Friday June 7th 1963: In the early days of the Mets at the Polo Grounds, nostalgia was everything. The Mets signed up many players from the old NY Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers to attract their old fans.
One of the most popular players, was Brooklyn Dodger legend, Duke Snider labled the "Duke of Flatbush".
On this day, 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 crowd of 15,260.
Al Jackson would get the start for New York, pitching a complete game as he allowed just two runs on eight hits. In the 1st inning, Curt Flood doubled & scored on Dick Groat's double. Later in the 4th, Ken Boyer led off with a HR. Jackson struck out seven along the way, while walking six.
Future Mets relief pitching star, 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 & Casey Stengel had "Hot Rod" Kanehl pinch run for him. The next batter Ron Hunt then drew a walk & Taylor was replaced on the mound by Diomedes Olivo.
The Mets batter was Duke Snider. Snider a Brooklyn Dodger legend, was near the end of his 18 year Hall of Fame career. He was brought to the Mets as a nostalgia player, hoping to draw some of his old National League New York fans.
In a short team history, as the Mets were only in their second season, and few highlights, Snider provided the Polo Grounds fans with a huge thrill on this day. Olivo pitched to Snider & the Duke blasted a three run walk off HR, providing the Mets with the game winner.
The Polo Grounds crowd & the Mets team went wild. As Duke was hero for 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 Carl Willey up against the Reds, Bob Purkey.
In the top of the 1st inning Ron Hunt singled. Then former Brooklyn Dodger, future Hall of Famer Duke Snider reached a career milestone. The Duke blasted his 11th HR of the season, a career milestone # 400 of his great career HR.
The 37 year old Snider, had hit more HRs than anyone in the 1950's. Duke spent just one season with the Mets (1963) hitting14 HRs driving in 45 runs playing in 129 games.
He would finish his career the next year in San Francisco with the Giants. Overall Duke Snider hit 407 career HRs & is 53rd on the all time HR list.
The Mets would win the game 10-3 on that day in Cincinnati. Frank Thomas had four hits & drove in four runs. There were also RBI singles from Ron Hunt, Tim Harkness & Jimmy Piersall. Carl Willey would get the win putting his record at 5-5. He went seven innings, allowing two runs & seven hits. One run was scored by a rookie named Pete Rose.