Jan 31, 2019

Early Seventies Mets Outfielder Traded Away With Nolan Ryan: Leroy Stanton (1970-1971)

Leroy Bobby Stanton was born on April 10, 1946 in Latta, South Carolina. The six foot outfielder was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1965.

Stanton spent two years serving in military service during Vietnam. He then spent five seasons in the Mets farm system where he earned a reputation as a speedy outfielder.

He hit ten triples each season at the A ball & AA ball levels. In 1970 he had a huge year at AAA Tidewater batting .303 with 19 HRs, while leading the club with 94 RBIs &15 stolen bases.

That September he got a call up & made his MLB debut in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. He went hitless that day & got five pinch hit opportunities on the season (1-5). He got his first career hit in his last appearance of the 1970 season, in a 6-3 win against the Chicago Cubs, also at Shea Stadium.

In 1971 he hit .324 with 23 HRs & 101 RBIs at Tidewater, showing a lot of promise to be a future outfielder for the Mets in the seventies.

He got another September cup of coffee, enjoying his best day on September 23rd, going 2-4, starting in right field against the Chicago Cubs, at Wrigley Field. In the 5th inning he doubled off veteran; Juan Pizzaro driving in Tim Foli & pitcher Nolan Ryan. He helped Ryan to a 5-4 win, the last victory in his Mets career. It was also Ryan's tenth victory of the 1970 season.

Overall Stanton went 5-25 with a double & a triple in nine games as a New York Met over two seasons. Stanton appears on the Topps 1972 Mets Rookies card with pitchers Jon Matlack & Buzz Capra.

In the 1971 off season, the Mets traded Stanton along with Don Rose & Frank Estrada in the Nolan Ryan deal for Jim Fregosi.

Looking back at this time period in Mets history, the Mets had outfielders Ken Singleton & Amos Otis along with Stanton, who all went on to All Star careers. All were traded away in bad deals.

These players along with Cleon Jones & Rusty Staub (acquired in 1972) could have made up a very crowded, but talented outfield for a powerful Mets line up through the seventies.

Stanton went on to play four seasons behind Nolan Ryan as an outfielder for the California Angels. In 1972 he became a regular outfielder right away, playing in 127 games batting .251 with 12 HRs & 39 RBIs.

In 1973 he tied a club record by hitting three HRs in a game against that years A.L. East Champion Baltimore Orioles. His average fell to .235 with 8 HRs 34 RBIs & a poor .300 on base %. Stanton never turned out as good as Otis or Singleton, but did play nine seasons in the majors. He struck out ofter, with three seasons over 100 K's.

In 1975 he stole 18 bases for the Angels batting .261 and recording over twenty doubles for the second straight season. In right field his .983 fielding % was third best in the A.L. in 1972. He led the AL in assists (16) in 1975 but also committed ten errors (third most in the AL).

In 1976 he was drafted away by the Seattle Mariners in that year's expansion draft. In the Mariners inaugural season he had his best year, leading the club with 27 HRs, & tying Danny Meyer with 90 RBIs while batting .275. 

The next year his average plummeted to just .198 & he ended up finishing his MLB playing career.

In a nine year MLB career he hit .244 with 628 hits 77 HRs, 114 doubles, 13 triples, 36 stolen bases, a .311 on base % & 358 RB Is.

In the outfield he posted a .972 fielding percentage, with 49 assists playing in 829 games. In 1979 he played one season in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers.

Retirement: After baseball he purchased his first truck to pursue a love for truck driving. He was owner / operator of Stanton Trucking, for twenty years retiring in 2015.

Passing: In March of 2019 Stanton, was killed in a car accident in South Carolina, getting ejected from his pick up truck, while not wearing a seat belt. He was 72 years old.

One of the Players Dealt Away With Nolan Ryan : Don Rose (1971)

Donald Gary Rose was born on March 19, 1947 in West Covina, California. The six foot three right hander attended Stanford University & was selected in the 11th round of the 1968 draft by the New York Mets. 

In 1969 as the Amazing Mets were winning the World Series, Rose was showing promise as a future candidate for the Mets staff going 13-6 in A ball. In 1971 Rose went 11-10 at AAA Tidewater, on a staff with Jon Matlack (11 wins), Jim Bibby (15 wins) & Buzz Capra (13 wins).

