Tag Archive for Jerry Grote

Spitters, swappers, sluggers and doubleheaders

Big thanks to longtime reader Pete Mahoney who pointed out the the below audio recording of the May 22, 1966 Mets-Giants game at Candlestick Park (game one of a twinbill, doncha know) that also provides a missing artifact in Mets uniform history.

As relayed by Bob Murphy at the 20-minute mark, lefty Gerry Arrigo makes his Mets debut in this game, having been recently purchased from Cincinnati, and is wearing No. 26. Until now, the nearest proof I’d collected of Arrigo’s number that season — the below scorecard in early July — indicates Arrigo is in 34, and Bob Shaw is wearing 26.

The latter bit of info on Shaw was never in question but it raises the issue of when Arrigo switched out of 26. The answer would appear be, as soon as Shaw arrived.

The Mets acquired Shaw from San Francisco on June 10. Shaw in fact pitched for the Giants in the second game of the doubleheader referenced above. One of the reasons the Mets made the purchase was a broken finger sustained by Arrigo the day before. In fact the Mets made room for Shaw on the roster by placing Arrigo on the disabled list. Did I happen to mention all this happened on the day I was born? Well, it did.

Shaw, an accomplished if well-traveled vet, had worn 26 in two of his previous stops — Kansas City and Milwaukee — so its possible he’d requested the number, but at any rate when Arrigo returned to the club June 25, he took 34.

Shaw by the way wasted little time establishing himself as an effective No. 26, reeling off victories in his first four starts as a Met including three complete games. He also provided some hints as to why he had so many different employers until then: He was a chronic contract holder-outter who didn’t mind making his opinions known. He once slugged his own catcher, Jerry Grote, who’d gotten between the home plate umpire and an irate Shaw after a call hadn’t gone his way. And as represented in the below photos, Shaw had a reputation for putting something “extra” on his pitches from time to time, though only admitted to enjoying the fact that opponents believed that of him:

Click to embiggen

 

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Beltransformation

15Goodbye and good luck to Carlos Beltran, who is expected to accept a trade to the Giants and leave the Mets as one of the best players who ever came though here. The Mets are said to be taking back a hot pitching prospect by the name of Zach Wheeler and by the looks of things just might maintain their hold on third place now that David Wright‘s back, Daniel Murphy is hitting like crazy and Lucas Duda suddenly believes in himself.

Beltran’s place as the finest player ever to wear No. 15 for the Mets has long been established, surpassing the contributions of catching stalwart Jerry Grote and fading superstar George Foster even before his knee problems interrupted his progress. But his Metliness also cannot be denied. He was one of the few big-name free agents whose acquisition paid off in addition to the splash it made and his fortunes mirrored the Mets’: Valiently struggling in in 2005, dominant in 2006, receding in 2007, rebounding in 2008, banged-up, controversial and largely unavailable in ’09 and ’10; and suddenly relevant again in ’11.

Following is glance of the career accomplishments of notable Met No. 15s, ranked in ascending Metliness. Pitchers who wore 15 include Al Jackson (early years); Ron Darling (laboring latter years); Rick Aguilera, Don Aase and Dave Robertts. See the full list. Who’s your favorite?

Player Year(s) Games HR RBI SB BA Legacy
Carlos Beltran 2005-11 838 149 558 100 .280 Best centerfielder ever
Jerry Grote 1966-77 1235 35 357 14 .256 Seaver’s reciever
George Foster 1982-86 655 99 361 5 .252 Unhappy bust
Matt Franco 1996-2000 452 13 71 1 .254 Pinch-hitter who beat Rivera
Jose Vizcaino 1994-96 334 7 121 18 .282 Pretty good, but forgotten once Ordonez arrived.
Claudell Washington 1980 79 10 42 17 .275 A rich man’s Richard Hidalgo
Richard Hidalgo 2004 86 21 52 3 .228 A poor man’s Claudell Washington

 

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