Dec 24, 2020

Jerry Koosman- Mets All Time Lefthander (Part Three 1974-1985)

 
After the Pennant Season: Koosman joined the Mets on a good will baseball tour of Japan after the post season ended.

The '74 Mets were a big disappointment, they struggled & were not able to defend their NL title. The team fell to fifth place, going 71-91 with poor offense & a struggling pitching staff.

Jerry Koosman started out the year, making the start in the third Mets game. He pitched into the 9th inning, beating the St. Louis Cardinals & John Curtis, 3-2 at Shea Stadium. In his second start, he gave up two runs to the Phiilies, in seven innings, but earned a no decision, while striking out a season high, 11 batters. 

On April 20th, he pitched a complete game victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea. On April 25th, he matched his season high 11 strike outs, pitching another complete game victory in San Diego. After beating the Cubs at Wrigley on May 10th, he found himself at 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA. In that game he drove in his first run of the year, on a sac bunt.

He would then lose four of his next five decisions & give up four or more runs in four of those games. On June 4th, against the Astros, he gave up a season high seven earned runs, taking an 11-1 loss in Houston. His ERA was highest he had had in two years at at 3.73.

But from there, he had a three game personal win streak, beating the Dodgers at home, then the Phillies & Cubs on the road. All three wins were complete game, where Koos allowed just one run each time. His ERA fell to 3.14, still a bit high for Koosman. 

On June 25th, he may have had his best outing of 1974, it came at Wrigley Field where he pitched a four hitter, allowing one run & issuing no walks. On July 5th, he took a win over Jim Barr & the Giants, in a 3-2 thriller at Shea. 


On July 25th he & Jon Matlack swept a double header in San Diego, leading to the All Star break. Yogi Berra was the NL Manager in that years All Star Game, he took Matlack with him (8-6 & 2.55 ERA) as well as catcher Jerry Grote. At the All Star break Koosman was 10-7 with a 3.36 ERA.
After the break, he lost a 4-3 one run game to Bob Gibson & the Cardinals, in the first game of a twin boll in St. Louis. He then beat the Pirates in a 4-3 one run game, in the night cap of another twin bill at Shea. Cleon Jones 8th inning, tie breaking double off Bruce Kison was the game winner. 

On August 16th, he allowed just a run in eight innings at Cincinnati, but got no decision in the 2-1 win. Rusty Staub's 12th inning RBI single was the game winner. He would notch victories #12 & #13 in his next two starts, beating the Astros both times, to get his record to 13-8. 

He pitched well, giving up just two runs in each of his next two losing decisions. On September 16th, he was out dueled 3-2 in Montreal by Mike Torrez. 

He then beat the NL Eastern Champion Pirates in Pittsburgh for his 14th win. In that game he collected three hits & drove in a run with a double. 

The Pirates returned the favor at Shea, scoring six runs off Koosman, giving him his 
11th loss of the year.  He finished up the year with a complete game win over the Phils at Shea Stadium.

For 1974, Koosman was 15-11, leading the Mets staff in wins, that season Tom Seaver struggled with his mechanics due to back problems. Koosman posted a 3.36 ERA, with 35 starts, 13 complete games (7th in the NL), 265 innings pitched (8th in the NL) 188 strikeouts (7th in the NL) & 85 walks. 

Trivia: Starting in 1974 Koosman's strikeout totals would put him in MLB's top eight in that category, for the next seven seasons.

At the plate he hit .186 & drove in five runs, with three extra base hits.

1975: Once again Koosman was the nuber two man behind Seaver, as Tom Terrific would win his third Cy Young Award in 1975. Jon Matlack would win 16 games on the year, surpassing Koosman. But after the top three pitchers, the Mets struggled with George Stone, Randy Tate, Hank Webb & rookie Craig Swan used as starters going a combined 16-25.

Koosman go this first start on April 11th, going eight innings in Pittsburgh, allowing three runs to the Pirates, earning  no decision in the Mets 4-2 loss. 

His next start was horrible, as he was removed in the second inning after allowing four runs & five hits to the Cards in St. Louis. On April 22nd, he got his first win of the year, striking out nine Cardinals at Shea.

After two no decisions, it took two straight complete games to get him his first two victories. The second was on May 2nd at Shea Stadium, he tossed a four hit 2-0 shutout against the Montreal Expos.

On May 14th, although he allowed eight walks, he gave up just one run, in a five hit victory, against the SF Giants at Shea Stadium. He followed that up with a victory over Don Gullet & the Big Red Machine at Riverfront Stadium.

He then gave up five runs in each of his next two starts &

took losses in Atlanta & at home to the Padres. 

On June 4th, he pitched a 1-0 shutout against the Houston Astros & pitchers Doug Konieczny & Jim Crawford. Three more losing decisions came in the month, where he gave up five or more runs each time. On June 24th, he got his 6th victory, a complete game, one run five hitter against St. Louis, where he fanned seven at Shea Stadium.

