Sep 08

Today in Mets’ History: Final Ed Kranepool home run.

The first Met I remember as a kid was Ed Kranepool. Maybe it was the way Bob Murphy pronounced his name, I don’t know. Who really knows why things stick in your head when you’re ten years old?

KRANEPOOL: Hit final homer on this date.

My family spent our summer vacations at my grandmother’s house in Pelham, and I watched a lot of Met games. This was before the 1969 season, and they usually lost, often in agonizing fashion.

Kranepool always stood out although he wasn’t a great player. At the time, he was pretty much the best the Mets had to offer.

By 1979, I was following the Mets in the box scores and occasionally the Game of the Week. Growing up near Cleveland, the Indians were on once or twice a week, and I always thought how great it would be to live in New York when the games were on every day.

On this date that season, Kranepool hit the 118th, and final, home run of his career in a 3-2, 15-inning win over Pittsburgh.

Kranepool made his debut as a 17-year old in the Mets’ inaugural 1962 season as a defensive replacement for Gil Hodges, Sept. 22, and the next day started his first game and collected his first hit.

He began the next season splitting time at first base and right field, and was getting more time the following year. In 1965, he gave up his No. 21 to Warren Spahn and began wearing No. 7, and was the Mets’ lone representative in the All-Star Game.

Kranepool was demoted to Tidewater in 1970 and contemplated retirement, but had his best season the following year. He lost his starting job in 1973 to John Milner, and was a platoon player the next two years, and finished his career as a role player/pinch hitter, retiring at 34 in 1979.

After retirement, Kranepool was part of a group that attempted to buy the Mets, but lost out to the Nelson Doubleday-Fred Wilpon group. He worked as a stockbroker after retirement and was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 1990.

KRANEPOOL CAREER

 

Sep 05

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver wins 20th.

The Mets made several runs at the Chicago Cubs in 1969 before they finally overtook, then lapped them en route to their Amazin’ championship season.

SEAVER: First Met to win 20 on this date.

Gil Hodges said in spring training he had a feeling for his team. Not that they would win it all, but he believed their pitching would be good enough to be a factor.

That pitching was highlighted by Tom Seaver, who on this date in 1969, became the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia in the first game of a doubleheader.

It was a typical, efficient, workmanlike effort from Seaver, who went nine innings, and gave up one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

With the victory, the Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs. The Mets lost the second game, 4-2.

BOX SCORE

SEAVER CAREER

Seaver was incredible that season, winning the Cy Young Award and finishing second in the MVP voting.

Going 25-7 was one thing, but he had a 2.21 ERA with 18 complete games, including five shutouts.  Seaver also worked 273.1 innings (which didn’t lead the NL) – unheard of today – with 208 strikeouts, averaging just under seven per nine innings.

 

Jul 30

Today in Mets’ History: Hodges pulls Cleon.

Every team’s evolution from doormat to contender has that defining moment when somebody grabs the team by the scruff of the neck and shakes it awake.

That moment for the 1969 Mets came on this date when manager Gil Hodges walked out of the dugout and strolled out to left field, where he removed Cleon Jones.

The Mets lost the first game of a doubleheader, 16-3, and were getting pasted in the second, 8-0, when Johnny Edwards doubled past Jones.

It was reported at the time Jones had sustained a leg injury, but it later surfaced Hodges was angry at Jones for not hustling.

On the 40th Anniversary of that team, Jones recalled the incident as a galvanizing moment. Jones also said Hodges was his favorite manager.

Does anybody remember anything about that day?

 

Jul 05

Today in Mets’ History: Cleon Jones signed.

On this day in Mets history, outfielder Cleon Jones from Plateau, Alabama, was signed by scout Julian Morgan in 1962.

JONES: Catches final out of 69 Series.

Jones made his major league debut in 1965, but won the starting centerfielder job out of spring training in 1966 and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Jones developed into a star in 1969, and was hitting .341 with 10 homers and 56 RBI and was named the starting left fielder in the All-Star Game.

According to several accounts, the turning point of the Miracle Mets’ season came several weeks later when manager Gil Hodges walked out to left field to pull Jones after failing to hustle.

Forty years later, Jones said Hodges was his favorite manager, and recalled the incident as a pivotal moment in that season. J0nes will always be remembered for catching Davey Johnson’s fly to left for the final out of the 1969 World Series.

JONES’ CAREER

Jones was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 1991.

 

Jun 08

Today in Mets History: Hook stops slide.

Of course you remember Jay Hook, the winning pitcher in the Mets’ first victory in 1962.

HOOK: Stopped the slide.

Once a bonus baby for the Cincinnati Reds, Hook pitched eight seasons in the major leagues and compiled a 29-62 record.

Hook didn’t crack the Reds’ rotation until 1960 and after two ineffective seasons was acquired by the Mets in the expansion draft, joining a group that included Roger Craig, Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer.

Hook went 8-19 in 1962, and led the team in starts with 34 and complete games with 13. One of those victories occurred on this date when he beat the Chicago Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader to snap a 17-game losing streak.

Hook retired at 28 in 1964 to take a job with Chrysler and currently lives in Michigan.

HOOK’S CAREER NUMBERS

BOX SCORE