If I learned anything from the contestants who vied for the Fifty Sheas of Krane grand prize of the New York Mets 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set from A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions is that if they devoted themselves to designing a similar contest for me to take, I’d be hard-pressed to match the performance they put forth in taking mine. They’re that good.
Proving themselves worthiest — so worthy that I had to declare the contest a virtual tie and award each of them the DVD set that is available for purchase here — were Gabriel Panek of New York and Peter from somewhere down the East Coast (Peter prefers to remain a Metropolitan man of mystery for the time being). They each filed 47 of 50 correct answers on November 14, and since, as you will see, I did a less than perfect job in asking a few of the questions, I’m not comfortable saying one of them didn’t win. So they both win.
Also very worthy, with 47 of 50 right sent on November 15, was Chris Valentino of New York. He earned the terrific A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions release, New York Mets 50 Greatest Players, plus a copy of the sensational new book, The Happiest Recap by…oh, will ya look at that…by Greg Prince. And coming in with 46 of 50 right just under the deadline — and with the most entertaining footnotes imaginable attached to just about every answer — was the talented Studious Metsimus author Ed Leyro. Somebody with his encyclopedic mind deserves the new and data-packed team encyclopedia Total Mets, written by David Ferry, with foreword by…no kidding, Ed Kranepool.
Those are our winners and runners-up. Thanks to all who gave it a shot, whether you hung in to the end of the test or spent a few hours on it before cursing me and Ed Kranepool out.
On to the answers…
1. Who was the first player to pinch-run for Ed Kranepool?
Rick Herrscher, September 23, 1962, after the kid’s very first base hit, an eighth-inning double off Don Elston.
2. How many future Met coaches played in the last Polo Grounds game in which Ed Kranepool collected a base hit — and who were they?
Two: Bobby Wine (1993-1996) and Cookie Rojas (1997-2000) played for the Phillies on September 17, 1963.
3. What was Ed Kranepool’s postseason batting average against future Hall of Fame pitchers?
.100 — Ed went 1-for-10 vs. Phil Niekro (1969 NLCS), Jim Palmer (1969 World Series) and Rollie Fingers (1973 (World Series); the lone hit against these immortals-to-be was a fourth-inning single in Game One of the ’69 playoffs off Niekro. Kranepool homered in the game Palmer started in that year’s World Series, but against Baltimore reliever Dave Leonhard.
4. What future Detroit Tigers pitcher attended the same high school as Ed Kranepool?
Izzy Goldstein (who pitched for the 1932 Tigers; he was not, incidentally, a teammate of Hank Greenberg, who appeared briefly with Detroit in 1930 and came up to stay in 1933).
5. In which year’s Mets highlight film — as featured on SNY’s Mets Yearbook — does Ed Kranepool discuss his second-place finish in the team bubble gum-blowing contest?
1978. (Ed was runner-up to winking Bobby Valentine, who gleefully revealed how he endeared himself to the lady judges.)
6. How many hits did Mets wearing No. 7 collect before Ed Kranepool wore it?
149, as collected by Elio Chacon (87), Chico Fernandez (29) and Amado “Sammy” Samuel (33).
7. How many home runs did Ed Kranepool have to hit to set the all-time career Mets home run record (which he held for more than a decade) and whose mark did he surpass?
This was a messy question that lacked thorough due diligence on my part. As a result, any of the following were accepted: 61 and Jim Hickman; 70 and Ron Swoboda; or Cleon Jones and 94. Ed rose and dipped at the top of the Mets’ all-time home run chart several times between 1969 and 1976, when he secured the franchise lead for the rest of his career and then some.
8. Chronologically, what future Met was born closest to Ed Kranepool without being born after Ed Kranepool?
1981 Pitcher Dave Roberts, who was born on September 11, 1944. (The Met born closest to Kranepool, albeit afterwards, was Tom Seaver, on November 17, 1944 — belated Happy 68th to the Franchise!)
9. How many players who played in Ed Kranepool’s final big league game had already been part of losing American League World Series teams and who were they?
