Apr 14, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (1976) The Dave Kingman- Keith Hernandez Brawl

Tuesday April 20th, 1976: The New York Mets, managed by Joe Frazier, were in second place in the NL East, one & a half games out of first place, this early in the season. Tonight the Mets were at Bush Stadium in St. Louis, to play Red Schoendienst's sixth place St. Louis Cardinals, who were just just 3 1/2 games back. 
The Cards featured All Time stolen base leader (at that time) & future Hall of Famer, Lou Brock, as well as 2020 HOF inductee, catcher Ted Simmons. 

Also on the team was young first baseman, Keith Hernandez. The '76 Mets would win 86 games but finish third. They had a fantastic pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman & tonight's starter, Jon Matlack. Their star slugger was Dave Kingman who hit 36 HRs in 1975 & 37 in 1976.

A small St. Louis crowd of 7,260 were in attendance for Tonight's game which would be highlighted by a Hernandez / Kingman brawl.

Starting Lineups

The Mets beat up on Cardinals' starter, Lynn McGlothen early on. In the 1st inning, Wayne Garrett led off with a single & Felix Millan followed with a two run HR. It was the only HR Millan would hit all year.  After the first out, Ed Kranepool doubled & then new Mets centerfielder, Del Unser hit a two run HR, making it 4-0 Mets. 

In the top of the 2nd, McGlothen walked Wayne Garrett, then John Milner hit a two run HR to give New York a commanding 6-0 lead.

The Cards were upset & McGlothen was extremely frustrated. In the 3rd inning, in Unser's next at bat, he hit him with a pitch. In the bottom of the 3rd, Matlack made a point of his own, as he brushed back McGlothen with a pitch to even things up. Matlack then struck McGlothen out.

In the top of the 4th, Matlack came to bat & bean balls flew again. This time, McGlothen hit Matlack with a pitch. Home plate Umpire Bruce Froemming, tossed McGlothen out of the game. As he was being ejected from the game, the Mets came running out of the dugout to get him.

The Mets, Dave Kingman, who is remembered as not being much of a team player, certainly was standing up for his team & his pitcher on this night. The six foot, six Kingman, led the charge, & was zeroing in on McGlothen. 

But Keith Hernandez, the future Met legend, who was still a Cardinal then, intercepted the big Kingman, attempting to tackle him. 

Some reports say, Kingman just tossed Hernandez aside, but after all these years the memories vary. That said, Hernandez did save McGlothen's life. The benches cleared, some punches were thrown & a lot of shoving went on as well.

Eventually the game resumed, in the 8th inning, Millan singled & came home, when Mets Joe Torre tripled to centerfield. In the 9th, Jerry Grote & Mike Phillips both singled  off reliever John Curtis. Wayne Garrett added an RBI single to finish off the Mets 8-0 win. 

Jon Matlack would go the distance pitching a six hit shut out, striking out seven. He was now 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA on the season. Matlack would lead the NL with six shut outs in 1976 & win a career high 17 games (17-10). 

He posted a 2.95 ERA with 16 complete games & 153 strike outs in 262 innings in 35 starts. He came in 6th in the Cy Young voting, team mate Jerry Koosman came in second to winner Randy Jones.

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