Apr 30, 2021

Marcus Stroman: Native Long Island Born Pitcher (2019 - 2021)

Marcus  Earl Stroman was born May 1st 1991 on Long Island, in Medford, New York.  His mother was Puerto Rican & his father African American. His father was a Suffolk County Police Detective.

His parents divorced when he was in the 5th grade. He was very close to his grand mother, as she regularly attended his high school & college games.

The five foot seven, right hander,
attended Patchogue high school in Medford, Long Island. He was an outstanding pitcher & all around star baseball player. 

He would face his future Mets team mate, Steven Matz who also grew up on Long Island, many times in competition. The two were even player, roommates at one time.

Duke University: Stroman was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2009 but did sign, instead electing to go to college at Duke University. 

At Duke he pitched & set a Duke career record for strike outs (290 in 222 innings). He also played second base & short stop in his Duke years. 

In 2012 he became the first Duke player to get drafted in the first round. He was the 22nd pick overall, selected by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Blue Jays Career: Stroman debuted on May 4th, 2014 in an inter league game at Pittsburgh. He came in the 8th inning in relief, giving up a run. In his next relief appearance, he earned his first career victory pitching the 9th & 10th innings at Philadelphia. 

By May 3st, he was in the rotation, in his first start, he beat the Kansas City Royals, then won his second as well. On September 8th, he pitched a complete game three hit, shut out, beating the Chicago Cubs. 

Later in the month he intentionally threw at Baltimore's Caleb Joseph & was suspended for six games. He would finish the year in the bullpen. In his first season at 11-6 with 111 strike outs in 130 innings, posting a 3.65 ERA.

In Spring Training 2015, he tore his ACL &
needed surgery. He was shut down for most of the year, returning by September. In his time off he went back to Duke & earned his degree in Sociology. When he returned to the mound he went 40 with a 1.67 ERA.

2015 Post Season: That year the Jays won the AL East & Stroman got to pitch in his first post season. He pitched seven innings of Game #1 of the ALDS loss to the Texas Rangers earning no decision. He got the call for the series ending Game #5, going 6 innings allowing two runs striking out four. He got no decision but the Jays advanced to the ALCS.

In Game #3 he got the win, in a wild, 11-8 Toronto win, over the Kansas City Royals at Skydome. Stroman allowed four runs on eleven hits but still won the game. The Royals won the series, advancing to the World Series to play the New York Mets.

2016 season: In 2016, he was the Jays Opening Day starter, he pitched eight innings to beat the Tampa Rays. 

He had a good start to the year at 4-0, but finished at 9-10 on the year. J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez & R.A. Dickey all won more games than him in the staff. 

His ERA was 4.37, but he had the leagues highest ground ball % & the leagues lowest fly ball %.  as he made 32 appearances. That year he had a career high 204 innings pitched. 

2016 Post Season: That year the Jays tied the Baltimore Orioles for second place & both teams won the wild card spots. Stroman pitched six innings in the Wild Card Game, he struck out six, allowing two runs on four hits. The Jays won the game, but he got no decision. 

He was scheduled to start Game #4 of the ALDS but Toronto swept the Texas Rangers in three games. He

took a loss to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS Game #3 at Toronto. The Indians advanced to the World Series in five games.

2017 season: He started out 2017, with a few exciting days at the plate. On April 25th, he was sent up in a pinch hit role & doubled, becoming the first Toronto pitcher to ever have a pinch hit. 

On May 18th, he became the second Toronto pitcher in team history, to ever hit a HR. His HR followed a HR from his catcher Luke Maile, making them the first battery to hit back to back HRs, since 1970.The blast came off Julio Tehran of the Atlanta Braves. In that game he shut out the Braves for seven innings earning the win.

From late April into mid June he went on a personal six game win streak & lowered his ERA to 3.09. The Jays fell to fourth place that year & Stroman was the ace of the staff & was voted the teams Pitcher of the Year. 

He had career highs in win (13) & starts (33). The 33 starts were 3rd most in the AL. For the second year in a row he tossed over 200 innings & posted a 3.09 ERA (fourth best in the AL).

 He walked a career high 62 batters (10th most in the AL). He allowed the fourth most HRs per nine innings for the second straight year. Defensively he won the Gold Glove award, as he also led all pitchers in assists & would do so the next year as well.

2018 season: In the 2018 off season he lost his arbitration case & started out badly on the year. By the end of May he 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA, he had given up at least four runs in all his starts. He was placed on the 10 DL with shoulder fatigue. He was back in the rotation by late June. 

