Aug 31, 2021

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Bartolo Colon's 31 Scoreless Innings Streak

2015 was an up & down year for Bartolo Colon, he began the year at 4-0 and got as good as 6-1 with a 3.30 ERA by mid May. By mid June he was at 9-4 until he hit a snag and lost his next six decisions.

As August began he finally earned a win in Miami, allowing just one run in seven innings. His next starts were up & down as he was 10-11 with an ERA near five by late August, then the ageless wonder went on a record setting roll.

August 26th: On this night Bartolo Colon took the mound for the first place Mets (70-56) in Philadelphia, against Pete Mackanin's last place Phillies (50-77).

The Mets gave Colon a quick 3-0 lead as they jumped on starter Jerad Eickhoff in the 1st inning.

Curtis Granderson reached on an error, Yoenis Cespedes then reached on an infield single. As Daniel Murphy grounded out, Grandy scored making 1-0. Michael Cuddyer doubled down the left field line scoring Cespedes & Cuddyer would score on a Micahel Conforto base hit.

On the mound Colom shut out the Phillies for seven innings, allowing just five hits & two walks. He struck out eight and went on to earn the win putting him at .500 (11-11) on the year. It was the first time since his July 1st start that he did not allow a run.

The Mets went on to win it 9-4, Cuddyer added a solo HR in the 8th inning & Murph drove in his second run of the game. Yoenis Cespedes tripled home a run, Conforto & Juan Uribe added RBI hits as well. At the plate Colon went 0-3.

August 29th: In a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox, Manager Terry Collins used Colon in a rare relief appearance to help a depleted bullpen. The ageless wonder Colon, came on & pitched a scoreless, 9th inning striking out two.

August 31st: The Philadelphia Phillies came to New York as the Mets were riding a 5 1/2 game first place lead over the Washington Nationals.

Colon went up against Jerad Eickhoff once again. This time Colon pitched eight shut out innings, allowing just four hits & one walk. He struck out nine to match his season high, earning his 12th win (12-11). His scoreless innings streak was now up to 16.

In the 5th inning he even got a base hit & scored on Curtis Granderson's  23rd HR of the year. Michael Conforto added a solo shot to contribute to the Mets 3-1 win.

That week Bartolo Colon won the NL Player of the Week Award.

September 5th: The first place Mets, now 15 games over .500 (75-60) visited South Florida for a matchup between Dan Jennings' third place Miami Marlins (56-80).

Colon may have had his best outing to date for the year as he pitched a complete game shut out, without walking any one. He gave up nine hits & struck out just two. The win was easy as the Mets gave him seven runs to play with.

Colon now leading the Mets staff with 13 wins, became the first Mets pitcher to throw a complete game in the 2015 season. He also became the oldest Mets pitcher to throw a shut out at age 42. Colon gave the bullpen a much needed rest and extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings.

With his glove he made one of the most outstanding plays of the year as he fielded a slow grounder along the first base line, he then tossed the ball behind his back right on target to first baseman Daniel Murphy's glove for the amazing out. Everyone had a smile on their face as he entered the dugout being congratulated by his team mates.

The Mets hit three HRs that night, a three run shot from Travis d'Arnaud, a two run shot from Juan Lagares & a solo shot from Wilmer Flores.

September 10th: The first place Mets (79-61) were fresh off a sweep of the second place Nationals in D.C. The Met lead was now seven games & a magic number was set at 17 to clinch the Division.

Colon took the mound trying to extend his streak in Atlanta against the struggling Braves (56-85) Freddi Gonzalez's Braves trailed the Mets by 22 1/2 games in the standings.

Colon came on and threw six more scoreless innings, not giving up a run until a Jace Peterson triple scored Nick Swisher to end the streak at 31 innings. Colon fell just shy of the Mets franchise record of 32 2/3 scoreless innings set by R.A. Dickey. 

