts three hits, another pitcher's duel. As Game Six became a Mets classic as well as one of the best NLCS games in history, it was all the more important since Scott was looming as to be the starter in Game #7 if it was necessary.

It wasn't as the Mets won, advanced to the World Series & Mike Scott never pitched in the post season again. He did win the series MVP award, the first time it had ever gone to player from the losing team.

In 1987 he had a good start going 10-4 into July & getting the start for the NL in the All Star game. He pitched two scoreless innings in the game. He finished the year at 16-13 with 233 strike outs (second in the NL) a 3.23 ERA (7th in the NL) leading the league with 36 starts. In 1988 he was 14-8 with a 2.92 ERA.

On June 12th he just missed throwing a second no hitter, as it was broken up by Atlanta's Ken Oberkfell with two outs in the 9th inning.

In 1989 he was second for the Cy Young Award, going 20-10 as the only NL pitcher to win twenty games. He posted a 3.10 ERA & struck out 172 batters in 180 innings with a career high nine complete games. The next year Scott dropped to a 9-13 record & was 0-2 with injuries in 1991 his final season.

In his career he was 124-108 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 1469 batters with 627 walks in 2068 innings in 347 games. He tossed 22 shut outs & 45 complete games. His is a member of the Astros Hall of Fame & has had his uniform #33 retired by the team

2000 NL Champion Mets Coach: Cookie Rojas (1997-2000)

Octavio Victor Rojas Rivas was born on March 6, 1939 in Havana Cuba. His father wanted him to be a doctor, but Cookie wanted to play baseball for the Havana Sugar Kings instead. He was eventually signed as a second baseman by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 at the age of 17. 

He got out of Cuba as it was going into political turmoil, debuting as the Reds starting second baseman in the first game ever played at the new Dodger Stadium in 1962. A week later he got his first career hit off the great Sandy Koufax.

After one season with the Reds he was traded to the Phillies as rookie Pete Rose was in the Reds plan as the second baseman of their future. Rojas earned the starting second base job in Philly, leading the league in fielding percentage three straight seasons. He batted over .290 twice, including .a 303 average (8th in the league) in 1965 as he made his first All Star team. He would spend seven seasons in Philadelphia being amongst the league’s top ten in singles & sacrifice hits twice. In 1967 he led the league with 16 sac hits batting .259.

In October 1969 he was part of the famous Curt Flood trade, as he, Dick Allen and Jerry Johnson went to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, Joe Hoerner & Byrone Browne. Flood refused the trade and challenged the reserve clause, but was soon forced out of the game since no one really backed him that early on. Rojas will forever be remembered for sporting thick frame eye glasses during his playing days.

Rojas struggled mightily in St. Louis & by June he was sent to the Kansas City Royals for Fred Rico. In K.C. he became one of the American League’s best second baseman of the early seventies. In 1971 he batted .300 with a .357 on base % & posted a .991 fielding percentage quickly becoming a Royals fan favorite.

He made four straight All Star teams from 1971-1974, making history as well. In the 1972 Mid Summer Classic at Atlanta he became the first AL player born outside of the United States to hit a HR in an All Star Game. The HR came in the 8th inning off Montreal's Bill Stoneman, it was a two run shot (scoring Carlton Fisk) putting the AL ahead. The NL would tie it & win the game in the bottom of the 10th on a Joe Morgan base hit.

Rojas posted fielding percentages over .980% through the 1975 season & never made more than 13 errors in a season during his A.L. years.

Rojas was a good contact hitter, who didn’t strike out too often, only going down on strikes fifty times or more twice in his entire career. He was a pure singles hitter, who didn’t hit for power, (like most second baseman of his era) never hitting more than 9 HRs in a season. 

In 1973 he had career highs in RBIs (69) & doubles (69) while batting .276. He played in two ALCS with the Royals, batting .333 overall with an RBI in the 1976 series.

He was eventually released by the Royals after the 1977 season, at the age of 38, with the arrival of long time Royal second baseman Frank White. In his 16 year playing career Rojas would play 1833 MLB games with 1660 hits, 254 doubles, 25 triples, 54 HRs & 593 RBIs while batting .263 lifetime.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a coach & major league scout. Rojas had two brief stints as manager; first with the California Angeles (1988) & second with the Florida Marlins (1996) for just one game after Rene Lachemann was fired. He was only the third Cuban born manager to ever manage in the major leagues.

