Mike Howard – His New York Mets Career 1981-1983

Mike HowardOutfielder Mike Howard made his Major League debut with the Mets on September 12, 1981 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He entered the game in the 8th inning replacing Mike Jorgensen in right field.  He doubled in his first career at bat and finished the game 1 for 2 as the Mets lost 4-2 in 13 innings.  The next day he was the starting right-fielder and drove in the only two runs in the Mets 4-2 loss to the Cardinals.  Howard would appear in 14 games for the Mets and batted .167 with 3 RBIs

After starting the 1982 season in the minors, Howard returned to the big club in August.  He finished out the season with the Mets and batted .178 with a home run and 3 RBIs in 33 games. His first career home run came on September 24, a solo shot in the 9th inning that provided the only run in the Mets 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Howard was the Mets Opening Day right-fielder in 1983 and drove in the Mets first run of the season with a 7th inning single.  It proved to be the only run the Mets needed as they won 2-0 against the Phillies It would be his only appearance for the Mets in 1983 as he was shipped backed to the minors two weeks later.  Howard spent the next two seasons in the minors before retiring from baseball.

In 48 games over three seasons with the Mets Howard batted .182 with a home run and 7 RBIs.

While with the Mets wore number 5.

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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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Neil Allen – His New York Mets Career 1979-1983

Neil AllenIn the infancy of the modern closer role Neil Allen served in that capacity for the Mets from 1979 to 1983. But he will go down in Mets history not for the 69 games he saved but for being the central piece in arguably the greatest trade in Mets history. On June 15, 1983 Neil Allen was traded to the St Louis Cardinals along with fellow pitcher Rick Ownbey for a first baseman by the name of Keith Hernandez. Yes, the Keith Hernandez who would go on to be the leader of the 1986 World Championship team.

Neil Allen was drafted by the Mets in the 11th round of the 1976 amateur draft. Initially a starting pitcher he made his Major League debut with the Mets on April 15th, 1979 against the Philadelphia Phillies, he would suffer the loss allowing 3 runs over 6 innings. Allen would go on to lose five straight decisions before the Mets moved him into the bullpen. Allen found a home in the Mets bullpen where he won 6 games and saved another 8 over the remainder of the season.

Neil Allen became a permanent member of the Mets bullpen in 1980 eventually becoming the teams closer. He saved 59 games over the next three seasons, often keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. His best season came in 1980 when he saved 22 games.  He was twice named National Player of the Week, first for the week ending on July 6, 1980 when he saved 2 games and posted a 0.00 ERA in three appearances.  The second time came in 1981 for the week ending on August 23 when in 3 appearances he saved 2 and won the other.

In 1983 the Mets were experimenting with returning Allen back into a starter when Cardinals General Manager Whitey Herzog called them to see if they would be interested in Keith Hernandez and the rest as they say is history.

In five seasons with the Mets Allen appeared in 223 games and posted a 25 and 40 record with 69 saves and a 3.54 ERA.

While with the Mets Allen wore number 46 from 1979-1980 and number 13 from 1981-1983.

Neil Allen also plated for the following teams:
St. Louis Cardinals – 1983-1985
New York Yankees – 1985, 1987, 1988
Chicago White Sox – 1986, 1987
Cleveland Indians – 1989

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Wally Backman – His New York Mets Career 1980-1988

Wally BackmanA hardnosed gritty player Wally Backman symbolized the feistiness and tenacity of the great Met teams of the mid 80’s especially the 1986 World Championship team.

Wally Backman started his Met career as a September call up in 1980 and would spend parts of the next four seasons with the Mets. During that span he showed signs of promise but could never stick with the big club, injuries also played a factor. When not playing in New York Backman spent much of the time with the Mets Triple A affiliate the Tidewater Tides. It was with Tidewater where Backman caught the eye of manager Davey Johnson who liked his style of play. When Johnson was named the manager of the Mets in 1984, he immediately made Backman his starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. He became a fan favorite due to his hardnosed style of play, leading the league in dirty uniforms. Backman would hit .280 while also stealing 32 bases as the Mets surprised many and won 90 games for their first winning season since 1976.

In 1985 he hit .273 with 1 home run and 38 RBIs and led the team in stolen bases with 30. During the month of August, he enjoyed a 14-game hitting streak.

In 1986, Backman’s struggles against left-handed pitching forced Davey Johnson to platoon him with Tim Teufel. But he still managed to hit a career best .320 while batting in the number two spot in the lineup setting the table for the Mets big hitters, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry, as the Mets ran away and hid in the National League and won the World Series.

