Nov 30, 2020

George Foster: Mid Eighties Mets Outfielder (1982-1986)

George Arthur Foster was born December 1, 1948 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He grew up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, attending Lawndale high school where he was a top athlete.

The six foot one right hand hitting outfielder was drafted in the third round of the 1968 draft by the San Francisco Giants.

He would hit 14 HRs & bat .321 at A ball Fresno, in 1969 getting a brief September call up for eight games. He made 18 appearances in two years at San Francisco due to the fact that Willie Mays & Bobby Bonds were fixtures in the Giants outfield.

In May of 1971 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for short stop Frank Duffy & a minor leaguer. It was still a crowded outfield when he came over to the Big Red Machine, but Foster soon got a lot of playing time when centerfielder Bobby Tolan got injured.

Foster showed power as he hit 10 HRs & 18 doubles with 58 RBIs in 104 games while batting .234. He was still a backup outfielder in 1972 playing in just 59 games batting .200.

1972 Post Season- NLCS: In the 1972 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was on third base in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game #5, as a pinch runner.

Then Pirate pitcher Bob Moose, threw a wild pitch, allowing Foster to score the winning run, which sent the Reds to the World Series. They would the World Series in seven games to the Oakland A's, it was their second pennant in three years. The Reds would win the NL West five times from 1970-1976 & play in four World Series. Hence the Big Red Machine, nickname.

In 1973 Foster hit 15 HRs at AA Indianapolis seeing action in just 17 games with the Reds. In 1974 he played as the Reds fourth outfielder batting .264 with 7 HRs in 276 at bats. By Spring Training 1975 his hitting matured & it was getting noticed by manager Sparky Anderson, as he crushed balls in batting practice.

Anderson asked Pete Rose, who was playing left field at the time, if he wanted to play third base so they could insert Foster into the everyday lineup, Rose agreed. Foster became the Reds regular left fielder for the next six years making five All Star teams & becoming one of the league's biggest sluggers.

In the Big Red Machine's 1975 World Championship year Foster hit .300 with 23 HRs 24 doubles & 78 RBIs posting a .356 on base %. He led all NL left fielders in fielding (.995%) for the first of three straight seasons, throwing out 11 base runners on the season.

1975 Post Season: In the 1975 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he hit .364 going 4-11 with
four runs scored. 

1975 World Series: In the World Series against the Boston Red Sox he went 8-29 (.276).

In the classic Game #6 at Fenway Park, he broke a 3-3 tie with a two run double off pitcher Luis Tiant in the 7th inning. The Sox tied it on Bernie Carbo's 8th inning HR & won it on the classic Carlton Fisk walk off in the 12th. 

Second Reds Championship:
In 1976 Foster earned the nickname “The Destroyer” as the Reds dominated the baseball world & won their second straight World Series.
This time with a sweep over the AL New York club. 

In 1976 Foster led the league in RBIs (123) bashing 29 HRs (4th in the NL) with 9 triples (5th in the NL) a .530 slugging % (2nd in the NL) while batting .306.

He made his first All Star team & came in second in the MVP voting to team mate Joe Morgan. Foster had 172 hits (10th in the league) with 86 runs scored (9th in the NL) & nine sac flies (3rd in the NL).

He also became one of the most hated hitters by opposing pitchers because he would step out of the batter's box after every single pitch, something that wasn't done much in those days. The Big Red Machine didn’t win any more World Series after that, as the Los Angeles Dodgers two year NL pennant reign began in 1977.

But for Foster, he went on to continue tear up the league, putting up some of the biggest power numbers the league had seen in years.

He would lead the NL in HRs in both 1977 & 1978 while leading the league in RBIs three straight years from 1976 through 1978. In 1977, he won the NL MVP Award, with an amazing 52 HRs, becoming the only player to hit over 50 HRs in the previous twenty five years.

As mentioned he led the NL in RBIs (149) runs scored (124) slugging (.631%) & total bases (388). He also batted .330 (4th in the league) with a .382 on base % & 31 doubles. He made ten assists in the outfield while leading all left fielders in fielding once again (.978%).

Foster followed that season up leading the league in HRs (40) & RBIs (120) in 1978. He hit 26 doubles with a .360 on base %, but his batting average dropped to .281 & he struck out 138 times (second in the NL).

George Foster Drama: By 1979 he was annoying his team mates by arriving at the ballpark in a stretch limo & strutting around with an over inflated ego. His numbers fell off but he still had big production, 30 HRs with 98 RBIs & a .302 average.

