EDITOR’S NOTE: As we do from time to time, today we dig into the Faith and Fear archives and share posts that some of our longtime readers might get a kick out of seeing again or our newer readers might enjoy checking out for the first time. This one originally ran on April 4, 1978, part of an annual series we still publish to this day .
Unless you were busy playing the clarinet at Michael’s Pub, you are well aware the Oscars were handed out Monday night . Thus, per Tuesday morning-after tradition , the Academy pauses to remember those Mets who have, in the baseball sense, left us in the past year.
Cue the montage…
LUIS CESAR ALVARADO
April 13, 1977
In case you thought we were never going to see a new Met all year, given how we didn’t exactly charge hard after free agents once the re-entry draft was complete or go nuts on the trade market before, during or after the Winter Meetings, rest easy. Or sit up psyched if you so choose. We got to see our first fresh-for-’77 Met today, Luis Alvarado, erstwhile Red Sock, White Sock, Indian and Cardinal. Double-switched in at second base by Frazier in the sixth, Luis became the 255th Met to date. Seeing as how we were already down by six runs when he entered and went on to lose by only four, we can label Alvarado’s initial presence a net positive.
—April 13, 1977
(Sold to Tigers, 4/27/1977)
GEORGE FRANCIS “Doc” MEDICH
September 29, 1977
From the lousy A’s to the wretched Mariners to the decrepit Mets. What a trip around the baseball sun for Medich. Everybody’s favorite medical student/baseball player drops by to give us seven perfectly adequate innings in another loss, our 96th of the season, as if we needed consultation gathering those. Per Doc’s other vocation, perhaps he was able to give the club a thorough physical examination to discover what’s been wrong with it. Or maybe we need to find a pitcher who’s studying to become a mortician. The sooner we can bury 1977, the better.
—September 30, 1977
(Free agent, 11/2/1977; signed with Rangers, 11/11/1977)
LEONARD NORRIS “Leo” FOSTER
August 1, 1976 – October 2, 1977
And as if a nine-run edge wasn’t enough to cram into bookbags across the Metropolitan Area as the kids head reluctantly back to school tomorrow, the last ember of this Bicentennial summer gave us one final firework, albeit of the afternoon variety: Foster hit his first home run of the season, off Joe Coleman in the ninth. It was a two-run shot that padded our lead to 11-0 and upped Leo’s RBI accumulation on the day at Wrigley to five, while doubling his lifetime longball total. Coleman won twenty games twice in the American League. He gave up his share of home runs in the process, but likely not mopping up in 9-0 games and almost assuredly not to a whole lot of Leo Fosters.
—September 7, 1976
(Traded to Red Sox, 3/29/1978)
RICKEY ALAN “Rick” BALDWIN
April 10, 1975 – October 2, 1977
I’m just gonna say it: 45 looks wrong on Rick Baldwin. It would look wrong on anybody not named Tug McGraw (just as the mere idea of Tug in a Philadelphia uniform is…shudder). That Baldwin posted a scoreless inning in defeat in his major league debut doesn’t make it look right. Kid, we wanna root for you, but you gotta believe it would be easier if you weren’t reminding us of whose number you’re now wearing and how we no longer have him on our side. Maybe grab a word with Herb Norman and explain to the equipment manager that a rookie doesn’t need the added pressure, however subliminal/numerical, of replacing a legend. On the plus side, I am impressed we finally have a Met who shares a name with a Metropolitan Area municipality — on Long Island, no less! This could be the start of a trend. Maybe we’ve got a Rocky Rockville Centre working his way up from Visalia.
—April 10, 1975
(Selected by Mariners in Rule 5 draft, 12/5/1977)
ROY JOSEPH STAIGER
September 12, 1975 – October 1, 1977
It was hard for me to not be excited about Roy Staiger once he was called up last September. I’d followed him and his International League-leading 81 RBIs at Tidewater via The Sporting News every week and now I wanted to board his nonstop train to stardom as it was pulling out of the Willets Point station, next stop stardom. Alas, Roy batted .158 during his callup and drove in nobody. I stayed excited anyway. It was just a callup. Well, he’s batting .182 with a total of five runs batted in this year after today’s loss, leading me to admit something I didn’t expect to conclude: it’s not that hard for me to not be excited about Roy Staiger anymore. (Excitement level subject to change, natch.)