During the 1986 League Championship Series, he hit just 0.238 but was in the middle of some of the most pivotal moments.  In game 3, with game trailing 5-4 entering the 9th inning Backman led off with a bunt single.  He beat out the bunt when he lunged past Astros first baseman Glenn Davis.  Two batters later he scored on Len Dyktra’s walk off home run.  In game 5 with the game tied in the 12rh inning, he led off with an infield single and would eventually come around to score the winning run on Gary Carter’s single.  During the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, he hit .333 (6 for 18) and drove in one run.

Backman’s production began to fall off in 1987 and by 1988 and with the emergence of Gregg Jefferies and Keith Miller from the Mets minor league system he became expendable. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins following the 1988 season in exchange for three minor league prospects.

Backman hit .283 over his 9-year career with the Mets, playing in 765 games.

In 2010, Wally Backman returned to the Mets organization as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, their single A minor league affiliate.  He went on to manage their double A affiliate the Binghamton Mets.  He also managed their Triple A affiliate in both Buffalo and Las Vegas from 2012-2016.

While with the Mets Backman wore number 28 in 1980 and number 6 from 1981-1988.

Wally Backman also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1989
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1990
Philadelphia Phillies – 1991,1992
Seattle Mariners – 1993

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Rick Ownbey – His New York Mets Career 1982,1983

Rick OwnbeyRight-handed pitcher Rick Ownbey made his Major League debut with the Mets on August 17, 1982 against the Cincinnati Reds.  As the starting pitcher, he allowed 5 runs over 5 innings and was the losing pitcher.  He appeared in a total of 8 games for the Mets in 1982, 5 as a starter, and posted a 1-2 record with a 3.75 ERA.  His first win came on September 8 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he pitched a complete game and allowed just one run.

Ownbey started the 1983 season with the Mets and appeared in 10 games before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 15th in one of the biggest trades in Mets history.  He was traded along with Neil Allen in exchange for Keith Hernandez, who played an integral part in the Mets 1986 World Championship season.  At the time of the trade Ownbey had a 1-3 record with a 4.67 ERA.  His one win came on June 10 when he pitched the final 4 innings in the Mets 4-2 17 inning win over the Montreal Expos.

In two seasons with the Mets Ownbey appeared in 18 games and posted a 2-5 record with a 4.13 ERA.

While with the Mets Ownbey wore number 20.

Rick Ownbey also played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1984,1986.

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Tim Leary – His New York Mets Career 1981,1983,1984

Tim LearyThe Mets drafted right-handed pitcher Tim Leary with the 2nd overall pick in the 1979 amateur draft.  After going 15-8 with 2.76 ERA in the minors, he was considered by many in the organization to be the next Tom Seaver, but injuries sidetracked his career and he never lived up to the hype.

Leary made his Major League debut on April 12, 1981 against the Chicago Cubs.  He struck out 3 batters in 2 innings before he was removed from the game with a strained elbow.  It would be his only appearance in a Met uniform for the season.

Injuries sidelined him for the entire 1982 season.  He pitched the entire 1983 season in the minors before getting called up to New York in September.  He made two appearances and went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.  On the last day of the season he pitched a complete game against the Montreal Expos, allowing 3 earned runs to earn his first Major League victory.

Leary started the 1984 season with the Mets and appeared in 20 games, 7 as a starter, before being demoted to the minors in July.  At the time of his demotion his record was 3-3 with a 4.02 ERA.  He finished the season in the minors with the Tidewater Tides where he went 4-4 with 4.05 ERA.

With the emergence of young pitchers Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez Leary became expandable and was traded to the Kansas City Royals on January 18, 1985.  In 23 appearances for the Mets Leary posted a 4-4 record with a 3.80 ERA.

While with the Met Leary wore number 38.

Tim Leary also played for the following teams:
Milwaukee Brewers – 1985,1986
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1987-1989
Cincinnati Reds = 1989
New York Yankees – 1990-1992
Seattle Mariners – 1992,1993
Texas Rangers – 1994

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Ronn Reynolds – His New York Mets Career 1982,1983,1985

Ronn ReyoldsAfter three seasons in the Mets minor league system catcher Ronn Reynolds finally made his Met debut on September 29, 1982.  He started the game and went 0 for 2 before being removed for a pinch hitter.  He would appear in just one more game in 1982 and finished the season 0 for 4.  Reynolds started the 1983 season in the minors with the Tidewater Tides, the Mets top farm club, before being recalled at the end of April.  He appeared in 24 games, 23 as the starting catcher, but hit only .197 in 66 plate appearances and was shipped back to Tidewater in the middle of June.  He got his first hit on May 8th against the Cincinnati Reds.  Reynolds finished out the season in Tidewater; in fact, he would not make another appearance with the Mets until 1985.  After starting the season with Tidewater, playing in just three games, he was promoted to New York to be the backup catcher to Gary Carter.  Although he spent the entire season with the Mets he appeared in only 28 games and batted just .209 in 43 at bats.

