“Ya Gotta Remember” The 1973 NL Pennant Winners the NY Mets

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I haven’t seen nor heard anything pertaining to the NY Mets having a day/night to honor the 1973 NL Pennant winners.   I really hope that there is something in the works to bring back the surviving members of that team for a celebratory remembrance.   It would an awful shame to let this 40th Anniversary of the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets   go unnoticed by the organization the ’73 team’s season for its comeback ability should be given be revered and honored just like the ’69 and ’86 champions as the Ya Gotta Believe mantra of Tug McGraw was no showboat move it was what had this team come together to have one of the great runs not just in Mets history but baseball history as well.

The ’73 Mets were awful from May to July winning 32 games and losing 49 with the low make of the season coming on July 4th when the Mets found themselves 12.5 games behind the first place Chicago Cubs in the NL East. July was still a bad month for the team as they put up a dismal 12-18 record but from August on the Mets went 49-22 while all the other NL East teams went into the dumper no team hit the skids worse than the Cubs who went an astonishing awful 30-52 during that stretch.

This team was no offensive juggernaut that’s for sure with Rusty Staub the leading hitter driving in 76 runs on 12 HR and a .781 OPS. John “The Hammer” Milner lead the team with 23 HR and 72 RBI and surprisingly Wayne Garrett hit 16 HR as well. The club was in the bottom third of every offensive statistic in the league that year except for Walks where they had the 6th best rate in the NL.

What ran this Mets team in ’73 was the pitching especially a solid stable of left-handed pitching plus The Franchise. Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack and George Stone supported the Ace Tom Seaver in the rotation , one of the best in baseball that year, along with swing man and veteran pitcher Ray Sadecki and of course their Fireman (that’s what the closer was known as back then) Tug McGraw.

1973 was also the swan song or Willie Mays who after a few embarrassing missteps in centerfield knew it was “time to say good bye to America”.

How great would a day at Citi Field be to honor this Pennant winning Mets team by having Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Rusty Staub, Jerry Grote, Wayne Garrett , Ed Kranepool and of course The Franchise, Tom Seaver  etc. on the field for a pre-game ceremony?

Please, please, please we cannot let this anniversary go without a day of remembrance. It’s already a big disappointment that a Salute to ’73 day is not on the season calendar already.

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REMEMBERING GARY CARTER

What a great touch last night by SNY to show Gary Carter’s first game as a Met ( a game I attended), opening day 1985. That game brought back a flood of memories about the era in Mets history and Carter’s legacy as a NY Met.

I was at Madison Square Garden on the night of December 10th , 1984 watching the NY Rangers play the LA Kings,  between periods I strolled down to the concourse to grab a beer (my drinking days) and call Sports Phone  (once upon a time this great new service came out called SportsPhone known by its great jingle  “get all the sports scores in-stan-leeee dial 976-1313) to get some out of town NHL and NBA scores (this was also my gambling days, oh and along with the beer in my hand and the phone receiver to my ear there was a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth, yes I’d indulged in all sorts of vice back in the day, that why I loved the 1970’s and 80’s) came a voice on the other end of the line telling me that the New York Mets have acquired Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. HOLLLLLLYYYYY SHIT!

As I made my way back up to Section 432, it seemed all the other degenerates checking scores and their bets, heard the Mets news as well as the Garden was buzzing. There was great debate amongst myself and my friends over this deal. At the time it looked like Frank Cashen gave up a King’s ransom for Carter. Brooks was coming off a nice season with 16HR and 73 RBI, Fitzgerald, Wininngham and Youmans were top prospects in what was at the time a fruitful Mets farm system, but hey we got Gary Carter, add him to Keith Hernandez and the two kids, Gooden and Strawberry and god damn, the Mets are going to kick some serious ass in 1984, and they did, going from 68-94 in 1983 to 90-72 in 1984 finishing 6 ½ games back of the division champion Chicago Cubs (somewhere in my basement is my florescent yellow CUBS BUSTERS t-shirt that had the bear cub in a circle with a red line through it, yeah baby THE MAGIC WAS BACK AT SHEA)

So many on the field memories, pop into my head when thinking of Gary Carter but so do many off the field ones as well.

