This Date in Mets History: June 14 — Duke Snider joins the 400 home run club

Lisa Blumenfeld

Duke Snider reached an elite level of baseball royalty on this date in 1963 by socking his 400th career homer into the stands at the Polo Grounds.

If you told a Brooklyn Dodgers fan on June 14, 1953 that Duke Snider would hit his 400th career home run at the Polo Grounds in ten years' time, he'd likely be pretty happy. First, to learn that the Duke of Flatbush, in the midst of a career season (he'd tally 9.3 bWAR in '53), would still be going strong a decade later, and second, to hear that the milestone homer came at the expense of the hated New York Giants.

Of course, neither of those things would be true in 1963. By then, the Dodgers and Giants had taken their interborough rivalry to opposite ends of California's Interstate 5, while Snider, hobbled by a bum knee, was winding down his playing days back east as a member of the Mets. Said injury limited how often the Silver Fox could patrol the horseshoe-shaped outfield of the Polo Grounds, but if the hypothetical Dodgers fan from the first paragraph were in attendance on June 14, 1953, he'd have seen a vintage Snider performance. Facing Bob Purkey of the Reds in the first, Duke launched a ball into the stands for his 11th homer of the year and the 400th of his 17-year career. It also provided the Mets with a lead they'd never relinquish in a 10-3 victory over Cincinnati.

While 400 home runs doesn't have the same impact it used to, given the membership spike that the quadricentenary home run club has experienced in the past four decades, at the time Snider's blast put him in elite company. Back then, only eight other players had connected for at least that many round trippers, all of them Hall of Famers. Though it took a few years, Snider would join that club in 1980.

Birthdays
No Met past or present can claim June 14 as his birthday, though Isaac Marion "Ike" Davis, starting shortstop for the 1925 Chicago White Sox, would have been 113 years young today. In his lone year as a full time, the OG Ike Davis hit .240/.333/.327, which was good for an OPS+ of 71. It's sad to say, but that line would be a massive improvement over what Ike Davis 2.0 has put up since Opening Day 2013.

Transactions
The Mets made a savvy signing on this date in 1977, inking undrafted University of Massachusetts pitcher Jeff Reardon to a minor league deal. Reardon rocketed through the system and made his major league debut just three days after the second anniversary of his signing. Briefly baseball's all-time saves leader, the Terminator, as he was nicknamed, closed out just 10 games for the Mets. Most of his saves came as a member of the Expos, the team New York traded him to in exchange for outfielder Ellis Valentine, a deal that's notable for being one of Frank Cashen's earliest transactions as Mets GM and one of his few misfires.

Game of Note
In 1991, MLB's Committee for Statistical Accuracy officially defined a no-hitter as a game "when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings." By doing so, they made the 1965 Mets look slightly less futile in retrospect. Before the rule book revision, the ten hitless innings Jim Maloney of the Reds tossed against the visiting Mets at Crosley Field on this date in 1965 counted as a no-hitter, as the Cincinnati ace was, save for a second inning walk to Ed Kranepool, perfect through nine frames. No-no or not, the game remains a defeat for Maloney in the official record. Despite striking out a then-record National League record 18 batters, the hard-throwing righty allowed a leadoff homer to Johnny Lewis in the top of the 11th, which broke up the no-hitter, ruined the shutout, and saddled him with one of the hardest luck 1-0 losses in major league history.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 on this date four years ago to win the team's 15th NBA Finals and Phil Jackson's tenth total as a head coach. For Jackson, title number ten pushed him past Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics and into sole ownership of the record for most championships won by a coach. As for baseball titles, two Yankees skippers share the honor of most World Series trophies won with seven: Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Of course, Stengel later managed the Mets and while he didn't lead the team to any Fall Classics, he did set a few records. For losing. The dismal 120 defeats the 1962 Mets compiled under Stengel's command are the most losses in a single season during the modern era and only one team, the 2003 Tigers, have come close to besting (I guess?) the squad's post-integration worst .250 winning percentage.

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