Jun 30, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (2000) Al Leiter Strikes Out 12 Braves

Saturday July 1st 2000: The Mets Braves rivalry was at it's peak at this point in time, with Bobby Cox's Atlanta club (48-32) one game in front of the Mets (46-32) in first place. 

44,593 came out to Shea for this Saturday matinee with Greg Maddux (9-2) going up against Al Leiter (9-1). 

Starting Lineups

In the home 1st, Derek Bell doubled & reached third a ground out, he then scored when a third strike to Mike Piazza got passed the catcher; Fernando Lunar. The Mets then exploded in the 2nd inning, Benny Agbayani hit a solo HR & the flood gates opened. Al Leiter singled, Melvin Mora doubled then Derek Bell doubled bringing in Leiter. 

Edgardo Alfonzo singled bringing in Bell & Mike Piazza hit his 23rd HR of the season, a two run shot making it 7-0 Mets. Derek Bell would add a two run HR later making it 9-1 Mets. 

On the mound Leiter was having a fine afternoon, he would start out the game striking out two Braves in the first inning. He did the same in the 4th & 5th innings as well.

In the 7th he would allow a pair of singles, but strike out the last two batters to end the threat. He struck out all three outs in the inning giving him a total of 12 Ks on the day. 

He would match that season high total twice on the year, as he finished the year with 200 strike outs (fifth in the NL). 

The win was Leiter's fifth win in a row besting his record to 10-1 on the season. He would go 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA in the Mets 2000 Pennant winning season.

Jun 27, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Steve Matz's Incredible Big League Debut

Sunday, June 28th 2015: At this point in the Mets 2015 N.L. Championship season, the Mets were at a low. They had just five wins in their last sixteen games & were 4 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals. 

It was the most games behind the Nats, the Mets were all season. But today would be the turnaround for the Mets, from this point on they may have had difficulties but they never fell that far behind Washington again.

Today was the highly anticipated debut of yet another Mets young star pitcher. Local Long Island kid; Steven Matz was finally brought up to the big leagues after going 7-4 with 94 strike outs in 90 innings at AAA Las Vegas. 

Matz was looked at as one of the top pitching prospects & his addition to an already talented staff brought more belief in this team.

Starting Lineups

Steven Matz took the mound with his parents, grandparents, other family & friends all in attendance.

Matz was greeted with a lead off HR to Brandon Phillips but he took a deep breathe & settled in. He retired the side in the next two innings then had his first major league at bat.

In the 3rd inning with Darrell
Ceciliani & Eric Campbell on base, Matz surprised everyone with a double off Josh Smith, putting the Mets up 2-1. The Matz family & Citi Field crowd gave him a huge ovation.

In the 4th inning, Matz gave up a HR to Todd Frazier tying the game. In the bottom of the 5th, Matz singled going 2-2 on the day. He then scored a run when Curtis Granderson doubled, putting the Mets ahead again. 

In the 6th inning clinging to a 3-2 lead, Matz came up with the bases loaded. In heroic fashion he singled once again for his third hit in his MLB debut, two more runs scored making it 5-2. 

He was 3-3 with four RBIs on the day, becoming the first player since 1980 to do that in his MLB debut.

And on the mound he would pitch into the 8th inning, after giving up a two out walk & reaching a pitch limit.

Matz gave up two runs on five hits, striking out six walking three in a marvelous debut earning the victory. The Mets went on to win the game, Matz was one of the winning pieces to the Mets 2015 puzzle.

Soon Michael Conforto would get promoted & a month from now Yoenis Cespedes would arrive as well as supporting characters Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe & Kelly Johnson.

Remembering Mets History: (1978) Tough Guy John Stearns Wins Out In Home Plate Collision With Dave Parker

Friday June 30th 1978: Joe Torre's fifth place Mets (33-45) were in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium to play the fourth place Pirates (35-38) in a weekend series.

Not much excitement surrounded this one, although a nice crowd of 31,947 came out as the Mets; Nino Espinosa went up against veteran Don Robinson.

