Feb 27, 2017

A Short Time Member of the 2000 NL Champion Mets Pitching Staff: Dennis Springer (2000)

Dennis Leroy Springer was born February 12th 1965 in Fresno California, the hometown of Tom Seaver. He was one in a long line of Major league players that attended California State University at Fresno. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 21st round of the 1987 draft.

The five foot ten, right hander's specialty was his knuckleball. He would spend seven years in the minors before making to the big leagues. By that time he was with the Philadelphia Phillies debuting in 1995 going 0-3 in just four games pitched.

He then signed on with the California Angels playing there for two years into the transition of the team being called the Anaheim Angles. In two seasons there he posted ERA's near six & went a combined 14-15. He allowed the second most HRs in 1997 (32) & was fourth in the AL in earned runs with 112. He did throw a shut out in each of his seasons in Anaheim.

In 1998 he was drafted by the new expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the 25th pick. Unfortunately he had a terrible 3-11 season inaugural season there. He moved down state to South Florida where he signed with the Florida Marlins getting a spot in their rotation.

In a career high 38 games (29 starts) & 196 innings, he went 6-16 (second most losses in the NL) with a 4.86 ERA.

In the winter of 2000 the 1999 NL Wild Card Champion Mets signed him & gave him a shot. Springer debuted with the Mets on April 22nd, starting the second game of a double header at Shea Stadium, against the Chicago Cubs. He went into the 6th inning, giving up three runs on seven hits earning no decision, as the Mets did go on to a 7-6 win thanks to a five run 6th inning. 

The knuckleballer got one more start, coming on April 26th but it was a debacle. He allowed eight runs on thirteen hits with four walks in just six innings of work, taking a 12-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

He went 5-5 with the Mets AAA Norfolk Tides that season as well. Overall he spent 15 seasons in the minors going 24-48 with a 3.33 ERA.

The Mets let him go & he appeared with the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching five games over the 2001 & 2002 seasons. In his big league career he was 24-48 with a 5.18 ERA, 296 strike outs & 258 walks in 130 games (98 starts).

Trivia: In 2001 he served up the San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds his 73rd HR of the season.

Feb 26, 2017

Mets Catcher: Rene Rivera (2016)

Rene Rivera was born July 31st 1983, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. The five foot ten right hand hitting catcher was signed out of high school as a second round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Rivera is not known for his hitting but is known as a solid veteran defensive backstop.

He spent four seasons in the minor leagues getting a cup of coffee in 2004 in two games for the Mariners. After spending 2005 at AA San Antonio & AAA Tacoma he played 16 games at the big league level for the Mariners. He spent all of 2006 with the Mariners as Kenji Johjima's back up getting into 35 games but hitting just .152 with 2 HRs & 4 RBIs in 99 at bats.

In 2007 the Mariners kept him in the minors to learn better defensive skills & hoping he would hit. At the end of the season he was granted free agency & signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers getting back to the AAA level at Las Vegas. But once again he was granted free agency & signed with the New York Mets.

He spent 2009 with the Mets AAA Buffalo Bisons under manager Ken Oberkfell, as back up to Robinson Cancel, catching 74 games batting .234 with 9 HRs 34 RBIs & throwing out 27% of would be base stealers. Again he was granted free agency signed with the A.L. New York club then Minnesota Twins all in 2010. That year he also played Independent Baseball at Camden New Jersey.

He saw some action behind Joe Mauer in Minnesota (44 games) throwing out 40% of would be base stealers with a .988 fielding % but hit just .211. He again was let go to free agency & was signed by the San Diego Padres.

In limited action he threw out 56% of would be base stealers & posted a perfect 1.000 field %earning him the chance to get noticed & remain in the big leagues. In 2014 he was the Padres Opening Day catcher, getting that honor for the first time in his career. On April 28th he blasted a three run HR & drove in a career high five runs helping beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4. In August he tied up a game in the 9th inning with a HR & then won the game with a walk off single.

That year was the Padres main catcher (103 games) sharing time with Yasmani Grandal who also played at first base. Rivera hit 11 HRs with 18 doubles & 44 RBIs while batting .252. He threw out 36.3% of base stealers (4th best in the NL) had 66 assists (5th best in the NL) & turned seven double plays (5th most) while committing 8 errors (5th most).

But at the end of the season the Padres went a different ways & traded both Rivera & Grandal in a three team deal, landing Rivera in Tampa with the Rays. He won over the main catchers spot but hit just .178 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in 110 games played. He was also the personal catcher for Chris Archer.

His defense was still solid throwing out 37% of base stealers making 60 assists turning 5 double plays & making 11 errors with a .987 fielding %. He even played seven games at first base. In two games against the Mets last season he was 1-5 with a walk.

He got to play the Cuban National team with Tampa in March but was released in Spring Training & signed again by the New York Mets with a minor league deal, for veteran insurance. That came to be a good signing as he was called up to replace Travis d'Arnaud who went on the 15 day DL with a rotator cuff strain.

