Jun 23, 2019

50th Anniversary of 1969 Mets: Mets Sweep Twi-Night Double Header As Phillie Slugger Dick Allen Gets Suspended

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Tuesday, June 24th 1969: The Philadelphia Phillies (26-38) arrive in town for a twi-night double header at Shea Stadium. The Phils managed by Bob Skinner who was a long time outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a member of their 1960 World's Championship team, also was a member of the 1964 Cardinals World Championship team. The Phillies let him go later in the 1969 season.

 Drama: In the late morning, controversial Phillie slugger Ritchie Allen (soon to be known as Dick Allen) decided he wanted to go to Monmouth Park, New Jersey to bet on a horse race. 

Allen made the 72 mile trip from Shea to the racetrack & played the ponies. He made his way back to Queens, but arrived at the ballpark after the game had already started, infuriating his manager. 

Some in the Phillies organization believed he forgot there was double header, thinking it was just an ordinary night game start. Others claim he just didn’t care. According to Allen himself, he said he got stuck in the New York metropolitan area traffic. In the end he was fined by Skinner and suspended until the middle of July.

The Phils and Dick Allen had been battling each other all year. Most recently he had already been late for two games that same month. But there were plenty of other issues too. In all fairness to Allen he was never a welcomed man in Philadelphia.

He had been booed mercifully when he struggled early on in his career. Things got so bad, he had to wear a batting helmet on the field because the fans would throw objects at him. 

He actually answered them, back by writing BOO in the dirt with his foot, around first base while playing at the position. (After seven seasons in Philly, Allen moved on to St. Louis (1970) & then Los Angeles (1971) Eventually to the Chicago White Sox (1972-1974) winning two AL HR titles, an RBI title & the 1972 MVP Award.)

As for the double header at Shea Stadium; Gil Hodges Mets (37-28) were in second place, five games back of the Chicago Cubs. In the first game they sent Tom Seaver (11-2) to the mound facing the fifth place Phils' Woodie Fryman (6-3). 

Starting Lineups

Tom Seaver went on to have another outstanding game. Tom Terrific would throw a complete game seven hitter, striking out nine batters & walking just one. The victory got him to an 11-3 record on the season, one of baseballs best, with one of the leagues best ERA's at 2.53 to go along with it, on his way to his first Cy Young Award. 

In the home 3rd, Al Weis singled & was moved over on a Seaver bunt. Bud Harrelson then tripled scoring Weis making it 1-0. It was Harrelson's third triple of the year, he would have six on the season. 

The leagues leading hitter (.346), Cleon Jones then brought in Harrelson with a base hit. It was all New York needed for the 2-1 win.

Second Game: In the nightcap Mets Manager Gil Hodges sent Jim McAndrew (0-2) to  the mound to face Philadelphia's Jerry Johnson (3-6). 

Starting Lineups

Jim McAndrew had one of his best outings of the year, shutting out the Phillies for eight innings, allowing just two hits & not issuing a walk. 

Ron Taylor came on in the 9th inning & recorded his sixth save, as the Mets easily swept the twin bill.

As for the Mets offense; In the bottom of the 4th, Tommie Agee reached on an error & Kenny Boswell singled.
Art Shamsky & Wayne Garrett both singled driving in runs making it 2-0. Ed Kranepool’s sac fly drove in Shamsky making it 3-0. The pitcher, Jim McAndrew then drew a walk with the bases loaded for the 4th run. 

In the home 8th; Tommie Agee hit his 11th HR of the year, a solo shot capping off the 5-0 win. 

Trivia: Tommie Agee would lead all batters with 14 HRs at Shea Stadium in 1969.

Remembering Mets History: (1963) Jimmy Piersall Rounds The Bases Backwards

Sunday June 23, 1963: In the first game of a sunny Sunday double header at the Polo Grounds, Casey Stengel’s young New York Mets (27-44) took on Gene Mauch’s Philadelphia Phillies (31-39). 

Starting Lineups

New York pitcher Carl Willey had a great day, as he threw a complete game two hit shut out. Willie walked no one striking out six batters. He bested his record to 6-6 with a 2.62 ERA, best on the Mets staff. That day he earned the win over Phillies pitcher &  future Mets manager; Dallas Green.

