Jon Matlack: Mets Hall Of Fame Inductee (Part Two - 1974-1977)

After the Pennant: In 1974 Jon Matlack made the start in the Mets second game of the year, earning a 9-2 win in Philadelphia. He allowed one run, pitching into the 8th inning with seven strike outs & a pair of walks. 

In his next start he earned no decision in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies allowing just one run in seven innings. Matlack struck out ten Phillies, it was the first of five times he would reach double figures in strikeouts that season. 

On April 23rd, he was roughed up in San Diego, allowing 4 runs in 3.2 innings, taking a loss. 

Then from late April to the end of May, Jon won four straight games beginning with a four-hit shutout in San Francisco where he kept his ERA under two ending the month of April. 

Although he allowed three runs to the Padres, he won his next start beating Randy Jones to get to 3-1. 

On May 8th in San Francisco, he pitched a complete game win over the Giants, allowing two runs on just four hits, while striking out a season high 12 batters. On May 18th, he threw another four-hit shutout, this one against Steve Rogers & the Montreal Expos, as he struck out nine. His ERA was back under two at 1.89.

In his next seven starts he took four losses & took three no decisions mostly due to lack of run support. Matlack allowed two earned runs in four of those seven outings. At the end of June, he was 6-5 with a 2.47 ERA.

One Hitter: Sunday June 29th, was Old Timers Day at Shea Stadium. After all the festivities, Matlack pitched a one hit shut out over the then first place St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium. He struck out seven walking three. The only hit was a 3rd inning single, off the bat of the opposing pitcher, John Curtis. It was the second one hitter of his career & the 14th in Mets history.

Matlack was the winning pitcher, in the first game of an Independence Day double header at Philadelphia, where he allowed three runs & struck out ten, reaching double figures in Ks for the third time.

On July 9th, the Padres beat him for five runs in a 5-4 loss. Matlack then pitched two more complete game victories, allowing three earned runs in the two games.

He beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles & then the Padres in San Diego on the West Coast Road trip, leading up to the All-Star Game.

1974 All Star Game: At the All-Star break, Matlack was 9-6 with a 2.55 ERA. His manager, Yogi Berra was the NL All Star Manager, & he brought Matlack with him to Pittsburgh for the All-Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium. It was the first of Matlack's three straight All-Star appearances. He joined Mets catcher Jerry Grote as the only two players on the team representing the Mets. Coaches Rube Walker, Joe Pignatano & trainer Tom McKenna were also along.

With the game being held in Pittsburgh, the hometown fans were upset at Berra for his choice of his own player. They preferred he chose their new hometown hero, a young Dave Parker instead. Matlack would pitch a scoreless 6th inning in the game, allowing a hit & a to walk in the 7-2 NL victory.

After the All-Star break Matlack was having his best season to date. On August 3rd, in Montreal he threw a seven-hit shutout walking just one in a 10-8 Mets win. The win got him into double figures for the third straight season.

After a loss at Pittsburgh, where he gave up a season high 12 hits, he tossed a four-hit shutout, at Shea Stadium against Al Downing & the eventual NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. In that game he struck out eight & walked one.

The rest of August resulted in a loss & two no decisions, as the defending NL Champs found themselves 15 games under .500 in fifth place. 

On September 3rd, in the first of a twin bill at Wrigley Field, Matlack tossed another shut out, his sixth of the season. He also struck out ten, reaching the double digit strike out mark for the fifth time on the season, as his record went to 12-10.

On September 7th, Matlack gave up just two runs in St. Louis, but Bob Gibson held the Mets to just one run. The Cardinals won the game on Lou Brock's walk off single. When the Cardinals came to Shea on September 12th, they got him for a season high six runs, although only three were earned in a 12-5 loss at Shea Stadium.

On September 22nd, Matlack threw his league leading seventh shutout of the year, a 4-0 three hitter at Three Rivers Stadium, in Pittsburgh. 

Although he had pitched brilliantly at times, he lost seven decisions from August to the end of the season. He had only allowed than two earned runs three times.

Matlack finished the disappointing Mets 1974 season with one of his best years, leading the league in shutouts with seven. He led the Mets staff with a 2.41 ERA (3rd best in the league). Matlack had 14 complete games (5th most in the NL) with 265 innings pitched (7th in the NL). 

He struck out 195 batters (4th best in the league) & had five different games where he struck out ten or more batters. 