Rivera debuted with the Mets on April 30th in a 6-5 win against the San Francisco Giants. In his second start a rainy matinee that centerfieldmaz attended, he contributed with his first Mets HR, in a four HR, 8-0 Steven Matz Mets shutout. That month he had RBI's in two Mets games, a 3-2 win over Milwaukee & a 2-0 shutout against the Washington Nats. In June he had RBI's in six of 12 games, with two multi RBI games, but was struggling batting just .182. He handled the pitching staff well & became Noah Syndergaard's favorite backstop.

On July 3rd he homered & drove in three runs in the Mets 14-2 romp over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. On July 19th as the Mets went to Wrigley Field, Rivera's base hit RBI in the top of the 9th inning off Hector Rondon proved to be the game winning run. In August he had two d

was With the Mets catching woes of 2016, Rivera was a great pickup for New York.

Through July 2016 he is a lifetime .263 hitter, with 24 HRs 48 doubles & 109 RBIs in 364 career games. He has thrown out 38% of would be base stealers & posted a .989 fieling % in 343 games behind the plate.

Former Mets Catcher: Alberto Castillo (1995-1998)

Alberto Terrero Castillo was Born on February 10, 1970 in the Dominican Republic. The tall six foot catcher was signed out of high school by the New York Mets as an amatuer free agent in 1987.

Catillo would spend eleven years in the Mets minor leagues, making brief appearances in the big leagues with New York four different seasons. 

He debuted in the big leagues on May 28th, 1995 catching Dave Mlicki at Shea Stadium going 0-3 against the Giants. He hit just .103 in 13 games with the Mets that season but showed good abilities behind the plate, even throwing out 4 of 5 base stealers. He saw action in six MLB games the next year & 35 games in 1997.

In 1998 he was with the club out of Spring Training & had his shining Mets moment on Opening Day. In the bottom of the 14th inning with the bases loaded he singled home the walk off winning run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0. That season he hit his first career HR in San Francisco & another in Boston in early June. By the end of the month he was sent back down after batting just .205 at the big league level.

He signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1998 season. He soon got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals where he played as a back up to Eli Marerro. Castillo had career highs that season in games (93) hits (67) HRs (4) RBIs (31) & batting average (.263). He led all NL catchers throwing out 51% of would be base stealers & posted a .991 fielding %.

He would become a journey man backup & third string catcher through the years playingwith the Toronto Blue Jays, A.l. New York team, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals & Baltimore Orioles. In his 12 season career he threw out 41% of would be base stealers posting a .991 fielding % & batted .220 with 12 HRs & 101 RBIs.

Castillo was a catcher for the first Dominican team in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic. In 2008 he played for the Newark Bears of the Independent League & eventually got traded to the Long Island Ducks.

Feb 25, 2017

Short Time Mets Catcher: Taylor Teagarden (2014)

Taylor Hill Teagarden was born December 21st 1983 in Dallas, Texas. The six foot right hand hitting catcher attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a star player. He was named Bug Twelve Conference Freshman of the Year & helped the 2005 Longhorns win the College World Series, making the All Tournament team as catcher. He was soon signed by his home town Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft.

 2005 was a rough year for him as he needed back surgery as well as Tommy John surgery. In 2008 he played on the US Olympic Team that won a Bronze medal. That year he also made his debut with the Rangers for two quick games in July & playing in 14 more games that September, batting .316.

 In 2009 he played in a career high 60 games backing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the second place Rangers. He threw out 38% of would be base runners, while batting .217 with 6 HRs & 24 RBIs. Teagarden would spend four years in Texas as a part time player. He would then go to the Baltimore Orioles as a player to be named later.

He spent parts of 2012 & 2013 with the Orioles batting under .200 both seasons playing 22 & 23 games respectively. In 2014 he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. He played with the Gulf Coast Mets (4 games) St. Lucie Mets (2 games) & AAA Las Vegas for 55 games.

On June 10th Teagarden was brought up to catch in a game with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. That night he also got the biggest hit of his career, a grand slam HR off Marco Estrada in the bottom of the 6th inning. He put the Mets ahead 6-1 on their way to a 6-2 victory. He got seven starts with New York that June over a two week period. He hit just .43 in 28 at bats in nine games.

At the end of the year he was granted free agency. In a seven year career he is batting .202 with 100 hits 21 HRs 26 doubles & 68 RBIs.

Former Mets Catcher: Juan Centeno (2013-2014)

Juan Centeno was born on November 16th 1989 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In 2007 the Mets drafted him out of high School in the 32nd round. The five foot nine, catcher Centeno, bats left handed while throwing right handed.

He spent four years at the Mets A ball level between Brooklyn & St. Lucie, not hitting much but showing solid defense. After batting around or under .200 he hit .371 in 32 games (just 89 at bats) with the Cyclones in 2010. He then was pushed up to St. Lucie again even getting to AA Binghamton by the end of the season.

In 2011 he was back at St. Lucie hitting .318. In 2012 he hit .285 at AA Binghamton as the clubs main catcher catching guys like Zack Wheeler & Jenrry Mejia. The next year he was playing in Puerto Rico, Binghamton & at AAA Las Vegas as their main catcher. He hit .305 & tossed out 56% of would be base stealers. With not much power he did not hit any HRs in 67 games.

