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Category Archives: New York Mets

Phil Hennigan – 1973 Topps #107

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ImagePhillip Winston Hennigan (Born: April 10, 1946 in Jasper, Texas) is a right-handed former Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1969 to 1973 with the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fourth round of the 1966 draft, Hennigan began his professional career that same year. Pitching for the Reno Silver Sox, Hennigan went 3-8 with a 4.03 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 96 innings of work. He missed all of 1967 due to military service. In 1968, he pitched for Reno again, going 5-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 80 innings. He struck out 76 batters and walked 32. In 1969, he mostly pitched for the Waterbury Indians although he saw a few games in the majors. With the Waterbury Indians, Imagehe went 10-10 with a 3.39 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 154 innings of work. He made his big league debut on September 2 of that year, pitching a third of an inning against the Minnesota Twins. The single batter he faced in that game (and the first batter he ever faced in the majors) was Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Carew flew out to center. Overall, he went 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in nine relief appearances in his rookie season. Following the 1972 season, he was traded to the Mets for pitchers Bob Rauch and Brent Strom. He appeared in 30 games with the Mets in 1973, going 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA. He played his final big league game on July 7, 1973.


Jon Matlack – 1973 Topps #55

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ImageJonathan Trumpbour Matlack (born January 19, 1950 in West Chester, Pennsylvania) is an American former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. He was selected with fourth overall by the New York Mets in the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft. Matlack compiled 1,023 strikeouts and a 3.03 earned run average as one of the “Big Three” pitchers the New York Mets were built around in the 1970s, along with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. Unfortunately, the Mets were also a light hitting team at the time, and his 82-81 record is not nearly indicative of how well he pitched for the club.
Matlack’s record dipped to 14-16 in 1973, he was 5-1 from August 18 on, helping the Mets capture the National League East. Perhaps his most memorable moment with the Mets occurred on October 7, 1973 when he held the “Big Red Machine” to just two hits in game two of the 1973 National League Championship Series.  He was equally impressive in the 1973 World Series, giving up just three hits in six innings in game one of the World Series, however, the Oakland A’s scored two runs on a Felix Millan error in the third, and held on for the 2-1 victory. ImageHe won game four, giving up just one run in eight innings. He lost the seventh and decisive game of the series 5-2; in the third inning of that game, he gave up two-run home runs to both Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson. The only two home runs Oakland would hit the entire Series.
Matlack retired following the 1983 season. After four years away from the game, he was hired as pitching coach for the San Diego Padres’ Arizona League affiliate. He also coached in the Chicago White Sox organization before he was hired as the Detroit Tigers’ major league pitching coach in 1996. He is currently the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Houston Astros.

Felix Millan – 1973 Topps #407

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ImageFélix Bernardo Millán Martínez (born August 21, 1943) is a former second baseman in Major League Baseball. Born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Felix made his major league debut on June 2, 1966 with the Atlanta Braves, and played for Atlanta until 1973. Millan was primarily a second baseman. He played in two All-Star Games, the first in 1969 and the second in 1971; in 1970 he was named an All-Star, but was unable to participate due to injuries. In 1973, he was traded to the New York Mets, which he played until 1977. He played for a total of 12 years. His first game was June 2, 1966 for the Atlanta Braves and his final game was August 12, 1977 for the New York Mets. He was forced to retire after sustaining a shoulder injury during an on-field brawl in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ed Ott slid hard into Millán trying to break up a double play, Millán shouted at Ott and hit him with a baseball in his hand,Image and Ott answered by slamming him hard to the turf at Three Rivers Stadium, severely injuring his shoulder. Millán also played for three seasons in the Japanese Central League after leaving the majors. He joined the Taiyo Whales in 1978, after the Whales bought his contract from the Mets, and played alongside Skip James. He won the batting title in his second year in Japan (1979) with a .346 batting average, and was given the Best Nine Award. He won the title with only 126 hits, barely having enough at-bats to qualify for the title. He did not play well the next year, and was released by the Whales after the 1980 season. In his three years in Japan, he had only 52 strikeouts in 1139 at-bats.

Ed Kranepool – 1973 Topps #329

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ImageEdward Emil Kranepool (born November 8, 1944) is a former first baseman who spent his entire Major League Baseball career with the New York Mets. After batting a combined .301 at three levels of the Mets’ minor league system in 1962, Kranepool received a September call-up in just his first professional season. At age 17, Kranepool was six years younger than the next-youngest ’62 Met, a reflection of the disastrous decision of Met management to select mostly older veterans in the expansion draft. He made his major league debut wearing number 21 on September 22, 1962 as a late inning defensive replacement for Gil Hodges at first base in a 9-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at the Polo Grounds. He grounded out to Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs in his only at bat. He made his first start the next day, September 23, where he played first, and went one for four with a double.
Prior to the start of the 1965 season, the Mets acquired future Hall of fame pitcher Warren Spahn from the Milwaukee Braves. Kranepool gave up his number 21 to Spahn, who had worn that number his entire career, and began wearing number 7. Kranepool was batting .287 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs to be named the sole Mets representative at the 1965 Major ImageLeague Baseball All-Star Game, though he did not play. By the end of the season, Kranepool’s batting average fell to .253, but that was still enough to lead the team that lost 112 games that season, and finished in tenth place in the National League. He also led his team with 133 hits and 24 doubles. In 1966, Kranepool paced the Mets with a career high sixteen home runs to help the Mets avoid a last place finish and 100 losses for the first time in franchise history (95). Ed Kranepool made a living after retirement as a stockbroker and restaurateur, and was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1990. He is currently living in New York.

