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

 Sunday August 23rd, 1964: Casey Stengel's New York Mets (42-83) were at the bottom of the ten team National League's standings. On this day Casey's Mets hosted manager Bob Kennedy's Chicago Cubs (57-65). The Cubs were in eighth place not faring much better.

This was a traditional Sunday afternoon double header played at the new Shea Stadium, located in Flushing Meadows just across the grounds of the 1964 World's Fair. It was an exciting & beautiful time in Queens.

Fans could attend the World's Fair & walk over to the new ballpark which was considered one of the most beautiful & grandest in baseball.

The starting pitchers for the first game were Galen Cisco for the Mets & Bob Buhl for the Cubs. 
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Mets Bobby Klaus & Ron Hunt both reached with base hits. Then Joe Christopher hit a sac fly, scoring Klaus making it 1-0 Mets. 

Galen Cisco held that one run lead until the 7th inning, as Len Gabrielson led off with a double, advanced on a grounder, then scored on Jimmy Stewart's sac fly tying up the game.

Galen Cisco would pitch eight strong innings, allowing just a run on eight hits, walking three & striking out two. In the 9th inning, Larry Bearnarth came on & retired the side after a lead off Mets error put Ron Santo on base.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jum Hickman led off with a base hit but Bob Buhl retired the next three batters to send the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, Bill Wakefield came in for the Mets. He struck out Jimmy Stewart then gave up a single to the pitcher Buhl, who was still in the game. Wakefield then walked Joey Amalfitano. 

Manager Casey Stengel went to the bullpen & brought in Willard Hunter to pitch to pinch hitter Leo Burke. Hunter got Burke to pop out to third base for the second out. Hunter then got future Hall of Famer Billy Williams to ground out to Ron Hunt at second to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Cubs still had Bob Buhl on the mound. He had held the Mets to one run on five hits thru nine innings.

George Altman led off with a double off the right field wall. Next, Bobby Klaus grounded out advancing Altman to third base. Cubs' manager Bob Kennedy then removed Bob Buhl bringing in Lee Gregory. 

Ron Hunt & Joe Christopher both received intentional walks, bringing up 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: In 1964 Ed Kranepool was in his first full season
with the Mets. He began his MLB career at 17 years old, a bonus baby signed out of high school in the Bronx, playing three games with the Mets in their inaugural 1962 season. Kranepool would spend 18 years as a Met & is still the all-time leader in games played.

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

NIGHT CAP: In the second game the Mets sent 23 year 23-year-old Dennis Ribant (1-1) to the mound. This was just his fourth game in the big leagues, the rookie had just thrown a four-hit shut over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Shea Stadium in his last start. 

Ribant would spend three seasons with the Mets having his best year in 1966 going 11-9 with three saves & a 3.20 ERA.

Ribant's opponent on this day was Dick Ellsworth. Ellsworth was a twenty-two-game winner (22-10) the previous year but would lose 18 games (14-18) that season. In 1966, Ellsworth would lead the NL with 22 losses. 

The game was scoreless over the first three innings. In the bottom of the 4th, consecutive base hits from George Altman, Jim Hickman & Charley Smith gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the 6th, George Altman led off with his sixth HR of the year, making it 2-0 Mets. Jim Hickman then singled & Charley Smith drew a walk. Ed Kranepool's grounder moved Hickman to third base. Next, catcher Chris Cannizzaro hit a sac fly bringing in Hickman for a 3-0 Mets lead.

In the top of the 7th, Ribant blew the lead, first serving up a HR to Hall of Famer Billy Williams & then a two-run HR to Len Gabrielson tying up the game.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Mets Bobby Klause led off the inning with his third HR of the year, putting the Mets ahead 4-3. Ellsworth was relieved by Cubs pitcher Don Elston.

In the top of the 8th, Larry Bearnarth came in for the Mets & gave up two straight base hits. Casey Stengle immediately went to Al Jackson in the bullpen. Billy WIlliams hit a grounder to the right-side allowing Jimmy Stewart to score from third & it was all tied up once again.

In the 9th inning, with the score still tied, Casey brought in Willard Hunter once again to pitch. Hunter retired the side in order with two fly balls & a ground out.

Charlie Smith
In the bottom of the 9th, Bobby Klaus led off with a base hit. Ron Hunt moved him over with a sacrifice bunt. Cubs' pitcher Don Elston then threw a wild pitch advancing Klaus to third base.

Then the Cubs decided to walk the next two Mets batters intentionally, just as they did in the first game. The bases were loaded for Charley Smith who poked a single to left field scoring Klaus with the second walk win of the day for the Mets. It was the first of two career Mets walk off hits for Charley Smith.

The victory once again went to Willard Hunter, as he became the second Mets pitcher in the short team's history to win both ends of a double header. Craig Anderson had done in in 1962.

The 1964 Mets won just 53 games, but that Sunday afternoon, they gave some excitement to the 27,008 fans that came to Shea Stadium to root them on.

Trivia:  In 1964, the Mets would have six walk off victories. They played 22 double headers that season, getting swept ten times, winning both ends four times & splitting the two games seven times. One doubleheader's nightcap even ended up in a tie.

New Jersey native, Willard Hunter spent two seasons with the Mets, leading the team with five saves in 1964. That year he saw the most action appearing in 41 games finishing off 27 games. Overall, he was 4-9 with five saves & a 5.06 ERA. After earning wins in both ends of the double header, he never won another career game.


Popular posts from this blog

Former Mets Broadcaster: Fran Healy ( 1984-2005)

Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)