Following the season, the Mets traded Reynolds to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

In 54 games for the Mets over three seasons Reynolds batted .195 with 3 RBIs

While with the Mets Reynolds wore number 8 in 1982 and 1983 and number 9 in 1985.

Ronn Reynolds also played for the following teams:
Philadelphia Phillies – 1986
Houston Astros – 1987
San Diego Padres – 1990

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Walt Terrell – His New York Mets Career 1982-1984

Walt TerrellRight-handed pitcher Walt Terrell was acquired from the Texas Rangers along with Ron Darling in exchange for Lee Mazzilli on April 1, 1982.  The Mets immediately sent him to the minors where he spent the 1982 season pitching for the Tidewater Tides.  In 21 games for the Tides Terrell posted a 7-8 record before being promoted to New York as a September call up.  He made his Major League debut on September 18 against the St. Louis Cardinals; he allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings and suffered the loss.  He made two more starts for the Mets but lost both of them to finish out the season 0-3 with a 3.43 ERA.

Terrell returned to Tidewater to start the 1983 season, but after going 10-1 in 12 starts for the Tides he was promoted back to the Mets in the middle of June.  In his first start for the Mets on June 20 Terrell earned his first big league victory.  He finished out the season with the Mets and posted an 8-8 record with a 3.57 ERA.  The highlight of his season came on August 6 at Wrigley Field vs. the Chicago Cubs, not only did he earn the victory by allowing just one run over 7 1/3 innings he also hit two home runs to account for all the Met scoring.  In doing so he became the first pitcher in Met history to hit two home runs in a game.

Terrell spent the entire 1984 season as a member of the Mets starting rotation.   In his first full season in the big leagues he pitched to mixed results.  In 33 starts Terrell posted an 11-12 record with a 3.52 ERA.  He did pitch three complete games with one shutout which came on June 5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With the emergence of young stars Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez Terrell became expendable and was traded to the Detroit Tigers for infielder Howard Johnson during the off-season.

With the Mets Walt Terrell posted a 19-23 record with a 3.53 ERA.

While with the Mets Terrell wore number 49.

Walt Terrell also played for the following teams:
Detroit Tigers – 1985-1988, 1990-1992
New York Yankees – 1989
San Diego Padres -1989
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1990

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Bob Bailor – His New York Mets Career 1981-1983

Bob BailorThe Mets acquired Bob Bailor from the Toronto Blue Jays on December 12, 1980 in exchange for pitcher Roy Lee Jackson.  Bailor was a jack of all trades type of player, having the ability to play both the infield and outfield.  With the Mets over three seasons he would play 2nd, 3rd and shortstop as well as all three outfield positions.

Bailor’s Mets career did not get off to a great start as he started the 1981 season on the disabled list with a pulled ribcage muscle.  He made his Mets debut on April 29th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  With the Mets trailing 10-0 he pinch hit for shortstop Frank Taveras in the 8th inning and flew out to centerfield.  The Mets used Bailor sparingly in 1981, as he appeared in just 51 games with 81 at bats.  He hit a respectable .284 with 8 RBIs.  He played a majority of his games at shortstop.

Bailor would appear in 110 games for the Mets in 1982 starting 86 of them.  He started the season playing a majority of the games at second base but with the emergence of Wally Backman, he started to see more time at shortstop and third base.  He hit .277 for the season and drove in 31 runs while stealing a career best 20 bases.

He started the 1983 season as the Mets everyday shortstop.  On April 13 he hit his one and only home run as a Met, a solo shot off of Sid Monge of the Philadelphia Phillies. But a sore rib cage muscle landed him on the disabled list in May.  When he returned from the DL he was used primarily as a back-up infielder.  He would appear in 118 games for the Mets in 1983 hitting .250 with one home run and 30 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

During the off-season the Mets traded Bailor to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Carlos Diaz in exchange for Sid Fernandez and Ross Jones.

In 279 games for the Mets over three seasons Bailor hit .266 with one home run and 69 RBIs. 

While with the Mets Bailor wore number 4.

Bob Bailor also played for the following teams:
Baltimore Orioles – 1975,1976
Toronto Blue Jays – 1977-1980
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1984,1985

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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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