Apr 5, 2020

Jay Bruce: Former Mets Outfielder (2016-2018)

Jay Allen Bruce was born April 3rd 1987 in Beaumont Texas. He was a first round draft pick out of High School getting signed by the Cincinnati Reds.

He spent eight & a half seasons with the Reds, playing in 1220 games, hitting 233 HRs 238 doubles 27 triples while driving in 838 runs. batting .249 with 1196 strike outs & 454 walks.

In Cincinnati Bruce was a three time All Star & Silver Slugger winner. 

Post Season: With the Reds he made three post seasons, never getting further than the NLDS. 

He hit HRs in the 2010 & 2012 NLDS Series, driving in four runs in the 2012 series loss to the San Francisco Giants.

On August 1st 2016 the Mets traded Dilson Herrera & Max Wotell to acquire Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds.

Bruce arrived with the Mets as the NL's reigning RBI leader, his first Met appearance came during the 2016 Subway Series.

In his first Mets game he was batting third & playing right field while going 0-4. Two days later he led the Mets to a 4-1 win in the Bronx, as he blasted his first Mets HR, a three run shot. Two days later he hit his second HR as a Met in a loss to the Tigers in Detroit.

Bruce's bat stayed quiet as he did not hit anymore HRs in the month of August & only drove in two runs. His struggles since coming to New York,  led to some media bashing & fans displeasure. But eventually his power & production led to the Citi Field fans cheering "Bruuuuuuuce".

He began the Mets September playoff run, with HRs in two of the first three games of the month. In the final week and a half of the regular season, 

Bruce hit four HRs in six games from September 24th to September 30th while driving in eight runs. 

He homered in three straight games as the Mets took two of three in South Florida over the Marlins & two of three in Philly. It was his most productive stretch since coming to the Mets helping them capture the NL Wild Card title.

He finished 2016 playing in 50 Mets games with 8 HRs 5 doubles 19 RBIs while batting just .219. Overall he hit 33 HRs with 99 RBIs 27 doubles while batting .250. 

In the outfield, led all right fielders with his 10 assists & three double plays turned. He is 7th among active outfielders with 91 career assists.

2016 Post Season: In the Mets Wild Card Game loss he went 0-3 against Madison Bumgarner. 

As the 2017 season began there was positive vibes around the Mets until everything went sour. Bruce would see some action at first base as well (11 games) with the injuries & eventual departure of Lucas Duda. In right field he would have three assists, occasionally impressing with his arm. 

On Opening Day Bruce walked three times earning an RBI in the Mets 6-0 win at Citi Field. The next day he hit his first HR of the year.

On April 10th he hit two HRs in the Mets 5-4 win over the Phillies in Philadelphia. Nine days later he had another multi HR game, with two HRs & five RBIs. On May 2nd, he hit two more HRs & drove in a season high six RBIs, although the Mets lost 9-7 in Atlanta to the Braves. Bruce hit three more HRs in the month of May.

In June Bruce drove in 19 runs & hit seven HRs, a solo shot on June 3rd helped the Mets to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. On June 7th he had his fourth multi HR game, it came in Texas as his three RBIs led New York to an exciting 4-3 win. Three day later he hit his 16th HR of the year, a three run shot in the Mets 8-1 over the Braves in Atlanta.

On July 4th he started a streak of hitting HRs in three straight games, then hit his twentieth of the season on June 15th in 1 9-3 win over the Colorado Rockies. On a West coast road trip at the end of the month, he had back to back HR games, closing out the month with another seven HRs while driving in 16 runs.

As August began the Mets were dead in the standings with no sign of hope. Bruce continued to produce hitting HRs in the first two games of the month. The Mets had been trying to trade Bruce but nothing good in return was offered. 

They missed the trading deadline & he was placed on waivers getting picked up by the Cleveland Indians.  On August 9th as the Mets began dumping veteran players & salaries, Bruce was sent to the Cleveland Indians for minor leaguer Ryder Ryan.

