Dec 10, 2017

2017 Mets Starting Pitcher: Chris Flexen (2017)

Christopher Flexen was born Jul 1st 1994 in Newark, California. The six three right hander played football where he was quarterback as well as pitched earning him the nickname "the Flexman". He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 14th round of the 2012 MLB draft.

In 2013 he impressed at Kingsport with an 8-1 record. In 2016 he was at St. Lucie where he went 10-9 with a 3.25 ERA in 25 starts. In 2017 he was promoted up to a AA Binghamton going 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA. That was enough for the Mets to have him skip AAA & go right to the big league club, who's staff was struggling.

Flexen made his MLB debut on July 27th with a start in San Diego. The Padres got him for four runs on five hits, in three innings of work, taking his first career loss.

Trivia: He became the fifth Met pitcher in team history to serve up a HR to his first career hitter.

After a no decision, he earned wins against the Texas Rangers & Philadelphia Phillies. He gave up at least two runs in each of those games getting to the 5th & 6th innings respectively. On August 23rd, he had his best outing of the year, pitching six innings, allowing two runs with five strike outs, in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at home. 

That was followed by his worst outing, it came against the eventual World Champion Astros at Houston. He was pounded for seven runs on nine hits in just four innings of work. This led to him getting placed in the bullpen for most of September.

On September 25th he got a start against the Atlanta Braves, his first five innings were good, but then in the 6th it all fell apart. Overall he allowed four runs in five innings of work resulting in another loss. On October 1st he ended the season with another  debacle, giving up six runs (five earned) in a 11-0 loss at Philadelphia.

On the year he was 3-6 with a 7.8 ERA, 36 strike outs & 35 walks in 48 innings of work.

Mets Relief Pitcher: Paul Sewald (2017)

Paul Stanton Sewald was born May 26th 1990 in Las Vegas, Nevada. His father Mark Sewald was a prospect for the Boston Red Sox, drafted out of high school in 1979. His brother Johnny was selected by the Houston Astros in the 2015 draft. Both his parents were accountants & he also earned an accounting degree.

The six foot three, right hander attended the University of San Diego & was drafted by the New York Mets in the tenth round of the 2012 MLB draft.

A career reliever, Sewald posted 24 saves for the Mets AA Buffalo Bisons in 2015, while going 3-0.  After a promotion to his hometown club, AAA Las Vegas, he saved 19 more games while going 5-3 in 2016.

He started out 2017 with the Mets big league club, getting an appearance in the 5th game of the year. In his MLB debut he gave up two runs to the Miami Marlins in the 8th inning of an 8-1 Mets loss.

He was back down at AAA for eight games in April 2017, then was back up by May to help a hurting Mets bullpen. He had a few doses of good pitching through the year, earning 13 holds to his credit. He was used often to finish out losses or mop out a win when the Mets had a rare big lead. 

In June, he took his first loss, coming at Citi Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they got him for five runs in less than inning of work. It would be his worst outing of the year. He suffered losses to the NL Champion Dodgers, The Nationals & another in that years version of the subway series.

Overall he was 0-6 with a 4.55 ERA. He was second on the club in appearances (57) finishing up 12 games, while striking out 69 batters, walking 21 in 65.1 innings of work.

Dec 9, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1973) Utility Man Ted Martinez's Big Four RBI Game

Monday September 3, 1973: Yogi Berra's New York Mets (64-73) were just 5 1/2 games out of first place, although they were still in fifth place.

They had five teams to jump over but went 18-6 winning 18 of their last 24 games to capture the NL East title.

Today hosted Danny Ozark's Philadelphia Phillies (63-75 just 7 games back).

It was a Labor Day doubleheader at Shea Stadium in front of 30,748 fans. The Phils had veteran left hander & future Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton go up against lefty Jerry Koosman.

Starting Lineups

The Met bats were asleep for this game, except for utility infielder Teddy Martinez, who was inserted 8th in the line up as that days third baseman.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Rusty Staub & Don Hahn walked & Jerry Grote had siingled to load the bases. Ted Martinez came to bat with the bases loaded against Carlton. He delivered with a single driving in Staub with his first RBI of the night.

