Mets Merized Online » Ed Kranepool http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 03 Dec 2016 18:57:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Shoebox Memories: 1964 Topps Casey Teaches Kranepool http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/shoebox-memories-1964-topps-casey-teaches-kranepool.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/shoebox-memories-1964-topps-casey-teaches-kranepool.html/#comments Sun, 20 Nov 2016 16:30:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221716 casey-teaches-kranepool

As Casey Stengel was reported to say to reporters during the 1966 preseason, “We’ve got a couple of kids here, and they’re both 20 years old. In 10 years the first one, Kranepool, has a chance to be a star. In 10 years the other guy has a chance to be 30.”  The card above is card number 393 from the 1964 Topps baseball card set.  As the above quote shows, obviously Casey Stengel spent his time teaching Ed Kranepool and less time teaching the second prospect.

A member of the original 1962 Mets, Ed Kranepool made his major league debut at the age of 17 on September 22, 1962 as a late inning defensive replacement for Gil Hodges at first base.  The next day, September 23, 1962, Kranepool made his first major league start.  He played first base again, and had a double in four at bats.

Kranepool, despite being taught by Manager Casey Stengel, struggled as a rookie in 1963, batting .209 in 86 games, playing mostly right field with some games at both first and left.  In 1964 however, Stengel’s teaching must have stuck as Kranepool became the team’s regular first baseman and hit .257 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 420 at bats as a 19 year old, in the Old Perfessor’s last full season as Mets manager.

eddie-kranepool-getting-schooled-by-casey-stengel

 

Playing both right field and first predominantly in 1964, Kranepool even played one game in center, handling five flyballs without issue.  The following season was 1965 and Kranepool hit a similar .253 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs and was the Mets’ representative at the All Star game, although he did not get to play in the game.   This is particularly unfortunate as Kranepool was never selected to an All Star game in the remainder of his career.

The Mets regular first baseman through 1969, Kranepool did not have a great 1969 season, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs.  He did contribute though, especially during the Mets 11 game winning streak that included a two-home run game against the Dodgers.  On July 8, Kranepool hit a fifth-inning home run off Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins, and had a game-winning RBI single to center in the ninth to give the Mets a 4-3 win against Chicago.  In the World Series, Kranepool contributed with a home run in game three of the series against the Baltimore Orioles.

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After struggling in 1969, Kranepool lost his regular first base job to Donn Clendenon and was actually demoted to AAA in June.  For the season, Kranepool was limited to 47 at bats.  By 1971 however, Kranepool was a regular again, shuffling between first and both corner outfield positions and kept the same role through the 1977 season.  In 1973, the Mets pennant-winning season, Kranepool contributed in game five of the playoffs, driving in the first two runs of the Mets’ series clinching victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

From 1974 through 1979, Kranepool excelled as a pinch hitter.  In 1974 Kranepool set a record that still stands with the highest batting average as a pinch hitter (minimum 30 at-bats) hitting .486 in that role.  Kranepool was the last of the 1969 World Series winners still on the team in 1979, and was the last of the original 1962 Mets to play ball, retiring after the 1979 season.  No other Met in history has stayed as long with the team as Kranepool’s 18 seasons.  I can still recall the entire Stadium chanting “Eddie, Eddie” every time our beloved hero came to the plate his last few seasons.

Periods of Career

Batting Average

OBP

Slugging

OPS

1962 – 1970

.246

.298

.358

.656

1971 – 1979

.278

.333

.398

.732

Total

.261

.316

.377

.693

The franchise record holder in games played (1,853), second in at-bats (5,436); plate appearances (5,997); hits (1,418) all behind David Wright, and in the top ten in doubles (225); triples (25); home runs (118), RBIs (614); and walks (454).  Obviously Casey’s pupil was paying attention in class.  A member of the Mets Hall of Fame since 1990, Ed Kranepool has not yet been named to the Metsmerized Hall of Fame. Maybe in 2017?

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Murphy Passes Kranepool On Mets’ All-Time Doubles List http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/murphy-passes-kranepool-on-mets-all-time-doubles-list.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/murphy-passes-kranepool-on-mets-all-time-doubles-list.html/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 10:00:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=194319 Murphy Daniel

With two doubles last night against the Braves, Daniel Murphy has now passed Ed Kranepool for second place on the Mets’ all-time doubles list with 226. Murphy has hit 36 doubles this season, and he only trails David Wright for the most in franchise history.

It’s been another solid year at the plate for Murphy, who is batting .279 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI in 120 games. He is also red hot once again with a .351 average, two home runs and eight RBI in his last nine games.

While it’s been a successful year for Murphy, it could wind up being his final season in New York. He is set to become a free agent after this season, and the Mets have plenty of options at second base with the emergence of Wilmer Flores and the potential of Dilson Herrera.

However, Murphy’s consistent production won’t be easy to replace. He’s a career .288 hitter with a .752 OPS, and he has posted above average numbers in every full season he’s played.