Rose got a September call up & made his only Mets appearance on September 15, 1971 at Shea Stadium. He pitched two scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs, allowing one hit & striking out the opposing pitcher Burt Hooton. Two months later, on December 10th he was involved in one of the biggest trades in Mets history. 

Rose was a minor part of the deal & New York certainly got the worst end of the deal. Don Rose along with Leroy Stanton & Francisco Estrada all were part of the package that sent Nolan Ryan to the California Angels for Jim Fregosi.

In Anaheim, Rose was now less than 30 miles from his hometown of Covina. He made three relief appearances in May before getting his first career start in Oakland on May 24th. He had a career day that day while making history as well. 

In the third inning he got his first career at bat, & became the 9th player in MLB history to hit a HR on the first pitch of his very first career at bat. Although he allowed five runs he still earned the win as the A’s scored six runs behind him. He wouldn’t be as lucky the rest of the way, he appeared in 16 games but lost every other decision going 1-4 on the season with a 4.22 ERA.

He spent the next year in the minors then got traded to the San Francisco Giants for Ed Figueroa. He only appeared in two game with the Giants ending his brief three season playing career in 1974, going 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA lifetime.

Early Seventies Mets Catcher Traded Away in the Nolan Ryan Deal: Frank Estrada (1970)

Francisco Estrada Soto was born February 12, 1948 in Mexico. The catcher known as "Paquin" was one of the players dealt away in the Nolan Ryan trade. 

Estrada only played in one career game with the New York Mets; On September 14, 1971 he replaced Jerry Grote at catcher, in the 6th inning of a 12-1 Montreal Expos blow out of the Mets, at Shea Stadium. The next inning Estrada singled off the Expo’s Bill Stoneman, in his first career at bat. His second and last Mets at bat, was grounding out for the final out of the game. 

On December 10, 1971 he was involved in one of the worst trades in Mets history. Estrada along with Don Rose, Leroy Stanton & future Hall of Famer; Nolan Ryan were traded to the California Angels for former All Star; Jim Fregosi.
Estrada, never made it back to the big leagues, but did set a record. He holds the minor league record for games caught behind the plate with 2,847. He also spent twenty six summers in the Mexican League, (1966- 1970 / 1974-1994). During the winters, he played 1,538 games at winter ball, spanning thirty seasons from 1964 to 1994. 

He was also a successful player/ manager winning three titles, and managing Mexico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He is a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jan 26, 2019

Former A.L. Rookie of the Year & One Time New York Met: Angel Berroa (2009)

Angel Maria Berroa was born January 27, 1978 in Santa Domingo. The shortstop was originally signed by the Oaklnad A’s and got traded to the Kansas City Royals in a three team deal that included Johnny Damon & Roberto Hernandez. He had two September cups of coffee in his first two seasons, getting a hit in his first MLB game in 2001.

In 2002 he played in the Futures Game & Pacific Coast All Star Games. By 2003 he was given the job as the Kansas City Royals everyday shortstop replacing Neifi Perez, starting out by making 19 errors in the first two months and was batting under .200 in the ninth spot. Manager Tony Pena moved him to the leadoff spot and Berroa turned his season around.

He won the Rookie of the Year Award in one of the closest races for the Award in years. He ended up with a .287 batting average, hitting 17 HRs with 28 doubles 21 stolen bases 13 sac hits (2nd in the AL) & 73 RBIs. He led the league in errors at short (24) put outs (264) & was second in assists (473).

He became the fourth Royal to win the ROY Award joining the likes of Lou Pinella (1969) Bob Hamelin (1994) & Carlos Beltran (1999). In 2003 Berroa helped the Royals to one of their best seasons in years as they went 83-79 finishing third, after making a good summer playoff run.

In 2004 he hit a HR with two hits & drove in three runs helping the Royals beat the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, in an interleague game. Berroa dropped to .264 that year & never matched his rookie numbers again. In four more seasons in Kansas City he hit a best .270 with 11 HRs 55 RBIs in 2005. 

He struck out often, over 100 times twice, didn’t hit much and hardly ever drew a walk. His walk ratio was the worst in baseball. By 2007 he lost his job and was shipped to the minors where he spent most of the year.

He started 2008 at AAA then got traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Juan Rivera. He hit .230 there and was released at the end of the season. He was signed by the AL New York club in 2009 but was released after 21 games batting just .136.

