Remembering Mets History: (1963) Duke Snider's Walk Off & 400th Career HRs

Friday June 7th, 1963: In the early days of the Mets, while still playing at the Polo Grounds, nostalgia was everything. 

The Mets were not a very good team, which was the case of any expansion team back then. So in order to build a fan base, the club signed up many former National League players from the old New York Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers as to attract their old fans.

One of the most popular players, was Brooklyn Dodger legend, Duke Snider labeled the "Duke of
Flatbush" & "the Silver Fox". 

The future Hall of Famer finished his career with 407 HRs 1333 RBIs & a .295 batting average, 2226 hits 358 doubles 1259 runs scored & a .380 on base %. Snider hit more HRs than any player in the 1950's (326). Duke also hit forty plus HRs for five straight seasons (1953-1957) made seven straight All Star teams, won six Pennants & two World Championships, all with the Dodgers.

On this evening, Johnny Keane's St. Louis Cardinals (31-24) were in a three way tie for first place, as they came to the Polo Grounds, to face Casey Stengel's tenth place Mets (21-34) in front of a New York crowd of 15,260.

Starting Lineups

Al Jackson would get the start for New York, pitching a complete game as he allowed just two runs on eight hits. In the St. Louis' 1st inning, Curt Flood doubled & scored on Dick Groat's double. Later in the 4th, Ken Boyer led off with a HR. Al Jackson struck out seven along the way, while walking six.

Future 1969 Met, Ron Taylor went for the Cardinals, pitching a fine game, getting into the 9th inning with a two hit shut out. 

In the bottom of the 9th with one out, Met slugger Frank Thomas came in to pinch hit for Choo Choo Coleman. Thomas singled & manager Casey Stengel had "Hot Rod" Kanehl pinch run for him. The next batter Ron Hunt then drew a walk. 

Johnny Keane the removed Taylor as he was replaced on the mound by Diomedes Olivo.

The next Mets batter was Duke Snider. Although near the end of his 18-year career & he quickly became very popular among the new Mets fans. Earlier in the month he had reached the milestone of collecting his 2000th hit while wearing a Mets uniform.

In a short team history, as the Mets were only in their second season, with few highlights, Snider provided the Polo Grounds fans with a huge thrill on this day. 

Snider blasted the Olivio fastball into the second deck in right field, for a three-run walk off HR, providing the Mets with an exciting game winner. It was Sniders 399th HR of his career.

The Polo Grounds crowd & the Mets team went wild. As Duke was the hero of the day.

Trivia: Also on this same day, Mets Scout Roy Partee signed short stop Bud Harrelson.

Friday June 14th, 1963: A week later, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, the Mets (24-38) took on Fred Hutchinson's fifth place Reds (31-28).  The Mets sent pitcher Carl Willey up against the Reds, Bob Purkey. 

In the top of the 1st inning, the Mets Ron Hunt singled. 

Next, Duke Snider reached another career milestone. The Duke blasted his 400th career HR, a liner to the right field bleachers. 

It was his 11th of the season. Duke spent just the one season with the Mets hitting14 HRs driving in 45 runs playing in 129 games. He would finish his career the next year, playing in San Francisco with the Giants.

In the 3rd the Mets sent nine men to the plate, after Carl Willey made the first out, Jimmy Piersall singled. Choo Choo Coleman was hit by a pitch, then a Ron Hunt single made it 3-0 Mets as Piersall scored. This time around, Bob Purkey intentionally walked Duke Snider. But he then threw a wild pitch scoring Coleman & advancing the runners.

Mets slugger Frank Thomas singled bringing home two more runs as the Mets went up 6-1, knocking Purkey put of the game as well. 

In the top of the 5th, Ron Hunt tripled & was brought home on Thomas's infield base hit. 

In the 7th, Hunt doubled, continuing his big day, where he collected four hits, with a pair of singles, a double, triple & four runs scored. 

This time another Reds wild pitch, thrown by Dom Zanni
advanced him to third & Frank Thomas' sac fly brought him in to make it 8-3 Mets.

In the top of the 9th, Thomas singled to right. Thomas would have three hits with four RBIs on the night. Hot Rod Kanehl came in to pinch run, stole second & scored on Tim Harkness' base hit, capping off the Mets 10-3 win. 

Carl Willey would get the win putting his record at 5-5. He went seven innings, allowing two runs & seven hits. One of the Reds runs was scored by a rookie named, Pete Rose.


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