On September 18th he made his MLB debut catching & batting 8th in a 5-4 win at Citi Field over the San Francisco Giants. In the home 5th he collected his first career hit a single off Matt Cain. In the 9th inning the Mets were down 4-1, Centeno's RBI hit helped the Mets rally in which they won on a walk off hit by Josh Satin. He saw action in four games that year.

In 2014 he got a call up in May & got into six games starting in the subway series. He collected two hits against the Washington Nationals with another two RBI day. He would go back down & return in September where he got one hit in four games, ending the season batting an even .200.

In October 2014 he was placed on waivers & picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. There he saw action in ten games getting granted free agency & was signed by the Minnesota Twins.

In 2016 he appeared in 55 games behind main backstop All Star Joe Mauer. Centeno batted .261 with 3 HRs & 25 RBIs. In the off season he was signed by the Houston Astros.

In a four year career he is batting.290 (56-237) with 3 HRs 13 doubles & 28 RBIs. In 73 games behind the plate he tossed out just 14% of would be base stealers.

Feb 24, 2017

Early Nineties Mets Reserve Catcher: Kelly Stinnett (1993-1994)

Kelly Lee Stinnett was born on February 14, 1970 in Lawton, Oklahoma. The five foot eleven right hand hitting Stinnett was a star baseball & football player in high school. He won the State Championship with team mates James Trapp and Will Shields who both went on to play in the NFL.

Stinnett attended Seminole Junior College winning All American & Jr. College Player of the Year batting .399. He was signed as a catcher by the Cleveland Indians in the 11th round of the 1989 amateur draft. He was drafted away by the New York Mets in December 1993 in the Rule V draft.

He made the club out of Spring Training & would spend two seasons in New York, as Todd Hundley’s backup catcher. He debuted in third game of the season at Wrigley Field, catching Pete Smith & hitting a double in the Mets 6-2 win. He would see action in 47 games for the Mets that year, making five errors behind the plate throwing out 32% of base stealers. He would hit his first career HR on May 5th in St. Louis in the Mets 8-1 victory . On the season he batted .253 with 19 extra base hits 2 HRs & 14 RBIs.

In 1994 his average would drop to .219 with 4 HRs & 18 RBIs playing in 77 games sharing time with Alberto Castillo as Todd Hundley’s back up. That off season he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Corey Lidle who would go 7-2 for the 1997 Mets.

Stinnett would play for 14 seasons as backup catcher in Milwaukee (1996-1997) Arizona (1998-2000) Cincinnati (2001-2003) Philadelphia (2003), Kansas City (2004) New York (A.L.-2006) St. Louis (2007) & another brief stint with the Mets in 2006 for seven games. He saw the most playing time in Arizona where he backed up Damian Miller appearing in over 75 games each season (1998-2000).

In 1999 he had career highs with Arizona in HRs (14) RBIs (38) games (92). That year he played in his only post season series, the NLDS against his old Mets team mates. He went 2-14 with a run scored while playing in all four games. Stinnett was the catcher behind the plate calling the pitch Todd Pratt drilled for the walk off win in Game #4 in the bottom of the 9th inning.

On August 24, 2006, Stinnett signed a minor league contract with the Mets. He made his return to Shea Stadium as a Met on September 9th, 2006 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and went 1-3. He finished September with a .083 Batting Average, and was not included on the 2006 New York Mets postseason roster.

After 14 seasons he batted .234 with 476 hits, 65 HRs 91 doubles & 230 RBIs playing in 734 games. In his career behind the plate he threw out 28 % of base runners, made 67 errors in 4063 chances (leading the league with 12 in 2001) posting a .9834 fielding %.

Original 1962 Met Turned Police Officer & Senator: Sherman Jones (1962)

Sherman Jarvis Jones was born on February 10, 1935 in Winton, North Carolina. The six foot four right handed pitcher was originally signed by the New York Giants in 1953. He spent the rest of the fifties in the minor leagues winning ten games twice in that time period. There he earned the nickname "road block" when he helped stop a team losing streak.

In 1960 he won ten games going 10-0 in the Pacific Coast League with AAA Tacoma, getting him his chance to pitch in the big leagues. Jones debuted with the San Francisco Giants pitching in 16 games of relief going 1-0 with a save, finishing up eight games overall posting a 3.09 ERA. He got traded to the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1961 to complete an earlier deal that sent Don Blasingame and Bob Schmidt to Cincinnati for Ed Bailey.

Jones pitched in 24 games of relief for the ’61 NL Champion Reds, going 1-1 with two saves and a 4.42 ERA. He got to pitch two thirds of an inning in the 1961 World Series, retiring two batters.

Jones was then drafted by the New York Mets in the 1961 expansion draft (34th pick overall) becoming an original Met in the 1962 inagural season.

In Spring Training he took a line drive to the leg which put him on crutches for over a week. Manager Casey Stengel originally wanted Jones to pitch the clubs first game, so the so called ace of the staff, Roger Craig could start the home Opener at New York.
But in another of the many classic '62 Mets tales, Jones suffered a freak accident when a lit match flew off the cover & struck him in the eye. His start had to be moved ahead, & Craig pitched the Mets first historic game.

Jones started the third game in Mets history on April 13, 1962, which was the team's first ever home game, played at the Polo Grounds. He pitched well, against the Pittsburgh Pirates allowing two runs in five innings of work that day.

