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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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

Benny Ayala – His New York Mets Career 1974,1976

Benny ayala.pngKnown as a power hitter in his native Puerto Rico Benny Ayala was signed as an amateur free agent by the Mets on January 28, 1971.  After three seasons in the minors where he showed promise as a power hitter with 45 home runs Ayala was called up to the show in 1974.  On August 27, 1974 he made his Major League debut and hit a home run in his first at bat off of Tom Griffin of the Houston Astros.  He became the first player in Mets history to hit a homer in their first Major League at bat. Unfortunately that would be the highlight of his career in Flushing.

Ayala would finish out the 74 season with the Mets playing in 23 games and hitting .235 with two homers and eight RBI’s.  After failing to make the team out of Spring Training in 1975, Ayala would play the entire 75 season with the Tidewater Tides, the Mets AAA affiliate.  He returned to the big club in 1976 but would last only 22 games hitting just .115 with a homer and two RBI’s. and was sent back down to the minors where he finished out the season.   Ayala did not return to the Mets and was traded to the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 1977 season in exchange for Doug Clarey

In 45 games for the Mets Ayala hit .202 with three homers and ten RBI‘s. 

While with the Mets Ayala wore number 18.

Benny Ayala also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1977
Baltimore Orioles – 1979-1984
Cleveland Indians – 1985

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Rich Puig – His New York Mets Career 1974

rich-puigA former first round draft pick known more for his glove than his bat, second baseman Rich Puig spent four seasons in the Mets minor league system before finally getting the call to join them as a September call up in 1974.  He made his Major League debut on September 13 and struck out in his only at bat.  He would appear in 3 more games for the Mets but went 0 for 10 at the plate managing just one walk.  He returned to the minors in 1975 and spent two more seasons there before finally retiring. 

While with the Mets Puig wore number 6.


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