Jun 27, 2018

Player That Holds Mets Record of Consecutive HR Games: Richard Hidalgo (2004)

Richard Jose Hidalgo was born on June 28, 1975 in Venezuela. The big six foot three, Hildago was signed by the Houston Astros in 1991.

He was considered an all around fast player until a knee issue hurt his speed.

He was a fine outfielder with a strong throwing arm and good power at the plate. After three years he reached the AA level & then hit 14 HRs two straight years at AA Jackson. In 1997 he began the year at AAA New Orleans hitting 11 HRs batting .279 before getting called up.

He played parts of two seasons batting over .300 both times. His first full season was 1999 and he hit 15 HRs with 25 doubles 56 RBIs but only hit for a .227 average. After the season he had knee surgery & it helped his troubles at the plate. In 2000 he had a huge year as did many other bats in baseball during the so called "steroid era".

Hidalgo bashed 44 HRs (4th in the league) 122 RBIs (7th in the league) hit 42 doubles while batting .314 for the fourth place Astros. He struck out over 100 times for the second time and would do so four of the next five seasons.

He never matched those totals again, but had a good year the next season with 19 HRs driving in 80 runs while batting .275. In 2002 he fell to a .235 average with 15 HRs playing in 114 games, missing time with an injury. Defensively he was a good outfielder leading the league in fielding percentage twice, once in left field (1999) & once in right field (2002).

In 2003 he led the league with 22 outfield assists & only made four errors, posting a .987 fielding percentage. He played in three post season series in Houston but only hit .118 (2-17) scoring a run in six games played. In June of 2004 Hidalgo came to the Mets for David Weathers & Jeremy Griffiths to add some power to the lineup.

He made his Mets debut on Mike Piazza Night, when Piazza was honored after setting the most HRs by a catcher record. Hidalgo went 0-4, that night in the Mets 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Two nights later he hit a two run HR off Jeremy Bonderman in the Mets 6-1 win over the Tigers. A week later he hit two HRs in the second game of an interleague subway series double header, both solo shots off Mike Mussina. Then in July he secured himself a spot in Mets history by hitting HRs in five straight games from July 1st to July 5th.

The first came in Cincinnati; he had two hits with a HR off Reds pitcher Mike Mathews. The next three HRs came at Shea Stadium during the July 4th weekend interleague subway series, where the Mets swept their cross town rivals. On Friday evening, Hildago had three hits, including a two run HR (another off Mike Mussina). On Saturday he hit a solo shot in the 6th inning off Jose Contreras bringing the Mets within a run, in a game they went on to win. Hidalgo topped off the weekend by hitting another HR on Sunday off Felix Heredia.

Hildago’s day was overshadowed by Ty Wiggington, who hit two HRs that day, including an 8th inning, game winner. On Monday July 5th Hidalgo wasted no time setting the record, in the first inning he homered off the Phillies Paul Abbott in Philadelphia, to set the club record of five straight games with a HR.

Later in July he had back to HR games where he drove in three runs in each contest in games at Shea against the Marlins & Expos. Later that week he had a multiple HR game (2) against the Expos at Olympic Stadium in a zany 19-10 Mets loss.

In August he hit five HRs & drove in 14 runs with seven multi hit games. On September 13th he blasted a three run HR in the home 7th inning, giving the Mets a 9-5 lead over the Atlanta Braves, in a game they won 9-7. Three days later he hit another HR, his last as a Met in the four game series finally against the Braves.

Hidalgo went on to hit 21 HRs for the Mets in just 86 games played, driving in 52 runs with 11 doubles & one triple. He only batted .221 posting a .301 on base % & struck out 76 times in 324 at bats.

In the outfield his strong arm got him ten assists with the Mets, and his 14 overall assists, were the most in the NL all season. He only made six errors in 286 chances posting a .979 fielding %.

He was not resigned for 2005 and he went to the Texas Rangers hitting 16 HRs with just 43 RBIs batting .221 on the season. In 2006 he signed with the Baltimore Orioles but requested out of his contract, going to play in Japan instead. He also needed time to take care of his wife who had become ill. He signed a minor league deal with Houston in 2007 but didn’t want to play in the minors and retired for good that season.

In his 9 year career he hit .269 with 929 hits, 171 HRs, 214 doubles, 19 triples, 531 runs scored, 560 RBIs & a .345 on base %. He had 81 outfield assists & posted a .987 fielding percentage.

Jun 24, 2018

Remembering The Polo Grounds & New York Giants: (1907) An Angry Mob Wants To "Kill the Ump" At the Polo Grounds

May 21,1907: It was a classic match up for the day, the NY Giants star Christy Mathewson would go against Chicago Cubs ace, Three Finger Brown at the Polo Grounds.