His numbers dropped off over the next two seasons averaging 23 HRs each year, but he was still considered a top slugger, driving in over 90 runs each season. He became unhappy in Cincinnati and the Reds were unhappy with him as the days of the Big Red Machine were over. Gone too, were Pete Rose, Tony Perez & Joe Morgan. 

In February of 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for Alex Trevino, Greg Harris & Jim Kern. He brought hope and excitement to a franchise in the dumps looking for something bright & a star to look up to.

New York Mets Career: He was hyped up by the organization & made the cover of the Mets 1982 yearbook along with new manager George Bamberger. Looking back, it must be remembered that it was a turning point for the Mets as they soon would acquire Keith Hernandez (1983) and start to bring up a bunch of good young players.

Foster was given a five-year; $10 million deal but never delivered big numbers for the Mets that was expected of him. He & new Mets Manager George Bamberger appeared on the cover of the 1982 Mets Yearbook with the words "By George We've got it".

Foster debuted on Opening Day 1982 in Philadelphia, batting third & playing left field. That day he had a hit, two walks & an RBI in the Mets 7-2 victory. Later in the week on the same first road trip of the year, he hit HRs in back to back games at Wrigley Field. At the end of the month of April he was struggling, batting just .171.

On May 2nd he hit a two run HR scoring the only two runs of the game, as veteran Randy Jones beat the Giants in San Francisco. Foster was struggling in New York hitting just three HRs in May & just two in June. 

By the All Star game a mid July seven game hit streak had him raise his average to .280 but he dropped off quickly in August.

On August 13th he contributed with a game tying 7th inning single in Chicago, in a game the Mets went on to win 6-4. On September 1st he hit a two run HR off Verne Ruhle at Shea Stadium, in a 5-1 win over the Astros.

The Mets finished last again in 1982 going 65-97, as the arrival Foster did not change things much

. He went on to bat a weak .247 with a .309 on base %.

He was second on the club to Dave Kingman in HRs (13) & RBIs (70). Foster hit 23 doubles with two triples & struck out 123 times (4th most in the NL). These were certainly not any where near the numbers he had posted with the Big Red Machine & the New York fans were disappointed.

The next season had some bright spots to it, starting out with the return of Tom Seaver in New York. Young Daryl Strawberry went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award & the team showed improvement, especially with the arrival of Keith Hernandez in June.

Foster began with two hits on Opening Day & a HR the next day. He hit three HRs in April but his average fell to .220. On May 5th he blasted a walk off three run HR off the Reds Frank Pastore, giving the Shea Faithful a dramatic win.

Two days later he blasted another HR, while gathering up three hits & three RBIs against the Reds for a 10-5 Mets win. 

He hit a three run HR in Pittsburgh the next week & then another on May 23rd in New York. That night his 8th inning sac fly off the San Francisco Giants Greg Minton proved to be the game winning run. 

Overall he had a good May, with six HRs & 20 RBIs raising his batting average forty points. In July he had two walk off RBI hits in the final week of the month; the first was a double on July 25th scoring Keith Hernandez to beat the Atlanta Braves.

Then in the second game of a double header on July 31st, he drove in Mookie Wilson while grounding out in the bottom of the 12th inning of a scoreless game.

Another infield grounder scored the game winning run on August 8th, against Jeff Reardon the Montreal Expos. Beginning on August 19th he hit HRs in three straight games, including a grand slam in San Francisco against the Giants in a 7-2 win.

On September 5th, he hit another walk off game winning HR, this one off Al Holland beating the eventual NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. On September 15th Foster broke a 4-4 tie in the home 7th inning, with a two run HR off the Cardinals Dave Lapoint. 

The Mets went on to the 6-4 win. On September 23rd he hit a pair of HRs at Wrigley Field, driving in three runs in a losing effort. Then on October 1st he hit a three run HR leading the Mets to a 5-4 win at Shea Stadium.

On the year he put up better numbers than 1982, leading the team in most offensive categories. He had 28 HRs (6th in the NL) with 19 doubles & 90 RBIs (8TH in the NL). But he only batted .241 with a .289 on base % & 111 strike outs.

1984: By 1984 the Mets were true contenders Foster was now in the shadows of second year slugger Daryl Strawberry & All Star Keith Hernandez. He began the year with a three run HR & four RBI day on April 6th in Houston, leading the Mets to an 8-1 win over the Astros. Two days later he singled with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th inning, driving in two runs giving the Mets a 3-1 win over the Astros.

