Billy Baldwin – His New York Mets Career 1976

Billy BaldwinBilly Baldwin was acquired from the Detroit Tiger along with Mickey Lolich in exchange for Rusty Staub and Bill Laxton on December 12, 1975.  The outfielder spent the 1976 season with the Tidewater Tides, the Mets top farm club, before being brought up to New York when the rosters expanded in September.  With the Tides he batted .271 with 17 home runs and 72 RBIs. 

Baldwin made his Met debut on September 4, 1976 when he pinch hit for pitcher Nino Espinosa.  His sacrifice fly extended the Mets lead over the Phillies to 5-3.  The Mets would win the game 7-3. 

The highlight of Baldwin’s brief stint with the Mets occurred on September 24th when he hit a pinch hit walk off home run to defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-3.

1976 would be Billy Baldwin’s last appearance in the majors, he remained in the organization playing in the minors before being released before the 1979 season.

In 9 games for the Mets Baldwin batted .273 with one home run and 5 RBIs.

While with the Mets Baldwin wore number 21.

Billy Baldwin also played for the Detroit Tigers in 1975.

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Jim Dwyer – His New York Mets Career 1976

Jim DwyerThe Mets acquired outfielder Jim Dwyer along with Pepe Mangual from the Montreal Expos on July 21, 1976 in exchange for Wayne Garrett and Del Unser.  Dwyer made his Met debut on July 23rd as a pinch hitter for Bud Harrelson and singled.  He would go on to appear in 11 games for the Mets, mostly as a pinch hitter and batted .154 (2 for 13).

Following the season Dwyer was involved in a three-team trade that saw him wind up with the Chicago Cubs. 

While with the Mets Dwyer wore number 25.

Jim Dwyer also played for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1973-1975, 1977,1978
Montreal Expos – 1975,1976,1989
San Francisco Giants – 1978
Boston Red Sox – 1979,1980
Baltimore Orioles – 1981-1988
Minnesota Twins – 1988-1990

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Pepe Mangual – His New York Mets Career 1976,1977

Pepe MangualOn July 21, 1976, the Mets acquired outfielder Pepe Mangual from the Montreal Expos along with Jim Dwyer in exchange for Wayne Garrett and Del Unser.  That same day Mangual made his Met debut as their starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter and went 1 for 4.  Over his next two games he went 4 for 8 with 5 RBIs, but that was the highlight of his season for the Mets as he struggled the rest of the way.  He appeared in 41 games and batted just .186 with a home run and 9 RBIs.  His only home run came during the last game of the season. 

Mangual spent the 1977 season in the minors with the Tidewater Tides where he hit .252 before getting called up in September.  He played in 8 games for the Mets and batted just .143 (1 for 7) with 2 RBIs.

In 1978, he returned to the minors where he spent half the season with Tidewater before moving on to the California Angels organization.  In 49 games for the Mets over two seasons Mangual batted .183 with a home run and 11 RBIs.

While with the Mets Mangual wore number 11 in 1976 and 21 in 1977. 

Pepe Mangual also played for the Montreal Expos from 1972-1976.

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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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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.

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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

Leon Brown – His New York Mets Career 1976

leon brownA career minor leaguer, the Mets acquired Leon Brown from the San Francisco Giants on March 16, 1976 in exchange for Bob Gallagher.  After starting the season in the minors Brown made his Met as well as his Major League debut on May 19th.  In his first Major League at bat Brown pinch hit for pitcher Skip Lockwood and doubled in the 9th inning of the Mets 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Leon Brown finished out the season with the Mets serving mainly as a pinch hitter and outfield defensive replacement.  He hit just .214 with 2 RBIs for the season.  His first career RBI came on June 5th against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he singled home Mike Phillips in the 7th inning of the Mets 3-1 victory.

His second career RBI came in a game against the San Diego Padres on August 10th.  He doubled home Jerry Grote in the 2nd inning of the Mets 5-4 victory.

1976 would be Brown’s only season in the majors, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Brock Pemberton on December 9, 1976 in exchange for Ed Kurpiel.  He retired from baseball following the 1980 season.

While with the Mets Brown wore number 23.

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

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 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