The Mets scored first, in the 3rd inning apaif of walks to Tim Harkness & Ron Hunt set the stage for a Duke Snider RBI single. 

In 5th inning a strange but funny & classic thing happened. Jimmy Piersall a character in his own right, led off the inning with a HR. It was a milestone in his playing career, being the 100th HR for him. Piersall dropped the bat and went to circle around the bases. But he did so running backwards.

Piersall was a veteran two time All Star & gold glove outfielder in his days with the Boston Red Sox.

He was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown due to emotional exhaustion. He related it back to his father, who had put a tremedous amount of pressure on him in becoming a pro ball player.

He did make a successful comeback taking over centerfield in Boston after Dom DiMaggio's reign. But it certainly did not come without any drama. He fought with his own teammates, and other players as well. Once in a huge brawl he beat Billy Martin to a pulp. During another game he went up to the grand stands to heckle an umpire. 

In 1964 he came to the plate wearing a Beatles wig & playing air guitar on his bat. Eventually he was traded to the Cleveland Indians then to the Washington Senators in exchange for Gil Hodges. Piersall was ejected from games, six games in 1960.

Legend has it he was once seen sprinting back & forth in the outfield when Ted Williams came to bat. He was the subject of the great baseball movie “Fear Strikes Out” starring Tony Perkins in 1957.

On hitting his 100th HR, Piersall had observed Duke Snider hit his 400th home run just a few weeks earlier. He noted that there wasn’t much fan fare for such a great feat. He vowed when he hit his 100th HR, he would do something to make it festive. 

He certainly did, the Polo Grounds loved it, as he trotted around the bases backwards, even some of his team mates  laughed. He never tripped and even shook third base coach; Cookie Lavagetto's hand on the way around.

The Phillies team & pitcher Dallas Green were not amused. Neither was MLB Commissioner Ford Frick who was in attendance that day. The Mets organization didn’t like it either, Manager Casey Stengel was so angry, he cut Piersall from the team two days later.

The Mets won the game 5-0 and the night cap as well 4-1.

Trivia: Jimmy Piersall once appeared on The Lucille Ball Show as himself. In Boston he was praised by Hall of Famer; Ted Williams as the best outfielder Williams ever saw.

1966 Mets First Round Draft Pick Who Never Played In Major Leagues: Steve Chilcott (1966)

Steven Lynn Chilcott was born on September 23rd 1948 in Lancaster, California. The five foot eleven catcher/ first baseman was the New York Mets number one draft pick in the 1966 amateur draft. The Mets chose Chilcott over outfielder Reggie Jackson. Jackson was chosen by the Kansas City Athletics & went on to a Hall of Fame career.

As for Chilcott he is the only position player to be chosen first overall & never make the major leagues. Chilcott was a star athlete at Antelope Valley high school, playing both baseball & football. He attracted a lot of attention & the scouts came out to see him. Among those coming out to watch him play, was Mets manager Casey. Chilcott remembered that the day Stengel came out, hundreds of more people came just to see him.

Stengel & the Mets were convinced that Chilcott was their man; they gave him a $75,000 signing bonus to start. It made sense, that Stengel picked the catcher, since he had spoken of how important catchers were & his most prized player during his heyday was his own catcher Yogi Berra.

Also at the time there was some question about Reggie Jackson’s attitude & character. Many baseball people at the time did believe that both players were destined to solid MLB careers.

In 1967 Chilcott batted .290 at A ball with the Winter Haven Mets, with 290 at bats he did not qualify for the batting race in which he would have come in fourth.

In a game that season, he was leading off second base, when a pitcher attempted to pick him off. He dove into second base landing on his right shoulder. It was then he suffered an injury that he could never fully recover from & it ruined his once promising career. The next year he was promoted to Visalia but hit just .189.

