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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Billy Cowan – His New York Met Career 1965

billy cowanBilly Cowan, who had hit 19 home runs with the Cubs in 1964, was acquired by the Mets in exchange for George Altman prior to the 1965 season. He went 0-4 in his Met debut and went on to hit just .179 for the season splitting time between 2nd base, shortstop and the outfield.  The highlight of his brief Met career came on June 28th and 29th when he hit home runs in back to back games.  He would hit 3 homers on the season with 9 RBIs before the Mets traded him to the Milwaukee Braves on August 5th in exchange for two players to be named later. The Braves would eventually send Ernie Bowman and Lou Klimchock to compete the trade.

He would play seven more seasons splitting time between the majors and the minors before retiring after the 1971 season. 

While with the Mets Cowan wore number 3.

Billy Cowan also played for the following teams:
Chicago Cubs – 1963,1964
Milwaukee Braves – 1965
Philadelphia Phillies – 1967
California Angels – 1969-1972
New York Yankees – 1969

Charley Smith – His New York Mets Career 1964,1965

Charley SmithA week into the 1964 season the Mets acquired Charley Smith from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Chico Fernandez and Bobby Catton.  Smith made his Met debut the next day in the 7th inning as a defensive replacement for third baseman Rod Kanehl.  Two innings later he popped out to third base in his first at bat as a Met.  Smith would start his Met career 0 for 25, before getting his first hit on May 3rd.  From that day on Smith settled in as the Mets regular third baseman, though he also played a handful of games at shortstop and the outfield.  He led the Mets with 20 home runs while hitting .239 with 58 RBIs. The highlight of his season came on August 17 when he went 2 for 4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs in the Mets 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Charley Smith returned as the Mets regular third baseman in 1965 and hit .244 with 16 home runs and led the team with 62 RBIs.  But he also led the team with 123 strikeouts.   

Following the 65 season the Mets traded Smith to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Al Jackson in exchange for former All-Star Ken Boyer. 

In 262 games over two seasons Charley Smith hit .242 with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Smith wore number 1.

Charley Smith also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1960,1961
Philadelphia Phillies – 1961
Chicago White Sox – 1962-1964
St. Louis Cardinals – 1966
New York Yankees – 1967,1968
Chicago Cubs – 1969

Darrell Sutherland – His New York Mets Career 1964-1966

Darrell SutherlandAfter spending one year in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, the Mets selected right handed pitcher Darrell Sutherland off waivers prior to the 1964 season.  After starting the 1964 season in the minors, Sutherland made his Major League debut with the Mets on June 28th against the Milwaukee Brewers.  He started the game and lasted just 1/3 of an inning allowing three hits and five earned runs.  He would appear in ten games for the Mets, four as a starter, before being shipped back to the minors in August.  For the season, he went 0-3 with 7.76 ERA in 26 2/3 innings.

Sutherland once again started the 1965 season in the minors. He returned to the Mets on August 8th and pitched remarkably well for the remainder of the season.  In 18 appearances, two as a starter, he won 3 and lost 1 while posting a 2.81 ERA in 48 innings.  His first career win came on August 10th against the Houston Astros when he pitched four innings of relief without allowing a hit in a game the Mets would win 1-0. 

In 1966, he split time between the majors and the minors appearing in 31 games for the Mets all out of the bullpen.  He posted a 2-0 record but his ERA 4.87 in 44 1/3 innings. 

1966 would be his last season with the Mets, he spent the entire 1967 season in the minors with the Williamsport Mets, their double A affiliate, where he posted a 6-3 record with 4.11 ERA.  From there he moved on to the Cleveland Indians organization. 

In 59 games for the Mets Sutherland posted a 5-4 record with 4.69 ERA in a 119 innings.  Each of his 5 victories came in relief while each of his 4 losses came as a starter.

While with the Mets Sutherland wore number 47 in 1964, number 43 in 1965 and number 46 in 1966.

Darrel Sutherland also played for the Cleveland Indians in 1968.


Frank Lary – His New York Mets Career 1964,1965

frank-laryThe Mets purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Frank Lary from the Detroit Tigers on May 30, 1964.  The former All-Star made his Met debut the following day pitching two innings of scoreless relief in what at the time was the longest game in Mets history.  The game which the Mets lost 8-6 was the second game of a doubleheader and lasted 23 innings.  Lary would go on to pitch in 13 games for the Mets splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation.  He won 2 and lost 3 while posting a 4.55 ERA.  

Following a two-hit shutout victory on July 31st against the Houston Colt 45’s the Mets traded Lary to the Milwaukee Braves in exchange for reliever Dennis Ribant.  He finished out the season with the Braves only to return to the Mets when they purchased his contract during the off-season.