Two: Bernie Carbo (1975 Red Sox) and Elliott Maddox (1976 Yankees). A couple of other players in that game would go on to play for American League World Series afterwards, but we were looking only for those who “had already been”.
10. The Eddie Kranepool Society, unofficially the longest-running blog in all of Metsdom, regularly refers to the current chairman and chief executive officer of the Mets by what nickname?
EKS proprietor Steve Keane has been consistent in referring to Fred Wilpon as Skill Sets or some variation thereof in tribute to Wilpon’s vague excuse for firing GM Joe McIlvaine in 1997, during the Mets’ first contending season in approximately an eon.
11. What percentage of his major league hit total did Ed Kranepool accumulate before the first presidential election in which he was eligible to vote?
44.36%. That’s based on the 629 base hits Ed accumulated — out of his lifetime total of 1,418 — through the 1968 season. The minimum voting age in the United States was 21 until the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971, thus Kranepool couldn’t vote for president until November 5, 1968, when he was a few days shy of 24. (For what it’s worth, Richard Nixon won the 1968 election with 43.42% of the popular vote, or a lower percentage than Kranepool registered in the answer to this question.)
12. Ed Kranepool once shared a Topps baseball card with his manager. Who was the manager and what was the headline over the image on the card?
Casey Stengel — CASEY TEACHES. It was a 1964 card and Ed didn’t appear to be the world’s most attentive pupil.
13. Who were the two future Hall of Fame pitchers against whom Ed Kranepool hit three home runs apiece?
Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry.
14. How many Mets played their final game as Mets before Ed Kranepool played his first game as a Met?
Sixteen. There was no requirement that they all be named, though most of our contestants were happy to list them. One, it bears noting, was Joe Ginsberg, who recently passed away at the age of 86. Joe was the longest-surviving former Met, his final game having come April 15, 1962, which was the franchise’s fourth-ever game. His passing whittles the number of living members of the Mets’ first team to 28.
The other fifteen who were done as Mets before Ed’s debut on September 22, 1962: Hobie Landrith, Gus Bell, Don Zimmer, Ed Bouchee, Herb Moford, Clem Labine, Jim Marshall, Sherman “Roadblock” Jones, John DeMerit, Bobby Gene Smith (who now holds the record as the longest-surviving former Met, having played his final Mets game on April 24, 1962), Dave Hillman (the oldest-living 1962 Mets and second-oldest living Met overall, behind Yogi Berra), Harry Chiti, Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, Gene Woodling and Bob G. Miller.
15. How many Ed Kranepool teammates managed the Mets and who were they?
Seven: Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, Roy McMillan, Joe Torre, Bud Harrelson, Dallas Green and Bobby Valentine.
16. The last time the Mets sent Ed Kranepool to the minors, what prospect did they bring up to take his spot on the roster?
Ken Singleton, in June of 1970. Ed had been a Met mainstay since May of 1964, when he returned from Buffalo in time to play in the infamous 32-inning Memorial Day doubleheader, which the Mets infamously (naturally) dropped to the Giants. Six years later, he spent the bulk of the summer at Tidewater after his average dipped to .118. He came back to New York in August and revived his career the following season.
17. In which year’s Mets highlight film — as featured on SNY’s Mets Yearbook — does Ed Kranepool visit his old high school?
1977. This was the same film that had Joe Torre holding court at a dude ranch of some sort, insisting that someday the Tom Seaver trade would be known as the Steve Henderson trade.
18. How many hits did future teammates of Ed Kranepool get against the Mets in the first full big league game Ed Kranepool played — and who got them?
Five: George Altman (4) and Ken Boyer (1), members of the Cardinals on Opening Day 1963, when Ed went the full nine for the first time. Both men joined the Mets in 1964.
19. What is the “first” that connects 1938 Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer to 1964 Mets center fielder Ed Kranepool?