On April 25th, Keith Hernandez led off the top of

the 11th inning with a double off Greg Harris in Montreal. Foster hit a base hit to score him in what was the games winning run, 2-1 over the Expos. 

He closed out April by driving in runs in seven of his last ten games. On May 7th he hit an 8th inning HR off the Cubs Warren Brusstar, tying the game & leading up to a Keith Hernandez walk off single. In May he hit six HRs but then followed up with just one in June.

In July he hit two HRs in the first three games of the month, which were both one run Mets victories. That month he hit safely in 20 of 22 games & drove in twenty runs as well. In August he hit six HRs with back to backs in a pair of games mid month, in the heat of the pennant race.

On September 2nd he hit a game winning base hit off the San Diego Padres, Rich Gossage bringing the Mets within five games of the first place Chicago Cubs.

There was a lot of excitement on the home stand, as rookie phenom went against the Cubs on September 7th. Centerfieldmaz was there in the crowd of 47,000 to witness Dr. K throw a one hit, eleven strike out shutout against the Cubs. That night Foster hit a three run HR in the big 10-0 Mets win. 

The Mets fell out of the race in the next few weeks but there was a lot of promise for the future of the team, the most optimism since the mid seventies.

Foster hit four more HRs in the month to finish with 24 on the year. He batted .269 (his best career Mets season average) while driving in 86 runs (third on the club) with 149 hits 22 doubles & a .311 on base %. 

He struck out 122 times (5th most in the NL). By this
time he was not playing too well in the outfield, although he made just seven errors on the year posting a .976 fielding %. The Mets did have better players developing around him. 

1985: On Opening Day 1985 he broke a 2-2 tie in the third inning, with a HR off St. Louis' Joaquin Andujar. The Mets went on to win it on a walk off HR by the latest new comer to New York, Gary Carter. 

Foster hit another HR against the rival Cards later in the month, leading to a 7-6 win in St. Louis. The day prior he had hit a three run blast in a losing effort in Philadelphia. 

On May 29th he completed a four run Mets comeback, with the game winning RBI single in the top of the 8th inning in San Francisco, off the Giants Scott Garrelts. The next day he drove in the first run of a 2-1 Dwight Gooden victory as well.

He was struggling to keep his average above .200 into late May, but did go on to drive in some key runs. On June 1st he had a bases loaded RBI in the first game of a double header at San Diego, leading New York to a 5-3 win. Later in the month he blasted a long grand slam against the Chicago Cubs, Ray Fontenot in a 5-3 win at Shea Stadium.

In July he drove in 23 runs having his most successful month. From July 9th through the 13th he had a big week, gathering up two four RBI games. On July 21st he drove in five runs in a wild 15-10 win over the Atlanta Braves, highlighted with a two run HR.

In September he hit four HRs driving in eleven runs as the Mets chased the Cardinals for the NL East title. In a big three game series in St. Louis the final week of the season, Foster went hitless in two of the games inwhich the Mets lost. In the second game he had three hits with a solo HR off Joaquin Andujar in the Mets 5-2 win. 

In 1985 Foster played fewer games (129) as Danny Heep, a young Lenny Dykstra, John Christensen & Tom Paciorek all got to see some action. 

Foster kept his numbers the same hitting 21
HRs with 24 doubles & 71 RBIs. He batted .263 with a .331 on base % .
He struck out 87 times which was the least number of times, since he came to New York. He also drew 46 walks an improvement from the 30 he drew the previous season.

But on the down side with such a talented & exciting new Mets team, Foster was becoming very unpopular. His lack of hitting and lax outfield play began to anger the fans. He was wearing out his welcome and his value grew less as the Mets began to emerge as a Powerhouse championship caliber team.

1986 Championship Season: By 1986 he became a target of constant booing whenever he came to bat or walked onto the field.

He was the Opening Day left fielder & batted sixth. In the sixth inning he doubled driving in Daryl Strawberry with the third run of a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit well enough to be at .300 by the end of April which kept the fans happy for a while. 

On April 24th he drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th inning, with a base hit off Todd Worrell in St. Louis. On May 18th he had a big day hitting a pair of HRs with four RBIs, in a 8-4 win against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  

Brawl With L.A.: When the Dodgers came to Shea Stadium on May 27th, he hit a grand slam off Tom Niedenfuer, which sparked an eventual bench clearing brawl when Niedenfuer hit Ray Knight with a pitch in the next at bat. Not only had Foster taking his time running around the bases, but he was one of the last Mets on the field to join in the fight which he had antagonized. This didn't make him the most popular guy in the clubhouse.