In the bottom of the 4th, Martinez hit his only HR of the season (he only hit seven HRs in 1480 career at bats) this was a solo shot also coming off Carlton.

In the 5th inning; Rusty Staub reached on an error & walks to Cleon Jones & an intentional pass to Don Hahn loaded them up again for Martinez. He teed off again off Carlton, as he doubled to right field scoring both Jones & Staub making it 5-0. Staub would have two hits & score two runs on the night.

Martinez finished off his career day with an 8th inning single, finishing up with four hits, a HR & four RBIs. On the 1973 season, Martinez batted .255 with one HR 11 doubles & 14 RBIs in 263 at bats. Koosman pitched a seven hit complete game shut out 

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Utility Player: Teddy Martinez (1971-1974)

Teodoro Noel Martinez was born on December 10, 1947 in Barahona, Dominican Republic. The slim six foot infielder was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets in 1966 at the age of 19. At A ball in 1968, he hit over .300 and played a solid defensive infield. By 1970 he was hitting .306 with 13 stolen bases at AAA Tidewater, and posting a .966 fielding %.

Martinez made his MLB debut on July 18th 1971 playing second base & batting 8th in a game against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. He stayed up for a brief four games that week, getting one hit in 16 at bats. He hit .297 at AAA Tidewater in 1971, as the clubs main second baseman. That July he got another call up filling in mostly at shortstop that month. He hit safely in his first four games, with another four game streak at the end of the month.

He hit his first career HR on September 7th against Nelson Briles of that seasons world champion Pittsburgh Pirates. He managed to get into over 90 games in each of the next three seasons as a utility middle infielder, also playing some outfield. In 38 games he hit .288 with 10 RBIs six stolen bases & 16 runs scored.

In 1972 he made the Mets Opening Day roster, and would see action in 102 games as a utility infielder. On May 5th his 14th inning single drove home the winning run against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving the Mets a walk off win keeping them in first place at that time. On May 18th his 1st inning triple scored Willie Mays & then after an error at home plate , Martinez himself scampered home. The Mets would win the game 2-0.

In late September he had one of his biggest offensive days of the year, gathering up three hits with two RBIs in a 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium. On October 1st he ended his season by hitting a surprise three run HR off the Pirates Bob Miller in a 7-3 Mets win at Three River Stadium.

The speedy Martinez, led the Mets in triples (5) & was third in stole bases (7). Martinez batted .228 hitting a HR five doubles and driving in 19 runs. Martinez posted a .994 fielding percentage at second base in 47 games, making one error turning nine double plays. He played 42 games at short posting a .983 %, making just three errors in 175 chances. The versatile Martinez even played 15 games in the outfield as well.

In 1973 the Mets acquired the steady second baseman; Felix Millan who never missed any time, so Teddy only played behind Bud Harrelson at short. He filled in when Harrelson went down with an injury, that season missing some time. He would play in 44 games at short posting .941 fielding % making 11 errors in 187 chances, while turning 12 double plays. He also played in 21 games in the outfield when needed. 

He was in the middle of all the excitement on the second game of the season, even though he did not start the game. Martinez came in to run for Ed Kranepool, in the 9th inning of a 2-2 tie, after Eddie had singled against the Phillies Dick Selma (former Met). He advanced on a fielder's choice, then scored the game winning run on Willie Mays' base hit.

On June 27th in the first game of a double header, he doubled driving in a run in the Mets seven run third inning against the Phillies. The Mets barley held on winning 7-6. In the night cap his RBI sac fly was the only run the Mets scored in the 7-1 loss.

He saw a lot of action in August hitting safely in 13 of 22 games. He only saw action in seven games of the Mets incredible September stretch, but contributed on September 3rd with his biggest game of the year. With the Mets still 5 1/2 games out of first place in a tight race, Martinez led the team to victory with a four hit day. He drove in four runs in a Jerry Koosman 5-0 shutout over Steve Carlton & the Phillies at Shea Stadium. In that game Martinez hit his only HR of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning. He had come up twice with the bases loaded, (2nd inning & 5th inning) delivering both times with hits, including a double.

