Mar 29, 2018

Remembering Mets History (2018): Mets Start Season With An Opening Day Victory For Rusty

Thursday March 29th 2018- Opening Day '18: The Mets opened up the 2018 season with mixed emotions, as Mets legend Rusty Staub passed away that morning.

On the field there was lots of enthusiasm & hope for the year ahead, as the Mickey Callaway era began. 44,189 came out to a cloudy damp Citi Field to see Noah Syndergaard take on the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets held a moment of silence for Rusty Staub & Ed Charles "the Glider" two Mets alumni that had both recently passed.

The pre game introductions were well, as the new comers were welcomed, the returning Mets were cheered & no one was booed on the Mets side. Wilmer Flores, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes & David Wright got the biggest cheers.

Mets Opening Day Line up:

CF- Brandon Nimmo
LF- Yoenis Cespedes
RF- Jay Bruce
2B- Asdrubal Cabrera
3B- Todd Frazier
1B- Adrian Gonzales
C- Kevin Plawecki
p- Noah Syndergaard
SS- Amed Rosario

Noah Syndergaard started out the season striking out Dexter Fowler. He would strike out ten batters, allowing four runs on six hits, no walks & two HRs, which is rare for Noah. But he earned his first win on the year. 

In the home 1st, Brandon Nimmo became the second Met in history to lead off a season & get hit by a pitch. Alex Cora was the first in 2010. Jay Bruce then walked & Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a force attempt. The throw went into left field & Nimmo crossed the plate with the Mets first run of 2018.

The Cards came back in the 2nd, as Met nemesis Yadier Molina hit his first HR in New York, since that fatal 2006 NLCS HR in Game #6 at Shea Stadium. 

The Mets came back as Kevin Plawecki drew a one out walk. With two outs Amed Rosario singled to center. Brandon Nimmo then walked to load the bases. Yoenis Cespedes delivered a two out single giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.

In the 5th the Mets sent ten men to the plate, collecting five hits with two walks scoring five runs. First off, with one out Todd Frazier walked & scored on Adrian Gonzales double to right field. Kevin Plaecki walked, Syndergaard sacrificed the runners over.

Next, Amed Rosario started out his season with a two RBI single to left field making it 6-2 Mets. 

Nimmo then singled, he would get on base three times & score two runs for the Mets. Cespedes then drove in his third run of the game with his second base hit. Jay Bruce added a base hit driving in the Mets 8th run making it 8-3.

The Mets added a run in the 8th, Asdrubal Cabrera walked & advanced to third on two wild pitches. He scored on Plawecki's base hit, wrapping up the 9-4 Mets win. All Mets in the starting line up contributed, as they all reached base. The Mets collected 12 hits on the day.

The Mets bullpen was fantastic, Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak & Jeurys Familia threw three innings of scoreless, hitless baseball.

The Mets continued their Opening Day success with another victory, they are now 36-21 on Opening Day in their team history. They have won their last four in a row, as well as six of their last seven.

Remembering the Great Rusty Staub (1944-2018)

Although it is Opening Day, it is a sad day in Mets history as Rusty Staub has passed away.

As a life long Mets fan, obsessed with the 1973 Mets NL Championship team, I know how important Rusty Staub is in Mets history. Not only one of the best players to wear the orange & blue but one of the proudest New Yorkers who did a bunch of things for the City he adopted & loved. For many years he ran a Restaurant in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, displaying his love for food.

Rusty with his legendary reddish hair, was known as "Le Grande Orange" from his days in Montreal. He would play with the Mets on two different tours, both during winning era's.

The younger Staub was brought over in a major trade in 1972. He was the clubs steady right fielder & although just 29 years old, he brought leadership with a veteran presence, as he already had ten years in the league. Staub would be the face of the offense, the hitting star of a star studded pitching dominated team, that went on to win the 1973 NL Pennant.

He led the '73 club in RBIs (76) doubles (36) walks (74) & on base % (.361%). He was second on the team in batting (.279)  games played (153) Hits (163) runs scored (77) & slugging (.421%).

When he got to the NLCS against the Big Red Machine, he got just three hits, but they were all HRs coming in the first two Mets victories. He would lead both teams with most HRs (3) & RBIs (5) in that series. In Game #4 he made a spectacular catch, crashing into the Shea wall saving two runs & injuring his shoulder. He couldn't play in the Game #5 pennant clincher or in Game #1 of the 1973 World Series. 

Staub needed cortisone shots throughout that World Series, but was back in the line up for Game #2. He played through so much pain & discomfort that he had to throw the ball underhanded.

At the plate, he led both teams in batting (.423) slugging (.615%) hits (11)&  RBIs (6). He topped the Mets with in on base % (.464) & doubles (2). He had a monster Game #4 at Shea Stadium with a HR & 4 RBIs. One can only imagine if he was 100%. Staub made the best of it, as it was his only post season in 23 years of MLB action.

Two years later (1975) he became the first Met to drive in over 100 runs, his 105 RBIs were a Mets record for 15 years (1990). In one of many mid to late 70's front office debacles, Staub was traded to Detroit in 1976, where he was second in the AL in RBIs (121) in 1978. 

Staub returned for a second tenure with the Mets in 1981, arriving at a low point in Mets history but being there as they rose to being one of the league's best teams. By now he was older & a bit heavier but still made a huge impact. He would become one of the game's best pinch hitters in those years & his veteran presence was huge on the younger players. He retired in 1985 just one season before the Mets won the World Series.

