Bud Harrelson received an unwanted piece of fan mail on November 3, 1973. Roughly a month after the Mets shortstop and Pete Rose incited a bench-clearing brawl midway through Game Three of the NLCS, Harrelson got a letter from National League president Chub Feeney informing him that the fisticuffs had incurred a $250 fine. Said Harrelson to the New York Times:
"[Feeney] complimented me for a good season, playoffs, and [World] Series. And told me I had been fined $250 for the fight. I thought the combination of the fine and the compliments where a little humorous."
Less amused was Pete Rose, who also found a message from Feeney in his mailbox on this date. Of course, Rose immediately disavowed any responsibilities for his actions, saying:
"Why didn't [Feeney] fine Wayne Garrett and Jon Matlack of the Mets? The films show they are the ones who threw punches at me when I was down...He should find the Mets' management for not being able to control their crowds."
Both players were given until Spring Training 1974 to remit payment. Sorry, no C.O.D.s.
Former closer Armando Benitez hits the big 4-0 today. Mando, who racked up 160 saves for the Mets over four and a half seasons, hasn't pitched for a big league team since making eight appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. Small sample size, but his peripheral stats were pretty good: sub-1.00 WHIP with 12.8 K/9 and 4.50 K/BB ratios. That said, 75 percent of the hits he allowed in his short Canadian sojourn left the park, which is probably why he only tossed six-plus innings getting the axe. Still, on his special day, better to remember him as the behemoth who struck out an astounding 14.8 batters per nine in '99 (or the pitcher who trails only Seaver, Gooden, and Koosman in career WPA), rather than the fragile reliever who did stuff like this.
Rick Herrscher, a late-season call up to the '62 Mets, is 76. The utility infielder got his first MLB hit five days after graduating to the big club, taking Jim O'Toole of the Reds deep in his seventh career at-bat. More impressively, he did it with a bum thumb, having broken it the night before his debut. According to an 1989 profile in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, when Herrscher reported the injury to Mets' assistant GM Johnny Murphy, he responded, "Oh my God, don't tell Casey [Stengel]. Don't tell him we brought up a guy with a broken thumb." And that's how you build a team that loses 120 games in a season.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1957, the Soviet space program launched Sputnik 2 into orbit. On board was Laika, the ill-fated dog that became the first animal to orbit the earth. Five years later, the Mets would employ a dog for a slightly less futile mission, hiring Homer the Beagle to be the team's first official mascot.