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

After the Pennant: In 1974 Jon Matlack began the year with a 9-2 win in Philadelphia, as he allowed just one run, pitching into the 8th inning with seven strike outs. In his next start he struck out ten Phillies at Shea Stadium, but earned no decision, in a 2-1 Mets loss.

On April 23rd, he was roughed up in San Diego. allowing 4 runs in 3.2 innings, taking a loss. Jon then won four straight games, first on that West Coast road trip, he shut out the Giants on a four hitter, lowering his ERA under two at 1.98.

Back at Shea on May 4th, he beat Randy Jones & the Padres to get to 3-1. On May 8th, he pitched a complete game win over the Giants, allowing two run on just four hits, while striking out a season high 12 batters.

On May 18th, he threw another four hit shut out, this one against Steve Rogers & the Montreal
Expos, as he struck out nine. His ERA wa back under two at 1.89.

He lost his next four decisions & got two no decisions, mostly due to lack of run support, as he only allowed two earned runs runs in four of those seven outings. 

On June 29th, he pitched a one hit shut out against the St. Louis Cardinals, at Shea Stadium, striking out seven walking just three. The only hit was a 3rd inning single, coming off the bat of the opposing pitcher, John Curtis. He was at 6-5 with a 2.47 ERA. 

He was the winning pitcher, in the first game of an Independence Day double header at Philadelphia, where he struck out ten. After a loss to the Padres at home, he pitched two more complete game victories, beating the Dodgers & Padres on a 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 Tree Rivers Stadium. It was the first of Matlack's three straight All Star appearances. 

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

After the All Star break Matlack having his best season to date, threw three more complete game shutouts. On August 3rd in Montreal, he threw a seven hitter, walking just one. 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 shut out, at Shea Stadium against Al Downing & eventual NL Champion, 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 them selves 15 games under .500 in 5th place. 

On September 3rd, in the first of a twin bill at Wrigley Field, Matlack tossed yet another four hit shut out, reaching the ten strike out mark for the fifth time on the season. It was his 5th shut out as well.

Matlack was 12-10 on the year but then lost his next three starts to go under .500. On September
7th, Matlack gave up just two runs in St. Louis, but Bob Gibson held the Mets to just one run. The Cards won it on Lou Brock's walk off single. The Cards then got him for a season high six runs at Shea in a 12-5 loss.

On September 22nd, Matlack threw a 4-0 three hit shutout 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 more than three earned runs in one of those games, and more than two earned 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. 

After going 2-3 bythe first week of May, he had 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, he went seven innings, holding the SF Giants to a run, out dueling Jim Barr for a 3-2 win. 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 arun, as he beat Carl Morton 3-1 to get to 5-3.

On  May 28th, he won a 43 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 shut out, beating Don Suttton & 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 8 Ks. By the break he 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 followed Tom Seaver in the 7th inning, after Seaver served up a three run game tying HR to Carl Yastremski. 

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.

He 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.

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.  

 He then gave up ten hits & five runs, but still earned a win in St. Louis. Matlack then won two game on the west coast road trip, including a one run complete game 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 entered September, just four games behind the Pirates. But September 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 bicentennial year 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 a season. 

In the second 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 shutout 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 them 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 11 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.

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 & walking five. He then beat the Dodgers & Burt Hooton in a 2-1 pitchers duel at Shea Stadium, on June 15th. He was now 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA, among the best 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. That brought his record to 10-2 with a 2.65 ERA leading all NL pitchers.

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 DaVannon singled off Skip Lockwood in the 10th inning scoring Wilbur Howard with the walk off run.

1976 All Star Game: He went to his third  All Star game in 1976, along with Mets teammates Tom Seaver & Dave Kingman. Matlack did not pitch in the 7-1 NL win at Philadelphia. 

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 & beating the Padres at Shea.  After a loss in Los Angeles, he shut out the Padres 1-0 in San Diego on August 22nd. In that game, he dueled with Cy Young winner, Randy Jones. The only run came on Jerry Grote's 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. 

He started out the year at 0-4 but then threw back to back complete game shut outs on a West Coast road trip in Los Angeles & San Francisco. It was a short lived streak as he lost seven straight decisions including a 1-0 loss to the Phillies 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 & was criticizing their horrible moves. Things were bad.

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. 

Matlack missed a month of action due to injury from the end of August to September 30th.

When he returned to make one last start on the year, it turned out to be his last 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, and allowed 176 hits in 169 innings.

The Mets were cleaning house quickly and were dumping all the players from their glory days. Tom Seaver had been dealt away earlier that year & Matlack was no exception. 

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 on his time with the Mets: "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 what ever 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."

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 seveties.

In 1979 injuries limited him to only 13 games, going 5-4. 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. In August he 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.

METS ALL TIME LIST: Jon Matlack ranks high on many of the Mets All Time pitching records; 

He is tied for second, with Jerry Koosman & behind Tom Seaver with 26 shut outs. His 3.03 ERA ranks fourth best on the Mets all time list, with pitchers pitching 500 innings or more in a Mets career.

He pitched 65 complete games (4th best most on Mets all time list) 1448 innings (6th most) 82 wins (7th best) 199 starts (7th most) 1023 strikeouts (9th most) & 81 losses (fourth most on Mets all time list). 

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 leagues. 

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.


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