Indians Career: With Bruce added into an already potent line up the Indians went on to win an incredible 22 straight games from August 24th to September 14th. In 43 games with the Indians he hit seven HRs with nine doubles & 26 RBIs while batting .248.

2018 Post Season: In Game #1 of the ALDS he had two hits, a double & a HR while driving in three runs in the Indians 4-0 shut out in Cleveland. In the next day he homered again in an exciting 9-8 Indians comeback win. Unfortunately they dropped the nest three falling in the series.

Return to New York: In January of 2018, the Mets reunited with Jay Bruce signing him to a three year deal worth $39 million. 

Many of his team mates showed their delight of him returning to the team as he is a good club house presence as well as good player. Noah Syndergaard & Josh Smoker were among the first to speak out.

But Bruce was suffering from  Plantar fasciitis which slowed him down as he could not move as well as normal. He struggled mightily at the plate, batting just .212 with 3 HRs before going on the DL again with a hip injury. 

He would just play in 94 games overall batting a horrible .223 with 75 strike outs in 319 at bats, 9 HRs 37 RBIs & 18 doubles with a .310 on base %.

He later claimed he had a strange conversation with former Mets coach Ruben Amaro Jr. about his mobility, thinking yea I'm injured that's why I can't move well. 

He felt manager Mickey Callaway had his best interests in mind when he placed him on the DL. Needless to say with younger outfielders Michael Conforto & Brandon Nimmo in the mix, Bruce & his woeful offense was not welcomed anymore.

On December 3rd 2018, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners along with Anthony Swarzak, Gerson Bautista & prospects Justin Dunn & Jarred Kelenic for Edwin Diaz, & Robinson Cano.

2019: Bruce would play 47 games in Seattle batting .212 with 14 HRs, before getting dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for a minor leaguer. In 51 games he hit 12 HRs with 31 RBIs while batting .221.

Bruce has played in 12 career seasons in 1608 games, with 1432  hits 307 doubles 30 triples 312 HRs & 934 RBIs. He batted .245 with 588 walks 1535 strike outs & a .315 on base %. 

In the outfield he has played 1434 games (1407) in right, with a .984 fielding % 94 assists making 49 errors. 

Family: Jay Bruce married his high school sweetheart Hannah, in Houston, Texas in April 2016. They have a child named Carter John Bruce.

Willie Montanez "the Hot Dog": Late Seventies Mets First Baseman (1978-1979)

Guillermo MontaƱez Naranjo was born on April 1, 1948 in Catano, Puerto Rico. The six foot left-hand hitting outfielder / first baseman who would originally get signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965 at age 18.

Montanez would get drafted (Rule V) by the California Angels in 1966 & making his MLB debut on Opening Day as a pinch runner. He would play in eight games before getting sent to back to the Cardinals. Montanez played the next three seasons in the minors & then was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies as a player to be named later in the infamous Curt Flood trade. Flood had originally refused to report to Philadelphia.

Montanez had his best minor league season in 1970 at AAA Eugene, in the Pacific Coast League hitting 16 HRs with 80 RBIs.

The Hot Dog- He became known as “The Hot Dog” with a comedic style in which he played the game. His style was popular with his home town fans, but not appreciated by his teammates or opposing players.

After he hit a HR, he would slowly strut around the bases, sometimes shuffling his feet after touching each base. When he caught fly balls, he would snatch the ball from the air one handed, then shift the glove to his opposite hip. Even when he fouled balls off, he would twirl his bat & sometimes do a leg kicking dance move. 

In 1971 he was penciled in as the Phillies starting centerfielder & had a great rookie year. 

He was second in second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to the Atlanta Braves, Earl Williams. 

Montanez hit a career-high 30 HRs (7th in the NL) with 99 RBIs (5th in the NL) 27 doubles a .327 on base % & a .255 batting average.

Montanez also led the league with 13 sac hits in 1971. He struck out over 100 times that season & the year as well.  A stat which he did improved in that department in his later years.  

