Tom Hall – His New York Mets Career 1975,1976

Tom HallThe Mets acquired left-handed pitcher Tom Hall from the Cincinnati Reds on April 15, 1975 in exchange for Mac Scarce.  He made his Met debut the next day pitching two innings of scoreless relief in the Mets 3-2 loss to the St Louis Cardinals.  Hall would go on to pitch in 34 games for the Mets the rest of the season and finished with a 4-3 record with 1 save and 4.75 ERA.  Of his 34 appearances four were as a starter; he won two of his four starts. 

Hall returned to the Mets in 1976 but pitched in just five games before the Mets traded him to the Kansas City Royals on May 7. At the time of the trade his record was 1-1 with 5.79 ERA.

In 39 appearances over two seasons Tom Hall posted a 5-4 record with 1 save and 4.82 ERA

While with the Mets Hall wore number 42 in 1975 and 19 in 1976.

Tom Hall also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1968-1971
Cincinnati Reds – 1972-1975
Kansas City Royals – 1976,1977

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Mickey Lolich – His New York Mets Career 1975

Mickey LolichThe New York Mets acquired Mickey Lolich from the Detroit Tigers along with Billy Baldwin in exchange for Rusty Staub and Bill Laxton on December 12, 1975.  The Mets thought they were getting an All-Star pitcher who had won 207 games over the previous 13 seasons including a 25 win season in 1971. Lolich was also a former World Series hero who helped the Tigers win the championship in 1968 by throwing three complete game victories.   Unfortunately, what they got was a pitcher on the downside of his career.

Mickey Lolich lost his first three games with the Mets to start the 1976 season before recording his first win, a complete game victory over the Atlanta Braves on April 26th.   At times Lolich showed glimpses of his former All-Star self throwing a two hit compete game shutout on June 29th against the Cardinals and a three-hit shutout against the Braves on July 18th.  But for the most part he struggled throughout the season finishing with an 8-13 record with 3.22 ERA in 192 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

Following the season Mickey Lolich retired from baseball.  But after sitting out the 1977 season he returned to pitch two seasons for the San Diego Padres.

While with the Mets Lolich wore number 29.

Mickey Lolich also played for the following teams:
Detroit Tigers – 1963-1975
San Diego Padres – 1977,1978

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John Stearns – His New York Mets Career 1975-1984

John StearnsAcquired from the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1975 season along with Del Unser and Mac Scarce in exchange for Tug McGraw, Don Hahn and Dave Schneck, John Stearns would go on to catch 678 games in a Met uniform (4th most in team history) and be selected to four different All-Star teams.    The heart and soul of some pretty bad Met teams; Stearns never let the Mets place in the standings affect his play. 

After two seasons serving as backup to Jerry Grote, Stearns became the Met fulltime catcher in 1977.  He took full advantage of the situation, leading the team with 25 doubles and tying for the team lead with 12 home runs.  For his efforts, he was selected to be the Mets lone representative in the All-Star game.  He continued his strong play in 1978 and even broke the National League record for most stolen bases by a catcher in a season with 25.  Stearns would play four more season as the Mets catcher, earning three more All-Star appearances in 1979, 1980 and 1982, before a rash of injuries took their toll forcing him to cut his career short just as the Mets had turned the corner and became one of the top teams in the league.  

During his 10 years with the Mets Stearns hit .259 with 46 HR’s and 312 RBI’s.  Stearns would return to the Mets in 2000 and 2001 serving as a coach.  He also spent two seasons managing in the Mets minor league system, 2003 with the Binghamton Mets and 2004 with the Norfolk Tides.

While with the Mets Stearns wore number 16 in 1975 and 1976 and number 12 from 1977-1984.

John Stearns also played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1974.




Dave Kingman – His New York Mets Career 1975-1977,1981-1984

Dave KingmanDave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants prior to the 1975 season.   With the Mets in 1975 he quickly became a fan favorite and earned the nickname “Sky King” due in large part to his ability to hit tape measure home runs.  Kingman homered in his first game as a Met on Opening Day and would go on to set the Mets single season home run record with 36 round trippers.   But when he wasn’t hitting home runs he was striking out.  For the season, he hit just .231 while striking out 153 times but did drive in 88 runs, second most on the team to Rusty Staub.

