Friday, July 12, 2013

The Mets in All-Star Games Part 2: The 1970s

Shale Briskin
MM Assistant Editor

As the Mets moved to the 1970s fresh off their first championship in team history, their next decade would be inconsistent at first, but very poor at the end. In the middle of all this would be a trip to the World Series in which the Mets lost to the Oakland A's in seven games.

1970: The defending champions had two All-Stars in 1970. Tom Seaver made his fourth consecutive trip to the Midsummer Classic. He pitched three shutout innings in the game and gave up just one hit, with four strikeouts. For the season, Seaver went 18-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 283 strikeouts.

Longtime shortstop Bud Harrelson made his first of two consecutive trips to the All-Star Game. He had two hits and two runs scored in three at-bats during the game. Harrelson's full season included a .243 average, 1 home run and 42 RBI, plus a career high in walks with 95.

Manager Gil Hodges managed the National League team for the only time in his career.

1971: Similar to 1970, Seaver and Harrelson were once again the only Mets' All-Stars that year. Seaver did not pitch in the game that year, while Harrelson was hitless in two at-bats. Seaver though had one of the best seasons in his career, with a 20-10 record, a career best 1.76 ERA, and a career high 289 strikeouts. Harrelson batted .252 with no home runs and 32 RBI.

1972: In 1972, the Mets made one of their biggest trades to that point by acquiring the legendary Willie Mays from the Giants. In 69 games, Mays batted .267 with 8 home runs and 19 RBI. In the All-Star Game, Mays was hitless in two at-bats.

Seaver made yet another All-Star Game appearance, but for the second consecutive season did not play in the game itself. Seaver went 21-12 with a 2.92 ERA and 249 strikeouts for the season.

Closer Tug McGraw made his first All-Star Game trip that year to round out the Mets' participants. McGraw ended up getting the win in the 1972 Midsummer Classic by pitching two scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, while striking out four. McGraw's full season included an 8-6 record, a 1.70 ERA and 27 saves.

1973: The 1973 National League Champions came out of nowhere to win the NL East division title. By midseason though, they were not playing particularly well. As a result, the Mets only had two All-Star representatives in future Hall of Famers Seaver and Mays that year.

Seaver won his second NL Cy Young Award by going 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts. He pitched one inning in the Midsummer Classic and allowed one walk. Mays was hitless in his only All-Star Game at-bat that season. He batted .211 with 6 home runs and 25 RBI in what would be the final season of his career.

1974: The 1974 NL All-Star team had a notable player missing from the roster. It was the only season in Tom Seaver's time with the Mets in which their ace did not make the All-Star team. Instead, young sothpaw Jon Matlack and catcher Jerry Grote represented the Mets.

Matlack was 13-15 with a 2.41 ERA and 195 strikeouts. In the All-Star Game, Matlack pitched a scoreless inning with one hit and one walk allowed. Grote was hitless in his only at-bat, while he batted .257 with 5 home runs and 36 RBI for the season.

Mets manager Yogi Berra also managed the National League team that year.

1975: In 1975, Seaver and Matlack were the Mets' All-Stars as the team had a .500 season more or less.

Seaver won his third NL Cy Young Award that year with a 22-9 record, a 2.38 ERA and 243 strikeouts. He pitched an inning in the All-Star Game, but allowed three runs, two hits and a walk in what was easily his worst ever performance in the Midsummer Classic.

Matlack had another great season himself with a 16-12 record and a 3.38 ERA. In the All-Star Game, Matlack became the first Met to win MVP honors, although he was a co-MVP with Bill Madlock. Matlack got the win and pitched two shutout innings with four strikeouts, while giving up just one hit.

Left-handed pitcher Jon Matlack was the Co-MVP in the 1975 All-Star Game.

1976: In 1976, newcomer Dave Kingman joined Seaver and Matlack in the All-Star Game. In a season that saw him set a Mets' then-single season record with 36 home runs, Kingman also contributed 86 RBI, despite a .238 average. Kingman was hitless in both of his at-bats at the Midsummer Classic.

Seaver went 14-11 with a 2.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts that year and allowed one home run in the All-Star Game, while pitching two innings. Matlack was 17-10 with a 2.95 ERA for the season, but did not pitch in the All-Star Game.

1977: 1977 is not fondly remembered by Mets fans at all. It was the year in which Seaver and Kingman were both traded the exact same day and the Mets never recovered from the "Midnight Massacre" for the rest of the decade.

While Seaver was an All-Star once again, but this time as a member of the Reds, catcher John Stearns would become the Mets' lone player at the All-Star Game, which took place in Yankee Stadium that year.

In his rookie season, Stearns batted .251 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI. He also had a .370 OBP and 9 stolen bases. Stearns did not get a hit in his lone at-bat at the Midsummer Classic.

1978: The Mets' struggles continued in 1978 and Pat Zachry was the Met to be named to the All-Star Game.

Zachry went 10-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 21 starts that year, but did not pitch in the All-Star Game.

1979: The Mets once again were not a good team in 1979, but did have multiple representatives at the All-Star Game that year in Stearns and outfielder Lee Mazzilli.

Stearns batted .243 with 9 home runs and 66 RBI that year, but did not play in the All-Star Game. Mazzilli though had a breakout season with a .303 average, 15 home runs, 79 RBI, 34 stolen bases and a .395 OBP. At the Midsummer Classic, Mazzilli did not start the game, but later became the first Mets hitter to hit a home run in his first ever All-Star Game at-bat. It was a two-run home run that helped the National League win 7-6. Mazzilli drew a walk in his only other at-bat.

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we recap the Mets' All-Star Game performances of the 1980s.

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