Grover Powell – His New York Mets Career 1963

Grover PowellThe Mets signed left-handed pitcher Grover Powell as an amateur free agent prior to the 1962, He made his Major League debut on July 13, 1963. He pitched an inning of scoreless relief in the Mets 11-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He appeared in 20 games, 16 out of the bullpen and 4 as a starter.  He posted a 1-1 record with a 2.72 ERA. 

As a starter he went 1-1 with a 0.86 ERA. His only victory came on August 20 when he pitched a complete game 4-hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies.  As a reliever he posted a 4.08 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.

1963 would be Powell’s only season in the Majors.  He remained in the Mets minor league system, but injuries limited his availability as he appeared in only 20 games from 1964 to 1966.

While with the Mets Powell wore number 41.

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Carlton Willey – His New York Mets Career 1963-1965

Carl willeyThe Mets purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Carlton Willey from the Milwaukee Braves just prior to the 1963 season.  He made his Met debut on April 11 when he pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the Mets 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Braves.  He then entered the Mets starting rotation and pitched a complete game shut out against the Chicago Cubs on April 24.  He won his next two starts, also complete games, and pitched another shutout against the San Francisco Giants on May 18.  He went on to appear in 30 games, 28 as a starter and finished 9-14 with a 3.10 ERA, the lowest on the team.  He also led the team with 4 shutouts.    On July 15 against the Houston Colt 45’s he not only was the winning pitcher he also hit a grand slam home run.

He started the 1964 season on the disabled list after suffering a broken jaw in spring training, He appeared in just 14 games for the season, 3 as a starter, and posted an 0-2 record with a 3.60 ERA.

Willy split the 1965 season between the minors and the Mets.  He appeared in 13 games, mostly out of the bullpen and finished with a 1-2 record and 4.18 ERA.  His only win came in his last appearance of the season and of his career, a complete game over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 25.

Willey retired finally the season.  In three seasons for the Mets Willey appeared in 57 games and went 10-18 with a 3.29 ERA.

While with the Mets Willey wore number 28.

Carlton Willey also played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1958-1962.

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Casey Stengel – New York Mets Manager 1962-1965

Casey StengelThe New York Mets knew that they were not going to win many games when they joined the National League in 1962 and therefore they also knew that they needed someone who would help them attract fans to the ballpark. That was the main reason they tabbed Casey Stengel to be their first manager. Casey Stengel had managed the New York Yankees form 1949-1960, winning seven World Series titles and ten American League Pennants. However, he was unceremoniously let go after losing the 1960 World Series. Even though he was 71 years old, he still knew the game and was still a very popular figure in New York having also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. Casey was known for his funny comments or ‘Stengelese”as the reporters called them and was always good for a quote which also helped divert attention from the inept play on the field.

During the Mets first Spring Training in 1962 Casey Stengel was looking to draw support for the team and was quoted as saying, “Come see my Amazin Mets.” The phrase stuck and the Mets would be forever known as the “Amazin Mets.” However, the only thing that was truly amazing about the Mets first year in the National League was their amazing ability to find new ways to lose games. They set a record for futility losing 120 games while winning just 40. Over the next two seasons, the Mets improved but still managed to lose over 100 games each season. However, with Casey leading the way, the fans still packed the ballpark as the Mets came to be known as “Lovable Losers.” However, in 1965 Stengel broke his hip and was forced to step aside as manager on August 30th.

Despite posting a dismal 175 and 404 record Stengel is still a beloved figure in Mets history as evidenced by the fact that the organization not only retired his number 37 but also inducted him into the Mets Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1981. In 1966, he was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Some of Casey’s most memorable Stengelisms while with the Mets

“Been in this game one-hundred years, but I see new ways to lose ’em I never knew existed before.”

“You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.”

“You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?’”

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Galen Cisco – His New York Mets Career 1962-1965

Galen CiscoThe Mets purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Galen Cisco from the Boston Red Sox on September 7, 1962.  Two days later he made his Met debut against the Houston Colt 45’s when he relieved starter Craig Anderson in the first inning after Anderson gave up three runs to the first five batters.  Cisco would pitch four innings and allow two runs and five hits.  The game became memorable because it turned out to be a tie. The game was suspended after 8 innings due to a curfew, back in 1962 no inning could start after 7:00 PM on a Sunday night.  Cisco would appear in three more games and posted a 1-1 record and 3.26 ERA.  His only victory came on September 21 when he pitched a complete game four-hitter against the Chicago Cubs.

Cisco returned in 1963 and pitched in 51 games, 17 as a starter and 34 out of the bullpen.  He finished with a 7-15 record and 4.34 ERA.  His best game occurred on August 2 against the Milwaukee Braves.  He pitched 10 innings and allowed one unearned to earn the victory.

In 1964 he appeared in 36 games, 25 as a starter, and posted a 6-19 record and led the team with a 3.62 ERA.  He pitched five complete games and two shutouts. His first occurred on June 5 against the defending World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the second came on July 12 against the Cincinnati Reds when he outpitched John Jay and won the game 1-0.

