This week’s look at the 1973 Mets focuses on the team’s first baseman, John Milner. Nicknamed “The Hammer”, Milner has a reputation for being a hard-hitting offensive player. His statistics prove that, as Milner spent 12 years in the major leagues, slugging 131 home runs, and posting a .249 average. Milner generally played first base, but did see some time in the outfield.
In the 1973 season, Milner hit 23 home runs and drove in 72 runs. Milner played in all 12 post-season games in 1973, batting .176 against Cincinnati in the NLCS, and .296 against Oakland in the World Series. Milner was drafted by the Mets in 1968, and made his big league debut in 1971 (9 games). Milner’s first full year was 1972, when he appeared in 117 games, belting 17 home runs and driving in 38 runs. John spent 7 years with the Mets, and hit a combined 94 home runs for New York. After the 1977 season, Milner was traded to Pittsburgh as part of a 4-team trade, in which Willie Montanez was the primary player coming to Queens. After spending 5 years with the Pirates, Milner spent almost two years with the Expos, before briefly returning to the Pirates in 1982, and retiring after that season.
John Milner succumbed to cancer in January of 2000, passing away at 50. Milner grew up in Georgia, idolized Hank Aaron, and earned his “Hammer” nickname in part as a tribute to the legendary Braves’ slugger. It’s a shame the Milner left us so early. He was an important part of the 1973 team, providing needed power and steady defense in the championship season. Here’s a Rising Apple hat tip to a fallen New York Met, John Milner.