Remembering Mets History (1975) Casey Stengel's Last Appearance Comes in Style on Old Timers Day

 Saturday June 28th, 1975- Old Timers Day at Shea: It was on this festive day, that "the old professor" Casey Stengel would make his final appearance at Shea Stadium. Casey was one month shy of his 85th birthday. He would pass away just three months later.

Casey made a grand entrance on a Roman Chariot led by a pair of white horses. He was wearing his Mets uniform #37 clutching the reigns & a whip circling the third base box seats. The chariot was also featured an escort wearing a golden helmet to assist Casey. 

Quotes-Casey Stengel: "I don't worry about Old Timers Day; I only worry if I'm strong enough & got enough health to get out there. I had the flu this winter & they said I was done, but I had a hundred write ups since then".

Some of the 50 or so, former players on hand that day were Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Ralph Kiner,
Joe Dimaggio, Rube Walker, Joe Pignatano, Pee Wee Reese, Jim Gilliam, Hank Greenberg, Orlando Cepeda, Ken Boyer, Harvey Kuenn, Jim Konstanty, Mike McCormick & Walt Dropo.

The Mets Tom Seaver joked with his 34-year-old teammate Joe Torre if he'd be playing in the first game today? 

Torre said "I've been going thru that for two days. Everybody wants to know if I'm playing in both ends of the double header". Torre would retire from playing two seasons later in 1977.

In the actual game that day that was delayed over an hour due to rain, Yogi Berra's Mets (36-32) were in third place 4.5 games back of the Pirates as they hosted Danny Ozark's second place Phillies (40-33) 1.5 games ahead of the Mets.

The Mets sent twenty-two-year-old right hander, Randy Tate to the mound to face, the Phillies future Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton "Lefty". Carlton would go 15-14 in 1975 with 192 strike outs & a 3.56 ERA. 

He would win four Cy Young Awards in his career, win twenty or more games six times, lead the league in Ks & innings five times, as well as starts (4x) complete games (3x) & ERA once. In 1972 he struck out 310 batters.




In the top of the 1st, Randy Tate walked Dave Cash, the speedster stole second advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Larry Bowa then scored on Greg Luzinski's sac fly. 

But the Mets answer, as Gene Clines drew a walk & Felix Millan singled to right. Cleon Jones then hit a fly ball to right, Clines attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate by a throw from Johnstone to catcher Johnny Oates. 

Rusty Staub followed with a single bringing in Millan to tie it up at one.

In the 3rd, Staub would bring in Millan again with a sac fly after he & Joe Torre had singled off Carlton. It was 2-1 Mets.

In the top of the 4th, the Phils tied it up, when Jay Johnstone singled & was brought home by veteran Dick Allen's double. 

Trivia: Allen was back in Philadelphia where he spent the first seven years of his career. He had just spent three years in the AL with the Chicago White Sox, leading the league in HRs twice (1972 & 1974) RBIs once (1972) while earning the 1972 AL MVP Award. He would retire after the 1977 season.

In the home 5th, Gene Clines led off with a base hit. Steve Carlton then balked & after a fly ball out, walked Cleon Jones & Joe Torre, Then "Lefty" struck out Rusty Staub to get the second out. 

Slugger Dave Kingman stepped in & hit a rare single to left field, this scored Clines & Jones but Greg Luzinski nailed Joe Torre at third for the third out of the inning, killing the rally but the Mets had a 4-2 lead.

It would stay that way, as Randy Tate went the distance. In the 6th, he walked slugger Mike Schmidt but struck out the three other Phillies batters, including Jerry Martin looking & pinch hitter Tommy Hutton.

In the 9th he fanned Schmidt to end the game with a runner on first base. The young Tate had one of his best games as he struck out nine, allowing two runs on four hits, although he walked four. 

Trivia: On August 4th, Tate would take a no hitter into the 8th inning but then everything went bad as he lost the game to the Expos. Manager Yogi Berra was fired the next day. Tate went to the minors & never returned, he was traded to the Pirates organization then tore his rotator cuff, ending his career.

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