Jan 28, 2018

Remembering New York Giants History (1954): Giants Slug Six HRs & Don Mueller Hits For Cycle

Sunday July 11, 1954: In the opener of a doubleheader‚ at the Polo Grounds, Leo Durocher's first place New York Giants (57-26) pounded Fred Haney's last place Pittsburgh Pirates (26-55) 13-7.

Giants right fielder Don Mueller wasted no time, in the 1st inning he collected a double to drive home Whitey Lockman for a 1-0 lead.

In the 2nd, Monte Irvin lead off with a HR, his 16th of the year. Later Wes Westrum singled. Whitey Lockman then connected for a two run HR, his 13th of the year. Alvin Dark then followed with a back to back HR, his 10th of the year, making it 5-0 Giants.

In the 3rd, Hank Thompson lead off with a HR. Willie Mays singled and after Monte Irvin grounded out, Davey Williams was hit by a pitch. Westrum then singled bringing in a run. Pitcher Sal Maglie bunted & reached base safely.

Next, Whitey Lockman's sac fly brought in another run. Al Dark then singled bringing in Westrum putting two men on base. Don Mueller then tripled to right field, bringing in two more run making it an 11-1 ball game.

In the 4th Willie Mays hit his 31st HR of the season making it 12-3. Mays on his way to the 1954 MVP Award, would also hit 41 HRs. On this day he raised his average to .331, he would win the batting title that year at .345.

In the 7th, Mueller completed his big day with a solo HR. Don Mueller had a huge day for himself, hitting for the cycle.  All in all Mueller went 4-5 with four RBIs and a run scored.

Sal Maglie would earn his 9th win of the year and Marv Grissom his 11th save. The Giants increased their lead to 5 ½ games over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the NL. Pittsburgh took the second game of the double header that day.

Jan 27, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1976) Mickey Lolich Tosses a Two Hitter

Sunday July 18th 1976: Tonight Joe Frazier's third place Mets (48-44) were hosting Dave Bristol's; fifth place Atlanta Braves (41-48). Carl Morton (0-6) (the 1970 NL Rookie of the Year) took on the Mets veteran Mickey Lolich (4-10). 

Lolich had come over from the Detroit Tigers, in a deal that sent the popular; Rusty Staub to the Motor City. 

Loilch's best days were behind him, back in the sixties /early seventies, he had been one of the game's best left hander's. In a deal that never made any sense, the Mets traded away Staub one of their biggest RBI guys on a team that didn't score many runs & brought in Lolich on a Mets team with a strong rotation. 

Starting Lineups

 Lolich had pitched a three hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals three weeks earlier but tonight he would be even better, his best outing as a New York Met. Lolich retired the Braves in order in the first two innings.

In the 3rd he gave up a single to veteran Darrel Chaney, drew a balk call but then retired Jerry Royster to end the inning. In the 4th he gave up another single, this time to "the toy cannon" Jimmy Wynn. 

Lolich would retire the next 17 of the next 18 batters without allowing a hit, completing a two hit shutout. Although he struck out just four, the left hander was outstanding. He walked no one in the two hit shut out performance. With all the bad press & unpopularity he received in New York, his ERA was just 2.69 although he was 5-10 at the time.

The Mets provided some offense on a Felix Millan RBI single & Dave Kingman's 32nd HR of the year. Kingman was on a pace to hit well over fifty HRs that year, but he would only play in 33 more games that season due to injury.

Lolich would win his next start & then put in a nine inning one run performance on July 29th, only to have the bullpen blow it for him.

Jan 24, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1999) Roger Cedeno Steals Four Bases

Friday May 14th 1999: Bobby Valentine's New York Mets (2015) were having a fine start to what would be their Wild Card Champion season. On this night they arrived in Philadelphia to take on Terry Francona's Phillies (19-15) also having a good start. Both teams were battling for a second place spot behind those pesky Atlanta Braves. The Mets one & one half game behind with the Phils a game behind them.

Mets pitcher Masato Yoshii went up against Chad Ogea in front of 21,074 at the Vet.