Foster hit four more HRs that week, one more against the Dodgers two nights later & then three against the San Diego Padres, including a pair in the 11-2 win on June 2nd.

After hitting six HRs in the month of June he didn't hit any in July and went just 7-47. His average fell to .232, he had lost the confidence of his team, his manager & the fans. With the emergence of super rookie Kevin Mitchell & the home coming of the popular Lee Mazzilli, Foster was expendable. 

Brawl In Cincinnati: The final Straw for Foster was in Cincinnati on July 22nd 1986. In the 10th
inning, the Reds Eric Davis stole third with a pop slide into Ray Knight. For Knight, a former boxer, it was another time to fight. He punched Davis & the benches cleared. After all was settled, Foster, the former Red was the only player or coach, not to come out of the dugout. It was the end.

By August 6th he had been benched & only played in two full games since the Brawl in Cincinnati. He had just one hit in 13 at bats in that time. The Mets finally released him outright on August 7th. He accused the team of racism but that didn’t get much notice, as his replacement was Kevin Mitchell.
 Two Years later he told the press : ''What I said wasn't intended to be racial at all,'' 

Quotes- George Foster: ''I was just saying the team was showing favoritism to Dykstra, who had just come up. But I never got a chance to explain what I meant. The next day, Davey told Frank Cashen that Foster goes or I go, And the I was gone. "

''Some people expected me to hit a home run every time I got up. I think it was because a lot of them looked at me and saw a dollar sign. I only wish they knew how hard I tried to succeed in New York, If anything, I may have tried too hard and put too much expectations on myself."

He was picked up by the Chicago White Sox & hit a HR in his Sox debut. But he would only play in 15 games for them, batting just .216 overall with no more HRs.  He ended his career at the end of the season.

Mets All Time List: In his five year Mets career he played in 655 games (34th on Mets all time list) he hit 99 HRs (15th on the Mets All time list) with 361 RBIs (17th on the Mets All Time list). He had 94 doubles while batting .254, striking out 496 times (20th on the Mets all time list).

All Time Stats: Overall in his 18 year career Foster hit .274, with 348 HRs 348 HRs (97th all time) & 1239 RBIs (139th all time). 
He had 1925 hits, 702 extra base hits, 307 doubles, 47 triples, 666 walks, 106 intentional walks, and 986 runs scored in 1977 games played.

He struck out 1419 times (90th all time) & he grounded into 196 double plays (119th all time).

In left field he has played in 1549 games (18th most all time) while making 97 assists (37th all time) with his strong arm, committing 50 errors (56th all time).

Retirement: After his retirement, he lived in Greenwich Conn. & helped coach kids play baseball. Foster is now a born-again Christian, motivational speaker, and still spends time instructing youth baseball. 

He has been a scout advisor for the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Pro Baseball League. He has done his own online baseball show "The George Foster Diamond Report" 

Foster has raised money for military families & children in inner city neighborhoods.

Honors: He returned to Shea Stadium for the closing ceremonies in 2008 and received well deserved cheers. 

He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2003. He has appeared at reunions
honoring the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati.

In 2013 he was one of many players representing the Mets in New York at the All Star Game Fan Fest. 

Family: Foster & his wife Sheila were married in 1977, they have two daughters together. 

Dan Warthen: 2015 NL Champions Mets Pitching Coach (2008 - 2017)

Daniel Dean Warthen was born on December 1, 1952 in Omaha, Nebraska. Warthen was an All American High School quarterback, getting college scholarship offers from Nebraska, USC, UCLA, & Northwestern universities. He chose to play baseball instead, getting drafted in the second round, by the Montreal Expos in 1971.

The left hander would get brought up to the majors in May 1975 making his debut, pitching a scoreless inning against  that years World Champion, Big Red Machine. He pitched in relief in his first few outings, going 4-2 with three saves toward the end of July. 

He was thrown into the Expo rotation finishing the season at 8-6 with 3.11 ERA, striking out an impressive 128 batters in 167 innings. He also walked 87 batters. The following year he was 2-10 as he walked 66 batters in 90 innings pitched, allowing 53 earned runs.

He would only pitch 20 more games in the majors at Montreal, going to the Philadelphia Phillies & Houston Astros over the next two seasons, while going 2-5. 

In the minors he would win 10 games or more three times, pitching down there through 1982. In 1978 he was the AA Pitcher of the Year at Oklahoma City.