His record certainly didn’t reflect how good he was that season. He went 13-15 suffering a lot of hard luck losses, on a team that didn’t score many runs.

1975: Matlack began the 1975 season, pitching in the second game of the year. He allowed two runs over seven innings but earned no decision as the Mets fell to the Phillies 3-2. 

On April 20th, he won his first game of the year, even though he gave up six earned runs, the Mets scored eight in a win at Wrigley Field. He won his next game in a 5-3 victory at Montreal.

In his next start he only lasted into the 4th inning allowing six earned runs to the Cubs. On May 7th in Pittsburgh, he gave up five runs but just three were earned although he took another loss. 

After going 2-3 by the first week of May, he went on a five-game win streak from May 12th into the start of June. In that time, he only allowed six earned runs over 38 innings. 

On May 12th at Shea Stadium, he went seven innings, holding the Giants to one run, out dueling Jim Barr for a 3-2 win. On May 17th at the Astrodome, he pitched just six innings, but held the Astros down to two runs, for a 6-4 win. 

On May 23rd, in Atlanta, he pitched into the 8th inning, holding the Braves to a run, as he beat Carl Morton 3-1 to get to 5-3. On May 28th, he won a 4-3 game beating the Dodgers & Doug Rau at Shea Stadium. The streak was topped off with a June 2nd, 2-0 four hit shutout victory, over the Houston Astros.

On June 7th, the Braves knocked him out in the 2nd inning, scoring four runs in a loss. He
rebounded with a three-hit shutout, beating Don Sutton & the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In that game he struck out Steve Garvey three times. 

In his next start the Expos roughed him up for six runs, taking a loss then earning two no decisions.

Matlack started out July, with a two-run complete game win over the Cubs at Shea Stadium, where he collected a season high eight strike outs. By the All Star break Matlack was 10-7 with a 3.54 ERA, earning him another trip to the All-Star Game.

1975 All Star MVP: He went to his second All Star Game that year, with the 1975 Mid-Summer Classic being held in Milwaukee's County Stadium. 

He came into the game, following teammate Tom Seaver in the 7th inning, after Seaver served up a three-run game tying HR to Carl Yastrzemski. 

Matlack held his own, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out four American leaguers-Rod Carew, Bucky Dent, Gene Tenace & Fred Lynn, in the 6-3 National League win.

For his efforts Matlack ended up sharing the All-Star MVP Award honors with the Chicago Cubs Bill Madlock, who drove in the game winning runs off Rich Gossage in the top of the 9th inning.

Matlack was issued the Award by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn & Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Since there was only one award, Madlock took that one & Matlack got his from the league's office in New York when he returned to Shea Stadium.

After the All-Star Game he took a loss to the Braves, but then went on to a six-game win streak. He started with a complete game win at Shea, beating the Big Red Machine.  On July 28th he then gave up ten hits & five runs, but still earned an 11-7 win in St. Louis. 

On August 2nd, he pitched a five-hit shutout over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He walked no one & struck out six. Matlack then missed over two weeks getting sidelined returning on August 19th.

He won his fourth straight with a victory in Houston, he then won two games on the west coast road trip, including a one run complete game six hitter over the Dodgers in L.A.

It seemed he was on his way to his first twenty-win season, joining Tom Seaver on the staff, who would win his third Cy Young Award that year.  The Mets also entered September, just four games behind the Pirates. But the month was a huge disappointment

It would be Matlack's worst month as he went 0-4 with two no decisions as the Mets faded from the race.

That season he finished up 16-12 (7th most wins in the league) with 154 strikeouts (10th most in the league), He posted a 3.38 ERA with eight complete games & three shutouts (tenth in the NL) in 33 games.

Bicentennial Year: The 1976 season began to bring changes to the Mets family, but it still was the last year before the bottom fell out. Matlack probably had his best Mets start to any season. 

In the second Mets game of the season, he beat Woody Fryman & the Montreal Expos 1-0 at Shea Stadium pitching a four-hit shutout. 

His second start was a disaster, as he allowed six earned runs to the Cubs at Wrigley. On April 20th, he pitched his second shutout in three games, as he beat the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, pitching a six-hitter striking out seven. 

After a rough loss at Houston where he gave up just two runs, he beat the Astros at Shea allowing just one run in a complete game win to get to 3-0.

On May 5th, Matlack shut out the Big Red Machine for 9.2 innings, dueling with the Reds Gary Nolan. He struck out a season high eleven batters in the game. The Mets lost the game in the 11th inning. 