In the outfield he made a league leading ten errors and made seven assists (4th most in the NL). 

  In 1972 Montanez led the National League in doubles (39) while hitting .247 with 13 HRs (second on his club to Greg Luzinski). He drove in 64 runs on the worst team in baseball, as the Phils finished last 59-97. 

In 1973 he switched back to his natural position, at first base, to make room for (future Met) Del Unser in center field. Montanez hit 11 HRs with 65 RBIs while batting .263.

He would be a solid first baseman, leading all NL players at that position in assists three times (1975,1976,1978) & coming in the top five in fielding % four times.

In the summer of 1974; he had a 24 game hit streak and went on to hit over .300 for the first time in his career. He would bat over the .300 mark three times in his career. His HR totals dropped to just seven in '74 but he still hit 33 doubles with 79 RBIs.

In May of 1975 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Gary Maddox. He closed out the year with a career high 101 RBIs (5th most in the NL) along with 10 HRs 34 doubles & a .302 average. Montanez a slow runner; grounded into a league leading 26 double plays. In his career he hit into 162 double plays & led the NL in that category twice.

In 1976 he was traded at the dead line, along with team mates; Jake Brown, Mike Eden, and Craig Robinson to the Atlanta Braves for slugger Darrell Evans and short stop Marty Perez. 

The Hot Dog, closed out the bicentennial year with a career high 206 hits (second in the league) leading the NL in singles (164) and games played (163). He batted .317 with 11 HRs & 84 RBIs. The Sporting News named him their All Star first baseman.

In 1977 he made his first & only All-Star game appearance, he was Atlanta’s only player representative in that game game. He went hitless in two at bats in the game, which was played in New York, at the newly renovated AL teams ballpark. 

That year Montanez finished the season hitting .287 with 20 HRs 31 doubles 68 RBIs & a .328 on base % playing a full season in Atlanta Fulton County Stadiums “Launching Pad”. From the period of 1975-78 he drove in an impressive 393 runs. 

New York Mets Career: On December 8, 1977, Montanez was part of a huge four team trade, which brought him to New York to play for the Mets. This is the deal that sent Jon Matlack to the Texas Rangers and John Milner to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Who could forget the way Mets announcer Bob Murphy, would say "now the cleanup hitter "the Hot Dog" Willie Montanez" in his classic drawl. Montanez was immediately installed as the clubs first baseman & number four hitter.

On April 15th he hit his first HR as a New York Met it came at Stade Olympique in Montreal in a 4-3 loss to the Expos. He didn't get over the .200 hitting mark until May when he had a huge month. 

The Hot Dog drove in 28 runs that month, more by far than any other Mets Player & most anyone else in baseball. 

On May 18th he had a four RBI day leading the Mets to an 8-7 win over his old Braves team mates in Atlanta. Over the next eight games he drove in an amazing 17 runs while collecting 16 hits as well. 

On May 19th, he had a game winning base hit in the bottom of the 9th inning, off former Met turned Phillies reliever, Tug McGraw. On May 24th, he hit two HRs in Pittsburgh, driving in four runs, although the Mets still lost the game. 

The next day he doubled off the Pirates; Bert Blyleven, tying up the game in the 6th inning. It was in the 11th inning, where Lenny Randle's base hit, won it for New York.

On June 9th Montanez broke a 1-1 tie against the San Francisco Giants when he singled home Steve Henderson in the bottom of the 8th inning. Earlier he had driven in the Mets first run with a sac fly. 

On July 19th he doubled in the 1st inning, off Houston's Mark Lemongello driving in two Mets runs which were enough for Craig Swan to earn a 2-1 Mets win at Shea Stadium.

The next day he hit a two run HR & in the course of the home stand he drove in runs in five straight games, nine RBIs overall.

It was another run producing month for the Hot Dog as he drove in twenty two runs in July. On September 7th in Montreal he drove in four runs helping the Mets to a 9-4 win over the Expos. The next day as the Mets returned home he drove in all three Mets runs including an 8th inning go ahead RBI double off Bert Blyleven to defeat the Pirates 3-2.