Retirement & Coaching: Warthen immediately began to coach when his playing days ended, first with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then with the San Diego Padres & Philadelphia Phillies organizations. 

In 1992 he was the Seattle Mariners pitching coach, moving to the San Diego Padres (1996-1997) then Detroit Tigers in (1998-2002).

AAA Norfolk: In 2003 he came to the Mets organization, as pitching coach for the Norfolk Tides. He remained there for three seasons, tutoring guys like Heath Bell, Pedro Feliciano, & Aaron Heilman. 

In 2006 & 2007 he went to the Dodgers serving as bullpen coach under Grady Little.

Mets Pitching Coach Career: In June of 2008 Warthen was named the Mets pitching coach replacing Rick Peterson. In 2009 he served under manager Jerry Manuel & his pitching staff posted a 4.45 ERA, which was 12th in the league. 

In 2010 his staff improved to 6th best in the league posting a 3.73 ERA.

In 2011 the Met staff won 77 games (10th in the NL) posting a 4.19 ERA (13th in the NL) they tossed six complete games which was their highest ranking in the league stats, fifth place. They averaged in the middle of the league allowing HRs (147-8th in the NL) walks (514- also 8th) & 1126 strikeouts (10th).

In 2012 the Mets staff featured twenty game winner R.A. Dickey but other than that the staff only won 54 games. Their total 74 wins was 12th best in the league & their 4.09 ERA was eleventh best. 

Thanks to Dickey they were second with seven complete games & third in shut outs with five. The teams 1240 strike outs stood out & were sixth best in the league.

In July of 2012 Warthen was ejected then later fined after arguing balls & strikes with umpire C.B. Bucknor in game Johan Santana pitched in Atlanta. In The off season the Mets announced their entire coaching staff would return in 2013.

In 2013 Warthen had the pleasure of coaching Matt Harvey, who went on to start for the National League in the All Star Game held at Citi Field. 

Harvey took the league by storm, blowing batters away & pitching so well, there was a chance of a no hitter every time he took the mound. Harvey had once given credit to Warthen for helping him with a better grip on the ball.

The Mets also brought up another fine young pitcher; Zack Wheeler later that season. 

Overall the Mets staff was second in the league in innings pitched, eighth in ERA (3.78) saves (40) ninth in strike outs (1209) & tenth in wins (74). They were also fourth in losses (88) fifth in walks (458) eighth in runs (684) & twelfth in hits (1442).

In Spring Training 2014, Warthen made a joke, using the word "Chinaman" toward the interpreter for Daisuke Matsuzaka during an interview. The joke was in bad taste & he made a public apology the next day.

Unfortunately, for the Mets Matt Harvey would be out the entire season having undergone Tommy John surgery. The team would soon loose their closer Bobby Parnell after one game & Without the ace of his staff or his closer the pitching coach went to work.

Overall the young Mets staff did a fine job, Jenry Mejia eventually filled the closer role (28 saves) & Jacob deGrom brought up later in the year went on to win the NL Rookie of te Year Award.

The 2014 Mets finished third in strike outs (1303) fourth in innings pitched (1463) fifth in ERA (3.49) & seventh in wins (79). 

In 2015 good things were anticipated for the Mets mostly due to their young pitching staff. The return of Matt Harvey from his Tommy John surgery, was so good it earned him the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. 

Jacob deGrom pushed aside any idea of a sophomore jinx & went on to arguably be the ace of the staff. Veteran Bartolo Colon went on to win another 14 games while eating up innings.

During the season fireball throwing Noah Syndergaard was brought up & challenged deGrom & Harvey with strike outs & effectiveness. 

In late summer another Mets phenom, Steven Matz was brought up, quickly earned a spot in the rotation in the regulars season as well as post season. With all these young outstanding arms, the Mets did not miss Zack Wheeler as much as was originally thought at the start of the season. 

In late August he was rushed to the hospital after feeling ill, but was eventually released with a clean bill of health. 

In the bullpen the Mets scheduled closer Jenrry Mejia was suspended for once again violating MLBs drug rules. The 8th inning man from 2014, Jeurys Familia yook the role & became one of the best if not the best in the game. 

Late season additions Tyler Clippard & Addison Reed made the bullpen solid in the mid & late innings. This all certainly made Warthen's job a lot easier.

The Mets won the East as the staff was third in the NL in saves (50) fourth in ERA (3.43) fifth in wins (90) & sixth in strike outs (1337).

His staff dominated in the NL rounds of the playoffs posting a 3.48 ERA in NLDS against the L.A. Dodgers. The staff allowed 17 runs with 54 Ks & 13 walks.

