Sep 30, 2018

Remembering Shea Stadium History: (1979) Pope John Paul II Visits Shea

October 3rd, 1979: In 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Shea Stadium as 60,000 showed up to pay tribute to the future Saint. The Mets had a horrible year that season & the Pope certainly drew more people & had a better outing.

According to heads groundkeeper Pete Flynn, he said it rained all day but when the Pope came out the skies stopped raining & the Heavens shined down on him. It was a great day in Shea Stadium history.

Quotes: John Paul II at Shea- "A city needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings.”

Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane / Starship Remembered

Martyn Jerel Buchwald, later to be known as Marty Balin, was born January 30th 1942 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His family eventually moved west to San Francisco, where he aspired to be a singer. Inspired by rock & roll of the Beatles & the British Invasion, combined with the folk of the Byrds & Simon & Garfunkel's success, he went into that direction.

Balin's drive would help him be one of the first key people to develop the "San Francisco sound" of the sixties. First, Balin convinced three other investors to go in with him, in transforming an old pizzeria into a night club on Filmore Street. 

This became the Matrix, a groundbreaking club which began to host bands, accompanied by light shows with local artists drawing up colorful posters to advertise the events. An incredible list of bands like the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Boz Scaggs & Country Joe & the Fish would all start out playing at the Matrix at some point.

In 1965 Balin met Paul Kantner & formed the Jefferson Airplane. They eventually recruited guitarist Jorma Kaukonen & female singer Signe Toly Anderson. 

They debuted at Balin's club & became the house band. Eventually Kaukonen recruited his old friend from Washington D.C. Jack Cassidy to play bass. Skip Spence was brought in to play drums & was eventually replaced by Spencer Dryden.

On the groups first album, "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" Balin would collaborate with Kanter for the majority of the original songs. It wasn't until later in 1966, when Anderson left the band to raise a family that Grace Slick from the band "The Great Society" another Matrix band, joined that the band broke through to success.

The Jefferson Airplane are one of the most important groups in rock & roll’s history. In 1967 they released their masterpiece album- "Surrealistic Pillow" with a sound defining the Summer of Love. 

A combination of rock, folk, blues & psychedelia with vocals from Balin & Slick, at times dueling each other. The accomplished musicians all brought a unique musical experience to the sound behind the singers, with long instrumental breaks added in.

The album featured two all time classics, sung by Slick, songs she brought in from her old band- Somebody to Love & White Rabbit. Both songs became top ten hits, giving the band international national fame. They became one of the sixties biggest groups, playing television shows, touring the country & Europe, making the cover of LIFE magazine while bringing their style of music to national attention. 

The group would either headline or co-headline most major music festivals of the sixties- The Monterey Pop Festival, Berkley Folk Festival, The 1968 Isle of Wight Festival, Altamont opening for the Rolling Stones & Woodstock. They also played the first show at Bill Grahams legendary, Filmore West.

On the "Surrealistic Pillow" album, Balin helped design the album cover, contributing more upbeat & heavier songs -"Plastic Fantastic Lover" & "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" opposed to his more usual mellower ballads.

According to Balin in the Jeffeson Airplane's Behind the Music, who ever was sleeping with Grace at the time, would have the most control in the band. Balin claimed he was the only one who never slept with her so he lost control.
On the  Airplane's third album, Bathing At Baxters, Balin was limited to just one song co-written by him & Kanter. By now the Airplane were one of the biggest bands in the world, as Kanter, Slick, Kaukonen & Cassidy had all come into their own as song writers , also limiting space on the record for Balin songs. The third album did not fair as well as Surrealistic Pillow.

By 1968, the band were living together in a huge house next to Golden Gate Park, known as "The Airplane House" or "the Mansion" at 2400 Fulton Street. The parties were legendary, there they recorded their next album "Crown Of Creation" where Balin would write or co-write four songs. The album reached #6 on the charts.

Trivia: In November 1968, the band was filmed playing live on a rooftop in New York City, eventually the NYPD came to break it up. Two months later the Beatles would do a similar thing with their legendary rooftop performance o used in the Let It Be movie.

One morning Balin was awoken by a Volunteers of America, charity garbage truck going down his street. It inspired him to pen the song "Volunteers", which would also be the title of the Airplane's fifth album.
"Volunteers" featured anti war lyrics & sparked controversies with some of its profound lyrics. Particularly the songs "We Can Be Together" which featured the line “up against the wall mother fu#@er”, as well as The song "Eskimo Blue Day" an ecological song that featured the repeated line “doesn’t mean shit to a tree”.
The album also featured guests Jerry Garcia, Steven Stills, David Crosby & Nicky Hopkins. It reached #13 on the billboard charts & is probably the group’s strongest effort after "Surrealistic Pillow".
The band would now be one of the main performers at Woodstock, although their performance was not their best. Coming on stage at daybreak after a day of partying to excess was not good. 

After this major event, the band would start breaking off in separate groups as Grace Slick & Paul Kanter collaborated musically to form the earliest version of what was to be the Jefferson Starship. By 1969 they began living together & had a daughter China Wing Kanter. 

