Jun 30, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (2000) Al Leiter Strikes Out 12 Braves

Saturday July 1st 2000: The Mets Braves rivalry was at it's peak at this point in time, with Bobby Cox's Atlanta club (48-32) one game in front of the Mets (46-32) in first place. 

44,593 came out to Shea for this Saturday matinee with Greg Maddux (9-2) going up against Al Leiter (9-1). 


Starting Lineups



In the home 1st, Derek Bell doubled & reached third a ground out, he then scored when a third strike to Mike Piazza got passed the catcher; Fernando Lunar. The Mets then exploded in the 2nd inning, Benny Agbayani hit a solo HR & the flood gates opened. Al Leiter singled, Melvin Mora doubled then Derek Bell doubled bringing in Leiter. 

Edgardo Alfonzo singled bringing in Bell & Mike Piazza hit his 23rd HR of the season, a two run shot making it 7-0 Mets. Derek Bell would add a two run HR later making it 9-1 Mets. 

On the mound Leiter was having a fine afternoon, he would start out the game striking out two Braves in the first inning. He did the same in the 4th & 5th innings as well.


In the 7th he would allow a pair of singles, but strike out the last two batters to end the threat. He struck out all three outs in the inning giving him a total of 12 Ks on the day. 

He would match that season high total twice on the year, as he finished the year with 200 strike outs (fifth in the NL). 

The win was Leiter's fifth win in a row besting his record to 10-1 on the season. He would go 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA in the Mets 2000 Pennant winning season.

Remembering Mets History:(2000) Mets Score Ten Runs in 8th Inning To Beat The Atlanta Braves

Friday June 30th 2000:  A huge crowd of 52,831 came out to Shea Stadium to see Bobby Valentines second place Mets (45-32) take on the Bobby Cox's first place Atlanta Braves (48-31).

At this point in time, the Mets were just three games behind the Braves after having lost to them the night before. At this point in time, the Mets / Braves rivalry was at its peak.

The Mets Mike Hampton took the mound against Kevin Millwood.





Starting Lineups


Hampton walked Javy Lopez with the bases loaded in the 1st inning for a 1-0 Braves lead. In the 3rd, Lopez struck again with a bases loaded single that brought two runs in ,while a Mike Piazza error allowed a third run to cross the plate. It was 4-0 Braves.

Hampton gave up five runs through seven innings. In the 8th short time Mets reliever Eric Cammack, served up a three HR to Brian Jordan, making it 8-1.

In the home 8th, with Don Wengert on the mound, Derek Bell & Mike Piazza both singled. With one out Robin Ventura grounded out to second base for the second out but Derek Bell scored. 

Then an amazing two out rally led to the Mets scoring nine more runs, which resulted in a club record at that time, ten run inning.

Todd Zeile singled, to drive in Piazza with the third run. Next Jay Payton singled, then Benny Agbayani walked. Kelly Ligtenberg was the new Braves pitcher, he walked Mark Johnson & Melvin Mora both with the bases loaded, putting the score to 8-5.

Bobby Cox then yanked Ligtenberg & brought in Terry Mulholland. He walked Derek Bell and it was an 8-6 game. Now the Mets fans were going wild at Shea.

Next Edgardo Alfonzo singled, bringing in two more runs to tie the game. The crowd were on there feet as Mike Piazza came up to bat. Piazza blasted a three run HR over the wall, bringing Shea Stadium to bedlam as he capped off the record setting inning with what turned out to be the winning runs.




Armando Benitez closed out the 9th & got credited with the win (2-3) moving the Mets within two games of  first place. The next night; Al Leiter improved to 10-1, as he combined with Turk Wendell on a six hit 9-1 Mets victory, bringing New York within a game of Atlanta.



Remembering Mets History: (1967) The Odd Couple Movie Filming At Shea Stadium

Tuesday June 27th 1967:  Hollywood set up its cameras at Shea Stadium for a scene for the original movie version of “The Odd Couple”starring Walter Matthau & Jack Lemmon. Shea made it’s film debut in a game between the home town New York Mets & the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Originally Roberto Clemente was asked to be the batter in the movie scene, but he declined the part because he did not want to be portrayed as a weak hitter. Another Future Hall of Famer & star of the 1960 World Series, Bill Mazeroski took the part, getting paid $100 for his role.