He once again split time between the starting rotation and bullpen in 1965.  He finished with a 4-8 record with a 4.49 ERA.  His best outing came on July 29 against the Chicago Cubs when he pitched a 4-hit shutout as the Mets won 14-0.

Cisco started the 1966 season in the minors where he appeared in five games for the Jacksonville Suns before the Mets sold him back to the Boston Red Sox on June 6.  In 126 games over four seasons, 61 as a starter, Cisco posted an 18 and 43 record with a 4.04 ERA.

While with the Mets Cisco wore number 26.

Galen Cisco also played for the following teams:
Boston Red Sox – 1961,1962, 1967
Kansas City Royals – 1969

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Gil Hodges – His New York Mets Playing Career 1962-1963

Gil HodgesWhen the Mets were looking to fill their roster at the 1961 expansion draft instead of going for youth they decided to select as many former stars as possible, especially those with ties to their forbearers the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. One of the players selected was first baseman Gil Hodges who was one of the most popular players in Brooklyn history.

Hodges was penciled in as the Mets Opening Day first baseman in 1962 and fittingly enough he hit the first home run in franchise history. But a bum knee limited him to just 54 games for the season. He hit .252 with 9 home runs and 17 RBIs. The only other highlight of his season occurred on May 12 when he hit a walk off home run during the second game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was memorable day for the Mets in an otherwise dismal season, as Hobie Landrith won the first game of the doubleheader with a walk-off home run of his own.

Hodges returned for the 1963 season but was traded to the Washington Senators for Jimmy Piersall after just 11 games where he became the Senators new manager. At the time of the trade Hodges was hitting just .227.

In 65 gamed for the Mets over two seasons, Hodges hit .248 with 9 home runs and 20 RBIs.

Hodges would return to the Mets in 1968 as their manager and would lead them to their first World Series title in 1969.

While with the Mets Hodges wore number 14.

Gil Hodges also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 and from 1947-1957 and the Los Angeles Dodges from 1958-1961

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Ted Schreiber – His New York Mets Career 1963

Ted SchreiberThe Mets drafted infielder Ted Schreiber from the Boston Red Sox in the 1962 Rule 5 draft.  He made his Major League debut with the Mets on April 14, 1963 as their starting third baseman and leadoff hitter.  He went 1 for 4 in the Mets 1-0 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. He spent the season splitting time between the Mets and their Triple A affiliate the Buffalo Bisons.  With the Mets, he appeared in 39 games and batted .160 with 2 RBIs. 

As a bit of trivia, he was the last batter in the final game played at the Polo Grounds, he grounded into a double play.

1963 would be Schreiber’s only season in the Majors but he did spend two more seasons in the minors with the Buffalo Bisons.

While with the Mets Schreiber wore number 43.

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Joe Hicks – His New York Mets Career 1963

Joe HicksThe New York Mets purchased outfielder Joe Hicks’ contract from the Washington Senators prior to the 1963 season.  He started his Met career playing for their top minor league team the Buffalo Bisons.  After hitting .320 with Buffalo, the Mets brought him to New York in the middle of July where he made his Met debut on July 12th, striking out as a pinch hitter against Sandy Koufax.  He moved into the starting lineup the next day and was hitting .351 after ten games. It looked like the Mets may have found an outfielder worth keeping, especially after he hit a home run in three straight games from July 16-18 while driving in seven.  He hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning on July 17th against the San Francisco Giants to give the Mets the victory.

But unfortunately, his fast start did not last and Hicks finished the season hitting just .226 with 5 home runs and 22 RBIs in 56 games.  Hicks returned to Buffalo in 1964 and spent the next two seasons playing for the Bisons.  He put up decent numbers, a .297 batting average with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs but did not get the call back to New York.  He spent one more season playing for the Bisons in 1966 but they were now part of the Cincinnati Reds organization.  He retired following the 1966 season. 

While with the Mets Hicks wore number 22.

Joe Hicks also played for the following teams:
Chicago White Sox – 1959,1960
Washington Senators – 1961,1962

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Pumpsie Green – His New York Mets Career 1963

Pumpsie GreenThe Mets acquired third baseman Pumpsie Green from the Boston Red Sox on December 12, 1962 along with Tracy Stallard and Al Moran in exchange for Felix Mantilla.  Prior to coming to the Mets Green hit .246 in four seasons for the Red Sox.  He also was the first black player in Red Sox history.

Green would start the 1963 season with the Buffalo Bisons; the Mets triple A affiliate, before getting the call in September.  He made his Mets debut on September 4 as a pinch hitter for Galen Cisco against the St Louis Cardinals. For the record Green walked.  Pumpsie would finish out the season playing third base. He appeared in 17 games and hit .278 with a home run and five RBIs.  His one home run came on September 17, a two-run shot against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Green played the entire 1964 season and part of the 1965 season with the Buffalo Bisons before retiring as a player.

While with the Mets Green wore number 18.

Pumpsie Green also played for the Boston Red Sox from 1959-1962.

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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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