Jul 28, 2018

Former New York Giants Pitcher (1925-1936) Coach (1949-1955): Freddie Fitzsimmons

Frederick Landis Fitzsimmons was born on July 28, 1901 in Mishawaka, Indiana. The right hander was known as a tough competitor, and famous for his knuckle curve ball. Although he wasn’t a strike out pitcher was one of the games better pitchers for the next two decades.

He came to the Giants staff in 1925 pitching in ten games going 6-3. The following year he was 14-10 (10th most wins in the NL) with a 2.88 ERA (6TH in the league). In 1927 Carl Hubbell arrived on the Giants staff & the two made an awesome lefty righty combo on the Giants staff. Fitzsimmons won 17 games going 17-10 paving the way for his best season in 1928. That year he went 20-9 (5th in the NL in wins) second on the staff to Larry Benton, with a 6.90 win % (4th in the NL) posting a 3.68 ERA, pitching 261 innings.

In 1930 Fitsimmons led the league in winning % (.731%) going 19-7 (third in the NL in wins) with a 4.25 ERA. That year Hubbel & Bill Walker both had 17 wins. Fitzsimmons would win 17 or more games five times, posting double figures in wins twelve different times. In his nineteen year career he posted winning record fourteen times & had one .500 season. He twice led the league in shut outs, & one time each in starts, shut outs & earned runs.

In 1934 he led the league in put outs for the fourth time setting the major league mark which was eventually broken by Cleveland’s Bob Lemon in 1954. He pitched for the Giants thirteen seasons, before being traded to the cross town rival Brooklyn Dodgers for Tom Baker in 1937. Pitching in Brooklyn firey team mate Leo Durocher said, “"I wish we had nine guys like Fitz. We'd never lose."

In 1939 he broke Burleigh Grimes record of 74 double plays on the mound. Warren Spahn would break this record in 1964. He pitched there for seven seasons; having a fantastic 1940 where he was 16-2 with a 2.81 four shut outs, eleven complete games & a league leading .889 win %. In his time pitching in the NL he was the third most winningest pitcher in the league behind only Burleigh Grimes & Paul Derringer.

Defensively he led the league in put outs four times, fielding % three times & assists once time.

Post Season: Fitzsimmons got to three World Series winning his first one in 1933 while being on the losing end the other two times. In the 1933 Series he took the Giants only loss in Game #4 to the Washington Senators.

In the 1936 Series he took two more losses going 0-2 in that Fall Classic, allowing seven runs in thirteen innings pitched. In the 1941 Series with Brooklyn, he pitched seven scoreless innings matching zeros with Marius Russo but earned no decision in his only series appearance. In 1943 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies where he was named the teams manager right away, ending his playing days.

In his nineteen year career he was 217-146 (80th most wins all time) with a .598 win % (125th all time) 3.54 ERA pitching in 3223 innings (98th all time) with 30 shut outs (130th all time), 186 complete games (161st all time)& 13 saves over 513 games, with 425 starts (95th all time). His 237 put outs are 47th all time, his 940 assists are 30th all time & his .977 fielding % is 33rd all time.

Retirement: He managed the Phils through 1945, going 105-181 (.367%). In 1943 & 1944 he served as a Genral Manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers football team in the All America Football Conference. In 1948 he coached the Boston Braves, returning to the New York Giants as a coach from 1949-1955.

He won two pennants & a World Series with the Giants serving as former team mate Leo Durocher’s pitching coach in that time. After his time as the Giants coach he went to the Chicago Cubs & Kansas City Athletics.

Fitzsimmons passed away at age 78 of a heart attack in Yucca Valley, California. Fitzsimmons was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Jul 20, 2018

Former Mets First Round Draft Pick: Preston Wilson (1998)

Preston James Richard Wilson was born on July 19, 1974 in Bamberg, South Carolina. Preston Wilson is the stepson & nephew of former Mets player & current coach, Mookie Wilson. Mookie married his brother’s ex-wife who is the mother of Preston. Preston went to the same high school as Mookie and was a star outfielder there as well. He was drafted by the New York Mets as a first round pick (9th pick overall) in 1992.

He spent five seasons in the minors hitting over 20 HRs four different times. He was voted one of the top 100 prospects by Baseball America four separate times as well. Preston also spent one season playing in the Australian baseball league. He was an aggressive hitter known to swing at the first pitch & strike out often.

He was brought up in May of 1998 as a highly touted prospect. In his first two games he got three hits apiece and drove in two runs against the St. Louis Cardinals. He went hitless on a West Coast road trip and while still in California, he learned he was being traded. He was sent to the Florida Marlins with two minor leaguers, for All Star Mike Piazza. Wilson spent the rest of the season back in the minor leagues hitting 26 HRs batting .273.

