Aug 24, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2003) Steve Trachsel Tosses His Second One Hitter

Monday August 18th, 2003: In an afternoon matinee at Shea, Art Howe's fifth place Mets (54-69) hosted Clint Hurdle's fourth place Colorado Rockies (61-66). A crowd of 23,865 came to Shea & witnessed Steve Trachsel throw his second one hitter of the season, the 26th one hitter in Mets team history.

Starting Lineups

Trachsel took a no hitter into the 6th inning, after getting the first two outs, the no hit bid was spoiled when Rockies pitcher; Chin-hui Tsao doubled to centerfield. The crowd gasped as the tension had been mounting, Trachsel shrugged it off & went about his buisness.

He retired the next nine batters until Greg Norton reached on an error in the 9th inning. Trachsel did not walk anyone in the game & struck out three, earning his 12th win of the year to go to 12-7 with a 4.20 ERA.

The Mets supported him with eight runs, starting out with a Mike Piazza two run HR in the 1st inning. In the 3rd, Jason Phillips added a two run blast making it 4-0.

In the Mets 6th, three straight two singles made it 5-0, as Joe McEwing, Trachsel & Roger Cedeno all got hits. Jose Reyes walked to load them up, Mike Piazza reached on a fielders choice making it 7-0. Then Cliff Floyd drove in the 8th run with a base hit to left field.

Trachsel would lead the Mets in wins that year going 16-10, one game better than Al Leiter at 15-10.

Aug 19, 2018

Former Mets Pitcher: Ray Burris (1979-1980)

Bertram Ray Burris was born August 22, 1950 in Idabel, Oklahoma. It's safe to say, he is the only former Met to have the real first name of Bertram. The tall six foot five, right hander went to South Western Oklahoma State University and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 1972 draft.

Burris was brought up to the big leagues the next season by a Cub staff in need of a pitcher. On April 18th in his second career game, he got a start at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets. Burris pitched five innings allowed just four hits & no runs, earning his first career victory. It would be his only start & win of the season. He went 1-1in 31 games posting a 2.92 ERA.

After two seasons as a reliever, he was put into the Cub rotation in 1975. He would be a regular on the Cubs staff for the next four seasons, winning 15 games twice (1975 & 1976) leading the team in victories & innings pitched both years.

In 1975 he was 15-10 but struck out the least amount of batters among Cub starters (108) & actually gave up more earned runs (109) than strike outs. That season he posted a 4.12 ERA & allowed 238 hits.

The next year he lost 13 games (15-13) but posted a better ERA (3.11) . In those season he was in the league's top ten in starts, hits & Hrs allowed both years. Although he had some stretches of being a top pitcher, he was always plagued by the long ball, serving up twenty plus HRs four times.

In 1977 he gave up a league leading 29 HRs while going 14-16 for a Cubs team that finished fourth for a second straight year. In 1978 he fell to a 7-13 record posting a 4.75 ERA and going back to the bullpen. In mid 1979 he was traded to the AL New York team for Dick Tidrow but pitched just 15 games there going 1-3. He was placed on waivers & got picked up by the New York Mets in late August.

He came to a bad 1979 Mets team and was thrown in the rotation right away. Burris made his Mets debut on August 24th pitching seven innings of two hit shutout ball against the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately he earned no decision as the Mets were shut out 1-0.

He took losses to the Atlanta Braves & Montreal Expos in his next two games. He went 0-2 in four appearances the rest of that year. Burris was an all around good athlete and a good base runner who was sometimes used as a pinch runner.

In 1980 he began the year at 2-0 & then On May 2nd he went eight innings allowing only two hits with one run to the San Diego Padres but took a loss. He soon found himself at 4-6 but was pitching well enough to have a 3.29 ERA. He pitched a complete game against the Philadelphia Phillies in June allowing only one run getting no decision.

After missing all of July, Burris had a good stretch in mid August going 3-1 and beyond the 7th inning each time. He allowed less than two runs three times in five games. He finished up with a 7-13 record, 83 strike outs 54 walks, 20 HRs allowed & a 4.02 ERA in 170 innings in 29 games. He led the Mets staff in games started (29) innings pitched (171) losses (13) and HRs allowed (29).

After the season he was a free agent and signed with the Montreal Expos. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he was 9-7 tied for second on the staff in wins behind Steve Rodgers. That year the Expos made their only post season appearance.

Post Season: Burris lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game #3 of the NLDS, allowing four runs in 5.1 innings pitched. In the NLCS against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, he was the winning pitcher in Game #2 throwing a five hit shut out.

He struggled mightily in 1982 going 4-14 (fourth most losses in the NL) & was traded to the Oakland A's. In Oakland he made a great come back, winning 13 games, going 13-10 with a 3.15 ERA (9th best in the AL). ver the next three years he pitched in Milwaukee (1985 & 1987) as well as with the St. Louis Cardinals (1986).

He finished up his 15 year career going 108-134 lifetime with a 4.17 ERA. He struck out 1067 batters, walked 764, allowed 221 HRs (161 all time) 1015 earned runs (222nd all time) in 2188 innings pitched in 480 games.