Kaukanen & Cassidy put more time into their side project Hot Tuna. This left Balin out in the cold, on his own. 

At the Altamont concer a fan was killed by Hells Angels & three others died as well, as the sixties came to a horrible end, no more Woodstocks. At Altamont as Balin was trying to restore order, he was punched in the face by a Hells Angel.

 After the death of Janis Joplin, Balin restrained from drugs & alcohol putting him even further from his band mates. By 1971 he left the group.

Three years later Balin & Kanter wrote  the song "Caroline" together, this led Balin to join Kantner & Slick in their new group, the Jefferson Starship. 

Balin would help write & sing lead on four top twenty Starship hits "With Your Love " "Runaway" both reaching #12. A cover of "Count on Me" reaching #8 & Balins own "Miracles" reaching #3 on the charts.

By 1978 his relationship with the band & Slicks on going alchil problems led him to leave the Starship. He went on to a solo career, releasing the #8 hit "Hearts" in 1981 and another top 40 hit "Atlanta Lady".  In 1985 he Kantner & Cassidy formed the short lived KBC Band. In 1989 there was a minor Airplane reunion as well.

Balin would eventually rejoin Kantner in different line ups of the Jefferson Starship, until Katners death in 2016.

Family: Balin had been married three times & has two daughters, as well as two step daughters. He resided between San Francisco & St. Augustine Florida. He also enjoyed painting as a hobby his entire life.

In 2016 he was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, and needed open heart surgery. Balin was never the same, a lawsuit filed claimed neglect leaving him with a paralyzed vocal chord, loss of half his tongue & a thumb as well as kidney damage. He passed away on September 27th 2018 at age 76.

Quotes- Jorma Kaukonen: Marty’s passing reaffirms the power of love, the power of family, the power of possibilities." - "Marty and I were young together in a time that defined our lives. Had it not been for him, my life would have taken an alternate path I cannot imagine. He and Paul Kantner came together and like plutonium halves in a reactor started a chain reaction that still affects many of us today. Marty always reached for the stars and he took us along with him. ”

Jack Cassidy: “RIP Marty Balin, fellow bandmate and music traveler passed last night. A great songwriter and singer who loved life and music. We shared some wonderful times together. We will all miss you!!!!”

Sep 29, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2016) Mets 1.5 Games Up Atop Wild Card Race With Three Games Left In Regular Season

Wednesday September 28th 2016: After an emotional series in Miami where the Marlins (and Mets) paid tribute to Jose Fernandez who lost his life in a boating accident earlier this week, the Mets attended to business.

They took two of three from the Marlins, eliminating them from playoff contention as well. Seth Lugo earned his fifth straight win, Jeurys Familia earned his 50th save, the most ever by a Dominican pitcher, Jay Bruce is hitting HRs as well as driving in runs & most important  the Mets are atop the wild card position in the NL. With three games left to play & four days left in the regular season the Mets magic number is down to two for clinching the wild card spot.

In the 1st inning, the Marlins Martin Prado hit a two run HR off Seth Lugo, but it would be all the runs Mets pitching would allow on the night. Lugo went into the 6th inning but after giving up a base hit, Terry Collins yanked him.

The Mets relief corps. of Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas got to the Addison Reed 8th & Jeurys Familia 9th as the two combined for another hold & save. Familia shattering the Mets record for single season saves, now at 50.

In the top of the 2nd. TJ Rivera doubled & James Loney back in the line up, homered to right field, his 8th of the year. In the 4th, Lugo helped his own cause with a double & then came in on Jose Reyes double, making it 3-0.

In the 5th, the all of a sudden, hot hitting Jay Bruce hit his third HR in five games, his 32nd of the year capping off the 5-2 Mets win. Bruce is now just four runs shy of 100 RBIs.

Quotes: Jay Bruce- "If we win, we'll be fine, We can't worry about what everyone else is doing or anything like that. It's just, play baseball. And we've been doing a good job of it. Everybody's been doing their part."

This win came off a big win on Tuesday where Noah Syndergaard won his 14th games as the Mets scored 12 runs. HRs by Yoenis Cespedes & Jay Bruce led the way as Lucas Duda & Curtis Granderson as each drove in three runs as well.

The Cardinals & Giants both lost helping the Mets in the top wild card lead.

Sep 28, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2007) John Maine's One Hitter & A Brawl With the Marlins

Saturday September 29th 2007:  The reigning NL Eastern Champion Mets were in the midst of one of the worse collapses in history. On September 12th New York had a commanding seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. But these Mets fell apart, losing 11 o15 games, plus a streak of five losses in a row. As the Phillies stayed hot, the Mets fell a game behind in the standings. On this Saturday Willie Randolph's Mets (88-73) hosted Fredi Gonzales fifth place Marlins (70-91). John Maine took the mound against Chris Seddon.

Starting Lineups

Today Maine would step up as he did in last years post season & have one of his best games ever. As the Mets were facing elimination & down in the dumps Johhny Maine showed heart.

Although he walked Dan Uggla in the 1st inning, he quietly kept retiring the side & posting strike outs. In the 2nd inning he recorded two strike outs, in the 3rd he struck out the side. He would add a pair of strike outs in each of the next three innings as well. By the middle innings it was noticed Maine had a no hitter going.