In his only full season as a Met Montanez led the team in most offensive categories; HRs (17) RBIs (96) games (159) at bats (609) hits (156) singles (107) & sac flies (9). He set a club record (at that time) for intentional walks (19) which was later broken by Howard Johnson.

His 96 RBIs were only eight shy of Rusty Staub’s 1974 single season Mets record at the time. There is no doubt that Montanez was the teams biggest bat on a ball club that lost 96 games finishing last in the NL East.

In 1979 he got an Opening Day hit, but that was it, in the Mets 10-6 romp at Wrigley Field over the Cubs. In May he had a solid hitting streak going, where he hit safely in 15 of 17 games. He struggled with his average barley getting over the .200 mark by the end of May before falling below it again in June. 

In mid July he was still batting jut .210 and managed to get up to the .234 mark by August 11th. He had 7 HRs with 47 RBIs thru 109 games at that point & was traded to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ed Lynch and the return of Mike Jorgensen.

The rest of the year he hit .319 with 8 HRs in Texas, but it was his last good season. From that point on he lost all his power hitting just six HRs in 142 games between San Diego & Montreal in 1980. His average dropped to .210 the next season & he became a part time player in Pittsburgh with the Pirates before finishing out his career in Philadelphia in 1982.

In a 14-year career, Montanez played in 1632 games, hit .275, with 1604 hits, 279 doubles 25 triples, 139 HRs, 802 RBIs a .327 on base % & 65 sac hits.

In that career he was traded nine times, including deals that involved players like Darrell Evans, Al Oliver, Bert Blyleven, John Milner (twice), and Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

Retirement: After his playing days Willie became a scout for the Phillies. He appeared at Mets fantasy camps and on occasional interviews involving the Mets. He currently resides in Puerto Rico.

Apr 4, 2020

Remembering Mets History (1972) The Death & Funeral of Gil Hodges

April 2nd 1972: It was Easter Sunday in West Palm Beach Florida. After attending Mass, Mets manager Gil Hodges had just finished up a round of golf with his Mets coaches Joe Pignatano, Rube Walker & Eddie Yost. The Mets were staying at a Ramada Inn near the Spring Training baseball stadiums of the Atlanta Braves & Montreal Expos.

On their way back to the hotel, Joe Pignatano asked Hodges what time they were to meet for dinner. Hodges responded 7:30 & then collapsed, suffering a sudden heart attack. He fell back hitting his head on the floor, dying in the arms of his friend & Mets coach Joe Pignatano. Hodges was rushed to a nearby hospital & pronounced dead at 5:45 PM, just two day shy of his 48th birthday.

The Mets organization was shocked. The players devastated by the man they all looked up to with respect & love. Hodges had taught them & led them to the most improbable World Series win ever in 1969. This event would impact the Mets future for years to come.

The Mets of that era were good & had many young players developing. The organization went lost without Hodges, the leadership was gone. The '72 team could not compete still shock. Many bad decisions brought the team down in just two years & it took almost a decade to recover. Hodges death impact was that strong. 

April 6th 1972: On this sad day the Hodges Family; Joan Hodges with her son & three daughters laid their beloved father to rest. The New York Mets & the City of New York also said goodbye as they buried the Manager of the 1969 Amazing Mets & the teams current manager at that time, as well as a New York baseball Legend; Former Brooklyn Dodger- Gil Hodges. 

Thousands of people lined the streets at Avenue M & E. 28th St, around the Church of Our Lady Help of Christians, in Gil Hodges Brooklyn neighborhood parish. He was buried a half mile away at Holy Cross Cemetery in East Flatbush, just a half mile from where Ebbets Field stood.

