Jerry Buchek: Late Sixties Mets Infielder (1967-1968)

Gerald Peter Buchek was born on May 9th, 1942, in St. Louis, Missouri. The five foot eleven, all around infielder signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1959, getting to the big leagues two years later.

Buchek was called up at the end of June but only batted .128 through July & was sent back down to the minors. 

He returned as a September call up, overall batting .133 in 31 games. He spent most of the next two years back to the minors.

In the Cardinals 1964 Championship season, he only got into 35 regular season games batting just .200. 

1964 World Series: He did get a chance to play in the World Series, appearing in four games of the Cards seven game World Series victory. He appeared as a pinch runner three times, scoring a run. In his only World Series at bat he got a hit batting a perfect .1.000.

In 1965 he hit first career HR, playing in 55 games on the year batting .247. At second base he only made one error in 33 games. The following season he saw action in a 49 games at second base, when regular second baseman Julian Javier broke his finger. 

He made just five errors there posting a .974 fielding%. He also played in 48 games at short making 13 errors at that position. In 100 games overall, Buchek only hit .236 with 4 HRs 10 doubles 4 triples & 25 RBIs.

Mets Career: At the start of the 1967 season Buchek got traded to the New York Mets with Art Mahaffey & Tony Martinez for Eddie Bressoud & Danny Napoleon.

He became the Mets main second baseman replacing the popular Ron Hunt who had been traded away in the off season. Buchek posted a .977 fielding %, making 11 errors at second base.

In the second game of the season he hit a two run HR, helping the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

In May he had a power surge hitting HRs in three consecutive road games at St. Louis & Atlanta, driving in eight runs during a seven game span.

One of his finest moments came in a game against the Atlanta Braves that July. In the bottom of the 9th inning, Buchek pinch hit for Bud Harrelson who had already been 4-4 on the day. There were two out with no one on base & the Mets were behind by a run. Buchek then blasted a dramatic game tying HR sending the game to extra innings where the Mets won it 4-3. 

In July he drove in runs in four straight games & then in August had a stretch where he drove in runs in three games.
On September 2nd, Buchek hit two HRs in the second game of a double header at Wrigley Field, leading the Mets to a 5-4 win.

Back To Back Walk Off Games: On Friday September, 22nd, the Mets were down 4-2 in the 8th inning. Bob Johnson & Tommy Davis both singled for New York. Jerry Buchek followed with a three run HR putting the Mets ahead 5-4. It was Buchek's 12th HR of the year.

In the top of the 9th Mets pitcher Jack Fisher gave up the lead & the game went to extra innings. In the home 10th, Bob Johnson doubled & Cleon Jones walked. 

Jerry Buchek stepped in against the Astro's Tom Dukes & hit his second three run HR of the night. A walk off game winner HR, # thirteen on the year.
Buchek's six RBIs were the most in a game for a Met player that season & one of the highest totals in their short history.

The next night, the Mets exciting rookie Tom Seaver took the mound & shut out the Astros for nine innings. Houston pitchers Dave Guisti & Dave Eilers also shut out the Mets through eight innings.

In the bottom of the 9th, Larry Sherry came in to pitch for Houston. The Mets Bob Johnson led off with a double & Ed Kranepool was walked. Ron Swoboda then reached on an infield single to load the bases. 

That set the stage for Jerry Buchek. Buchek delivered with a game winning single, his second walk off hit in two nights.

On the season he hit .236 with a career high 14 HRs with 11 doubles 2 triples & 41 RBIs. His 14 HRs were a Mets single season record for a second baseman until 1987 when Tim Teufel tied it & then Jeff Kent broke the mark in 1990. 

Buchek also set personal bests in 1967 with games (124) at bats (411) hits (97) & strikeouts (101).

In 1968 as the Gil Hodges era began he fell off to a dismal .182, playing in 73 games, as Ken Boswell took over the regular second base position. On June 14th, Buchek had his biggest hit of the year, a three run HR against the San Francisco Giants, leading the Mets to a 7-3 win.

Buchek posted a .935 fielding % making seven errors, moving over to 37 games at the third base position. 

Post Mets Career: In December 1968 he was traded back to the Cardinals then to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1969 he played in their minor league system, then retired at the end of the year at age 27.

Career Stats: After seven career seasons, he hit .220 with 259 hits 22 HRs, 35 doubles, 11 triples & a .269 on base % in 421 games. At second base (198 games) he posted a .978 fielding % . At short (127 games) a .934 % & at third base (60 games) a .952 %.

Retirement: After baseball Buchek worked as a meat cutter & a car salesman in Branson, Missouri He was married twice & has four sons.

Passing: Buchek passed away in January of 2019 at age 76.


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