On June 29th he finally earned his first win. He would have to leave games twice during the summer due to blisters & made his last start of the year on September 3rd. It was his worst season going 4-9 with a 5.54 ERA in just 19 starts.

He was still the Blue Jays Opening Day starter in 2019, getting no decision. He lost his first three decisions, but just gave up two runs & the three runs in those starts. 

On April 14th, he gave up three runs, all unearned but still took a loss. On April 19th, he beat the A's in Oakland, getting credit for his first win. Although he ended April 1-3, his ERA was just 1.43.

In May he lost another three straight and was 1-6, although his ERA was just 3.12 He kept in below three until early June, picking up wins against Boston & San Diego to get to 3-6. At the All Star break he was 5-9 with a 3.18 ERA, among the leagues best. He got selected to his first All Star game but did not pitch.

Mets Career: In July, the trade rumors heated up & he was going to go some where. To everyone's surprise he was traded to the New York Mets. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagen pulled off the deal, as the Mets were in the midst of turning their season around. 

All of a sudden the Mets won 14 of 15 games & were in the thick of the wild card hunt.

Stroman joined am already strong staff of that year's Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz & Zack Wheeler.

Stroman was happy to be on the Mets & thrilled to be back near his home. 
He made his first Mets start on August 3rd at Pittsburgh. He allowed three runs on three hits in 4.1 innings. The Mets did go on to win the game & start an eight game win streak, but he got no decision.

His next start came at home at Citi Field against the Nationals, where he had many family & friends in attendance.  Although he struck out a season high nine batters, he gave up four runs & HR to Juan Soto, exiting in tie game after six innings. 

With the Mets down 6-3 in the 9th inning, Todd Frazier tied the game with a three run HR off Sean Doolittle & Michael Conforto's won it with an exciting walk off single.

On August 15th, he earned his first Mets win. It came in Atlanta in a 10-8 Mets win, breaking their four game losing streak after winning 14 of 15. 

In his next start he allowed just one run, but pitched just four innings, leaving the game early. On August 27th, the Cubs roughed him up for a pair of HRs & four runs, giving him his first Mets official loss. After a no decision at Philadelphia, the Phils roughed him up at Citi Field with four earned runs & ten hits in a 5-0 loss.

Although the Mets were to drop out of the wild card race, Stroman personally got himself
adjusted & on track. On September 12th, he allowed just one run to Arizona, earning the victory as the Mets swept the d-backs in four games at Citi Field. 

On September 17th, he shut out the Rockies for seven innings in Colorado to earn his second straight win. After a no decision, he won his last start in the first game of a Mets series sweep of the Braves. It was the game Pete Alonso tied the rookie HR mark, a record he would break the next night.

Stroman closed out the year 10-13 with a 3.22 overall ERA. He struck out 159 & walked 58 in 184 innings in 32 starts. 

With the Mets he was 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 60 batters in 59.9 innings, with 23 walks. At the plate he is 1-21 with two runs scored.

2019 -2020 Off Season: In the off season Stroman was very public, he said he was switching to #0 & giving up the #7 in honor of Jose Reyes. He also hired personal trainer Nikki Huffman away from the Toronto Blue Jays, to be his full time trainer. She had been with him since 2015. 

Stroman missed the start of the 2020 Covid19 shortened season, due to a torn calf muscle. He then decided to opt of the season altogether. After this, the Mets still extended his contract for the 2021 season.

2021: As the season began, he made his first start in the second game of the year. He allowed one
run on six hits, in an 8-4 Mets win at Philadelphia. 

On April 10th, he was scheduled to start against the Marlins on a rainy night at Citi Field. He took the mound & the game was suspended. 

He voiced his frustrations publicly, saying the game should never have started putting the players at risk.

Next he faced the Phillies at home again & shut them out for six innings, earning his second win, in a 4-0 Mets shut out on April 13th.

On April 24th Stroman would pitch eight innings against the Rockies in Colorado, allowing one run on three hits while striking out five, to get to 3-0. In the 8th inning, he made a dazzling play, reaching for the ball behind his back & throwing off balance to first base. 

The ball rolled as Pete Alonzo grabbed it to nab
the runner out. Stroman ad to show his glove to the Rockies dugout, letting them know he has a gold glove. 

In his next start, he was humbled as on April 24th, he took his first loss as the Nats beat him for four earned runs in four innings, in a 7-1 Mets loss at Citi Field.

(thru 4/29/21) In his seven career, he is 54-48 with a 3.72 ERA, striking out 710 batters walking 249 in 873 innings in 150 games (144 starts). At the plate he is a .087 hitter with a HR & an RBI.