The scene in the film takes place from the press box in the top of the 9th inning with the Mets holding onto a one run lead. Sports writer Oscar Madison is covering the game & gets an emergency phone call in the press box from his roommate Felix Unger. Oscar sarcastically comments to a sports writer while getting up, the Mets still have a chance if they make a triple play. On the phone call Oscar gets annoyed when Felix tells him not to eat too many hot dogs because he’s preparing dinner at home.

On the field during the phone call, Mets pitcher Jack Fisher pitches to Mazeroski who hits a bouncer to third baseman Ed Charles. Charles steps on third, throws to (Ken Boswell I believe) at second for one, who then throws over to Ed Kranepool at first, completing the triple play.

Legendary sports writer Maury Allen makes a cameo appearance & tells Oscar he just missed the greatest play he’s ever seen. Oscar yells into the phone at Felix “Are You Crazy, are you out of your mind?” A few Met players come out of the dugout to shake hands with the infielders.

Throughout the movie Oscar is seen wearing a Mets hat, which just goes to show you how popular the Mets were even before 1969. 

On the TV show, Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison also often wore a Mets hat. Keep in mind the Odd Couple TV show began in 1970 & ran through 1975, a very good period in Mets history. Both Oscar characters had pictures of Mets players on their wall too.

The scene was filmed before a real game between the Mets & Pirates. When the actual game began, Mets manager Wes Westrum had Dennis Bennet take the mound against Pittsburgh’s Woodie Fryman. 

Starting Lineups



The Mets hit Woodie hard in the bottom of the 1st, inning. Bud Harrelson lead off with a single, then Cleon Jones reached on base with an error.

Tommy Davis then singled home Harrelson, & Ron Swoboda blasted a three run HR to put the Mets up 4-1. In the 2nd the Mets Jerry Buchek & the 9th place hitter- pitcher Bennet both singled. Bud Harrelson hit a sac fly ball that scored Buchek. In the top of the 4th inning, Bennet was replaced by Dick Selma after allowing two runs on seven hits with the Mets leading 5-2.

Selma earned his first win of the year by throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings striking out four Pirates. On the big day of the movie, Bud Harrelson had three hits, Ron Swoboda & The Glider Ed Charles both had two hits each. 

The Mets win put them at 25-41 in ninth place, 17 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals who would go on to win the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The Mets finished the year at 61-101 in tenth place.

Jun 29, 2017

1969 Amazing Mets Outfielder & World Series Hero: Ron Swoboda (1965-1971)

Ronald Alan Swoboda was born on June 30, 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland. Swoboda was the captain of his high school soccer team as well as a top player on the basketball & baseball teams.

The six foot two right handed hitting outfielder was signed out of Maryland University, as an amateur free agent in 1963. He signed for $35,000 after a strong AABA tournament performance.

Swoboda only played minor league ball for one seasons, impressing the Mets with his power on a team looking for a home grown slugger. He hit 14 HRs at AA Williamsport & then three more HRs at AAA Buffalo in 22 games. He earned the monikers Rocky & Swobo, as part of Casey Stengel's young Mets "Youth of America".

He made the 1965 Mets team out of Spring Training and made his big league debut as a pinch hitter on Opening Day ‘65. In the 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, he lined to second base off the legendary Don Drysdale.

In the second game of the year he hit his first career HR, a pinch hit blast over the bullpen wall, against Turk Farrell & the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. He later claimed it was the longest shot he ever hit in his entire career. On April 18th He got his first start in right field, in a 4-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. That day hit another HR that night off Hall of Famer; Gaylord Perry. Rocky hit two more HRs on the road in San Francisco the next week finishing up April with four HRs batting .333.

On the poor ball club, with the fans waiting to embrace a hero, he was quickly embraced as a star like player. On April 30th he hit what appeared to be a grand slam HR in the old Crosley Field, but home plate Umpire ruled it a double. The problem was the outfield wall was made of concrete, with bright yellow line above the wall. Above that there was a plywood wall installed to block the glare of traffic from the elevated highway.

Swoboda's shot not only was visible hitting the plywood, it also made a loud bang. In the words of Mets coach Yogi Berra :" Anybody who couldn't hear that ball hit the wall is blind".

On May 8th he hit a pair of HRs & drove in all four Mets runs in their 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Braves. From May 16th through May 21st he drove in runs in five straight games & hit three more HRs.