Inaugural night games in New York. Vander Meer’s famous second consecutive no-hitter came during the first night game at Ebbets Field, June 15, 1938. The only time Ed Kranepool was a center fielder was May 6, 1964, which was the first night game at Shea Stadium.
20. What Met made the first pinch-hitting appearance wearing No. 21 after Ed Kranepool stopped wearing it?
Warren Spahn, the all-time great pitcher and pretty decent hitter (35 career home runs) for whom Kranepool was compelled to surrender his first set of major league numerals. Spahnie pinch-hit unsuccessfully in the ninth inning at Candlestick Park on April 24, 1965, a game the Mets would go on to win on Danny “Vive La France!” Napoleon’s pinch-triple.
21. Ed Kranepool collected 1,252 hits while wearing No. 7, including 85 as a pinch-hitter. It took more than a quarter-century, but eventually the sum total of Mets who wore No. 7 after Ed Kranepool exceeded that total of 1,252. In the game in which the 1,253rd hit collected by the sum total off all Mets who wore No. 7 after Ed Kranepool was recorded, what extraordinary feat did a Mets pinch-hitter (a lefty batter like Kranepool, but not someone who wore No. 7 as a Met) accomplish that no Mets pinch-hitter had done before? And what was the date of the game in question?
Marlon Anderson produced the first pinch-hit inside-the-park home run in Mets history on June 11, 2005, the same night Jose Reyes garnered the 1,253rd hit by a post-Kranepool No. 7 Met player. (And I fully admit this question was the work of a madman.)
22. How many men were inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame before Ed Kranepool?
Twelve, the twist being there were thirteen members — including Joan Payson — named before Ed made it in 1990.
23. How many hits did future teammates of Ed Kranepool get against the Mets in the first big league game in which Ed Kranepool collected a pinch-hit — and who got them?
Five: Donn Clendenon (4) and Bob Friend (1), Pirates when Ed singled hitting for Galen Cisco on June 1, 1963. Friend became a Met in 1966; Clendenon, of course, in 1969.
24. For what political candidate did Ed Kranepool appear in a television commercial wearing his old Mets jersey after he was retired as a player?
U.S. Senator Al D’Amato, running for re-election in 1986, when the Mets were so popular that everybody wanted to be associated with their brand. The Mets asked the commercial, in which Ed wore what appeared to be his last uniform top (it had the collar and cuffs trim the Mets introduced in 1978), be pulled as they didn’t want to be seen endorsing a political candidate of any stripe. D’Amato won re-election over Mark Green that November, eight days after the Mets won their second World Series.
25. When he made his major league debut, Ed Kranepool became the 45th player in Mets history. Who was the 44th?
Larry Foss, whose first Mets game occurred September 10, 1962, a dozen days before Kranepool’s.
26. Ed Kranepool pinch-ran three times in his 18-season big league career. Who were the three Mets for whom he pinch-ran?
Frank Thomas (1963), Ron Swoboda (1966) and George Theodore (1973). Nobody guessed “Mo Lasses,” probably because Ed Kranepool wasn’t any faster than molasses.
27. What part of the baseball field inspired the name of the Amityville restaurant co-owned by Ed Kranepool and Ron Swoboda in the early 1970s?
28. What unlucky distinction do Ricky Romero, Edinson Volquez and Kent Tekulve share when it comes to a Met hitting milestone Ed Kranepool was the first to reach?
Only pitchers to give up an unlucky Mets-career 1,300th hit to a Mets batter. Kent Tekulve gave up Ed’s 1,300th hit in 1977; Edinson Volquez gave up Jose Reyes’s semi-controversial 1,300 hit — his last in a Mets uniform — on the final day of the 2011 season; and future Reyes teammate Ricky Romero gave up David Wright’s 1,300th hit in Toronto this past May.
29. What Met stranded Ed Kranepool on base after Ed’s first pinch-hit?
Jimmy Piersall, who lined to center fielder Bill Virdon with two out at the Polo Grounds in the sixth inning on June 1, 1963.
