May 31, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Sweep Of Giants At Shea Brings Win Streak To Four

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
It was always a big deal when the Giants & Dodgers came back to town, in those good old days. It had been just a dozen seasons ago, that the Giants & Dodgers had left the Polo Grounds & Ebbets Field for the West Coast. 

Many of their loyal fans would still come out to root for their old teams when they visited New York. So it was an exiting weekend in New York as the Giants started out a three game series with the three game set with Dodgers to follow.

This was to be a big week for the Amazing Mets as they went on an 11 game win streak, opening up some eyes around the league & starting to show they were for real.

1969 S.F. Giants: The 1969 San Francisco Giants won 90 games (90-72) finishing second in the NL West just three behind the Atlanta Braves.

The outstanding player of the '69 Giants was Willie McCovey who led the NL in HRs (45) & RBIs (126) batting .320, winning the league's MVP Award. Willie Mays was aging & limited to 117 games.

Bobby Bonds had a fine year as well, stealing 45 bases (3rd most in the NL) while hitting 32 HRs with 90 RBIs & leading the league in strike outs (187).

Hall of Fame pitchers, Juan Marichal won 21 games (21-11) & Gaylord Perry won 19 games (19-14). Pitcher Frank Linzy was 14-9 with 11 saves in 58 appearances.

Friday 5/30/69: Clyde King's fourth place San Francisco Giants (24-21) arrived at Shea for a three game series. Tom Seaver went up against Mike McCormick in front of 52,272 fans. 

McCormick had won 22 games two years ago, in the shadows of Hall of Famers, Gaylord Perry & Juan Marichal. 

Starting Lineups

Willie McCovey hit his 14th HR of the year to lead off the 2nd inning. Former Met, the teams first starting All Star, Ron Hunt added an RBI single in the 3rd to make it 2-0. Willie McCovey's sac fly made it 3-0 in the 6th inning.

In the home 7th, Ron Swoboda took McCormick deep, ending his potential shut out.
In the 8th inning down 3-1, Utility man; Rod Gaspar came up big against a tiring McCormick, hitting his only HR of the season, narrowing the lead to 3-2.

With two outs, Tommie Agee singled & knocking McCormick out of the game. The new pitcher was Frank Linzy, Cleon Jones who was batting .369, singled as well. Ron Swoboda then added another RBI, as his single tied it up at three. Manager King went to his pen again, bringing in Joe Gibbon. 

Gil Hodges who had Art Shamsky pinch hitting for Charles, made his next move sending in Duffy Dyer to bat instead. Dyer came through, as he singled home Cleon Jones with what turned out to be the winning run 4-3. 

Reliever Ron Taylor closed the game out with a perfect 9th inning. Seaver got his 7th win of the year (7-3) pitching eight innings, allowing three runs on four hits, he struck out eight & walked
just one. METS WIN STREAK @ 2

Saturday 5/31/69: A crowd of 32178 came to Shea Stadium in this matinee, as future Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry went up against Mets Rookie, Gary Gentry.

Starting Lineups

In the 4th inning, slugger Willie McCovey belted a two run HR, his second of the series & 15th of the season to make it 2-0. But that would be all Gentry would allow, in seven innings he gave two runs on five hits, with three walks while striking six. 

In the bottom of the inning, Mets third baseman, the Glider- Ed Charles, provided the big blow, with a three run HR, his first of the year. Charles would hit just three HRs all season. It was 3-2 Mets.

In the 8th inning, Wayne Garrett singled & was sacrificed to second. Ed Kranepool was walked intentionally & reliever Ron Herbel got Ron Swoboda to strike out. Ed Charles, delivered once again, his base hit scored Garrett, sealing the 4-2 win.

Trivia: The four RBI game for Charles, was his biggest of the season in 61 games played. 

Tug McGraw earned his first save of the year, as Gentry went to 4-4 with the win. Perry took the loss.

Sunday 6/1/69: On this Sunday afternoon, 41,294 fans came to Shea Stadium as the Mets went for the series sweep. Gil Hodges sent another one of his young pitchers to the mound, Jim McAndrew. He went up against the Giants Bobby Bolin. The previous year, Bolin had the NL's second best ERA (1.99) behind Bob Gibson's record 1.12.

