May 31, 2021

Rick Baldwin: Mid Seventies Mets Pitcher (1975-1976)

Rickey Allen Baldwin was born June 1, 1953 in Fresno, California, the home town of Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.  In his own words he was" raised in the church" to a religious family. In Modesto High School he played basketball & baseball.

 The tall six foot three, side armed right handed throwing Baldwin, was drafted by the New York Mets in ninth round of the 1971 draft.

In 1972 he was second on the Mets A ball Visalia staff, to Cecil Reynolds going 12-8 leading the team with 90 strike outs. Baldwin won nine games at AA Memphis (1973) & AA Victoria (1974) while posting winning records in each of the next two seasons. In his time there the Mets began using him more as a reliever.

In Spring Training 1975, the Mets had an opening in the bullpen after trading away Tug McGraw. Baldwin impressed the team and made it North with a lot of promise for his future. The team even gave him McGraw’s old uniform number 45. 

Quotes: Baldwin marveled at being in the big leagues- "They even wash your uniforms for you here". 

Mets Career: Baldwin made his Mets debut in the second game of the 1975 season pitching a scoreless 8th at Shea Stadium in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

On April 11th, he blew a 9th inning game at Pittsburgh as he was brought in to relieve Jerry Koosman with the bases loaded & a 3-1 lead. Baldwin allowed a two run single to Rennie Stennett, and then Mac Scarce who had come over in the Tug McGraw trade gave up the final losing hit. 

In his next outing Baldwin blew a two run lead to the Cardinals in St. Louis but was taken off the hook as the Mets scored seven runs to win the game 14-7. In that rally, he singled at the plate, reached base on an error & scored his first run.

Baldwin then earned his first save on April 20th in three innings of relief against the Chicago Cubs. In that game he did allow three runs. By June Baldwin became one of the Mets top relievers out of the bullpen, something they needed badly after they had traded away McGraw. 

By the All Star break he had four saves but also had blown five saves as well. Upon his return he saved two more games on the road in Chicago & St. Louis.

In September he earned his third & final win on the year pitching four scoreless innings at Shea against the Montreal Expos. 

For the 1975 season, Baldwin would be second on the club to Bob Apodaca in saves with six. He led all Mets pitchers in appearances with 54 going 3-5 with a 3.33 ERA, he had 54 strike outs with 34 walks in 97 innings pitched.

In 1976 he started out the year at AAA Tidewater, after
reworking out his delivery, he had a good year going 8-4 with 14 saves, posting a 2.31 ERA. 

He was called up to the Mets for two brief weeks in June then returning again in September. In 11 games with New York he appeared in 22 innings and posted a 2.26 ERA, with no record. 

In 1977 Baldwin was rolling along at 4-1 at AAA Tidewater when he was called back up in late May. He would appear in 40 games mostly in middle relief, going 1-2 with a save and a 4.45 ERA. On June 21st he earned his only victory against the Atlanta Braves. 

In September, while facing the Phillies, Tug McGraw decided to bat left handed for the first time in his career. The move flustered Baldwin so much, he walked on four pitches. Bladwin pitched the last game of the 1977 season earning the save at Busch Stadium in the Mets 6-4 win over the Cardinals. That game would be his last MLB appearance.

Post Mets Career: He was drafted away by the expansion Seattle Mariners in 1977 but never cracked their big league staff. He pitched at AAA through the 1978 season, ending his big league career. 

Mets Wives Softball Team: Rick's wife Sherry was the ace of the Mets wives softball team pitching staff. When he was traded away, Dani Torre fumed "When they make a trade, they dont even stop to think if the new guys wife can hit. I don't think they even cared that they deprived us of our franchise"

In a three year MLB career he appeared in 105 games, going 4-7 with seven saves & a respectable 3.60 ERA, striking out 86 batters with 75 walks in 182 innings pitched.

Retirement: After baseball, Rick & his wife Sherry, became Pastors in Modesto California. He also took time to participate in youth baseball clinics. 

Passing: Rick Baldwin passed away om October 30th 2020, from complications due to Covid19, he was 67.

1 comment:

Mid70’s Memories said...

Baldy ! He was a serviceable sidearmer who at least would’ve been an asset against RH batters. A decent career was cut short inexplicably,but leaves a distinctive legacy: looked like Matlack, wore McGraw’s # & threw like Terry Leach. He demonstrated why except Seaver & Gil Hodges, no Mets uniform # should be retired : Rick and then especially John Franco kept Tug’s memory alive, much less violated it. Unlike the vainglorious Bronx team, the Mets don’t need to overrate their alumni.