Apr 27, 2018

Former 1969 Mets First Round Draft Pick: Randy Sterling (1974)

Randall Wayne Sterling was born on April 21st, 1951 in Key West, Florida. His father Clayton Sterling was a minor league first baseman who never got to the big leagues.

Randy Sterling was the Mets first round draft pick (4th pick overall) in the Championship season of 1969. The six foot two, right hander was another fine arm in a long line of quality young pitching prospects the Mets had in the early seventies.

By the time he got to AA Memphis in 1972 he was the staff’s leading pitcher going 12-11 with a 3.47 ERA just ahead of Bob Apodaca. The next season he was pushed up to AAA going 10-7 second on the staff to John Glass on the AAA Tidewater Tides staff. In 1974 he was only one of two pitchers (the other being Hank Webb) to reach double figures in victories. Sterling's twelve wins lead the staff going 12-11 with a 3.39 ERA.

Sterling got a 1974 September call up, making his debut at Jarry Park in Montreal on September 16, 1974 against the Expos. He became the first New York Met to pitch five no-hit innings in his MLB debut, the only other to do this again was Brian Bannister in 2006. Sterling earned his first win that night, pitching 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on two hits. Tug McGraw later came in to finish it off earning the save, in the 3-2 Mets win.

In his next start he got hammered for five runs in 1.2 innings pitched at Philadelphia against the Phillies. His next outing would be his last, an 8th inning relief appearance at Shea Stadium in a loss to the NL Eastern champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

 Randy remained in the organization for another season, but didn’t crack the big league rotation. His MLB career ended that September going 1-1 with a 4.52 ERA.

Retirement: Since his playing days, Sterling has become director of parks & recreation in Key West Florida. He also competes in fishing tournaments with his son Randy Jr. around the Key West area.

Apr 26, 2018

Former Mets Pitcher Turned 1986 NLCS Public Enemy Number One: Mike Scott (1979-1983)

Michael Warren Scott was born on April 26th, 1955 in Santa Monica, California.

The six foot two right hander attended Pepperdine University getting drafted in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft by the New York Mets. Scott pitched two seasons at AA Jackson going 14-10 with a 2.94 ERA in 1977 getting promoted to AAA Tidewater. He finished the year then pitched three more seasons at AAA Tidewater, going 10-10 in 1978. 

Scott pitched well enough in Spring Training to make the 1979 Mets staff. He made his MLB debut on April 18th 1979 pitching two innings relieving Pat Zachary in a game against the Montreal Expos.

He got his first start on April 24th & pitched five innings getting the win over the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. He pitched in 14 games until mid June getting just one more decision, a loss before getting sent down to Tidewater until September. He made four appearances with the Mets that month going 0-2 with a hold in relief. He finished up at 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA in 18 games.

In 1980 he was 13-7 at AAA Tidewater leading the staff in ERA, and was tied with Ed Lynch for the team lead in victories. He got the September call up going 1-1 in six appearances. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he started out at 1-4 going into late May. On May 29th he pitched a one run complete game beating the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

A week later he allowed just one run against the Astros in Houston & won his second straight decision. He followed that by losing six of his next seven decisions, into late September. He then beat the Montreal Expos on September 27th, shutting them out for 6.1 innings. On the year he was 5-10 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 136 innings.

In 1982 he pitched the second game of the season, but was beaten the Cubs in Chicago. Scott then beat the Phillies & the Cubs allowing just two earned runs over 17 innings of work. He was 4-5 in early June when he was switched to the bull pen. He earned three saves that month & was back in the rotation by July.

Scott went 2-4 before going back to the bullpen. From that point through the end of the season, he was 0-5 and his ERA went to 5.14. He finished the year at 7-13. In December he was traded to the Houston Astros for Danny Heep.

In his first season in Houston he was 10-6 with a 3.72 ERA but in 1984 he fell to a 5-11 record with a 4.68 ERA. Things then turned around after Scott began to throw a split fingered fastball that he learned from former Mets pitcher Roger Craig. Craig began teaching this pitch in the eighties & has now become a staple in the game. In 1985 it all came together for Scott he went 18-8 with a 3.29 ERA.

But in 1986 Scott was even better, winning the NL Cy Young Award. He was 18-10 (3rd in the NL in wins) leading the league in strikeouts (306) strike outs per nine innings (10.0) ERA (2.22) innings (275) & shut outs (5). After the All Star break he was 9-4 throwing three complete games, going into the eighth inning or beyond seven times. In that stretch he also had eight games where he struck out at least ten batters, enjoying a season high 14 on September 14th at San Diego. 