Starting Lineups

In the top of the 1st, Roger Cedeno reached on an error & advanced on a force play. He then stole third base for his first steal of the night. John Olerud followed with a HR making it 2-0. Mike Piazza drew a walk & Robin Ventura connected for a HR as well, 4-0 Mets. In the 3rd Edgardo Alfonzo hit a solo HR to put the Mets up 5-1.

The Phillies would hit three HRs off Yoshi, one from David Doster, another from Scott Rolen & Bobby Abreu hit an inside the parker.

In the 5th Cedeno reached on an infield single. He then stole second base, and advanced to third, tagging on an Edgardo Alfonzo fly ball. Cedeno then would score on Jon Olerud's sac fly. He now had two steals on the night.

Later in the top of the 9th, Cedeno reached on a bunt base hit, then stole second base & third base off pitcher Wayne Gomes. He now had four steals on the evening. He would score again o Edgardo Alfonzo's RBI single.

Cedeno was 2-5 with four steals & two runs scored on the night, taking full advantage of catcher Mike Lieberthal & Phillie pitchers. Cedeno became the second Met (Vince Coleman the first) in team history to steal four bases in a game.

For the Mets Masato Yoshi earned his third win of the year, with Turk Wendell, Armondo Benitez, & John Franco all helping out from the bullpen. Philadelphia's Chad Ojea took the loss. 

He would end up with 66 steals on the season and bat .313. In the off season he was traded along with Octavio Dotel in exchange for Mike Hampton & Derek Bell. The Mets won the 1999 wild card & got within two games of the World Series.

Remembering New York Giants History (1937): Carl Hubbell's 24 Game Winning Streak Snapped

Monday May 31,1937: New York Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell (King Carl or the Meal Ticket as he was known) had just set a record by winning 24 consecutive games. The pitcher with the high leg kicking delivery dominated the league for two seasons.

On May 31st, 1937 at New Yorks Polo Grounds, the NYFD had to turn away a crowd of an estimated 20,000 fans who did not have tickets for the game, for public saftey.

An incredible 60,000 had already jammed into the Polo Grounds and the surrounding hills, to watch Carl Hubbell continue his win streak. But it was on this day that he took his first loss in ten months losing 10-3 to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

One of the things that makes baseball so great are the unsung heroes, that shine for a day to break or spoil a record. Today it was Brooklyn Dodger, back up catcher Paul Chervinko, making his first MLB start of a short 45 game career. Chervinko would contribute with two RBIs helping Brooklyn defeat the Giants & beat Hubbell for the first time on the season.

Hubbell's win streak started back in July 1936. He was 10- 6 at the time. He went on to win his next 16 decisions leading the NL with 26 wins & an .813 winning percent.

In July 1936, he won three games in a five day span, shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0, then beating the Cincinnati Reds in relief. He came home to get a 2-1 win over the first place St. Louis Cardinals.

On August 19th his 2-1 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers brought the Giants within a 1/2 game of first place, a spot they would secure in the upcoming days.

Of Hubbell's 16 straight wins, 14 were complete games, two were in relief and his ERA was down to 1.86. Besides leading the league in wins (26) that year & winning % (.813), he won the ERA title (2.31), and  NL MVP award. The New York Giants won the NL by five games. In that years  World Series, Hubbell went 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

In 1937 he picked up where he left off, beating the Boston Bees in the second game of the year with a three hit shut out. He then defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in another complete game win. Next he beat the Cincinnati Reds pitching 6.2 innings.

He then threw three more complete game wins, beating the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates & St. Louis Cards. In his next start he beat the Pirates again to get to 7-0. On May 27th he came in relief & earned the win over the Reds in Cincinnati to get to 8-0 with a 1.73 ERA.

Hubbell went on to lead the league in wins (22), strike outs (156) & winning percentage (.733), en route to another NY Giants pennant & World Series appearance. During his streak he beat every NL team (except the Boston Braves) four to five times.