Perhaps the Mets could try bring him back as a super utility player?  It’s an idea that has been floated around a lot in the past, and it could be a perfect fit for him given his challenges on defense.

Moving on from Murphy may turn out to be the best move after all, but I’d really hate to see him go. Despite of all his weaknesses, he has been a key player on the Mets for years and his presence on the team will certainly be missed,

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MMO Fan Shot: How Ed Kranepool Turned Me Into A Mets Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-how-ed-kranepool-turned-me-into-a-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mmo-fan-shot-how-ed-kranepool-turned-me-into-a-mets-fan.html/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:37:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149147 casey stengel ed kranepool

An MMO Fan Shot by Elias Conde

In 1962, I was 13 years old, my current wife Carmen was barely two, President John F. Kennedy was in his first term and the New York Mets were born. I sometimes wonder why I remember the Mets back then, because I really wasn’t a baseball fan that cared too much about the teams, but for whatever reason I was made aware of their existence.

I was raised in Spanish Harlem, later moved to the Bronx, and I was only interested in hanging out with my friends, playing basketball and some baseball, but stickball was my favorite. There started to be a lot of publicity surrounding the Mets, and I started to become interested in what was going on in Queens.

Casey Stengel was the one name I remembered the most as he was constantly being quoted in the papers. I learned about Marv Thronberry and for some reason I thought he was a great player, but later on I realized he wasn’t a very good first baseman at all, even though he did hit a little. Roger Craig was on the downside of his career, but he did pitch very well even though he lost a lot of games that year.

As 1962 wore on, I began to become a true Mets fan and emotionally invested in the team. Even though they lost over 120 games, I was happy whenever they won despite it happening only 40 times that first season. This team brought some life to our city, and even though the Yankees were the team most people followed and talked about, the Mets were endearing and captured my attention. I began to learn everything I know about baseball by following the Mets, even though they didn’t play winning baseball. Most of the players were on the downside of their careers and the young ones didn’t have enough talent, but I grew to love this team.

Casey Stengel was a riot who when he spoke said things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but were nonetheless funny. Many bad things happened during the early 60’s, from Kennedy being assassinated, the demonstrations because of the Vietnam War and the Mets losing a ton of games, but when they actually won a game, it made me feel proud to be a fan.

Ed Kranepool came up with the Mets during that first season and he immediately became my favorite player. I can remember his first hit being a double and thought, “wow he is going to be a superstar”. As we later realized, he turned out to be a very good player, but not the star everyone expected. The reason he was my favorite was because when I entered high school, I started playing first base and was also pitching. I am a lefty just like Kranepool and I can remember playing at Monroe High School where Kranepool graduated from and thinking wow he actually played on that field, where he hit home runs and drew so much attention to himself from scouts and teams.

The one time I played at the Monroe High School field, I pitched and lost 1-0 in extra innings. Just being on the same field as Kranepool gave me goose bumps. I felt that if he played there and went on to the major leagues, that I might have a chance. But, even though I never lived out my dream of playing professional baseball, I was given an opportunity to live out a dream of walking on the same field that he once starred.

Kranepool went on to have a nice career with the Mets and even though the younger fans do not know much about him, he is still well known by the die-hards that followed the Mets during my generation.

As I reflect on those times, I can say the Mets were very instrumental in making me a baseball fan who now enjoys the game so much and looks forward to each upcoming Mets season. Perhaps a story for another day….

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Elias Conde. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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The 2014 QBC Was Another Amazin’ Memory For Mets Fans To Cherish http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-2014-qbc-was-another-amazin-memory-for-mets-fans-to-cherish.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-2014-qbc-was-another-amazin-memory-for-mets-fans-to-cherish.html/#comments Sun, 19 Jan 2014 15:44:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140207

New York has long been known as the sports mecca of the world, and major league baseball, of course, is the life blood that courses through it’s main arteries and veins. In the last 50+ years, the Mets and the Yankees have taken turns shining as the top team in the city that never sleeps. But when it comes to who the best fans are, the Mets fan base gets that distinction for their unwavering loyalty and their undying connection to their team’s rich history and lore. To that end, the first annual Queens Baseball Convention, held yesterday at McFadden’s at Citi Field, was a true testament to Mets fanhood and a wonderful compilation of all that binds the greatest fan base in the world. Mets fans don’t just embrace their team’s history, they immerse themselves in it.

The event, which was organized by Shannon Shark and Keith Blacknick from Mets Police and Darren Meenan from The 7 Line, was the perfect elixir on a cold Winter’s day and an offseason that kept us from Mets baseball for far too long.

The QBC was the perfect example of the undying spirit of Mets fans getting together to create their own fan fest even if the team itself decided to leave their own official version of it on the cutting room floor. That action didn’t sit well with the QBC’s founders and the three of them took matters into their own hands, creating a Mets Fan Fest that was far better than anyone could have imagined.