The first run (Smokey Burgess) scored on a Don Hoak double, Burgess had reached base on an infield hit, when Charlie Neal's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. Hoak then scored when Bill Mazeroski's fly ball fell between Ritchie Ashburn & Gus Bell. Bell had waved off Ashburn but as it ended up couldn't make the play after all. Sherman Jones was the pitcher of record that day & took the loss in front of the 12,447 fans on the historic rainy afternoon in New York.

It was also Jones who got the first Mets hit at the Polo Grounds that day, when he singled in the third inning off Tom Sturdivant. In his next outing, the St. Louis Cards beat him up for six runs over four innings & it would be his last start as he was moved to the bull pen.

He lost two more games there & was sent back to the minors at the end of May, getting back as a September call up at the end of the season. He would go 12-6 for the Mets at A ball in Raleigh the following year posting a good 2.10 ERA but never got called up to the big leagues again. He played two more minor league seasons before he retired from baseball in 1965.

Jones had spent12 years in the minor leagues going 84-63 with a 3.96 ERA pitching 289 games. In the majors he pitched 48 games going 2-6 with three saves in 110 innings posting a 4.73 ERA.

Retirement: At age 30 Jones started a second career as a Police officer in Kansas City Missouri, and would stay on the KC Police force for twenty two years.

After that he was elected to the Kansas Legislature of Wyandotte County, serving in the House of Representatives from 1989 to 1992. He then served in the Senate from 1993-2001. Mr. Jones had quite a career going from an original Met to a policeman to a politician.

In 2007 he passed away at the University of Kansas Medical Center, at the age of 72.

Feb 21, 2017

Former Mets Pitcher: Akeel Morris (2015-2016)

 Akeel J. Morris was born November 14h, 1992 in St. Thomas, United Sates Virgin Islands. The six foot one right hander pitched a perfect game in high school while in the Virgin Islands. He was selected by the New York Mets in the tenth round of the 2010 amateur draft.

He pitched his first season with the Gulf Coast Mets & then at Kingsport, where he had great strike out numbers averaging 10.5 Ks per nine innings, but he had control issues, walking 6.5 batters per nine innings. In 2013 he was moved to Brooklyn where he went 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA with the Cyclones. He improved to strike out 60 batters while walking 23.

In 2014 he got even better, while with the Savannah Sand Gnats he became a full time relief pitcher. He was 4-1 with 16 saves, posting a fantastic 0.63 ERA. He struck out 89 batters in 57 innings, which computes to a 14.1 strike out per nine inning ratio. In a rare instance, he struck out four batters in one inning in a game against the Augusta Green Jackets.

He began 2015 with the A ball St. Lucie Mets going 0-1 with 13 saves & a 1.69 ERA. In mid June he got a very big surprise.

On June 17th he was called up to help out a struggling Mets bullpen & reduce their work load. He was given his first chance at Skydome in Toronto against a very powerful Blue Jays line up. He relieved Jonathan Niese in the 8th inning with the Mets own 3-0.

He quickly issued two straight walks before getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground out. He then gave up two base hits, followed by a three run HR to Danny Valencia. The kid from A ball was relieved by John Leathersich.

Morris was sent back down to make room for Logan Verett. He finished 2015 at AA Binghamton with six saves going 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 23 games.

He began 2016 with the Mets AA Binghamton club, going 2-2 with  six saves & a 4.62 ERA. In early June 2016 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves organization for veteran Kelly Johnson. At AA Mississippi he was impressive, going 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA  making four starts in 25 games. He struck out 50 batters in 35 innings with 21 walks.

Feb 20, 2017

1986 World Champion Mets Forgotten Pitcher: Bruce Berenyi (1984-1986)

Bruce Michael Berenyi was born August 21, 1954 in Bryan, Ohio. Berenyi was the nephew of MLB pitcher Ned Garver (1948-1961) who once won 20 games for the St. Louis Browns. Garver a lifetime 129-157 pitcher with a 3.73 ERA also pitched for the Detroit Tigers & Kansas City A’s.

Bruce Berenyi attended Northeast Missouri State University and once tied a college record by striking out 21 batters in a game. The six foot two inch, right hander was the Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick (third pick overall in the secondary draft) in 1976.

He went on to lead the American Association pitchers in strikeouts & ERA, getting a Reds, September 1980 call up. He went 2-2 in Cincinnati although he had a rather high 7.81 ERA pitching in six games. In 1981 he was 9-6 with 157 strikeouts (6th in the NL) & a 3.50 ERA. He also threw a pair of two hitters that season but had some control issues as well.

He led the league in walks with 77, and in one game against the Los Angeles Dodgers threw 15 straight balls. In that game he walked seven batters over 3.3 innings. The next week he came back to tossed a one hitter against a strong Montreal Expo team that made it to the post season. The next season things fell apart as he led the league in losses (18) but pitched better than his record showed. He was best in the league in giving up fewest HRs, as his HRs allowed per nine innings (0.324) was tops in the NL. He went 9-18 but put up a solid 3.36 ERA, striking out 157 batters (9th in the NL).