In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs the Mets staff posted a 2.00 ERA with 37 Ks & 9 walks. They struggled in the World Series as their ERA rose to 4.21 allowing 24 earned runs, 17 walks & 37 Ks.

In 2016 Warthen's pitching staff suffered season ending injuries to Matt Harvey by mid summer & then later aces Jacob deGrom & Steven Matz also went down. 

His work with youngsters Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman & Josh Smoker helped the Mets get to the post season for a second straight year, although they fell in the NL Wild Card Game.

The 2016 NL Saves leader Jeurys Familia also credited Warthen with helping him throw a better slider with a better grip.

The 2016 staff allowed the fewest walks (439) & HRs (152) in the NL, they were also third in the NL in ERA (3.58) Fourth in wins (84) & first in saves (55). 

2017 proved to be an all out disaster for the Mets, especially the pitching staff. With expectations of once again being one of baseball's elites, an injury ridden staff ended up being one of the worst in the league. 

Warten's staff was 14th in ERA (5.01) 12th in wins (70) 15th innings (1538) 14th in runs (863) 12th in HRs (220) 4th most losses (92) only coming in high in strike outs (1374).

At the end of the year Terry Collins was moved to a front office position & all the coaches were let go, Warthen's tenure ended as well.

In November 2017 he was hired as an assistant pitching coach for the Texas Rangers.

Nov 29, 2020

Craig Swan: 1978 N.L. ERA Leader (1973-1984)

Craig Steven Swan was born on November 30, 1950 in Van Nuys, California. He was drafted at age 17, but chose to attend Arizona State University instead. There he was a top pitcher, setting a record in the 1972 College World Series allowing only one run over 18 innings pitched.

The six foot three, right handed Swan, had a good moving fastball in the low nineties and a hard slider. He was selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1972 draft. He had a brief cup of coffee in September 1973, debuting on against the Philadelphia on September 2nd, where he gave up four earned runs on nine hits in four innings pitched.

His next outing went better, pitching two scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs, two weeks later. He was with the club at the start of the 1974 season, having a great day on May 11th. At the plate he had three hits, driving in a run, scoring another while pitching six shutout innings to earn his first career win. 

In June he broke his arm and missed the rest of the season finishing up at 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA. He returned to AAA Tidewater in 1975, and was named the International League MVP going 13-7 with a 2.24 ERA.

1976 Bicentennial Year: Swan made the 1976 Mets staff as their fifth starter, behind Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman & veteran Mickey Lolich, who was brought in from Detroit in the horrible Rusty Staub trade. 

After losing his his first decision on April 18th, he pitched a five hit complete game, to shutout the Braves in Atlanta. He struck out a career high 11 batters in the game as well.

His next start was also impressive, as he beat the Big Red Machine. But they got him back in Cincy, collecting six runs in five innings of work. This began  a stretch of five straight losses. Although on June 7th, he didn't allow any runs, but an error led to Willie McCovey's two run double, both runs unearned.

On June 12th, he finally got a win,. beating the Giants & John D'Acquisto 3-1 at Candlestick Park, in a complete game. In his next start, he pitched ten innings of shut out ball against Don Sutton & the Dodgers, but got no decision. The Mets won the game on Dave Kingman's walk off HR in the 14th. 

In five games from June 7th to June 27th he gave up just four earned runs in 43 innings. Over a
stretch of three games he allowed just a single earned run in 26 innings (0.35 ERA) with 21 strikeouts.

In July he had some arm trouble & would miss all of August. He returned to pitch in September
 finished the year 6-9 with a 3.54 ERA, with 89 strikeouts in 23 appearances in 132 innings pitched. 

In 1977 he began the year terribly, getting pounced for five runs by the Cardinals in his first start, exiting the game after just two innings. In his second start, he was beaten by the Cards again, this time in St. Louis. He would start the year with a 1-4 record

He notched wins over Montreal & Philly, before taking
another loss, when he was defeated by the Astros in Houston.  In his first start after the Tom Saver trade, Swan pitched a complete game win over the Astros at Shea.

He had his best month in July going 3-1. On July 16th, he won a game against the Pirates at Shea Stadium, as he went seven innings, allowing three runs. 

His next start was in Los Angeles, where he pitched a three hit shutout, against the eventual NL Champion Dodgers. He won the game 1-0 over Doug Rau, the only run coming in the 1st inning, on Steve Henderson's RBI double. That got Swan to .500 at 6-6.