In 1969 as the Mets were winning the World Series, Chilcott only played in seven games at Visalia, after undergoing surgery. He also suffered a broken hand as well as chronic back issues the rest of his career. In 1970 he went from AA Memphis & got to AAA with the Tidewater Tides where he hit 11 HRs in 199 at bats. The next year he hit .265 with 17 HRs & 68 RBIs, striking out 95 times in 345 at bats.

The Mets gave up on him & he played his final season in 1972 in the AL New York’s club minor leagues for 24 games. After 337 minor league games his career was over by age 24, batting .248 with 39 HRs & 153 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days, he went back to school & then worked as a temporary fire fighter in Santa Barbara. He then went into the construction business as a full time contractor.

The Man Shea Stadium Was Named After: Bill Shea (1907-1991)

William Alfred Shea was born June 21st, 1907 in New York City. Shea began his education at NYU then moved on to Georgetown & Harvard Law. At Georgetown he played basketball on the varsity team.

He began practicing law & became known as a guy who got things done. Through this success he made many political & powerful contacts throughout New York City.

In 1957 when the New York Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers left New York for the West Coast, New York's Mayor Robert Wagner asked Shea to head a committee to help bring National League baseball back to the city.

Without getting much feedback from the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates or Philadelphia Phillies, he along with Branch Rickey announced a formation of a new baseball league to rival the majors, named the Continental League.

The Continental League was to be a third League, with teams in Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Toronto, Denver, Atlanta, Buffalo & New York.

The owners of the National & American Leagues, held most of the power in those days & the thought of a new league cutting into their investments worried them.

MLB got together & agreed to expand, The AL got a new Los Angeles team (Angels) & Washington D.C. got another version of the Senators.

In 1962 the National League got a franchise in Houston (the Colt 45's) & New York got the Metropolitans, known as the Mets.

Bill Shea abandoned the idea of a new League & the Continental League was dead. The New York Mets played its first season in the old Polo Grounds, awaiting for their new Stadium to be built. It was delayed another year & would not open until 1964.

It's location was in Flushing meadows Queens & was to be named Flushing Meadow Park Municipal Stadium. But a movement began in support of the man most responsible for bringing Major League baseball back to New York.

Shea Stadium opened for buisness in 1964 as one of the biggest & most beautiful baseball stadiums of its time. Shea was a big baseball fan who would always attend Mets games. He got to throw out the ceromonial first pitch in Shea Stadium's history in 1964. He always joked about his legacy, saying; they'll probably rename it, 15 minutes after I die.

Another great story he told in the Mets documentary "An Amazing Era" was that on Opening Day in 1964, he sat next to two guys saying the Stadium was named after an old ball player who was killed in World War II.

Shea would form the Shea & Gould law firm which was one of the best known law firms in New York in the sixties, seventies & eighties. At one point the firm employed 200 lawyers in New York, Albany, Los Angeles, Washington & London.

Some of it's clients included the New York Mets, the A.L. New York team, Marine Midland Bank, Aristotle Onassis, NY's Mayor Abe Beame & Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The firm dissolved in 1994 three years after Shea's passing.

Bill Shea was elected top the Mets Hall of Fame in 1983. Shea passed away in 1991, at the age of 84. In 2008 the Mets honored Shea putting his name up alongside the retired Mets uniforms numbers of Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver & Casey Stengel.

Shea Stadium was demolished in 2009 & the Mets began play in their new home Citi Field.

After one season the Mets finally decided to honor Shea again, this time naming the pedestrian walkway in the outfield area the Shea Bridge.

Trivia: Bill Shea was also responsible for bringing the New York Islanders to the Nassau Veterans Coliseum on Long Island in 1972.

Shea Stadium

Jun 22, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1983) Rusty Staub Ties MLB Consecutive Pinch Hit Record

Sunday June 26, 1983: Today, Frank Howard's last place Mets (27-43) hosted a double header against Pat Corrales third place Philadelphia Phillies (32-33). 

In the first game, a couple of old familiar faces figured in the outcome. Tug McGraw (now a Phillie) got the win over the Mets Tom Seaver. With the Mets down 8-4 in the 9th Inning, Rusty Staub came to bat as a pinch hitter. Staub singled to right field & tied an MLB record. It was Rusty’s eighth straight successful pinch hit, tying an MLB record held by Dave Philley.