On July 3rd Koosman threw his second shutout of the season. It was a four hitter at Shea Stadium, coming against the Chicago Cubs. He then beat Carl Morton & the Braves in Atlanta, in a close 4-3 win. At the All Star break he was 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA.

Koos Steals A Base: Upon his return from the break, on July 22nd, he singled & then shocked everyone, when he stole second base, off Jack Billingham & the Reds catcher Bill Plummer. Johnny Bench was not playing that night. The Mets dugout got  akick out of it & the next day, Tom Seaver presented Koosman with a phony "Lou Brock Award" before the game.

By August, the Mets were hanging on at the .500 mark and the team had lost respect in their manager, Yogi Berra. Back in the days of Gil Hodges there were one set of rules, his. 

With Berra at the helm, if a mental error was made, he'd say "next time it will cost ya" usually it was forgotten about. By now the inmates were running the asylum. 

That season there was a highly publicized battle with Cleon Jones who had refused to come in to a game to pitch hit. The incident led to Jones' release from the team. Two weeks later, Berra was also fired. Mets Coach, Roy McMillan became the interim manager through the rest of the year, as the team finished third at 82-80. 

After three straight August losses, Koosman went to the bullpen & made two relief appearances, earning himself two saves. The first save came on August 17th, against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium in relief of Tom Seaver & the next came two days later in Houston. 

He was back in the rotation by August 23rd, giving up just one run in eight innings of work at San Francisco, losing 2-1 to John Montefusco (8 innings) & Gary Lavelle (one inning). Koos then beat Rick Rhoden & the Dodgers in Los Angeles for his 11th win to get him to .500.

At the start of September, the Mets were just five games out of first, in a tight four team race. On September 2nd, Koos was pounded by the first place Pirates for seven runs, including three HRs, his worst outing of the year, lasting just 3.2 innings. 

Next the second place Cards beat him as well, dropping the Mets to 6.5 back. 

On September 11th, he shut out the Pirates, for his third shut out of the year, it was a 7-0 Mets win. On September 15th, he won a tight 3-2 victory over Steve Rogers & the Expos at Shea Stadium. But the Mets had fallen to ten games back by mid September & would finish third on the year. 

Koosman would win his last decision, pitching 11 innings against the Phillies on September 26th. The Mets won the game when Felix Millan doubled in two runs off former Met Tug McGraw in the top of the 11th. 

Koosman finished the year with a 14-13 record posting a 3.42 ERA, with 173 strike outs (7th in the NL) & a career high 98 walks. He threw four shut outs (7th most in the NL) & eleven complete games in 34 starts over 239 innings pitched. 



First Twenty Win Season: 
Just before the start of the 1976 season, Koosman's father passed away. He stated he felt the spirit of his dad was with him all year. He later said that he never felt that level of concentration before or after again. He went on to have arguably the best season of his career. 


After losing his first start, he pitched a complete game win in Pittsburgh, as the Mets scored a season high 17 runs.

After a 1-1 April, he won all five of his May starts. Although he gave up 11 hits & four runs on May 2nd, he earned the win over the Astros as the Mets won it 7-4. In that game he struck out nine. He then pitched a complete game win over the Padres at Shea Stadium. On May 12th he pitched 8.2 innings with a win in Atlanta. 

He then won twice more on the road, beating Montreal, where allowed just one run in eight innings & then in Philadelphia. Koosman was now 6-1 at the end of the May posting a 2.77 ERA with 38 Ks. 

In June he had a rough time, suffering five straight losses from June 1 to June 21st. He would allow five runs or more three times. On June 6th, the Dodgers hit him up for six runs & ten hits  in just two innings of work. On June 26th, he broke the streak with a win at Wrigley Field.

From July through the rest of the year, Koosman would go 14-4, doing everything right. His new manager that year, Joe Frazier just gave him the ball & told him to take care of business.  

On July 2nd, Koos pitched a three hitter against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium. He struck out 12 batters in that game. He then beat the Astros even though he had given up ten hits. He even made a relief appearance before the All Star break.

After the break, he started out with a July 15th win over the Astros, at Shea Stadium to notch his tenth victory (10-6). It was a one run five hitter. He followed up with with another one run, five hitter, against The Big Red Machine. The Mets Ed Kranepool & Mike Vail got two 1st inning runs off Gary Nolan in the 2-1 win.

After a loss in Montreal, he closed out July with a four hitter at Shea Stadium in a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies to get to 12-7 on the year.

From that win through August 21st, Koos would throw five straight complete games in a stretch where he won five straight. In those games he had two shut outs, the first as a four hitter on August 4th against the Expos. 