A modest May had him win two games against one loss, as he improved to 5-1. Both victories were complete games.

In June he threw three straight complete game victories, allowing just two runs in 27 innings of work. In that stretch he threw 18 consecutive scoreless innings.

On June 5th in Los Angeles, he gave up just one run in a 3-1 win over the Dodgers & Doug Rau. Five days later in San Diego, he shut out the Padres, striking out eight Padres & walking five in the 6-0 win. It was his third shutout of the year.

On June 15th, he earned a win after he & Burt Hooton both threw six shutout innings in a 2-1 pitcher's duel at Shea Stadium. The Dodgers got a run in the 7th & the Mets answered with a 7th inning RBI single from Wayne Garrett then an 8th inning RBI single from Dave Kingman.
He was now 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA, among the best pitchers in the league.

On June 20th he had a terrible seven run, three inning outing against the Giants at home, taking a 9-2 loss. 

On July 1st, he threw a five-hit shutout, in a 13-0 Mets blowout against the Cardinals. It was Matlack's fourth shutout of the year.

At the All Star break his record was 10-2 with a 2.65 ERA leading all NL pitchers. He was selected to his third straight All-Star team.

1976 All Star Game: He joined his 
Mets teammates Tom Seaver & Dave Kingman at the Mid-Summer Classic in Philadelphia. Matlack did not pitch in the 7-1 NL win. 

On July 6th, at the Astrodome, he pitched shutout ball for nine innings, but the Mets lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to J.R. Richard & the Astros. Jerry DaVanon singled off Skip Lockwood in the 10th inning scoring Wilbur Howard with the walk off run.

He had a rough start to the second half, losing four straight games, although he allowed three earned runs or less in all of the games. He rebounded, winning at Pittsburgh & then beating the Padres at Shea Stadium.  He then took a loss in Los Angeles.

On August 22nd, he shut out the Padres in a 1-0 classic in San Diego where he dueled with that year's Cy Young winner, Randy Jones. The only run of the game came on Jerry Grote's 7th inning double, scoring Pepe Mangual.

On August 28th, he had another pitching duel, this time with the Dodgers Rick Rhoden, the Mets winning it 2-1, on a Felix Millan walk off single. He went 3-3 in a meaningless September where the Mets finished the season in third place.

This year Matlack was overshadowed once again on his own staff, this time by Jerry Koosman who won twenty games for the first time in his fabulous career. Matlack won a career high 17 games (17-10) seventh most wins in the league.

He led the league in shutouts for a second time in his career with six. He pitched 16 complete games (Third most in the NL) with 262innings pitched (6th in the NL). Matlack posted a 2.95 ERA (tenth in the NL) with 153 strikeouts (8th in the NL) walking 57 batters.

1977 Season: It all went downhill for the Mets as well as Matlack in 1977, as the team sunk to last place. 

On April 10th he gave up six runs to the Cubs at Wrigley taking the first of two straight losses. On April 29th, he pitched a complete game win over the Padres in San Diego where he struck out a season high ten batters.

He took a loss in Los Angeles where he gave up three runs, then took a big loss at San Francisco where he gave up a season high ten runs & twelve hits in a 10-0 Mets disaster. Matlack then threw back-to-back complete game shut outs on a West Coast Road trip to California. He threw a seven hitter in Los Angeles & a five hitter in San Francisco, striking out seven. 

It was a short-lived streak as he then lost seven straight decisions starting May 24th to July 6th.

On June 3rd, he lost a 1-0 loss to the Phillies & pitcher Jim Lonborg.

Matlack said he believed the Mets had good pitching & if they had some offense they could contend once again. Management thought he was complaining while criticizing what was their horrible decisions. Things were bad for the Mets.

The Midnight Massacre: On June 15th, the night when Tom Seaver was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, Matlack got the start in Atlanta. He allowed five runs in six innings but earned no decision as the Mets rallied to beat the Braves 6-5. Saver was soon gone, as was Dave Kingman the only real slugger the team had. The Mets now entered a horrible period that would last into the early 1980's.

In his next start he allowed just two runs in eight innings but took a no decision in a 5- Mets win at Shea over the Braves. Three straight losses followed giving up four runs each time. On July 12th, Matlack pitched into the 9th inning striking out nine in a 4-2 win over the Cubs. On July 22nd, he pitched a shutout in San Diego, striking out seven & allowing seven hits on a 5-0 Mets win.

