Reese Kaplan -- The Mets' Best All Star Performances


With all of the great pitchers and players who have worn the Mets uniform over the franchise’s storied history, it’s surprising that no one has ever won outright the MVP of the Midsummer Classic.  

Back in 1975 Jon Matlack, in his 2nd of 3 consecutive All Star Game appearances, shared the honors with Cubs hit machine Bill Madlock.  Matlack hurled two shutout innings with 4 Ks and got credit for the win, while Madlock came into the game and went 1-2 with 2 RBIs.

However, there was a year in which a deserving Met was robbed of what should have been the MVP honor.  The year was 1979 and the Mets sent two representatives to the All Star Game during this lowlight period of the team’s history – catcher John Stearns and outfielder Lee Mazzilli.  Stearns had a credible but hardly All-Star caliber season, but then 24-year-old Mazzilli was in the midst of his finest season, finishing the year with 15 HRs, 79 RBIs and a .303 batting average to go along with 34 stolen bases.

Mazzilli was a reserve in this game entering in the eighth inning of a game that the NL trailed by a score of 6-5.  His pinch hit home run off the Texas Rangers’ Jim Kern tied the game 6-6 and gave the senior circuit a chance at a rare All-Star Game victory.

In the 9th inning the AL went down without scoring but the NL managed to load the bases, bringing Mazzilli to the plate for the second consecutive inning.  Facing the Yankees’ Ron Guidry who would finish the year 18-8 with a 2.78 ERA.  It seemed a bit of a mismatch against the heralded Guidry but Mazilli managed to work the count and draw a bases-loaded walk to drive in the winning run.  He made two plate appearances, tied the game and drove in the winning run.  Surely that would make him the game’s MVP, right?


The Pittsburgh Pirates were in the midst of their “We Are Family” era and wound up going all the way to the World Series, coming from behind down 3-1 and winning against the Baltimore Orioles.  Willie Stargell was the MVP of the Series, hitting .400, and perhaps as a hint of the success that would follow the powers that be awarded the All-Star Game MVP to teammate Dave Parker who had a hit, an RBI, but more importantly had two outfield assists, gunning down Brian Downing at home plate and Jim Rice at third.  The MVP was issued more for preventing runs rather than creating them. 

I remember being crushed when Mazzilli was robbed of his rightful MVP award.  After all, he was only up twice and it resulted in tying and winning the game.  It’s hard to believe with all the years of Seaver, Gooden, Strawberry and others that Mazzilli’s and Matlack’s exploits were the highlight of Mets’ All-Star game lore.  


Thomas Brennan said...

2 noteworthy All Star appearances? I can think also of Jake and Doc, but they have been far too few as the games' real starts rarely include our guys.

It all circles back to Mets' mediocre players collectively over the decades. Sure we've had some short lived great performances (Gooden, Piazza, Straw, others, and of course the one we did have for many years, Seaver, who left Queens 40 years ago, only to return in the twilight of his career in mediocre fashion) but Yanks have had Mantle, Jackson, Guidry, Mattingly, Rivera, Jeter, Posada, Williams, Judge, Sanchez, etc., etc.

We live in a town where largely, over the decades, we've been badly outdone by the cross town rival, in excitement, success, and Hall of Famers.

Maybe Conforto will be our distant # 2 to the mercurial rise of Judge the Great.

Maybe Rosario will be a distant facsimile of Jeter. Maybe not so distant when he does join the Mets and finally start playing. Hopefully the homegrown current player rankings several years from now won't be 1. Judge 2. Sanchez 3. Frazier 4. Rosario 5. Smith 6. Nimmo


Mack Ade said...

Nice period piece Reese

Thank you

Reese Kaplan said...

As I'd pointed out a few weeks ago, the crosstown rivals actually promote their players in the attempt to win by putting the best possible team on the field. The Mets are more concerned with dollars than victories.

Thomas Brennan said...

'More concerned with dollars "spent" than victories'...but lower victories and lower excitement lead to lower revenue dollars too, so they are fooling themselves.

Reese Kaplan said...

You mean the same fools who keep bringing back a career losing manager who would be unemployable elsewhere if he was looking for a job?

Mack's Mets © 2012