Jim Hickman – His New York Mets Career 1962-1966

Jim HickmanThe New York Mets drafted Jim Hickman, a career minor leaguer with the St Louis Cardinals, in the 1961 expansion draft.  An original Met he would play a total of five seasons for New York before being traded to the Dodgers following the 1966 season.  While with the Mets he was a steady player who put up some solid power numbers despite not hitting for much of an average.  He also became a walking trivia answer as he became the first Met to accomplish several feats.

Hickman made his Met as well as his Major League debut on April 14, 1962 as a pinch hitter for pitcher Al Jackson. For the record he popped up to shortstop.  He would eventually become a regular member of the Mets starting lineup, playing all three outfield positions.  He didn’t hit for much of an average, just .245, but put up some decent power numbers in his first season, 13 home runs (3rd most on the team), 18 doubles with 46 RBIs.

In 1963, he hit just .229 but managed to lead the team with 17 home runs and 6 triples. But his biggest accomplishment occurred on August 7th at the Polo Grounds when he became the first player in franchise history to hit for the cycle in the Mets 7-3 victory over the St Louis Cardinals.  It was a natural cycle meaning he hit a single, double, triple and home run in that order, at the time he was just the sixth player in Major League history to record such a feat.   Hickman also became the answer to another trivia question a month later when he became the last player to hit a home run at the old Polo Grounds, the Mets home stadium during their first two seasons.

His numbers over the next two seasons were more of the same, in 1964 he hit .257 with 11 homers and 57 RBIs and in 1965 he hit .236 with 15 home runs and 40 RBI’s.  In 1965, he accomplished another first in Met history when he became the first player to hit three home runs in a game on September 3rd against the St Louis Cardinals, the Mets won the game 6-3.

Hickman missed a majority of the 1966 season with a wrist injury, appearing in only 58 games.  Following the season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Ron Hunt in exchange for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith. 

His final Met numbers were a .241 average with 60 home runs and 210 RBIs in 624 games.

 While with the Mets Hickman wore number 9 from 1962-1965 and numbers 27 and 6 in 1966.

Jim Hickman also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1967
Chicago Cubs – 1968-1973
St. Louis Cardinals – 1974

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Frank Thomas – His New York Met Career 1962-1964

Frank ThomasAn original Met who was acquired from the Milwaukee Braves, Frank Thomas would become the first legitimate power hitter in franchise history. Thomas led the 1962 Mets with 34 home runs and 94 RBIs while hitting a respectable .266. His 34 home runs remained the franchise record until 1975 when Dave Kingman broke it with 36. Thomas also led the 62 Mets in just about every offensive category including 23 doubles, 69 runs scored and 152 hits. On April 19, he also became the first player in franchise history to hit two home runs in a game, a feat he would accomplish five times during the season. As a bit of trivia Frank Thomas also hit the first home run at the Polo Grounds for the Mets, the Mets home ballpark in 1962.

His numbers diminished in his second season with the club as he appeared in only 126 games. But he did manage to still lead the team with 60 RBIs while hitting just 15 home runs. His average remained about the same at .260.

His tenure with the Mets came to an end in the middle of the 1964 season when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Gary Kroll and Wayne Graham. At the time, he was hitting .254 with just 3 home runs and 19 RBIs.

In his two plus seasons with the Mets Thomas hit .262 with 52 home runs and 173 RBIs.

While with the Mets Thomas wore number 25.

Frank Thomas also played for the following teams:
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1952-1958
Cincinnati Reds – 1959
Chicago Cubs – 1960,1961,1966
Milwaukee Braves – 1961,1965
Philadelphia Phillies – 1964,1965
Houston Astros – 1965

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Rick Herrscher – His New York Mets Career 1962

Rick HerrscherOn November 28, 1961, the Milwaukee Braves traded Frank Thomas and a player to be named later to the Mets in exchange for another player to be named later.  On May 21, 1962, the two teams completed the trade with the Mets sending Gus Bell to the Braves and the Braves sending minor leaguer Rick Herrscher to the Mets.