On the previous home stand Staub had five successful pinch hit appearances. The streak began on Saturday June 11th, in a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Expos. Staub came to bat against Jeff Reardon, with the bases loaded in the 7th inning & New York down 5-0. Staub singled driving in Mark Bradley & Jose Oquendo.

The next night Staub came to bat as a pinch hitter in the 6th inning, facing Montreal's Charlie Lea. Rusty smashed a double driving in rookie Darryl Strawberry & George Foster. That night Staub helped contribute to his old pal, Tom Seaver who beat Montreal 9-1.

June 13- June 15th: The Chicago Cubs came to town next and took two of three games. But Staub continued his pinch hit streak. On June 12th, he singled off Chicago's Mike Proly in the 8th inning for his third straight successful pinch hit.

Walk Off Win: The next night was a big one for Staub, in front of a small Shea crowd of 10,000 fans. The Mets Ed Lynch & the Cubs Dick Ruthven pitched well, both getting to the 8th inning. Dave Kingman & Danny Heep both homered for the Mets, as the game went into extra innings tied at 3-3. In the bottom of the 10th, Staub came in to pinch hit against Lee Smith. The Mets had two men on, Bob Bailor on third & Daryl Strawberry on second. The games best pinch hitter of the early eighties, came through  once again. Staub hit an opposite field base hit scoring Bailor with the walk off game winning run. 

The next day, Staub was inserted into the starting lineup, playing at first base & batting fifth. The hot hitting "Le Grande Orange" went 3 for 4 in the Mets ten inning 7-4 loss.

June 18th: The Mets went north up to Montreal, a city where Staub was a legend after being the Expos first star player back in 1969. On the first night of the series, he had a 7th inning pinch hit single inning off Expo pitcher; Bill Gullickson. It was Staub's fifth pinch hit in a row, as the Mets won the game 6-1.

The next night the Mets lost a 4-3 heart breaker to Expo legend Steve Rogers. Staub did come through again, as he brought the Mets within a run, in the 9th inning, hitting his first HR of the year. It was his sixth straight pinch hit.

June 20th: The Mets came home to Shea Stadium, for a double header with the St. Louis Cardinals. In the first game the Mets took a 3-1 loss, as Staub got another start. He played right field and batted fifth, going 1 for 4.

In the second game, he made another pinch hit appearance, coming to bat for Carlos Diaz in the 7th inning. Staub singled off pitcher Dave Von Ohlen for pinch hit seven straight. The Mets also won the game 6-4. Staub played out field in the next two games and went hitless.

June 24th:The Mets came back home to Shea & took a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Staub came to bat as a pinch hitter getting hit by a pitch from Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton, safely reaching base. 

June 26th: Two nights later Staub would get into the record books as he tied the pinch hit record, leading off the  9th inning, batting for Junior Ortiz. Staub singled off veteran Phillie, Ron Reed, receiving a nice ovation from the Shea Faithful, as he accomplished his feat.

Rusty Staub's streak was ended three nights later, in St. Louis. In the 9th inning of a 4-3 loss, Bruce Sutter got Staub to ground out to second base.

On the season, the 39 year old Staub would bat .296 in 104 games, becoming one of the games best all time pinch hitters.

Today In Mets History (2000): Mets Batter Pirates in Nine Run Third Inning

Friday June 23rd, 2000: A large crowd of 39,849 gathered at Shea Stadium to see Bobby Valentine's second place Mets (39-31) host Gene Lamont's third place Pittsburgh Pirates (39-31). Bobby Valentine sent Bobby Jones to the hill against Pittsburgh's rookie, a young Bronson Arroyo.

Starting Lineups

In the 2nd inning, Todd Zeile & Jay Payton got aboard with hits. With two outs, Benny Agbayani was walked intentionally to get to Bobby Jones the pitcher. That strategy backfired as Bronson Arroyo balked, forcing in the Mets first run. It was the start of a bad day for Arroyo. 

In the top of the 3rd the Pirates got on the board with a Warren Morris sac fly.

