Nov 23, 2019

Don Hahn: 1973 N.L. Champion Mets Centerfielder (1971-1974)

Donald Antone Hahn was born November 16, 1948 in San Francisco, California.

Hahn attended Campbell high school where he played football & basketball as well as baseball. The six foot right hand hitting outfielder was drafted in the 17th round of the 1966 draft by the local, San Francisco Giants.

Hahn played three seasons at A ball then in 1968 he was picked up as a Rule 5 draft pick by the expansion Montreal Expos.

He was the original Montreal Expos centerfielder in the first game ever played in the history of the franchise, on April 8, 1969 at Shea Stadium. The 20 year old went 0-3 that day in an exciting 11-10 win over the New York Mets. He was the first Expo to ever field a ball as the Mets Tommie Agee led off the first inning with a single to Hahn in center.

After just five games he was 1-9 (.111) and was sent back down to the minors for the rest of the season. He played out the year at AAA Vancouver in the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .268. In 1970 he returned to Montreal at the end of April, getting two hits & a pair of walks in his return.

That year Hahn played in 82 games, batting .255 with eight doubles & eight RBIs in 149 at-bats. Hahn would never prove to be a power hitter by any means, he hit no HRs that season & just seven in 997 career at bats. He did show some speed with good base running abilities stealing four bases in six attempts in his rookie year.

At the end of Spring Training 1971 he was traded to the New York Mets for 1969 World Series hero Ron Swoboda. 

Mets Career: Don Hahn made his Mets debut in the fourth game of the '71 season, appearing as a pinch runner. He made pinch running appearances before getting his first Mets at bat, where he drew a walk as a pinch hitter.

On April 29th he would get his first Mets hit, coming as a pinch hitter against the Cardinals in St. Louis. He got his first start in May & would saw some playing time in centerfield when Tommie Agee got hurt & was limited to 118 games.

On June 20th he helped spark a 9th inning rally when he singled off the Philadelphia Phillies Bucky Brandon with the bases loaded. In the next at bat pinch hitter Duffy Dyer singled to drive in the game winning runs.

By mid June Hahn brought his average up to a season best .288 before falling off from there. 

History Making HR: On September 5th at Philadelphia’s Veteran Stadium, Hahn hit his first career HR. It was an inside the parker, and came off of pitcher Woodie Fryman. It was a historic HR, because it was the first inside the park HR to be hit in the new Veterans Stadium which had opened the previous year. 

Overall in 98 games Hahn hit .236 with one HR, five doubles, 11 RBIs and two stolen bases.

1972 Season: In 1972 he had gone 0-6 as a pinch hitter through May 10th. On that day, the Mets acquired the legendary future Hall of Fame veteran Willie Mays, in his triumphant return to New York.

At that point it seemed that with Tommie Agee, a young rookie slugger named John Milner & Mays, that there would be little room for the weak hitting Hahn.

He spent most of the year at AAA Tidewater batting .282 with 13 stolen bases, returning to the Mets in September. On the season he saw action in only 17 games, batting a measly .162 (6-37). In ten games in the outfield he made eight put outs with no errors.

1973 Mets Pennant Season: At the end of Spring Training 1973, Hahn was sent back to AAA Tidewater where he hit.274 with 7 HRs & 27 RBIs in 53 games played.

But up on the big league club, the Mets were having problems filling in a centerfielder. Willie Mays was at the end of his career & could only play sparingly. New comer, Rich Chiles was gone after just eight games,as he & Jim Gosger never worked out.

Hahn played hard & had never ending determination which got him the starting centerfield job by June.

He would play well defensively in 83 games in center field, posting a .988 fielding % (third best among NL centerfielders) making just two errors. Mays would play 45 games (.990 fielding %).

Outfield Collision: Hahn will always be remembered for a famous outfield collision that occurred on July 7th, 1973 at Shea Stadium. Hahn was playing centerfield in a game against the Atlanta Braves. 

The Braves batter; The Roadrunner Ralph Garr, hit a fly ball into the left centerfield gap. Hahn was running over at full speed as was left fielder George "the Stork" Theodore.

The two collided head on, very hard into each other. The ball rolled to the wall & the Road Runner rounded the bases. The two Met outfielders lie motionless on the outfield grass for a bit.

After the violent collision settled in, Theodore had to be removed from the field on a stretcher. Hahn was able to walk away, leaving just a bit shaken up. The moment has lived on forever, caught on film as well as in the Mets 1974 yearbook.

Hahn's biggest blow of the year at the plate, came on August 18th, off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Fred Norman. It was a three run shot at Shea Stadium in the Mets 12-1 romp over their future October NLCS opponents.

Hahn got hot, as did the rest of the Mets team at the right time, at the end of August he went into a nine out of twelve game hit streak leading into September.

On August 27th, he had a four hit day at Shea Stadium, with a 4th inning RBI single in a 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres. The next day he drove in two more runs in an 8-6 win over the Padres.

Although he dropped off twenty points in batting average during the month of September, he did drive in seven runs. On September 1st, Hahn had a two run single at St. Louis in the Mets 4-1 win over the Cardinals.

On September 7th in the second game of a double header at Montreal, the Mets & Expos had a close 1-1 tie going on into the 15th inning. 

Two of the league's best relievers were now in a classic pitching duel, Tug McGraw had pitched six innings of relief & Montreal's Mike Marshall would pitch eight innings of relief. In the top of the 15th Hahn's sac fly broke the tie & put New York ahead 2-1. McGraw helped his own cause, following with a two run single.