The New York Mets signed him as a free agent when Jose Reyes, Alex Cora and anyone else who could play short stop got hurt in 2009. Berroa played in 14 games for the ’09 Mets going only 4-27 (.148 batting average) with two RBIs. 

Both runs came at Citi Field at the end of July against the Colorado Rockies in two Met wins. He made two errors & turned four double plays in eight games at the short stop position. He was designated for assignment by August 7th.

The Dodgers signed him to a minor league contract for 2010 but was released in March & then he was signed by the San Francisco Giants. That season he batted .205 in just 26 games at AAA Fresno in the Pacific Coast League. In July 2011 he signed with the Arizona D-backs, playing briefly in their AAA Reno team.

He completed his career with stints in both the Mexican League (2015) & the Independent New Jersey Jackals in 2012.

In his career he posted a .965 fielding % at shortstop playing 706 games there as well as 17 games at second base.

In a nine year career he hit .258 with 665 hits 118 doubles 21 trriples 46 HRs 254 RBIs 50 steals & a .303 on base % with 329 runs scored.

Family: He is the son in law of former Kansas City Royal player (1978) Luis Silverio, who played in just eight games at the MLB level but has spent over 30 years in their organization.

Jan 24, 2019

Late 2000's Mets Relief Pitcher: Elmer Dessens (2009-2010)

Elmer (Jusaino) Dessens was born on January 13th 1971 in Hermosillo Sonora Mexico. The five foot eleven right handed pitcher was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993.

Three seasons later, Dessens was pitching in the big leagues, spending three seasons seeing brief action in the Pirates bullpen. Hewould become a journey man pitcher first as a starter in Cincinnati with the Reds (2000-2002). In 2000 he was 11-5 with a 4.28 ERA then going 10-14 the next year pitching in 205 innings.

In 2002 he posted a 3.03 ERA which was 6th best in the NL. He would move on to the Arizona Diamondbacks (2003-2004) and eventually become a middle reliever. 

He pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-2006) Kansas City Royals (2006) Milwaukee Brewers (2007) Colorado Rockies (2007) & Atlanta Braves (2008) before signing a minor league contract with the New York Mets in 2009. 

He began the year at AAA Buffalo and was 3-2 with 11 saves posting a 2.31 ERA with the Bison's before getting called to the Mets staff in June. Dessens debuted at Citi Field pitching two innings of a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He next appeared in the subway series where he allowed three runs in his first of two game appearances. He pitched in 28 games for the Mets earning no decisions posting a 3.31 ERA with 14 strike outs in 32 innings pitched. In 2009 he was the team captain for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, going 1-0.

In 2010 he was 5-0 with six saves at AAA Buffalo getting to the Mets staff at the end of May. In his first game he allowed two runs to the AL New York team taking a loss in the subway series game at Citi Field. 

On June 8th he was credited with his first Mets win when Ike Davis hit an 11th inning walk off HR. He would earn another win in Florida at the end of the month, and another in Houston a month later. Dessens pitched well getting credit for 11 holds, posting a 2.30 ERA while going 4-2 with just one blown save in 53 appearances.

He was nicknamed by a sportswriter as "Unknown" because he will work in any pitching capacity the Mets put him in & yet he always flies under the radar. 

He was granted free agency in the winter and wasn't signed. He ended his big league career at 52-64 with 5 saves a 4.44 ERA 693 strike outs & 348 walks in 441 appearances.

Jan 23, 2019

Former Mets Manager With Second Highest Winning % In Team History: Willie Randolph (2005-2008)

Willie Larry Randolph was born on July 6, 1954 in Holly Hill, South Carolina.

Randolph grew up in Brooklyn New York, and at age 15 was a fan of the 1969 Amazing New York Mets. He claims his favorite player was another second baseman; Ken Boswell from that ’69 Mets team. Willie would later wear the uniform #12 in honor of Boswell when he was a New York Met.

Randolph attended Samuel Tilden high school in East Flatbush, Brooklyn & was a star baseball player there. In 1972 at the age of 18, he was drafted by the reigning World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round. He rose through the minor leagues reaching AAA by 1975, batting .339 for the Charleston Charlies.

He was called up to the Pirates in late July 1975 and got a hit in his first career game. In just the third game of his young career Willie & the Pirates hosted his favorite childhood team the New York Mets. Willie got a hit in his second at bat off pitcher George Stone.