I got married in 1986 (same year I dropped two bad habits, gambling and smoking, drinking would come ten years later) the last of four kids to leave the nice secure nest my parent had made for us. Most weeknights, I’d come from work have dinner with my parents (dinner always on the table when I got home, told you it tough leaving my happy habitat) and afterwards, head to the living room with my dad to watch Mets baseball.  My mother, a woman surrounded by sons, nephews and cousins who were sports fanatics, a woman who washed more uniforms than any clubhouse person, never cared for sports, that is until I move out of the house. The sight of my old man sitting with no one to talk about the games with, she decided it was time to take up watching sports particularly Mets baseball.  Not only did she start watching Mets games, she now wanted to go to Mets games, WHAT? “Ma, you want to go to Shea”  “Oh yes, I want to go see Gary Carter” So we took her to see “her guy” Gary Carter.

I thought about that all the way on my commute home last night, then I listened to all the tributes for Carter and I really felt overwhelmed, Gary Carter was much more than a baseball player, he was as inspirational as anyone who has ever hit this city. To hear Keith Hernandez weep when talking about Carter was heartbreaking. Listening to Ron Darling speak of Carter you could tell he held him in such high regard. Then I heard Doc Gooden, who told the story of how Carter would come to the Smithers Institute where he was residing to combat his drug and alcohol addiction, on Sunday’s after home games to make sure Gooden was okay. Strawberry may have given Carter the best compliment anyone can give to another human being when he said that Carter “lived his life the way I wish I could have”.

Carter was at times mocked for his goody-goody ways, which some felt were phony but as they got to know him they found out his love of family, baseball and God was genuine. I found it stunning that those four players who played hard and partied even harder in their youth and would ridicule Carter for his clean living ways back then, now in their middle age wish they could have had the life that Gary Carter had. Don’t you wish we all could be remembered that way?

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ANGEL PAGAN AND MIKE PIAZZA TO BE HONORED AT THURMAN MUNSON DINNER

Angel Pagan and Mike Piazza (among other sports stars) will be honored at the 31st Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, Tuesday February 1at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in NYC . Both Pagan and Piazza will be honored for the work with various charity endeavors.

Pagan, 29, is a rising star with the New York Mets, with the 2010 season rating as his strongest to date during a five-year career. An outstanding fielder, Pagan made strides with the bat last season, setting  career highs in hits (168), runs scored (80), home runs (11), RBI (69),and stolen bases (37). The native of Puerto Rico was originally drafted by the Mets in 1999, but reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Pagan made an impact off the field for the Mets in 2010, and was the Mets nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. He was one of the first Mets to participate in the June “Teammates in the Community Week,” planting new trees in community gardens in Spanish Harlem. Pagan also proudly supports City Harvest, food and rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children. He hit the streets of Manhattan this year to raise awareness for City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign and has visited Hour Children Food Pantry in Long Island City to help distribute more than 1,000 pounds of food to needy families during the busy holiday season.

Piazza, 42, may have been the top offensive catcher of all time. A .308 career hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza played for 16 seasons, including an eight-year stretch with the New York Mets following a three-team trade from the Dodgers via the Marlins. The 1993 Rookie of the Year, and a 12-time National League All Star selection, Piazza was peerless amongst catchers with the bat during his career, and the Norristown, Pennsylvania native is the all-time leader in homers for a backstop. In a career filled with big home runs, Piazza’s most memorable long-ball was a go-ahead two-run shot off of Atlanta Braves’ reliever Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular Met also contributed to the team’s 2000 World Series appearance by hitting 2 key homers in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Piazza participates in Michael Jordan’s Make-A-Wish charity golf and softball events, and has worked closely with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.)

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188

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CAT SCRATCH FEVER CIRCA 1969

Today marks the 39th anniversary of the Black Cat incident at Shea Stadium. While Ron Santo waited on deck for the Chicago Cubs, (I hated Santo’s guts when I was a kid as he did that stupid clicking of his heels when the Cubs won) The black cat went past Santo and into the Cubs dugout and looked Leo Durocher in the eye and let him know the Cubbies were doomed. The Mets won the game and the next game to go into first place and the rest as they say is history. If the Mets were creative they would have someone with a Black Cat take down the Shea Goodbye Countdown number tonight.

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