Kingman followed up his first season with a similar one in 1976.  He bested his own home run record with 37 and was selected to his first All-Star team as the starting right fielder.  But like 1975 he hit just .238 and continued to rack up the strikeouts. 

After starting out the 1977 season with a .209 average Kingman was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert at the June 15th trading deadline.  It was the same day the Mets traded Tom Seaver in what became known as the “Midnight Massacre” to Mets fans.

Prior to the 1981 season Dave Kingman was traded back to the Mets from the Chicago Cubs as the organization attempted to appease their disgruntled fan base by bringing back some old fan favorites.   In his first season, back in New York Kingman hit 22 home runs but also led the league in strikeouts.  In 1982, he became the first player in franchise history to lead the league in home runs by hitting 37. But he also led the league in strikeouts with 156 and hit just .204 which was the lowest average for any single season home run leader in baseball history.  Kingman returned to the Mets in 1983 but when the Mets acquired first baseman Keith Hernandez at the trading deadline Kingman was relegated to the bench and used primarily as pinch hitter.  He hit just .198 with 13 home runs and 29 RBIs. 

The Mets released Kingman following the season.  During his Met career, he hit just .219 with 154 home runs and 389 RBIs.  At the time of his release he was the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs. 

While with the Mets Kingman wore number 26. 

Dave Kingman also played for the following teams:
San Francisco Giants – 1971-1974
California Angels – 1977
New York Yankees – 1977
San Diego Padres – 1977
Chicago Cubs – 1978-1980

Oakland A’s – 1984-1986

Del Unser – His New York Mets Career 1975-1976

Del UnserThe Mets acquired Del Unser from the Philadelphia Phillies along with John Stearns and Mac Scarce in exchange for Tug McGraw, Don Hahn and Dave Schneck on December 3, 1974.

A steady and reliable hard-nosed player Unser quickly became a fan favorite as the Mets everyday centerfielder.  After hitting .300 for most of the season he finished the season with a .294 average, the highest on the team.  He also hit 10 home runs and drove in 52.  His best day of the season came on July 29th; he went 4-6 with three RBIs. 

Unser returned to the Mets in 1976 but struggled at the plate.  With his average at just .228 the Mets traded him to the Montreal Expos in the middle of July.  He was traded with Wayne Garrett in exchange for Pepe Mangual and Jim Dwyer.  

In his one and a half seasons with the Mets Unser hit .271 with 15 home runs and 78 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Unser wore 25. 

Del Unser also played for the following teams:
Washington Senators – 1968-1971
Cleveland Indians – 1972
Philadelphia Phillies – 1973,1974, 1979-1982
Montreal Expos – 1976-1978

Ken Sanders – His New York Mets Career 1975,1976

Ken SAndersThe Mets acquired right-handed reliever Ken Sanders from the California Angels on March 22, 1975 in exchange for Ike Hampton.  Sanders was a journeyman relief pitcher who once led the American League in saves; in 1971 with the Milwaukee Brewers he saved 31 games.

Sanders started the 1975 season pitching in the minors for the Tidewater Tides before getting called up at the end of June.  He made his Met debut on June 29 against the Philadelphia Phillies; he allowed 1 run and 2 hits.  Sanders finished the season with the Mets and pitched fairly affectively out of their bullpen.  He appeared in 29 games and posted a 1-1 record with 5 saves and a 2.30 ERA.  He did spend a brief time on the disabled list due to a freak injury.  During his warm-up pitches he lost the return throw from catcher John Stearns and was hit in the right eye with the ball.

Sanders spent the 1976 season with the Mets and pitched to similar results.  He appeared in 31 games and finished the season with a 1-2 record with 1 save and a 2.87 ERA.  The Mets sold Sanders to the Kansas City Royals on September 17.   The Royals were in need of an extra arm as they made a push to reach the postseason.  

Over two seasons with the Mets Sanders appeared in 60 games and posted a 2-3 record with 6 saves and a 2.60 ERA.

While with the Mets Sanders wore number 33.

Ken Sanders also played for the following teams:
Kansas City A’s – 1964,1966
Boston Red Sox – 1966
Oakland A’s – 1968
Milwaukee Brewers – 1970-1972
Cleveland Indians – 1973,1974
Minnesota Twins – 1973
California Angels – 1974
Kansas City Royals – 1976

Mike Vail – His New York Mets Career 1975-1977

mike-vailThe New York Met acquired outfielder Mike Vail from the St. Louis Cardinals along with Jack Heidemann in exchange for Ted Martinez on December 11, 1974.  In 1975, his first season in the Mets organization, Vail played for the Tidewater Tides and was named the International League Player of the year after hitting .342.

