Poking hot coals from hot stove seasons past…
November 1, 1972 – The New York Mets traded RH starter Gary Gentry and RH reliever Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves for 2B Felix Millan and RH Pitcher George Stone.
He was a hero in 1969. He came from Arizona State University. He wore the Met uniform well and left an indelible impression on not only the fans and his teammates, but the Baltimore Orioles.
Gary Gentry had all the attributes of a star. Many Baltimore Orioles have been quoted saying Gentry was the toughest pitcher they faced in the ’69 series. Not Seaver, Not Koosman, Not Ryan. Gary Gentry.
Gentry became a Met on June 6th, 1967. He was drafted in round 3 of the 1967 free agent player draft. His career started with great promise and ended in obscurity and injury. His 1969 season stabilized the Met staff. Although he went ‘only’ 13-12 in ’69, his Game 3 victory in the 1969 series was a pivotal moment. It enhanced and reinforced that teams belief in itself. The 5-0 victory brought the Mets a 2 games to 1 lead in the series and Gentry was masterful, pitching 6 2/3 innings giving up 3 hits and 5 walks, striking out 4 with no runs, before giving way to fellow young fireballer Nolan Ryan. Ryan would pitch 2 1/3 of 1 hit relief to save it for Gentry and the Mets.
Over the ensuing 3 years, Gentry had some good moments and a few uneven seasons. Arm injuries robbed him of his earlier successes. When the Mets dealt him along with reliever Danny Frisella, it was just about the end of the line for Mr. Gentry. Gentry finished his Met career 41-42. He attempted a brief comeback in 1975 signing with the Mets in May but was finished just a few weeks later at age 28.
Danny Frisella was a quality reliever for the Mets from 1967 to 1972. Frisella had an absolutely filthy forkball. He quickly found a role with the Mets.
He was the right handed Tug McGraw. He and Tug anchored the back end of the Met bullpen from 1970 to ’72. His 1971 season was spectacular. He went 8-5 with 12 saves, and a 1.99 ERA. Frisella was also a member of the ’69 Mets who had military obligations that season.
Tragically, Danny Frisella was killed in a dune buggy accident in January 1977 at age 30. Frisella’s forkball was feared in both the AL and NL. Frisella also pitched for Atlanta, San Diego, Milwaukee, and St. Louis in his 10 year career.
In return the Mets received 2 players who helped them to the 1973 NL pennant and 7th game of the World Series with Oakland. Felix Millan and George Stone.
George Stone was a right hander who was a swingman but mostly a starting pitcher. His best career season was also his first with the Mets in 1973. Stone went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA. In ’73 he started 20 of the 27 games he appeared in. He won 8 straight starts from July on. He was returned to the bullpen for the ’73 post season.
In Game 6 of the World Series with the Mets ahead of Oakland 3-2 in games, Manager Yogi Berra elected to pitch Tom Seaver on short rest in Game 6 rather than have a fully rested Seaver for Game 7. Stone was bypassed. Many Met fans and players from that team remain unsure why to this day.
Stone never was able to recapture his ’73 form. He was with the Mets till 1975. The Mets dealt him away to the Rangers for Bill Hands in the ’75 off season. Hands never threw a pitch for the Mets. Likewise, Stone never threw a pitch for Texas.
Felix Millan was a quality 2nd baseman for the Mets from 1973 to 1977. The “Cat” was teamed with Bud Harrelson to provide an excellent double play combo in 1973. His professionalism and hitting prowess earned him respect around the league. He was a two time gold glover, and 3 time all star (all with Atlanta)
Felix was a good contact hitter who had spent 9 years in Atlanta before joining the Mets. His ’73 season with the Mets was his best when he hit .290 with 3 HR and 37 RBI. He committed only 9 errors defensively.
Many will remember Felix being body slammed to the turf in a 1977 game against the Pirates. Ed Ott slid into Millan who became angry. Millan reacted by slapping Ott with his hand and the ball. Ott ended the argument slamming Millan to the turf and breaking his shoulder, effectively ending his Met and MLB career.
He finished out his career in Japan for the Taiyo Whales (Later known as the Yokohama Bay Stars) in 1980.
The trade served the Mets needs well as Millan proved capable for 3 + years with the club. Gentry was injured and no longer was a factor. Stone’s 1973 was great, but would never be matched. The tragedy that befell Danny Frisella was terrible. Frisella only spent 2 years with Atlanta. He moved on to the Padres, Brewers and Cardinals. The trade ended up a steal for the Mets.
As for me, I remember myself, and my older brother and friends playing baseball as youngster. My brother, who was left handed, would always say,” I’m Felix Millan.” We tried telling him 2nd sackers have to be righthanded, he didn’t care though, Millan was one of his favorites…