Jul 06

Today in Mets’ History: Remembering Rod Kanehl

On this date in 1962, Rod Kanehl became the first Met to hit a grand slam homer in a 10-3 rout of the Cardinals in the Polo Grounds. Kanehl connected off Bobby Shantz.

KANEHL: A Casey favorite.

Kanehl played eight seasons in the minors with the Yankees and Reds organizations before getting his shot at age 28 with the Mets in 1962.

Kanehl became of favorite of Casey Stengel for his hustle and versatility, playing everywhere but pitcher and catcher.  Reportedly, when Stengel died in 1975, Kanehl was the only former Met to attend the funeral.

Kanehl played in 340 games over three years and batted .241 with six homers and 47 RBI.

Kanehl died in Palm Springs, Calif., at 70, in 2004.

KANEHL’s CAREER

 

May 24

Looking at Wilpon’s criticism of Beltran.

It’s not like Fred Wilpon wasn’t telling the truth.

Let’s face it, Carlos Beltran isn’t the player he thought he signed after the 2004 season. It’s true, injuries sapped his talent and forced him to move to right field in the final season of his $119 million contract, and the last two years have been a waste.

THE STRIKEOUT: Nobody forgets.

The contract and signing have looked more and more a bust as the team slid out of competitive status.

Wilpon called himself a schmuck for signing Beltran based on a strong playoff series while with Houston in 2004. Beltran had problems his first year getting acclimated to New York, but there was a toughness to him. Afterall, this is guy who played with a broken face after a gruesome collision with Mike Cameron in late 2005.

Beltran played hurt and for the next three seasons produced numbers, but no, they weren’t the numbers Wilpon had hoped for when opening his checkbook.

Beltran rebounded from his first year in New York to hit 41 homers with 116 RBI in 2006, but never reached that height again and slid to 33 homers and 112 RBI and 27 homer and 112 RBI in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Decent numbers, but more was expected for that kind of money.

And, as with most Mets, there was criticism about hitting in the clutch.

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May 19

Today in Mets History: Agee goes deep twice.

I remember when Shea closed going up to the higher reaches of the upper deck where the No. 20 was painted in recognition of Tommie Agee’s monstrous homer.

AGEE: Had big day vs. Expos.

Agee first popped into my consciousness when he played for the Chicago White Sox in the mid-1960’s, when I rooted for the Cleveland Indians.

Agee was a tremendous fielder and will always be remembered for making two game-saving catches in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series to save a potential five runs. What people forget, however, is Agee also homered to lead off that game.

On this date in 1970, Agee homered twice in a 7-4 victory at Montreal. Agee had a 20-game hitting streak, April 16-May 9 of that season.

BOX SCORE

Unfortunately, chronic knee pain slowed Agee’s career in 1971 and 1972, and he was traded to Houston after the 1972 season. The Astros traded Agee to St. Louis in August of the 1973.

After the season, the Cardinals dealt Agee to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In one of those twists, Agee was released by the Dodgers in spring training and never played for the team. However, his final baseball card showed him as a Dodger.

Agee relished being a part of the 1969 Mets and appeared as himself in a 1999 episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.’’

He suffered a heart attack, Jan. 22, 2001, and died at Bellevue Hospital Center. He was posthumously inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame the following summer.

CAREER NUMBERS

If you have any Agee memories, I’d like for you to share them. Thanks.

 

May 13

Today in Mets’ History: Gentry misses no-hitter.

And, here’s another missed no-hitter in Mets’ lore. On this date in 1970, Gary Gentry threw 7.2 hitless innings in Wrigley Field when Ernie Banks hit a fly ball to left. Dave Marshall gave chase, but dropped the ball. Banks received benefit of the hometown scoring and was given a hit and Gentry was denied his shot at baseball immortality.

GENTRY: Near no-no at Wrigley.

Gentry won 13 games for the Mets as a rookie in 1969 as the third starter behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.

Gentry pitched a four-hit shutout on Sept. 24 of that year to beat the Cardinals in the game that clinched the NL East.  Gentry also beat Baltimore in Game 3 of the World Series.

On a side note, Nolan Ryan relieved Gentry for the save in what would become his only World Series appearance during his 27-year career.

Gentry pitched three more seasons with the Mets but was traded to the Braves in 1972. He sustained an elbow injury and was done in 1975 with a career 46-49 record.

After his release by the Braves, Gentry tried to return with the Mets, but that didn’t work out.  Gentry did come back and was part of the closing ceremonies for Shea Stadium.


May 12

Mets History Today: Sweeping the Braves behind Hobie and Gil

It was one of the few times when the Mets had their way with the Braves. On this date in 1962 in the Polo Grounds, the Mets got ninth-inning homers from Hobie Landrith and Gil Hodges for their first-ever doubleheader sweep of the Braves.

Landrith’s homer won the first game, 3-2, and Hodges’ homer won the nightcap, 8-7.

LANDRITH: A shining moment.

Landrith hit a two-run pinch homer on the first pitch, but it was almost voided with runner Rod Kanehl nearly missed touching third base.

Landrith was a journeyman reserve catcher who played for Cincinnati, the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Orioles and Senators. However, he’ll always be a trivia question answer to Mets fans for being the first pick of the team in the 1961 expansion draft.

It was after Landrith’s selection that then manager Casey Stengel said, “You gotta have a catcher or you’re going to have a lot of passed balls.’’

Landrith earned $75,000 that year. He returned his initial contract to team president George Weiss, saying it was a $3,000 paycut. Weiss sent that same contract back to Landrith three times before the catcher releneted.

Landrith was the Mets’ Opening Day catcher in 1962, but went 0-for-4, made an error and had the Cardinals steal three bases on him. He was replaced after that game by Joe Ginsberg.

Hodges, of course, was a New York legend, first as a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and then as manager of the 1969 Mets.

Hodges had his No. 14 retired by the Mets, and to this day it is a mystery to me why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

GAME ONE BOX

GAME TWO BOX