—June 3, 1976
(Traded to Yankees, 12/9/1977)
JACKSON A. TODD
May 5, 1977 – September 30, 1977
“After months of not being able to raise up, not being able to eat, wondering if I would live, much less run or pitch again,” Jackson told reporters afterward, “it’s hard to get excited over winning a game.” Once you’ve beaten cancer, maybe beating the Giants shouldn’t be that big a deal. Todd’s done both as of Thursday night. We can leave it to the young righthander to place an appropriate value on each achievement as he sees fit.
—May 20, 1977
(Traded to Phillies, 3/27/1978)
MICHAEL DWAYNE “Mike” PHILLIPS
May 8, 1975 – June 15, 1977
It was the May of Mike. He batted .314, including a 3-for-3 Saturday night to close out his first calendar month as a Met. We continue to wish Buddy and his balky right knee a speedy recovery, but you don’t think he’d mind if we did some writing in on our All-Star ballots when we get to the shortstop slot, do you?
—June 1, 1975
(Traded to Cardinals, 6/15/1977)
RAYMOND MICHAEL “Ray” SADECKI
April 10, 1970 – September 20, 1974
April 9, 1977 – April 23, 1977
For the fifth time, we’ve welcomed back a former Met to be a Met again. The first one was Frank Lary. The most recent was Bob Miller (the righty, if you’re scoring at home). In between there was Al Jackson and Jim Gosger. Now it’s Sadecki who’s in reruns, so to speak. Giving up a game-tying homer in the eighth to Bobby Murcer wasn’t exactly the way to reintroduce himself to us, but soon the guy for whom he was traded when his first tenure ended, Joe Torre, made it all right by doubling in the pair of tiebreaking runs that ensured we’d go 2-0 on the year. There’s a long way to go, but that shouldn’t be news to Ray. In his eighteenth big league season and second term as a Met, he’s already come a long way.
—April 9, 1977
(Released, 5/2/1977; retired)
MICHAEL LEWIS “Mike” VAIL
August 18, 1975 – October 1, 1977
So it ends at 23. I have to admit I thought it would pass 56. Well, not really, but I refused to believe Vail’s streak would ever end. Until Tuesday night we had little proof to the contrary. Going 0-for-7 over eighteen innings provides us uninvited evidence that nothing lasts forever. The game eventually ended. The streak inevitably ceased. Vail’s still here, though, and next year will join him soon enough.
—September 17, 1975
(Selected by Indians off waivers, 3/26/1978)
JOSEPH PAUL “Joe” TORRE
April 8, 1975 – June 17, 1977
No strikeouts. That’s the good Joe Torre news tonight. Oh, he put the bat on the ball. He also didn’t bother any Astros outfielder, in case you were worried about troubling Messrs. Cabell, Howard and Gross. You might say Joe executed the most memorable ground game at Shea since Snell and Boozer were rushing the Jets toward Super Bowl III. Four ground balls. Eight outs. That’ll happen when you ground into four double plays, a record for such futility. Joe basically chuckled about the octuple-killing later and blamed Felix Millan for singling in front of each of his four at-bats. Ha. Ha. Ha. And ha. I was so amused I muffled a scream lest I disturb the neighbors (they’re disturbed enough already). Sometimes you have to laugh. Ten games in back of the Pirates at this point and continually failing to pick up, if you’ll excuse the expression, ground, I’d suggest this is not one of those times.
—July 21, 1975
(Released, 6/18/1977; retired as player while continuing to manage)
JOHN DAVID MILNER
September 15, 1971 – October 2, 1977
They had a Hammer? We had a Hammer. Aaron’s homer in the sixth was the 698th of his career. Milner’s in the ninth was No. 30 for him overall. John (a son of Atlanta, no less) found himself 668 behind his namesake. The Mets suddenly found themselves just two runs behind their opponents. Four were in, one was out and, for a change this summer, the nails in the Mets’ coffin weren’t hammered so deep that they couldn’t be pried upward…sort of like the Mets’ chances.
—July 18, 1973
(Traded to Pirates, 12/8/1977)
FELIX BERNARDO MILLAN
April 6, 1973 – August 12, 1977
The certificate for Perfect Attendance goes to Mr. Millan. Of course Felix is present for the ceremony. He shows up to school every day, rain or shine, whether the buses are running or the drivers are on strike. None of his classmates has to bring him his homework, though I’ll bet he’s happy to drop off theirs to them as needed. Hardly misses an inning, rarely misses a pitch. Yes, Felix is a very conscientious student.
