We know what this is. (Al Bello / Getty Images)
As a reward for his fine work with the Miracle Mets the year before, Gil Hodges earned the right to manage the National League at the 41st All-Star Game on this date in 1970. Joining Hodges in Cincinnati was Tom Seaver, who started and struck out four in three shutout innings. Shortstop Bud Harrelson also made an appearance, going 2-for-3 with two singles and two runs scored in the NL’s 5-4 come from behind, extra-inning victory.
Thirty-one years later, on July 14, 2001, Mets manager Bobby Valentine picked up the 1,000th win of his career courtesy of a combined one-hit shutout from Glendon Rusch and Armando Benitez. Rusch allowed a bunt single to the Red Sox’s Trot Nixon in the first and nothing else, tying a career-high with ten strikeouts. Benitez pitched a seemingly rare 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save.
- Former GM Johnny Murphy would have been 104 today. One of the first people to join the nascent Mets organization in 1961, Murphy eventually rose to the position of general manager after the 1967 season. Inheriting a roster rich with good young pitching, one of his first major transactions was to acquire someone to manage it all, which he did by trading reliever Bill Denehy to the Washington Senators for their skipper, Gil Hodges. During Murphy’s tenure, the Mets won a (at the time) team best 73 games in 1968, followed by 100 wins and a World Series title in 1969. Sadly, he died of a heart attack just three months after the Game Five clincher.
- Speaking of Game Fives, Robin Ventura (1999-2001) is 45 today. Even if you’ve watched it a million times before, watch it again.
On July 14, 2003, the Mets sent Jeromy Burnitz to the Dodgers for minor leaguers Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz, and Victor Diaz. Of the three prospects, only the latter Diaz would appear in a game for the Mets. Now 30 and probably too old for his “Baby Manny” nickname, Victor Diaz hasn’t played baseball in the states since 2010. Somewhere, Joe Benigno wept.
Game Of Note
On July 14, 1989, Sid Fernandez and John Smoltz went head-to-head in a fierce pitcher’s duel. Through eight innings, their lines were fairly similar. Each had allowed just two runs and hadn’t walked a batter. El Sid had given up one more hit than Smoltz, but that slight edge disappeared after comparing their strikeout totals. While Smoltz had fanned seven, El Sid’s K counter stood at a whopping 16, just three away from Tom Seaver’s club record. Braves’ manager Russ Nixon went to his bullpen for the top of ninth, but Davey Johnson decided to stick with his starter in the bottom half of the inning. Two pitches later, Fernandez grooved one and Lonnie Smith turned on it for a walk-off home run. Braves 3, Mets 2.