Mets fans had little to cheer about in 1979, but one home-grown, hometown player make us proud on this date in 1979. Playing in his first (and as it turned out, only) All-Star Game, Brooklyn-born Lee Mazzilli tied the game for the National League with a pinch home run off of three-time All-Star Jim Kern in the top of the eighth. Then in the ninth, he forced in what would prove to be the winning run by working out a bases-loaded walk off of reigning Cy Young Award-winner Ron Guidry of the Yankees.
Maz was no pity pick; he was having a career year while batting third in the third-worst offensive lineup in the NL. At the All-Star break he had nine home runs, 48 RBI, and a slash line of .320/.415/.479.
Other Game of Note
On July 17, 1986, playing their first game after the All-Star break, the 59-25 Mets thrashed their eventual NLCS opponents, the Astros, 13-2. Through the first six innings it was a pitching duel between New York's Bob Ojeda and Houston's Nolan Ryan; each had yielded only four hits, with the latter holding a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the first. After getting two quick outs in the seventh, however, Ryan's control deserted him, and he walked the next three batters. After a two-run single by Len Dykstra, he was done for the day. The Astros' bullpen imploded, and the Mets finished the frame with a 7-1 lead, adding a pair of three-spots in the eighth and ninth. The Mets did it all without the long ball; of their 12 hits, 11 were singles, with Darryl Strawberry's double their only extra-base knock.
Deron Johnson would have been 75 today. As hitting coach for the 1981 Mets, the former slugging first baseman didn't have much to work with and the team finished the strike-shortened season with a league-worst 3.3 runs per game. Johnson, his fellow coaches, and manager Joe Torre were all dismissed at the end of that season.
The late Roy McMillan was born on this date in 1929. Though well past his prime when he joined the Mets in 1964, the former Gold Glover still played a pretty good shortstop as a regular that season and the next, and as a backup in 1966, during which he also mentored 22-year-old Bud Harrelson. McMillan was with the Mets only two weeks when he started a 6-6-3 triple play in the 14th inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants at Shea, helping to ensure that the marathon would continue another nine innings. His playing career officially ended when the Mets released him on his 37th birthday in 1966. He served as a coach under Yogi Berra from 1973 to 1975, taking over as interim manager for the last 53 games of the '75 season; the Mets went 26-27 during his tenure. He returned to the coaching lines under Joe Frazier in 1976.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Reality TV show producer Mark Burnett is turning 53 today. The Mets' Mike Piazza and David Wright made guest appearances on Burnett's The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, respectively, while Darryl Strawberry was a contestant on the latter. Just last year, Jeff Kent was a member of the Kalabaw Tribe on Burnett's most well-known series, Survivor. After being voted off the island, Kent launched an anti-Obama tirade, as if the president, and not Lisa Whelchel ("Blair" from The Facts of Life), had caused his downfall. To his credit, he did not blame Carlos Beltran.