Starting Lineups

Jim McAndrew got pulled in the 2nd inning due to a blister on his finger. A rocky 1st inning, had him give up two hits, two walks & a sac fly RBI from Jim Ray Hart. He departed with two men on & two outs. Don Cardwell came in relief, and a wild pitch gave the Giants their second run.

In the home 2nd, Ron Swoboda & Ed Charles both singled. Jerry Grote tripled tying up the game at two. Grote had three triples on the year & 22 in his 16 year career.

In the Giants 5th, McCovey hit his third HR of the series, one in each game. It was his 16th HR of the year.

In the home 5th, with two outs Bolin walked Wayne Garrett & Cleon Jones. Ed Kranepool & Ron Swoboda both added RBI singles putting the Mets ahead 4-3.

The Giants; Jim Davenport tied it up with an RBI single scoring Tito Fuentes in the top of 6th. 

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th, Giants reliever Joe Gibbon had an awful inning. He walked Bud Harrelson, then got the next two outs.

Then he walked Cleon Jones, & rookie Amos Otis. Feeling the pressure, he then walked Ron Swoboda and in came Bud Harrelson with the winning run. 

The Mets swept the Giants for the first time in team history, and had a four game win streak. METS WIN STREAK @ 4.

At this point the Mets were 22-23 in third place, nine games behind the Chicago Cubs.

May 26, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1996) Todd Hundley Sets MLB Season Mark For Catchers With 41 HRs

Saturday September 14th 1996: Bobby Valentine's New York Mets (67-81) hosted Bobby Cox's first place Atlanta Braves (86-61) in front of 22,857 fans at Shea Stadium. 

Tonight the Mets fans witnessed Todd Hundley set a season for most HRs by a catcher, as well as setting an all time Mets single season HR record.

It was to be a long four hour, 12 inning affair that saw Bobby Valentine & Bobby Cox each use 23 players on the extended September rosters. Overall 14 different pitchers were used by both clubs in total.

 Starting Lineups

 The Braves jumped out first with two unearned runs in the 1st inning & two runs in the 3rd, on hits from Terry Pendleton, Chipper Jones, & Ryan Klesco. Fred McGriff added an RBI hit in the 5th making it 5-0 Braves.

In the home 7th inning, pinch hit base hits by Matt Franco & Carl Everett started up a Mets rally. Lance Johnson then singled to load the bases. Bernard Gilkey made it a 5-2 with a double to left field off Atlanta reliever; Greg McMichael.

Next up was Todd Hundley. Hundley then hit his record setting HR, a three run blast over the left field fence, tying up the game at 5-5.

Trivia: Hundley had just passed Daryl Strawberry, for the Mets single season mark a few days earlier. Straw had hit 39 HRs back in 1987, a decade prior. Carlos Beltran tied Hundley's Mets single season mark with 41 in 2006.

In the home 12th inning, Matt Franco led off with a walk from Joe Borowski. He advanced on Chris Jones weak ground out. Lance Johnson ended the game with a walk off single up the middle.

For Hundley, the 41st HR passed Hall of Famer; Roy Campanella's previous mark of 40 HRs set back in 1953 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Javy Lopez has since broken the record with 43 HRs in 2003.

May 24, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1984) Doc Gooden Strike Out 14 Dodgers

Friday Night May 25th 1984: Davey Johnson's third place Mets (21-18) hosted Tommy Lasorda's first place Los Angeles Dodgers (25-22). A good crowd of 27, 340 came out to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets new young, 19 year old pitcher; Dwight Gooden, whom everyone was starting to talk about.

This youngster not only had one of the games best blazing fastballs, but a curve so good, Mets Broadcaster; Ralph Kiner named it- "Lord Charles".

At this point Gooden had a 3-3 record with a 4.15 ERA in eight career starts. He had struck out 59 batters in 43 innings pitched & already had three games where he struck out ten or more batters.

Looking back you could say it was tonight that Gooden came into the spotlight for good, Doctor K established himself in the National League. He would allow just one run & three hits to the mighty Dodgers while striking out a career high up that point 14 batters. In September Gooden would have back to back 16 strike out games. The "K Korner" in the upper deck was now on the Shea Stadium map in history as well.

Starting Lineups

Gooden began the game striking out Pedro Guerrero & Franklin Stubbs to end the 1st inning. He struck out Terry Whitfield in the second, then struck out two more batters in both the 3rd & 4th innings.

In the  6th he began the inning striking out Steve Sax & ended it with a another K on Franklin Stubbs.