Matlack earned another win on July 27th, but only lasted five innings as an injury would have him miss a month of action due until the end of September 30th.

When he returned to make one last start on the year, it turned out to be his last start as a New York Met. He won that game pitching into the 5th inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, beating the Cardinals. On the year he went 7-15 with a 4.21 ERA. He gave up a career high 19 HRs & allowed 176 hits in 169 innings.

The Mets were cleaning house quickly and were dumping all the players from their glory days. If the Mets had dealt Tom Seaver away earlier that year Matlack was certainly not untouchable.

Traded: That December, he was traded as well, in a strange four-team deal involving a number of players, Matlack went to Texas along with John Milner (who then went to Pittsburgh) in exchange for Willie Montanez, Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve. The trade shocked Matlack.

Quotes- Jon Matlack: "That was a staff that knew how to compete and was willing to do whatever it took to be successful and put zeros on the board. We all fed off each other and it snowballed into not wanting to be the one who was the weak link. It’s easy to focus when you have to follow greatness and it became a very professional approach. I would do whatever I had to, to work on an aspect of my delivery or the details of the grip on a specific pitch. No matter how long it took, or how much work I needed to do I was willing to do it and so was the rest of the staff."

Mets Career Stats:  Jon Matlack ranks high on many of the Mets All Time pitching records. 

In his seven-year Mets career he is 82-81 (7th on Mets all time in wins) (4th most losses all time) in 203 appearances (28th on the Mets all-time list) in 199 starts.

He is tied for second (with Jerry Koosman) with 26 shut outs

His 3.03 ERA ranks fifth best on the Mets all-time list, with pitchers pitching 500 innings or more in a Mets career.

He pitched 65 complete games (4th most on Mets all-time list) 1448 innings (6th most on all time list) he has 1023 strikeouts (9th most on Mets all-time list). 

Post Mets Career: In his first year in the Arlington/Dallas area he went 15-13 & was second in the American League with his 2.27 ERA. He threw eight complete games (4th best in the AL) struck out 157 batters (6th in the AL) pitching in 270 innings (8th in the AL) in 35 starts. 

Matlack helped the Rangers tie for a second-place finish with the California Angles, finishing five games behind the mighty Kansas City Royals of the late seventies.

In 1979 injuries limited him to only 13 games, going 5-4 with a 4.13 ERA. It was his last year with a winning record as he’d go 10-10 in 1980 with a 3.68 ERA. That year he began the season with a three-hit shutout against the AL New York club, in Texas Stadium. 

Trivia: In August 1980 Matlack broke up George Brett's 30-game hitting streak in August, holding him to an 0-3 night in Arlington. 

In 1981 he was limited to just 17 games going 4-7 with a 4.14 ERA. Matlack was the Texas Rangers Opening Day starter for three straight seasons. He was released by the Rangers in October 1983 and retired at age 34.

In a 13-year career, he was 125-126 with 1516 strikeouts (179th all time) with 638 walks, posting a 3.18 ERA, with 97 complete games, & thirty shutouts (110th all time) 

He pitched in 2363 innings pitched in 361 games. At the plate he hit .129 (57-441) with three doubles & 23 RBIs.

Retirement: Matlack resurfaced in the short lived Senior Professional Baseball Association where he had a solid 10-2 record. 

Outside of baseball he sold commercial real estate & also raised horses.

Starting in 1988, he was a minor league pitching coach for the San Diego Padres & then moved on to the Chicago White Sox organization. He was then a pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers for part of the 1996 season. 

From 1997 to 2012, Jon was a roving instructor for the Detroit Tigers. He was instrumental in helping develop talent for the 2006 & 2012 AL Champions.

In 2012 he began a "roving" job as a minor league pitching coordinator for the Houston Astros.

Jon currently lives comfortably, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, in the town of Johnsburg, NY.

FamilyHe & his wife, Diana "Dee" have been married since 1968, when Jon was in the minor
Together they have three children, Kristin, Jenifer & Dan. They also have grandchildren.

Diana Matlack is in the medical field where her specialty is advanced Practice Midwifery.

Honors: In 2021 Jon Matlack became a member of the New York Mets Hall of Fame, along with Ron Darling & Edgardo Alfonzo.

In 2022 he attended the Old Timers Day festivities & represented one of Willie Mays' teammates as the organization retired his #24.


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