In the home 3rd, the Mets blew it open with their biggest inning of the 2000 NL Pennant season. With one out Derek Bell walked & Eduardo Alfonzo singled. Mike Piazza then followed with his 21st HR of the season, a three run shot putting New York up 4-0. 

Trivia: Piazza would lead the Mets in HRs (38) RBIs (113) & tie Edgardo Alfonzo for best batting average on the club (.324). Certainly deserving of an MVP award but was slighted once again.

Next up Robin Ventura & Todd Zeile singled. Then Jay Payton singled, scoring Ventura making it 5-0 Mets. Benny Agbayani again, walked to load the bases. With Arroyo still on the mound, Melvin Mora doubled to cleared the bases, making it a 8-0 Mets lead. Derek Bell then singled as well to make it 9-0 Mets.

Arroyo finally was lifted after just 2.2 innings, he would get charged with ten runs (nine earned) nine hits & three walks, soaring his ERA over ten. 

Trivia: Arroyo was in his rookie year, he would have success winning a World Series in Boston & win 14 games of more five times, including three 15 plus win seasons in Cincinnati with the Reds (2008-2010).

Jeff Wallace took the mound & was greeted by Edgardo Alfonzo who singled scoring Bell, making it 10-1 New York. 

The Mets sent 13 men to the plate, belting out eight hits with nine runs in their biggest run production inning of the year. Everyone in the Mets starting lineup got a hit on the night (except the pitchers spot) Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Ziele, Benny Agbayani & Jay Payton all had two hits each. Piazza & Mora leading the RBI department with three each.

Bobby Jones cruised to the victory, striking out eight Pirates; allowing only five hits through eight innings. The Mets Rich Rodriquez finished it up in the 9th. For Jones it was only his second victory of the season & his best outing up to that point as his ERA was still over eight. He would improve, ending up 11-6 for the 2000 NL Champion Mets that year.

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Reserve Catcher: Ron Hodges (1973-1983)

Ronald Wray Hodges was born on June 22, 1949 in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Although he shared the same name, he was not related to Gil Hodges in any way.

The six foot one catcher was drafted three different times Baltimore (1970) Kansas City & Atlanta (1971) but didn’t sign with anyone, until 1972. That year he was the second round draft pick of the New York Mets. He spent 1972 at A Ball Pompano Beach bashing 15 HRs with 15 doubles & 48 RBIs in 112 games.

Hodges began 1973 in AA Memphis hitting only .173 but took a giant leap forward very quickly. All of a sudden he was called up to the Mets big league squad when injuries struck Jerry Grote & short time backup catcher Jerry May. Hodges was needed to help back up Duffy Dyer, who had taken over the main catchers job. Hodges made his Mets debut on June 13th 1973 at Shea Stadium against the San Francisco Giants.

He was behind the plate catching Tom Seaver’s eighth victory of his 1973 Cy Young season. In the 7th inning he got his first career hit at the plate.

Hodges caught the next game as well, helping Jon Matlack to a victory, getting another hit & driving in his first career run. Hodges hit safely in eleven of his first thirteen games and seventeen of his first twenty two. He found himself batting over .300 into July, before tailing off just in time for Jerry Grote to get healthy.

He received good reviews from the pitching staff and settled right in with the 1973 Pennant team as the number three catcher. He threw out 43% of the base runners trying to steal & posted a .992 fielding percentage, making only two errors. 

 In late September the Mets were the hottest team in baseball & were in fourth place in the NL East but just 2 1/2 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 18th in a crucial three game series at three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh the Mets came back from a 4-1 deficit in the 9th inning. After Felix Millan tripled home two runs, Hodges singled scoring Millan with the tying run.

The Mets went on to win the game 6-5. Hodges was involved in a famous play that was important to the Mets 1973 pennant run. On September 20th The Mets were in a tight pennant race with three teams, including their opponent of the evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With two outs & the game tied in the 13th inning, Ritchie Zisk was on first base. Dave Augustine lined a shot over the head of left fielder Cleon Jones. The ball hit off the top of the wall, and bounced back into Jones' glove. He grabbed it, turned & threw a perfect relay to short stop Bud Harrelson.