When Colon  reached the 28 inning mark, he made history passing Cy Young & Warren Spahn as pitchers 42 years of age or older to not allow a run in that many innings.

The Mets rolled along to a 7-2 win, as Colon bested his record to 14-11 with a 4.13 ERA, 129 strike outs & just 22 walks in 176 innings pitched (29 starts). Colon has the best walks per nine innings ratio in the NL.

The Mets starting the scoring in the 4th on a Kevin Plawecki double that brought in two runs. And then yes, the man himself; Bartolo Colon added his own RBI base to make it 3-0 Mets.

For Colon it was his 8th hit of the year & his fourth RBI, both career highs. He raised his batting average to .148 on the season as well.

Plawecki added another RBI later on, and Juan Uribe had a big three hit three RBI night to contribute.

Colon would get three more starts allowing three runs in each game, pitching five or more innings in each outing as well. He took two more losses with a no decision & made a relief appearance in the Mets 1-0 win, in the final game of the regular season coming against the Washington Nats.

Colon finished the year at 14-13, tied with Jacob deGrom for most wins on the Mets staff. His 14 wins were also 7th most wins in the NL. He  posted a 4.16 ERA, struck out 136 batters while walking just 24 in 194 innings of work (most innings pitched on the Met staff). 

His 1.110 walks per nine innings was the best in the league & his strike outs per walk ratio of 5.667 fourth best. He also allowed the most hits in the league (217) & 25 HRs in 33 games (31 starts which was most on the Met staff).

Remembering Mets History (1969) Seaver Wins 19th In San Francisco

Sunday August 31st, 1969: The weekend series came to its grand finale on this Sunday doubleheader at Candlestick Park. The second place New York Mets (76-54) were 4 1/2 games behind the Fading Chicago Cubs as they faced off against the first place San Francisco Giants. 

The Giants were clinging to a half game lead with both the L.A. Dodgers & Cincinnati Reds right behind them. The Atlanta Braves were just two games out in a tight Western Division.

The starters in this one, would be the Giants Mike McCormick, who had led the NL in wins (22) just two seasons ago against the Mets ace, who was leading the NL in wins this year, Tom Seaver. Seaver who was born in Fresno always enjoyed coming to San Francisco just 185 miles from his home.

Starting Lineups

Tom Seaver was Tom Terrific again tonight as he won his 19th game of the season. He rolled along shuting out the Giants on a complete game seven hitter where he struck out eleven & walked three. His record went to 19-7 with a 2.5 ERA, all among the leagues best.

The only trouble Seaver had, came early on; in the 2nd inning, Willie McCovey tripled down the line. Seaver then walked Bobby Bonds & he stole second base. With two on & no one out, Seaver bore down. He struck out Dave Marshall & Jack Hiatt (looking) then got Hal Lanier to pop out for the third out.

In the Giants 3rd, Ken Henderson singled, then Seaver plunked Ron Hunt in the helmet knocking him out of the game. Hunt the former Met, would get hit by 25 pitches that year & would lead the NL in that category, eight straight years. Seaver then walked another Giant, but got out of it without any damage retiring Bobby Bonds on a fly ball.

The Mets broke out in the 4th inning, Cleon Jones singled in between Tommie Agee & Donn Clendenon walks. 

Al Weiss two RBIs Gave Him 20 on the Year
With the bases loaded, Ron Swoboda doubled home Agee & Jones. Jerry Grote & Tom Seaver both singled, bringing in three more Mets runs. McCormick was knocked out of the came as fuyure Met Ron Herbel came in. 

In the next inning, Bobby Bolin replaced Herbel for the Giants, Rod Gaspar led off with a base hit. Swoboda then reached on a Don Mason error. Mason had come in to replace Ron Hunt at second base. Catcher Jerry Grote then walked to load the bases. Al Weis then delivered a two run single, making it 7-0. Bud Harrelson added another run with his own RBI single to right field making it 8-0.