On September 25th, Scott threw a no hitter at the Astrodome against the San Diego Padres. In the game he struck out 13 batters & the win clinched the NL Western Division title for the Astros. It was considered one of the top five games ever played at the old Astrodome. That year he finished tenth in the MVP voting & made his first All Star appearance.

1986 Post Season: Scott opened up the NLCS against Dwight Gooden in Game #1 at the Astrodome. He was spectacular beating the mighty Mets 1-0 in the pitchers duel allowing just five hits, striking out 14 Mets.

As not only were the Mets were shocked, but they also began to see strange things happen to the baseball & had some evidence to prove it. They accused Scott of scuffing up the baseballs & actually kept some balls for proof. Scott was never caught in the act or ever found guilty of the charges. No matter what he got into the Mets hitters heads.

He became known as "Mike Scuff" and the target of boo birds & Mets fans public enemy number one.

He returned in Game #4 to beat Sid Fernandez 3-1 in another complete game effort. Sid allowed just four hits to Scotts three hits, another pitcher's duel. As Game Six became a Mets classic as well as one of the best NLCS games in history, it was all the more important since Scott was looming as to be the starter in Game #7 if it was necessary.

It wasn't as the Mets won, advanced to the World Series & Mike Scott never pitched in the post season again. He did win the series MVP award, the first time it had ever gone to player from the losing team.

In 1987 he had a good start going 10-4 into July & getting the start for the NL in the All Star game. He pitched two scoreless innings in the game. He finished the year at 16-13 with 233 strike outs (second in the NL) a 3.23 ERA (7th in the NL) leading the league with 36 starts. In 1988 he was 14-8 with a 2.92 ERA.

On June 12th he just missed throwing a second no hitter, as it was broken up by Atlanta's Ken Oberkfell with two outs in the 9th inning.

In 1989 he was second for the Cy Young Award, going 20-10 as the only NL pitcher to win twenty games. He posted a 3.10 ERA & struck out 172 batters in 180 innings with a career high nine complete games. The next year Scott dropped to a 9-13 record & was 0-2 with injuries in 1991 his final season.

In his career he was 124-108 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 1469 batters with 627 walks in 2068 innings in 347 games. He tossed 22 shut outs & 45 complete games. His is a member of the Astros Hall of Fame & has had his uniform #33 retired by the team

1962 Mets Hitting Instructor / Third Base Coach: Rogers Hornsby (1962)

Rogers Hornsby was born on April 22, 1896 in Winters, Texas growing up in the Fort Worth area. The great Hornsby, nicknamed “the Rajah” was hired by George Weiss, the Mets first General Manager in 1961. He was to serve as a scout of the other NL teams, then became a coach for 1962 Mets in their inaugural season.

Hornsby was more of a batting instructor that gave out hitting tips, rather than a hitting coach by today’s standards. There really was no such official title as a hitting coach until the mid seventies.

Hornsby’s theory was to hit the ball straight up the middle. Mets Manager Casey Stengel would say, Hornsby could hit up the middle because he had enough power to hit it over the center field fence. Contrary to his style, Stengel believed in hitting down the lines, because that’s where the worst fielders played.

Hornsby was always tough critic on players and very outspoken. The best compliment he could come up with on his scouting reports were “the guy looks like a major leaguer”. Ed Kranepool who was only an 18 year old rookie at the time said, the only thing Hornsby ever said to him was “they don’t make them like they use to & swing at a strike”.

While coaching for the 1962 Mets, he was asked if he was still playing, how good he thought he could hit against the pitchers of the modern day. In a classic response he said: "I guess I'd hit about .280 or .290". When asked why he'd hit for such a low average, Hornsby replied "Well, I'm 66 years old, what do you expect?".

He only was a Mets coach / hitting instructor for one season. In January 1963 after going for an eye surgery, he would pass away from a sudden heart attack in Chicago, at the age 66.

Before his coaching with the Mets he had been a player manager (1925-1937), then a full time MLB Manager for two more seasons (1953-1954). He had trouble relating to his players, and they didn’t like him very much. He was known for being difficult to get along with. He was a harsh critic, very obnoxious and very outspoken of how he felt. He never sugar coated anything.

Winning was everything to Hornsby, no matter what, at any expense. Some stories remember him for being just as mean and full of hate, as Ty Cobb was. Hornsby would put on a fake smile to try * hide his emotions. He never drank or smoked, but was a big gambler, betting on horse races. He married three times & would father two children. 

Playing Days: During his playing days, Hornsby was one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game, winning seven batting titles & two MVP Awards. He was a man obsessed with playing baseball. His .359 batting average is second best all time, behind only Ty Cobb and it is the best average all time for a National League Player.