Retirement: Burris became a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers organization after his playing days. He is known to have a serious phobia of bees.

Aug 10, 2018

Former Bronx Born Italian / American Player: Rocky Colavito (1955-1968)

Rocco Domenico Colavito was born August 10, 1933 in the Bronx, New York.

He grew up idolizing Joe DiMaggio watching him from the Upper Deck of that stadium in the Bronx, and waiting by the players entrance for an autograph.
Colavito got noticed on the sandlots of Crotona Park, playing baseball with his older brothers.

His brothers wouldn’t allow him to go him to dinner until he threw the ball far enough to go over the fence. He practiced, strengthening his arm until he was able to fire the ball across the playground over the fence. His arm became legendary; once throwing a ball over 420 feet.

He attended Theodore Roosevelt High School on Fordham Rd. near the "Little Italy"- Arthur Avenue section in the Bronx. He tried out with the A.L. New York team &they didn’t offer him much, but the Cleveland Indians did. Colavito signed with the Indians in 1954.

As the Tribe was getting swept by the New York Giants in the '54 World Series, Rocky was tearing up the minors. He hit 38 HRs with 116 RBIs at AAA Indianapolis. He hit 30 more HRs the next year & made a brief debut in five games that September. 

In 1956 he was tearing up the Pacific Coast League batting .368 with 12 HRs in just 35 games when he was brought up to the majors for good.

In his rookie year he hit 21 HRs with 65 RBIs batting .276. From 1958 on, he would hit 40 plus HRs three times, with seven 30 plus HRs seasons. Colavito would hit twenty plus HRs eleven straight times in a 14 year career. 

The Rock drove in over 100 runs six different times, leading the league in 1965 (108). He led the league in slugging percentage in 1958 (.620) coming in second in HRs (41) RBIs (113) & third in the MVP Voting. 

The next season in 1959 he became the first Indian to have two straight 40 HR seasons, coming within one HR of the club record. That year he finished fourth in the MVP voting, tying Harmon Killebrew for the AL HR title with 42 HRs while driving in 111 runs (second in the AL). Colavito led the league in extra base hits for the second year in a row (66) as well as total bases (301).

He batted .257, hit 24 doubles, scored 90 runs (tenth in the AL) & drew eight intentional walks (third most in the AL). 

All Star: That season he also made the first of nine All Star appearances. ( From 1959-1962 two All Star Games were played, Colavito played in three of those years.)

Trivia: On June 10, 1959 he smashed four consecutive HRs in a game against the Orioles at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

In April of 1960 Cleveland fans were broken hearted as their beloved Colavito was traded to Detroit, in a blockbuster deal. The Indians received 1959 batting champ Harvey Kuenn in exchange. Kuenn had also led the league in doubles in 1959 & was an eight time All Star in his own right. But the Indian fans were outraged that their most popular player had been dealt away.

Indians GM Frank Lane, commented "What's all the fuss about? All I did was trade hamburger for steak." Detroit Tigers GM Bill DeWitt jokingly responded that he liked hamburger. Kuenn got injured and was traded away by the end of the season.

Colavito moved over to leftfield in Detroit due to the fact Hall of Famer Al Kaline was in right. He went on to hit 35 HRs that year, (4th in the AL) coming in the top ten in the league in RBIs (87) slugging (.474%) and extra base hits (54).

The next year in 1961 had possibly his overall best season. He hit 45 HRs (5th in the league) driving in 140 runs (3rd in the league) batting .290 with 129 runs scored (2nd in the AL) 113 walks (3d in the AL), 77 extra base hits (2nd in the AL) 30 doubles (7th in the AL) playing in all 163 games. 

He also led all outfielders with 16 assists posting a .975 fielding percentage. He made the All Star team & finished 8th in the MVP voting on a fourth place Tiger team (85-76).

Although he was one of the league's best players, he was never as popular in Detroit as he had been in Cleveland. In 1962 he held out for more money than the popular Kaline received,& the fans criticized him even more.

Trivia: You can’t take the Bronx out of a kid, even if he is in Detroit. The Rock once jumped into the stands to attack a drunken heckler who was making fun of his wife & father.

At the end of 1963 he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics for one season, hitting 34 HRs with 102 RBIs. In the 1965 Gabe Paul was running the Indians and he did what he had to do to get the still popular Colavito back in Cleveland.

It was a harsh decision that meant trading away a young promising outfielder named Tommie Agee who would win the Rookie of the Year Award & a pitcher Tommy John who would go on pitch into the 1980's in a three team deal.

In 1965, he returned to Cleveland & although the team finished fifth, Rocky had a great year. He became the first outfielder in AL history to complete a season with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

That year he played in all 162 games, and made nine outfield assists. At the plate he led the AL in RBIs (108) & walks (93) while coming the top five in HRs (26) hits (170 a career high) & runs (92). He made the All Star team again & came in fifth in the MVP voting.

