Jerry Grote – His New York Mets Career 1966-1977

Jerry GroteThe Mets acquired catcher Jerry Grote, known more for his defense than his offense, from the Houston Colt 45’s on October 19, 1965 in exchange for Tom Parsons.  He made his Met debut on Opening Day 1966 and would spend the next 12 seasons as the team’s primary catcher.  In his first season with the Mets he hit just .237 with 3 home runs and 31 RBIs.  He did deliver the game winning hit on June 12 with a pinch-hit single in the 11th inning against the Cincinnati Reds. 

Grote hit a 2-run homer on Opening Day in 1967.  It was one of the few highlights of the season as he struggled at the plate hitting just .195 with 4 home runs and 23 RBIs.  The other highlight of his season was a 4 for 5 performance in the Mets 9-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on June 24.

Grote got off to fast start in 1968, hitting .333 over the first month of the season.  He continued to show improvement at the plate and was named the starting catcher for the 1968 National League All-Star team.  He ended the season with a .282 average with 3 home runs and 31 RBIs.  But more importantly he helped groom the Mets young pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan. 

In 1969 Grote’s average dipped to .252 but he hit 6 home runs and drove in 40 runs both career bests.  But it was his skills behind the plate which proved his value.  He threw out 56.3% of would be base stealers, 2nd highest in the league.  He also guided the Mets young pitching staff, a staff that led the league in shutouts with 16 and posted the 2nd lowest ERA in the league, 2.99, as the Mets shocked the world and won the 1969 World Series.    In the World Series the Mets staff held the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles to a .146 batting average for the series.  Grote also got a couple of key hits in the series. In game 2 his 9th inning single prolonged the Mets rally as they went on to win 2-1.  In game 4 he led off the 10th inning with a double, he was replaced by pinch runner Rod Gaspar who eventually scored the winning run.

In 1970 he hit .255 with a 2 home runs and 34 RBIs and continued his strong play behind the plate leading the league in putouts with 855.   On April 22 he set the Major League record for most putouts by a catcher in a game with 20, it was the game in which Tom Seaver struck out 20 batters.  He also had a 4-hit performance in the Mets 7-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on July 8.

He put up similar numbers in 1971 batting .270 with 2 home runs and 35 RBIs while once again leading all catchers in putouts with 892.  He also led the team in doubles with 25.  On May 3 he recorded 4 hits and scored the winning run in the 11th inning against the Chicago Cubs. 

Injuries limited him to just 64 games in 1972 and he hit just .210 with 3 home runs and 21 RBIs.  However, he did have his only multi-homer game of his career on May 19, his 2 home runs helped propel the Mets to an 8-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Grote missed 2 months of action in 1973 with a fractured right arm.  When he returned in the middle of July he helped the Mets capture the Eastern Division title.  He finished the season with a .256 average with a home run and 32 RBIs.    His one home run was a grand slam and helped the Mets defat the San Diego Padres 7-0 on August 15.  He also had a 4-hit performance against the Cincinnati Reds on August 18.   The Mets reached the World Series but lost to the Oakland A’s in seven games.   Grote caught all 12 postseason games.  He recorded 8 hits in the World Series and batted .267.

During the first half of the 1974 season he batted .287 with 4 home runs and 27 RBIs to earn his 2nd All-Star appearance.  Injuries took their toll on Grote in the second half and he finished the season with a .257 average and 5 home runs and 36 RBIs.

In 1975 Grote hit a career best .295 with 2 home runs on 39 RBIs.  On July 4 his pinch-hit home run in the 9th inning propelled the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.  He also led all National League catchers with a .995 fielding percentage.

Grote hit .272 in 1976 with a 4 home runs and 28 RBIs.  He enjoyed a 4-hit game on April 19 against the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Grote saw diminished playing time in 1977 with the emergence of John Stearns as the team’s regular catcher.  He appeared in 42 games. the lowest total of his Met career and batted .270 with 7 RBIs.  The Mets traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 31 in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. 

In 12 seasons with the Mets Grote batted .256 with 35 home runs and 357 RBIs. 

Though he never won a Gold Glove he was considered to be the best defensive catcher of his era.  In fact Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, who many consider to be the greatest defensive catcher in history, once said of Grote, “If Grote and I were on the same team, I would be playing 3rd base.”

Jerry Grote was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1992.

While with the Mets Grote wore number 15.

Jerry Grote also played for the following teams:
Houston Colt 45’s = 1963,1964
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1977,1978, 1981
Kansas City Royals – 1981

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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.