There were plenty of baseball players present at the ceremony-  Brooklyn Dodger legends Ralph Branca, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe & Carl Erskine as well as his current Mets players; Tom Seaver, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Jerry Kossman, Duffy Dyer, Jim McAndrew,  as well as Mets owner Mrs. Joan Payson & her husband Charles Shipman as well as Mets President M. Donald Grant. Members of the Mets coaching staff, as well as Yogi Berra, MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, New York Mayor John Lindsay, broadcasters Howard Cosell & Mel Allen. (see video on next posts below)

Quotes: Father Charles E. Curley: “Gil was a hero, All of us need heroes, though lately they seem to be in short supply. Here is one to look up to and imitate.” The pastor noted that Hodges had never been thrown out of a ball game by an umpire —“the secret was his avoidance of rough language. Let's all say a prayer for Gil Hodges."

Gil Hodges Jr. said that he was led to the back seat of a car by Howard Cosell & Jackie Robinson & good friend of the family was crying & told him " next to my sons death, this is the worst day of my life".

Quotes: Jackie Robinson: "He was the core of the Brooklyn Dodgers. With this, and what's happened to Campy and lot of other guys we played with, it scares you. I've been somewhat shocked by it all. I have tremendous feelings for Gil's family and kids."
Robinson who was in bad health at the time would also pass away just six months later.

Hours later the Mets held a press conference at Shea Stadium announcing that Yogi Berra was to be the new Mets manager. Yogi was the popular choice, another New York baseball legend. The Mets had to act fast since this was a shocker, no once expected Gil Hodges to die of a heart attack. The 1972 season was delayed by two weeks due to the first ever MLB Players strike.

Although Yogi would get credit for leading the 1973 Mets to the NL Pennant, many with in the organization then & looking back many people today feel the job should have went to some one else.

A Young Whitey Herzog was the Mets VP of the minor leagues back them, he had groomed so many young Mets in the sixties for the big leagues, he was the right choice but not the popular  choice. 

Herzog would leave the organization to go manage the Kansas City Royals the next year. He won three straight A.L. West titles there & then a World Series & three pennants with the St. Louis Cardinals becoming the Mets top rival in that era.

Berra was the opposite of Hodges, if some one disobeyed a rule he'd say "that'll cost ya" but hardly go through with a fine. Hodges demanded respect & was a strict disciplinarian. 

The youngsters feared him but also respected & loved him for his leadership. He brought the best out in everyone who played for him.

The Mets honored Hodges on Opening Day 1972 & wore arm bands on their sleeve for the entire season. The next year they retired his number uniform #14 in a pregame ceremony.

Gil Hodges Funeral (Video from Youtube ABC News)

Apr 3, 2020

Legendary Mets Player & Manager: Gil Hodges -The Mets Years

Gilbert Raymond Hodges was born April 4th 1924 in Princeton, Indiana. Hodges played 18 seasons in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1957) Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-1961) & New York Mets (1962-1963). 

Mets Playing Career (1962-1963): In 1962 he returned to New York after being chosen in the expansion draft, as an original 1962 New York Met. He wanted to retire due to a serious knee problem but was persuaded to finish his playing career in New York.

Hodges batted sixth & played first base in the first game in New York Mets history on April 11th 1962 in St. Louis. After flying out in the second inning, he made made Mets history hitting the first Mets franchise HR. It came leading off the 4th inning, off the Cards pitcher Larry Jackson.

On April 22nd & 23rd, Hodges would have a pair of two hit games in Pittsburgh finishing the month of April batting .316 playing eight games.

Things started off slow in May, but On May 12th in the second game of a historic Mets double header, he hit a walk off HR off Hank Fischer to beat the Milwaukee Braves. In the first game, the Mets Hobie Landrith had hit a two run walk off HR, the first in Mets history. On the day Hodges collected four hits as well.

On May 30th, in a double header against his old Dodger teammates at the Polo Grounds, Hodges hit a HR off Sandy Koufax in the first game. He returned to play the next game as well. He hit two more HRs, both off Johnny Podres giving the new Met fans a big thrill, although the Mets did lose both ends of the twin bill.