The Giants had a one game lead over the Cubs for 1st place in the National League. These were the Cubs of Tinkers to Evers to Chance, World Champions & the last Cub team to win a World Series (1908). They were bitter rivals of the NY Giants.

The game turned out to be quite a pitchers duel. Giants catcher Roger Bresnahan, (who just last month became the first catcher to ever wear shin guards) would make two errors that would cost his team the game. The Giants 3-2 loss was Christy Mathewsons first of the year, but more importantly it put Chicago in a 1st place tie.

The crowd back in those days were very unruly. This is still back in a time where baseball was just becoming a gentlemans game, there was alot of drinking & fighting still going on.

The umpires of the game Hank O'Day and Bob Emslie had made a controversial call on the errors. They get mobbed by the Polo Grounds crowd and require police protection for their safety.

The NY crowd is egged on more by Giants manager John McGraw, who himself, will be thrown out of the game and seven others in 1907.

The next day AL ump Billy Evans needed a police escort after McGraws old pal Hughie Jennings incites a riot. Jennings who was the Detroit Tiger manager will be suspended for his actions.

Jun 21, 2018

New York Giants Hall Of Fame Pitcher: "The Meal Ticket" Carl Hubbell (1928-1943)

Carl Owen Hubbell was born June 22, 1903 in Carthage, Missouri. The six foot left hander became known as King Carl & The Meal Ticket.

As a young boy he would throw stones against his barn door, he got so good he was able to hit them on a hole the size of a dime. In his career Hubbell’ s best pitch was a screwball, he threw it so often it left his arm twisted and had his palm facing outward after his baseball career.

Hubbell attended high school at Meeker Oklahoma & was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers. He was first sent to minor league Toronto & then to Decatur Georgia as well as the Texas League. After two years of frustrations, he was released by Detroit, because player manager Ty Cobb feared the screw ball would hurt his arm.

In 1926 the New York Giants signed him, manager John McGraw said "after all Christy Mathewson threw a screw ball pitch called the fade away." Hubbell went 10-6 in his 1929 rookie year, with a 2.83 ERA. On May 8th, he threw a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first by a left hander in over a decade.

He then won 17 games or more over the next four seasons, coming in second place for the ERA title three times. By 1933 he established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. He would win twenty or more games for five straight years, leading the league in wins three of those times. He would lead the league in ERA three times & winning percentage twice. In that time he threw over 300 innings each year, leading the league one time in that category as well as in complete games, strike outs & shut outs all one time.

He won his first MVP Award in 1933, going 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA & ten shut outs, pitching in 308 innings, all the best numbers in the league. He led his Giants to a pennant & a World Series win over the Washington Nationals.

Post Season: In the 1933 World Series he opened up Game #1 & threw a complete game five hit victory over Washington at the Polo Grounds. The Senators scored two un earned runs as Hubbell struck out ten batters. In Game #4 at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C., he went ten innings and allowed just one unearned run, leading the Giants to their third victory of the Series. They would win the Worlds championship in five games.

Hubbell followed with two more twenty win seasons, but the Giants finished second in 1934 & third in 1935. In 1934 he led the league in ERA (2.30) complete games (25) & saves (8). His 23 wins (23-12) in 1935 were second best in the league, but he also allowed a league leading 27 HRs.

In the 1934 All Star Game, played at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell accomplished one of his most remembered feats. He struck out five consecutive batters headed to the Hall of Fame; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Then after allowing a single he struck out Left Gomez to make it six Hall of Famers going down on strikes in two innings. Overall he played in nine All Star games throughout his career.

In 1936 he had another incredible year & won his second MVP Award. During a stretch from July 1936 which lasted to the end of May 1937, he won a record 24 straight games. Hubbell pitched 46 1/3 scoreless in that time. By mid July he was 10-6, when the streak began.

On July 17th he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0 & then two days later he came in relief earning another win over the Reds in Cincinnati. On the next home stand he earned four wins; beating the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds & Pirates. In August not only did he go 6-0 but also earned himself a pair of saves in relief. All of his wins were complete games & on August 12th he tossed a two hit shutout over the Dodgers in Brooklyn. In September he went 6-0 once again, allowing just one run, pitching complete games three times that month.

He finished the year at 26-6, leading the league in wins, winning percentage (.813%) & ERA (2.31). He struck out 123 batters & walked 57 in 304 innings in 42 games (34 starts) leading the Giants to another pennant.

Post Season: In the 1936 subway series he won Game #1 at the Polo Grounds, allowing just one run in nine innings, striking out eight in the Giants 6-1 win. He returned in Game #4 buy took the loss across the Harlem River to Monte Pearson. Hubbell allowed three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings. The Giants lost the series in six games.