Rojas joined the New York Mets, as the team's third base coach under Bobby Valentine from 1997-2000. During the 1999 post season Rojas came down the coaching line and argued a foul ball call with umpire Charlie Williams. He then got into a shoving match and was suspended for five games.

He returned as the third base coach during the Mets 2000 Mets pennant season, before leaving the organization. He went on to serve as bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001-2002.

Broadcaster: Rojas currently does Spanish television broadcasts for the Florida Marlins. He is the father of former MLB player Victor Rojas who currently works on the MLB Network.

Family: His son Victor Rojas is a Los Angeles Angels  TV broadcaster & his son Mike Rojas is the Detroit Tigers bullpen coach.

Apr 24, 2017

Remembering Mets History (2015) Matt Harvey Shines In Subway Series WIn

Saturday April 25th 2105: The new version of the New York Mets were riding high coming into this years early version of the subway series, they were fresh off an eleven game win streak & were in first place by 4 1/2 games.

On the first night of the series the streak was ended, but these Mets proved they would over come. Maybe more importantly, to the team, Matt Harvey, fresh off Tommy John surgery last season, in the big spot light took the ball & showed everybody how tough & serious he was.

A large Saturday afternoon crowd of 47,909 came to the Bronx to see the A.L. New York club (10-8) host Terry Collins' Mets (14-4) aired as the FOX game of the week telecast. Matt Harvey (3-0) for the Mets against a struggling CC Sabbathia (0-2).

Starting Lineups

Lucas Duda started out the Mets 1st inning with a solo HR to make it 1-0. The game was tied in the 4th inning when the Mets had a big four run rally. Michael Cuddyer started out with a base hit, then with two outs the hits came.

Juan Lagares tripled to straight away center making it 2-0. He easily scored on Wilmer Flores base hit to make it 3-1. Rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki then made his mark on the subway series with a two run HR off Sabbathia making it 5-1. Plawecki would add an RBI single in the 8th as well.

The Mets back up third baseman, filling in for an injured David Wright hit a solo HR to start out the 6th inning. Juan Lagares singled knock Sabbathia out after giving up a dreadful seven runs on nine hits. Lagares would eventually score on an Esmil Rogers wild pitch.

With all that offense Matt Harvey had an easy time of the AL New York club. In one of his longest outings of the year he pitched into the 9h inning, not wanting the Terry Collins to take the ball from him.

It wasn't until the 9th inning after getting the first two outs, that he allowed a single & a walk where Collins decided he had enough. He left the field to a huge ovation & had earned a lot of respect for his valiant effort.

Harvey went 8.2 innings, allowing two runs on just five hits, he struck out seven & walked two to get to 4-0 on the season with a 3.04 ERA.

The Mets had now won 12 of 13 games.

Late Seventies Mets All Star Pitcher: Pat Zachry (1977-1982)

Patrick Paul Zachry was born on April 24, 1952 in Richmond, Texas. He was drafted out of Richfield high school in Waco, Texas by the Cincinnati Reds in 1970 in the 19th round.

The tall lanky six foot five, right hander looked more like a fisherman than a ball player with his long bearded face. He pitched as both a starter & reliever in the minor leagues, putting up identical 10-7 records at AAA Indianapolis in 1974 & 1975.

Zachry made the Reds staff as a reliever during the height of the Big Red Machines dominance, in 1976. He began the season in the bullpen, but was moved into the rotation by mid May. He won his first four starts throwing a complete game in San Diego & a complete game shutout against the Dodgers. Zachry was pitching so well he was 11-3 with a 2.63 ERA in mid August as the Reds were rolling through the National League.

He wound up winning the Rookie of the Year Award (sharing honors with San Diego’s Butch Metzger) going 14-7 with a 2.74 ERA (5th in the league), striking out 143 batters in 205 innings pitched. He averaged 6.3 strike outs per nine innings, which was 6th best among NL pitchers.

Post Season: Zachry was the winning pitcher of the NLCS Game #2 against the Phillies, allowing two runs over five innings or work. In the 1976 World Series, he won Game #3 in the Bronx, allowing two runs, on six hits in 6.2 innings pitched, helping the Big Red Machine sweep the Series.

