Wes Westrum – New York Mets Manager 1965-1967

Wes WestrumWhen Casey Stengel was forced to step down as Met manager in 1965 due to a broken hip the Mets named Wes Westrum the second manager in franchise history. Westrum a former catcher with the New York Giants was serving as pitching coach at the time.

Westrum managed the final 68 games of the 1965 season and under his guidance, the Mets went 19 and 48. In 1966, his first full season, Westrum led the Mets to a 66 – 95 record, a 16 game improvement, and though it still marked the Mets 5th consecutive losing season it also marked the first time the Mets didn’t lose 100 games and the first time they didn’t finish in last place; they finished in 9th. Though they were not expected to win a World Series heading into 1967, there were still many who expected the Mets to build on the previous year’s 9th place finish. However, the Mets did not show much improvement and Westrum sensing that he was not going to be retained for the 1968 season resigned with 11 games left in the season. At the time, the Mets were 57 and 94 and fully entrenched in last place.

Westrum’s final record with the Mets was 142 and 237.

While managing the Mets Westrum wore number 51 in 1965 and number 9 from 1966-1967

Wes Westrum also managed the San Francisco Giants in 1974 and 1975.

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Gary Kroll – His New York Mets Career 1964-1965

Gary KrollThe Mets acquired right-handed pitcher Gary Kroll from the Philadelphia Phillies along with Wayne Graham on August 7, 1964 in exchange for Frank Thomas.  He made his Met debut on August 22 against the Chicago Cubs.  As the starter he lasted six innings and allowed three runs by suffered the loss as the Mets lost 3-2.  He appeared in 8 games, two as a starter, and finished with a 0-1 record and 4.15 ERA.

He returned in 1965 and split time between the starting rotation and bullpen.  He appeared in 32 games and posted a 6-6 record with a 4.45.  He started 11 games and went 2-5 with a 6.22 ERA.  He appeared in 21 games out of the bullpen and posted a 4-1 record with a 2.43 ERA. He earned his first career victory in his first appearance of 1965 on April 18.  He allowed 4 hits and 1 run over 7 innings as the Mets won 7-1.   

Following the season, the Mets traded Kroll to the Houston Astros.  In 40 appearances for the Mets he went 6-7 with a 4.39 ERA.

While with the Mets Kroll wore number 25.

Gary Kroll also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1964
Houston Astros – 1966
Cleveland Indians – 1969

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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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Danny Napoleon – His New York Mets Career 1965-1966

Danny NapoleonMets signed Danny Napoleon as an amateur free agent in 1964. After spending the entire 64 season in the minors where he hit .351 Napoleon made his Major League debut with the Mets on April 14, 1965 against the Houston Astros.  He singled in his first at bat as a pinch hitter Johnny Lewis.  Napoleon appeared in 68 games for the Mets in 1965 playing both the outfield and 3rd base.  He hit .144 with 7 RBIs.  The highlight of his season occurred on April 24 against the San Francisco Giants.  His pinch-hit triple in the top of the 9th inning with the bases loaded gave the Mets the lead in a game they would win 7-6.

Napoleon spent the 1966 season in the minors before being called up in September.  He appeared in 12 games for the Mets over the final month of the season and hit .212 (7 for 33).

Just prior to the 1967 season the Mets traded Napoleon to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Ed Bressoud in exchange for Jerry Buchek, Art Mahaffey and Tony Martinez.

In 80 games for the Mets over two seasons Napoleon batted .162 with 7 RBIs.

While with the Mets Napoleon wore number 16.

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Rob Gardner – His New York Mets Career 1965,1966

Rob GardnerThe Mets drafted left-handed pitcher Rob Gardner from the Minnesota Twins in the 1963 first-year draft.  Gardner spent the 1964 and the 1965 in the minors before joining the Mets as a September call-up in 1965.  He made his Major League debut September 1 against the Houston Astros.  As the starting pitcher he lasted just 3 innings and yielded 7 runs (5 earned) and suffered the loss.  He appeared in 5 games, 4 as a starter and 1 as a reliever, and finished with a 0-2 record with a 3.21 ERA.