The second was at Shea, on August 15th. In another pitching duel with Gay Nolan, Koosman shut out the Reds, fanning 11, for his 15th victory of the year. In the 1-0 win, the only run came on Bruce Boisclair's RBI single in the 5th.

On the West Coast road trip, Koos followed up with a one run, six hitter in San Diego, earning his 16th win.

In September he won four straight, all complete games, beginning with a three hit shutout against the San Francisco Giants, beating John Montefusco 1-0. 

On September 6th, he struck out nine & beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field for win #18.  On September 11th, he pitched a two hitter, beat the Cards 4-1 in St. Louis. The win matched his career high, 19 victories set back in his rookie year 1968.

On September 16th, at Shea Stadium with his wife & mother in attendance, Koosman reached a personal milestone. 

With a small crowd of just under 6000 fans, Koosman beat the St. Louis Cardinals for his 20th win. It was another complete game, a one run four hitter, where he struck out a season high 13 batters. 

It was the only time in his long Mets career he ever had a twenty win season. He sipped champagne with his family in the clubhouse after the game. The joyous event got him the front cover of the 1977 Mets yearbook. 

Koosman finished runner up to San Diego's Randy Jones for the Cy Young Award, although many feel it should have gone to Koosman. He went 21-10 (2nd in the league in wins) striking out 200 batters (3rd in the league). His strikeout per nine inning ratio was second best in the league at 7.2. 


He posted a 2.69 ERA (4th best in the league) with 17 complete games (2nd in the league) & three shutouts. Randy Jones was 22-14 with a 2.70 ERA pitching a league leading 315 innings &  25 complete games. 



The Bad Years: In 1977 there were many changes in the organization, the Mets traded Tom Seaver and the whole team fell apart. 

Koosman struggled with the bad ball club, falling to 8-20, tied with Phil Niekro for most losses in the league. His ERA was a still respectable at 3.42 and he still threw four shut outs and completed eleven games. 

He pitched well but was not as dominating as the previous years. He allowed earned runs in all but two of his 32 starts & gave up just one earned run only four times. 

On April 19th, he got his first win, beating the Cardinals in St. Louis. On May 7th, he had his best day of the year, tossing a three hit shut out in San Francisco, striking out seven. On May 12th, he struck out ten Padres but lost the game to Tom Griffin & Rollie Fingers who recoded the save. In his next start he beat the Giants again, with the Mets supporting him with 8 rare runs, Koos only gave up one run. He finished the first half of the year at 7-11 but had a good 3.13 ERA.

He entered August at 8-11 but then lost all nine of his final decisions including eight straight starts. On August 17th, he gave up just two earned runs, but the Mets were shut out by St. Louis' Bob Forsch.

Seaver's Return To Shea: On August 21st, Tom Seaver returned to Shea Stadium as a Red & he faced off against his old pal, Koosman. 21, 265 came out to Shea on this sunny Sunday afternoon, as Seaver beat Koos & the Mets 5-1. In two plate appearances, the right hand hitting Koosman struck out against Seaver once.

On August 26th in Atlanta, he gave up three HRs & was knocked out of the game in the 3rd inning, after allowing five runs. On September 10th he put in a good star, allowing just two runs but earned no decision. The Mets finished in last place at 64-98.

He made 32 starts striking out 192 batters, walking 81 in 226 innings pitched. That year his strike outs per nine innings (7.624) was the best in the league. 

His Last Mets Season: In 1978 Koosman became the first Mets pitcher in a decade, who wasn't Tom Seaver, since 1967 Seaver was the Mets Opening Day starter.
  
On this Opening Day. Koosman beat the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium, striking out seven batters in the Mets 3-1 win. 

He lost three straight decisions from there, but earned a win on May 4th in Atlanta. Unfortunately for him, he would not see another win until July 13th, a good 2 1/2 months later. On July 13th, he beat the Reds 4-2 in Cincinnati.

 It was to be his final win in a Mets victory, as he would lose six straight decisions. He would finish the year in the bullpen with five relief appearances. On September 30th, Koosman finished off a 7-5 Mets loss in Chicago, it was his last game in a Mets uniform.


In 38 starts that year he allowed two earned runs or less 16 times giving him a 3.75 ERA. In September he mostly pitched out of the bullpen, and was very unhappy in New York. In the dismal 1978 Mets season, he was 3-15 with 160 strikeouts & 84 walks in 235 innings pitched with the 3.75 ERA. 

The Mets finished last that year 66-96 under manager Joe Torre. Koosman was one of the final players left since the miracle of 1969 & the pennant of 1973. 


He saw no signs of improvement for the team in the near future, and demanded to be traded. His wishes came through and he was dealt to his home state of Minnesota to pitch for the Twins in 1979. 


Trivia: Interestingly the Mets received another pitcher who would get a final out in a World Series for them, although it would not come for another seven years (1986), a youngster named Jesse Orosco. 

