Before Tom Seaver came to town, Al Jackson was the closest thing the Mets had to an ace and on July 21, 1965, he certainly pitched like one. Facing a Pittsburgh Pirates lineup stacked with three future Hall of Famers, the little left-hander carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Jackson retired one of those Hall of Famers, Bill Mazeroski, for the first out of the frame, but the next batter, Willie Stargell-another Cooperstown inductee-ripped a single to end Jackson's flirtation with history. Ozzie Virgil tallied another one-bagger for the Pirates in the ninth, but Jackson worked around it for a 1-0 victory.
Five years later, on July 21, 1970, the Mets found themselves on the short end of a no-hit bid. Clay Kirby of the San Diego Padres had a rough start to his day, allowing a first inning run on two walks, a double steal, and a ground out. The hard throwing Kirby was effectively wild from that point on, though, and he kept the Mets' bats silent through eight. To his misfortune, the Padres offense was also pretty mum, mustering a mere three base knocks off Jim McAndrew. Trailing 1-0, manager Preston Gomez ended Kirby's flirtation with history, pulling him for a pinch hitter. The move failed and it fell to reliever Jack Baldschun to preserve the no-hitter and keep things close in the ninth. He failed miserably at both, giving up three hits and two runs. Enjoying some good luck for a change, McAndrew set down the Padres 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning for a complete game shutout.
- Mike Bordick (2000) is 47. In 1971, Mets GM Bob Scheffing asked Whitey Herzog, the team's Director of Player Development to inform outfield prospect Leroy Stanton that he'd just been traded for Jim Fregosi. Herzog, in so many words, told the GM that Stanton for Fregosi straight up was a bad deal. Of course, there were three other players in the trade. Presumably, there was a similar exchange in July 2000 when Steve Phillips asked his player development director to let Mike Kinkade know that he'd been traded for Mike Bordick. Who informed the three other players in the deal is anyone's guess. That said, it's not fair to dwell on Steve Phillips's incompetence on Mike Bordick's special day. The shortstop made the AL All-Star team in 2000 and had a pretty productive 14-year career, one that started when he was signed out of the Cape Cod League by Oakland A's scout J.P. Ricciardi.
- Brian Buchanan (2004) is 39. Buchanan started exactly one game for the Mets, going 0-for-2 with a walk. He retired in 2009, perhaps to spend more time with family, like his father-in-law, Basketball Hall of Famer John Havlicek.
- Mike Cubbage is 62. In 1981, Cubbage became the 70th person to man the hot corner for the Mets. He returned to Flushing in 1990 to handle third base coaching duties, a position he held until 1996. Cubbage also served as the team's interim manager after Buddy Harrelson was let go with seven games left in the 1991 season. Amassing a 3-4 record, Cubbage's career .429 winning percentage is the 13th best mark in franchise history, one place ahead of his replacement, Jeff Torborg.
- Brett Hinchliffe (2001) is 38. Hinchliffe's lone start for the Mets proved to be his last MLB appearance. He went two-plus innings, allowed eight runs, and was pulled due to ineffectiveness. Two years earlier, in his first major league start, Hinchliffe lasted just three innings, but that's because he was ejected for starting a bench-clearing brawl.
On July 21, 1976, the Mets acquired Jim Dwyer and Pepe Mangual from the Montreal Expos for Wayne Garrett and Del Unser. Two days later, Unser beat his old team with an 11th inning walk-off home run.
Game of Note
Willie Mays returned to San Francisco for the first time since being traded to the Mets on this date in 1972. Watching the longtime Giant take his cuts in a new uniform must have been odd for fans, but in the fifth, the Say Hey Kid gave the Candlestick faithful a familiar spectacle by belting a two-run homer. The blast was the 650th of Mays's career and it provided the margin of victory needed to make a winner of out Jerry Koosman. Final score: Mets 3, Giants 1.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Forty-three years ago today, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the lunar surface. This small step for man-this giant leap for mankind-meant that everyone who said that America would put a man on the moon before the Mets won a World Series was proved right. But not by much.