As all the Mets regulars got healthy in the final month, Martinez didn't see much playing time as the Mets went on a tear & won the Eastern Division. He did score two key runs in the final weeks of the season.

On September 9th in Pittsburgh, the Mets were down 4-1 to the first place Pirates, two & half games back. They came back with a big inning scoring five runs, led by a Wayne Garrett triple & RBI singles from Ron Hodges & Don Hahn. Martinez had come in to run for Hodges & scored what turned out to be the winning run.

On September 20th at Shea Stadium, in the game now known as "the ball off the wall game", he came in as a pinch runner after pinch hitter Jim Beachump singled off the first place Pirates, Jim Rooker. With the Mets down by a run, Wayne Garrett sacrificed Martinez over to second. He then scored on a Felix Millan base hit, tying the game.

The Pirates went ahead in the 9th but the Mets tied it up. In the 13th inning the Pirates Dave Augustine hit a ball that hit the top of the wall, came back in to Cleon Jones, who threw to Wayne Garrett who threw home to catcher Ron Hodges & nailed Richie Zisk trying to score. Hodges won it with a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th.

He played in 92 games overall, batting .255 with 67 hits, 11 doubles, 14 RBIs & five stolen bases. In the World Series he made two appearances as a pinch runner against the Oakland A's.

In 1974 he appeared in a career high 116 games, 75 of them at shortstop for an injured Bud Harrelson. He posted a .952 fielding % making 17 errors with a career high 32 double plays turned. He also played at second (11 games) third (12 games) & in the outfield (10 games) also filling in as a pinch hitter. Early in the season in May, he had a stretch where he drove in two runs in a game four times in nine games.

On July 7th, he led the offense in Tom Seaver's three hit shutout in San Francisco. Martinez had three hits & drove in four of the Mets runs.

On July 28th he had a three RBI day, including a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 8th inning, scoring two runs in the Mets 4-1 win over the Montreal Expos. He helped an August 26th come comeback with a pinch hit RBI double against the Houston Astros in the 9th inning. He then scored the tying run on Felix Millan's base hit & Rusty Staub won it walk off style with another single scoring Bud Harrelson.

Teddy again led the team in triples with seven, batting .219 with a career high two HRs, 15 doubles 14 walks and 43 RBIs. That winter the Mets traded him to the St. Louis Cards in order to get two players, outfielder Mike Vail & infielder Jack Heidemann.

After batting only .190 in 19 games he was traded to the Oakland A's batting .172 for the AL Western Champions. Martinez saw action in 45 games behind Bert Campaneris & 31 games behind Phil Garner & 14 games behind Sal Bando playing a superb defense. He made three appearances in the ALCS losing to the Boston Red Sox as the A’s Dynasty reign ended.

He spent 1976 in the minors then got picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers for 1977 as a utility infielder winning two straight NL pennants. On August 21st, 1977 he tied a NL second baseman record, turning five double plays in a game. He hit a career high .299 in 67 games that season and batted .255 the next year in 1978 in 54 games. He did not appear in any of the post season games either year. Martinez played one more year in Los Angeles, finishing up his nine season career in 1979.

Overall he played in 657 games, batting .240, with 355 Hits, 50 Doubles, 16 Triples, 7 HRs, 108 RBI, 29 Stolen Bases, scoring 165 Runs and a .270 on base %.

At short he posted a .956 fielding % in 282 games turning 102 double plays, making 46 errors in 1038 chances. At second he posted a .994% in 168 games. In his Mets career he played in 353 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he has been a long time hitting coach for the Sinon Bulls, now in the Dodgers organization.

Former Italian / American Player: Pretzel Pezzulo (1935-1936)

John Pretzel Pezzullo was born to an Italian American family, on December 10, 1910 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He earned the name Pretzel because of his strange twisty wind up & delivery. He began it with a high leg kick then he would drop down with a side arm delivery, totally confusing the hitter.