Jan 23, 2018

Former Italian American Player: Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni (1981-1989/ 1993)

Steve Charles Balboni was born on January 16th 1957 in Brockton, Massachusetts. The six foot three right hand power hitter, attended Eckerd College & was a second round draft pick of the AL New York club in 1978.

Balboni became known as Bye Bye Balboni, for his long HRs & some may say his frequent strike outs. He was a feast or famine type hitter.

In 1979 he bashed 29 HRs at A ball Ft. Lauderdale & then went on to have three straight 30 plus HR seasons at Nashville (1980) & at AAA Columbus (1981-1982). In those years at Columbus he was the AAA HR Champion. In 1982 his 32 HRs came in just 83 games & the following year he hit 27 HRs in 83 games.

MLB Career: Balboni would see brief action in parts of three seasons with the AL New York club, debuting in 1981 in four games. In December 1983 he along with Roger Erickson got traded to the Kansas City Royals for Mike Armstrong, who went 3-3 in three seasons & Duane Dewey, who never got to the big leagues. 

George Steinbrenner was so upset at the bad trade, that he tried to have it vetoed claiming Armstrong was injured at the time of the deal. The Commissioner ignored the accusations.

The Royals certainly got the best of this deal, as Balboni went on to hit 24 or more HRs in the next four seasons. In 1984, Balboni gave the AL Western Champion Royals 28 HRs & 78 RBIs, but he went down swinging 139 times (3rd most in the AL). That year he became the second big league position player to strike out in nine straight plate appearances.

In the Royals 1985 Championship season he led the team in HRs (36) which was a Royals record until 2017, when Mike Moustakis hit 38. Balboni's 36 HRs were the third most in the AL that season. He also led the team in doubles (28) and was second to George Brett in RBIs (112).

That season Balboni led the league in strike outs (166) and batted .243. At first base he led all first baseman in put outs & chances

1985 Post Season: In the post season he hit no HRs & struck out 12 times in 49 at bats. He did hit safely in the final four games of the World Series & batted .320 with three RBIs, in the win against the St. Louis Cardinals. 

He also made the cover of Sports Illustrated sliding under a leaping Ozzie Smith during the Series. 

After two more years of hitting HRs in Kansas City, he was released in 1988 after 21 games when he was batting .156 with two HRs. 

He found new life in Seattle, hitting 21 HRs with 61 RBIs in 97 games, while batting a career best .251 for the seventh place Mariners. In Spring Training the next year, he was traded to the AL New York club for a minor leaguer.

 At age 32 his best years were behind him, as injuries & such limited him to fewer than 120 games each year. By this time he was primarily a designated hitter, as he hit 17 HRs in each of two seasons he played in New York. In 1989 he drove in 59 runs & hit .237 but fell of to a .192 average in 1990.

In 1991 he signed a deal with the Texas Rangers, playing in their minor leagues at AAA Oklahoma City for three seasons. After hitting 20 HRs in 1991, he went on to two more 30 plus HR seasons, even winning another International League HR title in 1993 with 36 HRs. He also drove in over 100 runs in those two seasons. He made a very brief MLB comeback in 1993 with Texas, playing in two games going 3-5, with two strike outs.

In his eleven year career he had 714 hits, 181 HRs 127 doubles, 11 triples 495 RBIs & 856 strike outs in 960 games. He averaged a HR in every 17.2 at bats which is 55th best all time.

Retirement: Balboni has coached in the Royals, Montreal Expos & St. Louis Cardinals organizations for many years. 

He runs the Steve Balboni Baseball School & is a scout for San Francisco Giants. He & his wife have three sons & live in Berkley Heights, New Jersey.

Jan 22, 2018

Former Mets Back Up Catcher / Infielder: Alex Trevino (1978-1981)

Alex Castro Trevino was born on August 26, 1957 in Monterrey Mexico. The New York Mets purchased his contract in 1974 when he was just 16 years old. The five foot ten, catcher never batted over .240 in the minors until 1978.

