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The Umpire Strikes Back

Bruce Froemming is scheduled to umpire his 5,000th game on Wednesday night in Boston and this is a rather significant milestone, one only achieved once previously, by Hall of Famer Bill Klem.

I have done some reading on the subject and while there are those who praise Froemmings longevity, there are also plenty who are critical of his work, approach, and manner (he was once suspended for 10 days in for calling a female umpire administrator a "stupid Jew bitch") and their annoyance seems justified. Nonetheless, we prefer documenting to judging, so we'll incorporate the achievement into our walk-off tale for today.

Froemming's first major-league umpiring assignment came in New York, where he handled the first four games of their 1971 schedule, rotating from third base to second, to first, to home.

After splitting their first 2 games with the Montreal Expos, the Mets hosted the defending NL champion, injury-plagued Cincinnati Reds. On April 10 (with Froemming working first base), they triumphed in rather dramatic fashion. A fine pitchers duel between Jerry Koosman and Gary Nolan concluded with a 3-2 Mets triumph, when with the bases loaded in the 11th inning, Reds reliever Wayne Granger threw a game-ending wild pitch, allowing Donn Clendenon to score the winning run.

The next day was Froemming's first behind the plate in the major leagues and perhaps he was a little nervous. Mets hitters were the beneficiaries of 12 walks (11 unintentional), while Reds batsmen were punched out 12 times, five times starting at a called 3rd strike. This may have had more to do with the starting moundsmen (Tom Seaver and Greg Garrett) than the umpiring (I'm sure that's what Froemming would say).

Though the Mets were given a multitude of opportunities they failed to capitalize on them. They stranded 13 baserunners, hit into two double plays and had a baserunner picked offover the course of this contest. That explains why the score was 0-0 after 10 innings.

Granger was back in this contest by the 11th and he was rather unfortunate in his early work during this particular season. Leading off the last of the 11th, Jerry Grote homered, giving the Mets a 1-0 win and sending the Reds to their fourth consecutive defeat.

True Metmmings know...These were the first of 41 Mets walk-off wins in which Bruce Froemming was an umpire (including 2 in 2006). The last Mets walk-off win in which Froemming was the HOME PLATE umpire, came on October 3, 1999, when the Mets beat the Pirates in Game # 162, when Brad Clontz's wild pitch brought in the winning run in the 9th inning.

True umpiring afficianados may recall that our one other umpire piece in this blog can be found here

A reward to those who scrolled this far...some 3 HR minutiae

* Jose Reyes became the 7th Met to hit 3 HR in a game. He's now had a 3 HR game, a cycle, and 2 5-hit games this season. He's the first Mets shortstop with a 3 HR game and the first Mets switch-hitter with a 3 HR game. He's the first Met with a 3 HR game since Edgardo Alfonzo in his 6-hit game on August 30, 1999 (at Astros)

* Reys and Jim Hickman are the only 2 Mets to have both a 3-HR game and hit for the cycle in their Mets careers. Reyes is the only Met to do it in the same season, a feat only accomplished one other time in baseball history (Jim King, 1964 Senators)
* The Mets were 6-0 prior to yesterday when a player hit 3 HR in a game. No Met has ever hit 3 HR and had a walk-off hit IN THE SAME GAME.

* Of the other 6, the only one never to have had a walk-off hit as a Met is Claudell Washington. 4 of the others had a walk-off hit and a 3 HR game IN THE SAME SEASON(Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Dave Kingman and Edgardo Alfonzo)


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