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. With his share of the winnings, he put a down payment on a house.

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 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.

Trivia: He is known as the last base runner in St. Louis' Sportsmans Park before the team moved to Busch Stadium.

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.

1967: Buchek 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 Buchek had a power surge hitting HRs in three consecutive road games at St. Louis & Atlanta. In a four-game span that week he drove in six runs. On May 14th he hit a solo HR off the Cardinals Bob Gibson helping Jack Fisher to a 3-1 Mets win over that year's World Champs. The Mets win broke Bob Gibson's nine game win streak.

Walk Off HR: On May 5th, Jerry came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, of a 2-2 tie with the Houston Astros. Tom Seaver & Claude Raymond had both gone the distance in the game. Buchek led off the inning with a walk off HR off Raymond giving the Mets an exciting 3-2 win. It was the first of three walk off hits he would have on the year.

On May 26th, Buchek brought in the only run of a Don Cardwell 1-0 shut out over the Braves with a solo HR off Ken Johnson.

On July 9th, Buchek was sent in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning, with the Mets
down 4-3 to the Braves. Buchek was batting for Bud Harrelson who had gone 4-4 on the day off pitcher Ken Johnson. Now Buchek faced Dick Kelley with two outs & homered to tie the game. 

The Mets went on to win it after Kelley walked Tommie Reynolds & then Claude Raymond came on gave up a single & two walks, including walking Ron Swoboda with the bases loaded to end the game.

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.

Walk Off HR- Six RBI Night:
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, his 13th of 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. His six RBIs at short stop was a Mets record until Francisco Lindor drove in seven runs in 2023.

Back-To-Back Walk Off Hit Games:  The next night, the Mets exciting rookie Tom Seaver took the mound & shut out the Astros for nine innings, striking out nine. 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 to right. Ed Kranepool was then intentionally 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 into left field, 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. 

Mets Trivia: His 14 HRs were a Mets single season record for a second baseman (tied by Tim Teufel in 1987) until Jeff Kent broke the mark in 1993. 

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

1968: As the Gil Hodges era began in New York, Ken Boswell took over as the regular second baseman. Buchek played just 12 games at second & moved over to play 37 games at third & nine games in the outfield. 

At bat Buchek fell off to a dismal .182 average playing in just 73 games.  

On May 12th, he had a multi-RBI game driving in a pair of runs in a 10-0 Mets win at Wrigley Field. On May 16th he drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single off Gerry Arrigo. Tommie Agge won the game with a walk off RBI single providing om Seaver with a 2-1 win over the Reds.

On June 14th, Buchek had his biggest hit of the year, a three run HR off the San Francisco Giants Mike McCormick, leading the Mets to a 7-3 win. After an RBI hit on July 27th, he would not drive in another run all season.

Buchek hit .182 with four doubles a HR & 11 RBIs. Defensively at third base he posted a .935 fielding % making seven errors, in 37 games. At second he made no errors in 39 chances turning four doble plays.

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: In his seven-year career he hit .220 with 259 hits 35 doubles 11 triples 22 HRs & 108 RBIs. He struck out 312 times with 75 walks posting a .269 on base % & .593 OPS 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 fielding %.

After baseball Buchek worked as a meat cutter for 25 years & a car salesman for another ten years in Missouri.  He eventually retired with his second wife Jan on a lake in Branson Missouri, where he enjoyed bass fishing. 

Family: Jerry was married twice & has four sons.

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


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