In a game against the St. Louis Cards in May 1965, the bases were loaded late in the game with the Mets ahead 7-2. Dal Maxvill hit a fly ball to right, but Swoboda lost it in the sun. The ball got by him & all three runners scored. He struck out when he came up to bat in the next inning & was clearly frustrated. In the dugout he stomped on a batting helmet attempting to crush it, but it got stuck on his foot.

Manager Casey Stengel came out, grabbed him & said, when you missed that fly ball, I didn't look for your watch to stomp on it. So stop ruining the teams equipment, he then removed him from the game. Swoboda was devastated, he sat in his locker room in tears, thinking his big league days were over.

At the end of May he had already hit 11 HRs & was amongst the league leaders. It was quite a start for a team looking for a new star, & Swoboda became very popular very quick. He won over the fans hitting HRs & working hard to be a better player.

He hit three HRs in July & then another three in August where he had a stretch of driving in runs in six straight games. He slumped in September without a HR all month. Swoboda finished the year leading the team in HRs with 19, setting a Mets rookie record that stood until Daryl Strawberry came along in 1983.

Although he only hit .228, striking out over 100 times, he drove in 50 runs & hit 12 doubles, becoming one of the better hitters on the weak hitting team. He had the honor of making the Topps All Star Rookie team & was touted as having a bright future.

He started out with uniform #14 until the Mets got veteran Ken Boyer & he then switched to #14. Later on in 1968 when Gil Hodges arrived he took over uniform #14 & Swoboda was #4 permanently as a Mets player. He became known as a below average fielder with good power.

Quotes: Casey Stengel said of him “He will be great, super, even wonderful, if he can learn to catch a fly ball”.

Bud Harrelson once said he was afraid to go back on fly balls with Swoboda behind him, because Ron would get confused and run him over.

In 1965 Swoboda committed the second most errors in the league (11). In 1966 he struggled at the plate from the start, not hitting above the .200 batting mark until late May. It dropped below the .200 mark again and it wasn't until mid July when he brought it back up. That month he hit five HRs, one was a massive blast on the roof of Philadelphia’s old Connie Mack Stadium on the fourth of July off Chris Short. In that game he drove in five runs helping the Mets to a 9-7 win in the first game of a twin bill.

Another memorable blast that month, was a two run 8th inning HR in Los Angeles off hurler Claude O’Steen, securing a rare Mets 3-0 shutout against the reigning NL Champions. On July 20th, he hit a top of the 10th game winning HR off the San Francisco Giants Bill Henry for a 3-2 win. He only hit one HR in August but it was another memorable one against an old New York club.

On August 4th the Mets were trailing Juan Marichal & the Giants 7-1 in the 8th inning. They made a remarkable comeback topped off by Swoboda’s three run, 9th inning, walk off HR, once again off Henry, giving the Shea Stadium fan a huge thrill. He was linited to playing duties in September finishing up the year playing in 112 games.

He hit eight HRs, nine doubles, driving in 50 runs with a poor .296 on base %, while batting just .222, striking out 76 times in 342 at bats . In left field he improved to post the league's best fielding % (.985%) with seven assists (3rd most in the NL).

In 1967 he started out slow again, not hitting over .200 until early May & his first HR until June 6th. That was a tenth inning shot in Pittsburgh, off the Pirates Roy Face giving the Mets a 3-2 win.

He would hit two more that week in games against the Chicago Cubs & Cincinnati Reds. He went on a hot streak where he raised his average up twenty five points that month. On July 4th, in a memorable game against the old New York NL Giants team, Swoboda hit a bases loaded single off Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, driving in two runs. This gave the Mets an 8-3 lead, leading to a win, the first time they beat Marichal after he had beaten them 19 straight times.

In a July 19th doubleheader against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium, Swoboda hit HRs in both ends of the twin bill as the Mets swept both games. In August he hit safely in 17 of 18 games, getting his average up above .280, driving in 15 runs in the first two weeks of the month.

He finished the year with career highs in batting (.281) & doubles (17), while hitting 13 HRs, with 53 RBIs and a .340 on base %. The Mets finished tenth going 61-1001 undr managers Wes Westrum & Salty Parker.

In 1968 Gil Hodges took over as manager in New York & things began to change for the better. Swoboda started out the year with a bang, hitting a HR on Opening Day off Juan Marichal, driving in all four Mets runs, although they lost to the San Francisco Giants 5-4. Later that month he hit HRs in each game of a four game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His three run shot on April 20th off Bill Singer was enough for Tom Seaver to beat the Dodgers 3-2, while earning his first win of the season. He closed out the month of April among the tops in the league with seven HRs & 16 RBIs.