Starting Lineups

The Mets scored in the 3rd inning, as Espinosa doubled, Len Randle singled  & Tim Foli brought in the first run with a sac fly. By the 7th inning the Pirates took the lead, as shortstop Frank Taveras had driven in two runs & Ken Macha had an RBI double of his own. 

In the top of the 8th, Randle & Foli both singled to start the inning. Grant Jackson came in & got Lee Mazzilli & Steve Henderson both to pop out in foul territory. But Willie Montanez came through with a double bringing it to a 3-2 game.

In the 9th, John Stearns led off with a double. The Pirates relief ace; Kent Tekulve was brought in to close it out. But the Mets; Ed Kranepool (one the games premiere pinch hitters) came through with another pinch hit single, scoring Stearns to tie the game.

Lenny Randle then tripled, bringing in Kranepool. Joel Youngblood singled bringing in Randle. With two out Steve Henderson brought in Youngblood with another single. By this time the Pirates had brought in their fourth pitcher of the inning, Eddie Whitson.

The Mets took a 6-3 lead into the 9th inning with Dale Murray on the mound. Murray got the first out, but gave up singles t o Frank Taveras & Omar Moreno. 

Then Big Dave Parker came to bat. Parker had won the 1977 batting title & would win the 1978 title as well. Parker would win that years MVP Award, hitting 30 HRs with 32 doubles, 12 triples, 117 RBIs & a .394 on base %.

In this game Parker would hit one of his 12 triples, bringing in Tavares & Moreno making it a 6-5 game, exciting the Three Rivers Crowd to their feet. Two outs, bottom of the 9th & the Pirates down by a run with the winning run on third base.

The next batter was (future Mets coach) Bill Robinson. He hit a fly ball to left field, Parker tagged at third base, the Mets outfielder, Joel Youngblood who had a good arm, caught it & threw home. 
Parker took off all six foot five, 230 lbs of him barreling into Mets catcher John Stearns. Stearns caught Youngblood's throw, stood his ground tagged out Parker, and was knocked away from home plate. According to Stearns in a recent interview, "I gather my senses & to my surprise the ball is still nestled in my mitt, like a sleeping baby. I showed it to the umpire & the game was over. I look over at Parker & he was still on the ground, moaning from a fractured jaw." The Mets won it 6-5.

John Stearns was one of the toughest guys in baseball. A former college football defensive back, Stearns was more football player than baseball player.

The same guy who once tackled a fan who got onto the playing field that the police could not catch, the man who took on Gary Carter & the Montreal Expos in a brawl, the Big Red Machine & even Braves mascot Cheif Noc-a-homa. 

Stearns stood at six feet tall, weighing in at 185 lbs. But it was he, who walked away from the home plate collision unsaved.

As for Dave Parker, he broke his cheekbone & missed two weeks of action. When he returned in his 1978 MVP season, he wore both; a hockey style goalie mask & a protective face mask on his helmet around his facial area, much like a football helmet. 

The legend of "Bad Dude" John Stearns continued to grow..................

Jun 26, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (2004) Richard Hidalgo Sets Club Mark Homering In Five Straight Games

On June 18th 2004, Richard Hidalgo came over to the Mets from the Houston Astros in exchange for Jeremy Griffiths & David Weathers.

Although his stay in New York was brief, he made his spot in Mets history, setting a club record by homering in five straight games.

Before his streak, he had hit three HRs in his first ten Mets games.

On July 1st, 2004 Art Howe's Mets (38-39) were at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to face Dave Miley's Reds (42-36).

In this game Al Leiter pitched seven shut out innings giving up just two hits. He left with a 4-0 lead but reliever Ricky Bottalico gave up five quick runs in just 0.2 of an inning pitched.

The Mets had three other HRs on the night, hit by Eric Valent, Shane Spencer & Jose Reyes. In the 8th, Hidalgo hit a solo HR, his first in his club record setting streak. It was also the game winning run as the Mets squeaked out a 7-6 victory.

