Remembering Mets History: (1976) Seaver Opens Up the Bi-Centennial Year With A Win

April 9th 1976: In 1976 the National League was celebrating it's Centennial season & America was all wrapped up in the excitement of it's bicentennial.

At the end of March 1976, the New York Mets & Los Angeles Dodgers had worked out a potential deal that would have sent Mets star pitcher & franchise player, Tom Seaver to Los Angeles in exchange for their 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 had been traded to the Detroit  Tigers in one of the worst deals the club ever made. 

The Mets received veteran Tigers' pitcher Mickey Lolich, Once a great pitcher, the 35 tear old's best 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 Mets manager, was former AAA Tidewater skipper; Joe Frazier. Frazier had led the Tides to the International League Championship in 1975.

On Opening Day 1976, a crowd of 17,013 fans came to Shea Stadium, to see their Mets host Karl Kuehl's, Montreal Expos. Montreal Expo ace pitcher, Steve Rogers went up against Tom Seaver.

Starting Lineups

In the 1st inning, Tom Seaver started the year out by striking out Pepe Mangual & Larry Bitner,
both looking. He allowed a double to former Met, Mike Jorgensen, but then struck out Larry Parrish. 

In the 2nd inning, the Mets Del Unser tripled & scored on catcher Jerry Grote's single giving the Mets the early 1-0 lead.

In the Expo's 3rd, Pepe Mangual
doubled. Then former Met, Mike Jorgensen collected his second hit in as many at bats against Seaver, to drive in Mangual to tie it 1-1.

In the home 4th inning, Del Unser reached on a throwing error by third baseman, Larry Parrish. Unser then stole second. Jerry Grote then walked to put two on for Bud Harrelson. He came through with a double to left field brining in both Unser & Grote, as the Mets went on to a 3-1 lead.

Seaver would leave after seven innings of work, he struck out eight, allowing the one run on  five hits. 

Skip Lockwood came on in relief, serving up three straight singled, including an RBI hit from Parrish. It was now a 3-2 game. 

But Lockwood would shut the door in the 9th inning, striking out former Met Tim Foli, then getting Jose Morales to fly out. He ended the game striking out Pepe Mangual looking. 

Trivia: Lockwood collected the first of his 19 saves on the season. His 19 saves were second to the Reds, Rawly Eastwick (26) in saves for 1976.

Tom Seaver earned the win & would go 14-11 on the year He would strike out a league leading 235 strike outs & record 200 plus or more Ks for a record, ninth straight season. 

In 1976 he would come in third in the league in ERA (2.59) innings (271) & shut outs (5).
Sadly, it was his last full season in New York until 1983.

The Mets would finish in third place in 1976 going 86-76. It would be their last winning season for the next seven years.


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