In 1983 he once again had a decent ERA (3.86) but had a poor 9-14 record. In 186 innings, he allowed 102 walks & gave up 80 earned runs, striking out 151 batters (10th in the NL). In June 1984 he was 3-4 with an ERA of 6.00 when he was traded to the New York Mets for Jay Tibbs & Eddie Williams, two players who never suited up in Mets uniforms.

Berenyi debuted for New York on June 17th 1983, although he lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing four runs over seven innings. In July he won three straight starts including a seven inning shutout performance in Atlanta, beating the Braves 7-0. He was 5-1 from mid August to the end of the season, pitching into the 7th inning four of those times. He finished up the 1984 season at 9-6 with 134 strike outs 95 walks & a 3.76 ERA.

In 1985 he started the third game of the season on April 12th at Shea Stadium. In that game he pitched seven innings of one hit baseball, allowing no runs earning a win in the 1-0 shutout of the Reds. The only run of the game came on a Gary Carter HR. He had pitched with shoulder pain throughout his career and in his third start of the 1985 season he had to leave the game in pain. He found out he had a torn rotator cuff and was done for the year. He had the surgery and returned to the Mets for the start of the 1986 Championship season.

On April 29th he earned his first win since the injury of the previous year. He got the win in relief of Ron Darling in a 10-5 win in Atlanta against the Braves. He was put back in the rotation by May, going 2-2 posting an ERA of 6.35, but there wasn’t much room for him on the staff with Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, & Bob Ojeda.

Berenyi was demoted to AAA Tidewater, where he went 2-6 but never returned to the big leagues. He did sign a deal with the Montreal Expos but his arm acted up in pain when he pitched forcing him to retire.
In a seven year career he was 44-55 with a 4.03 ERA, 607 strikeouts 425 walks in 781 innings pitched in 142 games.

Bronx Born Third Baseman the Mets Received In Exchange For Amos Otis: Joe Foy (1970)

Joseph Anthony Foy was born on February 21, 1943 in the Bronx, New York. He attended Evander Child’s high school on Gun Hill Road in the early sixties, & was a standout baseball player. He originally got signed by the Minnesota Twins in early 1962 but was then drafted away by the Boston Red Sox later that year.

In 1965 he won the International League batting title , hitting .302 with 14 HRs & 73 RBIs at AAA Toronto. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year & the league’s MVP. In his rookie year of 1966 he got the job as the Red Sox everyday third baseman replacing the departed, Frank Malzone.

Foy deuted in the second Sox game of the year at Fenway Park going 0-3 against the Baltimore Orioles. In just his third career game he was in the Bronx where he had grown up playing against the AL New York team. He got his first career hit that day, an RBI double off Bob Friend, as the Red Sox went on to an 8-5 win. Foy started out slow not getting above the .200 mark until mid May.

He had a fine Rookie year, coming in second in the league in walks (91) fourth in triples (8) fifth in runs scored (97) & eighth in on base % (.364). He hit .262 with 15 HRs 23 doubles, 63 RBIs & was rated the leagues fifth best third baseman. 

In the Red Sox 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant season, Foy saw action in 118 games at third base, but led the league in errors for the first of two straight seasons. At the plate he hit .252 with 16 HRs 22 doubles 4 triples and 49 RBIs.

On a road trip to New York that summer, he learned of a fire at his family’s house & that it was burning down while on his way to the ballpark located less than a mile away. In that series he was involved in a bench clearing brawl when he was hit in the helmet with a pitch by Thad Tillotson. Foy just went to first base after he was beaned, but when Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg retaliated against Tillotson, when he came to bat, the two pitchers had words. Foy stepped in & said “why don’t you just fight me since it all started with me”. The benches cleared & a full scale brawl ensued.

Foy enjoyed some fame appearing in photo in Life magazine that season as well, although not as the main figure. The magazine did an article of Triple Crown Winner Carl Yastrzemski, and it featured a photo of Yaz jokingly tackling Foy in the Boston club house.

In the 1967 World Series Foy hit only .133 (2-15) playing in six games, driving in one run. In 1968 Foy was selected by the expansion Kansas City Royals & became an original Royal, the next season. On Kansas City's Opening Day, Foy was the team's first cleanup hitter, going 1-6 that day. He played mostly at third base (113 games) but he made 17 errors, the Royals also tried him at first base & in the outfield. At bat he hit .262 with 11 HRs 71 RBIs & 72 runs scored, stealing 37 bases (fifth in the AL).

His stay in K.C. was short though, when on December 3rd, 1969 the New York Mets made another one of their worst trades. In trying to solve their long time third base problem, they sent a young Amos Otis & Bob Johnson to the Royals for Joe Foy. Otis went on to play seventeen seasons in Kansas City, making five All Star teams, winning three Gold Gloves. He hit over .290 five times, stole thirty or more bases five times, also leading the league in doubles twice & stolen bases once. Pitcher Bob Johnson struck out 200 batters going 7-8 in 1970 & then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for short stop Fred Patek. What a deal the Foy fiasco turned out to be for the Royals & their future.

Foy was in the 1970 Mets Opening Day lineup, batting in the third position, going hitless with a sac fly RBI. He never got it going at the plate finishing up at .206 hitting his only HR that month against the Phillies on April 19th. That month he did drive in runs in three straight games against the Phillies at home. Foy did have a few shining moments in a Mets uniform; On May 3rd his 7th inning double off the Padres Pat Dobson in a game at San Diego broke a 2-2 ties & was the games winning run.