After the strong start, Swobo got some national media attention, making the cover of a May 1968 Sports Illustrated with the title "Slugger Ron Swoboda." But after the hot start, he began to hear the boo birds at Shea by summertime.

Once with an 0-2 count he watched a third strike right down the middle. When he got back to the dugout, Gil Hodges asked him why he didn’t swing; Ron replied “I was guessing ball?”. 

In one game Swoboda struck out five times, the fans cheered as he came up again. They cheered because they wanted him to break the record of striking out six times. He was quoted as saying “I should go home and blow my head off” in reply coach Rube Walker said “You’d probably miss”.

Trivia: That off season Swoboda participated in the annual sports writers show putting himself in a straight jacket and promised to break free in 10 seconds.

After eating his “Yaz” bread (named for Carl Yastrzemski in his Triple Crown season), he attempted to escape, but couldn’t.

Ron never became the superstar he was expected to be but hit some memorable HRs & had a decent career.

Quotes: After striking out five times in one game, Ron Swoboda said, "They booed the hell out of me and if I was them I would have followed me home and booed me there, too.” On July 23rd his 6th inning HR Off the Atlanta Braves Pat Jarvis ended up being the game wining runs. Three days later he drove in both runs in a 2-0 Jerry Koosman, shut out against the Reds at Shea.

He always seemed to hit well against the old New York teams, that departed to California, the Giants & Dodgers. He helped the Mets to wins against both teams by having two more multiple RBI games against them that summer.

On August 4th he broke up the Dodger's Mike Kekich’s no hitter, with the only hit of the day, a 7th inning single. On August 20th he had a five RBI day against the Giants at Shea Stadium topped off by a two run HR off future Mets pitching coach Bill Monbouquette. 

That season he led the club in RBIs (59) triples (6 which were 8th most in the NL) & walks (52) while hitting 11 HRs with 14 doubles a .242 batting average & a .320 on base %. He struck out 113 times (6th most in the NL), grounding into 14 double plays. In the outfield his strong arm had him make 14 assists (third most in the NL). He posted a .975 fielding % while making six errors.

In the miracle year of 1969 Swoboda was in a right field platoon in right field by manager Gil Hodges. He played 78 games in right field & then 23 games in leftfield. He shared time with Art Shamsky who hit .300 & Rod Gaspar who was a solid defensive late inning replacement.

On Opening Day he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter, in the first ever game featuring a team outside the USA. The expansion Montreal Expos beat the Mets at Shea Stadium 11-10. In April he hit well, batting .320 with seven multiple hit games & nine RBIs. On May 30th he hit a 7th inning HR off the Giants Mike McCormick, then put the Mets ahead for good with a two run single helping New York & Tom Seaver to an exciting 4-3 win at Shea Stadium. Two days later in the last game of the series, he walked in the bottom of the 9th inning with the bases loaded scoring Bud Harrelson for the game winner & series sweep.

When the California teams came to Shea in late August, Swoboda got hot again. First he drove in two runs against the Giants then as the Dodgers rolled in, he greeted them with a two run HR in the first game of the series off Bill Singer, as the Mets won 5-3. Two days later he drove in four runs off Don Sutton, helping the Mets sweep the series in the midst of a six game win streak.

On September 13th he hit a grand slam HR at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, helping Tom Seaver to a 5-2 win & his 22nd win of his Cy Young season. On September 15th, he hit another of his memorable HRs, this time off the St. Louis Cardinals Steve Carlton in a record setting game at Busch Stadium. That night Carlton set a record by striking out 19 batters, Swoboda being a victim twice himself. But Swoboda also spoiled Carlton’s effort by hitting a pair of two run HRs, driving in all four Met runs, in the 4-3 victory.

During the Mets August & September stretch drive, Swoboda drove in 30 runs, more than half of his season RBI total. He finished the year with nine HRs, eight doubles, two triples, a .326 on base % & 52 RBIs batting .252 playing in 115 games.

Post Season: He did not play against the right handed pitchers of the Atlanta Braves in the 1969 NLCS. But in the World Series he got to play against the Baltimore Orioles left hander's.

He arrived back in his home town of Baltimore, to play in the World Series, a huge thrill for the young outfielder. He had many friends & family in the stands cheering for him that day. 

