In 1962, the New York Mets picked up their first win against an undefeated Pittsburgh Pirates squad on their home turf. Let’s look back at how it happened.
We know the 1962 New York Mets were bad, but do we really understand just how poorly things began?
It took the team until April 23rd to finally win a game. Through the first nine games of the season, the team suffered the same result: a loss.
It all changed one Monday when the team traveled to Forbes Field to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the start of the game, the Pirates were 10-0. Their lineup, which included notable players Roberto Clemente, Dick Groat, and Bill Mazeroski was far more formidable than anything the Mets could muster together.
In football, there’s the phrase “any given Sunday.” Well, in baseball, with games played every day, the same applies to all seven days of the week.
On this given Monday, the Mets put Jay Hook on the mound against Pittsburgh starter Tom Sturdivant. It didn’t take long for a crooked number to appear on the scoreboard thanks to the Mets bats showing some early life.
Felix Mantilla led off with a single and Elio Chacon followed up with the same. On Chacon’s base hit, Mantilla managed to move over to third on an error. A wild pitch put ducks on the pond for Gus Bell who drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly.
Slugger Frank Thomas was up next and he also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. On just two singles, an error, and a wild pitch, the Mets managed to plate two runs thanks to a pair of deep fly balls.
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Hook didn’t give anything back to the Pirates in the bottom half of the inning. He retired three straight, setting the team up well for a few more runs in the second.
Charlie Neal led off with a double. Jim Hickman and Chris Cannizzaro each drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Sturdivant’s day was over. Diomedes Olivo took over on the mound for Pittsburgh with an opportunity for Hook to blow things open.
Back in these days, pitchers in both leagues would hit. They weren’t necessarily better than some of the top hitting pitchers in today’s era.
However, in this instance, Hook showed what a pitcher at the plate can do.
The career .151 hitter managed to knock a personal-best 14 hits in 1962. In this at-bat, he got one of them.
Hook singled and drove in a pair of runs with the hit. A sacrifice fly scored the next and a single made it 6-0.
Hook continued to cruise, only allowing a single run all day when a Bob Skinner groundout plated one for the Pirates. The Mets gave him some extra insurance along the way, scoring a total of 9 runs.
On the mound for the Mets for the final out was the same man who started the game. Hook tossed a complete game. In doing so, the newest franchise in New York sports had finally won a game.
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The Mets went on to win 39 more games, nabbing their second on April 28th against the Philadelphia Phillies.