30. In what feature film, released after he played his final Mets game, did Ed Kranepool appear as himself?
It’s My Turn, the 1980 Jill Clayburgh vehicle that produced Diana Ross’s Top 10 single of the same name. Ed and Bud Harrelson were among the retired major leaguers to line up and tip a cap at Yankee Stadium during Old Timers Day. (Ed was also the Mets’ first baseman in the triple play scene in 1968’s The Odd Couple.)
31. Who was the last Ed Kranepool teammate to play for the Mets?
Alex Treviño, who made a brief return to his original team in 1990; Alex and Ed were teammates in 1978 and 1979. Jesse Orosco was the last Kranepool teammate to play in the majors, but wasn’t a Met after 1987 (he was reacquired following the 1999 season, but his presence in a thousand more longevity-themed trivia questions was thwarted in 2000 when he was traded to St. Louis for Super Joe McEwing during Spring Training).
32. Ed Kranepool appeared on one National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, alongside five former Met teammates. Who were those teammates?
Jesus Alou, Ken Boyer, Dock Ellis, Mickey Lolich and Joe Torre were, like Ed, on the Baseball Writers’ ballot in 1985 and, like Ed (who collected zero votes), weren’t elected. None is in the Hall of Fame as of this writing, though Torre, reportedly, became a genius many years later.
33. Who is the only Met to have shared a birthday with Ed Kranepool?
There were two correct answers to this question despite the wording: Jose Offerman and Shane Halter. My database mysteriously had Offerman listed with a different birthday (some Latin American players have had their official birth dates changed for the record over time), which is why I thought Shane was Ed’s sole fellow November 8 Met baby. But Offerman is listed at Baseball-Reference and other sources as having been born on November 8, so he’s as correct an answer as Halter. (We also reluctantly accepted Edgardo Alfonzo, whose birthday for years was listed as “11/8/73,” and interpreted in the U.S. as November 8, but which was eventually clarified as “8/11/73,” or August 11 — Fonzie’s actual birthday.)
34. Who gave up the home run that knocked Ed Kranepool from the all-time career Mets home run lead?
Rick Rhoden gave up Dave Kingman’s 119th Mets home run on June 9, 1982, definitively erasing Ed’s 118 home runs as the most in Mets history.
35. In the last game he played in the big leagues as a 17-year-old, who did Ed Kranepool replace on defense?
Marv Throneberry, though on September 30, 1962, the Mets’ signature blunder wasn’t any of Marvelous Marv’s doing. A half-inning after Ed entered the last game of the Mets’ first season, Joe Pignatano hit into a triple play.
36. Who else scored on the same Jim Hickman two-run single that produced Ed Kranepool’s first Shea Stadium run?
Larry Elliot, who crossed the plate behind Ed in the seventh inning on April 18, 1964, the second game ever played at Shea.
37. What future major league manager attended the same high school as Ed Kranepool?
Charlie Fox, who managed the 1971 San Francisco Giants to the N.L. West crown.
38. For what brand of shaving cream did Ed Kranepool appear in a television commercial late in his career?
Gillette Foamy. (We accepted “Gillette” or “Foamy” as correct, too; we’re not heartless here.)
39. In which year’s Mets highlight film — as featured on SNY’s Mets Yearbook — does Ed Kranepool sit down and reflect on his Mets career?
1976. The excuse for the sedentary trip down memory lane was the Mets had just completed their fifteenth season. The larger excuse was there were usually never enough actual highlights to fill up these films.
40. What future Met gave up a hit to Ed Kranepool in an official game that ended in a tie?
Nick Willhite, in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea, June 7, 1964. Willhite, then a Dodger, would join the Mets for four games in 1967.
41. How many future Hall of Famers played in the first big league game in which Ed Kranepool played two defensive positions — and who were they?
Four: Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. Snider and the Mets beat those star-studded Giants at Candlestick on May 18, 1963, in a game that saw starting right fielder Ed Kranepool shift to first base after Hot Rod Kanehl pinch-ran for that day’s starting first sacker, Tim Harkness.
