We are coming up on the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable individual games in Mets history. It features one of the best individual games for a hitter and the worst individual games for a fielder. And they happen to be the same person!
Joe Foy isn’t remembered fondly in Mets history. The Mets hoped that Foy would be the answer to their third base problem when they traded minor leaguers Amos Otis and Bob Johnson to the Royals for him in December 1969.
While Otis went on to be a star and Johnson won a World Series ring with the 1971 Giants, Foy didn't perform up to the expectations he set when he had a 4-WAR season with the 1966 Red Sox or hit .262 with 11 home runs and 37 stolen bases for Kansas City. His only season with the team came in 1970. Despite a .373 on-base percentage (lots of walks since he hit only .236) Foy was a below-average offensive player. In actuality, he wasn't that bad, but there was more to the story than what happened on the field.
It was later revealed that he had issues with drug and alcohol abuse, something he eventually got a better handle on. Foy became a youth counselor in New York City but died of a heart attack in 1989 at age 46.
But let’s take this time to remember something good about him. On July 19, 1970, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants in San Francisco, Foy had a game that was both mostly exhilarating but sometimes exasperating.
The Giants had beaten the Mets 5-3 in the opening game and looked to be on their way to a doubleheader sweep. Two batters into the bottom of the first, Ron Hunt homered. Then, with two on and two out, Frank Johnson hit what looked to be an inning-ending ground ball to third base. Foy threw errantly to second base, resulting in one run and then a Koosman wild pitch brought home another.
Hal Lanier’s single later in the inning made it 4-0. Foy’s error led to three unearned runs. Ron Swoboda got a run back immediately with a home run in the top of the second, but Foy’s subsequent double went for naught as the next three hitters struck out.
In the fourth inning, Foy did a little better. His two-run home run against Giants starter Skip Pitlock cut the Giants lead to 4-3. Foy continued his offensive barrage with a fifth-inning single that scored Swoboda and tied the game, 4-4.
Foy nearly gave the run back in the sixth inning, mishandling a ground ball that led to the Giants loading the bases, a jam from which Jerry Koosman escaped.
In the seventh inning, the Mets put two men on base and remarkably Foy came through again. His RBI single scored Ken Singleton and on the play a Willie Mays error allowed Donn Clendenon to score too. The Mets led 6-4.
Foy made his third error of the game on Bobby Bonds’ ground ball leading off the home seventh, but that was forgiven when Ron Hunt hit into a 6-4-3 double play. The 6-4 lead held through a shaky eighth inning with Tug McGraw escaping bases-loaded trouble.
There was no escape to be had in the top of the ninth. McGraw struck out two but walked three and was hooked for Ron Taylor, who allowed John Stephenson’s game-tying two-run single. Taylor got the third out to keep the game tied heading to the 10th.
The tie didn’t last long. Foy led off the 10th and homered over the foul screen in right field. That run held up as the game-winner as the Mets won, 7-6.
The final tally for Foy: 5 hits, 5 RBI at the plate, 3 errors in the field.
Foy is the only player to have had at least 5 hits and 3 errors in a game in Retrosheet's data set of nearly 166,000 games played from 1928 to 2019.
Also of note: Win Probability Added measures the value of each plate appearance by how much it contributes to a team’s chance to win.
Foy’s home run in the fourth inning upped the Mets chances by 16%, his single in the seventh inning increased it by 32% and his home run in the 10th inning pushed it up by 34% (from 50% prior to the HR to 84% afterwards).
The sum of the percentages add up to 1.00. He’s one of three players to have a game in which his offensive contributions were worth at least 1 Win Probability Added. The other two are Tim Harkness and Jerry Buchek.
Lastly, four Mets have had at least 5 hits and 5 RBI in the same game. Foy was the first. The others are Edgardo Alfonzo (1999), Yoenis Cespedes (2015) and Pete Alonso (2019).