In 1977 he struggled at the start of the year, going 2-2 in April, & then was 0-4 in May as his ERA rose to near six. He was 3-7 with a 5.04 ERA through mid June when he became the main chip in the Tom Seaver trade. He came to the New York Mets on June 15th, 1977 “The Midnight Massacre” along with Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, & Dan Norman. He had no chance following in Seaver’s footsteps no matter how well he would ever do.

Two days after the trade he made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium, losing to the Houston Astros, allowing four runs over six innings. He quickly found out he didn't have the same offensive run support he had in Cincinnati.

In his next start he pitched well, allowing just one run in seven innings of work but got no decision. Almost a month after the trade he earned his first Mets win on July 10th, against the Montreal Expos.

In mid August he began his best streak, winning three straight decisions through early September. He threw a complete game in St. Louis & then pitched a five hit shutout against the Braves at Shea. He did well the rest of the year, going 7-6 overall since joining the club with a 3.76 ERA. He only had 63 strike outs in 119 innings pitching in 19 games.

In 1978 he started out winning the third game of the season by beating the Montreal Expos pitching six innings of one run ball at Shea Stadium. On April 19th he pitched a two hit shutout in St. Louis, striking out five Cardinals batters. Bruce Boisclair drove in both runs of the 2-0 Mets win. Zachry himself scored a run after drawing a walk & then circled the bases.

He finished out the month of April going 3-0, and then went on another four game win streak from May to July. On May 29th he pitched another complete games, allowing just two runs on three hits to the Cardinals at Shea in the first game of a double header. Zachry already had ten wins (10-3) by the fourth of July. He was the only Met chosen for the All Star Game that year, although he didn’t pitch in the game held at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium.

On July 24th 1978, Shea Stadium was packed, hoping Zachry could shut down Pete Rose during his N.L. record setting hit streak. Unfortunately, Rose singled off him in the 7th inning; tying the 37 game NL hit streak record. The Reds then started a rally rallied knocking Zachry out of the game, four batters later. On his way into the dugout he angrily kicked a helmet, but missed it & kicked the dugout step. The result was a fracture to his left foot. He was done for the rest of the year, finishing 10-6 with a 3.33 ERA, 78 strike outs & 60 walks in 138 innings. He also threw two shut outs & five complete games.

He started out 1979 by beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the second game of the season. He then returned to Shea Stadium to pitch a complete game victory against Philadelphia. Although he gave up 12 hits he only allowed two runs beating the Phillies 3-2.

He missed a month of action but returned very strong in May winning three straight starts going into June. He was 5-0 before taking his first loss on June 8th against the Houston Astros. He was 5-1 until more injuries finished off his season early once again, shutting him down in June. In seven games he was 5-1 with an .833 winning % posting a 3.59 ERA in 42 innings pitched.

In 1980 he wasn’t ready pitch until May, then lost his first two starts going winless until the end of the month when he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zachry was 2-5 by the end of June with a 3.26 ERA. He had a fantastic July going 4-0 while throwing four complete games. He threw a three hit shutout at Shea against the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates on July 10th and tossed two more shut outs before the month was out.

On July 25th when the Reds came to town he threw a six hit shutout against his old team & then in his next start, threw a four hit shut out to beat the Atlanta Braves. In that 3-0 win the Mets had RBI singles from Doug Flynn & Mike Jorgensen.

The Mets were a bad team, winning just 67 games while finishing in last place. Zachary would not get another win for the rest of the season. He never allowed more than three runs in his last five straight losses but the team lacked run support. He finished up at 6-10 leading the team with a 3.01 ERA and two shut outs.

In the 1981 strike shortened season he began the year winning his first three starts, but then lost his next five. He struggled and led the league in both losses (14) & HRs allowed (13). He went 7-14 but somehow still led the team in victories. He also led the team in strike outs (71) starts (24) complete games (3) & hits (151) posting a 4.14 ERA. He allowed 64 earned runs while walking 56 batters in 139 innings pitched.

In 1982 he started out the season taking a no hitter into the 8th inning, on April 10th at Wrigley Field. But Cubs pinch hitter Bob Molinaro broke it up, Zachary ended up with the win but allowed two runs on five hits in that inning.