He would miss some action in June playing in just 12 games that month. His best month would be July and in the middle of the month he had a seven game hit streak on a West Coast road trip. In that series he had a three hit game in Los Angeles & a huge five hit day in San Francisco. 

On July 19th in the second game of a Mets Giants doubleheader, Foy had five hits, hitting two HRs & driving in five runs. His tenth inning HR off Don McMahon proved to be the game winner in the Mets 7-6 victory. When the Padres visited Shea at the end of the month, he added another RBI hit & then scored the tying run on Tommie Agee's double in a Mets comeback win.

On August 5th Foy came to bat with the bases loaded & two out in the bottom of the 9th inning in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Reds pitcher Wayne Granger walked Foy allowing the winning run to score and crediting Foy with a game winning RBI.

As the season went on Foy never fit in with Gil Hodges ballclub. He was back in his hometown of New York City playing with the Mets, and hooked up with the wrong crowd from his old neighborhood. He got mixed up in drugs and developed an addiction problem.

During a summer double header, he noticeably appeared to under the influence of something during the game. In the opening game, he stood in front of manager Gil Hodges and began cheering a pitch loudly while awkwardly laughing. Hodges chose to start him in the nightcap to prove a point to his team. A hard grounder was hit to Foy at third and he never saw it. Reportedly even after the ball passed him he kept shouting "hit it to me". Pitcher Jerry Koosman & his team mates were furious, but Hodges made his point- "this guy doesn't belong here!"

1970 was his only season with the Mets, Foy saw action in 99 games, batting .236 with 6 HRs 12 doubles 68 walks & 36 RBIs. His best stats were his 22 stolen bases, although he was thrown out 13 times & his .367 on base %. At third base he made 18 errors & certainly wasn’t the answer to the Mets third base puzzle. He was picked up by the Washington Senators in 1971 (Rule 5 draft) and hit .234 in just 41 games before getting sent to the minors.

He finished out his career playing in 15 games at AAA Denver, getting released in July. In his six year career, Foy was a lifetime .248 hitter with 615 hits 58 HRs 102 doubles 99 stolen bases 390 walks, a .351 on base % & 291 RBIs, playing in 716 games.

Retirement: Foy did give back to the community, appearing at Mets events, teaching children to play ball & coached little league in the South Bronx as well. Sadly he had his demons & maybe wasn't given enough of a chance by M. Donald Grant & the organization.

The Mets tried Bob Aspromonte at third in 1971, Jim Fregosi in 1972 and neither one worked out either. Eventually Wayne Garrett got the job and in 1973 the Mets went to another World Series. Garrett remained at third for the good part of four seasons.

Passing: In 1989 Joe Foy died of a heart attack in the Bronx, New York at the age of 46.

Early Eighties Mets Outfielder: Jerry Morales (1980)

Julio Ruben (Torres) Morales was born February 18, 1949 in Puerto Rico. The right hand hitting five foot, ten inch outfielder was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1966 at the age of 17. He was taken away as the 16th pick by the National Leagues new San Diego Padres during the 1968 expansion draft. 

Morales was an original Padre outfielder, making his debut as a September call up that season batting .195 with one HR & 6 RBIs in 19 games. He had good speed in the outfield & often made two handed basket catches playing as a reserve his first three seasons. By 1972 he was seeing regular action hitting .239 with seven triples, (sixth most in the NL) 4 HRs & 18 RBIs in 115 games. 

In 1973 he played 122 games in the Padre outfield under manager Don Zimmer on a last place team going 60-102. Morales had 23 doubles, while batting .281. He would bat over .270 each of the next five seasons. But by 1974 the Padres had young outfielders Dave Winfield & Johnny Grubb to team up with Cito Gaston in the outfield. Morales was the odd man out & was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Glenn Beckert & Bobby Fenwick. 

He would spend the next four seasons as a Cubs regular outfielder, putting up decent numbers at Wrigley Field. He hit 15 or more HRs twice, as well as driving in 80 plus runs two times as well. In 1975 he drove in a career high 91 runs (just missing the top ten in the NL) on a team that drove in the fourth most runs in the league. His 11 sac flies that season were second best in the NL. He also hit twenty plus doubles three times during his Chicago years. 

In the outfield, playing the walls of Ivy at Wrigley Field, he had eleven assists in right field (second in the league) in 1975, followed by twelve assists in 1976 (3rd most in the NL). He would come in the top five of the league in fielding % every season from 1975-1979.

In 1977 he represented the Cubs in the All Star game along with Rick Reuschel, Bruce Sutter, and Manny Trillo. The Cubs had a five game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East at the break that season. In that All Star game, played in the Bronx, at the A.L. New York's new revamped ballpark, Morales was hit in the knee by a Sparky Lyle pitch, in the 7-5 N.L. win. Morales was on track to have his best overall season that year, but he broke his finger toward the end of the summer, finishing his season after 136 games. His injury added to the Cubs demise & falling out of contention. He posted career highs in batting (.290) doubles (34) on base % (.348) & outfield assists (12). 