Lary pitched in 14 games for the Mets in 1965, once again splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation.  He posted a 1-3 record with 2.98 ERA. His one victory came on May 24 against the Philadelphia Phillies when he allowed 1 run and 3 hits over 8 innings. 

The Mets once again traded Lary in the middle of the season, this time to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Jimmie Schaffer. He finished out the year with the White Sox before retiring following the season.

Overall Frank Lary pitched in 27 games for the Mets over two seasons and posted a 3-6 record with a 3.77 ERA.

While with the Mets Frank Lary wore number 17.

Frank Lary also played for the following teams:
Detroit Tigers – 1954-1964
Milwaukee Braves – 1964
Chicago White Sox – 1965

Jimmie Schaffer – His New York Mets Career 1965

jimmie-schafferJimmie Schaffer was a light hitting defensive catcher when the Met acquired him from the Chicago White Sox on July 26, 1965 in exchange for Frank Lary.  Two days later on July 28 he made his Mets debut and went 1-4 against the Chicago Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader.   Schaffer would finish out the season with the Mets appearing in a total of 24 games.  He hit just .135 (5 for 37) with no home runs and no RBIs.

Following the season Schaffer was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Bobby Klaus and Wayne Graham in exchange for Dick Stuart.

While with the Mets Schaffer wore number 17.

Jimmie Schaffer also played for the following teams:

St. Louis Cardinals – 1961.1962
Chicago Cubs – 1963,1964
Chicago White Sox – 1965
Philadelphia Phillies – 1966,1967
Cincinnati Reds – 1968

Ron Hunt – His New York Mets Career 1963-1966

ron-huntOn October 11, 1962, the New York Mets purchased the contract of Ron Hunt from the Milwaukee Braves. Having been stuck in the Braves minor league system Hunt welcomed the opportunity to play for the Mets.  In an interview on April 20, 1963 Ron Hunt told the New York Times, “I was happy to be traded here. I knew I’d be with a bunch of guys my own age. We can at least give other teams a lot of trouble in the league.”  Ron Hunt would play 4 seasons for the Mets and go on to become the franchise’s first legitimate star.

Ron Hunt made his Mets debut on April 16, 1963, a 7–4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  As the Mets number two batter he went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.  Three days later he was the star of the game, knocking in the tying and winning runs with a double in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Milwaukee Braves.  He would go on to bat .272 with 10 home runs, 28 doubles (the most in the franchises young history) and 42 RBI’s. Despite having very similar numbers Ron Hunt finished second to Pete Rose in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Ron Hunt got off to a fast start in 1964 hitting .300 over his first 10 games.  Along the way, he hit the first home run by a Mets player at Shea Stadium, their new state of the art ballpark, on April 23rd.  Hunt would go on to hit .303 for the season to lead the team.    For his efforts, he was elected the starting second baseman for the National League in that year’s All-Star game, the first Met player to be so honored.  In the game, which took place at Shea Stadium, Ron Hunt went 1-3.

Hunt suffered through an injury plagued 1965 season hitting just .240 with a homer and 10 RBIs in just 57 games.  He bounced back in 1966 and was selected to his second All-Star game after hitting .293 in the first half of the season. He finished the season with a .288 average.  But with his power numbers beginning to trail off, he had just 3 home runs with 33 RBI’s in 1966, the Mets traded him during the off-season to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Jim Hickman in exchange for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith.  

In his 4 seasons with the Mets Hunt appeared in 459 games hitting .282 with 20 home runs and 127 RBI’s.   

While with the Mets Hunt wore number 33.

Ron Hunt also played for the following teams:

Los Angeles Dodgers – 1967
San Francisco Giants – 1968-1970
Montreal Expos – 1971-1974
St. Louis Cardinals – 1974


Yogi Berra – His New York Mets Playing Career 1965

yogi-berraDespite leading the Yankees to the 1964 American League Pennant, Yogi Berra was unceremoniously let go as manager after the season.  Following his dismissal, he joined the Mets coaching staff for the 1965 season.  Considered by many to be the greatest catcher to ever play the game, Berra was activated by the Mets at the end of April.  He made his Mets playing debut on May 1 as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jim Bethke.  Berra would appear in a total of 4 games for the Mets, 2 as starter, before being released in the middle of May.  In his 4 appearances Berra batted .222 (2 for 9).  Both his hits came in the same game on May 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies

Following his release Berra returned to the Mets coaching staff and stayed with the organization until 1975.  During that span, he also served as manager from 1972 to 1975.

Yogi Berra was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

While playing for the Mets Berra wore number 8.

Yogi Berra also played for the New York Yankees from 1946-1963.