Aug 26, 2021

Jerry Koosman: All Time Mets Left Handed Pitcher (Part Two-1973-1978)

After the Championship: After the World Series win the Mets appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show singing "You Got To Have Heart". Koosman was thrilled to do it.

In the off season he enjoyed the luxuries that come from being a World Champion & any member of the Amazing Mets would associated with that win forever.

Koosman pitched the second game of the 1970 season taking a tough 2-1 loss to Doc Ellis & the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

On April 14th, 1970 the Mets raised
the Championship banner at Shea Stadium, before the home opener. Koosman started the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave up three runs, taking a no decision, as the Mets lost it in the bottom of the 10th, when Matty Alou & Richie Hebner drove in the final runs.

On April 19th, he took a tough loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, as he & Rick Wise pitched to 1-1 tie through nine innings. Koosman allowed two runs in the tenth inning on base hits to Larry Hisle & Johnny Briggs taking the loss.
 
In his next start on April 24th, he pitched nine innings of shut out ball at Dodger Stadium. That night the Mets bats were also shut down by Dodger pitching & they lost the game in the 15th inning. L.A.'s Tom Haller singled off Ron Taylor, as Wes Parker scored the winning run.

 In the first month of 1970, Koosman did not get a victory in five starts. 

Finally on May 9th he earned his first win of the year, although he allowed five runs on ten hits the Mets beat the Giants 14-5. In his next start, coming at Philadelphia, he struck out ten batters and four hit the Phillies 6-0, throwing his first shutout of the year.  In the game he drove in a run with a hit, walked & scored two runs.

Injury: On June 5th, Koosman was hit in the mouth with a line drive off the bat of Mets pitcher Gary Gentry, during batting practice. He was knocked out & had to have his jaw wired shut for six weeks. Manager Gil Hodges had Koosman drink milk shakes & a beer every game he was on the bench in order to keep his weight up. 

Koosman, returned on June 20th & got the start at Shea Stadium. He allowed just one earned run to the Phillies but took another tough 2-1 loss to pitcher, Chris Short. From there he pitched to a win at Wrigley Field, a win at Shea over the Pirates, where he drove in a run as well. Then he earned another win at Philadelphia to get to 4-4.

 In the month of July, Koos had more bad luck & no run
support. He took three straight no decisions in games where allowed just one earned run each time. In two of those games he went to the 8th inning or beyond.

From August 8th through September 5th, he went 5-0 as the Mets helped him with better run support. On August 8th, he pitched just six innings, while giving up six runs, in a crazy 12-9 win at Pittsburgh.  

The Mets had 17 hits & the Pirates 15. On August 14th, in the nightcap of a twin bill in Atlanta, he earned a 4-2 win, to get over the .500 mark at 7-6.

On August 21st, he beat the Cincinnati Reds on a seven hitter. It was the first time since May 31st that he had not allowed an earned run. 

In his next two starts he allowed five earned runs in both, but still got a win on August 31st, in St. Louis as the Mets scored eleven runs 11-5. At the end of the month, the Mets were just 1.5 games out of first in a three team race with the Cubs & Pirates.

On September 5th, he beat Ken Holtzman & the rival Chicago Cubs in Chicago 5-3, in the heat of another tight pennant race. The win put the Mets just two games back of the first place Pirates & a half game behind the second place Cubs. 

But it took Koosman two more starts to get a win. 
On September 20th, Koosman beat Bob Moose & the first place Pirates in the first game of a double header. He threw a complete game two hit, one run victory. 

The win placed New York just 3 1/2 games back
of the Pirates. But they lost three of four in that series & would fade away from the race during the last two weeks. The Pirates won the Eastern Division losing the NLCS to the Cincinnati Reds. 

In the 1970 season, Koosman posted the second most wins on the Mets staff to Tom Seaver, with a 12-7 record posting a 3.14 ERA (5th best in the league). He struck out 118 batters, walking 71 batters in 212 innings pitched. That year he pitched one shut out with five complete games. 

In 1971 he began the year with no decision in the third game of the season, pitching ten innings allowing just one run against the 1970 NL Champion Cincinnati Reds. 

On April 27th, he got his first win, pitching 8 innings allowing one run, in a 2-1 win over Steve Carlton & the Cardinals. He ended the first month of the 1971 season with an ERA under two (1.91).

After beating the Cards again on May 9th at Shea Stadium, he beat the Pirates on May 14th, in complete game fashion. He 
was 3-1 with a fantastic 2.17 ERA. He then lost two straight decisions, including a heartbreaker on May 31st in San Francisco. Koos threw ten innings of work, allowing two runs on five hits, exiting in a tie game. 

