Nov 30, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1973): World Series Game #5: Koosman & McGraw Combine To Shut Out A's

Thursday, October 18th 1973: World Series Game #5- Shea Stadium, Queens New York

The fifth game of the 1973 World Series was played on a forty eight degree, breezy night in New York, as 54, 817 fans filled up Shea Stadium. 

The fans seemed more louder on the original television & radio broadcasts than in the first two games at Shea.

 It was a rematch of the Game #2 lefties, Jerry Koosman vs. Vida Blue.

Tug McGraw & Rollie Fingers Laugh It Up Before the Game

Starting Lineups

Don Hahn & Jerry Grote

After a quiet 1st inning, the Mets made some noise in the 2nd. Cleon Jones who was feeling much better, but was still suffering from the flu, drove a lead off double to left field.

Next up "the Hammer" John Milner singled to right field bringing in the game's first run, exciting the Mets fans. 

It was Milner's sixth hit of the Series, as he had hit safely in all but one game up to this point.

In the 3rd inning, Bert Campaneris got a two out base hit to centerfield. Koosman kept a close eye on him & with his great left handed pick off move, nabbed him for the third out on a close play.

In the home 4th the Mets threatened again, as Staub & Cleon Jones both singled. John Milner bunted but Staub was forced at third base. 

After Jerry Grote fouled out, Don Hahn reached on a Bert Campaneris error at short, as he over ran a grounder in the hole. But Vida Blue got Bud Harrelson to pop up to end the inning.

Milner Steps On First Retiring Joe Rudi

In the bottom of the 6th, Cleon Jones blasted a drive to left field. A's outfielder Joe Rudi snagged it, making a fine catch & hit off the fence falling to the floor.

It was a spectacular catch, that even had the Shea Faithful applauding. 

Rudi one of the games best outfielders, had also made a legendary catch in the 1972 World Series against the Reds.

Jerry Grote then reached base with a two out base hit off Blue. Next up Don Hahn tripled to the left center field gap, scoring Grote with the Mets second run making it 2-0. 

Blue was removed & Darold Knowles came in to pitch in his fifth straight Series game.

Meanwhile Jerry Koosman was pitching another fine post season game. Koosman had gone 2-0 in the 1969 World Series & had a win under his belt in the 1973 NLCS against Cincinnati. 

In Game #5 of the 1973 World Series he was spectacular once again. Going into the 7th inning, Kooz was pitching a shut out & had only allowed two hits while walking three. 

Koosman Shuts Down A's
Quotes: Jerry Koosman- "I went into the ball game feeling very confident. I had good stuff in the bullpen, although after an inning or two, I found I wasn't getting my curveball over due to the dry air. My fingers stayed dry, so I relied on a fastball that was moving in every direction".

Back in the 5th inning, Gene Tenace had led off with a walk. With one out catcher Ray Fosse blooped a pop fly behind second base.

 Felix Millan made a circus catch behind the infield, with his back turned from home plate, shades of Willie Mays great 1954 World Series catch with the New York Giants.

Millan's great catch possibly saved the game, as it stopped any chance of the A's having a big inning. Rusty Staub coming in from right field, tangled up with Millan after the catch was made, but no one was hurt. 

Millan had almost gotten the double play at first, but a diving John Milner just missed a tag on a Tenace.

In the top of the 7th, the A's threatened; Gene Tenace drew his second walk of the game & with one out Ray Fosse doubled to left field. 

Manager Yogi Berra, felt Koosman was tiring & he went to his ace relief pitcher; Tug McGraw. 

Yogi Berra Calls on Tug McGraw For Save
McGraw came in to a jam with runners on second & third with one out, as the Mets were clinging to a 2-0 lead.

The Stadium's organist; Jane Jarvis played the traditional "Irish Jig" as McGraw warmed up receiving a big ovation from the crowd.

Tonight McGraw would put in a fine performance on the national stage, adding to his reputation as one of the games top relievers. 