The Mets rolled along to the shut out, but there was some drama in the 7th inning. Giants pitcher, Bobby Bolin, hit Seaver in the arm with a pitch, retaliation for Seaver plunking Hunt earlier in the game. 

Seaver, unfazed, finished the complete game shutout.

The Mets dropped the second game of the twin bill, as Ron Taylor walked Jim Davenport with the bases loaded.

Aug 30, 2021

Tug McGraw: 1973 N.L. Champion Mets Fireman (Part Two) "You Gotta Believe"

In 1973 Tug started out the season with another Opening Day save after relieving Tom Seaver to finish off the Philadelphia Phillies. In the first month of thee 1973 season he had four saves and was posting a 1.59 ERA, just like the Tug McGraw of old. But in mid May he began to struggle, he only notched one save from that point through mid June and he was getting hit hard.

In an early May game he blew a four run lead against the Houston Astros, giving up a three run HR to Bob Watson. He was charged with seven runs overall on that day. He did get credit for three saves following that game but then allowed two HRs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, blowing a save while taking a loss. His ERA soared to 5.19 & over the next two months. He blew four saves, took two losses dropping to 0-4 on the year & only notched three saves.

On June 28th he came in relief in the 7th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies, Greg Luzinski & Tommy Hutton led the way & lit him up for four runs.

In the second game of a July 1st double header he gave up a walk off HR to the Chicago Cubs Randy Hundley at Wrigley Field. Another terrible outing came two days later in Montreal on July 3rd, when he allowed seven earned runs in relief to the Expos.

That day he said he felt like he had no idea how to throw a baseball. It was as if he had never played baseball in his life. He blew another save against the Atlanta Braves and had an ERA over six when Yogi Berra decided to use him as a starter.

His first start was July 17th in Atlanta but it was also a nightmare. He allowed seven runs on ten hits over six innings pitched but the Mets bailed him out with a seven run 9th inning, led by a pair of two run HRs from Rusty Staub & John Milner. Also pinch hitters Jim Beachamp & Willie Mays drove in runs as well with key hits.

The team also struggled through injuries to some its key players, and in the middle of summer was below .500, in last place eleven games out. By August McGraw’s record had slipped to 0-6, and then one afternoon it all seemed to make sense. He was having lunch with an old friend of Gil Hodges, a man named Joe Badamano who was a motivational speaker.

Badamano told Tug “you got to believe in yourself & think positive”. That’s it Tug said to himself, “You gotta believe”. He kept repeating it to himself, his team mates, & to the fans. Then in a famous closed door team meeting with chairman of the board; M. Donald Grant, a rally cry was born.

"You Gotta Believe": Rumors were swirling in the press about who was to be fired in the Mets organization, The newspapers actually had a poll asking the public who the Mets should let go; the manager Yogi Berra? the General Manager Bob Scheffing? Or the Chairman M. Donald Grant? Since Berra was the most popular guy, he was voted to stay.

Grant gave the team a pep talk, telling them the front office was behind them and still believed in them. Then it happened; McGraw jumped up and shouted, “You gotta believe! You gotta believe!” right in the middle of the Grants speech.

Grant wasn’t sure if he was being mocked or supported. He stormed out of the room with his brass of upper management behind him. Some of his teammates laughed thinking Tug was actually mocking the chairman of the board.

Ed Kranepool went over to Tug telling him he should straighten things out with Grant to cool him off. McGraw went over to talk with Grant, and sure enough he was upset. It took a couple of weeks but things began to turn around for the best as the team got healthy.

On August 22nd McGraw finally earned his first win, after a 9th inning comeback win by the Mets, with key hits from Felix Millan & John Milner. That week Tug earned two saves & another victory at St. Louis against the Cardinals. At the end of August 1973 the Mets were still in last place, ten games under .500 but only six games behind the first place Cardinals.

Whichever way Tug McGraw meant his “You gotta believe” outburst to be, it became legendary. For Mets fans it will never be forgotten & always be associated with the team. It was also to be one of baseball’s greatest battle cries ever. “You Gotta Believe” led the Mets from last place all the way to the World Series.

