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This Date in Mets History: 7/25 - Stengel's Last Stand, Bullpen Bdays for Wagner and Mota

Stengel in 1949.
Stengel in 1949.

In the early hours of July 25, 1965, the most colorful man in baseball history fell and fractured his hip. He couldn't have known it at the time, but Casey Stengel, 75, had managed his last baseball game. The Old Perfesser had once insisted, in classic Stengelese, that "my health is good enough about the shoulders." Now, he retired with a record of 1,905-1,842, beloved by his cellar-dwelling Mets and their fans. "I'm probably the only guy who worked for Stengel both before and after he was a genius," joked Warren Spahn, 44. A mandatory waiting period was waved and the legend stormed Cooperstown, bum him and all, the following year.

As Casey said, "There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them."

On July 25, 1978, at Shea Stadium, Pete Rose notched a single off of Craig Swan, extending his hit streak to 38 games, a new modern national league record. The player whose record he broke, Tommy Holmes of the Boston Braves, was in attendance, as was the Mets' largest crowd of the year. Rose had previously been loudest at Shea scrapping with Bud Harrelson at second base in the 1973 NLDS. He would eventually run his hit streak to 44 games, the lowlife.

  • Billy "the Kid" Wagner broke his right arm twice as a boy, and started flinging balls au sinestre against a Tannersville, Va. barn. In 2005, Pat the Bat called Billy a rat, and 2006 saw him saving 40 games for the division-winning Mets. The first half of 2007 was charmed. The second half, not. In 2008 the six-time all star tore his UCL and was traded by a front office unversed in free agent draft compensation. Billy pitched 189.2 innings as a Met, striking out 230 and walking 54 for a 2.37 ERA.
  • Guillermo Mota came up through the Mets farm system as a third baseman and shortstop but was shunted off to Canada in the rule 5 draft. There someone had the awful idea to make him a relief pitcher. On the Mets and on dope, Mota was the 15th major league player suspended under the new PED policy -- this was 2006 -- but nevertheless earned a two-season extension. In 2007, he posted a 7.78 ERA in 21 games down the stretch and was traded to Milwaukee for Johnny Estrada before fans could tear off his five limbs.
Game of Note

On July 25, 1990, the Mets shot off to a 9-0 lead, powered by homeruns from Madagan and Strawberry, only to hang from their fingertips as the bullpen slipped badly at Veterans Stadium. The result was the only on-air expletive anyone can remember from announcer Bob Murphy. "They win the damn thing by a score of 10 to 9!" History repeated itself almost exactly on July 7, 2008, when the Mets took a 10-1 lead into the sixth -- also against the Phillies -- with Pedro Martinez in the role of Sid Fernandez and Armas and Heilman in the villain's role of Wally Whitehurst. The Mets won the damn thing 10-9.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection

On July 25, 1868, the mountainous quadrangle of Wyoming was admitted as a territory of the United States. Dick Cheney, Jackson Pollock, Annie Proulx, and Brandon Nimmo are among the lucky ones to grow up under her big sky.