That year he hit .294 at AAA Tidewater leading the club in hitting. He earned a September call up getting inserted as a defensive replacement on September 11th in a game vs. the Chicago Cubs. At the end of the month he started his first game catching pitcher Mike Bruhert in a game at Wrigley Field. He got his first career hit, that day and went 2-4 the next day finishing the year batting .280 in six games.

In 1979 the 21 year old Trevino became a versatile utility player, mostly backing up John Stearns behind the plate in 36 games. With his strong arm, he had the league’s best percentage of throwing out would be base stealers for two seasons. In 1979 he threw out 48% of base runners trying to steal & also played 27 games at third base. in 1979 & 14 in 1980. On June 11th he doubled off the Cincinnati Reds Fred Norman with the Mets down 2-0, and helped lead them to a 3-2 win.

On June 17th 1979 he singled off the Atlanta Braves ace reliever Gene Garber in the bottom of the 9th inning driving in Lee Mazzilli with the Mets game winning run. On July 24th he had another big hit, a single scoring Joel Youngblood in the top of the 12 inning in San Francisco. John Stearns would drive him home in what turned out to be the games winning run. In mid August he drove in runs in three straight games, including a three RBI day in Atlanta in the Mets 18-5 win.

In 1979 Trevino hit .271 with no HRs 11 doubles & 20 RBIs on the season. He never hit a HR in his Mets career (256 at bats) which lasted parts of five seasons.

In 1980 he had Mets career highs in games (106) as main backstop John Stearns battled through many injuries. On June 28th in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Trevino singled home Joel Youngblood & Steve Henderson tying up the game 4-4. The Mets would win it in the top of the 9th on a Henderson RBI single. Trevino drove in runs in three straight games in July, and still had his average up over the .300 mark for the season. In August he drove in two runs in a tight game against the Pittsburgh Pirates leading Ray Burris to a 3-1 win.

At the end of the month he also had a pair of double RBI games coming against the Giants in San Francisco. He had a good September driving in tens runs, finishing the year batting .256 with 11 doubles & 37 RBIs. Behind the plate he threw out a league leading 43% of would be base stealers.

In 1981 he saw half the playing time, due to injuries and batted .262 with 10 RBIs. In 45 games he threw out 41 % of would be base stealers while posting a .963 fielding %.

In the off season he was the main chip, in the deal that brought George Foster to Shea Stadium. He went to the Cincinnati Reds along with Greg Harris & a washed up Jim Kern. Trevino would remain in the majors for nine more seasons bouncing around to the Cincinnati Reds (1982-1984) & Atlanta Braves (1984).

In Atlanta he drove in 28 runs playing in 79 games batting .243. He then went to the San Francisco Giants (1985), Los Angeles Dodgers (1986 & 1987) where he was battery mate of fellow Mexican, pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. He then went to the Houston Astros (1988-1990), there he hit a career high .290 in 131 at bats. He made a brief return signing with the New York Mets in 1990 as a free agent.

He appeared in just nine games that season, going 2-5 as a pinch hitter. Trevino also appeared in eight innings over seven games behind the plate. He was released that August & finished his career playing seven games for the Reds later in 1990. In a 13 year career Trevino was a lifetime .249 hitter with 604 hits, 23 HRs 117 doubles a .310 on base % & 244 RBIs. After years of being among the best in the league at throwing out base runners, he finished his career with a 35% average nailing runners trying to steal on him.

Retirement: Trevino remained in the Astros organization moving into broadcasting. He has been an analyst for the Houston Astros Spanish radio broadcasts for 15 seasons.

Jan 20, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Mets Open Up Five Game 1st Place Lead in Big Labor Day Matchup

September 7th 2015: After stumbling, losing two of three games in Miami, the Mets had also lost 2 1/2 games in their lead in the NL East. Terry Collins first place Mets (75-61) came to Washing DC to face Matt Williams Nationals (71-65) for a Labor Day matinee.

The Nats arranged their pitching staff so their ace Max Scherzer would face the Mets in the opener, the Mets sent the struggling Jonathan Niese to the mound.