Harrelson then threw a perfect bullet to Hodges at the plate. Hodges blocked the plate perfectly and tagged Ritchie Zisk for the third out. It was an exciting play that electrified the team & the Shea fans in the year of "You Gotta Believe".

In the bottom of the inning, with two on, Hodges singled home John Milner with the winning run. It is considered one of the key points to the 1973 pennant season & is known as “the ball off the wall” game.

Overall in 45 games Hodges hit .260 (33-145) with one HR two doubles eleven walks & 18 RBIs. Hodges was on the Mets' postseason roster in 1973 and played in one game of the World Series, drawing a walk in his only appearance. Hodges remained a backup catcher with the Mets for the next decade.

He was there from the 1973 Pennant, through the down years when Shea Stadium became known as "Grant’s tomb". Hodges was also there for the resurgence of the Mets in the mid eighties Dwight Gooden & Keith Hernandez’ squad. He averaged getting into 50 to 60 games a year each season; backing up main catchers Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, John Stearns, Alex Trevino & Mike Fitzgerald.

In 1974 Hodges was back on the club as a backup catcher. On April 28th his 8th inning two run HR broke up a tie game with the Giants in San Francisco and ended up being the game winner. In 59 games on the year Hodges hit .221 with 4 HRs 4 doubles & 14 RBIs. Behind the plate he had one of his worst years making 12 errors posting the lowest fielding % of his career (.959%) while only throwing out 20% of would be base stealers. He would never make double figures in errors again until the 1983 season.

In 1975 he spent most of the season at AAA Tidewater, playing in only nine games with the Mets. On September 20th, he hit a two run walk off HR against the Philadelphia Phillies Gene Garber & hit another HR the next day as well. 

In 1976 he had one of his best years, he started off the season well driving in six runs in seven games played in the month of April. In the eight game of the season he had three hits & drove in two runs in the Mets 17-1 debacle of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On April 26th his two run single off Atlanta's Dick Ruthven led the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Braves. He got a chance to play in 16 games in July and drove in 12 runs over that period, playing a solid defense as well. He hit HRs in back to back games in a series in Atlanta driving in five runs over the two games. He saw less playing time at the end of the season, finishing the year with 4 HRs & 24 RBIs batting .226 in 56 games.

He followed that up in 1977 batting .265 with a .992 fielding percentage in 66 games throwing out 34% of would be base stealers. He increased his percentage in throwing out base runners each season from then on, reaching a career high 43% by 1980.

On April 22nd 1978 Hodges helped New York win a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago with an 8th inning two run single off the Cubs Rick Reuschel. On the year he batted .255 with seven RBIs in 47 games.

In 1979 his average fell to a measly .163 in 59 games played. The next year he improved to .238 but did not hit a HR for the third straight season. In the 1981 strike season his HR drought was over when in the seventh game of the season he hit a HR against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium in a 4-3 Mets loss.

In the short season he hit over .300 (43 at bats) driving in six runs in 35 games. That season he also had some success being used as a pinch hitter, getting five pinch hits in the month of September.

Drama: On a road trip to Montreal, he and Mets pitcher Dyar Miller were suspended without pay for three days by Mets' manager Joe Torre. The two were drinking in at the bar of the hotel where Mets coach Chuck Cottier, reminded them they were violating a club rule. There was to be no patronizing of a bar of in a hotel where the team was staying.

According to a statement issued by the team, the two players refused to leave the bar. Hodges said ''I guess a clean record doesn't count; I've never been involved in this kind of thing before. The more I think about it, the madder I get.''

In 1982 he had career highs in HRs (5) doubles (12) runs scored (26) & RBIs (27) playing in 80 games overall under new manager George Bamberger. Hodges had multi RBI games in each of the first three months. In early June he hit HRs in back to back games, as he also drove in three runs in the Mets 6-3 win at Cincinnati. On September 8th Hodges hit his only career grand slam, it came off the Pirates Grant Jackson in Pittsburgh.

