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The Old Man And The ...

Jamie Moyer is pitching for the Phillies tonight. He's an old fellow at more than 44 1/2 years old.

But regardless of what happens this evening, he will not be the oldest pitcher to lose a game to the Mets.

That distinction belongs to Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm and the circumstances for such are as follows.

It was September 28, 1970 and the Mets had just been knocked out of the NL East race by the Pirates, so spirits were a little dampened on this particular date. It didn't help that upon getting his first major league hit, outfielder Leroy Stanton (soon to be traded with Nolan Ryan) got conked in the head by a relay throw to third base, and had to be removed from the game. He would turn out to be alright.

By the ninth inning, the Mets found themselves in a 3-1 hole, with fine-twirling southpaw Ken Holtzman dominating them. Both Rod Gaspar and Wayne Garrett fanned to start the frame, so the home club was down to its last out.

Improbably though, they rallied. Cleon Jones singled to right and Donn Clendenon followed with a game-tying two-run home run, which took starting pitcher Gary Gentry off the hook and gave Clendenon, for the moment, the single-season Mets RBI record with 95 (one better than Frank Thomas in 1962).

That sent us to bonus baseball where the dispirited Cubs went 1-2-3 in the 10th against Danny Frisella. Wilhelm, acquired by the Cubs from the Angels just three weeks prior, than relieved Holtzman. At 48 years and 64 days old (he'd pitch one more season), his repetoire was pretty predictable. He was going to throw knuckleballs.

Jerry Grote got good wood on one Wilhelm offering leading off the 10th, starting things out with a double. A Bud Harrelson sacrifice moved pinch-runner Al Weis to third, but there he'd stay after Art Shamsky missed out on his first walk-off RBI by bouncing back to the pitcher. Dave Marshall pinch-hit for Gaspar, who had replaced Stanton in centerfield and Wilhlem walked him.

That brought up Garrett, a good contact hitter, who made good contact. His home run to right field gave the Mets a 6-3 victory and ensured Wilhelm of a nifty spot in the club's long and storied walk-off history.

The truly Metderly know...That the three pitchers older than Moyer who have lost to the Mets are Wilhelm, Charlie Hough (twice, at 45, and 46), and John Franco (44, but a slightly older 44 than Moyer).


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