Reliever, Danny Frisella lost it in the 11th. That day Koosman pulled a muscle in his back, due to pitching in the cold weather at Candlestick Park. The problem would affect him for the rest of his season. 

In July he went down with another injury & would not return until mid August, missing over a month of action.

He returned on August 14th, pitching again in San Francisco but go no decision, after allowing no earned runs (but four runs) in six innings of work. The Mets lost the game 6-5. 

In his next start, the first at Shea in over a month and a half, he was out pitched 3-2 by Clay Kirby of the Padres. 

On August 25th, he beat the Giants at Shea Stadium, allowing just one run in the complete game 5-1 Mets win. He struck out eight in the game as well. He took a pair of no decisions where he gave up just two earned runs & went a disappointing 2-4 the rest of the year. 

On September 10th, he had a season high 11 strike outs, coming against the Phillies, as he earned his final win of the year. The Mets won 86 games but finished third that year. 

Koosman went 6-11 with a 3.04 ERA in 26 starts. He had 96 strike outs with 51 walks, in 165 innings pitched, tossing four complete games. 
At bat he batted .160 going 8-60.

Gil Hodges Passing: In Spring Training 1972 the Mets team flew North ready to start the season. Koosman stayed behind wondering if the season would start on time due to a possible players strike. 

He found Minnesota Viking's center Mick Tingelhoff at the hotel pool & the two became friends. Tingelhoff had been a catcher playing baseball in high school & offered to catch as Koosman pitched to him to keep his arm in shape. 

Afterward as he went to his room he heard sirens outside his window & rushed to the lobby of the hotel. He had found out manager Gil Hodges had been rushed to the hospital after suffering a heart attack. When he got to the hospital he found out the bad news from his pitching coach Rube Walker, that Hodges had passed away. Koosman as well as the rest of the team was devastated. 

When the season finally got under way, the Mets had a new manager in Yogi Berra. Berra was the popular choice but the Mets head of Minor League Player Development, Whitey Herzog should have gotten it. As for the team, they were still in shock & it affected their whole season.

Koosman had trouble with his wind up. He found himself at 0-3 and the new manager Berra, put him in the bullpen to work out his issues. Things got better as he earned two wins in relief. 

On May 25th, Koosman earned his first career save, it came against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He got back into the rotation by June 10th, as he pitched six innings, allowing two runs to the Houston Astros, earning his third win to get to 3-3. He earned two more wins in June, one at Houston & the other at home against the Pirates. He struck out nine batters in each game. 

Scoreless Innings Streak: On July 1st, he won his sixth straight decision, a four hit shutout against
the Expos in Montreal. In the game, he walked just one & struck out six. On July 6th at Shea Stadium, Koos pitched ten shut out innings against the Padres. This got him to a 22 consecutive scoreless innings streak. Unfortunately he got no decision as Gary Ross shut out the Mets 1-0. Tug McGraw walked in the winning run in the 14th. 


He was 6-3 at that point, but over the next two months, Koosman would lose eight of his next ten decisions. His ERA was at a career high 4.40 by that point. The Mets would fall out of contention as well, finishing third at 82-73. Koos would win his final two starts of the year.

A rough August had him go 1-4 with two complete games losses as well as three outings where he didn't get past the fourth inning. He did better in September but the Mets finished in third place (83-73) never quite recovering from the shock of Gil Hodges death. 


On the year Koosman went 11-12, tied for third on the staff in wins with Jim McAndrew. Koos struck out 147 batters while walking 52 batters in 163 innings pitched. 

That 1972 season saw the emergence of that year's Rookie of the Year Pitcher Jon Matlack who went 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA for New York. In the coming years Koosman, Seaver & Matlack would be among the league's best trio of pi

1973 Mets Pennant Season: 
Jerry Koosman started out the 1973 season better than anyone on the staff or in the National League for that matter.

He got the start in the third Mets game of the season, beating Reggie Cleveland & the Cardinals in St. Louis. In his second start he pitched a complete game five hitter, allowing one run in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

Two more complete game victories followed, a 5-2 win at the Astrodome & an exciting four hit shutout in Atlanta. In that game he beat Carl Morton 1-0. 

Overall, in April he was 4-0 with 1.06 ERA allowing just four earned runs in 34 innings. He had 14 strike outs with 7 walks in 34 innings pitched. He won both, Player of the week & the Player of the Month awards to start out the 1973 season.

On May 9th, he beat the Atlanta Braves again, in an 8-1 Mets victory to get to 5-0. 

But then things went sour for him as he suffered poor run support from a weak offense & an injury ridden team. 

