Apr 27, 2020

Lute Barnes: Early Seventies Top Mets Infield Prospect (1972-1973)

Luther Owens Barnes was born April 28, 1947, in Forest City, Iowa.

He attended Oregon State University getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 21st round (482nd pick overall) in 1969.

As a second baseman there wasn’t much room for Barnes with Ken Boswell & then Felix Millan both steadily holding the position through the mid seventies. He certainly wasn’t seeing any action at short with All Star Bud Harrelson in that spot. The five foot ten infielder even lost out to the solid reserve, Teddy Martinez for any back up duties.

In 1970 Barnes hit .290 in 121 games at AA Memphis. By 1971 Barnes was the AAA Tidewater Tides main second baseman playing for managers Hank Bauer & then former New York Giant Johnny Antonelli. He turned 51 double plays posting a .962 fielding % in 121 games at the position while hitting .273.

Barnes got a major league call up that summer, debuting with the Mets on August 6th 1972 at Shea Stadium in a 12-2 Mets romp over the Chicago Cubs. Lute got a base hit driving in Teddy Martinez in his first MLB at bat. 

Three days later he got to start at short stop in a 8-3 Mets win at St. Louis. He had a big day getting two more hits with a triple, two walks & two runs scored. He was hitting .750 after his first two career games & would have three more multiple hit games that season.

On September 12th he drove in two runs with a triple off the Phillies Ken Reynolds leading New York to a 4-2 win at Veterans Stadium. Ten days later he hit into a double play in the 8th inning of a game against the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The play scored the winning run & helped Tom Seaver beat Steve Carlton 2-1.Overall he played in 24 games total, batting .236 with two triples & six RBIs.

In 1973 he was back as AAA Tidewaters main second baseman posting a .985 fielding %, he stole 23 bases but hit just .226. He still got another September call up playing in three games for the 1973 NL champion Mets.

On September 13th he pinch ran in the 12th inning in a tie game at Philadelphia. He scored what would be the games winning run on Wayne Garrett's base hit, bringing the Mets within two games of first place. 

He got two pinch hit appearances, getting an RBI single against the Montreal Expos in what would be his last career at bat.

In 27 MLB games he hit .243 (18-74) with two doubles, two triples, six walks & seven RBIs. He posted a .959 fielding % in 14 games at second & short, with a .100% in six games at short. Barnes played in the minor leagues through the 1975 season, retiring at age 28.

Apr 24, 2020

Scott Strickland: Early 2000's Mets Reliever (2002-2003)

Scott Michael Strickland was born April 26, 1976 in Houston, Texas. The right handed fastball pitcher was drafted out of the University of New Mexico by the Montreal Expos in the 10th round in 1997.

After a brief two year period in the minors, Strickland made his debut with the Expos, in 1999 going 0-1 in 17 games. In 2000, the Expos only won 67 games and Steve Kline was their main closer with 14 saves. Strickland would eventually take over that closer role, posting a 3.00 ERA and finishing up 4-3 with nine saves. The next year he lost that job to Uqueth Urbina, but he still saved nine games with a 3.21 ERA but posted a 2-6 record.

During the first week of the 2002 season he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Bruce Chen. 

At the time it was believed Scott could help a weak Mets bullpen and possibly even be their future closer. He’ll always be remembered for wearing that thick silver chair around his neck, while on the mound.

He made his Mets debut on April 6th pitching the 7th inning in Atlanta in a 11-2 walloping of the Braves. The next night he blew a save opportunity, serving up an 8th inning RBi single to Mark Derosa. The Braves won the game in the 14th inning on a walk off HR by Marcus Giles off Mets pitcher Satoru Komiyama.

But in his first month, he would not allow another run & finished April with an 0.87 ERA & five holds. In the last week of May, he benefited with three Mets late comebacks to earn victories each time, getting his record to a best 5-2. 

As the season went on, he would win just one more game & take losses seven more times. In the set up role he would not earn another hold in the final two months.

He finished at 6-9 with two saves & 15 holds posting a 3.59 ERA in 68 appearances. Strickland did strike out 69 batters in 69 innings pitched. In 2003 he started out 0-2 but had a good 2.25 ERA before injuries led him to Tommy John surgery ruining his career. The Mets eventually released him.