As the Series opened Don Buford hit a HR over Swoboda’s head in right field as he fell back into the fence, on ball he may have been able to catch. In the 9th inning he got his first World Series hit off Mike Cullear.

He went hitless in Game #2 & did not play in Game #3. In Game #4 back at Shea Stadium he had three hits off Mike Culler and then two more in Game #5 against Dave McNally. His biggest hit came in the 8th inning of Game #5, with the score tied 3-3. Swobo doubled off pitcher Eddie Watt, bringing home Cleon Jones with what turned out to be the games winning run, sealing the championship.

In the '69 World Series, Swoboda hit .400, and his six hits were the most by any player on either team. He also drew a walk & posted a .438 on base %. But his not remembered for his hitting, it was his great catch in Game #4.

In the top of the 9th inning, Tom Seaver was tiring and the Mets were holding onto a 1-0 lead. O's sluggers, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell each singled for the Orioles, bringing up Brooks Robinson. Manager Gil Hodges kept Seaver in the game, believing in that year's Cy Young winner.

Brooks blasted a line drive toward right center that Swoboda raced for. He ran as far as he could, stretched, and made a full length diving backhanded catch. Swoboda looked in his glove, and there was the ball. He said to himself “that was one hell of a catch, and this is the World Series”. The Shea crowd roared, and Tom Seaver sighed.

Although Frank Robinson tagged and scored the tying run, Swoboda's catch stopped the go-ahead run from scoring. This came one day after Tommie Agee made his two amazing catches the day before. The Mets won the game in the 10th inning, on J.C. Martin's bunt, scoring Rod Gaspar. Tom Seaver got the victory, the only World Series victory of his career.

Baseball Weekly later ranked the catch as one of the "10 Most Amazing Plays of All-Time."

After all the years of poor play in the outfield and earning the name Rocky due to it, Swoboda had worked hard to get better. It all paid off in the big spotlight. Seaver and Swoboda never had the greatest relationship neither, it was ironic the play took place during his only World Series victory.

A silhouette of Swoboda making his famous catch is featured at the right field gate section of Citi Field in his honor.

Swoboda was in the Mets Opening Day lineup in 1970,as the Amazing Mets raised the World Champions flag. In May he had a big three hit, three RBI day on May 16th, in a 6-0 win at Philadelphia. In a ten day stretch he drove in a dozen runs, including a four RBI day on May 26th, leading the way for a 5-1 win over the Cardinals.

On July 9th he hit a grand slam HR off Montreal's Rob Nye, leading Tom Seaver & the first place Mets to a 7-1 win at Shea Stadium.

He hit three HRs in the last two weeks of July, hitting his last Mets HR on August 2nd in the night cap of a double header. He missed action in parts of the final two months, as the Mets finished third 83-79.

Overall he played 115 games in 1970, hitting .223, with two HRs, 8 doubles, 26 RBIs & a .340 on base %in 245 at bats. That winter the Mets decided young Ken Singleton was getting the right field job. Swoboda was traded to Montreal for centerfielder Don Hahn just before the start of the 1971 season.

Later that year, after 39 games in Montreal, the Expos traded Swoboda to the A.L. New York club. Swoboda played there for three seasons (1971-1973) as a reserve outfielder. In 1973 he hit his last career HR, it was on September 12th off Boston's Roger Moret in a 7-1 loss to the Red Sox. In 43 at bats he hit only .116 and played his final game on September 30, 1973.

Swoboda finished his nine-year playing career, batting.242 with 624 hits, 73 HRs, 344 RBIs, 84 doubles, 24 triples a .24 on base % and 285 runs scored playing in 928 games. His lifetime slugging average was .379 and he averaged a home run every 36 at bats for the Mets.

In the outfield (767 games) he posted a .972 % with 53 assists making 37 errors in 1308 chances.

Retirement: After his retirement he worked as a television sportscaster in New York, on WCBS-TV and later in New Orleans on WVUE. Ron was then the analyst for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the former AAA affiliate of the New York Mets.

He worked there when New Orleans was the Mets farm team & still holds the position, as they are now under the Florida Marlins organization.

He still appears at baseball card shows and various 1969 Mets events. In 1999 he appeared with other members of the 1969 Mets team on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

He was at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 & the 40th anniversary of the 1969 team at Citi Field in 2009.

Honors: In June of 2007 Swoboda took a weeklong tour of Okinawa, Japan. The tour was sponsored by the USO in support of the Special Olympics on Okinawa.