Koosman went through two different five game losing streaks through the end of August. 

In 19 starts from May 15th to August 15th, he allowed two earned runs or less eight times (half the outings). He went 3-14 in that stretch & by August 15th he was 8-14 with an ERA of 3.37 & the Mets were floundering in last place.

On June 16th, in a game against the San Diego Padres, he struck out a season high nine batters, breaking a personal five game losing streak. On July 1st, he gave up five earned runs to the Cubs at Wrigley Field but still got the win. That day Wayne Garrett drove in three of the Mets runs as they beat Fergie Jenkins.

He took two more losing decisions, coming from the Braves & Astros both at home. Then on July 16th, he had his worst outing of the year. Koosman gave up seven earned runs& nine hits, in an 8-6 loss to the Braves in Atlanta.

On July 21st, he beat Ken Forsch & Astros in Houston breaking a three game losing streak. He then lost his next five decisions, on August 15th he was 8-14 but had a very respectable ERA of 3.37. At this point the Mets were floundering in last place but only eight & half games out.

In late August through September Koosman was back as well. He was himself again and would win six of his last seven decisions, helping the Mets capture the NL Eastern title.

 It began on August 19th, when he allowed just one run on six hits at Shea Stadium, in a game against the Mets eventual NLCS opponent the, Cincinnati Reds. The Mets beat Ross Grimsley, as Bud Harrelson doubled in the 8th inning bring home Don Hahn for the 2-1 win. Koos had seven Ks in the game, winning his 9th game of the year (9-14).

In his next start, on August 24th, he matched zeroes with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal & the San Francisco Giants for ten innings. In the bottom of the 10th,  Felix Millan singled home Kenny Boswell, with the walk off game winning run, as Koosman got to ten wins (10-14). 

On August 29th, his next start, he was relieved in the 7th inning, but had shut out the Padres along the way with seven Ks. The Mets won it 3-0 on RBI hits from Felix Millan, Willie Mays & Cleon Jones. Buzz Capra saved the game.

You Gotta Believe: From this point on the Mets had an incredible pennant drive going 19-8 in September. Their regular players were back from injuries, their staff was healthy & Tug McGraw who had struggled, started the rally cry of "You Gotta Believe" was now one of the best relievers in the game.

On September 3rd, he shut out another Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton, now with the Phillies. Koosman scattered seven hits not allowing anyone to score. The Mets beat Philadelphia at Shea Stadium 5-0. In his next start, he allowed just one run in six innings of work, taking a no decisions in a 4-2 win over the Expos. 

Mets Scoreless Innings Record: In his last five games Koosman had allowed just one earned run. Koosman set a Mets record with 31 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. A record that stood 29 years until R.A. Dickey broke it with 32 2/3 scoreless innings.

On September 11th, he was hammered for six runs, the third time of the year he allowed six runs or more. It was the only loss he took or that the Mets took in any of his starts from August 15th to the end of the year. At this point they were three games out of first in a wild five team race.

On September 25th, the Mets were now just 1.5 games out of first place, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. Koos beat Steve Rogers & the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium in a 2-1 classic that Tug McGraw came in & helped save. 

Koosman's next start came in the next to last game of the season, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Rain had postponed games for two days & this afternoon was a scheduled twin bill, as was tomorrow. This one due to a May 10th game that was called due to cold weather. Game time was 1100 am & The Mets lost the first game 1-0, getting shut out by Rick Reushel & later Bob Locker (two innings).

The whole season came down to these games. In the night cap, Koos would beat the Cubs, pitching a complete game, allowing only two runs, both which were unearned. 

After giving up a  pair of singles, Wayne Garrett's error
allowed both runs to score. But the Mets scored seven runs, led by Rusty Staub's three RBIs & Cleon Jones two run HR. Once again, Fergie Jenkins was on the losing end.

The Mets were now in first place, the win guaranteed the Mets at least a tie for first place in the NL East. 

They clinched the division the next day after winning the first game, with no need to play the second. It was another Amazing finish & onto the playoffs.


Koosman finished the 1973 Mets Pennant season at 14-15, with a 2.84 ERA (9th best in the NL) 156 strikeouts & 76 walks in 263 innings pitched (7th in the NL). He had three shutouts (7th best in the NL). At the plate he had 15 sacrifice hits (4th in the NL) & batted .103 & droving in three runs.

1973 Post Season: NLCS: Koosman got the start in Game #3 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. The Big Red Machine were heavily favored to win the series. The series was tied at one game each at this point. It was the second NLCS held at Shea Stadium in the past four years. 