He started out in the New York Giants organization but was traded to the Phillies with Blondy Ryan & George Watkins for Dick Bartell. He only pitched one season at the minor league level going 16-4, before making it to the big leagues in 1935.

His stuff probably wasn’t all that good for the majors, because he only lasted two brief seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Prtezel was bit wild as well, walking 45 batters with hit seven hit by with pitches (5th in the league) in just 84 innings, going 6-4 with a 6.40 ERA in 45 games.

The next season he only appeared in one game, walking six batters in two innings. Next he was back in the minors, and won 26 games at Savannah in the South Atlantic League. He pitched in the minors until 1941 eventually settling in Dallas Texas where he passed away at the age of 80.

Dec 8, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1973): An Unusual Double Play Tops Off Rusty Staub's Big Day

Saturday June 9th 1973: Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (34-23) were in town in front of 47,800 fans at Shea for a Saturday matinee.

Yogi Berra's Mets (23-27) were still in fifth place in the season that would win them the NL Pennant. The man who would serve up Hank Aaron's famous 715th career HR, Al Downing would go against the Mets young lefty, Jon Matlack.

Starting Lineups

In the top of the 1st, Davey Lopes led off with a double & advanced to third on a Bill Buckner hit. He then scored on Willie Davis' grounder to second.

In the Mets home 1st, Teddy Martines led off with a base hit & advanced on a fielders choice. Willie Mays then drew a walk putting runners on the corners for "Le Grande Orange" Rusty Staub. Staub blasted a double to left field that scored but Mets runners & it was a 2-1 game.

In the 3rd the pesky Lopes bunted for a base hit. He advanced when Matlack committed an error in a pick off attempt. Lopes then stole third & scored on Bill Buckner's sac fly. 2-2 game.

In the bottom of the third, Hall of Fame New York hero, Willie Mays excited the fans with his 655th career HR, putting the Mets ahead with what turned out to be the winning run.

Strange Double Play: In the top of the 7th inning, a most unusual play occurred. Tom Paciorek led off with a double & Davey Lopes then singled putting runners on the corners. Lopes then made his move to steal second base, he gets caught in a run down play, as first baseman John Milner takes the throw he throws to short stop Jim Fregosi, who throws back to Milner who then throws to second baseman Felix Millan who tosses back to Milner who toss to Millan who eventually throws to right fielder Rusty Staub, now covering second, he takes the throw & tags out Lopes. Staub then fires to catcher Duffy Dyer nailing Paciorek who attempted to score on the play. Your usual 1-3-6-3-4-3-4-7-2 double play if you were keeping score!

In the 8th inning, Staub continued his big day, with Felix Millan aboard after collecting a base hit Staub doubled to left bringing in Millan with the Mets fourth run.

Jon Matlack went the distance nine innings, two runs, one earned, struck out four & walked three while scattering seven hits.

Mid to Late Seventies Mets Outfielder: Bruce Boisclair (1974-1979)

Bruce Armand Boisclair was born December 9, 1952 in Putnam, Connecticut. The tall slender six foot two, outfielder was drafted in the 20th round of the 1970 draft by the New York Mets. In 1972 he hit .348 at A ball Visalia, by far the best he average he ever hit for in his pro career. That season he also hit a minor league career high four HRs.

He was known for his base stealing as he stole 20 base at A ball Pompano Beach in 1971, followed by 16 more in 1972 with Visalia .In 1974 he played at AAA Tidewater, where he stole ten bases & batted .239 good enough to earn a September call up.

Boisclair made his MLB debut as a pinch runner, on September 11th, 1974 in a classic extra inning game. He entered the game as a pinch runner, in the 23rd inning of the Mets/ Cardinals marathon. He actually reached third base with two outs, but Cleon Jones flied out to end the inning. He went 3-12 that month and spent the next full season at AAA Tidewater where he hit .278 & stole 20 bases.

He returned to the Mets squad in the bicentennial year, making the club as a fourth outfielder. He took over Rusty Staub’s old uniform number 4, after Staub had been traded to the Detroit Tigers that off season. Boisclair had ten hits in an April stretch where he hit safely in seven of nine games.