Overall he was off to a good start going 4-1 pitching another complete game victory against his old Reds team mates. His ERA was up near five at 4.89 at the end of May & he was placed in the bull pen to pitch in relief. He was back in the rotation by August & pitched a complete game win over the Pirates although he allowed eleven hits.

He finished up the year at 6-9, with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out 69 batters, walking 57 in 137 innings pitched in 36 games (16 starts). After the season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Jorge Orta. Orta would get traded just over a month later in February. In his six year Mets career Pat Zachry was 41-46 with 3.63 ERA, 391 strike outs in 742 innings pitched in 145 games.

Trivia: One of my favorite Zachry stories comes after a Kiners Korner episode in the late seventies. Zachry was a guest on one of Ralph Kiner’s post game shows & received Getty Gas gift vouchers for his appearance. When he tried to use them at a Roosevelt Ave. gas station, the attendant came after him with a hammer. Quite a gift there Ralph!!

Zachry pitched two years in relief for the Dodgers, going 6-1 in 1983 with a 2.49 ERA. He appeared in two games of the 1983 NLCS against the Houston Astros without a decision. Zachry's career ended after ten games with the 1985 Philadelphia Phillies.

In a ten year career he was 69-67, with three saves posting a 3.52 ERA. He threw seven shutouts, with 27 complete games, 669 strikeouts & 495 walks in 1117 innings pitched.

Retirement: In 1989 he pitched in the Senior Professional League & was profiled in a book on the league. Pat still attends Mets fantasy camps and is an elementary school teacher in Waco, Texas.

Remembering Mets History: (1980) Mets Pat Zachry vs. Dodgers Ron Cey Bench Clearing Brawl

Tuesday June 10th 1980: A small Shea crowd of 14,759 came out to see Tommy Lasorda's second place Dodgers (32-22) just 1/23 game out of first place, take on Joe Torre's fourth place Mets (24-27). The Mets Pat Zachry went up against L.A.'s Bob Welch as tonight's starting pitchers. 

In the 2nd ,Zachry gave up back to back HRs to Steve Garvey & Dusty Baker. The next batter was third baseman; Ron Cey. Zachry drilled Cey in the hip with a pitch taking exception to the back to back HRs. Cey charged the mound & tackled Zachry at the knees. Both benches cleared & everyone was on the field in a classic bench clearing brawl. 

Cey was ejected from the game after order was restored. In the 4th inning, Dusty Baker hit a two run HR off Zachry making it 4-0. But the Mets answered with base hits to start off the bottom of the inning. Lee Mazzilli & Frank Taveras both singled, then Steve Henderson drew a walk. 

John Stearns singled up the middle bringing in two runs. Joey Youngblood's sac fly made it 4-3. Mike Jorgensen then drew a walk & Eliott Maddox hit a sac fly scoring Stearns with the tying run. 

The score stayed that way until the 6th inning, with two outs Jorgensen singled & Maddox walked. Second baseman Doug Flynn then singled to bring in Jorgensen in what was the game winning run. Tom Hausman relieved Zachry & pitched five innings of shut out ball earning the win to go to 2-1. Welch took the loss at 6-2.

Apr 23, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingman Keith Hernandez Brawl

Tuesday April 20th, 1976: Joe Frazier's New York Mets were in second place 1 1/2 games out of first place, hosting Red Schoendienst's sixth place St. Louis Cardinals just 3 1/2 back. The starting pitchers; Jon Matlack for the Mets & Lynn McGlothen for the Cards would be major players in tonight's escapades.

The Mets beat up McGlothen early, in the 1st inning Wayne Garrett led off with a single & Felix Millan followed hitting his only HR of the season. Later in the inning Ed Kranepool doubled & Del Unser hit a two run HR, making it 4-0 Mets. In the 2nd inning John Milner hit a two run HR to give New York a commanding 6-0 lead.

The Cards were upset, McGlothlen was frustrated and hit Del Unser with a pitch in his next at bat in the 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 3rd, Matlack brushed back McGlothen with a pitch to even things up a bit. He then struck him out.

In the top of the 4th, Matlack came to bat & bean balls flew again, as McGlothen hit him with a pitch. Home plate Umpire, Bruce Froemming tossed McGlothen out of the game. As he was being ejected the Mets came running out of the dugout after him.