With those seven batting titles, six  of them came in a row (1920-1925). He would bat over .400 three times in his career (1922, 1924, 1925), and fell short by three points in the 1927 season. He is the only player to bat .400 & hit 40 HRs in the same season. He & Ted Williams are the only players to ever win the Triple Crown Award twice. He led the league in runs scored five times, RBIs, hits & doubles four times each, walks three times, HRs & triples twice each (1922 & 1925).

Hornsby also has led the league in slugging percentage eight times, more than any other player has done in that category, finishing with a .577% (10th all time).

In his spectacular career he has a .434 on base % (8th all time) with 2930 hits (39th all time) with 541 doubles (37th all time) 1584 RBIs (42nd all time) 169 triples (25th all time) 1579 runs scored (54th all time) 1038 walks (104th all time) 301 HRs (144th all time) with 1011 extra base hits (37th all time) & 2259 games played (126th all time).

Hornsby refused to go to the movies or read anything, during the season, in fear of ruining his eye sight.

On the field he also considered one of the best second baseman, in baseball history. He posted a lifetime .965 fielding %, with 5166 assists (21st all time) & 3206 put outs (52nd all time).

He had a 23 year career spending 13 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1915-1926) St. Louis Browns (1928 / 1934-1937) New York Giants (1927) & Boston Braves (1928) Chicago Cubs (1929-1932). 

New York: In his one season with the NY Giants he helped manage the team as John McGraw had health issues, he led the league in runs scored & walks while batting .361 (third in the NL). He did not get along with owner Charles Stoneman & his own gambling problem made his stay in New York short as he was traded at the end of the year..

World Series: Hornsby played in two World Series winning  a World Championship with the 1926 Cardinals. In that Series he hit just .250 driving in four runs. In Game #6 he drove in three runs with a single & ground out RBI.

In the 1929 Fall Classic loss to the Philadelphia A's he had two multi hit games going 5-21 overall with one RBI.

A Cardinal legend, he has his name retired by them (there were no numbers to retire back then) and he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942.

Rogers Hornsby opened his own baseball camp starting in 1939 through 1952. He would usually have up to 200 prospects at the camp. He had instructional help from MLB players like, Cy Young, Jimmie Foxx, Tris Speaker & School boy Rowe. 

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

Apr 25, 2018

Former Met Infielder: Brian Giles (1982-1984)

Brian Jeffrey Giles was born on April 27, 1960 in Manhattan, Kansas.  He was the grandson of George Giles who played in the Negro Leagues from 1929-1937. 

Brian Giles attended Kearney high school in San Diego & was signed by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1978 draft. Giles not known as a big hitter, batted .299 at A ball Lynchburg (1979) & .286 at AA Jackson (1980) getting pushed up to AAA Tidewater in 1981.

He made his MLB debut as defensive replacement in the 12th inning of a 4-2 Mets loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on September 12, 1982. He was back at Tidewater the next year returning to the Mets in August batting .210 behind a young Wall Backman at second.

Although the scrappy Backman batted .272, he made 16 errors & had a fallen out within the organization. So in 1983 the second base job was up for grabs in Spring Training. Giles won the position & played his only career full season for the ’83 Mets.

He hit .245 but showed speed with 17 stolen bases (4th on the speedy club) he hit 2 HRs with 15 doubles & 27 RBIs but posted a low .308 on base %.

Giles posted .980 fielding % but made 14 errors & the next year he was in Tidewater & Wally Backman was back at second base in Shea Stadium. Giles did show good range & turned 87 double plays with his frequent DP partner 19 year old Jose Oquendo.

At the end of 1984 he was drafted (Rule V) by the Milwaukee Brewers, and then went to the Chicago White Sox for nine games in 1986. He spent the next three years in the minors before signing with the Seattle Mariner for 1990.

In 1990 he had a career day playing for the Mariners, hitting two HRs including a grand slam & seven RBIs in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. In a six year career he batted .228 with 10 HRs 27 stolen base & 50 RBIs posting a .985 fielding %.


George Giles began his career with the Kansas
City Monarchs at age 18 becoming their regular first baseman. George batted .292 in 1929 & was second in the league with seven triples. The scouting report on him said he was a fine glove man with limited power, but a good contact hitter.

That year he was the first Monarch to sit out due to contract disputes & eventually moved on to the St. Louis Stars, Homestead Grays & back to Kansas City. In 1935 he signed with the Brooklyn Eagles & batted .345 with seven steals (second in the league) & became the teams manager. He would move on to play for four other teams before retiring.

