Sometimes you need a laugher to keep from crying — and that's just what happened to the reeling Mets on this date in 1976. The Amazins pounded out 14 hits to back Tom Seaver's three-hit pitching in an 11-0 rout of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Dave Kingman led the attack, driving in eight runs while becoming only the second Met to swat three home runs in one game. Jim Hickman accomplished that feat 11 years earlier.
It was a slump buster for Kingman, Seaver and their team mates. Sky King began the night having driven in only three runs in his last 15 games and Tom had been less than terrific in his last five starts: 0-4, 5.09 ERA, 1.6 WHIP. The Mets as a team had lost four straight and 11 of their last 13, leaving rookie manager Joe Frazier feeling as if he'd gone 14 rounds with Muhammed Ali.
Among the onlookers in the stands at Dodger Stadium that night was legendary college baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, under whom both Seaver and Kingman played while attending the University of Southern California.
In a four-pitcher swap, the Mets traded Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael to the Dodgers for Hideo Nomo and Brad Clontz on this date in 1998. If Nomo had pitched just a little more like his 1995-'97 self, New York would have made the playoffs; only six of his 16 starts qualified as "quality." Clontz, on the other hand, would help the Mets reach the postseason, albeit as a member of the 1999 Pittsburgh Pirates. He wild-pitched home the winning run in Game 162 to secure a tie for the Wild Card for New York.
Catcher Rick Wilkins, turning 46 today, spent an uneventful week with the Mets in May of 1998. He went two for 15 before being sent to AAA Norfolk to make room for some guy named Piazza. Wilkins was one of a club-record eight players who spent time behind the plate that season.
Happy 74th birthday to infielder Phil Linz. Acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Chuck Hiller on July 11, 1967, Linz was in the lineup the next night for the Mayor's Trophy Game against the Yankees, the team he had played for from 1962-1965. He went one for four and made two errors in the Mets 4-0 victory. His best game in blue and orange was on July 6, 1968, in Philadelphia: five hits, including a double, in six at-bats, three runs scored and three two-out RBIs. In 92 previous plate appearances that season, Linz had one RBI to go with his .242 OBP.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Tony Award-winning actress Julie White turns 52 today. On the mid-'90s sitcom "Grace Under Fire," she and Casey Sander (a former outfielder in the Angels farm system) played Nadine and Wade Swoboda, next-door neighbors to the title charcater played by
Mets center-fielder actress-comedienne Brett Butler. The show aired on ABC, the network that also gave us the Seaver family ("Growing Pains").