On May 1, 1974, Tom Seaver struck out 16 Dodgers over 12 innings of three-hit ball, taking a no-decision in the Mets’ 14-inning 2–1 loss. Two years to the day earlier he fanned 12 Giants over 6.2 innings and, despite giving up three home runs, chalked up a victory. (The Mets didn’t play a league game on May 1, 1973, but the following day Seaver whiffed 13 Reds over seven innings in a losing cause.)
Picking up the May 1 mantle in 1984, Dwight Gooden made it back-to-back 10-K performances, victimizing the Cubs six days after doing the same to the Expos. The Mets won both games. The 19-year-old right-hander was the first teenager to strike out a least 10 batters in a game since Bert Blyleven did it in 1970.
Right-hander Manny Acosta is celebrating his 32nd birthday as a member of the Yomiuri Giants. He was an effective reliever with the 2010 Mets, with a 1.2 WHIP and 2.3 K/BB contributing to his 2.95 ERA. Over the next two years his WHIP got higher with a corresponding rise in ERA, although his WARadj remained a fairly neutral –0.1 over his Mets career.
Catcher Joe Hietpas, turning 34 today, made both his major league debut and swan song in the last game of the 2004 season. In his final managerial move with the Mets, Art Howe let Hietpas catch the ninth inning. Why Howe didn’t put the rookie in a few innings earlier and give him a turn at the plate as well is curious, especially after the Mets had taken a 7–1 lead in the sixth in an otherwise meaningless game.
In 1998, Armando Reynoso, 47, took a 7–1 record and 2.77 ERA into the last week of the season when whatever mojo he had going deserted him. He lost the first and last games of the Mets’ season-ending five-game collapse, giving up five runs in five innings against the Expos and another five in 1.2 innings against the Braves.
Look up “defensive catcher” in the dictionary and you may see a picture of Charlie O’Brien, who is 53 today. A backup backstop with the Mets from 1990–1993, he compiled a defensive WAR of 3.3 over 232 games and threw base stealers out at an impressive rate of 40 percent. Mets pitchers’ ERA with O’Brien behind the plate was nearly half a run lower than the staff’s overall number. In the equivalent of one full season at the plate, he hit eight home runs, drove in 59 runs, and posted an OPS of .598.
Happy 58th birthday to Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. In his third big league game, Searage pitched two innings of hitless ball for the Mets to earn a win against the Cubs, collecting an infield hit as well along the way. Twenty-three games later he finished his Mets career as the only player in franchise history with a 1.000 winning percentage and 1.000 batting average.
On July 19, 1980, Roy Lee Jackson, turning 59 today, threw a complete game three-hitter. After a shaky start, we was perfect through the last six frames while his teammates rewarded him with a 13-run, 20-hit attack. He never came remotely close to another such start and spent most of his next six-plus big league seasons in the bullpen.
M. Donald Grant was born on this date in 1904. Although he will always be vilified as a tightwad who refused to pursue free agents and banished Tom Seaver from New York, he was instrumental in bringing Gil Hodges in to manage the Mets and, in August of 1973, his clubhouse pep talk inspired Tug McGraw to coin the rallying cry, “You Gotta Believe!”
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Speaking of Tug, his son, country singer Tim McGraw, celebrates his 45th birthday today. Though Tug didn’t acknowledge paternity until Tim was 18, the two eventually became very close. Shortly after Tug died from a brain tumor in January 2004, Tim was in the studio recording “Live Like You Were Dying.” Any question about the inspiration for the song, a number one hit on the Billboard country charts, can be found in the official music video, which ends with a clip of Tug pitching the final strike to nail down the 1980 World Championship for the Phillies.