Remembering Mets History (1964) Willard Hunter Earns Walk Off Wins in Both Ends of a Double Header

Sunday August 23rd, 1964: Casey Stengel's New York Mets (42-83) were at the bottom of a ten team NL. Today the hosted Bob Kennedy's Chicago Cubs (57-65) who were in 8th place themselves. 

It was a traditional Sunday double header at the new Shea Stadium just across from the 1964 World's Fair being held steps away in Queens.

In the bottom of the 3rd, two Mets singles by Bobby Klaus & Ron Hunt led the way for Joe Christopher's sac fly, making it 1-0. Galen Cisco held that lead until the 7th inning, when Len Gabrielson led off with a double, advanced on a grounder, then Jimmy Stewart's sac fly scored him to tie it.

Cisco would pitch eight strong innings, allowing just a run on eight hits, he walked three & only struck out two. Larry Bearnarth pitched a scoreless 9th & Bill Wakefield started the top of the 10th. After fanning Jimmy Stewart for the first out he gave up a single to the pitcher Buhl, who was not pulled for a pinch hitter & then walked Joey Amalfitano. 

Casey Stengel brought in Willard Hunter to pitch to pinch hitter Leo Burke, who would pop out to third base. Hunter then got Billy Williams to ground out to Ron Hunt to end the inning.

The Cubs Bob Buhl held the Mets the one run pitching into the 10th inning. George Altman led off with a double off the right field wall. Buhl got the first out then was relieved by Lee Gregory. 

The Cubs chose to intentionally walk both Ron Hunt & Joe Christopher to face a 19-year-old Ed Kranepool. 

Kid Kranepool delivered with a bloop base hit to left field that scored Altman with the game winning walk off run.

Trivia: Kranepool was in his first full season
with the Mets, he had begun his MLB career at 17 years old, playing in three games of the Mets inaugural 1962 season. He had just been signed out of high school in the Bronx. Kranepool also played in 86 games in the 1963 season. He would spend 18 years as a Met & is the all-time leader in games played.

The win went to pitcher Willard Hunter (2-2) as he got the last two outs of the top of the 10th.


NIGHT CAP: In the second game the Mets sent 23 year 23-year-old Ribant (1-1) to the mound. This was just his fourth game in the big leagues, the rookie had just shut out the Pirates at Shea on four hitter in his last start on August 17th. He would spend three seasons with the Mets as both a starter & reliever having his best year in 1966 going 11-9 with three saves & a 3.20 ERA.

Ribant's opponent was Dick Ellsworth who had just come off a 22 (22-10) win season. He would lose 18 games (14-18) that season & lead the NL with 22 losses in 1966. 

The game was scoreless until the home 4th, George Altman, Jim Hickman & short stop Charley Smith all singled making it 1-0 Mets.

In the 6th, George Altman led off with his 6th HR of the year. Jim Hickman singled & Charley Smith drew a walk. Kranepool's grounder moved Hickman to third & he scored on catcher Chris Cannizzaro's sac fly. 

The Mets were up 3-0. In the top of the 7th, Ribant served up long balls to Hall of Famer Billy Williams & then a two run shot to Len Gabrielson tying up the game.

In the 9th inning the Mets brought in Willard Hunter again to pitch. He retired the side in order,
nothing across.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Mets Bobby Klause led off with his third HR of the year, putting New York ahead 4-3. This sent Ellsworth to the showers as Don Elston came into pitch.

For the Mets Larry Bearnarth came in for relief again until the 8th inning, when the Cubs got two base hits to start the inning. Al Jackson came in for relief & Billy WIlliams grounder to the right side scored the tying run.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets who win just 53 games that year, gave some excitement for the second time in two games that day, to the 27,008 fans that came to Shea. Bobby Klaus led off with a base hit. Ron Hunt moved him over with a bunt. The Cubs Don Elston then threw a wild pitch advancing Klaus to third.

Then surprisingly, Cubs then decided once again to walk the next two Mets batters intentionally, just as they did in the first game of this twin bill. The bases were loaded for Charley Smith who poked a single to left field scoring the second walk win of the day for the Mets.

Trivia: It was the first of two career Mets walk off hits for Charley Smith. The Mets had six walk offs in 1964. Charley Smith primarily the Mets third baseman that season (85 games) led the 1964 team with 20 HRs. 
He would also play at short (36 games) & the outfield (13 games). Smith was second in HRs (16) on the 1965 Mets club behind rookie Ron Swoboda. That year he played 131 games at third base for New York.

New Jersey born; Willard Smith earned his second win of the day. In his brief three-year career, he was an original 1962 Met, spending two seasons in New York used mostly as a reliever going 4-9 with five saves & a 5.06 ERA.

The Mets swept four double headers that year, got swept in ten of them & split seven of them even having one ending up in a tie in the nightcap.


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