At six years old he was on the Nickelodeon TV game show, Figure It Out.

Stroman also has produced caps for New Era that feature his trademarks.

Tattoos: Stroman dons many tattos, which include: a tribute to his grandmother, his fathers police badge, his mothers eye, the number 6, the area code 631, a quote from the Gospel Mark 9, a quote from Martin Luther King, himself, Rhianna, Denzel Washington, & many quotes including a few about "God".

Remembering Mets History: (1980) Pete Falcone Ties MLB Record Striking Out First Six Batters

Thursday May 1st 1980: A small crowd of just 5928 came out to see Joe Torre's Mets (6-11) already in 5th place take on the eventual 1980 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies (7-9) led by Dallas Green.

Tonight an old Mets nemesis, Lefty Steve Carlton took on Brooklyn's own Pete Falcone.

Starting Lineups

The game would start out with Falcone striking out the first six batters he faced, setting a Mets record while accomplishing that feat. It also tied an MLB record & had only been done four times proio in baseball history.

Falcone struck out Lonnie Smith & Pete Rose swinging & then got Gary Maddox looking at a called third strike. In the 2nd inning, he got sluggers Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski & then catcher Bob Boone to all go down swinging.

Falcone was going good until weak hitting reserve second baseman Lis Aguayo hit a two run homer in the 5th inning. The two runs would be all the Phillies needed in the 2-1 win. Carlton walked Eliot Maddox with the bases loaded for the Mets only run. Former Met legend Tug McGraw came on for the save as a Phillie.

The Italian American Falcone, a Brooklyn kid & cousin of Mets coach Joe Pignatano went 7-11 for the 1980 Mets, tied for second most wins on the staff.

He spent four years with the Mets, going 26-37 with a 3.91 ERA in 145 games 86 starts.

Former Mets Catcher & Helmet Inventor: Charlie O'Brien (1990-1993)

Charles Hugh O’ Brien was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 1, 1960. The six foot two Charlie O attended Wichita State University, hitting 25 HRs with 116 RBIs while leading his team to the 1982 College World Series.

That year he was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round as a catcher. Initially he hit .291 with 14 HRs at AA Albany in the Eastern League in 1983 but dropped off significantly the next two seasons. In 1985 the solid defensive catcher, got a September call up batting .273 in 16 games.

In 1986 he got traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with two minor leaguers for pitcher Moose Hass. He played three seasons in Milwaukee and never hit like he did in college ever again, putting up a best .234 with 6 HRs 35 RBIs in 1989. In Milwaukee he was primarily B.J. Surhoff’s backup catcher, putting up strong defensive numbers. He threw out 43% of runners attempting to steal in 1989 & tossed out at least 36% every season in Milwaukee.

In August of 1990 he was traded to the New York Mets for two players to be named later, who turned out to be Julio Machado and another player named Kevin Brown. He didn’t hit much but became known around the league as one of NL's best defensive catchers.

O’Brien battled Mackey Sasser & Rick Cerone for the Mets catching job in 1991. Although he did not win the starting role, mostly due to his hitting, he became Dwight Gooden’s personal catcher.

With the Mets, O’Brien would also catch former Cy Young winners Bret Saberhagen & Frank Viola. In his career O'Brien would be the back stop for a total of eleven Cy Young Award winners that he would call pitches for. Only four of those pitchers actually won the Award the season O'Brien was their catcher. O’Brien became famous for his long curly hair over the collar look, similar to Gary Carter.

O'Brien debuted in New York on September 1st with the first place Mets catching Julio Valera who earned his first win that day, beating the San Francisco Giants. On September 8th O'Brien had a rare big day at the plate getting three hits with three RBIs in a Mets 12-2 win over the Phillies.

On September 11th he had another three RBI day in a Mets 10-8 win over the Cardinals topped off by a walk off Daryl Strawberry HR. In the month he hit .162 with nine RBIs in 28 games played. Behind the plate he threw out a league best 46% of would be base stealers 16 of 35.

In 1991 his first full season as a Met he hit .185 with two HRs, six doubles & 14 RBIs. But it was his defense that made him such a good player, in 1991 he posted a .988 fielding % throwing out 32% of would be base stealers. At the plate he enjoyed a three hit day on May 15th driving in a run against the Padres at San Diego.

Later that summer he drove in three runs in a 904 win over the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He hit his first HR of the season on August 22nd in a Mets 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 30th he hit a solo HR helping David Cone beat the Reds 3-2 in Cincinnati.