On April 27th, the Mets came back from a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the 9th inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves. After John Milner tied the game up, Boisclair won it with a walk off double off Pablo Torrealba. He didn't drive in another run for two months, but he hit well enough playing as a reserve to remain over .300 into late July. On July 15th he had a 7th inning pinch hit, RBI single off the Houston Astros J.R. Richard helping the Mets to a 3-1 win.

On August 15th he helped Jerry Koosman in his five hit shut out win against the World Champion Big Red Machine, by driving in the only run of the game. On August 28th he hit his first career HR coming off the Los Angeles Dodgers Rick Rhoden at Shea Stadium. He had another hot streak hitting safely in 16 of 20 games toward the end of the season.

On the season he hit a solid .287, with two HRs 13 doubles 13 RBIs 28 walks & a .350 on base % playing in 110 games with 286 at bats. The tall Boisclair still had his speed, and led the slow footed Met team with nine stolen bases.

Showing some promise for a good future, he returned next year starting out April hitting safely in 9 of 11 games. He drove in three runs against the Chicago Cubs on April 17th, in one of Tom Seaver's last wins in a Mets uniform, a 6-0 shutout. Boisclair went on a hot streak, driving in a total of ten runs in his next eight games. He was batting .364 at the end of April but in May fell off to .286 driving in just one run all month.

He had two more three hit games the week of May 21st & was consistent throughout the year when he played. On June 15th, the night Tom Seaver was traded away in "The Midnight Massacre" Boisclair hit a two run HR, at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in the Mets 6-5 win.

On August 22nd he drove in both runs of a Mets 2-1 win over J.R. Richard & the Houston Astros. In September he drove in 14 runs and kept his season average up near .300 & had six multi hit games. In the last week of the season he drove in runs in five of seven games. On the season he hit a career best .293 in 307 at bats. He also had career highs in on base (.359 %) doubles (21) RBIs (44) & hits (90) while leading the team in sacrifice hits as well.

In 1978 he began the year in hitting a two run HR in the third game of the season, in a tight 6-5 win over the Montreal Expos. On April 19th, he drove in both runs of a 2-0 Pat Zachary shut out against the Cardinals in St. Louis. ON May 8th he drove in the winning run off Pedro Borbon in the top of the 10th inning at Cincinnati, scoring Lenny Randle. At the end of May he drove in runs in three straight games, including hitting a three run HR in the first game if a May 29th double header.

Bruce’s career soon took a nose dive, he only drove in four runs in the last four months of the season & his batting average plummeted to. 224 on the season.

In 1978 he played in 107 games (214 at bats) with 4 HRs 7 doubles 15 RBIs & a .293 on base %. By 1979 he only played in 59 games partly due to July injuries & partly due to his .184 batting average.

In 98 at bats he had six extra base hits with four RBIs & a poor .210 on base %. He was released at the start of the 1980 season, and then went to Japan to play for the Hanshin Tigers.

He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays but never resurfaced in the majors again. He finished his brief five season career with a .263 lifetime average, 241 hits 10 HRs 47 doubles 6 triples 18 stolen bases a .324 on base % & 77 RBIs in 410 games played.

Short Time Mets Infielder Who Scored the Winning Run of the 2001 World Series: Jay Bell (2003)

Jay Stuart Bell was born on December 11th 1965 in Pensacola Florida. The slim six foot Jay Bell was an outstanding shortstop prospect getting drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins (8th pick overall) in 1984.

A year later he was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Bert Blyleven. He made it to the Indians big league club by 1986 but there wasn't much room for him with Julio Franco playing short stop having some big years.

In 1989 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a steal of deal for the Steel City. He played there seven years getting to three straight post seasons (1990-1992) losing each time in the NLCS. He would lead all NL short stops in fielding twice, put outs three times assists & games played five times each. He would win a Gold Glove in 1993 & make his first All Star team that year as well. He hit a career best .310 that season with 9 HRs 32 doubles 51 RBIs & a .391 on base %.