The Mets Dave Kingman, who is remembered as not being much of a team player, certainly was standing up for his team & his pitcher this night. The six foot six Kingman led the charge, & was zeroing in on McGlothen. But then non other than future Met legend,the Cardinal first baseman, Keith Hernandez intercepted Kingman, trying to tackle him.

It seems Kingman may have just tossed Hernandez aside, but after all these years memories vary. That said, he did save McGlothen, as benches cleared, punches flew & a lot of shoving went around.

Later in the game, Joe Torre had an RBI triple & Wayne Garrett added an RBI single in the 9th topping off the Mets 8-0 win. Jon Matlack would go the distance pitching a six hit shut out, striking out seven. He was now 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA on the season.

1970's All Star Player Who Began His Career With the Mets: Amos Otis (1967-1969)

Amos Joseph Otis was born on April 26, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama. 

Otis grew up in the same Mobile area as Met outfielders, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee & the Hammer, Hank Aaron.

The speedy five foot eleven Otis was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox as a short stop in the 5th round of the 1965 draft. He was sent to the Appalachian League that same year, where he batted .329. 

In 1966 he was the New York Penn. Leagues All Star first baseman, playing for A ball Oneonta. That same year the New York Mets Player of development, Whitey Herzog who was running a highly talented farm system, managed to draft Otis away from Boston. In 1967 the with the Mets organization he batted .268 & stole 29 bases after being promoted to AAA Jacksonville.

He got a September call up making his MLB debut as a New York Met, pinch running for Tommy Davis at Shea Stadium in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The next night he came in to play third base and then struck out looking against Jack Lamabe in his first career at bat. Otis went hitless in his first seven games, and then on September 14th in Atlanta, he got the start in centerfield going 3-4 against the Braves. He was thrown out twice trying to steal his first two bases that same night. He hit safely in six games and finished the year batting .220 (13-59) with one RBI.

The Mets were talented in the outfield by the late sixties but were still looking for an everyday third baseman. They organization attempted to make Otis the third baseman of the future; after all he did begin his career at short stop. But by now he was evolving into a swift footed outfielder and it turned out to be a horrible decision. Still, the Mets were so high on Otis that they refused a trade to acquire Joe Torre from Atlanta whom they had been after for a long while.

In 1969 Otis had a good Spring Training & made the team out of Florida. On Opening Day he came into the game late, getting a 9th inning single in the Mets five run 9th inning against the Montreal Expos.

Otis clashed with manager Gil Hodges because he thought although he was struggling he was the best outfielder the team. He didn’t want to learn how to play third base. He soon found himself on the bench, then in the minors by June.

He returned to the club as a September call up, finishing up playing in 48 games overall, with 14 hits in 93 at bats, batting .151 while striking out 27 times. His would play in his last Met game was September 27th 1969 and he did not make the post season roster.

Quotes: Amos Otis –“I was a shortstop originally and played all positions in high school. The Mets wanted me to play third base. In 1969 they had Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, and Ron Swoboda in the outfield.

I was supposed to be the Opening Day third baseman that year but Gil Hodges, the Mets manager, thought that I would be too nervous and I didn't play. I really wanted to play centerfield, not third because I had been an All-Star centerfielder in the minors.

I was one of the fastest players on the team so why did they want to put me a third base? Finally, I played three games at third in Philadelphia, got a lot of hits, made one error, and that was it at third base for the Mets.”

The Mets gave up on Otis and made one of their worst trades in their history. In December 1969, Otis went to the Kansas City Royals along with pitcher Bob Johnson for third baseman Joe Foy. Foy bombed at third base & was out of baseball in two years. This led to the Mets dealing away Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi who also bombed at third base.

Meanwhile Amos Otis starred in centerfield with Kansas City for 14 years. He immediately became a star in Kansas City, hitting .284 with 11 HRs, 58 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. During his tenure, one of the most popular chants in Royals Stadium was "A-O, A-O."

The stylish Otis was criticized at times for a casual play, lack of aggressiveness, and one-handed catches, but he won three Gold Gloves, made five All Star teams and three times was named Royals Player of the Year.

He tied for the American League lead in doubles his first full year (1970) and led again in 1976. He would hit over 25 doubles, nine times in his career. In 1971, the speedster led the league in steals (52) and in his career stole over 30 bases five times. He also stole five bases on September 7th, 1971 & in 1975 he tied an AL record by stealing seven bases in two straight games, (April 30 and May 1).