He is the only player in MLB history to have 500 hits with four different teams & his career numbers should have gotten him more consideration for the Hall Of Fame than he got.

In his retirement chef Staub continued cooking, was a broadcaster for Mets, became the Mets social ambassador for private & corporate functions. But most importantly he his charity works, showed the kind of person he was. He started the Rusty Staub Foundation, supporting food pantries through out NY in collaboration with Catholic Charities. He also created the NY Police & Fire Widows' & Children Benefit Fund, raising millions of dollars, especially for those victims families after 911.

After a heart attack two years ago & other health issues, notably kidney problems last month, Rusty Staub passed away in West Palm Beach Florida at age 73.

Rusty Staub will be missed but always be remembered.

His good friend Keith Hernandez broke down during an Opening Day press conference "It's a tough day, he was the one that got me to live in the city. When I came at the start of the season in '84, I was single, he said "we'll you got to live in the city". He was the one that introduced me to the city & all it had to offer. He's just been a great friend. But he was in a lot of pain. He's in a better place."

Tom Seaver: "So sad, Rusty was a close, close friend. Great teammate. He visited me often out here in the vineyard. I will miss him. Most of all I will miss his energy. Everything he did was at 90 miles an hour."

The Mets issued the following statement: The family suffered a loss earlier today when Daniel “Rusty” Staub passed away. The entire organization sends its deepest sympathy to his family. He will be missed by everyone.

Mar 28, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1962): The First Two Walk Offs & Double Header Sweep In Mets History

Saturday May 12th 1962: This was one of the biggest days for the young Mets franchise & their fans. The Mets were just 23 games into their existence, already struggling at 6-17.

They were miring around in ninth place already 12 games back of first place.

Not only would they sweep their first double header today, but win both games in exciting walk off fashion. A huge thrill for the 19,748 fans at the Polo Grounds.

In the first game Mets Manager; Casey Stengel started Roger Craig against the Milwaukee Braves future Hall of Famer& the all time winning left hander,Warren Spahn. 

Starting Lineups

In the top of the 2nd, the Braves; Del Crandall hit a solo HR putting Milwaukee up 1-0. Then in the 5th, Spahn himself had an RBI single, making it 2-0 Braves.

In the home 6th, Mets short stop; Elio Chacon singled & got to second base. Frank Thomas then doubled to left field putting the Mets on the board as Chacon scored. The score stayed that way to the 9th inning, as Spahn came out to finish the complete game. 

 The Mets; Gil Hodges led off with an infield single. Next, Hot Rod Kanehl came into pinch run for the aging Hodges. Spahn got pinch hitter Cliff Cook to strikeout & Gus Bell to pop out. 

With the Mets down to their last out, Hobie Landrith stepped in & made Mets history. He hit what the first walk off HR in the history of the New York Mets franchise. It was the only HR Landrith would hit for the Mets in his 23 games played.

The Polo Grounds crowd was delighted for their beloved team, as Spahn & the Braves were needless to say shell shocked.

Met pitcher, Craig Anderson, who had come on in the 8th inning, got the win pitching two scoreless innings. Craig had gone seven innings allowing two runs on five hits.

second game:

In the second game of the twin bill (also known as the night cap) there were even more thrills to come. The Mets starter Bob Moorhead went up against the Braves, Carl Willey, who would be a future Met.

Casey Stengel would use six Mets pitchers- Moorehead (five innings) Bob Miller (one inning) Ken MacKenzie (one inning) Dave Hillman (one inning) Vinegar Bend Mizell (walked the one batter he faced) & Craig Anderson (one inning). The Braves would use five pitchers.  

The Mets struck first as Jim Hickman hit a 1st inning lead off HR. In the 2nd, Charlie Neal singled but was caught stealing. Hobie Landrith then walked & was moved over on a bunt. Elio Chacon then singles making it 2-0 Mets.

The Braves got a sac fly from Hank Aaron in the 4th, but the Mets came back in the bottom of the inning. Landrith singled & Chacon walked then Felix Mantilla hit a two run double, making it 4-1. The Met lead held going to the 5th, but Moorhead quickly gave up singles to Roy McMillan & Jack Curtis. Tommie Aaron hit a sac fly & then Mack Jones tripled bringing in two runs. HR King Hank Aaron then hit a two run HR,making it 5-4 & knocking Moorehead out of the game.

In the home 6th, Jim Hickman singled for New York & Elio Chacon tripled him in to tie it up. Frank Thomas added an RBI single & the Mets regained the lead 6-5.

But in the 8th Hank Aaron drove in his fourth run of the day with a double off reliever, Ken MacKenzie. The Braves added another run to go up 7-6.

In the home 8th, the pesky Mets fought back. Ed Bouchee walked, Hot Rod Kanehl came in to pinch run, and was advanced by a Hickman bunt. Elio Chacon came through again, his infield single tied the game at 7-7 as pinch runner Hot Rod Kanhel scored. It was his third RBI on the day. Chacon would have just 27 RBIs on the season.

In the top of the 9th, the Braves got (future Mets coach & manager) Roy McMillan all the way to third base but left him stranded as Mets pitcher Craig Anderson retired the side.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets fans in the Polo Grounds got another tremendous thrill. The future Hall of Famer & Veteran Brooklyn Dodger; Gil Hodges, a New York legend, now with the Mets came to bat.

Hodges delivered to hit the walk off HR to win the game. 

It was the second Mets thrilling HR of the day that ended a game with a win. Quite a day for the young Mets franchise.