On September 18th he broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the 9th inning at Pittsburgh, in a game against the first place Pirates. Hahn came through with a single off reliever Dave Guisti, scoring Rusty Staub & Teddy Martinez, putting New York up 6-4.

That night the Mets pulled within four games of the Pirates. Hahn closed out the year with three hits in the final four games.

In the Mets 1973 NL Pennant winning season, Hahn hit .229 with two HRs, ten doubles, a .285 on base % & 22 RBIs in 262 at bats while playing in 93 overall games.

1973 Post Season- NLCS: In the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, Hahn played in all five games, hitting .235, (4 for 17). He would come up with a pair of hits in both Game Two & Game Three, scoring a run in Game #3.

In Game #4 he drew a third inning walk, advanced & scored the Mets only run on Felix Millan's base hit. In Game #5 he drove in a run on a ground out force play in the Mets four run 5th inning.

1973 World Series: In the 1973 World Series he played in all seven games going 9- 29 batting .241 with a double a triple & two RBIs.

In Game #2 at Oakland, Hahn tied up the game with an infield single, scoring Cleon Jones. The A's third baseman Sal Bando could not come up with the ball as Cleon Jones crossed the plate. Hahn would score when A's pitcher; Darold Knowles made a throwing error later that inning.

In the 6th inning of Game #3 at Shea Stadium, Hahn made a spectacular catch against the outfield wall, saving an extra base hit. 

But the next batter Sal Bando, then blasted a shot over Hahn's head to straight away centerfield, for a double.

Hahn had misplayed the ball & looked confused in center field. The reason being that some of the outfield turf had been removed along the warning track & was put in the infield to make up for the damage done after the NLCS.

Hahn certainly was use to his position in center, but was thrown off by the longer stretch of warning track. Next , Gene Tenace also doubled bringing in Bando with the A's first run.

Quotes- Don Hahn said later: "I was playing deep, but not deep enough. I played the warning track. What should have been, wasn't. The ball dropped for a double. After the game Seaver told me he knew about the field being changed, but forgot to tell me about it."

In Game #4 at Shea Stadium, Hahn singled off the A's Blue Moon Odom, to lead off the Mets 4th inning. He then scored the Mets fourth run of the game, when Felix Millan reached on an error.

The Mets went on to a 6-1 win, led by Rusty Staub's three run HR, evening the Series at two games each.

In Game #5 at Shea Stadium, Hahn reached on a Bert Campaneris error at short, as he over ran the ball. The Mets failed to score in that inning. In the home 6th, Hahn’s triple off Vida Blue, drove in Jerry Grote with one of the two Mets runs.

Hahn had not hit a triple all season and only had four triples in his entire career. The two runs were all the Mets needed and they went up three games to two in the Series, behind Jerry Koosman & Tug McGraw’s combined shut out.

In the final Game #7, Hahn came up with three of the Mets eight hits in the 5-2 loss at Oakland.

After the Pennant: In 1974 Hahn had his best season at the plate, starting out with two hits on the Opening Day loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia. In May he hit two HRs in the same week, both coming on the road. The first was in a 6-3 win at Wrigley Field & the second in a 6-4 win over the Cards at Busch Stadium.

In June he hit safely in 10 of 14 games, with six multi hit games, batting .320 by the end of the month.

On July 20th, he had two hits while driving in three runs, in a 10-2 win at San Diego. He entered August on an eight game hit streak and on August 9th helped beat the Cincinnati Reds with a three run HR off Fred Norman leading to a 4-1 Mets victory. Although he was batting .290 in the first week of August, his average fell off to finish the Mets disappointing '74 season at .251.

On the year he played in a career high 110 games, with four HRs, 14 doubles, 37 walks a .337 on base % & 28 RBIs. In centerfield he made eight assists, with a .987 fielding %, while making three errors in 228 chances.

After the 1974 season, Hahn would get traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, along with popular Mets reliever Tug McGraw & Dave Schneck, in exchange for John Stearns, Del Unser, & relief pitcher Mac Scarce.

In 1975 Hahn only played in nine games for Philadelphia, before getting released in late May He would go on to the St. Louis Cardinals (seven games) & San Diego Padres (34 games) that same year.

Overall he hit only .179 in 50 games with three extra base hits. He played in the AAA Pacific Coast League the next two years, retiring from the games in 1977 at age 30.

Hahn finished his seven year career playing in 454 games with a .236 average, 235 hits 7 HRs, 38 doubles, 4 triples, 122 walks a .319 on base % & 74 RBIs. In the outfield he posted a .985 fielding % with 20 assists.

He is 12th on the Mets all time list with games played in center field with 268.

Quotes: Hahn's old minor league teammate was former Giants outfielder Bobby Bonds  "On the long bus rides during the winter leagues we would sit together and he would proudly boast that his 4-year-old son Barry would be a great athlete one day.

He said his kid had so much energy that he had to run around the block a few times before he was tired enough to fall asleep.''

Retirement: After his playing days, Hahn went into the Real Estate business in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hahn had two sons; Dustin & Brent Hahn who played in the minor leagues.

1 comment:

1973 Kid Met said...

Hahndo was a positive factor in the 1973 pennant drive and had a decent World Series. To be fair,the Sal Bando double in Game 3 was sailing over Don's head before he reached the warning track.But was it catchable? Possibly, by a healthy Tommie Agee,a younger Willie Mays or an untraded Amos Otis.