The Mets had an offensive explosion this day, taking an early lead on RBI singles from Moises Alou & Carlos Delgado in the 1st inning. In the 2nd, Lasting Milledge singled & was sacrificed to second by Maine. Luis Castillo scored him on a base hit. David Wright walked, Carlos Beltran & Moises Alou added RBI singles to make it 5-0 Mets.

Lastings Milledge then hit HRs in his next two at bats, as usual he show boated & admired his blasts rounding the bases. This along with the no hit bid & the 9-0 lead didn't sit well with the Marlins. Florida pitcher, Harvey Garcia threw a pitch behind Castillo's legs. Both benches cleared & the bullpens emptied. Mets pitching coach Tom Peterson was having words with Marlin catcher Miquel Olivo but was pulled away by David Wright.

Jose Reyes was on third base & antagonized the Marlin catcher, bantering him. After Castillo walked, Olivo charged down the line at Reyes, the two were friends & Reyes thought he was originally kidding. A fight broke out, Mets third base coach Sandy Alomar served as a buffer as did Miquel Cabrera.

Quotes: Jose Reyes: He's kind of crazy sometimes,  I said, 'Let's go. Let's fight.' I can't say no. I'm not scared. We're both men."

Said Olivo: "He told me, 'Let's you and me fight. Let's go.' I don't know why. I'm on the mound waiting for the pitcher and he's talking (smack) over there....We are good friends. Today, I don't know what happened with him. We played winter ball in the Dominican all the time. I don't know. Today he might have gotten too excited."

The Shea Faithful who had been all over Reyes for his lax play & .215 batting average in September cheered him today with the 'Jose Jo-se Jo-se" chants.

As the game resumed, Wright added an RBI hit, Ramon Castro hit a HR & David Newhan drove in another as the Mets went on to an 13-0 win.

Maine held the Marlins hitless until the 8th inning. With two outs, Paul Hoover who had come in to replace Olivo when he was ejected for the fight singled softly on weak grounder to third base. The no hitter was gone, the Met fans gave Maine a standing ovation as Willie Randolph took him out of the game & brought in Willie Collazo to get the third out of the 8th inning.

Maine went 8.1 innings with no runs, one hit, a career high 14 strike outs & two walks earning his 15th win of the year (15-10). This was the 32nd one hitter thrown in Mets history.

The Mets were tied for first place but lost the next day eliminating them from the post season.

Sep 25, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1967): Jerry Buchek Has Back to Back Walk Off Hits & A Six RBI Night

Friday September 22nd, 1967: Salty Parkers tenth place Mets (58-95) hosted Grady Hatton's ninth place Houston Astros (64-90) for a double header, in front of 13,342 at Shea Stadium. 

On this night a forgotten Mets short stop, in a time before Bud Harrelson took over the spot, Jerry Buchek, had the biggest night of his career & followed up with a walk off hit.

Starting Lineups

Tug McGraw was the Mets starter on this night up, against Houston's Wade Blasingame.

In the home 1st, Amos Otis walked & Eddie Kranepool singled. Bob Johnson followed with an RBI single, making it 1-0. Buchek ended the inning grounding out into a double play.

In the 8th inning, with the Mets down 4-2, Bob Johnson & Tommy Davis both singled. Jerry Buchek followed with a three run HR putting the Mets ahead 5-4. It was Buchek's 12th HR of the year.

In the top of the 9th Mets pitcher Jack Fisher gave up the lead when the Astros' Don Adlesh singled home Rusty Staub with the tying run.

The game went to extra innings. In the home 10th Bob Johnson doubled & Cleon Jones walked. Jerry Buchek stepped in against the Astro's Tom Dukes. Amazingly Buchek, hit his second three run HR of the night. A walk off game winner HR# thirteen on the year.

Buchek's six RBIs were the most in a game for a Met player that season & one of the highest totals in their short history. It was an exciting night for the young Mets.

Saturday, September 23rd 1967: Tonight the exciting Mets Rookie, Tom Seaver (15-12) was on the mound for Salty Parkers New York Mets (59-95) taking on Graddy Hatton's Houston Astros & pitcher Dave Guisti.

A small crowd of 11,021 fans were on hand at Shea Stadium.

The Mets 1967 Rookie of the Year, Tom Seaver went out & pitched a three hit shut out masterpiece. Seaver struck out nine batters along the way & walked three.  The Houston pitchers; Dave Guisti & reliever; Dave Eilers matched Seaver with zero's, shutting out the Mets as well for eight innings.

In the bottom of the 9th, Larry Sherry came in to pitch for Houston. The Mets Bob Johnson led off with a double & Ed Kranepool was walked. Ron Swoboda then reached on an infield single to load the bases. That set the stage for Jerry Buchek. Buchek delivered with a game winning single, his second walk off hit in two nights.

Jerry Buchek played two seasons for the Mets, he was the clubs main short stop in 1967. That year he played in 124 games, coming in second on the club in HRs with 14, while driving in 41 runs batting .236 & striking out 101 times.