He would bat over .300 twice and over .290 three other seasons. He would show occasional power hitting 18 or more HRs four times with a career high 26 HRs in 1973.

One of his managers in Kansas City, Jack McKeon said "He's the best center fielder in baseball. No question about it. Amos is the most complete player in the majors." By 1976 his manager would be the man who helped develop his minor league career, Whitey Herzog.

Post Season: Otis appeared in the post season five times with KC, winning five divisional titles & one AL Pennant. In the 1978 ALCS he hit .429 (6-14) with 2 doubles, 4 stolen bases, 3 walks & 1 RBI. He hit .333 in the 1980 ALCS & followed that up with a great World Series. He led all players with 11 hits, hitting .478 with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs.

By the early 1980s, his skills had declined and he lost his center field job to one of the fastest men in baseball, Willie Wilson. But Otis was still important to his team, filling in all roles. After 13 seasons with the Royals, he spent his last year with the Pirates in 1984.

In a 17-season career, Otis batted .277, with 193 HRs, 1007 RBIs, 374 doubles, 341 steals, & 66 triples in 1,998 games played. Otis was a very private distinguished gentleman who hated any kind of showmanship.

Trivia: In 1972 with former Mets team mate Nolan Ryan on the mound, AO stole home in the fourth inning, scoring the game's only run in a 1-0 Royals win. It was only the second time since WWII that the only run of the game was scored on a steal of home.

Apr 22, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1973): Mets Score Season High 13 Runs

April 22nd, 1973: Yogi Berra's New York Mets (8-6) faced off against Gene Mauch's Montreal Expos (6-7) for a classic Sunday afternoon double header. A crowd of 27, 230 came out to Shea Stadium on this Easter Sunday.

In the first game. Mets Cy Young winner Tom Seaver went up against the Expos' John Strohmayer. Strohmayer would pitch for the Mets later in the season & again in 1974.

The Expos Ron Fairly, hit a lead off second inning HR and Strohmayer held down the Mets scoreless through the end of the 8th inning.

He was relieved by relief ace, Mike Marshall who allowed a leadoff 9th inning walk to Jim Fregosi, then threw a wild pitch advancing him to second. Jerry Grote sacrificed Fregosi to third & pinch hitter Ken Boswell came through with a base hit tying the game. 

Newly acquired Mets relief pitcher Phil Hennigan, had his own troubles in the 10th inning. He walked John Boccabella, then walked pinch hitter Boots Day, intentionally. After a force play, former Met infielder Tim Foli singled to right field which scored what was the winning run.

Starting Lineups

Jim McAndrew two RBIs
& Winning Pitcher
In the night cap, the Mets Jim McAndrew went up against former Met, Steve Renko. Renko was dealt to Montreal back in 1969, in the trade that brought Donn Clendenon to New York.

In the home 3rd inning, the Mets exploded with one of their biggest innings of the year. 

It began with a Felix Millan base hit & a walk to the Hammer; John Milner. Rusty Staub flew out to deep centerfield, advancing both runners.

Then Ed Kranepool singled, driving in both Millan & Milner. After another out, short time '73 Mets centerfielder Rich Chiles, doubled to score Ed Kranepool making it 3-0. Renko was then taken out of the game & relieved by Pat Jarvis.

Ed Kranepool drives in Four Runs
The Mets catcher Duffy Dyer was walked & then picked off of first base, but the first baseman (former Met) Mike Jorgensen dropped the ball. Pitcher Jim McAndrew then helped his own cause with a two run double of his own, making it 5-0.

After walks to Teddy Martinez & Felix Millan, John Milner (the 12th man to bat in the inning) then singled to left scoring McAndrew & Martinez. The Mets scored seven runs in the inning & sent 14 men to the plate.

The Mets then scored again in the 5th inning, as Teddy Martinez singled, Millan & Staub both walked. Then Ed Kranepool hit a two run double making it 10-0. Kranepool would have three hits on the day, a triple, a double & a single with four RBIs. 

In the 6th, McAndrew reached on an error & Martinez singled. Kenny Boswell then hit a base hit scoring McAndrew. Next up, reserve outfielder Jim Beauchamp singled scoring Boswell & Martinez making it 13-0.