Gardner spent the entire 1966 season with the Mets and appeared in 41 games, 17 as a starter.  He finished with a 4-8 record and 5.12 ERA.  He earned his first career victory on May 6 against the Chicago Cubs when he pitched a complete game allowing 4 hits and 1 run as the Mets won 2-1. He also drove in the first run of the game with a 5th inning double.  On May 15 he pitched another complete game four-hitter, this time beating the San Francisco Giants 6-1.

Following the season, the Mets traded Gardner to the Chicago Cubs along with Johnny Stephenson in exchange for Bob Hendley.  Overall, he appeared in 44 games for the Mets and posted a 4-10 record with a 4.79 ERA.

While with the Mets Gardner wore number 29.

Rob Gardner also played for the following teams:
Chicago Cubs – 1967
Cleveland Indians – 1968
New York Yankees – 1970-1972
Oakland A’s – 1971,1973
Milwaukee Brewers – 1973

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Bud Harrelson – His New York Mets Playing Career 1965-1977

Bud HarrelsonTypical of the shortstops of his era, Bud Harrelson was diminutive player with a strong glove and weak bat who anchored the Mets infield for 13 seasons.

Harrelson made his Major League debut on September 2, 1965 as pinch runner in the Mets 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros.  He appeared in 19 games and hit just .108 (4 for 37). He recorded his first league hit on September 19, a first inning single against the Chicago Cubs

He started the 1966 season in the minors before joining the Mets in August.  He appeared in 33 games and batted .222 with 4 RBIs.

1967 would be Harrelson’s first full season in the majors as the Mets everyday shortstop, a role he would remain in for the next decade.  He initially struggled as the everyday shortstop committing 21 errors over the first two months.  He settled down and committed just 11 over the next four months.  He hit .254 with a home run and 28 RBIs.   His first career home run came on August 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was an inside the park job that tied the score in the 8th inning in a game the Mets would win 6-5.

Injuries and a military obligation limited Harrelson to 111 games in 1968.  He hit just .219 with 14 RBIs.  He did finish with a .972 fielding percentage, the 3rd highest in the league.

During the Mets World Championship season in 1969, he solidified the Mets infield, taking away would be hits and turning double plays.  He hit .248 with 24 RBIs.  He was the offensive hero in the Mets 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 15.  He went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs.  He also drove in the winning run with a walk-off single in the 10th inning on May 28.  On September 23 he once again hit a walk off single to win the game, this time in the 11th inning against future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.

During the postseason he hit .182 with 3 RBIs in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.   In the World Series he hit .176 with 2 RBIs against the Baltimore Orioles but his stellar defense played a huge role as the Mets went on to shock the world and win their first championship.

Harrelson got off to a fast start in 1970.  He started off with a 6-game hitting streak and hit safely in 30 of his first 35 games.  During that stretch he hit his second career home run and the first that actually cleared the fence, a solo shot in the Mets 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 17.   He earned his first All-Star game selection and had a 54-game errorless streak from June until August.  For the season he hit .243 with a career best 42 RBIs.

In 1971 he earned his 2nd All-Star game selection, this time as the starting shortstop, and won his 1st and only Gold Glove Award.   He had a 10-game hitting streak in April and a 12-game streak in May.  On May 15 he went 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs in the Mets 9-5 win over the Pirates.  He had another 4-hit performance on August 5 against the Atlanta Braves, he drove in the only run as the Mets lost 2-1.  He finished with a .252 average and 32 RBIs.     

Injuries limited Harrelson to 115 games in 1972, he hit .215 with a home run and 24 RBIs.  He did lead the team in stolen bases with 12 and on base percentage with .313.

