Jun 14

Today in Mets History: Mets outlast Maloney.

It was one of those games I had forgotten, but fit in with the wildness and uniqueness of the early Mets. This time they came out on the winning end.

LEWIS: Beats Maloney.

 

On this date in 1965, Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney threw a gem against the Mets with ten innings of no-hit ball and 18 strikeouts. The Mets’ only baserunner came on a leadoff walk to Ed Kranepool in the second. Maloney came out for the 11th inning and gave up a homer to Johnny Lewis, the first batter he faced. He also gave up a single to Roy McMillan later in the inning.

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Frank Lary pitched eight scoreless innings for the Mets that day, giving up five hits and walking one.

Among the notables who played in that game were Pete Rose, Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson for the Reds, and Kranepool and Ron Swoboda for the Mets.

 

ON DECK: Let’s forget about Santana for this year.

Jun 13

Today in Mets History: Strawberry delivers vs. Pirates.

Championship teams find a way to win and that’s the way it was for the 1986 Mets, a team loaded with stars and role players.

STRAWBERRY: Clutch in 86.

The Mets won with power and pitching, speed and defense. They were fundamentally sound, and played with grit and guile, but always with a confidence that they knew they were going to win.

On this date in 1986, they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5, at Shea Stadium. Dwight Gooden gave up three runs on three hits, but didn’t coast because he walked five. Mookie Wilson and Keith Hernandez homered of Rick Reuschel, but the Mets needed Darryl Strawberry’s RBI single off Pat Clements in the ninth inning for the game-winner.

After Pittsburgh tied the game with two runs off Jesse Orosco in the ninth, the Mets turned to small ball. Wilson singled with one out, advanced to second on a grounder, then after an intentional walk to Hernandez – the Pirates, like most teams then, feared Mex in the clutch – Strawberry delivered.

And, Strawberry did it frequently. Of his 93 RBI, 19 came in the seventh inning or later when the score was tied or the Mets were ahead or behind by a run. He drove in 28 total when the game was tied at any time.

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Jun 12

Today in Mets History: Mets sign Tug McGraw.

One of the most popular players in team history is signed on this day in 1964 when scout Roy Parlee gets the signature of 19-year-old lefthanded pitcher Tug McGraw on a contract.

MCGRAW: An original.

Once a starter, McGraw carved out his niche as a reliever with the Mets. McGraw filled in when Jerry Koosman was injured in May of 1969, but returned to the pen with the latter returned. With a rotation that also included Tom Seaver, Don Cardwell, Jim McAndrew and at times Nolan Ryan, there was no place for McGraw.

McGraw, the last player to play for Casey Stengel, pitched in the NLCS against Atlanta, but did not pitch in the World Series against Baltimore. However, his role now set, McGraw emerged as a premier closer in the early 1970s, and was an emotional leader who coined the “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ slogan for the 1973 pennant-winning Mets.

In December of 1974, the Mets dealt McGraw to Philadelphia in a package deal that saw pitcher Mac Scarce, outfielder Del Unser and catcher John Stearns come to New York.

McGraw continued on as a top reliever and was a central figure during the Phillies’ 1980 World Series season.

When asked what he spent his money on during the World Series, McGraw answered: “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.’’

McGraw was always a popular visitor to Shea Stadium after his retirement, although he worked for the Phillies as a guest instructor during spring training, when he was hospitalized with a brain tumor in 2003. Less than a year later, he died.

The Mets wore a “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ arm patch in honor of McGraw during the 2004 season, and McGraw’s son Tim, a country music star, recorded the song, “Live Like You Were Dying,’’ later that year.

Tim McGraw spread his father’s ashes on the pitcher’s mound at Citizen’s Bank Park prior to Game 3 of the 2008 World Series.

McGRAW’S CAREER NUMBERS

 

 

Jun 11

Today in Mets History: Mets lose slugfest.

The Mets have hit four homers since May 22, a span of 17 games. On this date in 1967, the Mets and Cubs combined for 11 homers in the second game of a doubleheader, won 18-10 by Chicago. The Mets hit four that afternoon.

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Bob Johnson, Jerry Buchek, Ron Swoboda and Jerry Grote all went deep for the Mets.

The Cubs broke the game open with seven runs in the third and scored in all but two innings.

 

Jun 10

Today in Mets History: Keith hammers Cubs.

Keith Hernandez wasn’t much of a home run hitter, but on this date in 1987, he went deep twice as the Mets pummeled the Chicago Cubs, 13-2, at Wrigley Field.

HERNANDEZ: So smooooth.

The game also featured four hits each from Gary Carter and Kevin McReynolds. Hernandez, Tim Teufel and Rafael Santana drove in three runs apiece, and Dwight Gooden pitched eight innings to earn the victory.

I always liked watching Hernandez play. Whenever I watched the Met from that era, Hernandez was always the guys I’d want at the plate when a clutch hit was needed. Darryl Strawberry was always feared for his power, but Hernandez was the one with the game on the line.

One question I’ll ask Hernandez when I see him next is whether he could have been a home run hitter if he tried to hit for more power. Wade Boggs always said he would hit more homers if that was his mindset, and I believe the same the same would have applied with Hernandez.

Defensively, he was superb, and along with Don Mattingly, New York was blessed to have two premier first basemen during the 1980s.

Hernandez was so smooth at the 3-6-3 double play, and, of course, making the throw to third off a bunt. Nobody made that play better than Hernandez.

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