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Santa Klaus is Coming to Town

Thanks to those who helped us clear the 20,000 hit mark. Happy holidays!

Santa Klaus, and yes there's a reason I've spelled it that way, came down the Shea Stadium chimney a little prematurely in 1965, but Mets fans didn't mind, as he came bearing a perfectly nice gift- a walk-off win over the Houston Astros.

April 15 of that season marked an unusually early time for the Flushing 9 to be celebrating victory, as it was only their third game of the season. It was a taxing day for some (pardon the pun), but one of the last good ones as Mets manager for Casey Stengel, a jolly, happy soul if there ever was one.

There was some early excitement in this one, as in the second inning, the Mets defense turned a triple play. With runners on first and third, Jimmy Wynn hit a fly ball to right-center field. Johnny Lewis made the catch, and his throw home was in time for catcher Chris Cannizzaro to tag oncoming runner Walt Bond for the second out. Meanwhile, future Met Bob Aspromonte got caught unsure on the throw home, freezing when he thought it might get cut off. When he made a late dash for second, Cannizzaro threw to shortstop Roy McMillan, who tagged Aspromonte out.

The Mets were an out away from a 4-2 win when Aspromonte drew a walk from Mets starter Jack Fisher. Wynn followed with a game-tying two-run homer, ensuring he wouldn't be wearing the goat horns (or maybe, more appropriately reindeer horns) for this contest, which was sent into extra innings.

The Astros missed out on a great chance to take the lead in the 10th. With 18-year old reliever Jim Bethke in the game, and runners on first and second with one out, Al Spangler hit a grounder to third. Third baseman Charley Smith got the force at second, and when Astros baserunner, reliever Claude Raymond, rounded third base a little too far, he was thrown out when second baseman Bobby Klaus fired the ball to McMillan, who had raced to cover third.

Klaus led off the bottom of the 10th, giving him a chance to be a baseball hero in another respect. To be frank, this was someone who was not a good hitter, which likely explains why his major league career lasted only two seasons. Stengel made a list and checked it twice whenever he gave Klaus a chance to play.

In his first 40 at-bats of 1965, Klaus managed only five hits, but it was the second of those that was most valuable. Klaus took a mighty poke at a Raymond pitch and plunked it off the foul screen down the left field line for a walk-off home run. He dashed, danced and pranced around the bases, or at least we can pretend he did for the sake of invoking the names of some reindeer.

It was a victory both naughty and nice, if you know what I mean, and those were few and far between in the early days of the Mets.

True Metclauses know...Ok, a couple of things that I wanted to reference here

Yes, I know his last name isn't pronounced like "Claus." It's actually pronounced to rhyme with "louse" but it works better for blogging purposes not to acknowledge that until now.

The Mets have turned nine triple plays in their history, but this is the only game in which the Mets had both a triple play and a walk-off win.

Happy birthday and happy holidays to Jack Hamilton, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Musgraves, and Tom O'Malley, who were all born on December 25. O'Malley does have a walk-off hit to his credit, but we'll get around to referencing that another time.

You may have noticed I invoked a little bit of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" which might be my all-time holiday song. I've done some Rudolph parodies in the past, but couldn't come up with one for blogging purposes. I did learn that the only Met player with Rudolph in his name was one-hit wonder Greg Harts, who batted .500 in a two at-bat career with the 1973 Mets.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Randolph the Stern Faced Skipper
Had A Very Strict Pol'cy
No One Could Wear A Bee-ard
When He Came To St. Lucie

Under The Other Manager
Discipline Was Often Lax
Willie Would Send A Message
And He Wouldn't Use A Fax

In other parody news...

http://faithandfear.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2005/12/23/1485788.html

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Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t