At the time, 40 years ago today, the doubleheader sweep of the Pirates by Yogi Berra's last-place Mets might have been viewed by some as a pleasant diversion that only postponed the inevitable. In hindsight it was, if not pivotal, important, especially in that the Amazins victimized the team they would face in a showdown for first place in mid-September. It was also a morale booster, coming on the heels of a 2-6 slump during which they were twice swept in doubleheaders and fell from 7.5 to 10.5 games out of first.
Tom Seaver won the opener 3-0 with a masterful four-hit shutout, striking out 11 Bucs and walking none. In the nightcap, George Stone, aided by a pair of John Milner home runs, won his sixth game since joining the rotation on June 2. He was one out away from a shutout of his own when he ran out of gas. Berra summoned Harry Parker from the bullpen to get the final out and save the 5-2 victory. The Mets would beat the Pirates a total of 13 times in 18 games en route to their unlikely "Little Miracle" pennant in 1973.
On August 1, 1989, the Mets...it hurts to type this...traded one of the most popular players in the franchise's history, exiling Mookie Wilson to Toronto in exchange for...it really hurts to type this...middling middle reliever Jeff Musselman.
Happy 45th birthday to lefty Brian Bohanon, a pretty good pitcher for a hitter (or is it the other way around?). In a season and a half (1997-1998) on the mound with the Mets he posted a 1.3 WHIP, 1.9 K/BB, and 1.3 WAR. In 14 starts he went 7-4 with a 3.22 ERA. In 49 plate appearances he drove in seven runs and compiled a slash line of .255/.250/.277.
Two-time Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Gregg Jefferies, 46 today, gave the Mets an offensive boost late in 1988. In 118 plate appearances he posted a .961 OPS with six homers and 17 RBI. Over the next two seasons, however, he managed to alienate his teammates, a situation he addressed with an ill-advised open letter to Mets fans that was read on WFAN in May 1991.
George Bamberger would have been 90 today. After managing the Mets to a last-place finish in 1982, he up and quit 46 games (and 30 losses) into the 1983 season. He was reportedly in good health at the time and wanted to keep it that way. The Staten Island native, who had heart bypass surgery in 1980, said that he felt exhausted and was choosing to go home and go fishing.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1498, a group of Venezuelans discovered Christopher Columbus planting the Spanish flag on their beach. He tried to trick them into returning with him to Spain by telling them he was a baseball scout, but they knew that Abner Doubleday hadn't invented the game yet. Major League Baseball discovered Venezuela in the mid 20th century, and to date 30 Mets have hailed from that South American country. Venezuelan-born players have given Mets fans some of their greatest thrills, including Johan Santana's no-hitter, Endy Chavez's famous catch, Melvin Mora scoring the live-another-day winning run on a wild pitch in Game 162 in 1999, and the countless clutch hits and plays of Edgardo Alfonzo, not to mention Elio Chacon's contribution to Mets lore in 1962 as the catalyst of the "Yo lo tengo!" incident.