He first loaded the bases walking pinch hitter Deron Johnson. He then got pinch hitter; Angel Mangual to pop out to Harrelson at short. 

With two outs, & the Shea fans going wild, cheering him on, he got Bert Campaneris to strike out looking at his famous screwball.

The crowd went wild, as a revved up Tug McGraw came back to the dugout pounding his glove on his upper thigh.
This was his trademark move, a sign of affection toward his wife, a message between the two that said I love you.

In the 8th inning, McGraw got Rudi & Bando for two quick outs but then got in a bit of a jam. He walked Reggie Jackson & Gene Tenace putting the go ahead run up at the plate.

 Blue Moon Odom came in to pinch run for Tenace. McGraw then got Jesus Alou to line out to Garrett at third base, ending the threat.

In the 9th inning, McGraw got Ray Fosse to line out to left field for the first out. He then fooled Ted Kubiak & pinch hitter; Billy Conigliaro to both strike out looking.

Jerry Koosman got the win, his second of the post season & his third World Series win of his career.

Koosman is still the Mets most
winning post season pitcher going 4-0 with a 3.37 ERA. He allowed 15 earned runs while striking out 31 batters & walking 15 in 40 innings of work over six games.

Tug McGraw earned his second save of the 1973 post season, his first in the World Series. He was the winning pitcher in Game #2 & had struck out 14 A's in the series. 

McGraw was 1-0 with two saves in his Mets post season career, pitching in eight games he posted a 1.71 ERA giving up four runs on 13 hits, with 18 strike outs & 13 walks in 22 innings of work.

The game took two hours & thirty nine minutes to play, ending just before eleven PM.

The Mets were now up three
games to two, heading back to California needing just one more win for another Championship. It would have been another Amazing, Miracle season. All of New York got involved in the hype. It was a true Mets twon.

Even Mayor John Lindsay, got in on the action. He borrowed a sign from the famous Shea Stadium sign man that read "You Gotta Believe". It got the attention of Mets players in the dugout. Tug McGraw even came out to take a peek & acknowledge the Mayor.

Nov 29, 2019

Howard Johnson "Hojo": (Part 2) The Nineties & Beyond

In 1990 Howard Johnson doubled his salary, earning one point six million dollars & with that, the expectations for him were very high. He hit a HR on Opening Day but finished April at .252 with just four HRs.

He began May with HRs in back to back games, & hit a third two days later, but didn't do too much more the rest  of the month. That June, he had one of his best games, having his first career five-RBI game. That day he also hit a grand slam HR in a 15-10 Mets win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

On June 26th in St. Louis, his double in the top of the 10th inning, off reliever Ken Dayley broke the tie & turned out to be the Mets game winning runs.

When Kevin Elster went down at short stop with injury, Hojo moved into the position for the last two months of the season. On August 31st he drove in the winning run off Steve Bedrosian to beat the San Francisco Giants. In September he hit three HRs & drove in 14 runs as the Mets finished the season in second place, four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 1990 he played 154 games, stealing 34 bases with 37 doubles (fourth in the NL) & 90 RBIs, but his HR production fell to 23 HRs and he hit just.244 with a .319 on base %. His 63 extra base hits were sixth in the league & his nine sac flies were 8th most. On the field he led the league in errors for the first of two straight seasons & struck out 100 times.

Trivia: Between 1987 and 1991, Howard Johnson hit 157 HRs. Only his Mets team mate Darryl Strawberry, along with Mark McGwire & Jose Canseco hit more HRs during that period.

In 1991 the Mets faded off to a fifth place finish & there wasn't too much left over from the '86 Championship team. Just six other players besides Johnson had been around that long & the face of the organization was certainly different.

Hojo returned starting out a bit slow in April, batting just .211 although he did hit fur HRs. On May 4th he hit a walk off HR off Mike Lacoss to beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 at Shea Stadium. A week later he hit another HR off Lacoss in a 4-2 Mets win at San Francisco.