On the season he would play in 30 games for the N.L. Eastern Champion Pirates, batting just .164. He got two at bats in the NLCS scoring a run against the Big Red Machine. In the off season he was traded along with Doc Ellis & Ken Brett to the A.L. New York team for George "Doc" Medich.

Randolph would play second base for the next thirteen seasons with the A.L. New York club, winning two World Series, & making five All Star teams. He would bat in the second position in the order, being a patient hitter & fine bunter.

He would bat over .280 just four times (twice over .290) but scored 85 or more runs seven times, hit 20 or more doubles eight different seasons, stole thirty or more bases four times & hit double figures in triples twice. 

He would be in the league's top ten in walks eight times, drawing 80 or more walks seven times. He was also in the top ten in on base % six times in his career.

He played a solid second base, with good range, leading the league in put outs &assists one time each. He led the league in errors three different times & was in the top five percent in fielding three times.

1980 may have been Randolph's best season in New York, as he led the league in walks (119) and was second in on base percentage (.427), eighth in stolen bases (30) and ninth in runs (99), winning the Silver Slugger award at second base. He also batted .332 leading off innings, and hit .340 with men in scoring position.

Post Season: In the 1976 ALCS he was 2-17 (.118) driving in a run against Doug Bird in the Kansas City Royals 7-4 win to tie the series. In the World Series he was 1-15 as the Big Red Machine swept the AL New York team to win their second straight World Series.

In the 1977 ALCS against the Royals he had five hits, driving in two runs. In the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers he only had four hits (.160 average) but three of them were extra base hits.

In game #1 he hit a HR off Don Sutton helping his team to a 4-3 win. He did not play in the 1978 post season due to injuries but hit well over .300 in both the 1980 & 1981 ALCS series’.

After the 1988 season he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, batting .282 as their main second baseman. The next season he was traded to Oakland for Stan Javier, there he played in 93 games hitting .257.

In 1991 he signed a one year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers & had maybe his best year at the plate ever at the age of 37. He batted .327 (third best in the AL) posting a career high .427 on base % with 141 hits 14 doubles & 75 walks, while batting .373 with runners in scoring position (54 RBIs). In 1992 he signed a one year deal to play out his final season in New York with the Mets.

He was the 1992 Opening Day second baseman, batting in the second spot for Jeff Torborg’s team that would finish in 5th place. Willie would go hitless in his first two games then hit safely in four straight, including a three hit day on April 11th against the Montreal Expos.

On May 19th he would have one of his last big days at the plate, getting three hits with an RBI double. In June he put together a five game hit streak & had five multi hit games in the month.

 On June 22nd he hit his last career HR, it came at Shea Stadium against the Cubs. Willie would be shut down by the middle of August, but returned to play his final game on the last day of the season.

On that day Jeff Kent who was acquired from Toronto when Randolph went down moved over to short so Randolph could finish his career at second base. That day he went 0-3 but drew a walk in his last plate appearance.

In his 18 year career he batted .276 with 2210 hits (172nd all time) 1243 walks (50th all time) 316 doubles 65 triples 54 HRs 271 stolen bases & 687 RBIs with a .373 on base %.

He played 2152 games at second base (7th all time) with 4859 put outs (9th all time) 6336 assists (10th all time) 254 errors (54th all time) posting a .980 fielding %. One of his best abilities was turning double plays, he turned 1547 (3rd most all time).

Manager: After his playing days he was a coach for eleven seasons with the A.L. New York club & interviewed for manager jobs never landing one. Then in 2005 he was named the 18th manager in the history of the New York Mets, replacing Art Howe.

Randolph had never managed at any level prior to this job but was a respected baseball figure in New York. There was an added excitement at Shea that year with the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran & Pedro Martinez.

His Mets began the year losing their first five games until on April 10th they beat the Atlanta Braves giving Randolph his first managerial win. The team went on to win six straight their biggest streak in two years. The Mets improved to a 83-79 record that season, finishing in a tie for third place with the Florida Marlins, seven games behind the Atlanta Braves. Under Randolph the Mets had improved to over .500 for the first time since 2001 & had won 15 more games than they had the previous season.

In 2006 Willie led the Mets to their first divisional title since 1988, winning 97 games (97-65) with the league’s best record & tying for the best record in baseball. He became the first manager in MLB history to have his team improve with 12 more victories in each of his first two seasons.