The next three were against the AL New York team, as the Mets swept the inter league subway series at Shea Stadium. In the 1st game on Friday night, Hidalgo led the charge hitting a two run HR off Mike Mussina in the 5th inning, his 9th of the year. Hidalgo already had an RBI double earlier in the game. That night Kaz Matsui hit two HRs & drove in five runs. The Mets went on to an 11-2 victory.

On Saturday afternoon Hidalgo hit a HR off Jose Contreras, for his third straight game with a HR. Also on this day, Cliff Floyd & Ty Wiggington also homered. It was a wild 10-9 Mets win, as 34 different players were used in a four hour sub way series epic.

Sunday- Independence Day, July 4th. The Mets used five pitchers as the AL New York club used four in another tight game. Tonight was Ty Wiggington's night as he was having himself a hell of a series. He hit two HRs including one in the bottom of the 8th which was the game winner.

As for Richard Hidalgo he had hit his fourth straight game where he hit a HR, his came in the home 7th, a game tying solo shot off Felix Heredia. Wiggy hit two, including the game winner in the bottom of the 8th inning.

After a successful weekend, the Mets went to Philadelphia on Monday July 5th to face the first place Phillies. Tonight Hidalgo wasted no time, hitting a 1st inning HR off Paul Abbot to set the Mets club record of hitting a HR in five straight games.

Two nights later, Hidalgo tripled in the Mets first run & then the games go ahead run, helping Al Leiter to a 4-1 win, getting the Mets within two games of first place. Since coming to the Mets, Hidalgo was hitting .348 (23-for-66) with 8 HRs & 15 RBIs in 17 games.

Hidalgo would end the season with 25 HRs (21 of them as a Met) & 82 RBIs but only hit for a .239 average. After a hot June/July streak, he cooled off considerably and the Mets did not resign him for 2005. He finished out his career in Texas hitting 16 HRs with a .221 average in 2005.

Jun 25, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (1967) The Odd Couple Movie Filming At Shea Stadium

Tuesday June 27th 1967:  Hollywood set up its cameras at Shea Stadium for a scene for the original movie version of “The Odd Couple”starring Walter Matthau & Jack Lemmon. Shea made it’s film debut in a game between the home town New York Mets & the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Originally Roberto Clemente was asked to be the batter in the movie scene, but he declined the part because he did not want to be portrayed as a weak hitter. Another Future Hall of Famer & star of the 1960 World Series, Bill Mazeroski took the part, getting paid $100 for his role.

The scene in the film takes place from the press box in the top of the 9th inning with the Mets holding onto a one run lead. 

Sports writer Oscar Madison is covering the
game & gets an emergency phone call in the press box from his roommate Felix Unger. 

Oscar sarcastically comments to a sports writer while getting up, the Mets still have a chance if they make a triple play. On the phone call Oscar gets annoyed when Felix tells him not to eat too many hot dogs because he’s preparing dinner at home.

On the field during the phone call, Mets pitcher Jack Fisher pitches to Mazeroski who hits a bouncer to third baseman Ken Boyer. Charles steps on third, throws to (Ken Boswell I believe) at second for one, who then throws over to Ed Kranepool at first, completing the triple play.

Legendary sports writer Maury Allen makes a cameo appearance & tells Oscar he just missed the greatest play he’s ever seen. Oscar yells into the phone at Felix “Are You Crazy, are you out of your mind?” A few Met players come out of the dugout to shake hands with the infielders.

Throughout the movie Oscar is seen wearing a Mets hat, which just goes to show you how popular the Mets were even before 1969. 

On the TV show, Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison also often wore a Mets hat. Keep in mind the Odd Couple TV show began in 1970 & ran through 1975, a very good period in Mets history. Both Oscar characters had pictures of Mets players on their wall too.

The scene was filmed before a real game between the Mets & Pirates. When the actual game began, Mets manager Wes Westrum had Dennis Bennet take the mound against Pittsburgh’s Woodie Fryman. 

Starting Lineups

The Mets hit Woodie hard in the bottom of the 1st, inning. Bud Harrelson lead off with a single, then Cleon Jones reached on base with an error.