The 2014 QBC not only brought fans together for an Amazin’ day, but it was an opportunity to bring many of the brightest personalities in the Mets blogosphere all together in one venue to share their stories, field questions from the Mets’ masses, and help take what was a wonderful gala from great to memorable and phenomenal.

Of course, the most important element to any fan fest are you the fans, and Mets fans seeked out the QBC in droves, with long lines of passionate Met fans all waiting outdoors and braving the cold, just to get their chance to meet Mets greats like Ed Kranepool, Art Shamsky and Ron Darling. And while Mets personalities like them represented the apex for many, there was more to the 2014 QBC than meets the eye.

They had activities and events galore including a Q&A session with Brooklyn Cyclones GM Steve Cohen, a panel on the evolution of Mets uniforms throughout the years, Mets historians to jar our memories like Faith and Fear’s Greg Prince and ESPN New York’s Mark Simon, and even a dunk tank where MMO’s Ed Marcus served as the water-drenched, good-sport du jour.

If you were looking for a new Mets t-shirt, The 7 Line was there with all their great new designs, but on this particular day, their clothing line was overshadowed by their beautiful 7 Line Calendar girls who were also on hand and served at the hot dates to the best rendition of the Dating Game ever.

There was fun for all, both young and old, and McFadden’s sparkled in it’s blue and orange majesty, representing the true richness and diversity of the greatest fan base in the world. The success of the 2014 QBC can best be summed up by what most people were saying and thinking on their way out at the end of the evening, “I can’t wait to do this again next year.”

A great big MMO hat tip to all the fans, bloggers, players, executives and progenitors who who made the 2014 QBC a rousing and unforgettable success. 

(Photo: Liam Le Guerre)

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The Mets’ First Two Great Prospects: Kranepool and Swoboda http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-mets-first-two-great-prospects-kranepool-and-swoboda.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-mets-first-two-great-prospects-kranepool-and-swoboda.html/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 15:57:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138598 Today, when teams discuss trades, prospects have inflated value based on what they MIGHT achieve according to scouts and also because they will be relatively cheap and under team control for several years to come. But prospects often don’t turn out to be big stars; some don’t make the major leagues at all. Even the greatest prospects fail more often than they succeed.

When a player already makes the big leagues at a young age and shows signs of being able to hold his own against major league competition while still a teenager or barely in his 20’s, it’s reason to get excited. The future seems unlimited and especially for a losing team as the Mets certainly were in their early years, fans begin to envision great things and a bright future for years to come.

The Mets’ very first great prospect was clearly Ed Kranepool who was signed out of James Monroe High School in the Bronx where he had broken Hank Greenberg’s home run records. In the days before the amateur draft, the Mets gave Ed an $80,000 bonus in 1962 with all the fanfare you’d associate with a #1 Draft Pick today. Kranepool was quickly brought up to the big leagues that same season after a brief and successful stint in the New York-Penn League. Although hardly ready at the age of 17, Ed was penciled in as the first baseman of the future and got a shot at the regular job the following year after Marv Throneberry was released. While Ed is remembered fondly as one of the heroes of 1969 and a solid contributor as a pinch-hitter for many years to come, without a doubt, he was a disappointment in terms of the expectations the organization and the fans had for him.

Ed was slow-footed and never hit more than 16 home runs in any season. Although he looked like he could be a .300 hitter and even got off to red-hot starts a couple of years, you could basically count on Ed to hit in the .260 range. It wasn’t long before the banner “Is Ed Kranepool Over The Hill ?” made its appearance at Shea Stadium. The Mets certainly wanted him to succeed, but bringing in players like Dick Stuart was a pretty good sign that the team realized that Kranepool would never be the player they expected. Ed was even put up in the 1968 expansion draft , still just 24 years old, and wasn’t taken by either Montreal or San Diego before the Mets pulled him back after a few rounds. I know there are still lots of Kranepool fans out there and certainly his career was considerably longer and more successful than many other players but he didn’t come close to what we all thought his “potential” was.

Ron SwobodaIn 1964, a powerful outfielder recently signed out of the University of Maryland made a remarkable splash in spring training. Ron Swoboda displayed prodigious power and for all the world looked like the future cleanup hitter for the Mets for years to come. He was so impressive that despite no minor league experience, the Mets started him in AAA Buffalo. He was a little overmatched at the plate and his fielding was atrocious so the Mets sent him to AA Williamsport. Swoboda’s season statistics at AA and AAA were extremely impressive for a player with no previous professional experience – a combined 17 home runs, 72 rbi’s and a .271 average. At the time, baseball rules dictated that first-year pros had to be carried on the major league roster the following year or be subject to a waiver claim, so Swoboda’s presence on the 1965 Mets was much anticipated.