At the end of May he drove in runs in nine of twelve games & had 11 HRs for the season. In June he picked up his pace, as he hit six HRs in the month & passed Dave Kingman going into second place on the Mets all time HR list.

On June 8th, he won a game in Houston with a top of the 11th inning HR off Mike Capel. On June 18th Hojo hit a grand slam off the Reds Tom Browning at Shea Stadium. 

1991 All Star: Midway through at the All Star break, Hojo had 19 HRs with 63 RBIs & was voted to his second midsummer classic.

In August he hit six HRs, topped off by hitting a pair of long balls on May 31st in Cincinnati. That day he drove in three runs leading to the Mets 8-7 win. He finished out the year with a fantastic September, hitting 10 HRs with 28 RBIs, earning him his second National League Player of the Month award. He was one of the very few bright spots for a lowly Mets team.

It was possibly his best season of all, as for the first time in history a Mets player led the league in both HRs (38)& RBIs (117). Not only that but he is also the only Met to have ever have led the league in the RBI category. He also became the only player besides Barry Bonds to join the 30-30 club in three different seasons.

Hojo scored 108 runs, which tied a Mets club record, hitting 34 doubles while stealing 34 bases. He posted a .342 on base % & hit .259, while finishing fifth in the league's MVP voting. He was so bad in the infield that, that season he began to play some outfield (30 games).

In the off season, the Mets went out & bought a bunch of high priced free agents that all would pretty much all fail, especially as a team together. As the team went down strangely so did Johnson. 

In 100 games he hit only seven HRs with 43 RBIs batting a lowly .223 his worst average of his Mets career. Johnson's only bright spot was when he passed Ted Simmons for the N.L record with most HRs by a switch hitter (183).

The next year (1993) was even worse for him, as injuries limited him to 72 games and at age 32 he seemed washed up. The Mets let him go to free agency & he moved on, signing a one year deal in Colorado with the Rockies.

All Time Mets Leader Board: In his nine year Mets career, Howard Johnson ranks high in many offensive categories. He is fourth all time on the Mets list in HRs (192) RBIs (629) runs scored (627) & walks (556).

Hojo is third in stolen bases (202) sac flies (50) & strike outs (827). He is fifth in doubles (214). He is seventh in Mets games played (1154) tenth in hits (997)  & has posted a .251 batting average.

In 1994, Johnson signed with the Colorado Rockies & in the strike shortened year he batted a career low .211. He signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1995 hit only .195 and retired at age 35.

After a 14 year career he had batted .249 with 1229 hits 228 HRs 247 doubles 231 stolen bases 692 walks & a .340 on base % in 1531 games played.

With his glove he made 163 errors on the field. He played 1031 games at third base (98th all time) posting a .929 fielding %. Johnson played 273 games at short, 217 games in the outfield eight games at second & five games at first base.

Retirement: In 2001 Johnson was named the batting coach of the Mets' new minor league A ball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones. He became their manager the following season. He was then the hitting coach for the St. Lucie Mets, winning the Florida State championship in 2003. The next year he moved up to the AA Binghamton Mets. 

In 2005 he was the Norfolk Tides batting instructor & had the team hitting their best in six years. In 2007, he returned to New York as the Mets first base coach and eventually became their hitting coach in 2008. He served two years in that capacity but was not asked back in 2010 although he still was working in the organization.

Hojo joined the Seattle Mariners organization in 2013, starting out as coach for AAA Tacoma. In 2014, he became the Seattle Mariners hitting coach under Manager Lloyd McClendon. In 2015 he was replaced by Edgar Martinez

From there he was A ball coach for the Eastwood Ducks (2017) then the AAA Round Rock Express (2018) & the AAA Nashville Sounds (2019). 