In the 7th he got Mike Scioscia & Terry Whitfield to go down on strikes for the first two outs. He added another strike out in the 8th & began the 9th inning with a 2-0 lead.

The Mets offense was provided by George Foster who hit a solo HR & Keith Hernandez who drove in Mookie Wilson with a base hit. He surrendered a lead off HR to Guerrero & Davey Johnson rushed out to remove Gooden. He left the field with a standing ovation. Jesse Orosco came on for the save.

Trivia: Gooden would win the 1984 Rookie of the Year Award, leading the league in strikeouts (289) strike outs per nine innings (11.4) & WHIP (1.073). He would go 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA.

May 23, 2019

Former Italian / American Jersey Born Mets Pitcher Turned GM: Jerry DiPoto (1995-1996)

Gerald Peter Dipoto was born on May 24, 1968 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The Dipoto Family lived in a Jersey City apartment next door to his grandparents before the briefly moving to Point Pleasant & then settling in Toms River, New Jersey. There he went to high school at Toms River High North. 

DiPoto then attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where he played baseball, getting drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the 1989 draft.

The big six foot two right hander was a pleasant rookie surprise for sixth place Cleveland in 1993, going 4-4 with 11 saves and posting a 2.40 ERA. In 1994 he struggled with injuries pitching in only seven games posting a 8.07 ERA. That November he was traded along with Paul Byrd, to the New York Mets for Jeromy Burnitz.

Dipoto debuted with the Mets on Opening Day 1995, in Colorado. He relieved Bobby Jones in the 5th inning, retiring the Rockies Dante Bichette in the Mets 11-9 loss. He had troubles early on, blowing a save against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 29th & then taking three losing decisions into June. The first came at home against Montreal with the other two happening on the West Coast road trip to L.A. & San Diego. 

Dipoto was used as a middle reliever with second place '95 Mets, making 58 appearances. July would be his best month as he went 3-1, earning wins on the road in Pittsburgh, Chicago & St. Louis. He ended the year at 4-6 with two saves & eight holds posting a 3.78 ERA.

On Opening Day 1996, Dipoto got the win in relief of Bobby Jones, as the Mets scored four runs in the bottom of the 7th inning beating the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 at Shea Stadium.

He made 16 appearances in the next two month, blowing a save & taking a loss in Chicago on May5th. On June 21st, he started a personal six game win streak that brought him into September. In three of those games he allowed runs & still had an ERA over four at the time of his seventh win. 

On September 1st he blew a save against the San Francisco Giants & then blew a save opportunity on September 13th against the Atlanta Braves when Mark Lemke hit a fielders choice to score Jeff Blauser. He would get the win when Rey Ordonez & Lance Johnson drove in runs in the bottom of the 8th.

On the season Dipoto was 7-2 with three holds & three blown saves. He struck out 52 batters, walked 45 in 77 innings pitched & posted a 4.19 ERA in 57 games. Dipoto was one of only four pitchers on the fourth place '96 staff to have a winning record. His .778 win % was best on the entire team. 

Little League Champs: While with the Mets, his home town in Toms River, won another Little League World Series. Dipoto remembers; "I came aboard in the late 70's after Tom's River won. Then, when I was with the Mets, they won again, and the Mets invited the team to Shea Stadium. I remember I dropped in front of the kids and said to them, 'You guys are my little league'. "I remember one of the kids looked at me, and said 'Where's Todd Hundley's locker?".

That November the Mets traded him to the Colorado Rockies for Armando Reynoso. Dipoto went on to be the Colorado Rockies closer for two seasons posting a 5-3 record with 16 saves in 1997 and then a 3-4 record with a career high 19 saves in 1998. That year he finished 51 games (8th best in the league).

In 1999 he lost his closer job to Dave Veres, who recorded 31 saves. Dipoto became the Rockies set up man, recording 15 holds posting a 4.26 ERA. He pitched with the Rockies through the 2000 season ending his eight year career.

Lifetime, Dipoto was 27-24 with 49 saves, 352 strikeouts 221 walks &  a 4.05 ERA in 495 innings pitched in 390 games.

Retirement: After his playing days, Jerry became a scout for the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. He moved on to the Arizona Diamondbacks, becoming the Director of Scouting and Player Personnel under GM Josh Byrnes.

In 2010 he replaced Byrnes as the Arizona D-backs interim GM until Kevin Towers was named. A year later in October 2011, he got the job, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, General Manager.

