Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh

Friday August 12th, 1977: Joe Torre's last place Mets (47-66) traveled to Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh for a double header with Chuck Tanner's second place Pirates (66-49).

The bad times were underway for the late seventies Mets and tonight marked the end of another key player's career from the 1973 NL Champion team.

In the first game of a double header, Jerry Koosman (8-13) took a 3-1 loss to Jim Rooker (10-6) & the Pirates. Both pitchers went the distance, with Koosman giving up three runs on six hits & Rooker giving up the lone Met run on nine hits.

In the night cap Mets started Bob Myrick against Pittsburgh's Bruce Kison. 

In the 2nd inning Myrick himself added an RBI base hit making it 1-0 Mets. Lee Mazzilli added a two run HR in the 4th putting the Mets up 3-2.

The Mets were battling, but the Pirates tied it up at 3-3 in the sixth inning.

 Met Manager; Joe Torre made a double switch bringing in Felix Millan to play second base, as Doug Flynn moved over to short stop. Bob Apodaca was brought into pitch. 

In the inning, Rennie Stennett reached on Lenny Randle's error & Fernando Gonzalez then doubled giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead. 

Next Apodaca intentionally walked the Pirate catcher Ed Ott to set up a double play.  The infamous Mario Mendoza came to bat. 

Trivia: The term the "the Mendoza line" was named after Mario Mendoza referring to a player batting under the .200 mark. In his nine-year career he batted under .200 five times with a .215 lifetime average.

Mendoza grounde
d to short stop Doug Flynn, he flipped to Millan at second base attempting to turn a double play. But the 200 lb. Ed Ott slid hard into Millan trying to break up the play. The usually mild-mannered Millan started shouting at Ott, then punched him in the face with the ball still in his hand. 

Ott a former college football player & wrestler, grabbed Millan and slammed him to the ground. The result was Millan breaking his collar bone & injuring his shoulder. He was taken off the field on a stretcher, and Ott was ejected from the game. 

Bobby Valentine came out to replace Millan on the field & former Met catcher Duffy Dyer replaced Ott for the Pirates. Dyer would drive in the game winning run later in the 12th inning, with a base hit off Sonny Siebert.

Millan was done for the season, and he never returned to the major leagues as he opted to play in Japan the next year. There he won a batting title & received the Best Nine Award.


Jane Allen-Quevedo said…
I read this post with great interest because I've been working with Felix in writing his autobiography. Your post helped me correct what would have been an embarrassing error! Thank you!
Anonymous said…
i wonder why there is no video of this incident. millan was a great met. all mets fans from that era remember him fondly.
Allan Connolly said…
I'll always remember Felix Milan from my youth in the mid to late 70s, when I used to go to see the Mets, since Shea Stadium was close to where I grew up. He was the friendliest and kindest of all the players that me and my friends used to try to talk to from the front seats, near the Mets dugout. Others were nice, but he was always the one who would smile, save, and sometimes talk to us, and we were sometimes an annoyance to the players, as I reflect back now. During those times, the stadium had plenty of open seats, most days, so we would sneak down to the front seats, near the dugout, after the game had begun. When I look back, I'm sure they knew we were sneaking down to the front, but I'm thinking they may have just let us because they usually had plenty open seats, and maybe it was that it kept us from getting into trouble. Anyhow, Milan spoke to me the most and signed cards and other items for me and he gave me several balls, and one time he gave me a shirt, and I still have most of those items still. Some of the other players were ok, but he was always responsive and always kind to us the most. I'll always remember him, from my youth and my fond memories of the Mets; and I'll always remember how he held the bat midway up.
Val's Daddy said…
was lucky enough to have met senor milan in Taiwan a few years ago. could not have been a more gracious person.

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