After rehab & hard work, he returned two years later, to pitch four innings with the 2005 Houston Astros. Strickland never made it back to the big leagues, he would in the minors for the Pirates (2007) Padres (2008) Dodgers (2008) & Marlins (2009).

Trivia: In 2009 with AAA Albuquerque, he became the teams all time saves leader.

 In a six year MLB  career Strickland was 12-21 with 20 saves. He posted a 3.34 ERA, struck out 243 batters & walked 112  in 242 innings, in 239 appearances.

Apr 22, 2020

Remembering Mets History (1969): Koos Earns His First Win Of the Season

Wednesday April 23rd, 1969: On this cool night at Shea Stadium, Gil Hodges Mets (6-8) hosted Larry Shepard's Pittsburgh Pirates (10-5) in front of just 7274 fans. 

Tonight Veteran pitcher, Jim Bunning who had thrown his famous 1964 Fathers Day no hitter against the Mets, when he was with the Phillies was on the mound for the Pirates this evening. Bunning won 17 or more games eight times in his 17 year career. He won 19 games five times & was a twenty game winner once in his career, he made the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 thru the Veterans Committee.

Gild Hodges sent a winless Jerry Koosman to the mound. Koosman was in his third season, his second as a dominant left hand starter behind Tom Seaver. Koos won 19 games in 1968 (4th in the NL) with a 2.08 ERA (4th best in the NL) & would win 17 games in 1969, striking out 180 batters while posting a 2.28 ERA (5th best in the NL). Koosman was a vital part of the 1969 Mets success, he also would go 2-0 in the 1969 World Series posting a 2.04 ERA.

Starting Lineups

Koosman rolled through the game shutting out the Pirates, allowing just five hits along the way. He struck out six batters while walking three. This was the first of 16 complete games for Koos in 1969. 

To get an idea of how the games has changed, the 16 complete games were 9th best in the league. It was also the first of his six shutouts, fourth most in the NL.

The Mets just needed two runs for the win, in the home 1st, second baseman Ken Boswell doubled, he was brought in by Cleon Jones for the first Mets run. In the 4th, Jones doubled & Ed Kranepool singled him in with the Mets second run.

Mets notes: Cleon Jones had three of the Mets six hits on the day & was batting .444. He would have 15 games in 1969 where he had three or more hits. Jones would be in the race for the batting title most of the year finishing third with a .340 average.

Apr 19, 2020

Bob Myrick: 1970's Mets Reliever (1976-1978)

Robert Howard Myrick was born October 1, 1952 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Trivia: Bob Myrick’s great uncle was two time A.L. All Star Buddy Meyer who played 17 MLB seasons. In 1928 Meyer won the stolen base crown (30) while with the Boston Red Sox. He then spent thirteen years with the Washington Senators, winning the 1935 A.L. batting title (batting .349).

Meyer hit over .300 eight times in his career & was a lifetime .303 hitter (176th all time) with a .389 on base percentage (105th all time). 

At second base Meyer twice led the league in fielding. He also made two All Star teams & was considered in the MVP voting three times.

The six foot left handed Bob Myrick attended Mississippi State, getting drafted by the New York Mets in the 24th round of the 1974 draft. 

Bob Myrick never made an All Star team like his great uncle. He was mostly a middle reliever for the Mets from 1976-1978. Myrick started to become a full time relief pitcher at the AAA level. He was a combined 10-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 1975 at AA & AAA Tidewater. 

He made his big league debut at Shea Stadium, pitching to one batter on May 28th 1976, in a 6-0 Mets loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He appeared in a dozen games in the bicentennial year, before getting his first win.

On July 27th, he pitched three scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched another eight games, finishing off four Mets losses. On September 28th, the Montreal Expos beat him up for four runs (two earned) & five hits in the 4th inning of a 4-2 Mets loss. Overall he made 29 appearances posting a 3.25 ERA in 27 innings with 11 strike outs & a very high 13 walks. 

Trivia: Myrick helped Joe Pignatano tender his tomato plants in the Met bullpen for the most part of his three years at Shea Stadium.

In 1977 he saw a career high 44 appearances. He wet going 2-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 87 innings.