 

Fight
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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Don Rose – His New York Mets Career 1971

Don Rose.jpgAfter spending four seasons in the Mets minor league system right-handed pitcher Don Rose finally made his major league debut on September 15, 1971. He pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the Mets 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Cubs. It would be his only appearance in a Met uniform as he was traded to the California Angels during the off-season in what is widely considered the worst trade in Mets history. He was traded along with Francisco Estrada, Leroy Stanton and future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in exchange for Jim Fregosi.

While with the Mets Rose wore number 31.

Don Rose also played for the following teams:
California Angels – 1972
San Francisco Giants – 1974

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LeRoy Stanton – His New York Mets Career 1970,1971

LeRoy StantonAfter spending three seasons in the Mets minor league system outfielder LeRoy Stanton finally made his Major League debut on September 10, 1970 as a pinch hitter for pitcher Danny Frisella.  For the record he flew out to centerfield.  He appeared in three more games for the Mets, two as a pinch hitter and one as a starter.  In his only start of the season on September 28th against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium, he led off the game with a triple for his first Major League hit, but he was injured on the play and immediately left the game.  He finished the season with a .250 average (1 for 4).

He returned to the minors in 1971 but was once again brought up to the show in September.  This time he appeared in 5 games and batted .190 (4 for 21) with 2 RBIs.  His most productive game occurred on September 23rd against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  He went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs in the Mets 5-4 victory.

Following the season Stanton was involved in one of the most infamous trades in franchise history.  He along with Francisco Estrada, Don Rose and future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan were traded to the California Angels in exchange for Jim Fregosi.

In 9 games for the Mets over two seasons Stanton batted .200 (5 for 25) with 2 RBIs.

While with the Mets Stanton wore number 44 in 1970 and 23 in 1971.

LeRoy Stanton also played for the following teams:
California Angels – 1972-1976
Seattle Mariners – 1977,1978

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Tommie Agee – His New York Mets Career 1968-1972

Tommie ageeOn December 15, 1967 the New York Mets acquired Tommie Agee along with Al Weis from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Jack Fisher, Tommy Davis, Billy Wynne and Buddy Booker.

Tommie Agee who had three cups of coffee with the Cleveland Indians from 1962 to 1964 was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1966 as a member of the White Sox.  But his production fell off the next season and the White Sox decided they had seen enough and shipped him to the Mets.  Though he struggled in his first season in New York (.217 average, 5 HRs and 17 RBIs), he turned out to a god send in helping the Mets win the 1969 World Series. 

In 1969 Tommie Agee got off to a strong start hitting two home runs during the third game of the season against the Montreal Expos, one of which was hit to section 48 of the upper deck in Shea Stadium.  He became the first and only player to hit a home run into the upper deck. Agee would go on to hit .271 while leading the Mets in home runs (26), RBI’s (76) and runs scored (97). 

Even though Agee had a brilliant regular season in 1969, it was his brilliant postseason performance which cemented his legacy in Mets history.  After hitting .357 with two home runs and four RBI’s in the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, Agee continued his superb play in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

After the Mets split the first two games in Baltimore they returned home looking to win their first World Series title.  Tommie Agee led off game three of the series with a home run off of Baltimore ace and future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.  A lead they would not relinquish due in large part to the defensive heroics of Agee in centerfield.  Agee made two spectacular catches in centerfield saving at least five runs from scoring.  The Mets would win the game by a score of 5-0 and never looked back as they shocked the world and won their first World Series title.

Agee continued his stellar play in 1970 hitting a career best .286 while once again leading the Mets with 24 home runs and 75 RBIs.  In 1970 Agee also became the first player in franchise history to win a Gold Glove. 

In 1970 Agee also set the following franchise records, which have all since been broken:

Most At-bats – 636
Most Runs – 107
Most Hits –  182
Most Stolen Bases – 31
Most Total Bases – 298 

Though Agee still led the Mets in 1971 with 14 home runs, sharing the honor with Ed Kranepool and Cleon Jones, knee injuries affected his production in 1971 and 1972 prompting the Mets to trade him to the Houston Astros following the 1972 season.  for Rich Chiles and Buddy Harris.

He would go on to play for the Astros and Cardinals in 1973 but was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1974 season ending his playing career. 

In five seasons with the Mets Tommie Agee hit .262 with 82 home runs and 265 RBI’s in 661 games.  He also played 8 postseason games hitting .250 with 3 home runs and 5 runs batted in. 

Tommie Agee was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2002 but unfortunately was not able to enjoy the moment as he passed away in January 2001.

While with the Mets Agee wore number 20.