And Swoboda started off red-hot in 1965, giving fans hope that here was a player who could hit about 40 home runs and drive in 85 to 100 runs every year. His poor defense would get better with experience as would his .228 batting average which he compiled in 1965. As for his 19 round trippers, that was just the beginning. Well, Ron never came close to even hitting 19 home runs in a season again and after 6 disappointing years with the Mets (1969 heroics aside), was traded away and never really achieved major league success.

Of course, both had their great moments with the Mets, but as prospects, neither measured up to the potential everyone thought they had. Would the Mets have even thought about trading either in their first two years ? Highly unlikely. It’s something to think abut when the Mets or any other team call their prospects untouchable even in prospective deals for established big league players. Great prospects don’t always become great ballplayers.

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Video: Mike Piazza Inducted Into Mets Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 17:55:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130341 photo (32)

Very rarely is a team graced with a player of the stature and talent of Michael Joseph Piazza. Subsequently, very rarely does a fanbase and a city mutually bond with a player like Michael Joseph Piazza.

Today as Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, fans were able to share yet another special moment with the greatest offensive catcher of all time.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate,” said Piazza in a press conference prior to his induction ceremony. “I was just meant to be here. That’s that feeling I was talking about. You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things. And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.”

piazza

Piazza emerged from the home dugout and onto the field for a sellout crowd as master of ceremonies Howie Rose introduced the 12-time all-star. Met greats such as Doc Gooden, Rusty Staub, John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernanez, Buddy Harrelson, Al Jackson, Mookie Wilson and Ed Charles were on hand to celebrate the 45-year old.

After Rose announce September 29th Mike Piazza Day in the city of New York, a number of teammates including Alfonzo, Franco commended him on his tremendous accomplishments as well as Al Leiter who did so via video message from MLB Network’s Studio 3.

piazza

Then came the induction, in which Franco and Alfonzo presented Piazza with his plaque, to which he proud held overhead for all 41,891 fans see.

piazza

In Piazza’s speech, he continued to thank the fans as well as God for his incredible baseball career. He then spoke to his mother and father, in a tearful moment in which he thanked them for all of their hard work in getting him to where he is today, his father visibly emotional.

Piazza then moved into an unfamiliar location, the mound, to throw out the first pitch. Mets captain David Wright acted as the catcher, in a fantastic moment in which Piazza delivered a perfect strike on the left side of the plate, much to the pleasure on an elated crowd, yet another beautiful moment between him and the fans.

piazza

“I think, my relationship here with the fans, like any relationship; when I got here they didn’t know me too well,” said Piazza. “They didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know if I was going to stay. They didn’t know if I was completely committed to staying here. And I had some rough patches. I obviously struggled a little at the plate driving in runs and they let me hear it, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I can do one of two things: I can run and go to somewhere a little more safer and comfortable. Or I can meet this head-on and try to prove to these people that I want to belong and want to play for them and perform for them.’”

Mike Piazza, who with a swing of the bat brought New York City to their feet following the attacks on 9/11, was able to do so with a smile and a wave one more time in a tremendous ceremony of a Mets great.

Hopefully sooner rather than late, we will be able to celebrate Piazza once again, when number 31 is officially in left field among the other immortalized Mets; where it belongs.

(Photo Credits: Clayton Collier)

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Featured Post: The Best of the Best Met Fans… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/featured-post-the-best-of-the-best-met-fans.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/featured-post-the-best-of-the-best-met-fans.html/#comments Sat, 21 Sep 2013 13:49:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129683 mets fansAs bad as things are these days for our Mets as they limp toward the end of their fifth straight losing season, I’m always amazed at the fans who keep continue to keep the faith and remain so optimistic.

Case in point… I gave away five pairs of tickets this week to see the Amazins take on the Milwaukee Brewers in what will be the last series of the 2013 season for the Mets.

Honestly, I didn’t expect much participation in the giveaway contests and sure enough the numbers were very low compared to past giveaways. It seems as most fans don’t even want to see the Mets for free.

When I gave away tickets to Opening Day and also Banner Day, I received over 300 entries. This week, I received about twenty for each contest. But what stuck out the most for me was how badly these few Met fans wanted to win those tickets. I got comments like “please pick me” and “I really want to see the team one more time this season.” It was kind of cool to see…

When I selected the five different winners, they all responded like they had just hit the lottery. I was touched by their reactions – amazed really. The thank you emails I received and the words within them made be proud to be a part of the same exclusive club as them – Die-Hard Met Fans.

There’s still a lot of Met fans who root for this team no matter how desperate things are. Those are the ones that always keep the faith no matter what and are rewarded the most when things do get better – and they always do.

During Wednesday night’s game when Josh Satin gave the Mets their walk-off win, I saw a few things leading up to the final game-ending moment.

After walks by Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and the team down by three runs, pinch hitter Zach Lutz laced a double to score Duda and put the tying runs on base with rookie catcher Juan Centeno coming to the plate. It was a critical moment and even with the Mets mathematically eliminated, you could still cut the tension with a knife.