On August 5th, he earned his first win when Lenny Randle doubled home Doug Flynn in the 8th inning, for the winning run. He earned his next win on September 11th, pitching 3.2 innings at Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the final two weeks of the season he earned two saves, in games against the Chicago Cubs & St. Louis Cardinals. 

That September he also saved two games.

In 1978 he would pitch with the Mets until mid May, before going back to AAA Tidewater. He went 0-3 in the early part of the season, getting credit for two holds, finishing up seven games. He allowed nine earned runs & 13 walks in 24 innings pitched. Myrick never resurfaced to the majors, pitching in the minors through 1981.

In 1979 he & Mike Bruhert were traded to the Texas Rangers for Doc Ellis, who's best days were way behind him. In three MLB seasons, Bob Myrick was 3-6 with two saves and a 3.48 ERA, he walked 59 & struck out 73 in 139 innings pitched over 82 appearances.

Retirement: After baseball, he returned to his home town in Mississippi. There he helped run a family building supply business with his brother & some cousins.

Passing: In August of 2012 he suffered a heart attack & passed away at age 59.

Doug Henry: Former Mets Mid 1990's Reliever (1995-1996)

Richard Douglas Henry was born December 10th 1963 in Sacramento, California. The six foot four righthander, attended Arizona State University as a top pitcher. 

1984 Olympics: Henry pitched for the 1984 USA Olympic team who won a Bronze Medal. He went 2-0 in the Olympic run, playing along side with team mates Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin & BJ Surhoff, all of whom made the major leagues.

Brewers Career: The tall righty was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in the round of the 1985 draft.  In his rookie season of 1991 he came in 8th in the Rookie of the Year voting. He saved 15 games for the Brewers, going 0-2 with a 1.00 ERA. He struck out 28 batters in 36 innings pitched. 

The next year he saved 29 games (8th in the AL), establishing himself as one of the better relievers in the league. He went 1-4 with a 4.02 ERA. The next season he missed time due to injuries, saving 17 games going 4-4. Former Met, Jesse Orosco saved eight for Milwaukee that tear. 

In 1994, he lost his closer job to Mike Fetters, posting a 4.60 ERA with a 2-3 record. That winter he was traded to the New York Mets for a player to be named later, who turned out to be a young, Fernando Vina.

Mets Career: He spent two seasons as a middle reliever with the Mets, appearing in over 50 games both seasons. In the 1995 season in which the Mets although winning just 69 games, finished in second place. Henry he had a decent year, going 3-5 with four saves in 51 appearances (2nd most of the Mets bullpen). He posted a 2.96 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 67 innings pitched. 

The next year 1996, wasn’t as good for him. He started out with a win in April & a save as well. He blew two saves in May but recover to win an April 11th game, thanks to Rico Brogna's walk off HR. By mid June, he had five blown saves already. 

On July 23rd, he had the rare bad luck to be the losing pitcher in both ends of a double header, in a game in Colorado. In the first game, the Rockies benefited from two Henry walks & RBI singles from Eric Young Sr. & Quinton McCracken. In the second game, Yong Sr. hit a walk off single to beat New York 11-10.

In September he was credited with three straight losses. Although he saved nine games on the year, he was 2-8 with a 4.68 ERA. The Mets released him at the end of the season.

Post Mets Career: After the Mets, Henry went to the San Francisco Giants, doing two stints there (1997 & again in 2000). In 1997 he pitched one game in their NLDS loss to the Marlins. He then went to Houston getting to two post seasons there with the Astros.

Post Season:  In the 1998 NLDS, he allowed one in run in four appearances. That year the Astros lost to the eventual NL Champion San Diego Padres.

In 2000 with the Giants, Henry got to the NLDS again, making three appearances, allowing one run against the eventual NL Champion, New York Mets. In Game #2 he walked Benny Agbayani & got Jay Payton to ground out to end the inning. In Game #3 he gave up an RBI double to Edgardo Alfonzo. In Game #4 he served up two walks in 1.2 innings of work.

He finished his 11 year career in Kansas City, pitching for the Royals.

Overall Henry was 34-42 with 82 lifetime saves & a 4.19 ERA. He finished 290 games in 582 appearances with 541 Ks & 341 walks in 665 innings.

Retirement: After his playing days, Henry coached in the Kansas City Royals & Atlanta Braves organizations.