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

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) was 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.

Al Jackson would get the start for New York, against Ron Taylor. Taylor would be the top reliever on the 1969 Amazing Mets World Championship team.

In the top of the 1st inning, Curt Flood doubled & scored on Dick Groat's double. Later in the top of the 4th, Ken Boyer led off with a HR, his 6th of the year giving St. Louis a 2-0 lead. 

Al Jackson would pitch the entire game, going nine innings with two runs on eight hits, he struck out seven along the way, while walking six.

Ron Taylor pitched a fine game for the Cardinals getting into the 9th inning with a two-hit shutout intact.

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 (4-5) up against the Reds, Bob Purkey (1-3). 

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

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

It was the 11th season of Sniders career. 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 following year, playing in San Francisco with the Dodgers rival, Giants.

In the bottom of the 3rd the Mets sent nine men to the plate, collecting three hits with a walk a hit by pitch & a wild pitch charged to Bob Purkey.  After Carl Willey made the first out, Jimmy Piersall singled & Choo Choo Coleman was hit by a pitch. Ron Hunt singled scoring Piersall making it 3-0 Mets. 

Bob Purkey intentionally walked Duke Snider to load the bases. But he then threw a wild pitch scoring Coleman & advancing the runners.

Mets slugger Frank Thomas then singled to left field bringing home two more runs as the Mets went up 6-1, knocking Purkey out of the game. 

In the top of the 5th, Ron Hunt tripled & was brought home on Frank 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, this time thrown by reliever Dom Zanni advanced Hunt to third base. 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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