Tommie Agee also played for the following teams:
Cleveland Indians – 1962-1964
Chicago White Sox – 1965-1967
St, Louis Cardinals – 1973
Houston Astros – 1973

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Bob Aspromonte – His New York Mets Career 1971

Bob AspromonteBob Aspromonte a 3rd baseman who started his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 ended it in 1971 with the Mets.  He was the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the majors.

The Mets acquired the native Brooklynite on December 1, 1970 from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Ron Herbel.  Despite hitting just .225 for the Mets Aspromonte became somewhat of a fan favorite for the 1971 Mets.  He would play in 104 games hitting 5 home runs while driving in 33.

His best game with the Mets occurred on May 18 against his former team the Atlanta Braves.  He hit 2 home runs and drove in 3 runs.

The Mets released him following the season ending his playing career.

While with the Mets Aspromonte wore number 2.

Bob Aspromonte also played for the following teams:
Brooklyn Dodgers – 1956
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1960,1961
Houston Astros – 1962-1968
Atlanta Braves – 1969,1970

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Ken Singleton – His New York Mets Career 1970,1971

ken-singletonA native New Yorker, Ken Singleton was drafted by the Mets with the third overall pick in the 1967 free agent draft.   After working his way through the Mets minor league system Singleton made his Major League debut on June 24, 1970, he went 0-4 as the Mets starting leftfielder in their 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.. On June 26 against the Montreal Expos he recorded his first hit as a Met, a 5th inning single, and his first home run. He finished out the season as a regular member of the Mets outfield and hit .263 with 5 home runs and 26 RBIs. 

Singleton spent the entire 1971 season with the Mets as their regular right fielder.  His average dipped to .245 but he still managed to hit 13 home runs with 46 RBIs.  On the final day of the season Singleton hit 2 home runs against the St Louis Cardinals.  It turned out to be his last appearance in a Mets uniform.  Following the season the Mets traded Singleton to the Montreal Expos along with Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen in exchange for Rusty Staub.

In 1 ½ seasons with the Mets Ken Singleton appeared in 184 games hit .252 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs.   

While with the Mets Singleton wore number 29.

Ken Singleton also played for the following teams:
Montreal Expos – 1972-1974
Baltimore Orioles – 1975-1984

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Francisco Estrada- His New York Mets Career 1971

Sfranciso-estradaelected by the Mets in the 5th round of the 1971 free agent draft, catcher Francisco Estrada spent the 1971 season in the minors before being recalled to the big club in September.  He would make his Major League debut on September 14 replacing Jerry Grote in the 5th inning against the Montreal Expos.  Estrada would single in his first big league at bat and finished the game 1-2.  It would be his only appearance with the Mets, following the season, he was part of one of the most infamous trades in franchise history.  He was traded to the California Angels along with Leroy Stanton, Don Rose and Nolan Ryan in exchange for third baseman Jim Fregosi.

His one appearance with the Mets in 1971 would be his only major league appearance. 

While with the Mets Estrada wore number 5.

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Buzz Capra – His New York Mets Career 1971,1972,1973

buzz-capraRight-handed pitcher Buzz Capra was selected by the Mets in the 27th round of the 1969 free agent draft.  He made his major league debut with the Mets on September 15, 1971 against the Chicago Cubs, pitching four innings of relief in the Mets 6-2 loss, he allowed 1 unearned run while striking out 4.  He would appear in 3 games down the stretch for the Mets posting an 0-1 record with an 8.44 ERA in 5 1/3 innings.

Capra, started the 1972 season with the Mets and would appear in 14 games, 6 as a starter before being demoted to the minors in July.  He earned his first major league win on April 25th against the San Diego Padres.  As the starting pitcher, he allowed 1 run over 6 innings in the Mets 2-1 victory. At the time of his demotion Capra had a 3-2 record with a 4.58 ERA.

Capra started the 1973 season in the minors before joining the Mets in June.  Capra would appear in 24 games out of the bullpen and posted a 2-7 record with 4 saves and a 3.86 ERA.

He earned the save in a crucial game on September 18 against the Pittsburgh Pirates to keep the Mets in the National League Eastern Division race, a division the Mets would eventually win.  He entered the game in the bottom of the 9th with the winning and go ahead runs on base and closed out the Mets 6-5 win.

Following the season the Mets sold Capra to the Atlanta Braves where he finished out his career.

In parts of 3 seasons for the Mets Capra appeared in 41 games, 6 as a starter and posted a 5-10 record with 4 saves and a 4.49 ERA.

While with the Mets Capra wore number 38.              

Buzz Capra also played for the Atlanta Braves – 1974-1977.

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