Acquired 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 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
On June 15, 1977, the New York Mets traded their most popular player in franchise history, Tom Seaver. In return they received four players, Dan Norman, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and right-handed pitcher Pat Zachry. The year before Zachry had won the National League Rookie of the Year as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Zachry would pitch six seasons for the Mets but would never make Met fans forget Tom Seaver.
Pat Zachry made his Met debut on June 17, 1977 against the Houston Astros. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs all but one earned and suffered the loss in the Mets 7-1 defeat. Zachry would finish the season with a 7-6 record and 3.76 ERA in 19 starts.
In 1978 Zachry enjoyed his finest season with the Mets, he started out the season 10-4 and was named to the National League All-Star team, he did not appear in the game. However, following the All-Star break Zachry was lost for the season when he fractured his foot. The injury occurred on July 24 in a fit of rage. After giving up a hit to Pete Rose to extend his hitting streak to 37 games, Zachry was pulled from the game. When he reached the dugout he angrily attempted to kick a batting helmet but missed and kicked the dugout step instead and fractured his left foot.
In 1979, an elbow injury limited him to just 7 starts, though he did manage to post a 5-1 record. In 1980 despite being named the National League pitcher of the month for July, a month that saw him go 4-0, he suffered through a 6-10 season though he did post a very respectable 3.01 ERA. It would be the first of three straight losing seasons including a 1981 season in which he led the league with 14 losses. During his final season with the Mets in 1982 he did flirt with pitching the first no-hitter in franchise history against the Chicago Cubs on April 10. He lost his bid with two outs in the 8th inning. It was the highlight of his season, a season which saw him lose his spot in the starting rotation.
Following the season the Mets traded Zachry to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his six seasons with the Mets Pat Zachry posted a 41-46 record with a 3.63 ERA.
While with the Mets Zachry wore number 40.
Pat Zachry also played for the following teams:
Cincinnati Reds – 1976,1977
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1983,1984
Philadelphia Phillies – 1985
When the Mets acquired Lenny Randle from the Texas Rangers, he had just finished serving a 30 game suspension for punching manager Frank Luccchesi. Obviously no longer welcomed in Texas, the Rangers started looking for a trading partner and found one with the Mets. The Mets needing a leadoff hitter traded minor leaguer Rick Auerbach to the Rangers for Randle’s services.
Despite his baggage, the trade turned out wonderfully for the Mets, at least for the first season. Randle enjoyed the finest season of his career batting out of the leadoff position and playing third base. He led the Mets in hitting with a .304 average and set the franchise record for most stolen bases in a season with 33. He also led the team in runs (78), hits (156), triples (7), on-base percentage (.383) and total bases (207).
Randle was also the hero in the Mets longest game of the season, on July 9 against the Montréal Expos Randle hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 17th inning to win the game. It was one of five home runs he would hit on the season.
Unfortunately his second season in New York was nothing like the first. In 1978, his average plummeted to .233 and he stole only 14 bases. However, he did drive in 35 runs.
Randle lost his starting third base job to Richie Hebner during Spring Training in 1979 and the Mets decided to release him prior to the season.
In his two seasons with the Mets Randle hit .272 with 7 home runs and 62 RBIs.
As a bit of trivia, Lenny Randle was the batter on July 13,1977 when the entire city of New York was paralyzed by a massive blackout.
While with the Mets Randle wore number 11.
Lenny Randle also played for the following teams:
Washington Senators – 1971
Texas Rangers – 1972-1976
New York Yankees – 1979
Chicago Cubs – 1980
Seattle Mariners – 1981,1982
Dan Norman was acquired by the Mets in the infamous Tom Seaver trade on June 15, 1977 along with Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson and Doug Flynn. Following the trade the Mets immediately shipped Norman to the minors where he played for the Tidewater Tides before getting the call to join the big club in September.
Norman made his Major League debut on September 27 as pinch hitter for Lenny Randle, he struck out. The next day as the Mets starting right fielder Norman recorded his first big league hit, a 4th inning single. Norman would appear in 7 games for the Mets in 1977 and hit .250 (4-16).
Norman returned to Tidewater in 1978 where he spent the season before once again joining the Mets in September. Norman hit his first major league home run on September 6 against the Montreal Expos. He would hit 4 home runs including a 2-homer game against the Phillies on September 15. Norman also drove in 10 runs in 19 games.
Norman once again started the 1979 season with the Tidewater Tides before getting called up in in the middle of July. Norman finished out the season with the Mets and hit .245 with 3 home runs and 11 RBIs in 44 games.
Norman spent the entire 1980 season with the Mets serving primarily as a pinch hitter but he hit just .185 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs. He started off the 1981 season back in the minors before being traded to the Montreal Expos along with Jeff Reardon on May 29 in exchange for Ellis Valentine.
In 4 seasons with the Mets Dan Norman appeared in 139 games and hit .230 with 9 home runs and 30 RBIs.
While with the Mets Norman wore number 33 in 1977 and 1979 and number 9 in 1979 and 1980.
Dan Norman also played for the Montreal Expos in 1982.
The 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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Following 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 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.
The New York Mets acquired Leo Foster from the Atlanta Braves on April 4, 1975 in exchange for catcher Joe Nolan. A light hitting utility infielder Foster was initially assigned to the Mets Triple A affiliate the Tidewater Tides where he spent the entire 1975 season hitting .247 with 2 home runs and 25 RBIs. He returned to Tidewater to start the 1976 season and was hitting.296 when he was promoted to the big club making his Mets debut on August 1st. He started the game at shortstop against the Philadelphia Phillies and went 1 for 3 with an RBI. Foster finished out the season in New York and despite hitting just .203 he managed to drive in 15 runs in 59 plate appearances including a 5 RBI performance against the Cubs on September 7th, a game in which he also hit his first home run with the Mets.
In 1977 Leo Foster split time between New York and Tidewater appearing in 36 games for the Mets. With the Mets, he hit .227 driving in 6 runs in 81 plate appearances. In the off-season, the Mets traded Foster to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitcher Jim Burton. He spent the 1978 season in the Red Sox minor league system but did not return to the majors and retired from playing after the season.
In 60 games for the Mets over two seasons he hit .216 with a homer and 21 RBI’s.
While with the Mets Leo Foster wore number 1 before switching to number 19.
Leo Foster also played for the Atlanta Braves – 1971,1973,1974
After spending four seasons in the Mets minor league system, right-handed pitcher Jackson Todd finally got the call to majors in 1977. Todd made his Major League debut on May 5, pitching one inning of scoreless relief in the Mets 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Todd would go on to pitch in 19 games for the Mets splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation. As the starting pitcher on May 19 Todd earned his first major league victory, he allowed three earned runs over 7 2/3 innings. Todd finished the season with a 3-6 record and 4.77 ERA in 71 2/3 innings.
1977 would be Todd’s only season with the Mets; he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1978 season.
While with the Mets Jackson Todd wore number 30.
Jackson Todd also played for the Toronto Blue Jays – 1979-1981.