Honors: He remains a popular Mets figure & was on hand for many of the recent team celebrations. He was on hand at the 20th & 30th anniversaries of the 1986 team in 2006 & 2016. He was also at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

Family: Johnson & his wife have three children. His daughter Shannon is a figure skating coach in Florida & his son Glen plays pro baseball. He was offered a contract by the Mets in 2007 being drafted in the 37th round but did not sign.

In 2011 at age 50 HoJo returned to pro ball, playing two minor league games with his son for the Rockland Boulders.

Craig Swan: 1978 N.L. ERA Leader (1973-1984)

Craig Steven Swan was born on November 30, 1950 in Van Nuys, California. He was drafted at age 17, but chose to attend Arizona State University instead. There he was a top pitcher, setting a record in the 1972 College World Series allowing only one run over 18 innings pitched.

The six foot three, right handed Swan, had a good moving fastball in the low nineties and a hard slider. He was selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1972 draft. He had a brief cup of coffee in September 1973, debuting on against the Philadelphia on September 2nd, where he gave up four earned runs on nine hits in four innings pitched.

His next outing went better, pitching two scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs, two weeks later. He was with the club at the start of the 1974 season, having a great day on May 11th. At the plate he had three hits, driving in a run, scoring another while pitching six shutout innings to earn his first career win. In June he broke his arm and missed the rest of the season finishing up at 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA. He returned to AAA Tidewater in 1975, and was named the International League MVP going 13-7 with a 2.24 ERA.

Swan made the 1976 Mets staff as their fifth starter, behind Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman & veteran Mickey Lolich brought in from Detroit in the Rusty Staub trade. He lost his first decision then pitched a five hit complete game shutout in Atlanta to beat the Braves. He then beat the Big Red Machine in his next outing. He had a horrible May losing five straight decisions, and only won two more games the rest of the year.

He did have good stretch in June pitching into the 7th inning or beyond giving up two runs or less five different times. All he had to show for it were two wins, two losses and a no decision due to lack of run support. The no decision came during a 10 inning three hit shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over a stretch of three games he allowed just a single earned run in 26 innings (0.35 ERA) with 21 strikeouts. He finished the year 6-9 with a 3.54 ERA, 89 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched.

In 1977 he began the year with a 1-4 record, improving to .500 by the All Star break. His best month was July when he was 3-1, including pitching a three hit shutout against the eventual NL Champion Dodgers in Los Angeles. He finished the year at 9-10, the second most wins on the staff, with a 4.23 ERA & 71 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched, as the Mets sank to last place.

Swan began 1978 with a five hit shutout victory against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, in the 5th game of the season. Although he pitched well, he didn’t earn another victory until mid July. He had allowed two runs or less ten times, and had actually allowed no runs pitching into the 7th inning three different times. During that stretch he posted a 2.66 ERA going 1-5, but this was a Mets team that didn’t score many runs. 

He had a 13 strikeout performance on Independence Day, but gave up two 9th inning runs and took the 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was one of the very few bright spots for the Mets in the summer of ’78, winning seven straight decisions during July & August. On August 15th he pitched a five hit victory at Shea against the San Diego Padres, where he allowed no earaned runs. When he faced the Padres in San Diego on the next road trip he beat Gaylord Perry in a 2-1 pitcher's duel allowing just five hits.

Although he lost to the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers on August 20th at Shea, he struck out ten batters. He won eight of his last nine games, posting the league’s best ERA. On September 16th, he allowed one run and three hits over nine innings but again got no decision.

He finished the season leading the National League in ERA (2.43) posting a 9-6 record, pitching in 207 innings and striking out 125 batters. He pitched well at home, posting a 1.67 ERA at Shea Stadium, with a 5-2 record.

Swan was the Mets 1979 Opening Day starter & earned the win in a wild 10-6 win at Wrigley Field. In his next start he allowed just one earned run in nine innings pitched against the Expos but go no decision. On April 25th at Shea Stadium, he tossed a two hit shutout against the San Francisco Giants walking only one batter.