In December 1977 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Steve Swisher in exchange for Hector Cruz & Dave Rader. His average fell to .239 and he only hit four HRs with 46 RBIs for the fifth place Cardinals. That December he was traded along with Aurelio Lopez to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Sykes & Jack Murphy. 

In one season there he batted a lowly .211 in 129 games. But he did hit 14 HRs with 23 doubles while driving in 56 runs, a lot more production than he had in 1978. On Halloween 1979 Morales was traded to the New York Mets for a very unhappy Richie Hebner, who spent just one season with the Mets. 

Morales debuted on Opening Day 1980, batting seventh for the Mets, playing center field alongside Joel Youngblood in right & Steve Henderson in left. In his first Mets at bat he singled home Mike Jorgensen with the first Mets run of the season. The hit came against former team mate Rick Reushel, he later drove in another run, helping Craig Swan beat his old Cubs team mates 5-2. He started out hitting safely in his first six games as a Met, driving in six runs. On April 15th he hit a HR against the Montreal Expos & the next day drove in two runs with a third inning single, leading the Mets to a 3-2 win. 

On May 14th, he drove in the Mets winning run, with a tenth inning RBI single off the Reds Tom Hume, in a 7-6 win at Cincinnati. He went into a slump after his hot start falling below the .200 mark into mid June. He hit well through the summer, as a reserve outfielder, raising his average up over .260. On July 23rd, in a tie game at the Houston Astrodome, Morales hit a top of the 9th sac fly, bringing in the game winning run off Frank LaCorte. 

In August he hit a solo HR at Montreal in a 4-3 Mets win over the Expos. In the next game he played in, he hit a two run HR & drove in another run in the Mets 7-1 win. In September he had four pinch hit RBI sac flies. He played all around the outfield in 63 games and appeared often as a pinch hitter, playing in 94 games overall. He batted .254 with three HRs, seven doubles 30 RBIs and a .293 on base %. His eight sac flies put him in the top league’s top ten in that department. But after one brief season with the Mets, he left New York & signed back with the Cubs as a free agent. 

He spent three more seasons in Chicago as a reserve player, batting a best .286 in 1981. Morales finished up his 15 year career in 1983, batting .259 with 1173 hits, 95 HRs, 199 doubles, 36 triples, 56 sac flies, 570 RBIs & a .313 on base %. In right field (563 games) his .980 fielding % is 91st all time. In center field (510 games) he posted a .986 fielding % which is 98th best all time. 

 Retirement: After his playing days he was a roving coach for the Cubs, then a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a twelve year absence from the game, he became a Montreal Expos first base coach from 2002-2004. 

In 2007-2008 he coached with the Washington Nationals. In 2006 he coached the Gulf Coast Mets, and in 2009 was a coach for the St. Lucie Mets.

Feb 19, 2017

Remembering the Mayor's Trophy Games: Part One (1946-1963)

The Mayor's Trophy Game was an exhibition game held in New York City between the Nations League New York Giants & the A.L. New York Club starting in 1946. Eventually by 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers took over representing the New York National League. The funds that were raised went to help promote sandlot baseball in New York City.

When the Giants & Dodgers left for the West Coast, the Mayors Trophy game looked like it was doomed. But efforts were made & in 1958 an exhibition game between the Milwaukee Braves & AL New York Club was played. In 1960 the now relocated Los Angeles Dodgers played & in 1961 the San Francisco Giants came back to the Bronx for the game in July.

In 1946 two games were held one in the Bronx & one in the Polo Grounds. That year the AL new York team took both games. In 1947 after losing the first game the Giants took the second game on August 18th, with a 4-1 win, as Bobby Thompson & Johnny Mize were the hitting stars.

By 1948 only one game was to be held annually, alternating ballparks for home field advantage. In the 1948 game, the game was overshadowed by Babe Ruth's death. The players paid tribute as a moment of silence was recognized. The game went into extra innings with the AL club winning it.

In 1950 the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first Mayors Trophy game to a record (at the time) 71,289 fans for an exhibition game. Although Brooklyn lost in the 10th inning, Roy Campanella won MVP honors with a HR, while throwing out three base runners trying to steal.

In 1953 Brooklyn walloped with a 9-0 win, as Wayne Belardi hit a pair of HRs & drove in six runs. Johnny Podres was the winning pitcher. T

he next year, the Dodgers had only two hits the entire game but won it 2-1. Duke Snider hit a solo HR & Jim Gilliam drove in Don Hoak in the 8th inning for the game winner. For this game attendance had dropped drastically to 28,084.

The Giants returned in 1955 & in 1956 no game was played. In 1957 an estimated crowd of 30,000 showed up for the final game in which the two National League New York clubs would be in existence.

In 1958 the Milwaukee Braves came to town to play the exhibition game. A HR derby was held before the game with Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Aadcock, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle & Moose Skowron all participating. Milwaukee won the game 4-3 in front of just 13,000 fans.

After another hiatus, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town in 1960. Their proceeds went to the Roy Campanella fund. This was part of the home & away exhibition series with the AL New York team & the Dodgers.

