Mid Sixties Mets Mets Outfielder: Al Luplow (1966-1967)

Alvin David Luplow was born on March 13, 1939 in Saginaw, Michigan. Luplow attended Michigan State University, where he played varsity football, as well as baseball for the Spartans. The five foot eleven Luplow, earned a reputation as a hard nose aggressive style player, making several minor league All Star teams. 

He was a right hand hitting, left hand throwing outfielder, originally signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1959. He batted .300 in the New York Penn. League, making it through the ranks of the minors the next year. In 1961 he batted .302 at AAA Salt Lake City, getting a promotion to the big leagues by the end of the season. 

 He spent five seasons with the Indians, mostly as a reserve outfielder. In 1962 he played in 97 games, batting .277 with 14 HRs 15 doubles & 45 RBIs (362 at bats). The next year he was a regular in the fifth place Indians outfield, next to Vic Davillio & Tito Francona. He played in 100 games, but his average fell off to .234 with just seven HRs, six doubles & 27 RBIs. 

 That year he made a spectacular game saving catch stealing a HR away from future Hall of Fame manager, Dick Williams. It happened at Fenway Park, in front of only 6000 fans on a weekday afternoon. Although it has been written about throughout baseball history, only those who were there on that day, actually saw the catch be made. No recorded video of the play exists. 

Luplow chased down Williams deep fly ball, he leaped in the air & caught the ball over the fence. He flipped over the right center field wall & landed in the Red Sox bullpen. He jumped up waving his glove to show he made the fantastic catch and let everyone know he was alright. He posted the best fielding % of any outfielder in the AL that season at .994%. 

He saw little action over the next two seasons, batting a dismal .111 in 19 games in 1964. Then in 1965, the Indians acquired New York born, Italian American All Star; Rocky Colavito and Luplow would see even less playing time. 

The fact he hit just .133 in 53 games, didn't help his cause. At the end of November 1965, his contract was purchased by the New York Mets. Al Luplow certainly is not be the most famous #18 to wear a Mets uniform, like Daryl Strawberry, but he was on board for the 1966 season. 

Luplow debuted as a Mets player in the second game of the 1966 season, as a defensive replacement in the Mets 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. Luplow eventually made his way as one of the teams main outfielders by June. Al got himself into 111 games for the ’66 Mets, playing all three outfield positions & making pinch hit appearances. 

On June 13th he drew three walks in the second game of a double header, then went on a five game hit streak. On June 21st, he helped New York to a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals with a ground out RBI, scoring Chuch Hiller for the first run of the game. 

On July 1st he hit a HR off Pittsburghs Steve Blass, helping the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Pirates. Two days later he drove in the first run of the Mets 9-8 win over the same Pirates, as the Mets took a rare series victory from the Bucs. Luplow's big day came on the 4th of July 1966, in Philadelphia where he hit a two run HR off Ray Culp & the doubled home two more runs in the Mets 8-1 victory over the Phillies.

 On July 20th in San Francisco, Luplow hit a HR off Hall of Giants Famer Juan Marichal. In that same game, weak hitting short stop Roy McMillan hit his only HR of the year off Marichal as well. The game went to extra innings & was won by New York on a Ron Swoboda HR off Bill Henry in the top of the tenth inning. It was a big deal, because it was one of the few times that the Mets could beat the Giants, especially with Marichal on the mound. 

 In the first two weeks of August Luplow had two four game hit streaks with five multi hit games. On September 17th he hit two HRs in another game at San Francisco, although the Mets lost 7-4. On that last west coast road trip, he had six hits with three HRs & seven RBIs. On the 1966 season Luplow would bat .251 with seven HRs, nine doubles, 38 walks, a .331 on base % & 31 RBIs. 

In 1967 he began the year hitting safely in seven of nine games at the end of April, but he struggled after that. He was hitting just .205, with three HRs & nine RBIs, when the Mets sold his contract to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 21st. Luplow hit only .184 the rest of the year playing in 55 games. In his seven year career he played in 481 games, batting .235 with 292 hits 33 HRs 34 doubles 125 RBIs & a .311 on base %. 

Retirement: After his baseball career, Al ran a tavern, worked as a real estate appraiser & coached baseball. He was generally known as an all around good guy & good tipper.

Passing: Al Luplow passed away in December 2017 at age 78.


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