The Mets went on to win the game 13-3, as McAndrew got the win & George Stone finished it off.

The 13 runs scored, would be the most runs the Mets would score all season long in a single game. They also had 16 hits on the day, and were within one & a half game of first place at that early point  in the season.

Every Met in the lineup that day had a hit, except Rusty Staub.

1973 Expos notes: The 1973 Montreal Expos were a decent ball club, managed by the legendary Gene Mauch, who managed for 27 years. The Phillies (1960-1968) Expos (1969-1975) Twins (1976-1980) & Angels (1981-1987). Mauch finished first twice but never got to a World Series.

The '73 Expos finished fourth at 79-83 just 3.5 games behind the New York Mets. The Expos top hitter was former Met Ken Singleton, who was traded along with Tim Foli & Mike Jorgensen in the Rusty Staub deal. Singleton, led the league in on base % (.425%) & hit .302 (8th in the NL) with 23 HRs & 103 RBIs (5th in the NL).

Former Met Ron Hunt led the league in hit by pitches for the sixth straight year & batted .309 (but did not qualify in the batting race with 401 at bats). Bob Bailey led the team in HRs (26) drove in 86 runs & hit .273. Former Dodger; Ron Fairly hit .298 with 17 HRs & Hal Breeden hit 15 HRs batting .275.

The pitching staff was led by Steve Renko (15-11) with a 2.81 ERA (7th in the NL) & 164 strike outs (10th in the NL). Long time Expo, Steve Rogers was in his rookie year going 10-5 with a 1.54 ERA. Rogers would pitch 13 years with the Expos going 158-152 with a 3.17 ERA in 399 games.

Also on the staff was Mike Torrez (9-12) & reliever Mike Marshall. Marshall was 14-11 with a league leading 31 saves.

Marshall would lead the league in appearances three straight years, including a record 106 appearances the next year in 1974 with the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1973 & 1974 he was leagues best closer leading the league in saves both years.

The Winningest Left Handed Pitcher of All Time- One Time New York Met: Warren Spahn (1965)

Warren Edward Spahn was born on April 23, 1921 in Buffalo New York, being named after President Warren Harden. The tall six foot lefty, was known as "the Invincible one" and became the winningest left handed pitcher of all time.

He came up with Boston Braves in 1942 briefly before serving military time in the Military during World War II. In the war his heroic efforts won him a Purple Heart & a Bronze Star. He returned back to pitching by 1946 at the age of 26 going 8-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

Quotes: "People say that my absence from the big leagues may have cost me a chance to win 400 games. But I don't know about that. I matured a lot in three years, and I think I was better equipped to handle major league hitters at 25 than I was at 22. Also, I pitched until I was 44. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to do that otherwise."

In Boston he along with the number two man on the staff Johnny Sain, were so much better than the rest of the staff they inspired a famous poem. The saying from the Braves fans in no legebdary: “Spahn & Sain & then pray for rain”.

In 1948 during the heat of the pennant race, Spahn & Sain had gone 8-0 over an incredible twelve day span. The lefty had an unusual high leg kick which helped him check runners on first base & also deceive them in whether he was throwing over or delivering the pitch. The delivery also confused hitters making it even more difficult to hit Spahn.

In 1948 he was 15-12 following his first twenty win seaon where he also won his first ERA title in 1947. In 1948 the Braves got to the World Series, losing to the mighty Cleveland Indians in six games. Spahn took a Game #2 loss to Bob Lemon 4-1 at Milwaukee County Stadium. Then in Game #5 in front of 86,000 fans at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Spahn got the win pitching 5.2 innings of relief sending the Series back to Boston. In Game #6 he came back in relief but took no decision as Bob Lemon beat Boston's Bill Voiselle.

Spahn went on to play in 14 All Star games, the most of any pitcher in the entire 20th century. He would win one Cy Young Award & be runner up two other times. He won the Cy Young Award in the Braves 1957 Championship season, going 21-11 with a 2.69 ERA. He struck out 111 batters in 271 innings pitched, throwing four shut outs & a league leading 18 complete games.

Post Season: In Game #1 of the 1957 World Series, Spahn pitched a complete games but lost to New York’s Whitey Ford 3-1. He came back to throw another complete game in Game #4, this time at home earning the win although he allowed five runs on 11 hits. The Braves would go on to win the Series in seven games.