Tommy Davis then singled home Harrelson, & Ron Swoboda blasted a three run HR to put the Mets up 4-1. 

In the 2nd the Mets Jerry Buchek & the 9th place hitter- pitcher Bennet both singled. 

Bud Harrelson hit a sac fly ball that scored Buchek. In the top of the 4th inning, Bennet was replaced by Dick Selma after allowing two runs on seven hits with the Mets leading 5-2. 

Selma earned his first win of the year by throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings striking out four Pirates. On the big day of the movie, Bud Harrelson had three hits, Ron Swoboda & The Glider Ed Charles both had two hits each. 
The Mets win put them at 25-41 in ninth place, 17 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals who would go on to win the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The Mets finished the year at 61-101 in tenth place.

Jun 24, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (2008) Carlos Delgado Ties Franchise Record With Seven Multi HR Games

In 2008 Carlos Delgado matched Dave Kingman for the franchise record of seven multi HR games in a season. Lucas Duda matched the feat in 2015 for the NL Champion Mets. Delgado's season went like this:

On April 27th, Delgado had just hit one HR in the opening month of the 2008 season. Willie Randolph's Mets were in second place just 1.5 games back as they hosted Bobby Cox's fourth Atlanta Braves.

Future SNY studio analyst Nelson Figueroa was on the mound on his way to his second win as Delgado helped him with two HRs in the 6-3 win. Delgado's first HR came off John Smoltz & the latter in the 9th inning off Will Ohman.

Friday night June 27th the Mets were in third place under new skipper Jerry Manuel who had replaced Randolph as manager. This became a record day for Carlos Delgado, as he would drive in nine runs & hit two HRs in the Mets 15-6 win across town in the subway series opener. 

Delgado came to bat in the 5th inning with the score tied at four. Carlos Beltran & Luis Castillo were aboard when he hit a three run shot off Edwar Ramirez for the 6-4 lead. In the 6th inning Delgado connected for a grand slam as David Wright, Castillo & Beltran were all aboard the bases. Delgado had now taken the team lead with 13 HRs.

On July 26th the Mets were in first place under Jerry Manuel, playing in St. Louis. Delgado connected for two HRs on this night, getting him to 22 on the season while hitting nine in the month.

On August 25th, the first place Mets hosted Cecil Cooper's Houston Astros in front of 49,791 at Shea Stadium. Delgado opened the day up with a three run HR off Brian Moehler. In the 7th, he connected for another three run HR, giving him six RBIs on the day & his fourth multi HR game.

Two days later the Mets were in Philadelphia fighting to hold on to first place. There was trouble in New York as the Mets were once again losing their grip on first place as they had done the year before in the final days of the season. Delgado had a good month driving in 24 runs & strong September as well. But the Mets would fall short of the post season once again.

In this game Delgado blasted two HRs, including an 8th inning solo shot off Rudy Seanez. It was his 30th HR of the season, this one putting the Mets ahead for good. Daniel Murphy & Brian Schneider added RBI hits in the inning.

In September Delgado continued his hot hitting, carrying the Mets team that still couldn't catch the Phils. In the month he hit 8 HRs with 22 RBIs. At no point was he hotter than early in the month in a two day span. On September 7th, the first place Mets hosted the second place Phillies in a double header at Shea Stadium. The Mets moved to two games ahead as they took both ends of the twin bill. In the second game, Johan Santana beat Hole Camels as Delgado led the way with two HRs both coming off Hamels.

Two days later Delgado tied the Mets team record of multi HR games in a season, as he had his seventh matching Dave Kingman in 1976.

The Mets still holding on to first place hosted Manny Acta's Washington Nationals in front of 50 plus thousand at Shea. In the 3rd inning he connected for a two run shot off John Lannon. In the bottom of the 6th, Carlos Beltran put the Mets ahead 9-8 with a two run HR. 

Delgado followed with a solo HR his 35th of the year. The Mets went on to a 10-8 win. Delgado finished the year with 38 HRs & 115 RBIs. His 38 HRs were third best in the league. In 1976 Kingman finished second in the NL HR race to Mike Schmidt.

