Remembering Mets History (1972) Tom Seaver Throws Independence Day One Hitter

Tuesday July 4, 1972:
On this Fourth of July, Holiday afternoon, it was an old-fashioned twin bill matinee at Shea Stadium followed by some fireworks at night.

Yogi Berra's second place Mets (43-28) were just one game behind the first-place reigning World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Today the Mets hosted Don Zimmer's last place; San Diego Padres (25-47). The Padres were playing in the franchise's fourth season of MLB play.
They would finish in sixth place (last in the NL West) their first six seasons through 1974. They would lose 100 games or more fur times in that stretch. The Padres best hitter was Nate Colbert who would hit 38 HRs & drive in 111 runs.

For the Mets, Tom Seaver who was already 10-4 was going up against the friars' Clay Kirby (5-7).
Seaver would win 21 games that year, the third time in his career he won twenty or more & the second straight year. He posted a 2.92 ERA, he had won the NL ERA title the two previous year & would post the leagues best ERA the next season as well. The same goes for strike outs, he led the league in 1970 (283) & 1971 (289) he would K 249 (second in the NL) in 1972 & then lead the NL in 1973 (251) once again.

On this Independence Day, Seaver was again "Tom Terrific" living up to his nickname. He threw a one hit masterpiece, shutting out the Padres 2-0, while striking out eleven batters and walking four. No Padre would get past second base in the entire game.

Seaver rolled along, striking out at least one batter in seven of the nine innings. In the 1st with two outs he fanned Leron Lee to end the inning. In the 2nd, he started the inning striking out Padre slugger Nate Colbert. In the 3rd, he fanned Enzo Hernandez & got Clay Kirby on a grounder as he set down the first nine Padres.

In the home 3rd, with two outs Bud Harrelson singled & stole second. Wayne Garrett & John Milner drew walks off Kirby to load the bases. But Kirby remained wild, he then walked in two runs giving passes to Jim Fregosi & Ed Kranepool. 

The Mets took a 2-0 lead, sending nine men to the plate, collecting just one hit & walked four.

In the 4th Seaver had his worst inning, after getting the first two outs, he walked two batters but
struck out Cito Gaston to end the inning. In the 5th Seaver got two ground ball outs & a fly ball out. In the 6th, Seaver struck out Johnny Jeter, then got Derrel Thomas on a grounder to third base. He ended the inning fanning Dave Roberts for his seventh K.

Seaver got stronger as the game went on, in the 7th after Leron Lee flew out, he struck out Nate Colbert & Cito Gaston. In the 8th, the Shea crowd were on every pitch, they had seen Seaver do this before, hoping this was the day.

The first batter Jerry Morales flew out for the first out. Next pinch hitter Curt Blefary struck out. Pinch hitters Larry Stahl & Garry Jestadt drew a walks. Then Derrel Thomas hit a liner, but it was caught by Teddy Martinez in right field.

Seaver carried the no hitter into the ninth inning, once again flirting to make Mets history.
In the top of the 9th, the first batter, Dave Roberts grounded out to second baseman Wayne Garrett for the first out. The Shea crowd cheered & held their breath for two more outs.

They had seen Seaver take a no hitter into the 9th inning back in July of 1969. In that game with two outs, the Cubs Jimmy Qualls lined a base hit to left field breaking up not only a no hitter, but a perfect game.

On this Independence Day, the next Padres batter; Leron Lee would spoil Seavers no hit effort. Lee sailed a base hit into centerfield. The Shea Faithful were heartbroken as was Seaver, they gave him a standing ovation, he walked back to his office on the mound & went about his business.

The next batter was slugger Nate Colbert, who was now the tying run at the plate. Colbert grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game. The Mets won the game 2-0, as Seaver went to 11-4 with a 3.04 ERA on the season. He would throw three shut outs & have 13 complete games on the season.

It was Tom Seaver's second one hitter for the New York Mets. He would go on to pitch five Mets one hitters in his fabulous career. 

Trivia: Today it was Leron Lee who spoiled Seavers no hitter. Lee played eight seasons in the majors, first with the St. Louis Cardinals (1969-1970) He joined the Padres in 1971 & would play there for three seasons (1972-1973). 

In 1972 he had his best season batting .300 with 12 HRs 23 doubles & 47 RBIs in 101 games played. He would go to Cleveland 91974-1975) & finish his career with the Dodgers (1975 & 1976). Lee was a career .250 hitter.


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