He hit just one more HR that year, coming in July. Knee injuries limited Hodges season to only 54 games that year, with the exception of three games at the end of September, his season was over by early July. He finished the year batting .252 with 32 hits 9 HRs one double 17 RBIs & a .331 on base %.

In 1963 he attempted to play again but age & injuries had gotten the best of him. He played in just 11 games, and on May 5th he played his last game. He took first base at the Polo Grounds getting a hit & an RBI against his old rivals, the Giants who were now the San Francisco Giants.

A deal was worked out, where was traded to the Washington Senators with the intention that he would become that teams manager, replacing Mickey Vernon. In return the Mets received outfielder Jimmy Piersall.

In his 18 year playing career Hodges made eight All Star appearances & won three Gold Gloves posting a .993 fielding %.

He won seven NL pennants & played in seven World Series, winning two Worlds Championships, one in Brooklyn & one in Los Angeles.

He hit 370 career HRs (78th most all time) He was tenth on the all time list when he retired & second among right hand hitters. He hit 310 HRs in the 1950's second to team mate Duke Snider. He also hit 14 career grand slams  (tied for 11th all time) & was the NL All Time leader in that category at the time of his retirement.

He drove in the second most runs of the 1950's as well, second to team mate Duke Snider. In his career he had 1274 RBIs (125th all time).

Hodges batted .273 with 1921 hits, he had 1105 runs scored (246th all time) with 295 doubles. He had 943 walks (146th all time) 713 extra base hits (175th all time) 63 stolen bases, 1137 strikeouts (208rd all time) in 2071 games (205th all time). He also posted a .487 slugging average (157th all time)

On the field He ranked second in NL history with 1281 assists (now 25th) and 1614 double plays (13th all time) when his career ended. He posted a .993 fielding % with 15722 put outs (38th all time) in 1908 games as a first baseman (27th all time) making 126 errors (81st all time).

Why Not the Hall of Fame? Year after year the veterans comitte has denied Hodges induction into the Hall of Fame. His stats are better than so many players elected & he has had a sucessful managerial career as well.

Managing Career: Hodges took over as manager of the Washington Senators in May of 1963. Mickey Vernon had began the year as manager & then future Mets coach Eddie Yost took the helm for one game, until Hodges arrived. The team would finish 10th in the American League going 56-106 on the season.

The team improved each season going from 10th place (1963) to an eventual sixth place finish in 1967 but never had a winning record. Hodges got the most of what he could with what he had.

In 1965 pitcher Ryne Duren hit rock bottom, he walked onto a bridge with intentions to commit suicide. His manager, Hodges talked him away from the edge of the bridge to safety, saving his life.

Mets Managing Career 1968-1972: On November 27, 1967 Hodges came back to New York in a yet another wacky trade with Washington, this one for Bill Denehy and $100,000. He came on to manage the Mets in 1968 and spent most of the season just observing what he had to work with.

On September 24th he suffered a mild heart attack while in Atlanta. A combination of stress & smoking were key contributors. At the end of the 1968 season it was questionable if he could return in 1969.

He brought the Mets to a 73-89 record in 1968, which was their best mark in their seven-year existence. Gil was known for his strict style of managing and not accepting anything but 100% from his players. He always believed in his team and stood behind them. He was a superior leader.

He refused to act surprised by the 1969 Mets as they kept winning and moving forward, telling the press the team was doing what they were capable of doing playing up to their potential. No miracles in his eyes.

It was through his confidence that made the Mets team believe in what they were doing. He was one of the first managers to use a pitching coach who was not a former pitcher, but a former catcher, with his former Brooklyn teammate Rube Walker.

Hodges also used a strict platoon system for many of his position players, regardless of the circumstances. He got the most of his players by using their best abilities to contribute to the team as a whole.

If a pitcher threw at his players he didn’t feel it was a pitchers job to throw back at an opposing player. He felt “you lay a bunt toward the first base line and when the pitcher comes for it you run right over him.