On July 31st, he gave up six earned runs to the Padres, but still got a win as the Mets scored ten runs for a 10-9 win. As the Mets 1977 season went into the dumps, Swan went had just two victories in the final two months. He finished the year at 9-10, which was, the second most wins on the staff. Posting a 4.23 ERA with 71 strikeouts & 56 walks, in 146 innings pitched.

1978 NL ERA Leader:  In 1978 the Mets didn't have much to cheer about, they finished last winning just 66 games. The only true bright spot, was Craig Swan's pitching. It was so good, he had the leagues best ERA.

Swan began 1978 with a five hit shutout victory, against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, in the Mets, 5th game of the season. Although he pitched well, he didn’t earn another victory until mid July. 

He would allow two runs or less in eleven starts, until that
next win. He did not allow any runs, in five of those starts & pitched into the 7th inning or beyond, nine times in between the two victories. That's how bad the Mets offense was. During that stretch Swan posted a 2.65 ERA going 1-5.

On April 26th, Swan lost a 1-0 game to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On May 12th, he pitched seven shut out innings against the Astros, but the Mets lost the game 5-4. On May 19th, the Mets lost to the Phillies 4-3, but Swan allowed just one run in seven innings. On June 19th, he gave up just one run to the Giants, in seven innings, but the Mets lost the game 3-0, getting blanked by Vida Blue.

On Independence Day, Swan had a season high, 13 strikeout performance, but gave up a two run, pinch hit HR, to Jose Cardenal in the top of the 9th inning. The Mets lost 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of a twin bill.

His fortunes got a little better & he was pretty much the best attraction for the Mets in the summer of ’78. From July 19th to August 30th, he won seven straight decisions On July 19th, he beat Mark Lemongello & the Astros 2-1, striking out seven. 

Pete Rose Record:
But on July 26th, he went into the record books, when Pete Rose singled off him setting an NL record hot hitting in 38 consecutive games. The game was at Shea & sadly drew one of the largest crowds of the year.

On August 15th, he pitched a five hitter, allowing no earned runs, in a win over the Padres at Shea Stadium. When he faced them again, in San Diego on the West Coast road trip, he beat Gaylord Perry in a 2-1 pitcher's duel allowing just five hits.

On August 20th, although he lost to the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, he struck out ten batters. On September 16th, he allowed one run and three hits over nine innings but again got no decision. 

Overall, Swan won eight of his last nine decisions, posting the league’s best ERA at 2.43. 
He went 9-6 record, pitching in 207 innings and striking out 125 batters & walking 58. He pitched real well at home, posting a 1.67 ERA at Shea Stadium, with a 5-2 record. 

1979: Swan was the Mets 1979 Opening Day starter & earned the win, in a wild 10-6 victory at
Wrigley Field. In his next start he allowed just one earned run in nine innings pitched against the Expos but go no decision. 

On April 25th, at Shea Stadium, he tossed a two hit shutout against the San Francisco Giants walking only one batter. He had a fine start to the dismal Mets season, gong 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA & 22 Ks in six April starts.

It took another shut out, to earn his next win, a 3-0 victory over that years World Champion "Family" Pirates. On May 25th at Shea, he struck out a season high nine batters, in strange game that ended in an 11 inning tie, with the Pirates.

In June he won three straight games, allowing only three runs over three straight complete games. His June 9th win, was a seven hit shut out over the Astros at home. 

On July 25th, in San Francisco he tossed another shut out, a six hitter with seven strike outs. He won his first three games in August, highlighted by a one run complete game win over the Expos, at Shea. Then he suffered four straight  losing decisions, but won his final two starts to get over .500.

He finished off the 1979 season with 14 wins (14-13) on the year. He led the Mets staff in wins, as the next highest win total was six, by Pete Falcone & Kevin Kobel, each notching six wins. Swan averaged two walks every nine innings which was one of the league's best ratios as well.

For 1979 he led the staff in ERA (3.29) wins (14) strike outs (145) shut outs (3) complete games (10) innings pitched (251) starts (35) as well as HRs, hits & runs allowed. His numbers were pretty much all career bests as by now he had developed into a mature pitcher. 

Pay Day: In the off season, he became the highest paid Mets pitcher in history signing a large contract that got him $560,000 for the 1980 season. 

On Opening Day at Shea in 1980, he beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2. The Mets lineup consisted of Frank Tavares, Eliot Maddox, Lee Mazzilli, Steve Henderson, Mike Jorgenson, Jerry Morales, John Stearns & Doug Flynn. This ensemble, under Manager Joe Torre would finish last once again.