Injuries once again limited Harrelson in 1973, he appeared in just 106 games.  He was hitting .268 on June 4 when he was lost for a month with a fractured hand.  During the month of September, he hit safely in 22 of 27 games and batted .280 as he helped the Mets win the Eastern Division Title.  He finished the season with a career best .258 average with 20 RBIs.


Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose Fight During Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS

During the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds he hit just .167 (3 for 18) with 2 RBIs as the Mets won the series in 5 games.  But he is most remembered for his actions in game 3.  With the Mets leading 9-2 in the 5th inning and on the verge of taking a 2-1 series lead a frustrated Pete Rose slid hard into Harrelson with what some consider a cheap slide trying to break up a double play.  Harrelson got up into Rose’s face and the next thing all hell broke loose as the two players got in a fight which eventually led to both benches being emptied.  When order was restored neither player was ejected but Met fans began got throw objects at Rose when he took his position in leftfield.  The game had to be halted and the Mets were told by the league office that they would have to forfeit if order was not restored.  Many Met players pleaded with the fans who eventually relented, and the Mets went on to win the game and the series.


The Mets lost the 1973 World Series in 7 games to the Oakland A’s with Harrelson hitting .250 with an RBI.

Harrelson got off to a fast start in 1974 recording three hits on Opening Day and hitting safely in 13 of his first 20 games.  He was hitting .279 at the end of April but injuries once again took their toll and he hit just .227 for the season with a home run and 13 RBIs.   He missed a majority of the 1975 season with a knee injury, appearing in only 34 games and batting just .219 with 2 home runs.

He rebounded slightly in 1976, hitting .234 in 118 games with a home run and 26 RBIs.  He struggled for the entire 1977 season and hit just .178 for the season and following the season the Mets decided to part ways with Harrelson by trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

In 13 seasons and 1,322 game Harrelson batted .234 with 6 home runs and 242 RBIs.

Following his playing career Harrelson would go on to become a coach for the Mets in 1982 and 1985-1990.  He also managed the Mets in 1990 and 1991.

In 1986 he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

While with the Mets Harrelson wore number 3.

Bud Harrelson also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1978,1979
Texas Rangers – 1980

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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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Tom Parsons – His New York Mets Career 1964,1965

Tom ParsonsThe Mets purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Tom Parsons from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of the 1964 season. He appeared in four games for the Mets during the month of September two as a starter and two out of the bullpen. He posted a 1-2 record with a 4.19 ERA. His one victory came on the last day of the season when he pitched 5 1/3 innings of relief in the Mets 15-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals

Parsons spent the entire 1965 season with the Mets splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen but posted a miserable 1-10 record with 4.67 ERA. His one victory was a complete game six hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs on July 5.

Following the season, the Mets traded Parsons to the Houston Astros for catcher Jerry Grote. In 39 appearances for the Mets Tom Parsons posted a 2 -12 record with 4.58 ERA.

While with the Mets Parsons wore number 27.

Tom Parsons also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1963.

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Gordie Ricardson – His New York Mets Career 1965-1966

Gordie RichardsonAfter helping the St Louis Cardinals win the 1964 World Series left-handed pitcher Gordie Richardson was traded to the Mets on December 8th along with Johnny Lewis in exchange for Elio Chacon and Tracy Stallard.

After starting the season in the minors Richardson was promoted to the big club in July making his Met debut on July 9th. He allowed 1 unearned run in 1 2/3 innings as the Mets lost to the Houston Astros 6-2.   Richardson would go on to pitch in 35 games for the Mets all out of the bullpen. He enjoyed modest success posting a 2-2 record with a 3.78 ERA. He started the 1966 season with the Mets but could not duplicate his success. With his ERA at 9.16 he was demoted back down to the minors where he finished the season with the Jacksonville Suns.

Richardson retired from baseball following the 1966 season. In his two seasons with the Mets Richardson had a 2-4 record with a 5.20 ERA in 50 games.

Richardson was the last player to wear number 41 before Tom Seaver.

Gordie Richardson also played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964.

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