Remembering Mets History (1973) Ken Boswell's Clutch Pinch Hitting Down the Stretch & In the World Series

After the 1972 season, the Mets traded pitchers Gary Gentry & Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for pitcher George Stone & second baseman Felix Millan. Millan was an All Star infielder & a good singles hitter.

The Mets were obviously looking for an upgrade at second base. Ken Boswell had not been hitting & his defense had always been questionable for everyday play. With the acquisition of Millan, Boswell's playing time was certainly going to be limited. 

In 1973, the steady Millan would lead the team in hitting (.290) hits (185) runs (82) & games played (153).

Ken Boswell secretly wanted to be traded where he could play every day, but he wasn't the kind of guy to threaten "play me or trade me".
He became a utility player & became the team's top pinch hitter embracing his new role. Boswell collected a dozen pinch hits on the season going 12-51 batting .235 in that role.

On April 15th, Boswell got his first pinch hit coming off the Phillies Dick Ruthven in a 7-1 Mets loss at Philadelphia. 

On April 22nd in the first game of a double header with Montreal, Boswell came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down 1-0. His pinch hit single off Mike Marshall scored Jim Fregosi & tied up the game.

The Mets would lose the game in extra innings when ex-Met Tim Foli singled off Phil Hennigan.

In the second game of that double header, Boswell came to bat with two on in the 6th inning & the Mets ahead 10-0. He singled off Joe Gilbert & then scored on Jim Beauchamp's RBI hit in the Mets 13-3 win. 

On May 24th at Dodger Stadium, in the top of the 19th inning, Boswell singled off Doug Rau driving in Cleon Jones in an eventual 7-3 Mets win.

On May 27th with the Mets down 2-0, Boswell hit an 8th-inning pinch hit HR off the Dodgers Don Sutton. Jerry Koosman would take a 2-1 loss to Sutton in a classic pitcher's duel. 

In June he collected three more pinch hits, including a pinch-hit HR off the Cubs ace Rick Reuschel. The HR tied up another pitcher's duel, this one with Reuschel & Tom Seaver, coming in the 8th inning at Wrigley Field.

He got just five starts from early July to the first week of August & drove in runs in three of those games. On August 6th, Boswell drove in Wayne Garrett with a 6th inning single off Reggie Cleveland. The RBI brought the Mets within a run of a game they would blow open for a 10-3 win. 

In June he had two more pinch hits going 2-12 in that role. In July he had two multi-hit games going 0-8 with a walk in a pinch-hitting role. In August Boswell would have four pinch hits in ten at bats.

On August 6th with the Mets down 3-1 at Shea Stadium to the Cardinals, Boswell delivered a pinch hit single off Reggie Cleveland bringing in Wayne Garrett. The Mets would come back & win the game 10-3. He had another pinch hit against the Giants in San Francisco in a 4-1 loss.

Pennant Race: It was from August 24th through the end of the season that Boswell produced his best in the pinch-hitting role. He batted .455 going 5-11 with five walks, three RBIs & three runs scored posting a .625 on base % & 1.171 OPS. From that point the Mets also went 24-11going from 6.5 games back to winning the Eastern Division.

On August 24th, Boswell came to bat against Juan Marichal in the bottom of the 10th inning of a scoreless tie. He led ff the inning with a single to right field. He advanced on Willie Mays' bunt & scored the walk off run on Felix Millan's base hit.

On August 26th, Boswell came to bat against Elias Sosa of the San Francisco Giants with New York down 5-2 in bottom of the 9th inning. With Teddy Martinez on second & Don Hahn on third, Boswell drove a single up the middle diving in both runners, bringing the Mets within a run. Unfortunately, they fell short taking a 5-4 loss.

On September 3rd, Boswell collected a 7th inning pinch hit double off Dick Ruthven in a 6-3 loss to the Phillies.

On September 7th, with the Mets in the heat of the pennant race just four games back, they had an exciting comeback win at Montreal. In the top of the 7th with the Mets down 1-0 & the bases loaded, Boswell drew a pinch hit walk off the Expos Mike Torrez tying up the game. The Mets went on to a 4-1 win in 15 innings.

On September 20th, in the famous "Ball on the Wall Game" the Mets were just 1.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates as the two teams went head-to-head at Shea Stadium.

The Mets were down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning when Boswell led off the inning with a pinch-hit base hit off former Met Bob Johnson. He would score the games tying run on Duffy Dyer's pinch hit double. 

Boswell remained in the game & drew a walk in the bottom of the 13th inning, his walk moved John Milner up to second base. 

Milner would score the games winning walk off run on rookie catcher Ron Hodges' single. In the top of the inning, Hodges had tagged out Richie Zisk for the final out after trying to score on a long fly ball that landed on top of the left field wall in bouncing into Cleon Jones glove. Jones threw to relay man Wayne Garrett who threw home to Hodges at the plate. 
The Mets took over first place the next night. 

On September 23rd, with the Mets now in first place they hosted the St. Louis Cardinals. In the 6th inning, with two outs & one on, Boswell successfully pinch hit a single to right field. He & Bud Harrelson scored on Wayne Garrett's triple giving the Mets the lead in their 4-2 win.

In the first game of a double header Boswell drew a pinch hit walk with two outs in the top of the 9th inning, representing the tying run in the 1-0 game. Ed Kranepool grounded out to end the inning in the heart breaking 1-0 loss.

The Mets won the second game clinching at least a tie. They would win the pennant the next day on the last day of the season.  They went on to upset the heavily favorite Big Red Machine in the NLCS taking the series in five games. Boswell had just one at bat in that series. 

1973 World Series: Boswell had himself a fine World Series against the A's, setting a record with three pinch hits in the Fall Classic.

In Game #1 in Oakland, Boswell pinch hit for pitcher Jon Matlack in the 7th inning & collected a single off Rollie Fingers. With the Mets down 2-1 he represented the tying run but was forced out when Wayne Garrett hit into a double play. 

Boswell did not see action again until Game #6 back in Oakland.

With the Mets down 2-0 in the 8th inning, Boswell singled off Catfish Hunter. He advanced on Wayne Garretts base hit & scored on Felix Millan's single into right field making it a one run game. The Mets would come up short taking a 3-1 loss.

In the final Game #7, Boswell set his record with his third pinch hit. He came to bat in the 7th inning with the Mets down 5-1, delivering a single off Rollie Fingers. He was stranded there & the Mets dream ended as they ended up taking a 5-2 loss.


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