As Centeno kicked the dirt in the batters box, the cameras panned to a mother and her daughter near field level – both of them with their hands clasped in prayer and these anxious, but hopeful looks on their faces. They were so locked into the moment they had no idea they were on TV.

The cameras glided to the left to small group of fans and I saw two teenage kids sweating bullets with their eyes glued to the plate, fists clenched, and their lips murmuring something – perhaps a prayer.

Centeno pokes a hard grounder through the infield on the first pitch he sees and Lagares comes scampering home, putting the tying run on third and the winning run on first.

mets fans

The small gathering that is still left erupts in approval. You could see a few couples in the stands hugging after Don Juan scored, while those around them waved their arms and caps as the momentum kept building.

After Anthony Recker came in to pinch run for Centeno, Matt den Dekker draws a walk to load the bases. Once again the camera pans into the seats and finds pockets of fans with their rally caps on as the place begins to chant Lets Go Mets, Lets Go Mets, Lets Go Mets…

I was mesmerized by these fans I kept seeing flash across my big screen. Look at them all… They didn’t seem like the fans that complain all day long on Mets blogs and on Mets Twitter. These were the real fans, the ones I always considered myself to be a part of. Nobody at Citi Field at that moment were thinking about protected draft picks or about Qualcomm. No, these Met fans were of the Orange and Blue variety and were there for one thing and one thing only, a home team victory. These are the true die-hards – the best of the best.

Omar Quintanilla strikes out and now the Mets are down to their last out. Dead silence. It took all the enthusiasm and steam out of the remaining loyalists, but everywhere the camera went  - there they were  - all on their feet now – and all of them zoned in on Josh Satin.

Strike one, as a slider catches the inside corner. You could hear the “Ahhhhs” as Satin stepped back and then right into the box again.

After taking a ball outside, strike two!

The bat never left Satin’s shoulder.

The Mets were down to their last strike.

After another ball to even the count at 2-2 and after four straight sliders, Keith Hernandez says, “he’s gonna throw Satin a fastball here. He needs to be looking fastball here.”

Mex was right. SMACK –  it’s a line drive to left fielder Gregor Blanco

Zach Lutz scores…

Anthony Recker scores…

The Mets win the ballgame!

met fans

The remaining fans were all rewarded and treated to a great comeback win as they scored four runs in the ninth to beat the Giants 5-4.

But this wasn’t about the win for me… The win was great, but also meaningless like all the games we play this September.

This was about the true Met fans, the ones who still watch, the ones who still go, the ones who love the team and root for them no matter how dire things look.

Those are my kind of Met fans… Those are the ones that are 100% Metsmerized…

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Ed Kranepool Wants Mets To Win Again Before He Runs Out Of Time http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/ed-kranepool-wants-mets-to-win-again-before-he-runs-out-of-time.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/ed-kranepool-wants-mets-to-win-again-before-he-runs-out-of-time.html/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 16:51:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129696 ed kranepool

Almost 52 years since he made his debut with the 1962 Mets, Ed Kranepool still loves the team and follows them daily. Tim Rohan of the New York Timesspoke to Krane yesterday and the two of them discussed the current climate of the team and expectations.

Out on Long Island, Ed Kranepool, a Met for 18 seasons (1962-79), including the championship year of 1969, said he would not consider a late dash to third place this season as any sign of progress. It was more complicated than that, said Kranepool, who is usually invited back by the Mets a dozen or more times a seasons to entertain fans and tell stories about the old days.

To Kranepool, the issue is how well the younger players, like Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer FloresZack Wheeler and Juan Lagares, are developing.

It was a point of view echoed by one of Kranepool’s old Mets teammates — Ron Swoboda — who continues to follow the Mets from his home in New Orleans. Every day, he watches highlights and scans the box scores, checking the same young players Kranepool is monitoring. He, too, does not care where the Mets finish this season.

“That’s irrelevant to me!” he said, his voice rising. “Would it make any difference if they were second? It wouldn’t make any difference to me. The number that matters is: Are you in the playoffs?”

“I’m 69 years old,” he said, calming down. “I want to see them good again.” He let out a long, nervous laugh. “I don’t want to run out of time.”

For the moment, time is only running out on this season, one that might very well end with the Mets back where everybody knows where to find them — in fourth place, waiting for better digs.

I loved Kranepool as a kid. He may not have been as great as his contemporaries at first base during his time with the Mets, but that didn’t matter to me – he was great in my book.

Even in his latter years as his career was winding down, I loved standing up and cheering with everyone else at Big Shea and shouting “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie…” whenever he came out to pinch-hit.

