Hank Webb – His New York Mets Career 1972-1976

Hank WebbThe Mets drafted right-handed pitcher Hank Webb out of Copiague High School on Long Island in the 10th round of the 1968 amateur draft.   He made his Major League debut on September 5, 1972 against the Chicago Cubs; he pitched an inning of relief and allowed 2 runs as the Mets lost 3-0.  He made his first career start in the second game of a doubleheader on September 8 against the St. Louis Cardinals.  He threw 7 innings and allowed four runs and was credited with a no-decision as the Mets lost 5-0 in 13 innings.  Webb would appear in 6 games for the Mets in 1972 and finished with a 0-0 record and 4.42 ERA.

Webb spent the 1973 season in the minors but did appear in 2 games for the Mets in the month of May.  He allowed 2 runs in 1 2/3 innings for an ERA of 10.80.

He earned a September call-up in 1974 and appeared in 3 games, 2 as a starter, and posted a 0-2 record with a 7.20 ERA.  His first appearance on September 11 was a memorable one as it occurred in the longest game in franchise history.  Webb entered the game in the 25th inning and was the losing pitcher as his errant pick off attempt led to the winning run by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Webb once again started the 1975 season in the minors before joining the Mets in May.  He finished out the season in New York and appeared in 29 games splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation.  He posted a 7-6 record with a 4.07 ERA.  He earned his first career win on June 8 against the Atlanta Braves when he pitched a scoreless 14th inning before the Mets won it in the bottom of the frame.   He earned his first win as a starter on July 7 when he pitched a complete game and allowed just 1 unearned run against the Atlanta Braves.   He also earned the win in his next start on July 27 when he pitched 9 innings and allowed just 1 run as the Mets defeated the Cubs 4-1 in 10 innings.  He earned his first and only career shutout on August 25 against the San Diego Padres. 

He started the 1976 with the Mets and appeared in 8 games before being demoted to the minors in May.  His record at the time was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA,

Following the 1976 season the Mets traded Webb to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In 48 appearances for the Mets over 5 seasons Webb went 7-9 with a 4.42 ERA.

While with the Mets Webb wore number 42 in 1972, number 30 in 1973 and 1976 and number 29 in 1974.

Hank Webb also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977.

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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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Rusty Staub – His New York Mets Career 1972-1975, 1981-1985

Rusty StaubOne of the most popular players in franchise history Rusty Staub had two successful stints with the Mets.  The Mets first acquired Staub from the Montreal Expos on April 6, 1972 in exchange for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton.

Staub singled in his first at bat as a Met on April 15, 1972 but injuries limited him to just 66 games for the season. But he did manage to hit .293 with 9 home runs and 38 RBIs. In 1973 he played an integral part as the Mets won the National League Eastern Division by hitting .279 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs, the most on the team, while also setting a franchise record with 36 doubles. But it was in the postseason where he cemented his legacy in Met history. In the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds Staub hit 3 home runs, 2 in game 3game 3, and drove in 5 runs as the Mets upset the Reds in 5 games to win the National League Pennant. Unfortunately, he also injured his shoulder when he crashed into the outfield wall. The injury hampered his ability to throw but not his ability to hit. In the World Series against the Oakland A’s, Staub was the Mets leading hitter with a .423 average and also led the team with 6 RBIs. In game 4 he hit a home run and drove in 5 runs as the Mets won 6-1 to even the series at 2 games apiece.  Unfortunately, it was not enough as the Mets lost the series in 7 games.

Rusty had a very similar season in 1974 once again leading the team in RBIs with 78 but hit just .258. 1975 turned out to be his best season with the Mets, he set a franchise record with 105 RBIs, a record that would stand for 15 seasons until Darryl Strawberry broke it with 108 in 1990.

Despite his success the Mets traded Staub to the Detroit Tigers in the offseason along with minor leaguer Bill Laxton in exchange for pitcher Mickey Lolich and outfielder Billy Baldwin.

It was a trade the Mets would come to regret as Staub went on to become one of the most productive run producers while Lolich had a mediocre season for the Mets and then retired.

Rusty returned to the Mets in 1981 as a free agent and would play 5 seasons with the Mets before retiring after the 1985 season.  In his first season back with the Mets Staub played first base and hit .317 with 5 home runs and 21 RBIs.  In 1982 he served as a player/coach and split time between the outfield and first base but hit just .242 with 3 home runs and 28 RBIs. 

From 1983 to 1985 Staub served primarily as a pinch hitter and became the most preeminent pinch hitter in the league.

In 1983 he tied the Major League record for most consecutive pinch hits with eight. He also tied the single season Major League record with 25 pinch hit RBI’s. In 1984 Staub hit just one home run, but that one home run put him in exclusive company as he became just the second player to hit a home run before his 20th birthday and after his 40th birthday, the other player was Hall of Famer ty Cobb.

Rusty Staub retired following the 1985 season. In his 9 seasons with the Mets Staub appeared in 942 games and hit .276 with 75 home runs and 399 RBIs.  He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.

Following his playing career Staub spent 10 seasons in the Mets broadcast booth

While with the Mets Staub wore number 4 from 1972 to 1975 and number 10 from 1981 to 1985.