In 1966 he hit 30 HRs for the last time, at age 33 he began to tail off & was no longer in his prime. He only was batting .241 in July 1967 & when he got traded to the White Sox. He finished the year there 

Then in 1968 played in Los Angeles with the Dodgers (40 games) & then came back in his hometown with the A.L. New York team.

There he made his MLB debut as a pitcher becoming the last position player to get credit for a win until 2000. On August 25th he pitched the 4th through the 6th innings in the Bronx against his old Tigers team mates. He allowed just one hit & no runs earning the win in the first game of a double header. That year the AL New York tam finished fifth & Rocky retired at the end of the season.

Career Stats: In 14 seasons, he batted .266 with 1730 hits hitting 374 HRs (78th all time), 283 doubles, 1159 RBIs (181st all time) 971 runs scored 951 walks (142nd all time) & a .359 on base %. He has a .489 slugging % (151st all time) with 3177 total bases & 60 sac flies.

As an outfielder, he recorded 3323 putouts, 123 assists, 26 double plays, and committed 70 errors in 3516 total chances for a .980 fielding percentage.

Honors: He was once voted the Indians most memorable personality and is a member of the team's Hall Of Fame. He was honored in a ceremony at Jacobs Field with other legendary Indians players honoring their history.

 A book titled the Curse of Rocky Colavito came out in the 1980’s explaining how the trade to get rid of him then reacquired him cursed the Tribe. Even after they won two pennants in the 1990’s they lost the World Series both times with one in the 9th inning.

Aug 8, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1969): Tommie Agee Hits Longest Mets HR at Shea Stadium

Thursday April 10th 1969: In just the third game of the 1969 season, there were already positive vibes around the New York Mets. In town were a brand new ball club, the first team to come from outside of the United States, The Montreal Expos led by manager Gene Mauch.

After Oh Canada was sung for the third time at an MLB game, the National Anthem was sung & we were ready for baseball. The two teams had split the first two games of the series & this Thursday matinee was the rubber game. A Shea crowd of 8,608 were on hand to witness a Shea milestone.

The Mets sent rookie Gary Gentry to the mound, another of the fine young arms the Mets kept plucking out of their minor leagues to face former Cardinal veteran; Larry Jaster.

Starting Lineups

In the bottom of the 1st, the Mets produced four straight two out singles; Ken Boswell, Cleon Jones, Ed Charles & Ron Swoboda all got base hits putting the Mets up 2-0. In the 2nd, Montreal's John Bateman answered with a solo HR making it 2-1.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Mets Tommie Agee stepped in against Jaster. He was 5-8 in his career against Jaster with four HRs. In his prior history at Shea Stadium Jaster was 4-1 & had taken a no hitter in the 8th inning in 1968.

But on this day his nemesis, Tommie Agee did something no one had ever done before or after in the 44 year history of Shea Stadium, he blasted a HR into the left field upper deck.

It was a tremendous shot, that has never been matched in the old large ballpark once known as Shea Stadium. There is no film clip or highlight reel to commemorate the moment. The only people who saw it were the ones at Shea that day.

Eventually in 1994 a marker was put in place at the approximate spot where the ball hit on that day. Most likely no one was sitting up there on that day in 1969, since a small crowd of just 8000 were in attendance. So no one really knows the exact spot it landed.

That day in 1969 Agee complimented his Manager Gil Hodges for believing in him after a bad 1968 season: "This meant a lot to me. Not a lot of managers would have had enough faith to go with me after the year I had."

The third base umpire; Stan Landes said the ball was above the foul pole when he called it a HR. The foul pole at Shea Stadium in left field was over 100 feet high. The ball eventually bounced off the upper deck seats & landed in left field where Expo Mack Jones tossed it to a fan. The fan reportedly returned it to Agee.

Cleon Jones, Mets left fielder & childhood friend to Agee said that day:  "that ball was hit 599 feet, only God can hit them 600 feet".

The on deck batter was Rod Gaspar: "I've never seen a ball hit like that, just incredible."

Bud Harrelson remembered: "It wasn't coming down when it hit those seats - it was just a line drive that kept on going,"

Ron Swoboda remembered: "Agee's homer would have hit the bus in the parking lot if it hadn't hit the seats, it just seemed to hang up there so long."

Mets second baseman Ken Boswell remembered: "You knew he hit it good, but to land up there, man, nobody's ever hit it up there. Tommie was so strong, this was before weights and steroids and all those things, just a real strong guy. He just turned his hands and went - he was such a good athlete and a real good friend."

Expos pitcher Larry Jaster was a good sport & even admired the shot: "It was a low fastball, kind of in, and he hit it almost like a golf ball. A lot of times, you don't watch 'em. That one I had to watch because I knew it was hit pretty good."

Agee added another HR in the 7th inning, also off of Jaster, this one not as far. It was quite a day for the Mets & Mr. Agee as they went on to a 4-2 victory. It was also the first win in Gary Gentry's career.

from centerfield: Tommie Agee still is remembered as one of the most popular players in Mets history.

I remember going to one of my earliest games around 1970 or 1971 & Agee blasted a HR off the huge scoreboard in right center field. It's one of my earliest Mets memories. I wish I had more details so I could find that box score!