In 1992 as Todd Hundley's backup catcher, he threw out 46% of would be base stealers, second best in the National league while posting a .991 fielding %. At the plate he hit .212 with 2 HRs 12 doubles & 13 RBIs.

On May 1st he hit a two run HR in Atlanta against the Braves in an 8-7 win. O'Brien added another HR in late August in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. On September 14th O'Brien drove in three runs with a bases clearing double in a Mets 10-8 win at Wrigley Field.

In 1993 he had his best year at the plate & hit a career high .255 with 4 HRs 11 doubles & 23 RBIs appearing in 67 games. In early May he had a three game stretch where he had seven hits while driving in runs in three straight games. On May 25th his double in the top of the 9th inning drove in two runs putting the Mets ahead for good, after rallying from being down 4-1.

Again in July he had a three game stretch where he drove in runs in each game, enjoying a four game hit streak. In August he had another four game hit streak & had two different games where he drove in more than one run. On September 22nd, he hit a two run HR in Pittsburgh scoring Jeromy Burnitz for the game winning runs. He averaged 67 games behind the plate in each of his three seasons with the Mets.

O’Brien was not resigned for 1994 as Kelly Stinnett was given the backup catcher’s role. Charlie O went to the Atlanta Braves as a free agent & became the personal catcher of Cy Young winner Greg Maddox. He also was Steve Avery’s main catcher as the Braves went on to win the 1995 World Series. O’Brien went 2-5 in the NLCS good for a .400 average and 0-3 in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

Brawl At Shea Stadium: He became unpopular with Met fans, when he was involved in a brawl at Shea, leveling short time Met John Cangelosi. Cangelosi had charged the mound after getting hit by a pitch from Braves pitcher, John Smoltz. It was the second time that season Smoltz had plunked Cangelosi. The 6'2" O'Brien tackled the 5'8" Cangelosi from behind, wrestling him to the ground.

After two seasons in Atlanta, he moved onto to the Toronto Blue Jays backing up Pat Borders and having career highs in 1996 in HRs (13) & RBIs (44) hitting .238.

In Toronto he would catch Pat Hentgen in his CY Young season adding to his list of award winners. O’ Brien had brief stints with the Anaheim Angels (1998-1999) Chicago White Sox (1998) & Montreal Expos (2000) bbefore retiring in 2000.

In a 15 year career he was a lifetime .221 hitter, with 493 hits 56 HRs 119 doubles a .303 on base % & 261 RBIs. He posted a .990 lifetime fielding % making only 47 errors in nearly 5800 innings. He threw out a career 37% of would be base stealers (265 runners) posting a .990 fielding %.

Inventor: The biggest thing Charlie O’Brien will be remembered for is pioneering the hockey-style catcher's mask used today by many catchers.

While playing with the Blue Jays he invented the new style mask, and worked with the Van Velden Mask Co. of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to develop his idea. The new design, called the All-Star MVP, was approved by MLB in 1996 and O’Brien was the first to use it.

Retirement: Since baseball O'Brien, a life long hunter & lover of the outdoors, now runs one of the premier whitetail deer operations in the country, Catch 22 Ranch. His hunting success and knowledge of deer hunting has led him to be one of the key members and hosts of the ever-popular hunting show Deer Thugs.

O'Brien still resides in Tulsa.

Family: O’Brien’s son was a star basketball player & catcher at his dads old college at Wichita State. In 2011 he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 18th round.

Apr 29, 2021

Remembering Mets History (2002) Al Leiter Becomes First Pitcher To Defeat All 30 MLB Teams

 Tuesday April 30th, 2002: On this evening in the desert the Mets went up against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Bank One Ball Park. A good crowd of 36,743 came to see Bob Brenly's World Champions host Bobby Valentines, New York Mets. Rick Helling went up against Al Leiter, who was going for a feat never done before in MLB. 

Going into this game, Leiter had victories against 29 MLB teams that have been in existence since 1901. With tonight's win, he becomes the first pitcher to beat all 30 MLB teams.

The Mets pounced on Helling in the 1st inning, Roberto Alomar & Mo Vaughn both singled, then Mike Piazza blasted a three run HR making it 3-0.

In the 2nd, Alomar tripled with one out & scored on a Roger Cedeno fielders choice. Piazza then came to bat & blasted his second HR in as many innings. This gave him seven HRs & 16 RBIs on the young season.