Swan would not get credit for another win until May 9th, when he beat Steve Rogers & the Expos in Montreal, allowing just one run on three hits, in a complete game win. 

On May 25th he beat the Atlanta Braves throwing another three hitter, this time it was a shut out performance. 

On June 5th, he pitched another one run, complete game victory, this one a 2-1 win over the Cardinals, striking out his season high eight batters.

By mid-June he was 5-4 with a 2.21 ERA on yet another bad hitting team. After losing his next four decisions, he was placed on the disabled list. 

Swan had suffered what turned out to be a torn rotator cuff. In those days doctors recommended rest instead of surgery. He attempted to pitch & made two poor starts in August, but he was done for the season. He ended up at 5-9 with a 3.58 ERA, pitching 128 innings striking out 79 batters & walking 30.

1981 Strike Shortened Season: Swan started out pitching on April 19th 1981, taking a loss to the
Expos. He allowed three earned runs in 5.1 innings. 

In his second start, he got injured again on a strange play bad luck play. He fractured a rib, when he was hit by a throw from catcher, John Stearns trying to throw out a base runner at second base. He went on the DL & made just two brief relief appearances before the baseball strike. When play resumed he made just one start before landing on the DL again, due to the rotator cuff.

Major Accomplishment: He really should be recognized for the amazing accomplishment of being one of the first pitchers to successfully come back from rotator cuff surgery. 

1982: He began the season as a starter, but he took a loss on April 12th. After a second start, he was placed in the bullpen, where he posted a 1.30 ERA as a reliever in 15 appearances. Swan earned a win, pitching one inning of relief, on April 21st against the Cubs, at Shea Stadium & another on May 26th in Atlanta. 

By June he was back in the starting rotation, winning his first two starts in the month, beating the Reds & Cardinals.  On July 18th, he made one more relief appearance & collected a save in Los Angeles. On August 4th, the day Joel Youngblood made history while being traded & playing for two different teams, Swan hit his only major league HR. It came at Wrigley Field in a 7-4 win.  On August 19th, he pitched a complete game, one run performance against the Reds, but got no decision in the 3-1 Mets loss. 

In September as the Mets were on their way to lose 97 games, but Swan won four of his five starts, allowing just five earned runs in 26 innings in those games. On September 25th, he beat Steve Carlton & the Phils 2-1, in his last start of the year

In 1982 he had another fine year & was second to Joe Morgan, for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Swan led the team with 11 wins (11-7) posting a .611 winning %, pitching in 37 games, 166 innings, with 67 strikeouts & a 3.35 ERA. 

1983: During Spring Training of 1983, Swan felt something pop in his arm but he pitched through the injury.

After Tom Seaver's Opening Day return to New York, Swan got the call in the second game. He went on to beat Philadelphia 6-2. But soon his arm was in pain & it affected his throwing. His ERA climbed over six & he went back to being a reliever. He would only win one more game on the year, going 2-8 with a 5.51 ERA, making 18 starts in 27 appearances.

In 1984, while the Mets were back to being a good team & competing for the pennant. Swan managed only ten awful relief appearances that year, before being released on May 9th. The California Angels signed him two weeks later, but he made just two appearances before ending his career. 

In a 12 season career, he finished up lifetime at 59-72 with seven saves, 673 strikeouts 368 walks & 3.74 ERA in 1235 innings pitched. He pitched in 231 games making 185 starts.

All Time Mets Leader Board: Swan is 14th on the Mets all time list in victories (59) & tied with Al Leiter at 11th in shut outs (7). He is 9th in complete games (25) & starts (184). Swan is 8th in innings pitched (1230) & losses (71). He is 14th in Strike outs (671) & his 229 appearances are 20th.

Retirement: As Swan was recovering from rotator cuff surgery he discovered the technique of Rolfing. It helped strengthen his muscles back into shape. He enrolled in the Rolfe institute in Boulder Colorado & went into the practice. His office is located in Greenwich Connecticut, with his son now on his staff. 

Quotes- Craig Swan "I look forward to work every day. There's a lot of geometry & body mechanics. I was drawn to it, my dad was a draftsman & I took courses in high school."

Swan lives in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Connecticut. Among the patients he has helped, is former team mate & Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Seaver was also a Greenwich resident.

Years ago, Swannie lost millions of dollars in bad investments, and credits Fred Wilpon in helping get his daughter into the University of Michigan.

Honors: Swan was at the closing ceremonies of the final game at Shea Stadium in 2009.