Herrscher made his Major League debut on August 1 as a pinch hitter for Choo Choo Coleman, he reached on an error.  Four days later he hit a 3-run home run against the Cincinnati Reds for his first Major League hit.  Herrscher finished out the season with the Mets appearing in 35 games while playing first base, third base, shortstop and the outfield.  He hit .220 with 1 home run and 6 RBIs. 

Herrscher spent the next two seasons playing in the Mets minor league system before retiring after the 1964 season.  Following his playing career, he went on to become a successful orthodontist 

While with the Mets Herrscher wore number 6.

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Joe Ginsberg – His New York Mets Career 1962

Joe GinsbergThe Mets signed Joe Ginsberg as a free agent prior to the 1962 season.  Ginsberg was a journeyman light hitting catcher who bounced around the majors for 12 seasons. 

He was the Mets starting catcher in the first home game in franchise history, but went 0-4 at the plate.  He started one more game for the Mets two days later, but after striking out in his first at bat he was lifted for a pinch hitter.  It would be his last appearance in a Major League game as the Mets released him on May 1st ending his playing career.   

In two games with the Mets Ginsberg went 0-5.  His claim to fame is that he was the first Jewish player to play for the Mets.

While with the Mets Ginsberg wore number 12.

Joe Ginsberg also played for the following teams:
Detroit Tigers – 1952,1953
Cleveland Indians – 1953,1954
Kansas City A’s – 1956
Baltimore Orioles – 1956-1960
Chicago White Sox – 1960,1961
Boston Red Sox – 1961

Gene Woodling – His New York Mets Career 1962

Gene WoodlingThe Mets acquired Gene Woodling on June 15, 1962 when they purchased his contract from the Washington Senators.  Woodling was a 10-year veteran and former All-Star outfielder who was nearing the end of his career.

Reunited with his former manager Casey Stengel, who managed Woodling when he played for the Yankees, he made his Mets debut on June 17 against the Chicago Cubs as the Mets starting leftfielder. He went 2-4 with an RBI.  He would finish out the season as a part time player and pinch hitter appearing in 81 games.  He hit a respectable .274 with 5 home runs and 24 RBIs.   He enjoyed one four hit game with the Mets on August 15 when he went 4-7 in the Mets 13 inning loss to the Phillies.

The Mets released Woodling during Spring Training in 1963.  It is wildly believed that the Mets decided to release Woodling after he had criticized the front office for their handling of Marv Throneberry’s contract and not because he was a 40-year-old outfielder.

 While with the Mets Woodling wore number 11.

Gene Woodling also played for the following teams:
New York Yankees – 1952-1954
Cleveland Indians – 1955-1957
Baltimore Orioles – 1955, 1958-1960
Washington Senators – 1961,1962

Richie Ashburn – His New York Mets Career 1962

Richie AshburnRichie Ashburn, a former All-Star with the Phillies, has the distinction of being the first hitter in New York Mets history, he flew out to centerfield against Larry Jackson of the St Louis Cardinals on April 11, 1962.  He would later score the first run in franchise history when Charlie Neal singled him home in the third inning of the same game.

In the Mets inaugural season, a season in which they set the record for futility by losing 120 games, Ashburn was one of the few bright spots.  In 135 games as the Mets primary leadoff hitter, he hit .306 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs and was selected to be the team’s first All-Star. 

Unfortunately for the Mets Ashburn was at the end of his career and 1962 would be his only season with the Mets, as he retired from playing following the season. 

He would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

While with the Mets Ashburn wore number 1.

Richie Ashburn also played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1952 to 1969 and the Chicago Cubs in 1960 and 1961.

Bob G. Miller – His New York Mets Career 1962

bob g millerOne of two Bob Miller’s to pitch for the New York Mets in 1962, Bob G. Miller was often called  “Lefty” to help distinguish himself from the other Bob Miller.