His pitching staff was among the top three in the league in most categories (ERA, innings, as well as hits, HRs & earned runs). They were second in strike outs & saves as well as first in shut outs. The '06 Mets were first in the NL in steals, third in runs, doubles, slugging & total bases. The team was fourth in HRs.

Willie’s Mets swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS but fell short by one game getting upset in the NLCS, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Randolph came in second place in the Manager of the Year voting & signed a three year extension on his contract with the Mets.

In 2007 the Mets were riding high in first place most of the year on their way to an 88 win season. But then in the final three weeks of the season it all went bad. They blew a seven game lead with 17 games to play, losing out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. It was one of the worst collapses in baseball history.

In 2008 the Mets picked up where they had left off. They were 34-35 in June, the slow start & poor play got Randolph & coaches Rick Peterson & Tom Nieto fired. 

At the time the Mets had fallen six games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. Many people felt the firing was done in poor taste by the Wilpons & General Manager Omar Minaya.

After denying any changes in the Mets staff over the past few weeks, Minaya made his announcement of firing Randolph while in Anaheim after a night game. The timing was a surprise to Randolph & the news hit New York late with the East Coast time difference. Randolph was replaced with his bench coach, Jerry Manuel.

In his three year, two & a half month run as Mets manager he posted a 302-253 record with a .544 winning percentage, second to only Davey Johnson.

After his Mets days, he went on to be the bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers for 2009-2010. In 2011 he coached with the Baltimore Orioles under Buck Showalter. Randolph & the O's parted ways after the season.

In 2013 he was the Team USA bench coach in the World Baseball Classic. In 2015 he interviewed for a coaching spot with his old AL New York team, but did not get the job.

Willie has stated he wanted to manage in the majors again, but got no takers. 

He also did work with the Mets John Franco helping youth baseball in New York City.

Randolph lives in Franklin Lakes New Jersey with hos wife Gretchen. It's the same town as Dwight Gooden, New York Football Giants legends; Phil Simms, Harry Carson & Sam Huff as well as many other sports & public figures.

Jan 22, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1986) Doctor K Tosses Two Hit Shut Out

Tuesday May 6th 1986: 41,722 fans including centerfieldmaz & his little brother came to Shea Stadium to see two undefeated pitchers go head to head. 

On this night the Mets celebrating their 25th season, honored former Met Manager Yogi Berra, who was now a coach with the Houston Astros. Berra served as a coach with Houston from 1986-1989. 

Rusty Staub presented him with a lithograph of himself from his managing days. Staub was a player under Berra (1972-1975) including the Mets 1973 NL Championship season. This was the first time Berra appeared at Shea since he was manager in 1975.

The first place Mets (17-4) already running away with the division, had the reigning Cy Young Award winner- Dwight Gooden (4-0) on the mound. In those good old days, it was always a special night when Doc took the mound. His opponent was Bob Knepper, for the western division, first place Houston Astros. All signs were pointing to this being an early preview of that years NLCS, which it was.

Starting Lineups

The two pitchers matched zeros along the way until the fifth inning, when the Mets George Foster, hit his first HR of the year. By this point Foster's days were numbered, he was target of the Shea Boo Birds & he was not the most popular guy in the dugout either. 

In the 7th, Foster led off the inning with a walk. Then what looked like a double play ball, became an error & short stop, Rafael Santana reached first base. The pitcher, Gooden then gave the crowd a huge thrill, as he tripled driving in both runs making it 3-0. Charlie Kerfield (who would get hammered by the Mets in the NLCS) was brought in to replace Knepper. Kerfield gave up a single to Kevin Mitchell scoring Gooden to make it 4-0. 

On the mound, Gooden didn't allow any hits until the 5th inning, when Glen Davis led off with a single. With two outs, Kevin Bass walked, giving the Astros two base runners, something they only had twice in the game. But Gooden got Terry Puhl to fly out.

In the 9th, Gooden had the one hitter in tact & the fans were eager to close it out. But Gooden walked the lead off man, then after a ground out, Craig Reynolds singled for the Astros second hit of the night. Then Jose Cruz got aboard, when Tim Teufel booted the ball loading the bases. 

Gooden then got slugger, Glen Davis to ground into a double play, sealing the two hit shut out & besting his record to 5-0, lowering his ERA to a league best 1.04. On the night he struck out seven & walked two.