At the end of March 1976, the New York Mets & Los Angeles Dodgers had worked out a deal that would have sent Mets star pitcher & franchise player Tom Seaver to Los Angeles in exchange for star pitcher Don Sutton.
When the word leaked out, there was public outrage in New York & the deal was immediately squashed. The Mets soon agreed to give Seaver a three year deal worth $225,000 annually.
By 1976 the popular Rusty Staub & manager Yogi Berra were both gone. Staub was traded to the Detroit Tigers in one of the worst deals the club ever made. The Mets received veteran Tigers' pitcher Mickey Lolich, who's days were way behind him. Outfielder Billy Baldwin also came along in the deal, but he never quite made it at the big league level.
The new manager of the Mets, was former AAA Tidewater skipper; Joe Frazier.
On Opening day1976 a crowd of 17,013 fans came to Shea to see their Mets host Karl Kuehl's Montreal Expos. Expo ace Steve Rogers was going up against Tom Seaver.
|Montreal Expos||New York Mets|
|1||Pepe Mangual||CF||1||Wayne Garrett||3B|
|2||Larry Biittner||LF||2||Felix Millan||2B|
|3||Mike Jorgensen||1B||3||Ed Kranepool||1B|
|4||Larry Parrish||3B||4||Dave Kingman||RF|
|5||Barry Foote||C||5||John Milner||LF|
|6||Gary Carter||RF||6||Del Unser||CF|
|7||Pete Mackanin||2B||7||Jerry Grote||C|
|8||Tim Foli||SS||8||Bud Harrelson||SS|
|9||Steve Rogers||P||9||Tom Seaver||P|
In the 1st inning, Tom Seaver allowed a double but then struck out the three other batters. In the 2nd inning, the Mets Del Unser tripled & was brought in by catcher Jerry Grote's single making it 1-0 Mets.
In the Expo's 3rd, Pepe Mangual doubled & former Met; Mike Jorgensen brought him home with a base hit, to tie it 1-1.
In the home 4th, Del Unser reached on an error & then stole second. Jerry Grote then walked. Bud Harrelson doubled to left field brining in both runners as the Mets went on to a 3-1 lead.
The Expos would score a run in the 8th inning with three consecutive singles off Mets reliever Skip Lockwood. Lockwood would shut the door in the 9th inning, recording the save, Tom Seaver got the win.
Seaver would go on to have a14-11 year, striking out a record 200 plus batters for the ninth straight season. It was to be his last full season in New York.
Seaver would lead the league in strike outs (235) for the fifth time & for the second straight year.
It was to be his last strike out crown. In 1976 he would come in third in the league in ERA (2.59) innings (271) & shut outs (5).
The Mets would finish in third place in 1976 going 86-76. It would be their last winning season for the next seven years.