He stopped by the US troops stationed there and US Marines and airmen took time from their duty of the day to have Swoboda sign baseballs and photos. Swoboda first set foot on Okinawa while en route to South Vietnam in 1969, just after the Mets won the World Series. Swoboda’s message to troops on Okinawa was the same as it was in 1969: “We care about you being here, to sacrifice the time to make a visit.”

Quotes: “I have my glove that I made the catch with in Game Four of the World Series. I've got some stuff that came to us as a result of the World Series, as well as the last pair of baseball shoes I wore.”

Hurricane Katrina: For Ron Swoboda, New Orleans has been his home since 1981 and when Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Big Easy, he knew the worst was coming. “My whole family got out,” Swoboda said “If you had the means and watched the warnings, you could not stay. As soon it was in the Gulf, it was aimed right at us. None of it was good.”

Swoboda is often seen at New Orleans jazz clubs & has made friends with many of the musicians. The Swoboda family evacuated their home before the storm. His house sustained no damage because, as it was situated on higher ground “uptown by the river,” no flooding occurred.” I have affection for that town for a person who is from the outside.”

Swoboda has said "I'm kidded, occasionally, by folks who say: 'How long are you going to keep living off of one catch?' My answer: 'How long have I got left?"

Trivia: He is a big opera fan & has occasionally filled in as an usher at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Remembering Mets History: (1965) Ron Swoboda Starts His Career As a Slugger

At the start of the 1965 season, the Mets brought up a young 20 year old Ron Swoboda, soon to be their everyday centerfielder. The Mets sold Swoboda as a home grown slugger of their very own.

On April 14th, 1965 Ron Swoboda got his second career at bat coming in his second career game. He came to bat in the top of the 11th inning at Houston Astrodome, with the Mets trailing 7-3 after a tough top of the 10th where Larry Bearnarth & Galen Cisco gave up four runs. Swoboda hit his first career HR a solo shot off Turk Farrell. The Mets came back but still took a 7-6 loss.

Four days later on April 18th, Swoboda got his first start while playing in center field. It came in a huge 7-1 Mets win over the San Francisco Giants, in the second game of a double header in front of 44,179 fans at Shea Stadium. The Mets beat Gaylord Perry that day, with Swoboda hitting a solo HR in the bottom of the 2nd inning.

On April 23rd, the Mets were in San Francisco going into the 9th inning behind 8-4 against Perry once again. Swoboda led off the 9th inning with a HR, his third of the year. Jesse Gonder followed with a HR as well, for a back to back shots. RBI hits from Joe Christopher & Jim Hickman tied the game. Charley Smith's sac fly won it in the 11th.

Two days later on April 25th at Candlestick Park, the Mets won another exciting 4-3 game over the Giants. Veteran & future Hall of Fame pitcher; Warren Spahn closing out his career with the Mets earned his second win (2-0) with the help of Swoboda.

In the the 5th with the Mets up 1-0, Swoboda doubled bringing home Eddie Kranepool with the run. In the 7th, Swoboda blasted a two run HR, once again scoring Kranepool to make it 4-0 Mets. It was Swoboda's forth HR of the year in just his ninth game.


On May 1st the Mets took a 9-2 loss in Cincinnati facing the Reds. Swoboda hit his 5th HR of the season, a solo shot in just his 13th career game.

On May 8th, Swoboda had his biggest day since being in the big leagues. He hit two HRs helping lead the Mets to a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Braves at Shea Stadium. In front of just over 15,000 fans, Swoboda hit a three run HR in the 1st inning off Denny LeMaster, scoring Bobby Klaus & Johnny Lewis making it 3-0 Mets. In the 6th he hit a solo shot off Phil Niekro for HR # 7 in just his 18th career game.

It was quite a career start for the young Swoboda, he quickly became a star & a popular player on a young team hungry for talent. He finished his rookie year with a career high, team leading 19 HRs. He also had 15 doubles & 15 RBIs while batting just .228 with 102 strike outs.

Jun 28, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1974) Jon Matlack Tosses His Second Career One Hitter

Saturday June 29th 1974: A crowd of 37,317 came to Shea Stadium to see Manager Yogi Berra's struggling last place, but still reigning NL Champion Mets (30-42) host Red Scoendienst first place St. Louis Cardinals (38-34).

The Cards John Curtis (4-7) took on The Mets Jon Matlack (5-5). 