Bill Sudakis – 1973 Topps #586

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ImageWilliam Paul Sudakis (born March 27, 1946 in Joliet, Illinois) was a power-hitting third baseman whom the Dodgers tried at catcher in 1970-1971. Dogged by bad knees, he was finally waived by the Dodgers during Spring Training of 1972. He was selected off waivers by the New York Mets but appeared in only 18 games for the Mets. With the introduction of the designated hitter in the American League in 1973, the Texas Rangers coveted Sudakis as their DH and acquired him from the Mets. ImageHe responded with his best season at .255 and 15 HRs in only 82 games. Sudakis’ aching knees kept him off the field and held his numbers down. Partly because of his versatility (he could play first or third base and catcher and was also a switch hitter), he was given shots by the New York Yankees, California Angels, and Cleveland Indians. In 1976, he played for the Omaha Royals of the American Association in the Kansas City Royals system but could not make it back to the major leagues.

Ted Martinez – 1973 Topps #161

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ImageTeodoro Noel Martínez Encarnación (born December 10, 1947 in Santa Cruz de Barahona, Dominican Republic) is a former professional baseball infielder. He played all or part of nine seasons in Major League Baseball, mostly as a shortstop and second baseman, for the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. ImageHe helped the Mets win the 1973 National League pennant, the Athletics win the 1975 American League West and the Dodgers win the 1977 and 1978 National League pennant. In 9 seasons he played in 657 games and had 1,480 at bats, 165 runs, 355 hits, 50 doubles, 16 triples, 7 home runs, 108 RBI, 29 stolen Bases, 55 walks (12 intentional), .240 batting average, .270 on-base percentage, .309 slugging percentage, 458 total bases, 25 sacrifice hits and 6 sacrifice flies.

Duffy Dyer – 1973 Topps #493

Donald Robert “Duffy” Dyer(born August 15, 1945 in Dayton, Ohio) is a former American professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the New York Mets (1968-1974), Pittsburgh Pirates (1975-1978), Montreal Expos (1979), and Detroit Tigers (1980-1981). Dyer played alongside Sal Bando and Rick Monday as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils baseball team that won the 1965 College World Series. He was drafted by the Mets in the 1966 Major League Baseball Draft and backed up Jerry Grote as a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets team that went on to win the World Series. Dyer caught most of the Mets games in 1972, as Grote battled injuries. In 94 games, he posted career-highs with 8 home runs and 36 runs batted in. He also led National League catchers in double plays and in baserunners caught stealing, finished second in assists and, third in fielding percentage. In 1973, Dyer was part of the Mets team that staged another miraculous season when they came from last place on August 30 to win the National League Eastern Division pennant.

Tom Seaver 1976 Topps #600

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George Thomas “Tom” Seaver (born November 17, 1944), nicknamed “Tom Terrific” and “The Franchise”, is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He pitched from 1967-1986 for four different teams in his career, but is noted primarily for his time with the New York Mets. During a 20-year career, Seaver compiled 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts, 61 shutouts and a 2.86 earned run average. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the highest percentage ever recorded (98.84%), and has the only plaque at Cooperstown wearing a New York Mets hat. As of 2010, Tom Seaver and Gil Hodges (played for the Mets in 1962-63) are the only Met players to have their jersey numbers retired by the team (Gil Hodges’ number was retired as a manager even though he also played for the Mets). He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1967, and three NL Cy Young Awards as the league’s best pitcher. Seaver is the Mets’ all-time leader in wins, and is considered by many baseball experts as one of the best starting pitchers in the history of baseball. Seaver was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 7, 1992. He received the highest-ever percentage of votes with 98.84% (on 425 of 430 ballots), higher than Nolan Ryan’s 98.79% (491 of 497), and Ty Cobb’s 98.23% (222 of 226). Reportedly, three of the five ballots that had omitted Seaver were blank, cast by writers protesting the Hall’s decision to make Pete Rose ineligible for consideration. Seaver is the only player enshrined in the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque. He was also inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1988, the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2006.

Yogi Berra – 1976 Topps #179

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (born May 12, 1925) is a former American Major League Baseball catcher, outfielder, and manager. He played almost his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the New York Yankees. Berra was one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times and is one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. As a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 World Series. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Berra is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. According to the win shares formula developed by sabermetrician Bill James, Berra is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd greatest non-pitching player in major-league history. Berra, who quit school after the eighth grade, has a tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language. “It ain’t over till it’s over” is arguably his most famous example, often quoted. Simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, Berra once stated, “I really didn’t say everything I said.” He picked up his famous nickname from a friend, Bobby Hofman, who said he resembled a Hindu holy man (yogi) they had seen in a movie, whenever Berra sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat, or while looking sad after a losing game. Berra appeared in fourteen World Series, winning ten championships, both of which are records. One of the most notable days of Berra’s playing career came when he caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the first of only two no-hitters ever thrown in postseason play. The pictures of Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms following the 27th out are among the sport’s most memorable images. In 1972, Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Willie May – 1973 Topps #305

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Willie Howard Mays, Jr.  (born May 6, 1931) is an American professional baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before finishing with the New York Mets. Nicknamed The Say Hey Kid, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility. Many consider him to be the greatest all-around player of all time. Mays won two MVP awards and tied Stan Musial’s record with 24 appearances in the All-Star Game. He ended his career with 660 home runs, third at the time of his retirement, and currently fourth all-time. An outstanding center fielder, he won a record-tying twelve Gold Gloves starting the year the award was introduced six seasons into his career. In 1999, Mays placed second on The Sporting News’ List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, making him the highest-ranking living player. Later that year, he was also elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Mays is one of five NL players to have eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons, along with Mel Ott, Sammy Sosa, Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols. Mays hit 50 or more home runs in both 1955 and 1965. This time span represents the longest stretch between 50 plus home run seasons for any player in Major League Baseball history.
Ted Williams once said “They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.”

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