The Meal Ticket returned in 1937 and was receiving a lot of attention. In the second game of the season he shut out the Brooklyn Dodgers on a three hitter. At home in the Polo Grounds he won his next three starts, two of them complete games. It was on the road from there & he won in St. Louis, Pittsburgh & Cincinnati bringing the streak to 24 straight regular season wins.

On May 31st, 1937 at New York's 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 safety. An incredible 60,000 had already jammed into the Polo Grounds and the surrounding hills, to watch Carl (The Meal Ticket) Hubbell continue his win streak.

But it was on this day that he took his 1st 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.

In June after earning a save, he went on a personal four game losing streak. He rebounded with a July that had him throw four complete game victories. He finished the year at 22-7, leading the league in wins (22) win percentage (.733) & strike outs (159).

Post Season: The Giants went on to win another pennant that season & Hubbell made his final World Series appearance. In Game #1 he gave up four runs & was knocked out of the game in the 6th inning, taking the loss to Lefty Gomez.

He came back in Game #4 to salvage the only game of the Series for the Giants. He pitched a two run, six hit complete game in a 5-3 win. In six World Series starts in his career, he was 4-2 with 32 strikeouts in 50 innings and a 1.79 ERA. At the plate he even had four hits in 19 at bats.

Hubbell went on to win double figures in the next five seasons for the Giants but the glory days were behind him. The Giants suffered a series of bad seasons, finishing a best third twice in those years. His last year pitching was 1943, Hubbell was 4-4 with a 4.91 ERA at age 40 & he was released.

Lifetime he was 253-154 (44th all time in wins) with 1677 strike outs (127th all time) 227 walks & a 2.98 ERA (165th all time) in 3590 innings pitched (62nd all time). He threw 260 complete games (69th all time) & 36 shut outs (63rd all time) in 433 starts (89th all time).

He was so respected by his peers, he was elected to the Hall of Fame four years after he retired, before the five year rule. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the class of 1947. He was also a good hitter, batting a career .191 with 4 HRs 30 doubles & 101 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days, Giants owner Horace Stoneman, put him in charge of player development. He held that position for 35 years through the 1979 season. After that he became a scout through the next decade until the time of his death.

Honors: He was the first player in the NL to have his number retired (#11) and he was the last New York Giants player to still be involved in baseball.

Passing: In 1988 Hubbell passed away after complications following a series automobile accident. It was thiry years to the day that his team mate Mel Ott died of the same cause. He is interred in Meeker Oklahoma.

Jun 16, 2018

Head of The MLB Players Union & Early 2000's Mets First Baseman: Tony Clark (2003)

Anthony Christopher Clark was born on June 15, 1972 in Newton, Kansas. The tall six foot eight Clark was a star basketball player in high school at El Cajon, California.

He broke a San Diego high school area record for points in a season & a career, averaging 43.7 points per game. The switch hitting first baseman was also a star baseball player getting drafted in the first round (second pick overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 1990. By 1994 he was belting 23 HRs with 99 RBIs at AAA Toledo. Clark then hit 14 more in 1995 and although he was hitting for power he was striking out quite often.

That season he got a September call up to the Tigers hitting his first career HR in Toronto a week after his debut. Clark would play the next six seasons in Detroit as the teams main first baseman, becoming known as “Tony the Tiger”. He had three 30 plus HR seasons, and drove in 99 runs or better three times as well.

In his rookie year he was third in the A.L. Rookie of the year voting with 27 HRs & 72 RBIs batting .250. The next season he hit 32 HR, the first of three straight thirty plus HR seasons. That year he drove in 117 runs (6th in the AL). In 1998 he batted .291 with 34 HRs 37 doubles & 103 RBIs. The big power hitter also struck out over 100 times four straight seasons, five times overall in his career.
In 4532 career at bats he struck out 1209 times lifetime (145th all time).

Clark made his only All Star appearance in 2001 when he batted .287 with 16 HRs & 75 RBIs. It was his last season with the Tigers before getting placed on waivers. Clark then spent one year in Boston, hitting just three HRs in 90 games there. He was then signed by the New York Mets as a free agent for the 2003 season.

The 2003 Mets had Jason Phillips penciled in as the teams main first baseman, but Clark managed to get into 80 games at the position & 125 games overall due to his power. In his first Mets game he hit a two run HR at Shea Stadium against the Montreal Expos. On April 18th he hit an 8th inning HR off Florida’s Vladimir Nunez which broke a 3-3 tie & turned out to be the game winner. Clark also had a few big singles during the 2003 season, hitting a game winning base hit against the Philadelphia Phillies Terry Adams on May 21st.

