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This Date in Mets History: June 9 — Mets honor Gil Hodges on Old Timer's Day, but Willie Mays steals the game

The Mets retired Gil Hodges's number on this date in 1973, then rode the bat of the team's oldest active player to victory.

Dick Raphael/USA TODAY

The Mets have traditionally been one of the stingier teams when it comes to retiring numbers. Of the three, non-MLB mandated jersey numbers taken out of circulations by the team, two belonged to Hall of Famers: Casey Stengel's 37 and Tom Seaver's 41. The third, which was granted emeritus status 40 years ago today, was donned by a man with a decent, if not quite convincing Cooperstown case: Gil Hodges. On June 9, 1973, the Mets posthumously honored Hodges by hanging his #14 on Shea's outfield fence.

The day's festivities included an Old Timer's game, in which retired Brooklyn Dodgers stars teamed up with former Yankees greats, including Joe Dimaggio, to take on a squad consisting primarily of original Mets. Despite the Yankee Clipper's best efforts, the elderly Amazins proved triumphant, winning 1-0 in two innings.

As for the day's major league action, the active Mets topped the visiting Dodgers 4-2 on the strength of a Jon Matlack complete game and a homer from Willie Mays, the 655th of his career. The Say Hey Kid, the senior to six players who suited up for the Old Timer Mets, turned on a Al Downing offering in the third and sent it over the wall to put the active New Yorkers in the lead for good.


  • Jason Anderson, the first Staten Island Yankee to play for the big club in the Bronx, is 34. The right-handed reliever joined the Mets via trade in mid-2003, a deal that made teamed him with Daniel Garcia, the first Brooklyn Cyclone to make the majors.
  • Billy Baldwin would have turned 65 today. Baldwin only came to the plate 24 times as a Met, but he did hit for the cycle in four consecutive at-bats, albeit it across two games. The outfielder hit a pinch hit walk off home run on September 24, 1978. Given a start the following day, Baldwin tripled in the first, doubled in the fourth, then snuck a single through the infield in the sixth. He'd pick up just one more hit at the major league level before returning to the minors for good.
  • Tom Edens, 53, took two turns in the rotation for the injury-depleted Mets in 1987. The first of the pair was his major league, and it went decently enough to merit a second start. The second one went badly enough that Edens got demoted and didn't appear in another game until three years later.

Game of Note
Hard to believe it's been exactly 14 years since an ejected Bobby Valentine donned a Dennis Farina 'stache and snuck back into the dugout during the 12th inning of an interleague matchup with the Blue Jays. It's always been the opinion of the author that Valentine's costumed antics serve as a great litmus test for Mets fans. In that if you're talking to one who doesn't find the incident hilarious, you should probably terminate the conversation, as you're about to get harangued about what a joke the franchise is. Thankfully, it seems the readership of Amazin' Avenue tends to have an appreciation of the absurd. In fact, our own Matthew Callan is likely the world's foremost chronicler of the infamous game, having detailed it in all its glory, from Hugo Chavez's ceremonial first pitch to Rey Ordoñez's 14th inning walk-off single, in a variety of outlets.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was 59 years ago today that U.S. Army counsel Joseph N. Welch asked anti-communist crusader/total crackpot Senator Joe McCarthy during the legislator's namesake hearings, "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" Mets fans could be forgiven for shouting those words at Mets managerTerry Collins during last night's interminable 20-inning loss to the Marlins. Thankfully, one person does indeed appear to have some decency left, as Sandy Alderson appeased the masses by finally DFA'ing Rick Ankiel after the game.