Monday, January 9, 2017


The Old Perfessor Casey Stengel's thoughts on the stolen base:

"There's nobody on my ball club that doesn't go from first to third on a base hit, or from second to home. Every time you steal a base, you're taking a gamble on getting thrown out, and taking the bat out of the hitter's hand."
 So Stengel was not a big fan of the stolen base. I didn't know that. Maybe that's why it took 12 games before the team stole one. And Casey did try.  

On April 17th, just five days into the '62 season, the Mets were playing the Houston Colt 45's in the first meeting ever of the two National League expansion teams. 

Mets 3rd bagman Don Zimmer made an attempt steal home! I wonder if that was Casey's doing. I would assume so. He had Gil Hodges up. It was the eight inning, New York was down 2-1.  Lets take a closer look at that inning, the bottom of the eight. Right hander Jim Golden was on in relief for the Colts with a 2-0 lead. 
After Richie Ashburn failed to pinch a hit to open the frame Felix Mantilla drew a base on balls. The Mets manager had Ed Bouchee bat for "Hot" Rod Kanehl, and Bouchee stroked a single sending Mantilla to third. Stengel then put in Elio Chacon to run for Bouchee with Don Zimmer up.

Zimm tapped one back to the pitcher, who threw home, but Colt 45's catcher Hal Smith couldn't handle the throw. The run scored and he was awarded an error. Chacon went to third, Zimmer to second on the throw.

Frank Thomas then bounced a grounder to third. Chacon took off and was gunned down at the plate by future Met Bob Aspromonte, Zimmer quietly pulling into third during the play. Then, with Gil Hodges up, Zimmer tries to steal home! And the Houston battery of Jim Golden and Hal Smith erased him from the basepaths!
I know old Casey knew his baseball but still, Don Zimmer? Hodges up? Crazy stuff.

The Mets manager tried to snag a bag again after another four games had passed. On April 22nd the Mets had a 2-0 lead in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. It was the teams 9th game of the season and they had yet to win one. This time it was Bobby Gene Smith who got caught on a straight steal of 2nd base in the sixth. New York would go on to lose this game as the Bucs got to Mets starter Roger Craig for three and the lead in the very next inning.

Stengel didn't wait too long before giving it another shot. New York had finally won a game on April 23rd (mfc MH card coming up soon) and stood at 11-1, 9½ out on the 25th. They would play the Reds at Crosley Field. Bob Purkey had the mound for Cincinnati and one of the Bob Millers would get the start for New York. Aging speedster Richie Ashburn had already singled leading off the game for the Mets. Elio Chacon drove Ashburn to third but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double. Richie then scored on a ground out to short to give New York a 1-0 lead.

The Reds came back to tie the game in the 2nd and Ashburn would single again with two outs in the 3rd. With Elio Chacon batting Richie wasted no time and took off for second early in the count. He beat the throw for the first ever Metropolitan stolen base. He was stranded there however, as Chacon struck out, and the Mets would go on to lose this game 7-1, the lone run scored by "Whitey" Asburn, the first Mets player ever to steal a base.

>Box & Play by play at Baseball Reference<


Chris Cannizzaro, an original 1962 Met, has passed away, the San Diego Padres announced last Friday. He was 78.

Cannizzaro played 59 games for the Amazin’s who lost 120 games that season and stayed with the club through the 1965 season. He hit .236 with zero home runs, 30 RBI over his four seasons spanning the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium. He led the league in caught stealing percentage in 1962 (56%) and 1965 (53%).

The Mets drafted Cannizzaro from the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1961 expansion draft. They traded him to the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1966 season.

Cannizzaro, an Oakland, Calif., area product, player for six different teams over 13 seasons, including an All-Star appearance as a member of the expansion Padres in 1969.

Cannizzaro had been suffering from emphysema in recent years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

All new cards created will be added to their corresponding blog page (62mfc,64mfc,etc.)


  1. People don't realize what a good catcher Chris was. You mention that he led the league in caught stealing percentage in '62 and '65 with 56% and 53% respectively. Those are great numbers. '63 was a bit of a lost season for Chris, due to injuries, but, in limited playing time, his CS% was 80% (just 4 of 5). And, in '64, it was 59%. In his Mets career, his CS% was 56%. John Roseboro just beat out Chris in '64. And you pretty much have to go back to Roy Campanella to find a catcher who was consistently that good against the SB. By comparison, Salvador Perez led major league catchers in 2016 with a CS% of 48%. There hasn't been anyone over 50% since Kenji Johjima with the Mariners in 2009 (53.7%). Painful as it is to think about, Travis d'Arnaud finished 2016 at 22%, Plawecki at 24%, and even Rene Rivera's CS% was only 30%.

    In a September 2nd game against the Cardinals at the Polo Grounds in 1962, the Mets hanging on to a one-run lead in the ninth, the Cardinals got the tying run on first and Johnny Keane inserted the speedy Julian Javier as a pinch runner. Casey countered by bringing in Cannizzaro (or "Canzoneri", as Casey called him). Javier ran and Cannizzaro nailed him, preserving one of the rare Mets victories of the '62 season.

    In spite of his bad rep, Chris wasn't as bad a hitter as people think, either. For the most part, he'd carry an average around .260 or better, but was prone to extended slumps--often while playing through injuries--that dragged his average down.

    And, btw, is that '64 Cannizzaro a colorized image? If it is, it's brilliant.

    1. Yes, colorized. Thank you, I'll Email you a copy. This is great info Stubby. That's a post right there if I whip up a few more Cannizzaros. I should make at least one "Canzoneri", lol. I did notice those numbers and thought wow, he was pretty good behind the plate, but what you share here really drives it home. Awesome stuff, mucho gracious.