I remember many a game where Kranepool had Shea rocking from the foundation all the way up to the rafters. Those were great times…

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Where’s Jerry Koosman AND Ed Kranepool? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/wheres-jerry-koosman-and-ed-kranepool.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/wheres-jerry-koosman-and-ed-kranepool.html/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 18:21:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125086 2013 media guide

That’s the cover of this year’s Mets Media Guide. I was taking a look at it this morning and thought I spotted a curious omission. Before you read any further, take a look and see if you can spot it too…

Here is who is featured on the cover starting at the top and going left to right:

1. Tom Seaver

2. R.A. Dickey

3. Jon Matlack

4. Mike Piazza

5. John Stearns

6. Carlos Beltran

7. Jose Reyes (Nice coincidence!)

8. Gary Carter (An even better coincidence!)

9. Darryl Strawberry

10. Keith Hernandez

11. Dwight Gooden

12. Johan Santana

13. Terry Collins

14. David Wright

Now here’s my question…

Where’s Jerry Koosman?

Let’s leave this to players only for the sake of this argument, but wouldn’t you think Koosman rates over Stearns? (No offense to the Dude.)

If you’re going to include Matlack, shouldn’t you include Kooz too?

Update: Nice catch by our reader Matt, who also spotted another huge omission, Ed Kranepool

Wow, I can’t believe I missed that one…

Anyone else?

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Retire No. 31 While You’re At It… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/retire-no-31-while-youre-at-it.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/retire-no-31-while-youre-at-it.html/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 13:45:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124820 mike piazza

Yesterday, the New York Mets announced that Mike Piazza, the greatest home run-hitting catcher of all-time, will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Fan Appreciation Day Sunday, September 29 at Citi Field. Piazza will become the 27th member of the Mets Hall of Fame during the Mets Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony prior to the 1:10 p.m. game vs. the Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s about time… But why stop there?

Blue_My_Take_On_31

Here’s something photoshopped about two years ago before the Mets moved in the walls at Citi Field. How cool would that look in our ballpark?

Has Piazza done enough as a Met to be worthy of such distinction? Absolutely… Consider this…

Piazza hit 220 of his 427 career home runs with the Mets, ranking second in franchise history. He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBI (655). Piazza was a seven-time All-Star with Mets.

Piazza set a team-record with 124 RBI and hit 40 home runs in 1999 and then finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs in 2000 as the Mets qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in team history and reached the 2000 World Series.

That’s not all… Piazza hit his 352nd home run as a catcher on May 5, 2004 to break Carlton Fisk’s major league mark.

Now… Consider that and then throw in the Post 9/11 Game… His dramatic eighth-inning home run in the first sporting event in New York City after the 9-11 attacks beat the Atlanta Braves and helped the city begin the healing process.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon had this to say about Piazza yesterday:

“Mike Piazza reinvigorated our franchise when we acquired him in May, 1998. Mike is one of the greatest players in our history and we are thrilled to induct him into the Mets Hall of Fame.”

Lets go all they way on September 29 and do this thing right…

piazza gfx

RETIRE NO. 31…

(Photo credit: Newsday)

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Featured Post: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again In The Minors http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/featured-post-if-at-first-you-dont-succeed-try-again-in-the-minors.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/featured-post-if-at-first-you-dont-succeed-try-again-in-the-minors.html/#comments Sun, 19 May 2013 23:41:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=119323 There has been much talk and speculation recently about the possible demotion of Ike Davis to the minors.  Such discussion is certainly warranted considering Davis’ performance over the first 40 games of the season.

The Mets’ struggling first baseman is hitting .156 with four homers and nine RBI.  His on-base percentage is an unhealthy .238 and his .259 slugging percentage is lower than what his batting average should be.  His 2013 numbers through 40 games are very similar to what he put up last year at the same juncture (.160/.220/.298, five homers, 14 RBI).

Clearly, Ike Davis needs a change of scenery to have any hope of salvaging his season.  A demotion to AAA-Las Vegas might not be the answer, as the altitude at Cashman Field and other Pacific Coast League ballparks might give him a false sense of confidence if he hits well there like most other hitters do.  After all, hitting a few thousand feet above sea level is not the same as hitting a few thousand millimeters above Flushing Bay.

Sending Davis to AA-Binghamton might be the medicine needed to cure his ills at the plate, since his offensive numbers would not be inflated there as they would be in Las Vegas.  And if the Mets need an example to prove to them that sending a struggling first baseman to the minors could be just what the doctor ordered, they can flip through the pages of their own history books and find a similar case that occurred over forty years ago.

Ladies and gentle-Mets, I give to you the case of one Edward Emil Kranepool.

A little minor league seasoning made Eddie steady at the plate.

A little minor league action made Eddie steady at the plate.

In 1970, veteran first baseman Ed Kranepool got off to a start that would even have Ike Davis shaking his head.  Through his first 26 games, Kranepool was hitting .118 with no homers and one RBI.  The New York native was barely getting any playing time and as a result, his offensive production was suffering.  In late June, the Mets sent Kranepool down to AAA-Tidewater, where the 25-year-old flourished.