This was the classic game in which Bud Harrelson & Pete had their famous bench clearing brawl in the fourth inning.

Earlier in the game Koosman says Rose was cursing him from the dugout after he had thrown nothing but off speed pitches to get him to pop up. 

In Rose's next at bat he tried to hit Rose but he singled, by that time the Mets had taken a 7-2 lead and Koosman had got Joe Morgan to ground into an inning ending double play. Rose slid hard into second with a cheap shot pop up slide into second base, Harrelson told him that he didn't like it & a fight broke out.

Rose was trying to get his team fired up, but instead it fired up the Mets & the Shea Crowd. The game had to be stopped and the Reds were removed from the field after the Shea fans pelted Rose & the field with anything they could find. When a whiskey bottle came whizzing by Rose's head, manager Sparky Anderson removed his team from the field. 

Quotes- Sparky Anderson: "Pete Rose has given to much to baseball to die in the outfield at Shea Stadium".

Koosman had two east first innings & then in the 3rd, gave up a HR to Dennis Menke. Then three straight singles to Larry Stahl, Rose & Morgan. But the Mets had a 6-2 lead, led by Rusty Staubs two HRs, a solo shot off Ross Grimsley & a three run shot off Tom Hall.

After order had been restored, Koosman rolled along, he pitched the complete game, earning the 9-2 victory. He gave up two runs on eight hits, while striking out nine Reds. It was his first NLCS victory in his career.

The victory gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the Series. The Mets won the Series in five games advancing to their second World Series in five years. 

1973 World Series: In the World Series the Mets faced the defending World Champion Oakland A’s. Once again they were heavy underdogs. 

Koosman got his first start in Game #2 at the Oakland Coliseum against twenty game winner, Vida Blue. The A's had taken Game #1 with a 2-1 win. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, Koos had a rough outing, only lasting into the 3rd inning. He gave up three runs on six hits, struck out four & walked three. 

In the 1st inning, Joe Rudi doubles & came home when Sal Bando tripled. He struck out Reggie Jackson then walked Gene Tenace & gave up a run scoring double to Jesus Alou. The Mets got a run back when Cleon Jones homered. 

In the 2nd, Bert Campaneris tripled off  Koosman & scored on Joe Rudi's base hit. Koosman exited with two on in the 3rd inning.

He got a no decision as the Mets went on to an extra inning, 10-7 win to even the Series.

1973 World Series Game #5: He came back to pitch a gem in Game #5 at Shea Stadium in front of 54,817 on cool Thursday night. 

He held the mighty Oakland bats scoreless for six & a third innings. He only gave up three hits along the way, walking four & striking out four A's. 

In the 3rd inning, his great pick off move nailed the speedy Bert Campaneris at first base. 

In the 6th, with two A's on base, he got Reggie Jackson to ground out to Bud Harrelson. 

In the 7th inning, Koos tired, after walking Gene Tenace & giving up a one out double to Ray Fosse, he was relived by Tug McGraw. McGraw kept the A's down the rest of the way, and the two pitchers combined for the shut out.

The Mets won the game on RBI hits from John Milner in 2nd inning & a Don Hahn triple in the 6th. This victory gave the Mets a 3-2 lead in the Series heading back to sunny Oakland California.


Yogi Berra will forever be questioned as to why he did not pitch George Stone who had gone 12-3 on the season in any of the two final games of the Series. 

Yes, he did choose to go with Seaver
(the Cy Young winner that year) & Matlack but they were both on three days rest. 

Koosman was ready to go in Game #7 telling pitching coach Rube Walker, to let Yogi know "I'm available". He was never called upon & the Mets lost the Game #7 & the Series four games to three.

Overall in his Mets Post season career, Koosman never lost a decision, in six starts he was 4-0 striking out 31 batters in 40 innings, posting a 3.79 ERA with two complete game wins. He can be called the Mets best Post season pitcher in team history.

1 comment:

Exceptional Mets Fan said...

With the exception of TomSeaver and GilHodges, no Mets uniform # should be retired : that’s for the Bronx. But Jerry may be the exception to the exception (thanx Yogi). The premier LH in Mets history and best lefty in MLB for a dozen years with the possible exception of Silent Steve.Most satisfying win :Game 5,1973 WorldSeries at Shea. His Minnesota roots payed off, sloughing off the cold late night NYC weather by shutting out the A’s into the 7th - and utilizing his exceptional pick-off move to erase Bert Campaneris from 1st base, proving crucial with a 2-0 lead.He should also get Hall of Fame consideration, but admittedly it’s already too crowded. THAT’S why nobody goes there anymore (thanx again,Yogi).