Today the Nats faced a much different Mets team then they had known earlier in the season. In the 2nd inning, two of the Mets "new comers" helped put New York on the board, as Rookie Michael Conforto hot a solo HR (his 6th HR of the season) & veteran Kelly Johnson added another making it 2-0.

In the 4th Yoenis Cespedes hit a towering Dave Kingmanesque HR into the flower pots in left field, putting the Mets up 3-0. For Cespedes it was his 31st HR of the year, his 13th as a Met & his 30th RBI as well.

In the 4th inning, Jonathan Niese fell apart once again, loading the bases with a pair of walks & then giving up a grand slam to Wilson Ramos. After blowing the lead he served up an RBI double to Werth putting the Nats up 5-3.

Neise has now allowed the most five run innings in Mets history, now including the last three. He's lucky to get a bullpen spot if the Mets do get to the post season, he has been horrible.

In the 5th the Mets fought back, Ruben Tejada got a hit & was driven in by Curtis Granderson.

In the 6th Cespedes doubled and then danced around second base, distracting Scherzer enough to balk. With Cespedes on third, Travis d'Arnaud hit a sac fly to left field that Jason Werth had to slide to catch. He never had a chance to throw out Cespedes, as the Mets tied it up at five.

In the 7th the Mets got Tejada & Granderson on base. David Wright had maybe his biggest hit in eight years, as he singled to center field scoring Tejada. Wright, as well as us fans, has been waiting eight long years for the Mets to be in a pennant race.

Next Cespedes continued his big day & hot hitting driving a base hit to Bryce Harper in right. There was a play at the plate as David Wright gave a good old fashioned slide into the plate, making it 8-5 Mets. He let out a loud safe call himself & showed some happy excitement on his way to the dug out.

The Mets bullpen were super as well, Eric Goeddel threw a scoreless inning & then Carlos Torres did a fine job until he went out of the game with a calf strain.

In that 6th inning, after Torres left the game, Dario Alvarez made his 2015 debut & struck out Bryce Harper after he had fallen behind 3-0. Alvarez was the pitcher of record & got his first win.

Hansel Roebles has everybody thinking about his quick pitching & has shown he cane pitch in big situations. He was perfect over two innings, while striking out four. In the 9th Jeurys Familia got his 37th save, as he struck out Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper & Ryan Zimmerman.

The Mets lead the NL East by five games over the Nats.

Jan 16, 2018

Original 1962 Mets Third Baseman: Don Zimmer (1962)

Donald William Zimmer was born on January 17, 1931 in Western Hills, Ohio and went to the same high school Pete Rose would go to in Cincinnati. Zimmer was an infielder earning the nickname Popeye, getting signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949.

In the minors while playing at Elmira, he got married at home plate before a game to his wife Jean Soot. 

In 1953 he was leading the American Association with 23 HRs & 63 RBIs in July when he was hit in the head with a pitch striking his temple and was seriously injured. He was in & out of consciousness for a week, lost vision, then had to have holes drilled in his skull to relieve the swelling. 

He was told he was finished in baseball, that playing was too dangerous. But the stubborn Zimmer wouldn’t accept that & made a remarkable comeback.

He was brought up to the Brooklyn Doders club in July of 1954 as a utility infielder, behind the talents of Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson & Jim Gilliam. In his first game he hit a triple to start out his career, batting .182 in 33 at bats on the year.

Zimmer was a member of the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 Boys of Summer World Championship team. He played well enough to see action in 84 games, batting .239 showing some good power with 15 HRs 10 doubles & 50 RBIs in just 280 at bats.

Post Season: In Game #1 of the 1955 World Series, he drove in two runs with a single & sac fly off Whitey Ford, although Brooklyn lost 6-5. Overall he played in four of the seven games, going 2-9.

In 1956 he was hitting .300 until a June game against the Cincinnati Reds ended his season. He was hit in the face with a fast ball from pitcher Hal Jeffcoat and had to be hospitalized. Once again it looked like his career may be over because of getting hit with pitches. But Zimmer triumphantly returned for an appearance as a defensive replacement on September 22nd of that same year.