In Spring Training 1969 at St. Petersburg Florida he shocked the press when he predicted the team would win 85 games. His team was led by the games best pitcher, Tom Seaver who would win the Cy Young Award.

He had one of the leagues best lefthanders in Jerry Koosman, a young fireballer named Nolan Ryan & a solid hard throwing rookie Gary Gentry all in the starting rotation. He had a strong bullpen with Ron Taylor & Tug McGraw both as quality closers.

 He demanded a solid defense & had the best fielding short stop in the league as well as one of the best defensive catchers in the game as well. He used platoons at most other positions and had one of the leagues best hitters for 1969 in Cleon Jones. Tommie Agee was a fantastic centerfielder & lead off man & when Don Clendenon arrived in July he had a true slugger.

He was a strict disciplinarian who ran a tight ship & demanded respect. In a game on July 30th Hodges reached one of his biggest boiling points of his career as a manager. The Mets had lost the first game of a double header 16-3 and just got pounded for another ten runs in the second game.

During the night cap, Cleon Jones didn’t hustle on a ball that was hit to him on the wet outfield grass. Hodges walked from the dugout toward the pitcher’s mound everyone expecting a pitching change.

But he walked past the pitcher’s mound & into left field & exchanged words with Cleon Jones. Then he started walking back to the dugout, with Jones walking a few feet behind him, removed from the game.

In 1969, he led the "Miracle Mets" to a 100 victory season, 27 games better than 1968 & 15 games better than his prediction. After clinching the first N.L. Eastern title he went on to sweep the Atlanta Braves in the first ever NLCS playoff series.

In the World Series his team beat the mighty Baltimore Orioles who were heavily favored, finishing them off in five games. He stuck with his strict platoon system throughout the Series and his young starting pitching staff. Hodges pulled off a great move to kick start his team in the final fifth game at Shea Stadium.

In the sixth inning of Game #5 Cleon Jones had a pitch bounce near his foot. The ball rolled into the Mets dugout. Hodges soon popped out of the dugout with a ball covered with a smudge of show polish.

He showed it to home plate umpire Lou Dimuro as proof the ball hit Jone’s foot. The umpire agrees & Jones was awarded first base, the next batter Don Clendenon, then hit a two run HR putting the Mets on the board, within a run 3-2. The Mets went on to win the game & the World Series.

Hodges posted a 7-1 post season record as manager. It was the first time the Mets finished above ninth place, becoming the first expansion team to win a World Series. Hodges was named The Sporting News' Manager of the Year. The 1969 Mets would forever be known as the Amazing Mets & when any team goes from underdog to champions they are compared to the ’69 Amazings.

After the Miracle Hodges 1970 Mets finished 83-79 six games back, in third place. Although the team was in second place most of the season they were always in contention.

They had tied for a first place a few times during the year, and as late as September 9th were in a tie for first place. In 1971 the Mets were in first place for much of April & May, falling to second place in early July 4 ½ games back. This year they faded from the All Star break on, finishing with the same 83-79 record 14 games back of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, in third place.

Passing: Gil Hodges passed away from a sudden heart attack in 1972. (see tomorrow's posting on 4/4)

Honors: Every player on the 1969 Mets World Championship team credits their success personally & professionally to Gil Hodges. They have the utmost respect for him as a manger & as a human being. Gil Hodges was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1982. His uniform #14 was officially retired in 1973. He is honored with am entrance way named after him at Citi Field as well.  

In 1978 the Marine Parkway Bridge, connecting the Marine Park area of Brooklyn with the Rockaway’s in Queens, was renamed the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge in his memory. Also a park on Carroll Street and a Little League field on MacDonald Avenue in Brooklyn, are named in his honor.

In his birth town of Princeton Indiana, the high school baseball stadium, as well as a bridge spanning the East Fork of the White River in northern Pike County, Indiana on State Road 57, are also named in his honor.

But of all the honors & praises he receives, the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown has never elected him to their hallowed halls.