In June he won three straight games, allowing only three runs over three straight complete games. In San Francisco he tossed another shut out against the Giants, this time a six hitter with seven strike outs on July 25th. He won his first three games in August, then suffered four losing decisions.

He finished off the season with two victories at the end of September, giving him 14 wins on the year. That total was more than any of his two team mates combined in that dismal season. He averaged two walks every nine innings which was one of the league's best ratios as well.

For 1979 he led the staff in ERA (3.29) wins (14) strike outs (145) shut outs (3) complete games (10) innings pitched (251) starts (35) as well as HRs, hits & runs allowed. His numbers were pretty much all career bests as by now he had developed into a mature pitcher. In the off season, he became the highest paid Mets pitcher in history signing a large contract that got him $560,000 for the 1980 season.

On Opening Day 1980 he beat the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, with a lineup of Frank Tavares, Eliot Maddox, Lee Mazzilli, Steve Henderson, Mike Jorgenson, Jerry Morales, John Stearns & Doug Flynn behind him. On May 9th he beat the Expos in Montreal allowing just one run on three hits. On May 25th he beat the Atlanta Braves throwing another three hitter, this time a shut out performance.

By mid-June he was 5-4 with a 2.21 ERA on another bad hitting team. After losing his next four decisions, he was placed on the disabled list in what turned out to be a torn rotator cuff. He made two more starts pitched poorly & was done for the season by mid August. He went 5-9 with a 3.58 ERA, pitching 128 innings striking out 79 batters & walking 30.

He started out pitching in 1981 but went down again, missing most of the season, appearing in only five games. In one freak accident he fractured a rib, when he was hit by a throw from John Stearns trying to nail a base runner. He really should be recognized for the amazing accomplishment of being maybe the first pitcher to successfully come back from rotator cuff surgery.

After suffering a loss on April 12th, he earned a win pitching one inning of relief on April 21st at Shea Stadium. By June he was back in the starting rotation, winning his first two starts in the month. After two early season starts he spent some time in the bullpen, earning a save and posting a 1.30 ERA in relief. On August 4th, the day Joel Youngblood made history driving in the winning run for two different teams, Swan hit his only major league HR.  

In September as the Mets were on their way to lose 97 games, Swan won four of his five starts, with a complete game in his final start.

In 1982 he was second for the Comeback Player of the Year Award, leading the team with 11 wins (11-7) with a .611 winning %, pitching in 37 games, 166 innings, 67 strikeouts & a 3.35 ERA. During Spring Training the next season, he Swan felt something pop in his arm but he pitched through the injury.

He pitched the second game of the season after Tom Seavers Opening Day return to New York, and beat Philadelphia 6-2. His arm trouble affected his throwing as he only won one more game on the year, going 2-8 with a 5.51 ERA.

In 1984, while the Mets were competing for the title, Swan managed only ten awful relief appearances before being released on May 9th. The Angels signed him two weeks later but after two bad appearances he was through.

After a 12 season career, he finished up Lifetime 59-72 with seven saves, 673 strikeouts and a 3.74 ERA in 1235 innings pitched. He has that one ERA title to his credit as well.

All Time Mets Leader Board: Swan is 13th on the Mets all time list in victories (59) 11th in shut outs (7) 9th in complete games (25) & starts (184). Swan is 8th in innings (1230) & losses (71). He is 12th in Strike outs (671)

Retirement: As Swan was recovering from rotator cuff surgery he discovered the technique of Rolfing. It helped strengthen his muscles back into shape. He enrolled in the Rolfe institute in Boulder Colorado and went into the practice. His office is located in Greenwich Connecticut and his son has now joined his staff.

Swan now lives in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Connecticut. Among the patients he has helped, is former team mate, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Years ago, Swannie lost millions of dollars in bad investments, and credits Fred Wilpon in helping get his daughter into the University of Michigan.