42. Who scored the winning run in the first game Ed Kranepool started?
Choo Choo Coleman, bub, on Frank Thomas’s walkoff single, September 23, 1962. It was the day of Ed’s first start (though he was out of the game by the time the Mets won it, 2-1) and it was supposed to be the last-ever baseball game at the Polo Grounds…except Shea Stadium wasn’t ready in time for the 1963 season, so the Mets played on in Upper Manhattan.
43. Ed Kranepool once shared a Topps baseball card with a teammate. Who was the teammate and how were they described on the front of that card?
Ron Swoboda; METS MAULERS. In the year they were featured as such, 1967, Ed and Ron combined to maul National League pitchers for 23 homers and 107 RBIs.
44. How many other Mets played their final game as Mets in Ed Kranepool’s last game and who were they?
Three: Richie Hebner, Gil Flores and Bruce Boisclair.
45. In the book, Bad Stuff ’Bout The Mets, what does author Chico Escuela claim Ed Kranepool borrowed “and never give back”?
Chico’s soap. For those of you who can’t find Escuela on Baseball-Reference, he wore No. 5, was a longtime Met infielder, baseball was “berry, berry good to him”…and he was a character portrayed on Saturday Night Live toward the end of the non-fictional Kranepool’s career by Garrett Morris.
46. In his very first big league game, Ed Kranepool was a defensive replacement for who?
Gil Hodges, in the top of the seventh on September 22, 1962. Ed handled his very first chance, a grounder from the Cubs’ Billy Williams, which he flipped to pitcher Larry Foss to record the first out of the inning.
47. Rufus King was the last Federalist Party nominee for president. What does this have to do with Ed Kranepool?
King lost the 1816 election to James Monroe, who went on to inspire the naming of James Monroe High School in the Bronx, eventual alma mater of Edward Emil Kranepool, breaker of records previously set by Hank Greenberg. (No major leaguer has ever come out of Rufus King International High School in Milwaukee, but it, unlike Monroe, remains in operation; Ed’s alma mater closed its doors in 1994.)
48. Who is the only Met to have played as a Met with a teammate of Eddie Kranepool and a teammate of Eddie Kunz?
Turns out there were two. The one I was sure about was John Franco, who played with Krane ’mate Alex Treviño in 1990 and Kunz ’mates David Wright, Jose Reyes, Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano at various junctures of 2003 and 2004. The other was David Cone, who played with Jesse Orosco (1979 Met) in 1987 and overlapped for a few days with Feliciano in 2003 (I thought Cone was gone before Pedro returned that year; silly me).
49. How many players who played in Ed Kranepool’s final big league game had already been part of winning National League World Series teams and who were they?
This question was both overinterpreted and underinterpreted by most of our contestants. The overinterpeting won’t count against anybody since I didn’t word it as specifically as I had intended. I had wanted to know about players who played in the World Series their teams had won before the game in question, but I wasn’t crystal clear on that point. Thus, submissions that included names like Doug Flynn, Joel Youngblood and Frank Taveras weren’t necessarily wrong, but they weren’t exactly right. Those guys were members of Reds or Pirates teams that went on to win World Series, but they didn’t actually play in those World Series. No harm, no foul. The number I was looking for was three and the players who HAD to be included, because they played in those winning World Series efforts, were Richie Hebner (1971 Pirates), Lou Brock (1964 and 1967 Cardinals) AND…and this was key…ED KRANEPOOL (1969 Mets). The “three” part I have to throw out, as I asked it inexactly, but I can’t accept as correct any answer that doesn’t include the subject of this test as someone who was part of a winning National League World Series team prior to the very same test subject’s final big league game.
50. Who pinch-ran for Ed Kranepool following Ed’s final big league hit?
Gil Flores effectively ended Ed Kranepool’s 18-season Mets career when he pinch-ran for Kranepool in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 30, 1979. Krane had just pinch-hit for John Pacella and doubled off Bob Forsch of the Cardinals. Ed’s first hit was a double and his last hit was a double.