He recuperated, and played in 84 games in 1957 batting .219 with 6 HRs &19 doubles. He was at short stop for the Dodgers final game played at Ebbetts Field on September 24, 1957. In that game he got two hits as the Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0.

Zimmer was with the Dodgers as they moved west to Los Angeles in 1958. He played in 127 games batting as the clubs main short stop, hitting .262 with career highs in HRs (17) RBIs (60) & stolen bases (14). The 14 steals were 8th most in the league, and he was only thrown out twice all season. He did strike out 92 times which was third most in the NL.

In the Dodgers 1959 Championship season, he shared time at short with rookie Maury Wills, batting only .165 playing in 97 games. He got one at bat in the 1959 World Series against the Chicago White Sox, going 0-1. The Dodgers won the World Series & young Zimmer had two Championships.

In April of 1960 with Maury Wills setteling as the Dodger short stop f the future, Zimmer was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Ron Peranoski & $25,000 cash. That season he played mostly at second base & made his only All Star appearance. On the year he hit .252 with 13 HRs & 40 RBIs.

In October of 1961 he was drafted away from the Chicago Cubs by the newly formed New York Mets as the fifth pick in the premium phase of the expansion draft. He became an original Met, playing as the team’s first ever third baseman, He was in the line up in the first Mets game ever, batting in the seventh position at third, in Sportsman Park at St. Louis.

Don Zimmer got the second hit in Met history, when he singled off the Cards Larry Jackson, in the second inning. He hit safely in his first three games, but his Mets career was to very be short lived. After just 14 games he was traded to his hometown Cincinnati Reds for (one of the two Mets pitchers) named Bob Miller & outfielder Cliff Cook.

In 14 games as a New York Met, Zimmer went 4-52 for a .077 average driving in his only Mets run on April 27th. It was a 6th inning RBI single off Philadelphia's Cal McLish, bringing the score to 11-3 in the Phillies favor.

He finished the season in Cincinnati batting .250 in 63 games. Overall he hit just .213 & then was sent back to the Los Angeles Dodgers in January for a minor leaguer.

In June of 1963 after 22 games as a Dodger his contract was purchased by the Washington Senators, playing there for three seasons. In 1964 he played in 121 games over, 87 as the team's third baseman batting .246 with 12 HRs & 38 RBIs. Zimmer finished his playing career with the Senators in 1965 at age 34.

In his 12 year playing career (1095 games) he hit.235 with 773 hits 91 HRs 130 doubles 22 triples 45 stolen bases 246 walks 352 RBIs & a .290 on base %. He would play 375 games at third base, 294 games at second base, 288 games at short, 35 games at catcher & eight games in the outfield.

Retirement: He managed in the minors and became a Montreal Expos coach in 1971. By 1972 Zimmer began what was to be his long managerial career. His first job as skipper was with the San Diego Padres (1972-1973). He finished sixth both times with those Padres with the bright yellow road uniforms. He then moved on to the Boston Red Sox first as a third base coach. 

Post Season: In the Game #6 of the 1975 World Series he was involved in a memorable play at third base. In the bottom of the 9th, Boston had the bases loaded and no one out with the score tied. Denny Doyle was on third base, as a soft fly was hit to left field. 

It was too shallow to score the winning run, Doyle tagged, as Zimmer shouted "No! No! No!" but Doyle heard "Go Go Go" he ran & was thrown out at the plate. That play, & Dwight Evans spectacular catch off Joe Morgans would be HR, set up Carlton Fisk's walk off classic, game-winning home run.  

Zimmer replaced Darrell Johnson after the Sox pennant year of 1975, after they lost that World Series to the Big Red Machine in seven games.

Zimmer remained in Boston from 1976-1980. He finished third three times, second once & fourth in his final season. In 1978, his Red Sox blew a big August lead with many questionable moves on the manager’s part. 

He played catcher Carlton Fisk in 154 games even though Fisk had complained of sore knees. Zimmer kept Butch Hopson playing regularly at third base with floating bone chips in his elbow. Hobson ended up making 43 errors & could not hit for any power. 