Apr 21, 2018

Early Sixties New York Born Met: Duke Carmel (1963)

Leon James Carmel was born on April 23rd, 1937 in East Harlem, New York City. Carmel attended Benjamin Franklin High School off Pleasant Ave back in the days when East Harlem was still an Italian neighborhood.

There was Patsy's Pizzeria, Espresso Coffee cafe's, real Italian Ice shops & plenty of baseball. He earned the nick name "Duke" & being known as Duke Carmel he had a classic name, pefect for baseball.

Carmel was signed as an amateur free agent in 1955 by The St. Louis Cardinals. In 1957 he slugged 29 HRs with a .329 batting average leading his team to the Pioneer League Pennant. In 1959 he hit 23 HRs while batting .291 at AA Omaha getting pushed to AAA for three games, then debuting with the Cardinals for ten games in September. 

In 1960 he only appeared in four games at the big league level & then spent two more seasons in the minor leagues, batting a best .243. In that time he went to the Dodgers, Indians organizations & then back to the Cardinals.

In 1963 he played in 57 games with St. Louis before getting traded to the New York Mets on July 30th, for Jackie Davis who never played in a Mets uniform. As Carmel joined the '63 Mets, he became part of one of the only teams in baseball history to have two guys named Duke on the same squad. The other was veteran Hall of Famer Duke Snider.

Those clever early Mets fans at the old Polo Grounds would even hang banners for Manager Casey Stengel saying "Hey Casey Put Up Your Dukes".

Carmel debuted as a Met at County Stadium in Milwaukee, getting two hits in an 8-0 Mets loss to the Braves. On August 8th Carmel had his big Mets moment when he hit a two run HR in the bottom of the 8th inning off the St. Louis Cardinals Bobby Shantz, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead & the eventual win. 

On September 1st he hit a three run HR in the bottom of the first inning in a wild game against his old Braves team mates. The Mets would win the game on a walk off HR by Tim Harkness.

The next day in the first game of a double header against the Cincinnati Reds, Carmel tripled to score Harkness & Ron Hunt in what turned out to be the game winning runs. Duke Carmel played in 47 games for the '63 Mets playing at first base, out field & as a pinch hitter. He batted .235 with 3 HRs five doubles three triples eleven runs scored & 18 RBIs.

Carmel spent 1964 at AAA Buffalo having a big year with 35 HRs 99 RBIs & batting .271. The next year he was drafted as Rule V player by the AL New York club, playing just six games at the MLB level.

In Jim Bouton's book Ball Four he sardonically mentions Carmel was to be the next Joe Dimaggio. When he couldn't hit during Spring Training Whitey Ford told him " Your just not a Florida hitter". When he didn't hit up North he said " You just can't hit south of the Mason Dixon line". Carmel went 0-8 with five strike outs before getting reassigned.

He was back with the Mets organization as well as the Reds organization through 1967 playing at the AAA Level. Carmel played four seasons at the MLB level batting .211 with 4 HRs seven doubles 23 RBIs & a .294 on base %.

Retirement: After baseball Carmel settled in Coram, New Jersey & became a salesman for a liquor store.

Former Italian / American N.L. MVP: Dolph Camilli (1933-1945)

Adolph Louis "Dolph" Camilli was born on April 23, 1907 in San Francisco, California. The five foot ten first baseman signed with the Chicago Cubs right out of Sacred Heart high school.

Camilli spent eight years in the minor leagues, hitting 17 or more HRs five times. He came up with Cubs in 1933 for 16 games as a September call up. Midway through the 1934 season he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, and finished the year hitting 16 HRs with 87 RBIs while leading the NL in strikeouts (94).

By 1936, he became a solid player, hitting 25 or more HRs & driving in 80 runs, three years straight for the Phillies. He would lead the league in strike outs again in 1935, 1938 & 1939, also striking out over 100 times four times in his career. At that point in time he was both the NL single season & all time strikeout leader.

In 1937 he led the NL in on base percentage (.446%) while batting a career high .339 (.6th in the NL). At first base he led the league in fielding (.994%) as by now he was known as one of the league's best defensive first baseman.

In the previous two seasons he led the league in put outs, games played & errors. He got traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in one hell of a deal for $45,000 & Eddie Morgan just before the 1938 season. He was brought in to change the Dodger image of the time as loveable losers to being serious contenders.

He became a very popular Brooklyn Dodger player getting named team captain & getting his picture on a Wheaties cereal box. Camilli spent seven seasons in Brooklyn, hitting 23 or more HRs five times, including one NL HR title. He drove in over 100 runs four times & led the league once in that category as well.

