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Make The Hitters See Stars

It seems timely to mention that this year is the 40th anniversary of what some might say is the best pitching performance by a Met in All-Star Game history.

1968 was the Year of the Pitcher, so it's not at all stunning that that year's All-Star Game had a final score of NL 1, AL 0, especially when you consider that the National League's first four pitchers are all Hall of Famers.

The last of that quartet was the least experienced of the four, 23-year-old Tom Seaver, who had already made a name for himself by closing out the 15th inning of the previous year's Midsummer Classic. But in this instance, he bettered that performance.

Check out these reviews, courtesy of a great article in the New York Times

"Seaver was the toughest...he threw the hell out of the ball." -- AL manager Dick Williams

"Seaver throws awfully hard," -- Boog Powell

"He battled me and never gave in to me." -- Carl Yastrzemski

What did Seaver do to earn their compliments? In innings seven and eight, he managed to strike out five hitters, including both Yastrzemski and Mickey Mantle. I'm a little surprised that the newspapers didn't make a bigger deal of the latter, since it's the one instance in which the two faced each other in a "meaningful" scenario (although if they met in the Mayor's Trophy game, that was a big deal too) on a national stage.

Yes, Seaver allowed two hits, but they both turned out to be harmless, as the National League managed a victory anyway, with Jerry Koosman striking out Yastrzemski for the final out of the game.

Other Notable Strikeout Performances by Mets at the All-Star Game

* Seaver, with a Cy Young Award under his belt by then, started in 1970 and pitched three scoreless innings, striking out Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew among his nine outs.

* Tug McGraw may have had the best showing by a Mets reliever, pitching a scoreless ninth and 10th, in 1972, whiffing Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Carlton Fisk, among others.

* Jon Matlack struck out four (most notably Rod Carew) in two scoreless innings of relief in the 1975 All-Star Game, earning the win and Co-MVP honors with Bill Madlock.

* Dwight Gooden combined with Fernando Valenzuela for six straight strikeouts, fanning Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon and Alvin Davis in succession as part of a two-inning scoreless stint at the 1984 All-Star Game.

* Sid Fernandez struck out the side in the eighth inning of the 1986 All-Star Game, as Brook Jacoby, Jim Rice and Don Mattingly all went down helplessly. He would strike Rice out again in a bigger spot- Game 7 of the 1986 World Series.

* And Bobby Jones, hardly known for strikeouts, came through with the first (but not last) surprise performance of his career, striking out Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire in back-to-back at-bats in the eighth inning of the 1997 All-Star Game. Like his playoff showing three years later, Jones yielded only one hit in his appearance.

The truly starstruck Mets fan knows...Mets pitchers have recorded a total of 40 strikeouts in All-Star competition.


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