Zimmer despised "The Space Man" pitcher Bill Lee & kept him out of a key game against the A.L. New York team, even though Lee had dominated them his entire career, winning 12 of 17 decisions against them. Even Carl Yastremski pleaded with Zimmer to start Lee or Luis Tiant, but it did not happen. Lee hated Zimmer as well & would later refer to his manager as “the Gerbil”.

After Boston, Zimmer went to the Texas Rangers (1981-1982) then to the Chicago Cubs (1988-1991). In 1989 his Cubs won 93 games and won the NL East, their first in five years. But Chicago lost to the San Franciso Giants in the NLCS. He was honored with the Manager of the Year Award that season.

In 1991 he was fired after an 18-19 start, ending his 13 year managerial career at 885-858 with a .508 winning percentage. Since then he went on to a long coahing career: Boston Red Sox (1992) Colorado Rockies (1993-1995) A.L. New York club (1996-2003) & the Tampa Rays (2004-2014).

Zimmer has said the only pay checks he ever recieved all came from baseball. He knew no other jobs. He also wrote two baseball books: Zim: A Baseball Life & The Zen of Zim.

In 2008 he suffered a stroke and then served as a senior advisor for the Tampa Rays at Spring Training & home games. He would wear a uniform number that celebrated how many years he had been in major league baseball. He would spend 65 years in the game.

On June 4, 2014 Zimmer passed away from heart & kidney problems, he was 83 years old. 

Jan 14, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1975) Mike Vail Ties Rookie Hitting Streak Record At 23 Games

Monday September 15th, 1975: In a crazy year for the New York Mets, the club was at 76-74 in fourth place, 9 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

The Manager was Roy McMillan who had taken over after Yogi Berra was released. That year the Mets had also parted ways with long time outfielder Cleon Jones. On a brighter note, that season Tom Seaver would win his third Cy Young Award as well.

In August the Mets brought up a young outfielder who was named the AAA International League Player of the Year; Mike Vail. Vail debuted with the Mets on a Western road trip on August 18th, getting a hit in his first career at bat.He got a start the next night but went 0-5 in Houston in a 5-4 loss to the Astros.

On August 22nd, Vail was inserted as the Mets left fielder in San Francisco, getting two hits in a 6-4 Mets win over the San Francisco Giants. On August 25th, Vail had himself a big night in San Diego, while starting on a record setting feat. That night he had four hits, including a pair of doubles with an RBI, in a 4-0 Mets win over the Padres. 

The next night he collected three hits & then two more the next night, which was the final night of the San Diego series. Vail had nine hits in three games & was batting .480. The Mets organization smiled & everyone felt good about the kids future.

Vail stayed in the line up & continued to hit, on September 1st, he hit his first career HR & the next day his first career triple. He then drove in runs in five straight games, hitting two more HRs in that span as well. By the time the Mets homestand was over, Vail had a 13 game hit streak & was still batting .353

As the road trip went along, Vail kept hitting. He hit safely in all three games at Montreal against the Expos, including another HR. He then hit in two games at Pittsburgh, against the Pirates & then hit safely in three straight games against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

By now Vail was getting national attention with his hitting, he had hit safely in 22 straight games & was just one game away from tying a rookie hitting streak record, last done by (former Met) Richie Ashburn in 1948 while with the Phillies.

On September 15th, 1975 the Mets hosted the last place Montreal Expos (65-84) as Jerry Koosman (12-13) went against Steve Rogers (10-11) in front of a small crowd of 7,259 at Shea Stadium.
In the 1st inning, Vail came up to nice ovation & grounded out. In the 4th he hit a screaming liner that was snagged by Expo third baseman; Larry Parrish. Vail thought, if he hit it that hard & its an out, his chances of tying a record were slim.

But in the 6th inning, with the Mets down 2-0, Vail came up with Del Unser on second base. Vail took Steve Rogers' pitch up the middle for a base hit, bringing in the run & setting his mark at 23 consecutive games with a hit.