He would lead the league in walks twice (1938-1939) games played (939) make two All Star games & win the 1941 MVP Award. That season he led the NL in HRs (34) RBIs (120) hit 29 doubles drew 104 walks (2nd in the NL) posted a .407 on base % (3rd in the NL) & batted .285. 

Camilli led the Dodgers to their first World Series in 21 years in 1941, although he struggled in the Fall Classic batting just .167 (3-18). In Game #2 he drove in what would be the games winning run, as he singled off Johnny Murphy's scoring Dixie Walker from third base.

The next season Camilli finished second in the NL in HRs (26) & as well as in RBIs (109) posting a .372 on base % hitting .252. That year he surpassed Zack Wheat for the all time Dodger HR record, later Gil Hodges then Duke Snider would both pass that mark in 1953. From 1935-1942 Camilli was one of the game's biggest sluggers, finishing in the top five in HRs every season, and in the top eight in both RBIs & runs scored.

He was traded to the New York Giants in 1943 but refused to report due to the team's hated rivalry. He chose to work on his cattle ranch instead. He made a brief return with the Boston Red Sox in 1945, batting .212 then called it quits for good.

In his 12 year career, he hit .277 with 1482 hits 239 HRs (226th all time), 950 RBIs, 936 runs scored, 261 doubles, 947 walks (141st all time) a .388 on base % (111th all time) a .492 slugging % (130th all time) & 961 strike outs & in 1490 games played. At first base he played 1476 games (62nd all time) with 13724 put outs (57th all time) 957 assists (58th all time) making 141 errors (63rd all time) making 1189 double plays & posting a .990 fielding %.

Retirement: He coached in the Pacific Coast league and scouted for the AL New York team & the California Angels. Dolph Camilli was elected to the Italian / American Sports Hall of Fame, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame & the Dodgers Hall of Fame in 1994. He said of the Brooklyn fans: "All they cared about was their family, their job and the Dodgers. And I don't know which one was the most important." He passed away in 1997 at age 90 in San Mateo California.

Family: His son Doug Camilli, also played for the Dodgers and caught one of Sandy Koufax’s no hitters. Gil Hodges was a team mate of both father & son, at different ends of his career. Dolph's brother, Frankie Campbell, was a heavyweight boxer who died from a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of a knock out by boxing champion Max Baer.

Apr 19, 2018

1999 NL Wild Card Mets Pitcher: Masato Yoshi (1998-1999)

Masato Yoshii was born April 20, 1965 in Osaka, Japan. The tall six foot two right hander was originally drafted in Japan in 1984.

He struggled with high ERA’s in his first two seasons pitching for the Kintetsu Buffaloes and earned his first career win in 1987. In 1988 he was the Pacific Leagues Relief pitcher of the Year, winning 19 games while posting 24 saves. He saved twenty more games the next year and eventually converted over to being a starter with the Yakult Swallows in 1993.

He won ten or more games the next three years, having a career year in the final year of his contract. He wanted to remain loyal to his team but his agent convinced to shoot for higher salaries with other teams Some in Japan felt he was asking more than he was worth. His friend Hideo Nomo convinced him to come over & pitch in America. He refused all offers in Japan to sign on with the New York Mets for $200,000 with incentives that would make him a million in his first year.

He made his MLB debut starting the fifth game of the 1998 season, throwing seven shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, recording his first MLB win. Yoshi allowed just three hits & struck out seven in that game. In May he won three straight decisions, including a complete game performance where he allowed just one run on May 21st against the Cincinatti Reds at Shea Stadium.

He was 4-1 at the beginning of June but he would lose his next five decisions, and not earn another victory until August 19th. He would win just one more game the rest of the season, coming in his last outing of the year in a game against the Florida Marlins. In 29 games he went 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA striking out 117 batters in 177 innings pitched, giving up 22 HRs while walking only 55 batters
In 1999 he was once again on Bobby Valentines staff, & won his first outing of the season. It was the sixth game of the season, a 10-3 win over the Expos at Montreal. After a 1-3 April, he won four straight starts, including a two hit six inning shutout performance against the Diamond backs in Arizona. As the season went on h got better closing out the year with five straight winning decisions in August & September.

He got better run support than the previous year, especially down the stretch. Yoshi pitched a complete game, one run, six hitter in San Diego on August 18th against the Padres to start the win streak. He would pitch into the sixth inning or beyond in all his wins, finishing the year at 12-8 with a 4.40 ERA. In 29 games he struck out 105 batters in 170 innings, helping the Mets catch the Wild Card title & go to their first post season since 1986.