In 1999 he was the starting centerfielder in Florida playing in his first full season, hitting 26 HRs with 21 doubles 11 steals & 71 RBIs with a .280 batting average. He came in runner up for the Rookie of the Year Award. In 2000 he joined the 30-30 club, with 31 HRs & 36 stolen bases, driving in 121 runs (8th best in the league). The free swinging Wilson, also led the NL in strikeouts with a whopping 187, two shy of Bobby Bonds record (189) at that time.

His numbers fell off the next two seasons although he did hit over twenty HRs & stole twenty plus bases each year. In November 2002 he was traded to the Colorado Rockies with Charles Johnson for Mike Hampton & Juan Pierre. Preston enjoyed hitting in Colorado and bashed 36 HRs with 43 doubles, while leading the NL in RBIs (141) in 2003.

He never had the same numbers again, and went to the Washington Nationals (2005), the Houston Astros (2006) & St. Louis Cardinals (2006) before getting released in 2007. He finished his career after ten seasons with 1055 hits 189 HRs 221 doubles 668 RBIs 124 stolen bases & a .264 average with 1085 strikeouts in 4003 at bats. He struck out over 100 times seven out of ten seasons he played.

In 2009 he played in the Independent league for the Long Island Ducks under former Met, Gary Carter.

Jul 11, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1986) Mets Finish Sweep of Braves With a Blow Out & a Shut Out

July 11th- July 13th 1986 Weekend Series:
Friday July 11th: Davey Johnson's the first place Mets (58-25) hosted Bobby Cox's Atlanta Braves (42-44) ipening up a three game series, in front of 39,924 fans at Shea Stadium.

Starting Lineups

Saturday July 12th: So on Saturday 30,899 fans came to Shea for game two of the weekend series. Davey Johnson sent Rick Aguilera to the mound against Atlanta's Rick Mahler. Again the Mets fans would see another Mets blow out.

Lenny Dykstra led the way with four hits, as Gary Carter & Darryl Strawberry both had three hit days. It was Rick Aguilera earning the win, pitching seven innings as Roger McDowell & Jesse Orosco closed it out.
In the 3rd, Aguilera & Dykstra singled, both came home on Keith Hernandez's triple. Hernandez would also score on an error on the play. Carter then singled & Straw brought him in to make it 4-0.

Mookie Wilson would steal a base & then score on two Braves errors in the 5th inning. 

In the home 7th, Mookie would drive in two runs with a base hit & then score with Strawberry on Ray Knight's single. Knight came in after Dykstra singled as well making it 10-1.

Sunday July 13th: The Mets completed the three game sweep during this five game win streak, as Ron Darling pitched a complete game shut out, striking out seven Braves, while scattering nine hits.
The Mets would get just two runs off Atlanta veteran Doyle Alexander, the first run came in the 1st inning, after Len Dykstra tripled & scored on Wally Backmans ground out.

Later in the 6th inning, Dykstra hit a solo HR to complete the Mets scoring, in the 2-0 win.

Jul 4, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Steven Matz & Logan Verrett Toss Three Hitter In L.A.

Sunday July 5th 2015: Terry Collins second place Mets (42-41) were 4 1/2 games out of first place & barely over .500. They came to L.A. to face Don Mattingly's first place Dodgers (46-37).

Mets young pitcher Steven Matz was already 2-0 & the latest buzz in baseball, as yet another fine young Mets pitcher came up from their organization. Matz would go against Mike Bolsinger in front of 40,027 in Dodger Stadium.

Starting Lineups

Today would be another easy win for the young Steven Matz, as the Mets provided him with eight runs of offense. But Matz certainly earned the win, he would pitch six innings, as the Mets protected him early on, shutting out the Dodgers allowing just two hits, walking two & striking out eight. The win was his third (3-0) and he now lowered his ERA to 1.32. Logan Verrett closed it out with three shut out innings on just one hit & another three strike outs.

In the 1st inning, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy & Wilmer Flores all singled. Flores made it -0 with his first RBI of the day.

In the top of the 4th, the Mets sent nine men to the plate collecting five hits. Steven Matz grounded out to second but that allowed Johnny Monell to score.

Curtis Granderson's double brought in Ruben Tejada & the Wilmer Flores gor his second RBI on the day with his second hit, an infield single.

In the 7th, Tejada got himself an RBI single & Juan Lagares added a two run triple. to make it 7-0.

In the 8th, Daniel Murphy singled, Lucas Duda grounded out to second but an error on the fielders choice got him to second base. Wilmer Flores completed his three hit, three RBI day with a double down the left field line. The Mets had an easy 8-0 win, took two of three in L.A. & took two of three in San Francisco next for a successful West Coast trip.

Jul 2, 2018

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Donn Clendenon's Hot July Start

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

The Mets acquired Donn Clendenon on the 1969 June trade deadline. The team was lacking the run producing, slugger Clendenon was. He was slowly put into the line up, as a pinch runner, pinch hitter & then in the platoon with Ed Kranepool at first base. He would score runs in his first two games but overall have just four hits in his first 22 Met at bats. 