Rusty Staub also played for the following teams:
Houston Astros – 1963-1968
Montreal Expos – 1969-1971, 1979
Detroit Tigers – 1976-1979
Texas Rangers – 1980

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Brock Pemberton – His New York Mets Career 1974,1975

Brock PembetonAfter spending three seasons in the minors, first-baseman Brock Pemberton was called up to New York when rosters expanded in September 1974.  He made his Major League debut on September 10 against the Montreal Expos as a pinch hitter for pitcher Bob Apodaca, for the record he struck out.  The next day in the longest game in franchise history, he recorded his first big league hit, a 25th inning pinch hit single against the St. Louis Cardinals.  He would appear in 11 games for the Mets in 1974. He hit .182 (4 for 22) with one RBI.  His one RBI came on a pinch hit single on September 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pemberton returned as a September call up in 1975 but went 0 for 2 in two pinch hit opportunities.

He spent the entire 1976 season with the Mets Triple A affiliate, the Tidewater Tides, before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals long with Leon Brown for minor league Ed Kurpiel on December 9, 1976.

While with the Mets Pemberton wore number 2.

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Jerry Cram – His New York Mets Career 1974,1975

Jerry CramThe Mets acquired right-handed pitcher Jerry Cram from the Kansas City Royals in a minor league deal on February 1, 1973.  Cram would not make his Met debut until 1974 when he pitched 1 1/3 inning of scoreless relief on August 11 in the Mets 10-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  He would finish out the season in the Mets bullpen appearing in 10 games and posting a 0-1 record with 1.61 ERA.  The highlight of his season occurred on September 11th against the St. Louis Cardinals. In a game that would go on for 25 innings, Cram pitched 8 scoreless innings.  However the Mets lost in the 25th inning 4-3.

Cram appeared in 4 games for the Mets in 1975 before being sent back to the minors.  In his 4 games he went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.

Following the season the Mets trade Cram back to the Kansas City Royals.  In 14 appearances over two seasons Cram posted an 0-2 record with a 2.30 ERA.

While with the Mets Cram wore number 38.

Jerry Cram also played for the Kansas City Royals in 1969 and 1976.

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Ike Hampton – His New York Mets Career 1974

Ike HamptonAfter spending four seasons in the Mets minor league system catcher Ike Hampton finally made his Met debut on September 12, 1974.  He pinch hit for first baseman John Milner and flew out to centerfield.  He made three more pinch hit appearances but failed to get a hit but did manage to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly on September 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

During Spring Training in 1975 the Mets traded Hampton to the California Angels in exchange for pitcher Ken Sanders. 

While with the Mets Hampton wore number 20

Ike Hampton also played for the California Angels from 1975-1979.

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John Strohmayer – His New York Mets Career 1973,1974

John StrohmayeerThe Mets purchased the contract of right handed pitcher John Strohmayer from the Montreal Expos on July 16, 1973.  He made his Mets debut the same day pitching one inning of relief against the Atlanta Braves in an 8-6 loss.  He appeared in another six games for the Mets in 1973 but with no success.  In ten innings, he posted an 8.10 ERA.  Strohmayer spent the 1974 season pitching for the Tidewater Tides, their Triple A affiliate.  He posted a 2-4 record with the Tides in 39 games.  He returned to the Mets in September and pitched in just one game, pitching the final inning in a 12-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

In eight games over two seasons for the Mets John Strohmayer pitched 11 innings and posted a 7.36 ERA.

While with the Mets Strohmayer wore number 39.

John Strohmayer also played for the Montreal Expos from 1970-1973.

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Randy Sterling – His New York Mets Career 1974

Randy SterlingAfter spending six seasons in the Mets minor league system right-handed pitcher Randy Sterling finally got the call to join the big club as a September call-up in 1974.  He made his Major League debut on September 16 as the Mets starting pitcher against the Montreal Expos. He pitched five no-hit innings on his way to his first Major League victory.  His next start wouldn’t be as successful as he allowed 5 runs, 2 of which were earned, in 1 2/3 innings.  Sterling made one more appearance in a Met uniform pitching 2 innings of relief on September 28. It would be his final Major League appearance.

Sterling finished the season 1-1 with 4.82 ERA.  He returned to the minors in 1975 pitching the entire season with the Tidewater Tides before retiring.

While with the Mets Sterling wore number 35.

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Jack Aker – His New York Mets Career 1974

Jack AkerJack Aker was a journeyman pitcher when the Mets purchased his contract from the Atlanta Braves on June 14, 1974. Aker made his Met debut two days latter pitching one inning of relief in the Mets 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He allowed one run and one hit

Jack Aker recorded his first win as a Met on June 24th against the Chicago Cubs pitching two innings of scoreless relief as the Mets defeated the Cubs by a score of 5 to 4.

He would appear in 24 games for the Mets, finishing the season with a 2-1 record and 2 saves while posting a 3.48 ERA. 

His stint with the Mets would be his last in the majors as the Mets released him following the season.  But Jack Aker remained with the Mets organization managing in their minor league system with the Visalia Mets in 1975, Lynchburg Mets 1976-1980 and with the Tidewater Tides in 1981 and 1982.

While with the Mets Aker wore number 22.

Jack Aker also played for the following teams:
Kansas City A’s – 1964-1967
Oakland A’s – 1968
Seattle Pilots – 1969
New York Yankees – 1969-1972
Chicago Cubs – 1972,1973
Atlanta Braves – 1974