Remembering Mets History: (1972) Rookie John Milner Collects a Mets Record Five Hits In a Game

Friday September 8th, 1972: Yogi Berra's third place Mets (67-63) hosted Red Schoendienst fourth place St. Louis Cardinals, in the first game of a Friday evening double header. 

Although both teams were out of the pennant race, the Mets were proudly displaying a pair of hot rookies in tonight's game. John Milner & Jon Matlack who would both be the co-stars of the game.

The Mets left hander Jon Matlack (11-8) would win the 1972 Rookie of the Year Award, tonight he went up against the Cards' Reggie Cleveland (13-12).

In the 1st inning, John Milner batting in the third position, doubled putting runners on second &
third with one out. Ed Kranepool was walked intentionally & then Reggie Cleveland walked Cleon Jones with the bases loaded, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. 

Jon Matlack would surrender three singles in both the 2nd & 3rd innings, resulting in two Cardinal runs. The RBIs came from Jorge Roque & Ken Reitz.

For John Milner he would single again in the 3rd inning, then later in the 5th inning. In the 5th Ken Boswell preceded Milner with a base hit, but the Mets left both runners stranded when Ed Kranepool flew out to center to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th the Mets were still down 2-1. Ken Boswell doubled to right field, with his second hit of the game. John Milner followed with a two run HR putting the Mets ahead 3-2. It was the young slugger's 14th HR of the year. Milner would hit 17 HRs on the year, best on the 1972 Mets team. 

In the 8th inning, the Mets sent eight men to the plate, as they collected five hits with five runs. With Deigo Segui now on the mound, Jim Fregosi & Jerry Grote started out with base hits. Ted Martinez came in to run for Fregosi & got third base, he scored on a fielder's choice. 

The Mets new pitcher Tug McGraw came to bat & struck out. Tommie Agee followed with a single scoring Grote making it a 5-2 Mets lead.

Manager Red Schoendienst had enough of Segui & brought in John Cumberland to pitch. He was greeted by Ken Boswell's three run HR. It was Boswell's third hit of the game, his 9th HR of the year giving the Mets an 8-2 lead.

The next batter was Milner, who reached on an infield single to second base. For Milner it was his fifth hit of the night, as he went 5-5 with a HR & two RBIs. 

Trivia: The five hits in a game set a Mets record that stood until 1999 when it was passed by Edgardo Alfonso, who collected six hits in the game.

In 1972 John Milner was the Rookie of the Year runner up to his teammate Jon Matlack. He batted .238 with 12 doubles 17 HRs 2 triples 51 walks & 38 RBIs in 117 games, posting a .340 on base % & a .762 OPS. Milner was nick named "The Hammer" after his idol Hank Aaron. 

Tug McGraw finished off the game with a three up three down 9th inning. 

 Jon Matlack earned his 12th win (12-9) although he gave up twelve hits, he only allowed two runs in seven innings of work, striking out six & walking just one. Matlack's ERA was just 2.38. 

Trivia: The 1972 Rookie of the Year Jon Matlak would finish up the year 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA (4th in the NL) & 169 strike outs (10th in the NL). 

He joined a pitching staff of Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman that led the Mets to the 1973 World Series. A lack of offensive players kept the Mets from future pennants despite having one of the league's best pitching staffs.


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