In 1983 he saw the most playing time of his career behind the plate, seeing action in 96 games. He was finally the team’s main catcher after ten seasons, ahead of Junior Ortiz, Ron Reynolds & Mike Fitzgerald. In 110 games he hit .260, matched his career high 12 doubles, drew 49 walks posting a .358 on base percentage. He didn’t hit any HRs & only drove in 21 runs.

In 1984 Hodges was the back up catcher to Mike Fitzgerald as the Mets were now contending for first place for the first time in almost a decade. Hodges was thrilled to be back on a winning club where he started out.

On July 2nd Hodges was behind the plate catching the league's new phenom pitcher Dwight Gooden as he beat former Met Mike Scott 4-2 in a game at Shea Stadium. On July 12th he hit his last career HR helping New York to an 8-6 win over the Braves in Atlanta. On September 25th Hodges caught his last game, a 6-4 Mets win that began with Ron Darling on the mound getting relieved by Ed Lynch. On September 30th, the last game of the year, he made his last appearance as a pinch hitter in Montreal going hitless.

In his 12 year career Hodges played in 666 games, batting .240 with 342 hits 56 doubles two triples 19 HRs a .342 on base % 224 walks & 147 RBIs. He caught 445 behind the plate (6th most in Mets history) throwing out 31% of would be base stealers. He posted a .978 fielding % making 52 errors in 2358 chances.

Defensively he had 2095 putouts making 52 errors in 445 games (3326 innings) posting a .978 fielding percentage, throwing out 31% of base runners attempting to steal. Retirement: After baseball Hodges sold real estate in his home town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

Jun 21, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Mets Sweep A Twin Bill From Reigning NL Champs

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Sunday June 22nd 1969: 55,862 fans came out to Shea Stadium for an matinee double header, on a beautiful sunny afternoon for baseball. 

Today was a special day, as Mets fans were ecstatic that the Mets (34-28) were 3 1/2 games ahead of the reigning NL Champions St. Louis Cards (32-32). The Cards were in fact NL Champions for the past two seasons winning a World Series in 1967.

Quotes: When manager Red Schoendienst was asked if his teams difficulties could be related to complacency of being a two time champion, he said "No I don't think so. They've been trying hard. They feel they can win this thing. They've been hustling. It's just for a while we weren't able to put it all together".

Starting Lineups

Todays pitchers were Cardinals Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton going up against New York's Gary Gentry. In the 1st inning, Lou Brock singled & advanced to third, then Brooklyn native Joe Torre drove in the Cards first run with a base hit.

In the 3rd inning, Carlton was shaky, he gave up four straight Mets singles. Bud Harrelson & Tommie Agee, were first to get on. Then Cleon Jones who was batting .342 at the time, singled & drove in the first run. Next up the newest Met,  Don Clendenon singled driving in his first Mets run. It was a 2-1 game. 

The Mets struck again in the bottom of the 4th, the bottom of the order Jerry Grote & Al Weis both got aboard with base hits. Pitcher Gary Gentry bunted but the lead runner was erased. 

Bud Harrelson then singled bringing in another run & knocking Carlton out of the game. Chuck Taylor came on to pitch. Tommie Agee then singled bringing in Gentry to make it 5-1 Mets.

Gary Gentry went on to earn his seventh win of the year (7-5). He struck out six, allowed one run on six hits with four walks. Cal Koonce came on in relief in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the year. The Nets won the first game 5-1.

Nightcap: The second game would be a real classic pitchers' duel. The Mets sent Jerry Koosman to the mound To face off against the Cards Mike Torrez.

Starting Lineups

The game was scoreless until the 7th inning, as both pitchers had their games in control. In the Mets 7th, with two outs Bud Harrelson tripled to centerfield. As the crowd began to stir up some excitement, Tommie Agee delivered a double, also to center. Harrelson scored in what was the only run of the game.

Koosman would go the distance, allowing seven hits with four walks. He struck out nine Cards in his shut out. Koosman would record six shut outs in 1969, fourth most in the NL. The sweep would put the Mets just five games behind the Chicago Cubs as the NL Champion Cards fell further back.