In 1958 he won a league leading 22 games going an identical 22-11 with the league's best winning % (.667%). Spahn also led the NL in complete games (23) & innings (290) & struck out 150 batters as the Braves won their second straight pennant. Spahn was named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year for the second straight year & the third time overall.

Post Season: In the World Series he beat Whitey Ford twice with complete game victories in Games one & four. He made his third start & took a 4-3 lead into the 10th inning of Game #6, but gave up a HR to Gil McDougald as well as another run.

Hank Aaron brought the Braves to within one run in the bottom of the inning but they fell short losing 3-2 in what was Spahn's last World Series appearance. Overall he was 4-3 with a 3.05 ERA in eight World Series games, posting 32 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched & 47 hits allowed.

Spahn would win twenty or more games thirteen times including a stretch of six straight seasons (1956-1961). He led the league in wins eight times, including five straight years (1957-1961). He led the league in strikeouts four straight years (1949-1952) & ERA three times. He won one ERA Title once in each decade of the forties, fifties, & sixties.

He led the league in innings pitched four times as well , pitching over 250 innings sixteen times in his incredible career. He led the league in complete games nine times, including seven straight years from (1957-1963). He also went on to lead the league in shutouts four times, starts twice, & winning percentage once.

Spahn’s longevity was incredible as well, he threw his first no hitter at age 39 in 1960 & then another the next year. After age 40 he would win another 80 career games, winning twenty or more twice in a season.

After age 40 he won another ERA title & led the league in complete games three times while pitching over 250 innings three times. In a classic 1963 pitchers duel with San Francisco’s Juan Marichal, Spahn pitched 16 innings before Willie Mays hit a walk off HR off him. During the game 25 year old Marichal told his manager “see that man over there he is 42 years old, there is no way anyone is taking me out of this game”. Way back in 1951 it was Spahn who allowed Willie Mays first career hit also a HR.

At the plate he was one of baseballs best hitting pitchers, hitting at least one HR in 17 straight seasons, finishing with an NL leading 35 career HRs. He finished his career with just as many hits as wins, 363 and a .194 batting average, with 57 doubles & six triples.

In 1965 Spahn's final season, his contract was sold to the New York Mets after 24 years with the Braves. New York Mets coach Yogi Berra came out of retirement briefly to catch four games with the Mets, although none of them was with Spahn pitching. Yogi told reporters "I don't think we're the oldest battery, but we're certainly the ugliest." Spahn had a dual role as both pitcher & Mets pitching coach that season.

He debuted as a Met pitching the second game of the 1965 season, against the Houston Colt 45's. Spahn went eight strong innings, allowing three runs on seven hits but getting no decision. His next start was in Los Angeles and he got his first Mets win beating Claude Osteen & the Dodgers, allowing one earned run & one walk in a complete game win. Next it was off to San Francisco to throw a another complete game victory over the other former New York team. In that game he allowed three runs on seven hits & walked no one.

Spahn would lose his next three decisions going into mid May. Then he won two more games over the month including another complete game, this time a win at Philadelphia. But by June the old man, now 44 years of age, was out of gas. He went to lose eight straight games as a Met seeing his record fall to 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA.

The Mets put him on waivers by mid July & he was picked by the San Francisco Giants finishing his career there at the end of the season.

In his 21 year career he is 363-245 (sixth all time in wins/ 12th all time in losses) with a 3.09 ERA (193rd all time), a .597 winning % (127th all time). He has 665 starts (14th all time) with 382 complete games (21st all time), 63 shut outs (6th all time), 2583 strike outs (25th all time) 1434 walks (15th all time) 29 saves & 434 HRs allowed (7th most all time) in 5243 innings (8th all time) pitched over 750 games (61st all time).

Retirement: After his playing days he coached with the Cleveland Indians & in the minors for the California Angels.

He was a successful manger with AAA Tulsa winning the 1968 Pacific Coast League championship. He also coached briefly in Mexico & Japan baseball.

He was at Turner Field in Atlanta, the newest home of his old Braves club, for the unveiling of his statue with the high leg kick in the 1990's. Spahn passed away in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma in 2003 at the age 82.

Honors: He was elected to Baseballs Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1973. He is also a member of the Braves Hall of Fame & the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He has a street named after him in Buffalo, New York near his old high school.