Skip to main content

Catch as Catch Can

It seems an appropriate time to tell this story, with catchers and pitchers due to report in a couple days. You may recall that Casey Stengel once said something to the effect of "You've gotta have a catcher. Otherwise, you're going to have a lot of passed balls."

Well, it took the Mets five years to bear this out, but Stengel's wisdom proved to be prophetic.

The bizarre season that was 1967 took a twist ever so unusual on that July 27, when the Mets were in Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers.

We'll pick up the action in the 7th inning, wiht the Mets trailing 3-2. With two on and two outs, backup catcher John Sullivan struck for a game-tying single to center. Mets manager Wes Westrum elected to pinch-hit for pitcher Danny Frisella with another catcher, Greg Goossen. That move, in and of itself wasn't so strange, but the companion to it- having regular catcher Jerry Grote run for Sullivan- put the Mets in the position of using all three of their catchers in the inning. Goossen whiffed, so the game remained tied. Mets reliever Hal Reniff stranded the bases loaded in the Dodgers half, keeping the game even until the 8th.

Ron Perranoski came in to pitch for the Dodgers in relief of Don Drysdale, who had injured himself the previous inning. Thus, Perranoski was permitted extra time to warm up. This, for whatever reason, annoyed Grote who threw a towel out of the Mets dugout, which in turn drew the heave-ho from one umpire.

This left the Mets with quite a conundrum. Grote was their last available catcher. In a moment of humor, Yogi Berra approached the first base ump and asked if he could be activated to catch. Permission was not granted.

The good news for the Mets was that Bob Johnson's single drove in two runs to give them the lead. The bad news was, that with no other alternatives available, Tommie Reynolds was picked over Tommy Davis, Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool to be the backstop. Reynolds, a rather mediocre batsman, was on the roster as a backup outfielder who could play all three positions. His claim to fame, to that point, had been a walk-off home run on Father's Day against the Cubs, but since then he was a meager 4-for-29.

The Dodgers scored three runs off Reniff and Ron Taylor to take the lead in the home 8th, with a Dick Schofield stolen base helping to assure the go-ahead tally on Nate Oliver's double, but the Mets rallied to even things by scratching out a run on two singles and a double play in the visitors 9th. Reynolds got through the 9th and 10th in his new spot unscathed, but his luck changed in the home 11th.

Oliver walked against Jack Fisher to start the inning and advanced to third on a one-out single by Len Gabrielson. With Bob Bailey up, Fisher threw a pitch that sailed up and in. Reynolds believed that Bailey offered and nicked the ball with his bat. The home plate ump decreed it a swing and a miss. By the time Reynolds retrieved the ball, the winning run had crossed the plate.

The newspaper description of this game, as well as that by Mets historian Dennis D'Agostino is quite humorous. The aftermath of events is that Grote was fined a whopping $100 and Reynolds never caught again.

The scoring on this was changed, after the game had concluded, from wild pitch to passed ball (it would be one of 22 the Mets would have that season). So it should be a lesson to us as pitchers and catchers arrive as to the importance of having enough well-trained players sporting the tools of ignorance.

True Metchers know...The 1964 Mets set a club record that still stands with 32 passed balls.


Popular posts from this blog

Cliff Notes

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

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The greatness and the frustration of Nolan Ryan the Met

I was looking over dominant pitching versus opponents and over various stretches in Mets history and came upon one I found interesting. In his first six starts in 1971, Nolan Ryan went 5-1 with an 0.77 ERA. In 46 2/3 innings, he allowed 19 hits and struck out 47. Opponents hit .121 and slugged .172 against him. And oh yes, he walked 37 batters (!), or more than 7 per 9 innings. As you go back through those six starts, you can see both the brilliance and the frustration that eventually led to Ryan’s departure in one of the worst trades in baseball history. April 29 at Cardinals – 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 5 K, 8 BB Ryan’s first start of the season was 7-0 win over the Cardinals that completed a four-game sweep, though it wasn’t the most artful of efforts. Ryan walked eight, but held the Cardinals to only two hits. That included the thwarting of Joe Torre’s season-opening 22-game hitting streak. Torre would go on to win the MVP. The big moment in the game came with the score 1-0 in the