The Angels finished third in the first two full seasons with Dipoto as GM. In 2013 they fell below .500 for the first time in a decade. They rebounded in 2014 winning the AL West but lost the ALDS to the AL Champion Kansas City Royals.

That year there was issues between Manager Mike Scioscia & his coaches with the way stats were being distributed by the front office & to the players. Dipoto resigned on July 1st 2015. He briefly worked with the Boston Red Sox for the remained of the season.

In September 0f 2015 DiPoto was hired as GM of the Seattle Mariners & is entering this fifth year in that position in 2019.

The Mariners finished 2nd (86-76) just missing the 2016 wild card. They then fell below .500 in 2917 but rebounded to 89-73 with a third place finish in 2018.

In the off season Dipoto & the front office traded Robinson Cano & star closer Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista & prospects Justin Dunn  & Jared Kelenic.

Family: DiPoto & his wife Tamie have three children. DiPoto is also a thyroid cancer survivor battling the disease back in 1994.

Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder Pepe Mangual & His MLB Relatives (1975-1976)

Jose Manuel Mangual was born on May 23, 1952 in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Jose became known as Pepe, & is the brother of former Oakland A’s player, Angel Mangual who played against the New York Mets in the 1973 World Series going 0-6.

Angel Mangual began his career in Pittsburgh playing six games in the 1969 season. He was then sent to the Oakland A's in 1970 to complete the Mud Cat Grant trade toward the end of his career. Mangual was lucky enough to be a reserve outfielder on three consecutive A's Championship teams (1972-1974).

In 1971 he was third in the Rookie of the Year Voting batting .286 with 4 HRs 8 doubles 17 RBIs 32 runs scored & a .324 on base %. In his seven year career he batted .245 with 22 HRs 44 RBIs 125 RBIs 122 runs scored & a .279 on base %.

The Mangual brothers, were cousins of early seventies Montreal Expos infielder Coco Laboy. Laboy was the Expos main third baseman in their inaugural season in 1969 coming in second in the Rookie of the Year Award.

That year he had his best season batting .258 with 18 HRs 29 doubles & 83 RBIs. He posted a .944 fielding % turning 28 double plays (4th most in the NL) while making 25 errors. In five seasons he batted .233 with 291 hits 28 HRs 62 doubles & 166 RBIs, posting a .944 fielding%.

Jose Mangual became known as “Pepe” in the baseball world getting signed as an outfielder by the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969. He saw action in parts of three seasons from 1972-1974 before getting a shot at a regular outfield job in 1975.

That year he played in 140 games for the fifth place Expos, batting .245 with 9 HRs & 45 RBIs while striking out 115 times (4th most in the NL) in 609 at bats. Mangual was a fast base runner; he stole 33 bases (6th best in the NL) & was caught just 11 times that season, but he posted just a .340. on base %.

The '76 Mets lacked speed, as Bud Harrelson & Bruce Boisclair led the team with just nine stolen bases. The Mets went after Mangual, midway through the 1976 season trading away long time Met, Wayne Garrett as well as centerfielder Del Unser. Also coming to the Mets in the trade was outfielder Jim Dwyer.

Examining this trade years later; Mangual would play in 41 games for the rest of the 1976 season as a Met, batting a weak .186 (19-106) while stealing seven bases in ten tries. Dwyer played in just eleven games for the Mets hitting .154 (2-11). Unser had hit .294 in his one full season in New York in 1975, but then dropped off to .228 in 77 games in 1976.

But after a bad year, he did bat .274 in 1977 and played out his career through the 1982 season. Wayne Garrett was at the end of his career & would hit .270 in 1977 and then retire at the end of 1978.

In just his second game as a Met, Mangual faced off against his old Expos team in Montreal. He tripled & drove in the only two runs of the Mets 3-2 loss. The next day Mangual had three hits with three more RBIs in the Mets 10-4 win. He would only drive in one more run over the  next five weeks & just four more all season. He hit his only HR on the last day of the season, scoring the only run in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.

In 1977 Mangual only played in eight games with the Mets going 1-7 spending most of the year at AAA Tidewater. He then went to the Pacific Coast League playing at the AAA level through 1984.

In his six season MLB career, Mangual batted .242 with 235 hits 16 HRs 35 doubles 83 RBIs & 64 stolen bases in 90 attempts.