He was an excellent sacrifice hitter leading the league twice in that category (1990 & 1991). He hit HRs in each of his post season series with Pittsburgh, driving in four runs in 1992 against the Atlanta Braves. As his contract year was approaching he was traded to the Kansas City Royals with Jeff King for Joe Randa Jeff Granger, and Jeff Wallace.

As the era of inflated stats began Bell also saw an increase in his numbers. In 1997 he hit 21 HRs with 28 doubles 92 RBIs and a .291 batting average. After one year in K.C. he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamond Backs.

He would spend five years there getting to two more post seasons including a World Championship in 2001. He had a monster year in 1999 as he was now a full time second baseman, making the All Star team & getting votes for the MVP Award.

He hit 38 HRs with 32 doubles 112 RBIs a .289 average & a .374 on base %. He hit .286 with three RBIs in the NLCS against the New York Mets. He never matched those numbers again, in 2001 he hit .249 with 13 HRs 24 doubles & 46 RBIs as Arizona went all the way to an improbable World Series win.

2001 Post Season: By this point in his career he was sharing time with Craig Counsel & Junior Spivey. He saw action in three post season games but they were certainly memorable. He was 1-4 in the NLDS against St. Louis & then 0-4 against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

He then saw action in three games of the World Series & was in the center of action for the most memorable moment in D-backs history. In Game #6 of the 2001 World Series, Bell got the start and had two hits with an RBI in the Diamond Backs 15-2 victory. In the classic Game #7, Bell pinch hit for pitcher Randy Johnson in the 9th inning with two men on base. He sacraficed but the runner was forced at third base as he reached first safely.

After Tony Womack doubled to tie the game, Bell was on third base when Luis Gonzales hit his famous bloop single to centerfield. Bell ran in from third base & scored the game winning walk off run off Mariano Rivera. The D-backs won the World Series as Bell came home clapping his hands & jumping in joy.

He played one more year in Arizona enjoying the Championship reign, then signed on with the New York Mets for 2003, his final season.

Bell made his Mets debut on Opening Day going 0-1 as a pinch hitter. He would see action in 72 games, usually as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch hitter or getting a start when a regular rested. He was most versatile, behind Ty Wigginton at third base (14 games) Roberto Alomar at second base (13 games) Jose Reyes at short (12 games) & Jason Phillips at first base (13 games). He hit just .181, with no HRs one double & three RBIs (21-116) drawing 22 walks giving him a .319 on base %.

He retired from playing at the end of the season, finishing his 18 year career batting .265 with 1963 hits 195 HRs 394 doubles 67 triples 860 RBIs & a .343 on base %.

Defensively at short stop he posted a career .975 fielding % (44th all time) with 2309 put outs (81st all time) 4595 assists (62nd all time) playing in 1515 games (63rd most all time).

Retirement: Bell coached Team USA in the 2010 & 2011 Pan American games, as well as the 2011 Baseball World Cup. He then worked for the AA Mobile Bay Bears as hitting coach in the D-backs organization later that year.

Dec 7, 2017

Remembering The Tragic Injury That Ruined Bobby Valentines Playing Career (1973)

Bobby Valentine was drafted as a first round pick out of Stamford high school in his native, Connecticut back in 1968.

At the age of 18 Valentine was named the MVP of the Pioneer League. He played under Tommy Lasorda & not only was Lasorda a mentor to Valentine, but the two became life long friends.

He was brought up to the big leagues briefly for five games in 1969 & then continued to develop over two more seasons. At the age 20 he was playing at the Lo Angeles Dodgers AAA Spokane club batting .340 with 14 HRs 39 doubles 16 triples & 29 stolen bases.

Valentine was rushed up & with the Dodgers for the 1971 season batting .249 with just one HR in 101 games. The next year the power & speed still didn't come as it had been in the minors, but the young player raised his average to .274.

That winter the Dodgers & the cross town California Angels made a blockbuster trade, Valentine was part of the deal that sent him, Frank Robinson, Bill Singer & Billy Grabarkewitz to the Angels for Andy Messersmith, & Ken McMullen. Within two years Messersmith became one of the NL's top pitchers & helped bring the Dodgers to the World Series.