McGraw turned his season around, he had a spectacular September winning five games (5-0) and earning ten saves. He posted a 0.88 ERA striking out 38 batters in 41 innings, allowing just two earned runs all month long. 

On September 7th in Montreal he pitched five innings of relief from the 10th through the 15th inning, and drove in two runs with a base hit to earn the 4-2 victory.

Over an incredible eight day stretch in mid September from the 12th -19th, he saved four games and earned two victories. In that stretch he pitched 11 innings allowing no runs & struck out 13 batters. This lifted the Mets to within 1 ½ games of first place.

During a crucial Series against the first place Pittsburgh Pirates, McGraw earned the win in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium. The next night at Shea Stadium he got the save pitching three innings of shutout relief.

After two more Mets wins, including the famous “ball off the wall night” the Mets were above .500 and in first place passing the Pirates. “You Gotta Believe” was being shouted everywhere all over New York City!

NL East Clinching Series: The Mets lost their final home game of the season & went to a four game Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago, to try to clinch the NL Eastern title.

After three days of rain, they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in the first game of a double header giving the Cardinals & Prates one final chance to catch them.

But Jerry Koosman won the nightcap & clinched at least a tie of the Eastern Division.

In the last game of the season McGraw came in to relieve a tired Tom Seaver in the 7th inning with the Mets ahead 6-4. He pitched three shutout innings, striking out four Cubs to earn the save and clinch the Eastern Divisional title.

He finished the 1973 Mets Pennant year at 5-6 with 25 saves in 60 appearances, striking out 81 batters in 118 innings posting a 3.87 ERA.

By now he had developed his trademark of slapping his glove on his thigh as he stormed off the mound. It was a signal of affection to his wife watching at home which really took off after the birth of their second son that month.

1973 Post Season- NLCS: In the post season McGraw continued his spectacular pitching. In the NLCS against the Cincinnati Big Red Machine, he did not appear until Game #4 since Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack & Jerry Koosman all had thrown complete games.

Tug struggled a bit but did not allow any runs. He got out of jams pitching four innings, walking three and giving up three hits.

In the final Game #5 clincher at Shea Stadium, he came in the 9th inning to relieve Tom Seaver who was beginning to tire.

Tug walked into a bit of a jam, although the Mets had a five run lead, the bases were loaded with just one out. He got Joe Morgan to pop up & Dan Driessan to ground out to John Milner at first base. 

McGraw covered first base as John Milner flipped the ball to him. Tug grabbed his hat and ran for his life as the Mets fans swarmed the field, tearing up anything they could. 

The incredible season comeback had the Mets advanced to the World Series for the second time in four years. 

In the clubhouse celebration Tug McGraw sprayed champagne shouting “You Gotta Believe, You Gotta Believe”!!

 In his book “Screwball” Tug said the Mets felt punchy as they arrived in the San Francisco Bay area for the World Series. “We had been denounced, damned, cheered, mobbed, written up, screwed up & bombed out of our minds”. 

1973 Post Season- World Series: In the 1973 World Series Tug was again Yogi Berra’s go to guy in the bullpen. He became a national star on television for the whole country to watch. 

McGraw appeared in five of the seven games, earning a win, a save, posting a 2.63 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. He pitched a scoreless inning and a half in the Series Opener at Oakland’s Alameda Coliseum, but the Mets lost 2-1.

In the Game #2 ten-inning marathon in Oakland he pitched an incredible six innings of relief. He did allow four runs on five hits but also struck out eight Oakland batters. 

He earned the win as the Mets scored four runs off Rollie Fingers in the top of the 12th inning on RBI hits by Willie Mays, John Milner & Jerry Grote. 

McGraw even got a bunt base hit in the top of the 12 inning, and came around to score on one of Oakland infielder Mike Andrews two straight errors. The win evened the Series at one game each heading back to New York.