Playing in 47 games with the Tides, Kranepool hit .310 with eight doubles, three triples, seven homers and 45 RBI.  By mid-August, the Mets were convinced that Kranepool’s time in the minors was going to help him produce at the major league level, so they promoted him back to the big club.  However, the platoon of Donn Clendenon and Art Shamsky at first base relegated Kranepool to pinch-hitting duties, but when he did get a chance to hit, he performed well, batting .308 with a .357 on-base percentage in 14 plate appearances.

By the start of the 1971 campaign, Kranepool had won back his job as the lefty-hitting component of the first base platoon with Donn Clendenon.  Kranepool responded by putting up career highs in many offensive categories.  Although he only had 467 plate appearances in 1971 – he had already completed three seasons in which he reached 500 plate appearances – Kranepool set new career marks in RBI (58), runs scored (61), batting average (.280), on-base percentage (.340) and slugging percentage (.447).  He also recorded his second 20-double campaign and launched 14 home runs, while becoming one of the toughest hitters to strike out in the National League (33 strikeouts in 467 plate appearances).

Kranepool’s success was not limited to the 1971 season.  In 1972, the first baseman and part-time outfielder batted .269 and contributed 24 extra-base hits in 327 at-bats.  After a subpar 1973 campaign, Kranepool rebounded to hit .300 in 1974 and a career-high .323 in 1975.

Although Kranepool was now in his 30s and a veteran of 14 seasons in the big leagues, he continued to hit in 1976 and 1977, combining to hit .287 with 34 doubles, 20 homers and 89 RBI in 696 at-bats over the two seasons, all while maintaining his excellent ability to make contact (58 strikeouts in 764 plate appearances).

From the time he made his major league debut in 1962 to his career-changing demotion in 1970, Kranepool hit .246 with a .300 on-base percentage, .358 slugging percentage and a .658 OPS (on-base plus slugging).  He produced 188 extra-base hits in 2,917 at-bats (an average of 15.5 AB/XBH) and walked 227 times while striking out on 361 occasions.  After he was promoted back to the Mets in August 1970, Kranepool was a changed man.

Beginning with his first game back on August 14, 1970 and lasting through the end of the 1977 season, Kranepool hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, .407 slugging percentage and a .747 OPS.  Kranepool collected 168 extra-base hits in 2,270 at-bats (an average of 13.5 AB/XBH) and drew 205 walks while striking only 189 times.

Kranepool’s demotion turned him into a hitter who drove the ball more often – on average, it took him two fewer at-bats to collect an extra-base hit – and forced pitchers to throw him strikes, as evidenced by his 16 more walks than strikeouts following his demotion after striking out nearly twice per every free pass prior to his time at Tidewater.

So what’s the point of this Ed Kranepool history lesson?  Simply stated, if at first you don’t succeed, try again in the minors.  It worked for the 25-year-old Kranepool when he was shipped off to Tidewater.  It can work for the 26-year-old Ike Davis as well, but only if he is sent to Binghamton instead of Las Vegas.

Ike Davis has never been a good contact hitter, striking out 356 times in 1,306 career at-bats.  But he did hit for a decent batting average prior to the 2012 season (Davis hit a combined .271 in 2010 and 2011) and his .357 on-base percentage and .817 OPS were better than average in his first two seasons with the Mets.

Perhaps if Ike  Davis closes his eyes, he won't be able to see his lofty strikeout totals.

If Ike Davis closes his eyes, does he see his lofty strikeout totals?

The Mets have a history of getting good performances from their veteran players after sending them on an unexpected trip to the minors.  Steve Trachsel was a completely different pitcher after his demotion in 2001.  Trachsel was 1-6 with an 8.24 ERA before being sent down to AAA-Norfolk.  He was 10-7 with a 3.35 ERA after he was recalled from the minors.  Trachsel’s resurgence came just one year after the Mets sent veteran right-hander Bobby Jones to Norfolk after he posted a 16.20 ERA in his first three starts of the 2000 campaign.  Upon his return to the major leagues, Jones posted an 11-5 record with a more respectable 4.56 ERA.  He also threw a complete-game one-hit shutout to clinch the National League Division Series for the Mets against the Giants.

Of course, those were pitchers who fared well after their time in the minors.  But the Mets have also seen hitters do well after a short stint in the minors.  And one particular hitter who learned greatly from his time away from the parent club was Ed Kranepool.

All the Mets have to do is dust off the team’s history books and look at what happened when they sent Kranepool to the minors in 1970.  The first baseman came back from his minor league stint and turned into one of the steadiest hitters in the lineup for years following his demotion.  The same thing can happen to the Mets’ current first baseman if the team isn’t afraid to send Ike Davis to Binghamton.

Ed Kranepool wasn’t succeeding at first in 1970, so the Mets gave him a little minor league seasoning to inject some life back into his career.  The Mets must try that formula again in 2013 to help Ike Davis get back to the level he fell from after suffering a season-ending injury in 2011.  The recipe for success is right there.  The Mets just have to be willing to try it again.

