Remembering Mets History (1982): Rusty Staub's Pinch Hit Walk Off HR

Sunday May 9th, 1982:
It was a Mother's Day matinee at Shea, as a small crowd of 15,008 came to see George Bamberger's second place Mets (14-15) take on Frank Robinson's fourth place San Francisco Giants (13-16).

These were still rough times for Mets fans, as the team was still two years away fr
om competing & posting a winning record. Also worth noting, a week earlier the Mets had traded the popular Lee Mazzilli for yet a still unknown Ron Darling.

Tonight, the Mets sent Brooklyn born pitcher, Pete Falcone to the mound against the Giants Alan Fowlkes.


To start the game, both pitchers struck out three batters over the first two innings. In the home 3rd inning, Hubbie Brooks doubled to left field.  Ron Gardenhire followed with a single, scoring Brooks with the Mets first run. 

In the 4th inning, the Mets George Foster singled, then veteran catcher Ron Hodges hit his first HR of the season, making it 3-0. The HR was Hodges first since the first game he played back in April 1981. 

Trivia: Hodges had been a backup Mets catcher since 1973, first behind Jerry Grote & then John Stearns. 1983 would be his only season as New York's main back stop.

In the top of the 5th, Jim Wohlford singled but was erased by a double play. Next, Duane Kuiper & Alan Fowlkes both singled, then the Giants got back-to-back HRs from Chili Davis & Johnny LeMaster, to give them a 4-3 lead.

In the home 6th inning, the Mets Gary Rajsich singled to right field to start the inning. Then slugger Dave Kingman, hit a two-run shot put New York up 5-4. For Kingman, it was his 11th HR in just 29 games played. Also his third HR of that week.

On the 7th inning, Pat Zachary, made his first relief appearance since 1980. After a quiet 7th, he blew a save opportunity in the 8th inning giving up a HR to Tom O'Malley tying the game at five.

The Mets Craig Swan, once one of the teams best pitchers, who had his career ruined by injuries, came in to pitch in his eighth relief appearance. He retired the Giants in the top of the 9th & Greg Minton came on to pitch the bottom of the 9th.

After Brooks & Gardenhire were retired, Bamberger sent up, the veteran fan favorite, Rusty Staub to pinch hit. 

Staub was currently in a 0-16 slump. But here he connected for a HR to right field, winning the 
game for the Mets & giving the Mom's in the Mothers Day crowd something to get excited about.

Trivia: Greg Minton had just gone 269 innings without giving up a HR.

It was Staub's first HR of the season, he would hit three on the year, batting .296 in 132 at bats.

Rusty was in the twilight of his fine career, he had been an All Star in Houston & Montreal, then one of the Mets biggest run producers in the early to mid-seventies. He was a big bat on the 1973 Mets NL Pennant winner, shining in the NLCS & World Series. He was traded to Detroit, then briefly back to Montreal, as well as Texas.

He was now 39 years old, in his second go around with the Mets. He was a bit overweight but could still hit. Staub would become one of the game's best pinch hitters in the next couple of years. In 1983 he would tie an NL record with eight straight pinch hits & toe the MLB mark of 25 pinch hit RBIs.

Quotes: Rusty Staub- "You go up there and you know he doesn't give HRs up. If he makes a mistake, you got a chance to drive the ball into the gap.'' 'Hoping for a double'.

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