Vail was called up to the Mets in the middle of August and made his Major League debut on August 18, 1975.  As a pinch hitter, he singled in his first big league at bat. From that point on Vail tore it up and was the hottest hitter on the team.  He hit in 23 straight games, started with a 4 for 4 performance on August 25, to not only set the Mets franchise record but also set the Major League Rookie record.  Vail hit safely in 33 of the 38 games he appeared in and finished the season hitting .302 average with 3 home runs and 17 RBIs.

The Mets were so convinced that they had found their new leftfielder that they traded Rusty Staub to the Detroit Tigers.  Staub had driven in a club record 105 runs in 1975.   But during the off-season Mike Vail injured his foot playing in a basketball game and was never the same player.  The injury forced Vail to miss most of the 1976 season.  When he was healthy he struggled at the plate hitting just .217 in 53 games.   

A healthy Vail returned in 1977 but could not duplicate his earlier success. He hit a respectable .262 with 8 home runs and 35 RBIs in 108 games.  Following the season the Mets sensing Vail would not be the player they once thought he would be sold his contract to the Cleveland Indians.  He would go on to play another 7 seasons in the majors mainly as a pinch hitter.

In 199 games for the Mets over 3 seasons, Vail hit .262 with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Vail wore number 31 in 1975 and number 6 from 1976-1977. 

Mike Vail also played for the following teams:
Cleveland Indians – 1978
Chicago Cubs – 1978-1980
Cincinnati Reds – 1981,1982
Montreal Expos – 1983
San Francisco Giants – 1983
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1984

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Mike Phillips – His New York Mets Career 1975-1977

mike-phillipsFollowing his acquisition from the San Francisco Giants on May 3, 1975 Mike Phillips filled in admirably for injured shortstop Bud Harrelson.  In 116 games, he hit a career high .256 with 10 doubles and team leading 7 triples while driving in 28 runs.

Phillips returned to the Mets in 1976 and served primarily as a backup infielder playing shortstop second and third base.  Phillips struggled to start the season hitting just .207 over the first 2 ½ months of the season including an 0 for 21 streak.  But he broke out on June 25 when he became the third player in franchise history to hit for the cycle.  Phillips finished out the season with a .256 average and once again led the ream in triples with 6. He also hit 4 home runs on the season, 3 of which came during a three-game series in June, the same series in which he hit for the cycle. For his efforts he was named National League Player of the Week

Phillips started the 1977 with the Mets but with his average at just .209 he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals on June 15 in exchange for Joel Youngblood.  The trade went largely unnoticed by Met fans as it occurred on the same day the Mets traded Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman.

In his 3 seasons with the Mets Phillips appeared in 241 games and hit .250 with 6 home runs and 60 RBIs.

While with the Mets Phillips wore number 5.

Mike Phillips also played for the following teams:
San Francisco Giants – 1973-1975
St. Louis Cardinals – 1977-1980
San Diego Padres – 1981
Montreal Expos – 1981-1983

Bob Apodaca – His New York Mets Career 1973-1977

bob-apodacaBob Apodaca made his Major League debut with the Mets on September 18, 1973, exactly four years later he pitched in his last big league game.  In between Apodaca showed promise as a relief pitcher but injuries sidetracked a once promising career.  

In his five seasons with the Mets Apodaca pitched in 184 games, all but 11 out of the bullpen.   He won 16 games while losing 25 and saved another 26.  He also posted a very respectable 2.86 ERA over 361.1 innings.  His best season with the Mets occurred in 1975 when he led the team with 13 saves and posted a 1.49 ERA in 84.2 innings. 

Apodaca blew out his elbow during Spring Training in 1978.  After missing the entire 1978 and 1979 seasons the Mets released him on December 11, 1979 ending his big league career.  He attempted a comeback in 1981 with the Jackson Mets, their Double A affiliate, but that lasted just six games.

Following his playing career Apodaca spent over a decade as a pitching coach in the Mets minor league system.  He eventually worked his way back to the majors serving as the Mets pitching coach from 1996-1999.

While with the Mets Apodaca wore number 34.