Playing for the Visalia Mets in single A ball Theodore won the California League MVP award in 1971. He batted .333 and showed surprising power with 28 H.R.s.
George worked his way up to triple A, hitting very well at every level. He led the AAA Tidewater team with a .296 batting average, 9 home runs and 78 RBI in 1972. Primarily playing first base Theodore excelled in the field leading the International league in put-outs.
due to his tall lanky frame. That coupled with his strange stride, big honker, crazy hair, thick eye glasses and hunched back made Theodore a standout player with New York fans. Basically because of the way he stood out.
>"I'm not a gifted athlete, so I have to perform up to what I think I can."
>"I've been trying transcendental meditation, and that helps me be passive and wait on the curve. I've got to find something else to hit the slider."
"I am embedded in boredom, stagnation and regression, and I am thinking of returning to Mexico, where I played winter ball for vacation and cultural investigation."
It sounded like a letter in a Ken Burns documentary.
This is why we loved this guy. He was more like one of us fans than a player.
He was paid $15,000 to play in 1973 but if he could have afforded it he would have played for nothing.
Early injuries to key players helped him hang on and he filled in for John Milner, Willie Mays and Cleon Jones. He heated up at the end of April and in late May he loved L.A., going 7 for 15 in three games on a west coast road trip. He was batting an impressive .295, tops on the team for a regular or bench player.
Jon Springer of Mets By The Numbers The Stork said,"I thought it would help my batting."
Theodore, for reasons I can only imagine, was batting third, and having a good night with 2 hits and an RBI.
With New York up 7-2 he led off the 9th inning. Padres relief pitcher Gary Ross had a touch of wildness and he hit George with a pitch, right in the eye, breaking his glasses, knocking him down and out.
The Mets as well as we fans feared the worst, hearing reports of possible blindness. But The Stork was a flexible fellow. He returned able to play only five days later.
1973 Mets Fantazy Card Microscopic Focus: >>>>>>THE COLLISION
The Mets were hounded by injuries to key players for much of the season in 1973. Most injuries were inflicted by the opposition but one was self inflicted and knocked two players out of one game.
When any Mets fan hears the name George Theodore a few things come to mind, but one stands above the rest. George was weird, wild and wacky and made a number of contributions during 1973. Had some nice hot streaks, some big hits. But there's one incident that has burned The Storks name in our skulls for all time.
All seasoned Mets fans know the play. Is there a Met fan blog that hasn't touched on it? I think not. If you don't know the tale, or if you want to hear it again, pull up a chair.
July 7, 1973.
Things went south right away as Hennigan walked Mike Lum leading off. Then pinch hitter Johnny Oats layed down a bunt that didn't look like a sacrifice. It went past Hennigan coming off the mound and dribbled towards New York 2nd baseman Felix Millan for a perfect bunt single.
He should have cleared that with Hahn, who was running at full tilt, both players heedless of their proximity to each other. Fans in the stands saw it in their mind before it happened because it was obvious that they would converge. It wasn't as obvious to folks at home watching on T.V., but even we had time to brace ourselves for contact as both players came into frame.
Theodore lay crunched, hunched and motionless. He looked dead. Hahn was down, but showing signs of life. He tried to get up and retrieve the ball, clutching his rib cage in pain. He began to crawl toward it as it rolled away, then collapsed.
Theodore took most of the damage, dislocating his hip. Hahn was hurtin' for certain but suffered no broken bones. He had the wind knocked out of him, and if you've ever had that happen, you know it can be debilitating. Both were loaded on to stretchers and carried from the field. The crowd was still very somber, at least until they saw the two players who would replace Theodore and Hahn. Willie Mays, always a fan favorite stepped from the dugout, and New York fans had not seen Cleon Jones play since June 1st when an errant pitch broke his wrist. Now the stadium came alive again as the two jogged into the outfield and play resumed.
From an article by Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News:
The injury (from the collision)probably hastened Theodore's departure from baseball and the former 31st-round pick only spent parts of two seasons in the majors, recording a .219 lifetime average and two homers in 105 games. After spending 1975 with Tidewater, Theodore got a master's degree in social work. He is a counselor and social worker in public elementary schools in his native Salt Lake City, a job he finds so rewarding that even though he planned to do it for only a little while, he's now in his 33rd year.
The Stork only had one Topps baseball card issued for him, in the 1974 set. Here in Mets Fantazyland he gets a 73 Rook, 73 INJURIES, 73 reg, 74, & 1975 (Front and back)Mets Fantazy Card.
Much to the joy of Metropolitan fans Theodore returned to Shea Stadium for the stadium's closing ceremony on September 28, 2008.
"Fans, they don't seem to forget, I always appreciated them and the attention they gave me. It never was a business to me. Maybe they realized that. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for New York and the Mets. My wife (Sabrina) is from Jackson Heights and we met at the end of my career, had a long-distance courtship and we've been married for 33 years. The Mets have always treated me like family and I appreciate that family."
We appreciate your transcendental existence Mr. Theodore.
If I can't confirm at some point the following will be removed. If I can confirm I will insert it in the appropriate spot.
I wanted to include this bit in the post (well, looks like I have) but I am looking for confirmation on this. I can't say for sure this is true because I had never heard of this until researching details for this post.
This is from the comments section for George Theodore's page at the UMDB. I have crossed checked with box scores and scorecards and I have to ask for confirmation from Mets fans & historians out there because some of the comment has already proven to be incorrect. To the best of my research the story goes:
Theodores debut with the big club was notable.
On April 14th The Stork reported to Shea Stadium late, during the ballgame. In the 6th inning Willie Mays drew a walk and Theodore was sent in to pinch run for him. George ran out to first wearing a pitchers warm-up jacket. The first base umpire told him he would not be allowed to wear the jacket on the bases so The Stork took it off. Only one problem. Theodore did not have a jersey on. He hadn't received his yet. He stood there on first bare chested.
The comment said he never officially entered the game and returned to the dugout. As far as I can see the 14th was his debut. He entered the game for Willie but at the UMDB there is no indication how or why. This was the second pinch running appearance by any Met for the 1973 season (T Martinez-gm 2 easy enough to check just one week in). Martinez ran for pinch hitter Ed Kranepool so that doesn't match up.
The Stork then made his first appearance on the 14th and stayed in the game. So is this true? A legendary myth? Was he allowed to stay in the game with the jacket? Did someone go find his jersey? It's a great tale to include if it's true. Any help or additional information will be appreciated.
Coming up next: 1973 Mets Fantazy Cards Series TWO
Coming April 18th: Mets vs. Pirates season series Fantazy cards: September 17th to 21st 1973