Dec 11, 2019

Remembering Mets History: (1974) NL Champion Mets Take A Goodwill Tour Of Japan

Jerry Koosman enjoys the fruits of Japan
In the off season of 1974 the Mets took a three week good will tour of Japan. They had originally been asked to do the trip while still being the defending NL Champs. New York was a known team team in Japan & stars like Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra,  Jerry Koosman & Tug McGraw were well known in Japan as well.

But not all the Mets were into the trip, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote &Tug McGraw did not participate in the journey. Some feel that McGraw being traded in the off season may have had something to do with his not going. Tom Seaver did not want to go eithr, his wife; Nancy was pregnant at the time with their second child. But all agreed Seaver was the big draw & had to make the trip. He went with Nancy, pitched in five games then came home early as Nancy got sick.

Mets- Ed Kranepool, John Milner & Joe Torre
On the trip the Mets showed off their new acquisition, infielder Joe Torre. The Mets went 9-7 on the trip & had a fun time along the way. They played a variety of the Japan teams, selling a good amount of tickets along the way.

On November 2nd, during a pre-game of a Mets vs Japan game, there was a very special event. CBS had arranged for MLB's all time HR King; Hank Aaron to go up against all time Japanese HR king; Sadahara Oh of the Legendary Yomiuri Giants in a HR derby show down.

Sadahara Oh, Henry Aaron & Yogi Berra in Japan 1974

Aaron who had just set the all time HR record early in the 1974 season, took the contest lightly & in goo nature collecting the $50,000 awarded to him. Mr. Oh took it a bit more serious in his home land receiving $20,000 for his efforts.

Aaron chose the Mets coach, Joe Pignatano to toss him his pitches, quite an honor for the Mets coach. Hank also chose to use an Ed Kranepool light Adirondack bat in the competition. 

As Aaron was trailing Oh early on, the Mets wives began chanting "Lets go Henry" something he'd thought he'd never hear from the New Yorkers. Aaron won the contest 10-9.

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