In Anaheim, Valentine switched to playing short stop from being mostly an outfielder. The change of leagues did him good, he was batting over .300 & his future was bright once again.

On Thursday night May 17th, 1973 the Angels hosted that years World Champion Oakland A's in front of 11.481 fans at Anaheim Stadium. The Angels Rudy May went up against the A's Catfish Hunter. Catfish would shut out the Angels 4-0 on a five hitter.

In the top of the 2nd, Reggie Jackson tripled for Oakland & Ray Fosse later walked. Second baseman Dick Green came to bat & blasted a shot to deep center field, Valentine ran to the fence jumped up in attempt to snag the ball. He missed it by less than an inch & it went over for a HR.

For Valentine it was much worse, his leg got caught up between two posts in the fence and tangled as he fell down to the ground. He was carried off the field in intense pain & suffered multiple leg fractures. It was one of the worst baseball injuries of the year & a memorable one all time.

He spent the rest of the year in two different casts but the bones in his ankle did not heal right. Instead of another surgery he decided to play in 1974. Although he did play in 117 games, he batted .261 & was never the same player again.

His potential All Star career combined of speed & power, while being versatile playing most positions on the field were over. He became a back utility player, playing for five teams overall (including the Mets in 1977 & 1978) through 1979.

Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder: Del Unser (1975-1976)

Delbert Bernard Unser was born on December 9, 1944 in Decatur, Illinois. He was the son of former Detroit Tiger & Cincinnati Reds catcher Al Unser.

Al Unser hit .251 with 4 HRs 15 doubles & 30 RBIs in four MLB seasons, Playing in 120 career games. After his playing days he was minor league manager in the St. Louis Cardinal organization in the sixties & then became a scout in the early seventies. He passed away at age 82 in 1995.

Del Unser was a star ball player at Mississippi State and got drafted first round by the Washington Senators in 1966. He came up in 1968 making the Topps All Star Rookie team, and became the Senators regular centerfielder for the next four years until they left the nation’s Capitol for Texas.

His best season was in 1969 when he hit .286 and led the AL in triples with eight, hitting 7 HRs with 57 RBIs, 166 hits and 19 doubles. The next three years he hit in the .250 range and was traded to Cleveland in an eight player deal in 1972.

In one brief season there, he led all centerfielders with a perfect 1.000 fielding %. He batted .238 with one HR he was traded to the lowly Phillies of the early seventies for Oscar Gamble.

In Philadelphia in 1973 he brought his average up to .289 with 11 HRs, a career high 20 doubles, 52 RBIs 47 walks & a .354 on base %. That season the Phillies finished last losing 91 games.

The next season Unser dropped to .268 with a career high 61 RBIs, leading all centerfielders in assists for the first of two straight years.

After two seasons with the Phil’s he came to the New York Mets in a big trade, on December 3, 1974. Unser, John Stearns & Mac Scarce who came to New York for reliever Tug McGraw, outfielders Don Hahn, and Dave Schneck.

In 1975 Unser became the Mets every day centerfielder playing in 147 games and doing a pretty good job. He debuted on Opening Day batting seventh & going hitless in three at bats.

He then got a pair of hits in each of the next two days & hit his first Mets HR. In his first two weeks he hit safely in 9 of his first 12 games, collecting 20 hits with 8 RBIs. He also scored 15 runs in the month of April & was batting .349.

He picked up where he left off in May hitting safely in 16 of 21 games. He remained pretty steady throughout the season, hitting consistently, never falling into any deep slumps. On July 9th, he drove in the first run of a 2-1 Tom Seaver victory over the Braves in Atlanta. At the end of July, from the 25th through the 31st, Unser drove in nine runs in a seven game stretch and got his average up at .296. He got hot again at the end of August, hitting safely in ten of eleven games, driving in nine runs while hitting three HRs.

He would post five three hit games in the month of September as well. On September 16th he drew a bases loaded walk, in the bottom of the 9th inning in a 3-3 ties with the Montreal Expos. Unsers walk off walk, came from Long Island's own Dom Demola.

