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Jerry Koosman And The ’80s Mets

Posted By Howard Megdal On September 2, 2011 @ 11:04 am In Shea Stadium | Comments Disabled

Growing up a Mets fan, I always thought of the 1969 Mets and the 1980s Mets as two separate entities. Different decades, different players, no overlap. But naturally, that isn’t entirely true. And that reality was reinforced last night when I opened a pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards, and a picture of Jerry Koosman throwing in a Phillies uniform greeted me. What an odd sight that is!

Koosman, of course, threw the final pitch of the 1969 World Series. And generally, his role in Met historical consciousness ends when he got traded in December 1978 for Jesse Orosco, who threw the final pitch of the 1986 World Series. But he went on to pitch until 1985-winning 20 games for the 1979 Twins, 11 with both the 1982 and 1983 White Sox, and even another 14 games for the 1984 Phillies. It’s that last part that seems odd- Koosman as a regular opponent of the 1984-85 Mets, teams filled with members of the last World Series winner in Queens.

Let’s take a look at how he did:

Sunday, April 29, 1984: On a Sunday afternoon at Shea, Koosman faced Walt Terrell, and Terrell got the better of Koosman. A walk to Darryl Strawberry and a single by Mike Fitzgerald forced Koosman out in the sixth inning; reliever Kevin Gross then gave up an RBI single to Rusty Staub, putting the Mets ahead 4-2. A home run by Keith Hernandez, and an RBI single from Jesse Orosco- who pitched two innings, striking out five, to earn the save- provided the 6-2 victory.

Tuesday, June 19, 1984: Koosman easily bested Ed Lynch on a Tuesday night at Shea. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing just two runs, walked one and struck out four. Lynch, meanwhile, gave up home runs to Mike Schmidt and Ozzie Virgil. The Mets made it closer thanks to home runs from Ron Gardenhire and Hubie Brooks off of reliever Al Holland, but the Phillies prevailed, 6-4.

Wednesday, September 26, 1984: In the Mets’ final home game of the season, Koosman got roughed up by a lineup that included John Stearns at first base, Billy Beane in right field, Kevin Mitchell at third base, and Sid Fernandez on the mound. Koosman gave up seven its, five walks and four earned runs over six innings, including a solo home run by shortstop Rafael Santana. Fernandez went five before leaving with a sore elbow-precautionary-and the Mets finished their home schedule with a 7-1 win.

Sunday, April 21, 1985: Koosman got knocked out early, leaving in the third inning after allowing a three-run homer to George Foster and a single to Ray Knight. But the Phillies rallied, scoring five off of starter Ron Darling, including home runs from Glenn Wilson and Juan Samuel, and another four off of reliever Doug Sisk. Bottom line: a 10-7 Phillies victory that drops the Mets’ record on the season to 8-3, improve Philadelphia’s to 3-8.

Thursday, June 13, 1985: Making his first start in a month due to a knee injury, Koosman started fast, with four scoreless innings. But the Mets reached him for a run in the fifth and another in the sixth- a one-out double by Keith Hernandezz chased Koosman from the game. The Mets eventually went ahead 4-2 on a two-run single from John Christiansen. Ed Lynch pitched into the eighth, keeping the Mets ahead 4-3, but reliever Jesse Orosco allowed a two-run homer to Glenn Wilson, giving the Phillies a 5-4 win. It could have been worse; two days earlier, the Mets lost to the Phillies, 26-7. The loss dropped the Mets into third place.

August 15, 1985: Nearly sixteen years after recording the final out of the 1969 World Series, Koosman pitched a final time at Shea Stadium. It didn’t go nearly as well. Koosman allowed three home runs in the first inning-to Gary Carter, Ray Knight, and newly-acquired Tom Paciorek.  He made it into the second inning, and even got Dwight Gooden on a flyout and Wally Backman on a pop up to first baseman Mike Schmidt. But a walk to Paciorek, a single by Strawberry and a single by Carter- also playing first base- ended Koosman’s afternoon.  Koosman’s opponent on the mound, Gooden, allowed five runs in five innings, a rare poor start durng his 1.53 ERA season. Ultimately, the Mets went ahead in the eighth inning on a go-ahead double by Len Dykstra, and beat the Phillies, 10-7, when John Wockenfuss popped out to Wally Backman. Wockenfuss was pinch-hitting for Darren Daulton, a rookie catcher who would go on to become a star after those ‘80s Mets faded.

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