Feb 15, 2020

Remembering Mets History (Opening Day 1978): Koos Opens Up His Last Season In New York

Mayor Ed Koch Throws Out First Pitch of 1978
The New York Mets opened what was to be the dismal '78 season on April 7th,1978. It was just over a week after trading away, team legend, Bud Harrelson. 

Shea Stadium had made  changes that yea too. They cut down the foul lines from 341 feet to 338 feet. 

Previously the corners had a beige brick wall with an orange line above it. If the ball had hit above the line, it would have been an official HR.

A small crowd of 11,736 came to Shea Stadium to see Manager, Joe Torre's Mets take on Dick Williams; Montreal Expos. New York City Mayor, Ed Koch threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

For the first time in a decade, Tom Seaver was not the Mets Opening Day starter. He had started every Mets Opening Day since 1968, but now he was opening up hi first full season with the Cincinnati Reds. 


Long time Met; Jerry Koosman got the ball & went up against Montreal veteran; Steve Rogers. 

New Mets that year included "The Hot Dog" Willie Montanez at first base, Ken Henderson (who would only last seven games as a Met), Tom Grieve (who only lasted 54 games as a Met), Elliott Maddox & the return of short stop Tim Foli.  

The Mets 1978 Opening Day lineup:
Lenny Randle 3B
Tim Foli SS
Steve Henderson LF
Willie Montanez 1B
Ken Henderson RF
Lee Mazzilli CF
John Stearns C
Doug Flynn 2B
Jerry Koosman P

In the bottom of the 2nd, Willie Montanez doubled & Ken Henderson followed with another double, making it 1-0 Mets. With one out, John Stearns walked & Doug Flynn followed with a base hit bringing in Ken Henderson for a 2-0 Met lead. 

The score remained that way until the 6th, when Expo star, Gary Carter hit a solo HR, making it 2-1 Mets.

In the home 6th inning, Steve Henderson singled & got to second on a ground ball out. Lee Mazzilli then doubled bringing Henderson home to make it a 3-1 Mets lead.

It was all Koosman needed as he went the distance, allowing just one run on eight hits. He struck out seven & walked no one.
1978: Koos would have the worst year of his career in 1978, going 3-15 but posted a decent 3.75 ERA. The Mets were now a bad team, the environment around the club was a long way off from what Koosman had lived in the good old days, just a few years prior.

All his old team mates & friends were now gone & he had had enough. Koosman also demanded a trade. He would get dealt to his home state of Minnesota, to the Twins in exchange for a minor leaguer & Jesse Orosco. 


Trivia: Koosman was on the mound for the last out, when the Mets won the 1969 World Series & Jesse Orosco got the final out on the mound in the 1986 World Series.

In his 12 years with the Mets, Koosman was 140-137 with 1799 strike outs, 820 walks & a 3.09 ERA. He threw 26 shutouts with 108 complete games.

The '1978 Mets would finish in last place (66-96) twenty four games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. They would finish last three straight years (1977-1979).

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