On this date in 1973, the Mets’ Jon Matlack threw a one-hit shutout at Shea Stadium over the Houston Astros, 1-0.
Tommy Helms doubled in the sixth for Houston’s only hit, and Duffy Dyer’s double drove in Rusty Staub for the game’s only run.
With the victory, the Mets improved to 36-46, sixth place in the National League East, 12 games off the pace.
It was a different time then, but the message is the same. Those Mets didn’t give up on the season and reached the World Series. The road is different today, but looking back history tells us good things can still happen in this season.
It is possible this game in 1969 is most remembered from that amazing season. On this date in 1969, and maybe each day since for Tom Seaver, he’ll remember Jimmy Qualls’ sinking single into the left-center gap with one out in the eighth inning to break up his perfect game bid and forced him to settle for one-hit, 4-0 shutout.
SEAVER: Almost perfect on this day.
It was one of 31 hits Qualls had during his career. It was one of five one-hitters Seaver threw for the Mets. Years later, Seaver got his no-hitter, but it was while pitching for Cincinnati.
When asked which meant more to him, the one-hitter or the no-hitter, Seaver said: “The one-hitter. I had better stuff that night and we were making a move on the Cubs.’’
Seaver’s game thrust the Mets into the national spotlight as a contender. I was living in Ohio at the time and rarely did the 11 p.m., sports feature clips from games other than the Indians, but they did on this night.
I always followed the box scores then, but after that game I started following them a little more closely.
After their strong showing in Los Angeles, the Mets attempt to close out their surprising first half in San Francisco, with R.A. Dickey going against Ryan Vogelsong.
A reoccurring story line to the Mets’ first half has been whether they will deal All-Star shortstop, Jose Reyes, who was placed on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.
General manager Sandy Alderson said it is unlikely Reyes would be traded, and the team is interested in signing him to an extension this winter.
Reyes said his camp wants to negotiate after the season, and the Mets have not made an offer.
The Mets are now saying it could take longer than two weeks for Reyes’ hamstring to heal, which isn’t surprising considering his history with muscle pulls, first early in his career, and recently with his strained oblique. This is not an athlete with quick recuperative powers.
In the interim, the Mets are getting a good look at Ruben Tejada, who is proving not to be an easy out.
Here’s tonight’s lineup:
Angel Pagan, CF
Justin Turner, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Daniel Murphy, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Lucas Duda, 1B
Josh Thole, C
Ruben Tejada, SS
RA Dickey, RP
One of my favorite baseball books was “The Year the Mets Lost Last Place,’’ a diary of a three-series stretch in July of 1969 when the Mets played two series with the Chicago Cubs and one with the Montreal Expos.
YOUNG: Fate finds obscure Cubs outfielder.
Dick Schaap was the author and book took the form of timeline, nearly to the minute, of those games.
One of those games came on this date in 1969 when the Mets beat the Cubs, 4-3, on the strength of Cleon Jones’ two-run double to support the strong pitching of Jerry Koosman. Jones’ double tied the game, and Ed Kranepool’s single off Ferguson Jenkins was the game-winner.
However, the emotional spin of this game centered around non-descript Cubs outfielder Don Young, who misplayed two balls to set up the Mets’ three-run ninth-inning rally. Balls get misplayed, that’s part of the game, but the twist came when Cubs star third baseman Ron Santo viciously blasted Young, first to his face in the clubhouse, and then to the media.
The next day, Santo called a press conference and apologized to Young, who played his last major league game in October of that year. He played sparingly the next two seasons and retired.
The Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs with the victory and it was clear 1969 was shaping into a remarkable season.
HUNT: His card has to be worth more than two bucks.
The Mets will soon host the All-Star Game at Citi Field. However, on this date in 1964, Shea Stadium was home to its only All-Star Game, won 7-4 by the National League.
Second baseman Ron Hunt was the first Met to start an All-Star Game and went 1-for-3 with a single off the Angels’ Dean Chance.
Hunt played with the Mets from 1963-66, then went on to play with the Dodgers (1967), Giants (1968-70), Expos (1971-74) and Cardinals (also in 1974).
Hunt’s baseball legacy was summed up by this quote from him: “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.’’
He had a knack for being hit by pitches, and was plunked 243 times in his career (he had 1,429 career base hits). Incredibly, he was hit 50 times in 1971 while with the Giants. He led the league in that category for seven straight seasons.