He appeared in relief of Tom Seaver in the 9th inning of Game #3 at Shea Stadium. This game  was a classic 2-2 pitching duel at that point with Seaver facing off against Catfish Hunter.

Tug pitched two scoreless innings earning no decision. Oakland won it in the 11th inning when a passed ball got by Jerry Grote on a third strike & Ted Kubiak reached second base. He scored on a Campaneis single off Harry Parker.

In Game #5 back at Shea Stadium, McGraw relieved Jerry Koosman in the 7th inning with runners on second & third base. 

There was one out with the Mets leading 2-0. McGraw walked Deron Johnson to load the bases, but then got Angel Mangual to pop up & Bert Campaneris (who was killing the Mets in the series) to strikeout looking on a nasty screwball. 

McGraw pumped his glove on his thigh, shouting as he walked off the field to a wild Shea standing ovation.

Even New York Mayor John Lindsay was shouting “You Gotta Believe” as Tug walked off the field. Koosman told McGraw about it as he reached the bench & Tug peeked out of the dugout to acknowledge the Mayor.

Tug and Jerry Koosman combined on a three hit shutout against the mighty A’s lineup. Cleon Jones’ RBI double in the second inning and Don Hahn's triple scored the only runs, putting the Mets ahead three games to two, as the Series shifted back to Oakland.

McGraw made one more appearance in Game #6 pitching the 8th inning with Oakland ahead 2-1. He allowed a single to Reggie Jackson but an error allowed Jackson to go third base. He scored on a Jesus Alou sac fly. 

In the inning he got a strike out & double play to end things. The Mets lost a heart breaking Series in Game Seven.

Quotes: “Ten million years from now, when the sun burns out and the earth is a frozen ice ball, no one will care if I got this guy out or not” -Tug McGraw

Tug McGraw (Part Three): Beyond His Mets Career

In 1974 the Mets struggled, and McGraw was no exception. Tug had arm problems and couldn’t recover. A lump was found in his shoulder and it was even feared he may have had cancer. He went 6-11 with only three saves and a 4.16 ERA, in 88 innings he gave up 96 hits and 41 earned runs.

The Mets organization believed McGraw was done and his arm was permanently damaged. On December 3, 1974, It was the first of many sad days to come in Mets history when the fan favorite and one of the most popular Mets ever was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Don Hahn and Dave Schneck in exchange for John Stearns, Del Unser and Mac Scarce.

At the time of the trade, McGraw was the all-time Mets leader in saves & games pitched. He still ranks high on many of the Mets all time records: McGraw finished his Mets career at 47-55 (17th most wins) with 85 saves (5th all time) & a 3.17 ERA. He made 361 Mets appearances (6th all time) with 618 strike outs (11th all time) 350 walks (12th all time) in 792 innings pitched (17th all time) .

Beyond the Mets: After the trade, he was diagnosed with a simple cyst and after successful surgery to remove it, McGraw recovered completely. With the Phillies, he continued his role as a reliable relief pitcher. He posted ERA’s under three for the next three seasons, and had double figures in saves two straight seasons. He saved 14 games in 1975, eleven in 1976 and nine games in both 1977 & 1978.

Over those years he pitched in three more NLCS going 0-1 with a save, as the Phillies lost each Series. McGraw would finish in the leagues top ten in saves, four more times after his Mets career. By 1979 he was 4-3 with 16 saves but posted an ERA over five.

In 1980, he finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting, compiling 20 saves and a 1.46 ERA while helping the Phillies win their first ever World Championship. Without McGraw, the Phillies would have never done it. After coming off the disabled list on July 17 McGraw allowed just three earned runs the rest of the season posting an unbelievable 0.52 ERA. He recorded 11 of his 20 saves after July 31 and was 5-0 with five saves during the stretch run in September and October.