Jun 23, 2020

Remembering Mets History: (1963) Jimmy Piersall Rounds The Bases Backwards

Sunday June 23, 1963: In the first game of a sunny Sunday double header at the Polo Grounds, Casey Stengel’s young New York Mets (27-44) took on Gene Mauch’s Philadelphia Phillies (31-39). 

Starting Lineups

New York pitcher Carl Willey had a great day, as he threw a complete game two hit shut out. Willie walked no one striking out six batters. He bested his record to 6-6 with a 2.62 ERA, best on the Mets staff. That day he earned the win over Phillies pitcher &  future Mets manager; Dallas Green.

The Mets scored first, in the 3rd inning apaif of walks to Tim Harkness & Ron Hunt set the stage for a Duke Snider RBI single. 

In 5th inning a strange but funny & classic thing happened. Jimmy Piersall a character in his own right, led off the inning with a HR. It was a milestone in his playing career, being the 100th HR for him. Piersall dropped the bat and went to circle around the bases. But he did so running backwards.

Piersall was a veteran two time All Star & gold glove outfielder in his days with the Boston Red Sox.

He was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown due to emotional exhaustion. He related it back to his father, who had put a tremedous amount of pressure on him in becoming a pro ball player.

He did make a successful comeback taking over centerfield in Boston after Dom DiMaggio's reign. But it certainly did not come without any drama. He fought with his own teammates, and other players as well. Once in a huge brawl he beat Billy Martin to a pulp. During another game he went up to the grand stands to heckle an umpire. 

In 1964 he came to the plate wearing a Beatles wig & playing air guitar on his bat. Eventually he was traded to the Cleveland Indians then to the Washington Senators in exchange for Gil Hodges. Piersall was ejected from games, six games in 1960.

Legend has it he was once seen sprinting back & forth in the outfield when Ted Williams came to bat. He was the subject of the great baseball movie “Fear Strikes Out” starring Tony Perkins in 1957.

On hitting his 100th HR, Piersall had observed Duke Snider hit his 400th home run just a few weeks earlier. He noted that there wasn’t much fan fare for such a great feat. He vowed when he hit his 100th HR, he would do something to make it festive. 

He certainly did, the Polo Grounds loved it, as he trotted around the bases backwards, even some of his team mates  laughed. He never tripped and even shook third base coach; Cookie Lavagetto's hand on the way around.

The Phillies team & pitcher Dallas Green were not amused. Neither was MLB Commissioner Ford Frick who was in attendance that day. The Mets organization didn’t like it either, Manager Casey Stengel was so angry, he cut Piersall from the team two days later.

The Mets won the game 5-0 and the night cap as well 4-1.

Trivia: Jimmy Piersall once appeared on The Lucille Ball Show as himself. In Boston he was praised by Hall of Famer; Ted Williams as the best outfielder Williams ever saw.

Mike Bruhert: Former Mets Pitcher & Fordham University Pitching Coach (1978)

Michael Edward Bruhert was born June 24, 1951 in Jamaica Queens, New York. He grew up south of the Long Island railroad and those who knew him said he was one of the nicest guys around. 

The tall 6’ 6’ right handed pitcher was originally drafted by the hometown New York Mets, in their pitching rich days of 1971.  

Marriage to Gil Hodges Daughter: The local New York boy, would soon start to date Mets manager Gil Hodges daughter, Itene. Mike & Irene soon got marries & Mike was in the Hodges family.

But quickly he was then drafted away by the Philadelphia Phillies. Then came the untimely passing of Gil Hodges. By 1973 Bruhert was returned back to the Mets.

Buhert was both a starter & reliever in the minor leagues, spending a total of 12 seasons there. He went 11-9 with a 4.10 ERA, at AAA Tidewater in 1977, good enough in those days, to get him a spot on the 1978 Mets staff.

He made his MLB debut in the fourth game of the season, starting the second game of a double header at Shea Stadium on April 9th. He pitched well allowing three runs over six innings, but his team was shut out Montreal’s Ross Grimsley 5-0. 

