Feb 22, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1973 Pennant Season) Ken Boswell's Pinch Hitting Recap

In the 1972-1973 off season, the Mets traded away pitchers Gary Gentry & Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher George Stone & second baseman Felix Millan. Millan was a recent All Star, a solid second baseman & a steady singles hitter.

The Mets were obviously looking for an upgrade at second base. Boswell's had not been hitting & his defense was also not up to par for every day play. With the acquisition of Millan, his playing time was certainly going to be limited. The steady Millan would appear in a team high 153 games that season. He also led the team in hitting .290, hits 185 & runs 82.

Ken Boswell became a utility player & the teams top pinch hitter. He had secretly wanted to be traded but was not the type of gut to say "play me or trade me". Boswell embraced his role & did a good job as a pinch hitter. He collected a dozen pinch hits on the season (12-51) batting .255 in that role.

Ken Boswell got his first pinch hit at bat on April 15th, going 0-1 in the Mets 7-1 loss to the Phillies at Philadelphia. In the first game of an April 22nd double header, he tied up the game against Montreal with a pinch hit single in the bottom of the 9th inning. The hit came off relief ace Mike Marshall scoring Jim Fregosi. The Mets would lose the game in extra innings when ex-Met Tim Foli singled off Phil Hennigan. Neither Hennigan or Fregosi would be around for the pennant stretch.

In the second game of that double header, Boswell added another RBI in the Mets 13-3 win. In late May he hit a pinch hit HR off the Dodgers Don Sutton, in a classic pitchers duel between Jerry Koosman & Sutton who won the game 2-1. Boswell had two more pinch hits driving in runs in that final week of that month as well.

In June he collected three more pinch hits, including a pinch hit HR off the Cubs ace Rick Reuschel. The HR tied up another pitchers duel, this one with Reuschel & Tom Seaver, coming in the 8th inning at Wrigley Field.

He got just five starts from early July to the first week of August & drove in runs in three of those games. On August 6th, Boswell drove in Wayne Garrett with a 6th inning single off Reggie Cleveland. The RBI brought the Mets within a run of a game they would blow open for a 10-3 win. On August 26th, Boswell came to bat against Elias Sosa of the San Francisco Giants with New York down 5-2 in bottom of the 9th inning. He drove a single up the middle scoring two runs, bringing the Mets within a run although they fell short in the end 5-4.

On September 7th, with the Mets in the heat of the pennant race just four games back, the Mets had an exciting come back win at Montreal. In the top of the 7th with the Mets down 1-0, Boswell drew a pinch hit walk off Mike Torrez tying up the game. The Mets went on to a 4-1 win.

On September 20th, with the Mets just 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, the two team matched up in what became known as the "ball on the wall game'.

Prior to that famous play, the Mets were down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Boswell led off the inning with a pinch hit base hit off former Met Bob Johnson. He would score the tying run on Duffy Dyers pinch hit double. Boswell remained in the game & drew a walk in the home 13th, his walk moved John Milner up to second base. Milner scored on rookie catcher Ron Hodges' game winning single. Hodges had tagged out Richie Zisk at the plate after a fly ball landed on top of the Shea Stadium wall in left field & bounced to Cleon Jones who hit the relay man Wayne Garrett who threw out Zisk at home.

Three days later with the Mets now in first place, they topped the St. Louis Cards at home 5-2. Boswell successfully pinch hit in the 6th inning & scored another run after Wayne Garrett tripled him in.

The Mets won the pennant on the last day of the season & faced a heavily favorite Big Red Machine in the NLCS. The Mets took the series in five games & Boswell had just one at bat in that series. His World Series was much better, although he saw action in just three games, he came up with three pinch hits which was a World Series record. The hits also came against two future Oakland A's Hall of Famers.

In Game #1 Boswell pinch hit for Jon Matlack in the 7th inning & singled off Rollie Fingers. With the Mets down 2-1 he represented the tying run but was forced out in a double play. In Game #6 he singled off Catfish Hunter in the 8th inning with the Mets down 2-0. He advanced on Wane Garrets base hit & scored on Felix Millan's single. The Mets lost that game 3-1.

In Game #7 he connected for another pinch hit single off Rollie Fingers. That came in the 7th inning with the Mets down 5-1 as they saw their dreams of another Championship dwindle away.

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