A former 17 year old “Bonus Baby” with the Detroit Tigers who never quite lived up to his potential, Bob G. Miller found his way to the Mets in their inaugural season when the Cincinnati Reds traded him to New York along with utility player Cliff Cook in exchange for Don Zimmer on May 6th.  Miller was initially assigned to the Syracuse Chiefs, the Mets top minor league team, where he compiled a 4-1 record with a 3.60 ERA in 22 relief appearances.  He was eventually promoted to the big club and made his Mets debut on July 24th against the Milwaukee Braves.  He was brought in to pitch the 12th inning and promptly gave up a home run to Del Crandall, the first batter he faced, to lose the game 5-4.  He remained with the Mets for the remainder of the season appearing in 17 games all out of the bullpen.  He posted a 2-2 record but with a 7.08 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.  

He was not retained by the Mets following the season and his stint in New York would be his last in the majors, in fact his last in professional baseball.

While with the Mets Miller wore numbers 23 and 36.

Bob Miller also played for the following teams:
Detroit Tigers – 1953-1956
Cincinnati Reds – 1962

Hobie Landrith – His New York Mets Career 1962

Hobie LandrithCatcher Hobie Landrith has the distinction of being the first player selected by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft.  As legend has it Met manager Casey Stengel decided to draft Landrith # 1 because as he said, “you have to have a catcher or you’re going to have a lot of passed balls.”

Landrith was the Mets opening day catcher in 1962, the first game in franchise history.  He batted in the 8th position and went 0-4.   The highlight of his Met career came on May 12th when he hit the first walk off home run in team history. In the first game of a doubleheader his two-run shot off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn gave the Mets a 3-2 victory.

 Landrith appeared in 23 games for the Mets before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles in June for Marv Throneberry.  During his brief tenure with the Mets Landrith hit .289 with 1 home run and 7 RBIs.

While with the Mets Landrith wore number 5.

Hobie Landrith also played for the following teams:
Cincinnati Reds – 1952-1955
Chicago Cubs – 1956
St. Louis Cardinals – 1957,1958
San Francisco Giants – 1959-1961
Baltimore Orioles – 1962,1963
Washington Senators – 1963

Don Zimmer – His New York Mets Career 1962

don-zimmerDon Zimmer, a utility infielder who previously played for the Dodgers and Cubs, has the distinction of being the first 3rd baseman in Mets history.  However his tenure with the Mets would be brief, as he appeared in just 14 games.  After getting a hit in each of his first three games with the Mets, including a hit in his first at bat, Zimmer proceeded to go 0 for his next 34.  After finally getting  hit on May 4th The Mets rewarded Zimmer by trading him to the Cincinnati Reds two days later in exchange for Cliff Cook and Bob G. Miller.  At the time of the trade Met manager Casey Stengel was quoted as saying, “We had to trade him while he was hot.”

In 14 games for the Mets Zimmer batted .077 with 1 RBI.

While with the Mets Zimmer wore number 17.

Don Zimmer also played for the following teams:
Brooklyn Dodgers – 1954-1957
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1958,1959,1963
Chicago Cubs – 1960,1961
Cincinnati Reds – 1962
Washington Senators – 1963-1965

Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell – His New York Mets Career 1962

wilmr-mizellWilmer Mizell, who was nicknamed Vinegar Bend after his hometown in Alabama, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates by the Mets in exchange for Jim Marshall on the May 6, 1962.  He made his Met debut on May 12 and walked the only batter he faced in the Mets 8-7 victory over the Milwaukee Braves.  Three days later he started his first game as a Met and yielded 3 earned runs in 6 innings against the Chicago Cubs.  In his only other start on June 6 he gave up four runs over 2 2/3 innings.

The former All-Star right handed pitcher would appear in 17 games for the Mets, all but two out of the bullpen, before being released on August 4.  During his tenure with the Mets Mizell posted an 0-2 record with a 7.34 ERA.

Following his release Mizell retired from playing and embarked on a second career as a politician.

While with the Mets Mizell wore number 26.

Wilmer Mizell also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1952,1953,1956-1960
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1960-1962