Jan 19, 2020

Remebering Mets History (1972): Rusty Staub Misses 96 Games With Misdiagnosed Fractured Wrist

Saturday June 3rd, 1972: Prior to the 1972 season Rusty Staub had come over from the Montreal Expos in a deal that sent youngsters Ken Singleton, Tim Foli & Mike Jorgenson to the Expos.

It was a lot to give up but Staub was on of leagues better, proven hitters. Gil Hodges had all but signed the deal. But when Staub arrived Hodges had passed away suddenly to a heart attack. The Players were also on strike to begin the season. Yogi Berra was named manager & everything eventually got underway. The Mets had the pitching but needed to score runs.

By June 3rd, 1972 the Mets were in first place, with the best record in baseball (31-12  with a .721 winning %) & a five game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

On this Saturday afternoon over 41,947 showed up at Shea Stadium to watch future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver at 7-2 go up against Atlanta's Tom Kelley. Eddie Mathews Braves (19-23) would finish fourth in the NL West in 1972.
In the 2nd inning, Cleon Jones singled 7 Wayne Garrett walked. Mets catcher Duffy Dyer then hit a three run HR. In the 7th, In the 4th Seaver doubled, Bud Harrelson singled & when Teddy Martinez grounded out, Seaver scored. Cleon Jones doubled in a run to cap off the 5-2 win.  
Dusty Baker drove in both Braves runs.Seaver got his 8th win, pitching into the 8th inning striking out nine Braves, allowing two runs, two walks & seven hits. Tug McGraw closed it out with his 8th save of the year.
But the Mets suffered a huge loss that day, that would play a big part in the rest of their season. In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Braves brought in George Stone to pitch, as Rusty Staub led off the inning. Stone struck Staub on the wrist with a pitch, that would later prove to be very damaging.

Staub attempted to play through the pain, he would play through June 18th when he was removed from a game against the Cincinnati Reds. In that time he went from batting .313 to .298. In those 15 games he hit two HR & drove in eight runs, but was not at full strength. The Mets were still in first on June 18th, but only by  a half game over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Staub had no grip & would miss a month of action. He attempted a return on July 18th, he went 1-4 with a double but the pain was too much.

When he was hit by George Stone's pitch, it caused a fracture. The Mets diagnosed him with tendonitis listing him as day to day all along. Not until he got to Los Angeles did hand specialist Dr. Herbert Stark see the fracture & it was agreed upon by Mets physician Dr. Peter LaMotte. Staub agreed to surgery & entered the Roosevelt hospital  in New York on July 20th. He would miss two months of action,  not returning until September 18th. By then the Mets were 73-67 in third place 15 games out.

 Staub had only missed seven games in the past four seasons while playing in Houston & Montreal. It was a big blow to the Met offense, since he was hit by the pitch, the Mets would go 52-61 the rest of the way, finishing in third place, fourteen & a half games behind Pittsburgh Pirates & two games behind the second place Chicago Cubs.

Quotes: Mets Pitcher Gary Gentry- “Rusty was supposed to be the answer to a lot of our problems when we got him and we counted on him."
The Mets would aquire pitcher George Stone (along with second baseman Felix Millan) from Atlanta for the 1973 season, Stone would go 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA helping lead the '73 Mets to the NL Pennant.

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