Post Season: In the NLCS against the Houston Astros, he appeared in all five games, saving two of them. In the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, he struck out ten batters in 7 2/3 innings, going 1-1 with two saves while posting a 1.17 ERA. His shining moment came in the fifth game, when he struck out his old Mets team mate, Amos Otis with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the 4-3 victory.

In the final Game #6 McGraw squeezed out of bases-loaded jams in the final two innings. He saved game by striking out Willie Wilson, clinching the World Series title. There a forever stilling image of him leaping into the air with his arms raised will live forever in Philadelphia.

It was his third lifetime World Series save, and his five NLCS saves were a record at the time. In 26 post season games he was 3-3 with seven saves and a 2.24 ERA.

In 1981 he saved 10 games, it was his last season as a closer. By 1982 Ron Reed had taken over the role, and McGraw pitched through the 1984 season. In his 19 year career Tug McGraw posted a 96-92 record with 180 saves (56th all time). He struck out 1109 batters in 1514 innings posting a 3.14 ERA in 824 appearances (42nd all time). McGraw finished 541 games (29th all time) & was in the leagues top ten in that category eight times. His 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched ratio is 155th all time.

Retirement: McGraw announced his retirement on Valentine's Day 1985, to celebrate; as he said "his love affair with baseball". He wrote a number of children's books, and two autobiographies, Screwball in 1974 & You Gotta Believe in 2001.

In the mid 1970s McGraw was involved with the creation of the nationally syndicated comic strip "Scroogie." In the 1980s and 1990s, he was a reporter for Action News in Philadelphia, usually doing sports or wacky stories. Through the years, Tug also appeared as a panelist on TV shows, hosted sports videos, & narrated "Peter and the Wolf".

Honors: He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1993 and to the Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame in 1999. In 2003 he was invited to throw out the last pitch at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. He was on hand for the Mets 20th anniversary reunion of the 1973 team as well as celebrations for the 1969 team.

He threw out the first pitch during the 2000 Mets NLDS Game #3 vs San Francisco.

Family: During his 1965 minor league season, McGraw fathered an illegitimate child named Tim. He was raised by an abusive truck-driving father, and at age 11 he discovered his birth certificate. He realized his true father was Tug McGraw. On two occasions McGraw refused to have any involvement with the boy before finally agreeing to finance his education, in return for cutting off all contact.

But during another meeting, he recognized himself in the youth, and they were reconciled. Tim McGraw became a major country music star, who married the beautiful Faith Hill. The father and son grew very close and Tug spent his final days at the Nashville home of his son Tim McGraw & Faith Hill.

Tug’s younger brother, Dennis, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a neighbor in Vallejo, California. Hank McGraw, Tug's older brother, told Sports Illustrated that Dennis had been estranged from his siblings for more than 20 years, ever since an incident with a police officer sent him to a Psychiatric hospital. Their mother had once been treated at the same hospital.

Hank McGraw was a once promising prospect in the Mets organization but never made itto the big leagues. see full story: below

Passing: On March 12, 2003, McGraw was working as a spring training instructor for the Phillies when he was hospitalized with a brain tumor. Surgery performed to remove it revealed that he had cancer. Given three weeks to live by doctors, he managed to survive nine months. McGraw died of brain cancer at the home of his son, Tim McGraw, outside of Nashville.

Quotes: "Tug McGraw was one of the great characters of the game of baseball; He just had a joy for life and living. But what people sometimes Over look because he was always happy-go-lucky was what kind of competitor he was on the mound. No one competed with more intensity than he did. “-Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

"He was full of life, love and spirit. His death is a reality check for us, just like when Tommie (Agee) died a couple of years ago. His passing drives home to me that you have to value every second that you are on this earth." former Mets teammate Buddy Harrelson.

The Tug McGraw Foundation: Was established by Tug McGraw in 2003 to raise funds to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease.

Funding is directed to the Tug McGraw Center for Neuro-Oncology Quality of Life Research at Duke University Medical Center and to other research and medical institutions through a competitive grant program.