Remembering Mets History (1973) An Unusual Double Play Tops Off Rusty Staub's Big Day


Saturday June 9th, 1973Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (34-23) were in town at Shea Stadium for a Saturday matinee in front of 47,800 fans.

The 1973 Dodgers won 95 games finishing second to the mighty Big Red Machine. The Dodgers held onto first place from June 17th to September 4th before going 13-10 the rest of the way & falling to second place. They would win the NL pennant in 1974.

Yogi Berra's Mets (23-27) were in fifth place at this point in the season that would eventually win them the Eastern Division & NL Pennant. 

Today the Mets sent Jon Matlack (2-8) to the mound to face Al Downing (5-2).

Trivia: Al Downing would serve up Hank Aaron's famous 715th career HR the following April, putting him first on the all-time HR list. Downing a Trenton, New Jersey native spent nine years (1961-1969) with the AL New York team as well. In his career he was 123-107 with a 3.22 ERA.

In the top of the 1st, the Dodgers Davey Lopes led off with a double & advanced to third on a Bill Buckner single to right. The speedy Lopes then scored on Willie Davis' grounder to second base.

In the Mets home 1st, Teddy Martinez led off with a base hit & advanced on a fielder's choice. Willie Mays then drew a walk putting runners on the corners for "Le Grande Orange" Rusty Staub. Staub blasted a double to left field that scored Mays & Martinez putting the Mets ahead 2-1.

In the top of the 3rd the pesky Lopes bunted for a base hit. He advanced when Jon Matlack committed an error on a pickoff attempt. Lopes then stole third base & scored on Bill Buckner's sac fly. It was a tied 2-2 game.

In the bottom of the 3rd, New York hero, Willie Mays excited the fans with his first HR of the year. It was the 655th HR of his career placing him third on the all-time list. Mays would hit six HRs that season & finish with 660 in his Hall of Fame Career. The run put the Mets ahead with what turned out to be the games winning run.

Strange Double Play: In the top of the 7th inning, a most unusual play occurred. Tom Paciorek led off with a double & Davey Lopes then singled putting runners on the corners. Lopes then made his move to steal second base, he gets caught in a run downplay, as first baseman John Milner takes the throw, he throws to short stop Jim Fregosi, who throws back to Milner who then throws to second baseman Felix Millan who tosses back to Milner who toss to Millan who eventually throws to right fielder Rusty Staub, now covering second, he takes the throw & tags out Lopes. Staub then fires to catcher Duffy Dyer nailing Paciorek who attempted to score on the play. Your usual 1-3-6-3-4-3-4-7-2 double play if you were keeping score!

In the 8th inning, Rusty Staub continued his big day, with Felix Millan aboard after collecting a base hit, Staub doubled to left bringing in Millan with the Mets fourth run in the 4-2 win.

Jon Matlack went the distance for New York going the nine innings, allowing two runs (one earned) struck out four & walked three while scattering seven hits.

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