1978 Minnesota: In his first game pitching in another uniform that didn't say Mets or New York on it, he impressed the AL. In California, be pitched eight innings, allowing just one run & beating Frank Tanana 8-1. He would go on a roll, starting out the year at 7-0 not taking a loss until late May. 

He then lost six straight decisions, but rebounded to win four
straight to get to 11-6. His streakiness continued, losing four straight then winning six straight in August.

On August 12th he shut out the Oakland A's to beat Rick Langford in a 1-0 duel. In August 25th he allowed just one run & beat the AL New York team for his 17th win. On September 30th, he shut out the Milwaukee Brewers to earn his twentieth win.

For 1979, back in his home state of Minnesota, Koosman regained form, winning twenty games for the second time in his career. He went 20-13 (3rd most wins in the AL) . 

He posted a 3.38 ERA (8th in the AL) with 157 strikeouts (5th in the league) and two shutouts. He was sixth overall in the Cy Young voting. That year the Twins finished 4th winning 82 games (82-80).

Koos came back at age 37, in 1980, winning16 more games in 1980 (10th best in the league) going 16-13 with 149 strikeouts in 243 innings pitched. He would notch eight complete games & even have two saves out of the bullpen.

In 1981,  he began the year in Minnesota & fell to 3-9 with an ERA over four. In less than a month after the players strike ended, Koosman was traded to the Chicago White sox. He would go 1-4 the rest of the way that season.

Koosman spent the next two seasons with the Sox, including their 1983 AL West winning season.
He was fourth best in wins (11) on a staff featuring two twenty game winners in Lamarr Hoytt & Richard Dotson. He began the year in the bullpen, collecting a save & a win before getting into the rotation in by late May.

He won his first three starts, including a three hit shut out against the K.C. Royals on June 3rd. At the All Star break, the 40 year old Koosman was 7-2 & a pleasant surprise for the Chi Sox. 

By late September, he was being used out of the bullpen again & earned another save & two holds in the final week of the regular season. He ended 1983 at 11-7 & a 4.77 ERA with 90 strike outs. 

Post Season: He would make his final post season appearance, the first in a decade, making a brief relief appearance against the Baltimore Orioles.

Back to The NL: In February 1984 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies as a player to be named later.

Return to Shea Stadium: He made his return to Shea Stadium on 
April 29, 1984 pitching against the New York Mets who were now contenders once again in a new era. It was "Strawberry Sundae" as fans received free ice cream as the team honored, Rookie of the Year Darryl Strawberry. 

The fans gave him a nice ovation in respect. That afternoon Koos allowed RBI singles to George Foster in the 1st inning) & later another to Mookie Wilson & his old team mate Rusty Staub. 
He also was called for a balk allowing a run to score, as he took the loss to Walt Terrell allowing four runs, on seven hits, pitching into the 6th inning. 

He came back in June, this time beating the Mets & Ed Lynch 6-4, pitching seven innings. He then took another loss against the Mets at the end of the season. 

In 1984 at age 41, Koosman was still effective. He went 14-15 (5th most losses in the NL) with 137 strike outs & a 3.25 ERA. He still had one more season in him, in 1985 he went 6-4 before retiring,  at the age of 42. 




Mets All Time Leader Board: Koosman still ranks high on the Mets all time pitching list; he is third in wins (140) & first overall for left handers. 

He is second in starts (346) innings pitched (2544) and complete games, (108). He is tied for second in shutouts (26) third in strike outs (1799) posting a 3.09 ERA. 

Honors: Koosman was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1989.

 Honors: Koosman attended the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008. Koosman was on hand for the 40th & 50th Anniversaries of the 1969 Championship team at Citi Field. He also attended many functions that honored the 1969 Mets & the 1973 NL Champs.

Retire #36: It was finally announced in 2019 that Koosman's uniform number 36 will be retired by the Mets. Although all ceremonies were postponed in 2020 due to the horrible Covid19 pandemic.
Overall in his nineteen year career he is at #76 on the all-time win list with a 222-209 record (37th all time in losses). He had 2556 strikeouts (33rd All time) with 33 shut outs (87th all time) with a 3.36 ERA pitching in 3839 innings (48th all time) in 612 games (179th all time). 

Koos made 527 starts (38th all time) with 1198 walks (53rd all time) 71 hit batsmen (221 all time) 290 HRs allowed (70th all time) & a 2.134 strike out / walk ratio.

Retirement: He served as a minor league pitching
coach for the Mets in the late 1980’s before retiring from baseball. 

Trivia: He had the original ball from the final out of the 1969 World Series locked away in a safe at his home until the 1990's when he sold it. 

Drama: In 2009 he was sentenced to six months time for tax evasion & served some time.

Family: Jerry & his wife Lavonne, have three children together.
 

No comments: