Dec 1, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1973): Wayne Garrett's Hot September Hitting

The strength of the 1973 NL Champion Mets was no doubt it's pitching. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, lefties Jerry Koosman & Jon Matlack with George Stone & one of the games best relievers, Tug McGraw. That year, the Mets suffered many injuries to their regular position players during the season. Felix Millan, Rusty Staub & Wayne Garrett were the most steady players.

By September they all were back in the line up & all contributed with some guys having monster months. The first player we'll look at is third baseman Wayne Garret. Garret had an outstanding month  of September helping lead the Mets to the 1973 NL East Title.

On September 4th, Garrett collected two hits, a 1st inning HR off Jim Lonborg, as well as a double. It was his 11th HR of the year as the Mets went on to an easy 7-1 win. At this time they were still eight games under .500 & 5 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The next night Garrett drove in two runs, with a triple off the Phils George Culver. Mets hurlers Ray Sadecki & Tug McGraw combined on the 4-0 shut out.

On September 7th in a double header at Parc Jarry in Montreal, Jon Matlack tossed shut out baseball for 8 2/3 innings. He walked two Expos in the bottom of the 9th & Tug McGraw came in to close it out. The lone run that night was supplied by Garrett who hit his 12th HR of the year. It was another 1st inning shot, this one off former Met minor leaguer Steve Renko.  The Mets swept the twin bill, with Garrett collecting a hit in each game.

In the first seven days of September '73, Garrett had six hits, with two HRs, a double, a triple four RBIs & seven walks with eight runs scored, at least one in the first seven games.

On September 12th, the Mets were five games under .500 (70-75) but just 2 1/2 games out of first place, which was now taken over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Mets were in Philadelphia, with Matlack & McGraw outdueling the Phillies Wayne Twitchell & Mac Scarce 3-2. Garrett would drive in runs in the next three games, all won by the Mets. Tonight he provided his 13th HR of the year, in the 3rd inning. John Milner also homered & drove in the winning run with an 8th inning double.

The next night, the game went into the 12th inning with a 2-2 tie. Garrett came up to bat with the bases loaded after Jerry Grote singled, Don Hahn doubled & pinch hitter Kenny Boswell was walked. Garrett singled putting the Mets ahead 3-2. Pitcher George Culver threw a wild pitch scoring Hahn with an insurance run in the 4-2 win.

After an off day, the Mets split a double header at with the Cubs at Shea Stadium. Garrett went hitless but contributed with an RBI sac fly in the first game. The next night Garrett doubled in a run breaking a 2-2 tie, in a game the Mets went on to win over Chicago 4-2. They were now 73-76 still 2 1/2 back.

 The Mets began a crucial five game set with the first place Pittsburgh Pirates. They dropped the first game at Three Rivers 10-3. Garrett had two hits & an RBI. The next night, Tuesday September 18th, was a classic.

The Mets entered the top of the 9th down 4-1. Pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp singled, Garrett then doubled but the slow footed Beauchamp couldn't score. Felix Millan tripled bringing in both runners. Then two different pinch hitters were announced to counter act a pitching change.

Manager Yogi Berra looked like a genius when Ron Hodges came through with a base hit, scoring Millan. Rusty Staub & Cleon Jones both walked & Don Han delivered a two run single, the games winning runs. Bob Apodaca & Buzz Capra closed out a shaky 9th.

Wayne Garrett collected two more hits, two walks & two runs scored in the game. The Mets were still 2 1/2 games back, three games under .500 (74-77).

The next three games moved to Shea Stadium. On Thursday September 20th, the Mets won one of that years most important games, and one of the biggest in their history, in dramatic come back style. It was the game known as "the Ball on the Wall Game". (search centerfielmaz.com for full game coverage). At the plate Wayne Garrett did get a hit & scored the Mets first run this night, he also began a ten game hit streak that went through the last regular season game. But most importantly he helped defensively in the games biggest play.

With the score tied in the top of the 10th, manager Yogi Berra made five defensive moves, including switching Garrett from third base to short stop. In the top  of the 13th, Dave Augustine hit ball to left field that landed on top of the wall & miraculously bounced into Cleon Jones glove. Jones fired to short where Garrett the relay man, caught it & threw a strike to rookie catcher Ron Hodges nailing Richie Zisk at the plate.

Hodges provided the walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th. The Mets were now just 1/2 game behind the Pirates. This game started making everyone "Believe" that the '73 Mets were heading for another Amazing Miracle. The next night the Shea crowd almost doubled going from 24,855 to 51,381. All over New York people were saying "You Gotta Believe"

On Friday September 21st, the Mets reach .500 (77-77) and took over first place as they trounced the Pirates 10-2 in front of the large Shea crazed crowd. No surprise it was Tom Seaver, that years Cy Young winner, going the distance for his 18th victory. Garrett collected three hits, leading off the game with a single & scoring the Mets first run, on Cleon Jones double. He would single in the 4th, then hit his 14th HR in the 6th inning. One of three Mets HRs on the night.

Saturday September 22nd: The first place Mets hosted the St. Louis Cardinals, and Jon Matlack took matters into his own hands, tossing a four hit shut out, striking out nine. The offense was provided by Garrett who crushed a two run HR in the 3rd inning off Reggie Cleveland. The Mets won it 2-0, went one game over .500 & took a full game lead in the NL East.

The Mets completed the two game sweep in front of a near sell out on Sunday afternoon. Once again a table setter, Garrett singled to lead off the 5th &scored the Mets first run. In the bottom of the 6th, with the score tied 2-2, with two men on, he tripled off Hal Hrabosky, bringing in the winning runs. It was this third triple of the year second in the final month. On the night he had two hits, two RBIs, two walks & two runs scored.

Garrett collected two more hits the next night as Jerry Koosman out dueled Montreal's Steve Rogers 2-1. The Mets lost their final regular season home game to the Expos, but Garret hit his 16th Hr of the year, a three run shot off Balor Moore.

The Mets moved on to Chicago, to close out the season at Wrigley Field. In Chicago it rained for three days, postponing play. On the 26th, the Mets were a half game up, the Expos helped New York by beating the Pirates in the next two games as the Mets were idle.

Play resumed on September 30th but the Mets lost a heart breaking 1-0 games, as Rick Reushel & Bob Locker shut out the Mets & Jon Matlack. Matlack allowed just one run o five hits in nine innings.

In the night cap the Mets guaranteed themselves of at least a tie in the NL Eastern Division, as they beat the Cubs 9-2. Wayne Garrett set the table with a lead off walk & scored the first run on a Ron Santo error. Garrett had two hits, two walks & scored three runs on the day. Cleon Jones provided another HR, he was even hotter than Garret, as Koosman pitched a complete game win.

The Mets clinched the NL East on October 1st 1973 with a record of 83-79, finishing up an Amazing September where they went 20-8. Wayne Garrett hit safely in 20 of 26 games, with 31 hits, 6 HRs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 15 walks, 17 RBIs & 23 runs scored. He finished the year second on the club in HRs (16) walks (72) triples (3) 7 on base % (.348). He was third on the club in hits (129)  doubles (20) runs (76)  games (140) & RBIs (58).

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