In the 3rd, a two run Joe McEwing HR finally knocked out Helling who allowed eight earned runs on eight hits & three HRs. The Mets greeted Brian Anderson with three straight hits, including an RBI hit to Mo Vaughn. Piazza grounded out to second bringing in another run.

Leiter went on to an easy 10-1, as the Mets
pounded out 16 hits for him. He pitched seven innings allowing just one run, three hits, no walks & two hit batsman. He had a great start to the season, he was 3-1 with a 0.92 ERA. The win made him the first pitcher to have victories over all 30 MLB teams.

Leiter would go 13-13 with a 3.48 ERA in the Mets dismal 2002 season where they finished fifth (75-86). In seven seasons with the Mets Leiter was 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA, winning 15 or  more games three times. He won ten or more games each season & is sixth on the Mets all time win list.

Remembering Mets History (1988): Mets Come Back To Win As Pete Rose Bumps Umpire

Saturday April 30th 1988: Davey Johnson's New York Mets (15-6) were off to a good start, on their way to their 1988 NL Eastern title. On this wild night they came to Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, always am interesting place for the Mets, to face Pete Rose's Reds (11-11). 

33,346 fans would certainly make their presence known tonight, in what would be an ugly situation before it was all over. The Mets sent Bobby Ojeda to the mound, against the Reds Tom Browning. It turned out to be an infamous game that tarnished an umpire's career & added more drama to a Player/Manager's legacy.

Starting Lineups

Things started out quietly, the Mets got a run in the 2nd, on Gary Carter's sac fly & the Red answered in the bottom of the inning, with an RBI single from Barry Larkin. 

In the top of the 4th, Tim Teufel singled & moved along the bases, scoring on Kevin McReynold's two out single. The Reds tied it up, but in the top of the 6th, Darryl Strawberry blasted a two run HR making it 4-2 Mets.

In the 7th inning, Mookie Wilson hit a two out triple. Things began to get weird, Tom Browning was called for a balk & Wilson came home with the Mets fifth run. 5-2 New York.

By the 8th inning, the Mets had Roger McDowell on the mound. He issued a lead off walk & then a base hit to Larkin, and then a one walk to load the bases. Nick Esasky singled, knocking out McDowell in favor of Randy Meyers. Tracy Jones then singled off Meyers to tie the game at five.

The crazy 9th inning began, in what was to be an inning remembered forever. The Reds reliever & future Met captain, John Franco started the inning by walking Howard Johnson. Kevin Elster sacrificed him over to second. After Barry Lyons struck out, Mookie Wilson stepped in. Mookie always seemed to be in the center of attention or in the eye of the hurricane in those days.

He hit a bouncer to short, Barry Larking took the hop & threw tp first base, pulling Nick Esasky off the base.First base umpire, Dave Pallone, delayed his safe call. With the delay, Howard Johnson scored what turned out to be the games winning run & the Reds went nuts. 

Reds Manager, Pete Rose came running out of the dugout to argue the late call. Things quickly got heated, Rose raised his arms & pointed his finger at Pallone. Pallone pointed back, possibly mimicking Rose. Rose went nuts & bumped the umpire forcefully. His team mates & coaches held him back from who knows what, as the fiery tempered Rose was all revved up.

Rose was immediately ejected from the game. Rose claimed that Pallone poked him with his finger, Pallone denied the charge. As calm was staring to get restored, the Reds fans showered the field with any kind of debris they could find. 

Umpire Dave Pallone, was removed from the field for his safety. It was an ugly scene for the city & fans of Cincinnati. Play was delayed as the field was cleaned up. The Mets went on to a 6-5 win, as Randy Myers retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the 9th, after allowing a lead off single.

In the aftermath, Rose was fined $10,000 & suspended a month. Dave Pallone, who had a controversial history as an umpire was forced to resign at the end of the season. 

Trivia: Dave Pallone was the home plate umpire in 1985, when Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb for the all time hits record.

Pallone had a bad history with the Reds. He admitted to having an ongoing feud with shortstop Dave Concepcion, since 1983. Pallone later admitted he would even try to block Concepcion's view while at his position on the field. In another incident he ejected Concepcion for arguing a strike call, that he later admitted he had missed the pitch.  

Pallone was also accused of threatening pitcher, Jeff Reardon. He also admitted to have outstanding gambling debts in the past, but was never accused of gambling on baseball. His ratings as an umpire were usually among the leagues lowest. Years later, he came out publicly, as being MLB's first gay umpire. He now teaches diversity courses to buisness & sports companies.

Pete Rose of course has his own controversies outside of this incident, the all time hit leader is still banned from being inducted into the Hall Of Fame.