Post Season: In the NLDS he started Game #2 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, going into the 6th inning giving up four runs on six hits while earning no decision. The Mets eventually won the game 8-4. In the NLCS he got the call from Bobby Valentine to start Game #1 in Atlanta against Greg Maddox & the Braves. He took the loss giving up two runs on five hits in 4.2 innings pitched.

He returned to start the eventual classic Robin Ventura "grand slam single" Game #4, and was one of the nine Mets pitchers used in the extra inning win. In the game Yoshii allowed two runs on four hits in just three innings pitched. 

In the 1999 off season he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for the left handed Bobby Jones & some guy named Lariel Gonzales. Yoshii got hit hard in the thin Rocky Mountain air at Colorado, going 6-15 (sixth most losses in the league) as he posted a 5.86 ERA. He was released after the season and signed on with the Montreal Expos pitching there for two seasons. He went 8-16 over those seasons with an ERA averaging around 4.50. By age 38 he was out of the major leagues after pitching there for five years.

Lifetime he was 32-47 with a 4.62 ERA, 447 strike outs & 222 walks in 162 games pitched. He went back to Japan and pitched there until 2007, making his fifth All Star Team there in 2006 then retiring at the age of 42.

Early Seventies Mets Relief Pitcher: Chuck Taylor (1972)

Charles Gilbert Taylor was born on April 18th, 1942 in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The six foot two right hander attended Middle Tennessee State University, getting signed by the St. Louis Cards in 1961. 

Trivia: The Mid Tenn. Blue Raiders locker room is named after him & he is a member of their Hall of Fame.

After three years in the St. Louis organization he was traded along with (future Met) Jim Beauchamp, to the Houston Colt 45's for Carl Warwick.

The next year he was sent back to St. Louis along with Hal Woodehick, for pitcher Mike Cuellar & 1969 Mets ace reliever Ron Taylor. 

In 1969, Chuck Taylor began his career as a starter, going 7-5 before becoming a full time reliever. In 1970 he was 6-7 with eight saves, making 56 appearances. He would pitch with the Cardinals through the 1971 season, going 3-1 that year.

Mets Career: On October 18th 1971, he was traded to the New York Mets, with Jim Beauchamp, Harry Parker & Chip Coulter for Art Shamsky, Jim Bibby, Rich Folkers & Charlie Hudson. In 1972 Taylor began the season in the Mets bullpen as a middle inning reliever. He debuted in the second game of the season pitching one inning against the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

On April 25th in San Diego, Taylor pitched three innings of scoreless relief, helping Buzz Capra to a 2-1 win over the Padres while earning a save. On May 16th, he pitched 3.2 innings of relief at Shm helping Tom Seaver to a win over the Expos. Taylor made twenty appearances for the '72 Mets earning two saves, posting a 5.52 ERA, striking out nine batters  & walking nine in 31 innings pitched. 

He was placed on waivers in September & got picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers, pitching five games there with a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings of work.

In 1973 he went to the Montreal Expos & pitched there for four seasons. In 1974 he had his best season, going 6-2 with 11 saves (5th most in the NL) posting a 2.17 ERA while making 61 appearances (9th in the NL). The next year he saved six games which still was enough to lead the Montreal staff, going 2-2 in 54 appearances. His last season in the majors was 1976 where he pitched in 31 games going 2-3 with no saves.

In his eight year career he was 28-20 with 31 saves, posting a 3.07 ERA with 282 strike outs & 162 walks in 305 appearances.

Retirement & Passing: After baseball he & his wife ran an Auto store in Smyrna. He suffered a heart attack in the early 1990's but was still active in mid Tennessee sports. A golf Tournament is also named after him. He passed away in June 2018 at age 76.

Apr 14, 2018

1954 World Champion New York Giants Outfielder: Don Mueller (1948-1957)

Don Frederick Mueller was born April 14, 1927, at St. Louis, Missouri. The tall six foot outfielder was known as Mandrake the Magician because he always found a hole to hit into. His father Walter Mueller played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the twenties batting .275 with 2 HRs 10 doubles 7 triples & 49 RBIs while playing in 121 games over four seasons.

Don Mueller was signed by the New York Giants in 1944 and would play at AAA Jersey City for three seasons. In 1946 he batted .359 there playing in just 28 games. The next season he was between Jacksonville & Jersey City batting .347 proving he could hit. In 1948 he batted .328 in 99 games getting called up to the Giants that summer.

He made his debut in August 1948 when Leo Durocher had replaced Mel Ott as the clubs manager. Mueller hit got a base hit, driving in a run his first at bat against the St. Louis Cardinals as a pinch hitter. On the year he would hit .358 (29-81) playing in 36 games making a good impression. He made the Giants team the next season but was only hitting .232 & struggling in August. He was sent down to finish out the year back at Jersey City to work on his skills.

