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'Pool Play

The first time the Mets ever defeated the Phillies in walk-off fashion marked a key moment in the career of one of the most memorable Mets.

My dad likes to tell the story of the game that got away from Ed Kranepool, the NY City high school championship game in 1962 against Curtis High of Staten Island (my dad and Kranepool, though they didn't know each other, were classmates) in which Kranepool went something like 0-for-5 with 5 infield popouts in a rather hideous defeat. A few weeks later, he was pulling up to his school in the Bronx in a brand new car, having been signed by New York's newest baseball team for an $85,000 bonus.

Kranepool was good enough, or rather the Mets were bad enough, such that he earned looks from the big club while still a teenager. Three games as a 17-year-old in 1962 allowed him to eventually boast of playing in each of the first 18 Mets seasons. Kranepool became a semi-regular by 1963, at least until he hit a slump partway through.

The Mets injected youth into their lineup in spots in 1963, putting rookie second baseman Ron Hunt and right fielder Kranepool into the lineup and they provided an early-season boost. On May 8, the Mets were a very reasonable 10-15 and winners of two straight heading into a clash with the Phillies so the unusual feeling at the Polo Grounds that day was one of optimism. This was, after all, a chance for the Mets to surpass a .400 winning percentage for the first time in team history.

Mets starter Jay Hook entered this turn having dropped his previous nine decisions dating back to 1962, but that was forgiven with a fine performance on this particular day. Hook allowed only two runs and four hits in nine innings, fanning 10. The only damage was Wes Covington's cheap two-run home run in the fourth to which the Mets responded in the same frame with a two-run clout by first baseman Tim Harkness against starter Ray Culp.

That was the only scoring until the ninth inning, when with one out against reliever Jack Baldschun, Casey Stengel let Hook, a .134 career hitter, bat for himself. Stengel proved to be wise on this occasion as Hook doubled to right, the first and only two-base hit of his eight-year career. Then, Stengel made another odd move, pinch-running for Hook with Rod Kanehl. The Phillies decided that if anyone was going to beat them in the ninth, that it would have to be the rookies. Baldschun purposely walked Charley Neal, then struck out Hunt for the second out.

That brought up Kranepool, who was 0-for-4 in his prior turns, having stranded four baserunners. Though he was facing a pitcher eight years his elder, Kranepool was up to the challenge of making sure this opportunity for victory would not get away. He dinked a double to right, plating Kanehl with the winning run. It marked the first of seven walk-off hits in Kranepool's Mets career.

True Metpools know...The 7 walk-off hits comes with an *. On one, Kranepool was the beneficiary of an error that came with the hit.

May 23 also marks the anniversary of a rather fun walk-off win against the Phillies. Click below for details.


Anonymous said…
Who owns the record for most walkoffs in his Mets career?
metswalkoffs said…
kevin mcreynolds had 8 walk-off somethings. that's the most. he had 3 singles, 4 hr and a sac fly

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