Many remember the game at the L.A. Coliseum the previous year, where Pee Wee Reese took Campy to the field in his wheel chair as the Coliseum was lit up in candlelight. At the '60 Game, Gil Hodges drove in the winning run with a 7th inning triple.

In 1961 it was the Giants return to New York & the crowd of 47,346 seemed to go wild, cheering Willie Mays every time he came onto the field.

On this hot humid night The Sporting News wrote that Willie Mays "drew what amounted to a continuous ovation whenever he was on the field, and at times it thundered louder than the turbulent storms which had almost washed away the game."

Mays two run single proved to be the winning runs in the 4-1 win.

Remembering The Mayor's Trophy Game: (Part Two 1963-1983)

The New York Mayor's Trophy Game: By 1962 New York now had established a National League franchise in the city. Although top position players usually participated, pitchers were brought up from AAA to preserve the staff. In 1963 The New York Mets traveled to the Bronx, to play in their first Mayors Trophy Game.

After a June 3rd rain out, over 50,000 fans, mostly "New Breed" Mets fans, piled into the old Stadium on June 20th. They came with their placards & banners, but most were confiscated by the stuffy AL New York teams workers. Casey Stengel got some revenge against his old team, as the Mets took the game 6-1. Stengel went with his best pitcher Carl Willey that day for the win.

After a loss at the new Shea Stadium in 1964, where 55, 396 fans showed up, the Mets took the May 3rd 1965 Mayors Trophy Game 2-1. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Chris Cannizzaro was on third base when a young Cleon Jones attempted a squeeze bunt. He was successful as the throw was wide & the Mets won it with veteran Warren Spahn taking the victory.

In 1966, the game was back at Shea Stadium. New York's Mayor John Lindsay got greeted with boo's on this June 27th night game. Whitey Ford beat the Mets 5-2 behind HRs by Ray Barker, Billy Bryan & Joe Pepitones. Pepitones blast was remembered by Ralph Kiner as one of the longest he ever saw at Shea.

In 1967, the Mets; Don Cardwell, Dennis Bennett, Bob Shaw & Jack Lamabe combined for a five hit shut out. In 1968 back at Shea, the Mets made it two straight as 35, 1968 saw Don Bosh's triple bounce over the head of Bill Robinson in the 8th inning leading to the 4-3 win.

In the Mets Miracle Year of 1969, the original game on July 7th was rained out. The make up was on September 29th, a week before the Mets were to open up the Playoffs against the Atlanta Braves.

Despite this, Manager Gil Hodges still played his regulars. Art Shamsky led Mets hitting in the 7-6 victory, as Jim McAndrew got the win, in front of over 35,000 Shea Stadium fans.

Over the next three years the Mets lost all the games including two back to back heart breaking one run games in 1971 & 1972. In the '72 game, Bob Rauch served up the game winning HR to John Ellis.

In 1973, new Mets; Felix Millan & George Stone were the stars of the game, played at Shea Stadium. The Mets scored five runs in the 2nd inning never looking back in the 8-4 win. In 1974 the AL's Fernando Gonzalez hit a grand slam off the Mets; Mike Wegner in the 9-4 Met loss.

In 1975, Ed Kranepool & Dave Kingman received Perfect Man Permanents prior to the game held at Shea Stadium, now home for both clubs. In this game Gorge Stone pitched well after coming back from arm troubles but Randy Tate took the loss after a disastrous 7th inning.

After another loss in 1976, just 15,000 fans showed up at Shea on June 23rd 1977 for the Mayors Trophy Game. Despite the smallest crowd ever for the Mets vs AL New York club series, Ron Hodges & Joel Youngblood bother homered leading to a 6-4 Mets win. Farmhand Tom Makowski got the win over Roger Slagle.

In 1978 interest had really hit a low as 9,792 fans showed up in the Bronx for the April 27th match up. In the 11th inning Sparky Lyle claimed that Graig Nettles attempted to throw the game, when he threw a ball about ten feet over his first baseman's head on a Ron Hodges ground ball. Nettles denied the charge. In the bottom of the 13th, Mardie Cornejo took the Mets loss, when Fran Healy's suicide squeeze scored Jim Spencer from third.

The 1979 game was called on account of rain, ending in a 1-1 tie. No games were played in 1980 nor 1981, as both teams donated cash to the causes.

The Mayors Trophy Game resumed in the Bronx, in 1982 as New York's Mayor Ed Koch gave each team "crying towels' before the game. He stated "one of you will need this after the game".

Just six hours before the game, Mets pitcher Steve Ratzer, (who never played a regular season Mets game) arrived from AAA Tidewater. His name was sewn on the uniform so fast, the letter "A" fell off during the game. The game was tied into the 8th, when Joel Youngblood drove in John Stearns with what was the winning run. The crowd of 41,614 was the largest crowd the AL NY team drew up to that point.

The last Mayors Trophy Game was held in 1983 at Shea Stadium in front of 20,471 fans. Controversy was in the air, as MLB umpires refused to work the game. Some say it was because of NL & AL umpires feud over labor practices, others say because Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's had not suspended the AL new York clubs owner, after he questioned the integrity of NL umps in Spring Training. Willie Randolph hit a HR off Rick Ownbey in the 4-1 Mets loss.

The classic New York game is forever lost with the development of inter-league play.