1950 would be his official rookie season & he would bat .291 with 7 HRs 15 doubles & 84 RBIs. Mueller was mainly a singles hitter, hitting 125 base hits that season (6th in the league). He would eventually lead the league in singles in both 1954 & 1955. He would become one of the most difficult men to strikeout during his playing days, never striking out more than 26 times in a season. He had the leagues best at bat per strike out ratio five times, every season from 1953 through 1956.

In 1951 he only struck out 13 times in 493 at bats, batting .277. In the Giants amazing pennant run that summer Mueller hit well. It began in June when he had an eighteen game hit streak, hitting safely in every game he played that month. He was not knon for his power but in July he hit five HRs in the first two weeks of the month, while driving in eight runs.

On September 1st, the Giants were still seven games back when the two teams faced off in the Polo Grounds. Mueller had a career day bashing three HRs, two of them off of Ralph Branca. He would drive in five runs that day in the Giants 8-1 victory. The next day Mueller hit two more HRs, the first a three run shot off Don Newcombe. The second a two run shot off Phil Haugstad whom he had homered off the day before as well. That day he had just recieved the news his wife Genevieve had given birth to their son.

The Dodger lead was now down to five games & throughout the month the two teams would battle ending up tied on the last day of the season forcing the classic three game playoff. In the month of September Mueller hit 6 HRs, drove in 22 runs & had ten multi hit games.

On the season he hit a career high 16 HRs, something team mate Sal Yvars credited to the Giants sign stealing in the Polo Grounds. Mueller hit ten doubles, with seven triples, scored 58 runs posting a .307 on base %.

Post Season: In Game #1 of the Playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Mueller was hitless in the Brooklyn 3-1 win. In the Giants 10-0 Game 32 win he was 1-3 with a walk. In the final Game #3 Alvin Dark singled in the 9th inning. Mueller a left handed hitter, saw Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges was standing close to the bag. 

Mueller remembered: “I saw that hole sittin’ there like a deer in huntin’ season And I went for it. I was a hole hitter, always tried to hit the ball where the biggest hole was. If Hodges was playin’ off the bag, instead of tight behind Dark, I would’ve tried to go up the middle with the ball.”

Mueller singled putting runners on first & third while New York was still trailing 4-1. With one out, Whitey Lockman doubled, scoring a run and advancing Mueller to third. As he slid into third base Mueller broke his ankle and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Bobby Thomson's was the next batter, and he hit his famous game-winning (shot heard round the world) HR that won the pennant.

Mueller did not play in the World Series because of the injury. His replacement had a horrible Series especially with runners in scoring position. Monte Irvin said years later the Giants would have won the 1951 Series had Mueller been in the lineup.

In 1952 he improved to a .281 average hitting 12 HRs, the last time he would hit double figures in that category. In 1953 Mueller had a huge year, batting .333 (5th in the league) with 160 hits. 12 doubles 6 HRs & 60 RBIs. Although he didn’t strike out much & was a good hitter, he didn’t walk much so he put up low on base percentages. That season he posted a .360 %.

In the Giants 1954 Championship season he had his best year, leading the league with 212 hits, and finishing second to teammate Willie Mays in the NL batting race hitting .342. He made his first All Star appearance, finished twelfth in the MVP voting and had career highs in doubles (35) runs scored (90) triples (8) & on base % (.363) He also had 71 RBIs with 4 HRs playing in all but one of the Giants 154 games.

During the year he had an early 15 game hit streak, then in the month of September he hit safely in all but two games, 22 of 24 games. He closed out the year hitting safely in 32 of 44 games. In the outfield he led all NL outfielders with 14 assists posting .979 fielding % which was second best in the league.

Post Season: In the 1954 Fall Classic Mueller hit .389 going 7 -18 scoring four runs in the Giants to sweep over the Cleveland Indians. In Game #1 at the Polo Grounds, he went 2 -5 scoring a run & driving in the Giants first run of the series. In Game #3 at Cleveland he went 2 - 5 and scored two more runs. In the fourth & final Game #4 he had his best day getting three hits & scoring another run.

In 1955 he made his second All Star appearance, coming in fifth in the league with 185 hits, batting .306 and driving in a career high 83 runs. He struck out just twelve times in 605 at bats, giving him the lowest strike out ration in the league for the third of four straight seasons, five times leading the league in that category overall. His seven sac flies were 8th best in the league.

He did not hit well after 1955 dropping to .269 in 1956 and then into the .250 area the next two years. In the outfield he led the league in fielding two more times (1956 & 1957) as well as having 13 more assists from the outfield in 1957. His contract was purchased by the White Sox in 1958 as the Giants left New York & he retired the next season at age 32.

