This Date in Mets History: June 24 — Koosman wins 100th game, Mets help right a social wrong

Dick Raphael/USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Koosman became a member in good standing of the century club on this date in 1975, three years after a future Mets employee Bernice Gera attempted to break into a stubbornly retrograde boys club.

Three pitchers have won 100-plus games while wearing a Mets uniform and on this date in 1975, Jerry Koosman became the second person to join that triumvirate. Kooz kept St. Louis hitless through four and two-thirds innings and ultimately allowed Cardinals hitters to reach base just six times total while striking out seven in a complete game 5-1 victory. Former Redbird Joe Torre paced the Mets offense with a three-for-four day and Dave Kingman hit his tenth homer of the season to help the team snap a 35-inning long scoreless streak.

Today's also the anniversary of a small step in the long march of gender equality in baseball. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., the arc of the baseball universe is long, but it bends toward justice meted out by robot umpires. Before that day, it'd be nice if MLB employed at least one female ump so that the pioneering work of Bernice Gera doesn't go for naught. On this date in 1972, Gera became the first woman to help officiate a professional baseball game, joining the umpiring crew for a doubleheader between the Geneva Rangers and the Auburn Phillies in the New York-Penn League. For Gera, the day marked the end of a protracted battle that began when she enrolled in Florida Baseball School for umpires five years earlier and included successfully suing the National Association of Baseball Leagues for gender discrimination after the organization refused to hire her on the bogus grounds that she did not meet the physical requirements of the job.

According to husband Steve Gera, Bernice said of her fight, "I could beat them in the courts, but I can't beat them on the field." That statement proved sadly prophetic. In the fourth inning of the matinee game, Gera initially ruled an Auburn runner safe at second on a double play, only to change her mind moments later. Manager Nolan Campbell came out to argue and in the heat of dispute said that Gera's biggest mistake was harboring dreams of being a woman in blue in the first place. In a display of poor decision making more shameful than any blown call, her fellow arbiters efused to come to her defense, which lead a "frustrated and disappointed" Gera to resign before the nightcap, saying:

Umpires must work as a team, but I went on to the field alone. I had no partner.

This story does, however, have a nice ending of a sort. Two years later, the Mets hired Bernice Gera to work in the team's public relations department and by all accounts it was a position she held happily until stepping down in 1979.


Birthdays
Pitcher Mike Bruhert, better known for being manager Gil Hodges's son-in-law than any of his mound exploits, is 62. Sleeping with the boss's daughter didn't help Bruhert climb the corporate ladder, though. The Mets drafted the Jamaica, Queens native in 1971, but he didn't end up making his major league debut until seven years later. Given a spot in the rotation that year, Bruhert went 4-11 with an ERA about 25 percent worse than the National League average.

Game of Note
The Mets became the first team in major league history to hit three sacrifice flies in an inning thanks to timely dropped ball by Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams on this date in 2005. Marlon Anderson led off the top of the second with a single off of Mike Mussina, then moved to second when Moose walked David Wright on a 3-2 pitch. Doug Mientkiewicz attempted to bunt both runners over, but he wound up beating out the play to load the bases. That brought Ramon Castro to the plate and he brought home the Mets' first run of the game by lofting a fly deep enough into right field to score Anderson and advance Wright to third base. Jose Reyes followed and drove a similar can of corn to center, but Bernie Williams, a highly debatable Gold Glove selection in his peak years, let the ball clank off his mitt. Despite the error, the official scorer gave Reyes credit for a sac fly, correctly separating David Wright's easy trot home from the play that put Reyes on base.

Luckily for the Mets, the poor fielding proved contagious. Three pitches into Mike Cameron's turn at bat, Mussina tried to steal an out by picking off Mientkiewicz at second. A good throw would have had the slow-footed first baseman/pine tar enthusiast dead to rights, but Moose chucked the ball into center, allowing all runners to move up. Cameron then knocked the next offering to right for the third sac fly of the frame. That proved to be the difference maker in the Mets' 6-4 Subway Series triumph.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax patented his greatest creation on this date in 1846: a conical woodwind made of brass with a single reed mouthpiece that would be come known as the saxophone. Mets fans who attended the June 14 contest against the Cubs ten days ago got a sweet blast of sax after the game, as Foreigner played a nine-song set that included the 1981 hit "Urgent". The studio version of the song features an awesome solo from one of the great pop saxophonists of all-time, Junior Walker (of Jr. Walker & the All-Stars fame).

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