In the 1st inning, Matlack allowed a walk, but struck out all three of the batters for outs. In the home 1st, Wayne Garrett led off with a base hit, then Cleon Jones blasted his sixth HR of the year, a two run HR giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

In the 3rd inning, Matlack allowed a base hit to of all people, the pitcher John Curtis. It was a terrible break, since it was the only hit Matlack would allow the rest of the way. In fact he would allow just one more base runner the rest of the way, a 6th inning walk to pinch hitter Tom Heintzelman. 

Matlack walked three in the one hitter, while he struck out seven.

Trivia: This was the 11th one hitter in Mets history at that time, Matlack had pitched the last Mets one hitter in July of 1973.

The win was his sixth on the year lowering his ERA to 2.47. Matlack led the league in shut outs with seven, he went 13-15 on the year with 195 strike outs (4th in the NL) & a 2.41 ERA (3rd best in the NL), taking a lot of hard luck losses.

The rest of the Mets scoring came in the 5th & 7th innings. In the 5th, Wayne Garrett had hit a lead off solo HR, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. Cleon Jones added an RBI double in the 7th, scoring Garrett who had two hits & three runs scored on the day. 

The 1974 Mets disappointed, finishing up in fifth place below .500  (71-91) a terrible follow up after the Pennant season of '73.

Remembering Mets History: (1978) Tough Guy John Stearns Wins Out In Home Plate Collision With Dave Parker

Friday June 30th 1978: Joe Torre's fifth place Mets (33-45) were in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium to play the fourth place Pirates (35-38) in a weekend series.

Not much excitement surrounded this one, although a nice crowd of 31,947 came out as the Mets; Nino Espinosa went up against veteran Don Robinson.


Starting Lineups



The Mets scored in the 3rd inning, as Espinosa doubled, Len Randle singled  & Tim Foli brought in the first run with a sac fly. By the 7th inning the Pirates took the lead, as shortstop Frank Taveras had driven in two runs & Ken Macha had an RBI double of his own. 

In the top of the 8th, Randle & Foli both singled to start the inning. Grant Jackson came in & got Lee Mazzilli & Steve Henderson both to pop out in foul territory. But Willie Montanez came through with a double bringing it to a 3-2 game.

In the 9th, John Stearns led off with a double. The Pirates relief ace; Kent Tekulve was brought in to close it out. But the Mets; Ed Kranepool (one the games premiere pinch hitters) came through with another pinch hit single, scoring Stearns to tie the game.


Lenny Randle then tripled, bringing in Kranepool. Joel Youngblood singled bringing in Randle. With two out Steve Henderson brought in Youngblood with another single. By this time the Pirates had brought in their fourth pitcher of the inning, Eddie Whitson.

The Mets took a 6-3 lead into the 9th inning with Dale Murray on the mound. Murray got the first out, but gave up singles t o Frank Taveras & Omar Moreno. Then Big Dave Parker came to bat. Parker had won the 1977 batting title & would win the 1978 title as well. Parker would win that years MVP Award, hitting 30 HRs with 32 doubles, 12 triples, 117 RBIs & a .394 on base %.

In this game Parker would hit one of his 12 triples, bringing in Tavares & Moreno making it a 6-5 game, exciting the Three Rivers Crowd to their feet.

The next batter was (future Mets coach) Bill Robinson. He hit a fly ball to left field, Parker tagged at third base, the Mets Joel Youngblood caught it & threw home. Parker took off all six foot five, 230 lbs of him barreling into Mets catcher John Stearns. Stearns caught Youngblood's throw, stood his ground tagged out Parker, held on to the ball & the game was over. The Mets won it 6-5.



John Stearns was one of the toughest guys in baseball. A former college football defensive back, Stearns was more football player than baseball player.

The same guy who once tackled a fan who got onto the playing field that the police could not catch, the man who took on Gary Carter & the Montreal Expos in a brawl, the Big Red Machine & even Braves mascot Cheif Noc-a-homa. 

Stearns stood at six feet tall, weighing in at 185 lbs. But it was he, who walked away from the home plate collision unsaved.

As for Dave Parker, he broke his cheekbone & missed two weeks of action. When he returned in his 1978 MVP season, he wore both; a hockey style goalie mask & a protective face mask on his helmet around his facial area, much like a football helmet. 

The legend of "Bad Dude" John Stearns continued to grow..................