Then on July 1st, his base hit against Montreal's Julio Manon scored Joe McEwing with another game winning walk off single. By the All Star break Clark had ten HR but was batting just .216.

At the start of August in a five game stretch he hit five HRs with nine RBIs while going on a hit streak that lasted seven of nine games. On August 5th he had one of his biggest days as a Met in a game at Shea Stadium against the Cardinals. He hit two HRs & had two run double driving in five runs in the Mets 13-5 victory. He hit six HRs in the month but then struggled in September without hitting any long balls.

Phillips finished second on the club in HRs with 16, hitting 13 doubles while driving in 43 runs & batting .232. He posted a .472 slugging % but only a .300 on base % striking out 73 times. He was let go to free agency at the end of the season, as the Mets planned on using Mike Piazza at first base the next season.

He played in 80 games at first base for New York that season posting a .992 fielding % just four errors.

Phillips went to the A.L. New York club putting up almost identical numbers 16 HRs & 49 RBIs but only batted .221. He got some playing time at first base when Jason Giambi went down with injuries.

That year he got into his first post season series, batting .143 in the ALCS. Phillips moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three seasons, having a big 2005. He hit 30 HRs with 22 doubles 106 hits & 87 RBIs while batting a career high .304 playing in 130 games. His .997 fielding % was third best in the NL.

In 2007 he got into another post season series that year, going 0-6 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. He then hit .222 against Colorado in the NLCS Rockies sweep.

In 2008 he began the year at San Diego but was traded back to Arizona finishing his 15 year career in 2009. In 15 seasons he hit .262 with 1188 hits with 251 HRs (201st all time) 233 doubles, 11 triples a .339 on base % & 824 RBIs.

Retirement: After getting released in August 2009 he became an analyst with the MLB Network. Clark had been a MLB Player rep. when he was with the Boston Red Sox in 2002 & Diamond Backs in 2006. He then became a director of player services, acting as union chief Micahel Wieners' liaison to its members.  

In December of 2013  after the death of Michael Weiner, Clark was unanimously voted as the first former player to become head of the ML Players Union. Most players were ecstatic to have a former player in that position.

The Mets Curtis Granderson said: "The idea of him being a player, you never forget that as part of his resume, but that's not all he is. "For some reason people have coupled him to that category, but he is by far more than that and will continue to be more than that. That's just a chapter in his background. This is a new chapter and there will be many new chapters."

Clark describes this era of post steroid baseball as “The rights that currently exist in the collective bargaining agreement afford all those involved the opportunity to maximize your earning potential, on both sides of the equation. That system has worked well.”

Jun 2, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1969) Ed Kranepool Hits Two HRs In Tom Seaver's Two Hitter

Tuesday, June 3rd 1969: Tonight was a milestone in Mets history, it was the latest point in the season in club history that the team was above .500.

The Amazing Mets were tied for second place, with the Pittsburgh Pirates,  8 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs. Tonight, Gil Hodges Mets (24-23) hosted Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (28-20) just 1 1/2 games out of first.

On the mound was the 1969 Cy Young winner; Tom Seaver against L.A.'s Alan Foster.

Starting Lineups

In the 1st inning, The Dodgers Willie Crawford was thrown out at second base trying to stretch Tommie Agee's error in centerfield into a two base error. The next batter, Willie Davis then singled to left field. That was to be the only hit Tom Seaver was to allow until the 7th inning.

That hit was a two run HR to Andy Kosco. Seaver would pitch eight innings, give up two runs & allow just two hits. Along the way he struck out nine Dodgers & walked two. The win got him to 8-3 with a 2.51 ERA. Tug McGraw pitched the 9th & earned his second save of the year.

In the bottom of the 5th inning, Ed Kranepool led off with a solo HR making it 1-0. In the 6th inning, Wayne Garrett singled & scored when Cleon Jones tripled to left field. At the time Jones was batting .358 amongst the best in the league.

The hot hitting Ed Kranepool followed with his second HR of the night. Kranepool would have two multi HR games on the year, hitting 11 HRs in 353 at bats in 1969.

Wayne Garrett finished off the Mets scoring by stealing home in the 8th inning. Of course Ed Kranepool was at bat when he did that.

The win was the Mets fourth in a row. The next night they would beat the Dodgers 1-0 in a 15 inning contest in front of 31, 331 at Shea Stadium. Mets starter Jack DiLauro pitched nine scoreless innings in his first career start. The walk off hit was provided by Wayne Garrett who singled home Tommie Agee. Agee had scored all the way from first base, hustling after Willie Davis made an error in centerfield. The Mets went on to win six straight during this streak.