This is the first of a series of “Mets Memory Lane” posts. Every now and then, we’ll do a brief story on a Met from years gone by. Some will be familiar, others may be somewhat more obscure, The intent of these posts is to share Mets memories with those who saw these players in action (comments and opinions are always welcome), and for those who did not see these guys play, offer a glimpse into the some of the storied history of the New York Mets. Rising Apple hopes you enjoy this series, and if you’d like to suggest a player for us to profile, please do so.
Let’s open the series with a New York native son, Brooklyn-born Lee Mazzilli. “Maz”, as he was known, had two tours of duty with the Mets, from 1976-1981, and from 1986-1989. Mazzilli was a top prospect in the Mets’ organization, and made his debut late in the 1976 season, coming up as a speedy center fielder with some pop in his bat. After the Mets traded Tom Seaver and fell into the abyss in 1977, Mazzilli gave fans someone to cheer for, a beacon of hope. Some early career highlights for Mazzilli include 16 home runs in 1978 and 1980, and 41 stolen bases in 1980. Maz posted a .303 average in 1979, on a very bad Mets team. In that season, Mazzilli had one of his career highlights. He hit a home run in the All Star game to tie the score in the 8th, then walked with the bases loaded in the 9th, driving in the winning run. Before the 1982 season, Mazzilli was traded to Texas for pitchers Ron Darling and Walt Terrell.
After playing for Texas and the Yankees in 1982, Mazzilli was traded to the Pirates, where he stayed until 1986. The Pirates waived Mazzilli in 1986, and the Mets picked him up on August 3rd of that year. Mazzilli became a super sub on the 1986 World Champions, contributing key hits in game 6 and 7 of the World Series. Moments like the one below became symbolic of Mazzilli’s second go-round with the Mets.
Overall as a Met (10 seasons), Mazzilli had an average of .264 with 68 home runs, an OBP of .357, and an slugging percentage of .396. After his playing career ended in 1989, Mazzilli coached and managed in the Yankees’ system (coaching on the major-league level), managed the Baltimore Orioles, and worked with SNY as a studio analyst. Mazzilli’s son, L.J., is now in the Mets’ system. He played the 2013 season in Brooklyn.
Here’s a tribute to Lee Mazzilli, a fan favorite when there were few, and a clutch contributor on a championship team.