In 1975 Unser hit his career best .294, leading the team in batting average. He hit 10 HRs, with 18 doubles and 53 RBIs. For a centerfielder he had absolutely no speed, (just four stolen bases) but played a decent outfield, posting a .987 fielding %.

He also had a 12 assists, which was best among all NL center fielders. Unser had the most assists in the league, the past three seasons leading all centerfielders each season in that category..

In 1976 he scored the first Mets run of the season, after he led off the inning with a triple he scored on Jerry Grote's double. On APril 19th he hit a game winning 17th inning HR, off the Cardinals Mike Wallace in St. Louis. That week he drove in runs in five of six games but tailed off from there.

After 77 games his average dropped off to .228 & that July the Mets traded him off. Unser went to Montreal in a deal that included long time Met Wayne Garrett. The two went to Montreal in exchange for Pepe Mangual and Jim Dwyer.

As in so many moves in the mid seventies it was another "what were the Mets thinking" on this one? He would spend three seasons in Montreal batting .273 in 1977, plummeting all the way down to .196 in 1978. In 1979 he signed as a free agent back in Philadelphia, becoming a pinch hitter and utility player.

In July 1979 he tied a major league record by hitting HRs in three consecutive pinch-hit appearances. The first HR came in St. Louis & the next two were at home. On July 5th he hit a solo pinch hit HR off the Mets Craig Swan, for the record. 

In 1980 he was a team mate with Tug McGraw, the player for whom he was traded for back in 1974. Together they won the World Series with Philadelphia in 1980. Unser contributed going 5-11 with a .455 average in the post season. 

In his career he was successful against Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins, and Nolan Ryan, batting .432 against them. He had a few notable multi hit games in his career including one 5-hit game, seven four hit games.

Del retired in 1982 after a 15 year career, appearing in 1,799 career games. He batted .258 with 1,334 hits, 87 HRs, 179 doubles, 481 RBIs, and a lifetime .319 on base %.

Honors: In 2005 Unser had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals first ever game. The game was held in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Unser played for both teams and was a current scout for the Phillies, made the perfect candidate to represent the occasion.

He wore an old unbuttoned Senators jersey as he delivered the pitch. "I'm almost speechless about the situation. It makes me feel real good," he said earlier.

Dec 6, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1969) Mets Sweep Twin Bill 1-0 Both Times As Pitchers Drive in Only Runs

Friday September 12th 1969: If the 1969 Mets were not Amazing enough, tonight they showed how Gil Hodges team could pull a few more tricks out of their bag to win games.

They brought the greatest show in baseball to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, to sweep a double header. Not only did they sweep it, they won both games on 1-0 shut outs & their pitchers drove in the winning runs in both games. Amazing again!

At this point the Mets were on an eight game win streak & had taken over first place, now leading by two 1/2 games after this twin bill sweep. 19,303 showed up in Pittsburgh as Gil Hodges Mets (87-57) took on Larry Shepard's Pirates (76-66) in third place.

In the first game Jerry Koosman went the distance earning his 14th win of the year (14-9). Kooz would allow just three hits in this shut out performance while striking out four & walking three. His season ERA was now at 2.37. The only time he had any trouble was in the 2nd inning. The Pirates had the bases loaded with one out when Fred Patek grounded to third base, Bobby Pfeil got Roberto Clemente forced out at home. Kooz then struck out pitcher Bob Moose to end the inning. He never had more than one base runner on again.

In the top of the 5th Bobby Pfeil & Duffy Dyer both singled, putting two men on for Kossman. He then singled to right field bringing in Pfeil with the only run of the game.

In the night cap, it was the old man of the Mets staff Don Cardwell's time to shine. Cardwell who did both starting & relieving for the '69 Mets staff pitched his best game of the season on this night. It was a five hit shut out, where he struck out just three but walked just one in beating Pirates hurler Doc Ellis.

Early on, in the top of the 2nd Bud Harrelson doubled with two outs. Cardwell then singled to center easily scoring Harrelson with the games only run. Cardwell went to 7-9 on the season, his ERA was a fine 2.93 as well.