Bruhert got his first career win in his next outing at St. Louis, beating the Cardinals 3-2 in six innings of work. On May 7th he pitched seven innings at Cincinnati allowing just two runs on two hits but got no decision. 
The Mets would go on to win the game later on a 9th inning John Stearns RBI single. 

He lost his next four decisions over the next two months and was put in the bullpen to straighten things out. He got back into the ’78 Mets rotation by the end of August.

Bruhert ended up losing five of his last six decisions in the month of September allowing 19 runs in 35 innings of work. On September 17th he pitched his best game, a complete game four hit shutout striking out five Phillies at the old Veterans Stadium. 

1978 was Mike Bruhert's one & only season in the major leagues. He went 4-11 with 56 strike outs, 34 walks & a 4.78 ERA in 133 innings pitched over 27 games (22 starts). He allowed 71 earned runs on 171 hits & in 27 outings allowed at least one earned run in 25 of them.

At the end of the season he was sent to the Texas Rangers along with Bob Myrick, for veteran pitcher Doc Ellis who was 3-7 for the 1979 Mets. 

Bruhert never cracked the Ranger roster & pitched in the minor leagues through 1982 posting a life time 62-73 minor league record with 445 strike outs in 1163 innings pitched over 278 games.

Retirement: After his playing days, Bruhert was the long time pitching coach at Fordham University in the 1980’s & 1990’s. There he coached two future MLB pitchers, the Mets Pete Harnisch and Miguel Jimenez.

Family: Bruhert & Irene eventually divorced. Mike remarried with two daughters & was recently living out in Baldwin, Long Island.

Remembering Mets History: (1971) Cleon Jones Ties an MLB Record Drawing Six Walks in A Double Header

Thursday June 25, 1971: Gil Hodges second place Mets (40-28) made a trip up North into Canada, to Parc Jarry in Montreal, for a twi night double header.

The Mets were only 3 ½ games out of first place being hosted by Gene Mauch's fifth place Expos (28-39).

In this twin bill, Cleon Jones would set an MLB record by walking six times in the two games, helping the Mets to the doubleheader sweep.

In the first game a young Nolan Ryan (6-4) went up against Montreal's Jim Britton.

Starting Lineups

Cleon Jones walked three times in this game, drawing the base on balls from three different pitchers; Btitton, Claude Raymond & Mike Marshall. 

In the 1st, Montreal got two lead off singles & an RBI double from Rusty Staub. The Mets answered in the 2nd on a Jerry Grote RBI double, scoring Dave Marshall. In the 5th Marshall would single with the bases loaded scoring Mike Jorgensen for a 2-1 Mets lead.

In the 7th, Jones would draw his would third walk & score on Ed Kranepools two run single. 

Nolan Ryan went the distance, allowing one run as he scattered eleven Expo hits. Ryan had great control on this day, walking only one, as he struck out ten earning his 7th win of the year against four losses. On the year he would go 10-14 with a 3.97 ERA with 137 strike outs & 116 walks in 152 innings.

Starting Lineups

In the night cap, the Mets started Ray Sadecki against Dan McGinn. Cleon Jones walked three more times in this game, in the 1st & 3rd innings off McGinn & later in the 9th inning off reliever Howie Reed.

For New York Danny Frisella got the win in relief of Ray Sadecki. The Mets won this game 4-2, as Bud Harrelson got three hits including a 2nd inning RBI double that tied the game.

 In the 5th inning, Tim Foli walked, was sacrificed over & stole third.  Donn Clendenon was walked & rookie Ken Singleton singled home the second Mets run.

With two outs, Duffy Dyer walked & Harrelson came through with another RBI single, making it 4-1.

Former Met Ron Hunt hit a solo HR for Montreal but the Mets won it 4-2. Danny Frisella had relieved Sadecki in the 5th & pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits. He went on to his fourth win (4-2) going on to have his best season 8-5 with 12 saves & a 1.99 ERA.