—November 3, 1975
(Sold to Taiyo Whales, 2/22/1978)
DAVID ARTHUR “Dave” KINGMAN
April 8, 1975 – June 14, 1977
From Colts Neck in New Jersey to Mammaroneck in Westchester to Little Neck in Queens and neighboring Great Neck in Nassau, all Mets fan necks are craning and straining and possibly paining from watching Kingman clout. Yet nobody’s complaining. Side effects contracted from watching home runs soar through the sky are giddily endured in these parts. Dave has seven in our first nine games. We’ll take two Tylenol tonight and call him for more in the morning — or Monday night in St. Louis. Asking him to go deep between games is probably too much to ask of the greatest slugger we’ve ever had. Probably.
—April 18, 1976
(Traded to Padres, 6/15/1977)
JONATHAN TRUMPBOUR “Jon” MATLACK
July 11, 1971 – September 30, 1977
Yogi let Jon pitch into the tenth. Why not? The first nine were typical Matlack: two runs, none earned, not winning. What little October the Mets had remaining looked a lot like September where their starter was concerned. He won by shutout twice and lost four other outings despite never giving up more than three earned runs in any of them. Typical Mets. Characteristic ending to this year, too. Matlack’s Closing Day tenth inning yielded one cheap run on two singles and a sac fly. When Gene Garber retired the Mets in the bottom of what proved to be their last inning of 1974, it guaranteed a losing record of 13-15 for Jon despite an ERA of 2.41. Some statistics are more revealing than others.
—October 2, 1974
(Traded to Rangers, 12/8/1977)
GERALD WAYNE “Jerry” GROTE
April 15, 1966 – August 23, 1977
We’re crazy about these pitchers, but let’s save some championship-caliber insanity for the catcher who caught every pitch they threw in this World Series and, for that matter, the playoffs. Grote doesn’t hit for power like a Bench or a Hundley, but he catches most everything and everybody. Did you notice who caught Koosman when the lefty leapt in victory yesterday? Jerry Grote, that’s who. Didn’t drop him, either.
—October 17, 1969
(Traded to Dodgers, 8/31/1977)
DERRELL McKINLEY “Bud” HARRELSON
September 2, 1965 – October 2, 1977
No, you shouldn’t have whiskey bottles or any other objects flung in your general or, for that matter, specific direction on a baseball field or any field. That doesn’t feel as if it merits an explicit explanation. We absolutely do not condone that type of behavior. Yet when you’ve slammed into Buddy Harrelson for no reason other than your club is down seven runs and has been outscored 14-2 over the past game-and-a-half, you’ve essentially brought bad karma and outraged animus upon yourself. We love our Mets. We adore our shortstop. We wouldn’t be here without our indefatigable mighty mite and we know it. Thus, as Jim Croce might have put it had he been from New York, you don’t mess around with Bud. No, Charlie Hustle, that was not a heads-up play. And it’s not our fault the Reds’ heads are up their asses and on the brink of elimination. But let’s not throw junk at this jerk. He’s not worth the wear and tear on our rotator cuffs.
—October 8, 1973
(Traded to Phillies, 3/24/1978)
GEORGE THOMAS “Tom” SEAVER
April 13, 1967 – June 12, 1977
There he was, for the world to see. No. 41 of the Mets on the mound at Anaheim Stadium, the eyes of baseball upon him. Upon one of ours. Nobody was laughing. Nothing to laugh at here. This was Tom Seaver, All-Star pitcher, the first time a New York Met has been one of those. We’ve never had a pitcher deemed worthy of representing the National League. We’ve never had a Seaver. We do now. The world knows it. The American League has surely been clued in. It took until the fifteenth inning for them to find out, but every explorer from Leif Ericson to Jim Lovell would be compelled to testify that discovery is discovery, however long it takes a person to do the discovering. Tom flied Tony Conigliaro to left, walked Carl Yastrzemski (the better part of valor the way Yaz has been going), flied Bill Freehan to center and, finally, struck out Ken Berry to preserve the NL’s 2-1 triumph. Tony Perez connected for the decisive blow, Don Drysdale gets credit for the win, but make no mistake about it. Tom Seaver’s rise to the All-Star occasion was the story of the fading Southern California afternoon. After six seasons, a Met stood in the middle of a Midsummer Classic and succeeded. This Met like no Met before him. He’ll do it again, you can bet with confidence, and those games will count for more than Senior Circuit bragging rights. After what we’ve seen from him so far, you underestimate Tom Seaver at your own risk. Something tells me, regardless of what day it is , that there’ll be no fooling around when it comes to this guy.
—July 11, 1967
(Traded to Reds, 6/15/1977)