On June 29th 1969 he drove in three runs & totaled four RBIs in his first two weeks. Then at the start of July, he went on a six game tear from July 1st to July 6th. 

Clendenon would collect ten hits, driving in ten runs, with three runs scored, a HR & three extra base hits. The Mets won four of six in that stretch, with two more wins dating back to his three RBI game on June 29th.

July 1st 1969:  The Mets dropped a twin bill in St. Louis to the Cardinals. It was in that second game Clendenon began his hitting tear for the week. He collected two hits with a pair of RBIs. In the July 2nd 6-4 win highlighted by Wayne Garrett's four RBI game, Clendenon drove in a run with two more hits.

Thursday July 3rd 1969- The Mets came off that double header loss taking the previous nights game, on this day they evened the series & left St. Louis going 2-2. The Mets sent Gary Gentry to the hill to face veteran Mud Cat Grant.

Gentry would go the distance, nine innings allowing one run on just five hits, he struck out five & walked two to earn his 8th win (8-6). Mud Grant had a tougher time with the Mets line up taking the loss.

Starting Lineups

Tommie Agee led off the game for New York with a HR. In the 4th, Cleon Jones who was batting .355 atop the NL, singled. Art Shamsky followed with a double & then Grant walked Wayne Garrett to load the bases. The man with the hot bat, the newest Met, Donn Clendenon singled to left field brining on two runs, making it 3-0.

Grant walked three more & threw a wild pitch in the inning, getting relieved after it was 5-0 Mets.

In the 5th Jones & Clendenon singled, Jerry Grote & Al Weis followed with base hits driving in both runners making it 7-0. Ken Boswell added an RBI double in the 8th, topping off the Mets 8-1 win.

Friday July 4th 1969: The Mets (43-34) now ten games over .500 moved on to Pittsburgh for an Independence Day game with the Pirates (38-41) at Forbes Field, in its final season. The leagues top Pitcher, Tom Seaver went on the mound for the Mets against Bob Veale.

Starting Lineups

In the Mets 2nd, Rod Gaspar reached on an error & advanced to second, he came all the way home on Jerry Grote's base hit. In the 3rd, Bobby Pfeil doubled to left field, Cleon Jones then drove him in with another base hit.

In the 4th, the Pirates got two runs off Seaver, including Willie Stargell's 11th HR of the season. Stargell would hit 29 HRs & drive in 92 runs in 1969.

In the 5th, Pfeil walked & Cleon Jones doubled putting two men on for the hot hitting Clendenon. Clendenon doubled to right field, driving in both runners making it 5-2. Al Weis brought in Clendenon with a double of his own.

In the 8th, Tommie Agee hit his second HR on as many days, his 12th of the year. Jerry Grote added an RBI single bringing in Rod Gaspar with the Mets eighth run. In the 9th the Mets sent eight men to the plate, collecting three more runs & six more hits in the inning. All this with two outs.

It began when Jerry Grote walked, Al Weis singled, pitcher Cal Koonce who had relieved Seaver in the 8th, then drove in a run with a base hit. Tommie Agee & Bobby Pfiel followed with RBI base hits of their own to make it 11-4 Mets.

The win gave Tom Seaver his league leading 13th of the year (13-3), he had now won seven straight & was already the Mets all time leading pitcher in wins with 45, just ahead of Al Jackson. In this game he went 7.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, three walks & seven Ks, his season ERA was at 2.62.

Sunday July 6th 1969: Gil Hodges Mets  were now a solid ten games over .500 as they closed out the series at Forbes Field. Neither of todays starters, Jim McAndrew for the Mets & Luke Walker for Pittsburgh would fare too well.

In the top of the 1st,Bobby Pfeil would single for the Mets. The hot hitting Donn Clendenon then doubled to right field scoring Pfeil with the Mets first run.

In the bottom of the frame, McAndrew walked two Pirates & gave up an RBI hit to Roberto Clememte & then a three run HR to catcher Jerry May. Clemente would have a two RBI base hit the next inning, making it 6-1 Pirates. 

The Mets collected two runs in the 4th with RBI singles from Jerry Grote & Ron Swoboda. In the 5th inning, the Glider, Ed Charles hit a HR to narrow the Pirate lead to 6-4. 

The Mets bullpen of Danny Frisella, Ron Taylor & Cal Koonce kept the Pirates scoreless, the rest of the way. The Mets struck back in the top of the 6th. Singles by Al Weis & Ron Swoboda put two men for Cleon Jones. Jones, who was batting .354 singled bringing in Weis with his team leading 51st RBI of the season. 

Next up, the hot Donn Clendenon hit a three run HR, to put New York in front 8-6. Clendenon's HR was just his 5th on the year, his forst since joining the Mets. He now had 29 RBIs on the season with 11 in the past week & 15 runs driven in since joining the Mets.