Vail was now in the record books, as a Met, with a rookie consecutive game hit streak record. The ball Vail hit was even sent to Coopestown to be displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Quotes: Vail said: "I never thought something like this would happen. It's unreal. I hope to get in there someday myself."

To top off his night, he singled again in the 8th inning bringing in Gene Clines with the games winning run. Quite a night for the youngster. The hitting streak was also the best of the year in major league baseball, Boston's Denny Doyle had hit in 22 straight games earlier.

"I was lucky I did it in my first year," he said to the media, but then laughed after he realized the way he had said it.

Vail hit .305 that year & was penciled in as the Mets outfielder of the future. So much so the team traded away one of their best hitters, Rusty Staub in the off season. But that off season Vail injured himself at hoe & missed most of the 1976 season. He was never the same player.

After hitting .262 in 1977 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. In a ten year career he hit .279 life time.

Jan 9, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1964): Willard Hunter Earns Wins Both Ends of Twin Bill

Sunday August 23, 1964: The '64 Mets were on one of their hottest streaks of the season just coming off five straight wins & in the midst of a streak that had them nine wins in eleven games. In this twin bill sweep at Shea Stadium, Newark, New Jersey's own Willard Hunter earned both victories.

Hunter had a short two year career, playing briefly for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962 one game before getting traded to the New York Mets where he went 1-6 with a 6.65 ERA. After spending 1963 in the minors he returned in 1964.

In the first game of this double header, Pitcher Galen Cisco took the Mets into the 8th inning with a 1-1 score. Reliever Larry Bearneath pitched a perfect 9th, keeping it a tie.

In the 10th, Bill Wakefield gave up a single & a walk. Mets manager Casey Stengel came out & put in Willard Hunter. Hunter got the last two outs, ending the game as Hall of Famer Billy Williams grounded out.

In the bottom of the 10th, George Altman doubled, which led to two intentional walks to Ron Hunt & Joe Christopher. The Cubs chose to pitch to a young Ed Kranepool. Kranepool delivered with an RBI base hit, to end the game 2-1. 

1964 New York Mets players' wives 
(l. to r.) Jackie Hunt, Shirley Kanehl, Rachel Altman, Annitte Hunter, Martha Cisco, Nancy Willey, Carol Smith, Barbara Bearnarth, Judy Fisher, Beverly Cannizzaro, Madine Jackson and Marie Taylor.

In the nightcap, the Mets Dennis Ribant went up against Dick Ellsworth.

In the 4th, the Mets George Altman & Jim Hickman singled. Charley Smith them singled as well making it 1-0. In the 6th, Altman hit his sixth HR of the season making it 2-0 Mets. Catcher Chris Cannizzaro's sac fly made it 3-0.

But the Cubs came back with HRs by Billy Williams & Len Gabrielson to tie it up at three. In the 7th the Mets Bobby Klaus hit a HR to put the Mets ahead, but Billy Williams then hit his second HR of the day to tie it once again.

The game went into the 9th inning tied, as Willard Hunter came in to pitch, his second game of the day. He retired all three batters he faced.

In the bottom of the inning, the The Mets Bobby Klaus led off with a single off the Cubs reliever,Joe Amalfitano. After a Ron Hunt sacrifice, Amalfitano intentionally walked Joe Christopher & George Altman to load the bases. Jim Hickman popped up for the second out.

Next up shortstop Charley Smith singled  bringing in the game winning, walk off run. It was Smith's second hit & RBI on the day. Smith would lead the '64 Mets in HRs (20) & was second in RBI's with 58.

Willard Hunter got his second win of the day, he was now 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA. Unfortunately his next two decisions were both losses, he took a bottom of the 9th loss at Houston on September 19th & gave up a walk off HR to Dennis Menke at St. Louis during the last week of the season.

He finished up 1964 at 3-3 with five saves and a 4.41 ERA. Hunter was out of the major leagues the next season, going 4-9 lifetime, with five saves and a 5.68 ERA.

Strangely Hunter only pitched a combined 1.2 innings in both games and would only win three games all year and four total in his 68 game Mets career.