This Date in Mets History: January 19 - Yogi's Induction Wait Is Finally Over

Jim McIsaac

Yogi Berra thanks himself and the BBWAA for making this day necessary.

Phew, I made it.

According to his wife Carmen, those were the words then-Mets coach Yogi Berra uttered on January 19, 1972, after receiving word that he'd been elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility. Somehow, despite appearing in 15 All-Star games, winning three MVP trophies, and playing on ten World Series-winning teams, Berra fell 28 votes short of induction in 1971. Then again, the BBWAA failed to put anyone in the Hall that year (sound familiar?), so he was at least in good company.

Interestingly, Berra would have been eligible to enter Cooperstown three years earlier had he not come out of retirement for an on-field cameo with the Mets. In May 1965, he donned the tools of ignorance for two games in May 1965 and made two pinch hitting appearances. All told, he went 2-for-9 with a pair of singles and a run scored.

As for the other Mets represented on the ballot in '72, none had as much luck as Yogi. Manager Gil Hodges and broadcaster Ralph Kiner came the closest, with each man receiving over 100 aye votes. Less popular were Duke Snider (1964) and Richie Ashburn (1962). All but Hodges would eventually wind up cast in bronze, however.

Birthdays

  • Jon Matlack, who turns 63 today, is described as "potentially another Koosman" in the 1971 Mets yearbook. No offense to Jerry, a fine pitcher in his own right, but that's selling Matlack short. The lefty won the NL Rookie of the Year award one year after the Kooz comparison was published. He then blanked the Reds for a complete game two-hitter in the 1973 NLCS, a start that rates as the best ever by a Met in postseason play according to game score. As an encore, Matlack racked up 8.8 WAR in '74. The only New York hurlers to have posted better marks are a couple of guys named Gooden and Seaver. The one attribute Koosman had that Matlack could have used was longevity. After an injury-wrecked year in 1977, the Mets traded the younger lefty to the Texas Rangers. He hung on for another six years, but was ultimately forced into retirement at age 33 due to elbow woes.
  • Injuries also brought the career of Anthony Young, 47, to a premature end. Perhaps mercifully so. As a member of the Mets in 1992 and '93, AY set the MLB record for most consecutive losses with 27. His teammates got him off the schneid with a rousing, ninth inning comeback against the Florida Marlins on July 28, 1993. Much like Dimaggio starting a 17-game hitting streak the day after his 56-game one was snapped, Young went right back to losing after picking up the W. He dropped three more decisions as a Met before the team finally cut ties with him at the end of the season.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On January 19, 1937, aviation pioneer Howard Hughes set an air speed record by flying his H-1 Racer non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark in just under seven and a half hours. By doing so, the eccentric millionaire also began a chain of events that would create the Mets, as both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants counted the ease of transcontinental flight among the reasons that relocating to the West Coast was feasible.

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