In his 12 year career, he hit .296 lifetime, only striking out 146 times in 4,364 at bats. He had 1292 hits with hit 65 HRs 139 doubles 37 triples & drove in 520 runs while scoring 499 in 1245 games played. In the outfield he posted a .981 fielding % (63rd all time) with 69 assists.

Retirement: After baseball he was a building inspector for an insurance company. Mueller lived in Maryland Heights Missouri for many years before he had to enter a nursing home. He passed away in 2011 at age 84.

Apr 13, 2018

Remembering Mets History (2016) New Mets Second Baseman Neil Walker Blasts 8 April HRs

Neil Walker came to New York from Pittsburgh in the 2015-2016 off season in a trade for pitcher Jonathon Niese & to replace Daniel Murphy at second base. The Mets knew they were getting an upgrade defensively but had no idea that Walker would have the hot start he did, making everyone forget about a guy named Daniel Murphy, for the time being.

April 5th 2016 Kansas City: After the Mets dropped their first game of the season in a hauntingly familiar place, Kansas City the second game was important to come out of with a win. Noah Syndergaard, probably the most hated pitcher on the Mets staff in Kansas City, continued where he left off in last years World Series. He shut out the Royals for six innings striking out nine. Jim Henderson, Addison Reed & Jeurys Familia contributed with scoreless, hitless innings as well.

One of the newest Mets; Neil Walker did all the damage hitting a two run HR off Chris Young in the 4th inning, sealing the Mets 2-0 win.

Friday April 15th Cleveland: The Mets went on to Cleveland to play Terry Francona's Indians in an interleague matchup. On the mound for New York was Bartolo Colon who had started out his career almost two decades ago (1997). He would pitch into the 6th inning earning his first win of the season.

The Mets got long balls all around, hitting four on the night Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Alejandro DeAza & Neil Walker all went yard as the Mets won it 6-5.

Saturday April 16th Cleveland: The next day in a 4:00 PM start the Mets took a hard 7-5 loss as Matt Harvey fell to 0-3 on the season. The Mets continued to hit the long ball, as Curtis Granderson got his first of the season, Yoenis Cespedes hit his third & Neil Walker hit his third of the season, an 8th inning solo shot.

Monday April 18th Philadelphia: The Mets continued on their successful road trip, taking the first game of a three game set in Philadelphia. Noah Syndergaard earned his second win of the year (2-0) pitching seven innings while allowing just a run with eight more strike outs.

In this game Neil Walkers slugging continued as he blasted his fourth of the year, coming back to back after Lucas Duda's solo shot. The Mets hit three more HRs on the night, as David Wright hit his second of the year as well. Mets 5 Phillies 2.

Tuesday April 19th Philadelphia: This was a classic Mets blowout, as spot starter Logan Verrett completely shut down the Phillies in six innings & the bullpen Jim Henderson, Rafael Montero, Hansel Robles did the mop up. The Mets offense exploded for 12 hits 11 runs & six HRs.

In the 6th inning the Mets were ahead 5-0 after HRs from Michael Conforto & Yoenis Cespedes. With one out Neil Walker stepped up & hit his fifth HR of the short season making it 6-0 Mets. In the 7th Lucas Duda connected for his second of the year & Walker followed with another back to back performance. Walkers sixth of the year as the Mets rolled.

Saturday April 23rd: Atlanta The Mets continued rolling along as they would win seven of nine on this road trip setting a record for most HRs in franchise history in a weeks span. In this game, the Mets would support Steven Matz in his second win (2-1) but only hit two HRs, a minor feat considering the powerful weak they have had at the bat. Asdrubal Cabrerra would hit his first & yes that man again, Neil Walker connected for #7 on his season, a 9th inning shot off Ryan Weber. Cabrerra followed with another Mets back to back job.

Monday April 25th Citi Field: The Mets returned home after the successful early season road trip & hosted the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets got a 1st inning solo shot from Michael Conforto but the Reds came back. They then got a two run blast from Lucas Duda going ahead 3-1 but again the Reds came back. It was Neil Walker who blasted a two run 8th inning shot that was the game winner.

It was Walkers 8th HR of the season, his first as a Met in Citi Field & the most he has ever had in his career in a calendar month. It has been a pleasant performance so far early in the 2016 season for newcomer Neil Walker. His slugging start matches Dave Kingman & Carlos Delgado's big Aprils in Mets history. As of April 25th Walker was second in the NL in HRs (8)  had 12 RBIs & was batting .300.