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How The Miracle Mets Were Built: The 1968 Off-Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/how-the-miracle-mets-were-built-the-1968-off-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/how-the-miracle-mets-were-built-the-1968-off-season.html/#comments Sun, 27 Jan 2013 04:11:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=105758 Welcome to Part Two of my series entitled, How The Miracle Mets Were Built. You can read Part One by clicking, The Spring Of 1968.

The 1968 Off-Season

The Mets had just completed their most successful year winning 73 games and finishing in 9th place under new manager Gil Hodges. Even though it wasn’t that much of an improvement over previous years, there were definitely some positive developments in ’68. Second-year man Tom Seaver and rookie Jerry  Koosman won 16 and 19 games respectively to give the Mets two reliable young pitchers to head the rotation.

Nolan Ryan was inconsistent and plagued by blisters, but showed great potential. Cleon Jones was solid in left field raising his average from .246 in 1967 to .297 and driving in 55 runs. Jerry Grote at catcher and Bud Harrelson at shortstop excelled defensively and Grote also hit well enough to solidify himself as the undisputed #1 catcher on the team.  Unheralded Jim McAndrew came up from the minor leagues and showed that he could be a useful 4th or 5th starter. On the farm, although Les Rohr had an injury-plagued and wasted year , the Mets were developing another good crop of young pitchers such as Rich Folkers, Jim Bibby, Barry Raziano, and Steve Renko and both Gary Gentry and Tug McGraw pitched well enough at AAA Jacksonville to contend for major league jobs in 1969. But there had also been many disappointments in 1968.

For the third year in a row, it seemed like the Mets had traded for a centerfielder who was a complete bust. Following in the footsteps of Billy Cowan and Don Bosch, Tommie Agee, playing in 132 games batted .217 with five home runs and 17 RBI, while striking out 103 times. Would Agee get another chance ? Ed Kranepool and Ron Swoboda who had once been hailed as the future hitting stars of the team, disappointed once again. Nobody on the team had more than 15 home runs and that was old man Ed Charles who won the third base job in spring training. Nobody on the team drove in as many as 60 runs.

ed kranepoolThe good news was the Mets had to finish better than ninth in 1969 because divisional play had begun and the worst the team could do was finish 6th. The first order of business was to prepare the list of eligible players for the expansion draft to stock the new Montreal and San Diego franchises. Although the Mets’ full list was never divulged, I read that Ed Kranepool was eligible, but was withdrawn after the Expos picked Don Shaw because Shaw and Kranepool were 2 of M. Donald Grant’s favorites and the Mets weren’t about to give up both.

The Mets also wound up losing Dick Selma who had been a useful swing man, but never really established himself, as well as several minor leaguers including outfielder Jerry Morales and pitchers Ernie Mc Anally and John Glass. Following the draft, the Mets sold Don Bosch to the Expos. In the Rule 5 draft, the Mets selected infielder Wayne Garrett. Before spring training, the Mets sent one-time stellar catching prospect Greg Goossen to the expansion Seattle Pilots for veteran minor leaguer Jim Gosger. Other than that, the Mets did not make a single deal in the off-season. Most experts thought that the Mets had a good shot at beating out the expansion Expos, although even that was In doubt because in Rusty Staub and Donn Clendenon, Montreal had 2 professional hitters the Mets couldn’t match.

Optimistic Mets fans saw Nolan Ryan joining Seaver and Koosman in the regular rotation possibly along with Gentry or McGraw to give the Mets an outstanding young rotation. Gentry had been making steady progress ever since the Mets signed him out of Arizona State in 1967, but was he ready for the major leagues? McGraw was definitely ready for another shot, but would he stick this time, and would he start or relieve?

Personally,  I thought that the Mets had a chance to possibly beat out both the Expos and Phillies, and maybe even the Pirates, but the Cubs and defending league champion Cardinals looked like they would dominate the division. As we all know, things fell into place very nicely for the 1969 Mets. More in my next post.

believe in miracles

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David Wright: Best Met Ever? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/09/david-wright-best-met-ever.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/09/david-wright-best-met-ever.html/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 13:15:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=97373 With his third inning single last night, David Wright became the Mets’ all-time hits leader.  He did so in more than 500 fewer games, nearly 600 fewer plate appearances, and more than 700 fewer ABs than the team’s previous leader, Ed Kranepool.  Ultimately, this most recent record only scratches the surface of David Wright’s accomplishments as a New York Met.

In the eight and a half years since his MLB debut, Wright has compiled 321 doubles, 543 extra-base hits, 614 walks,  788 runs scored, 813 runs batted in, and 2,390+ total bases.  Each ranks first all-time for any player donning a Mets uniform on a nightly basis.  Wright also holds the second spot all time with a .301 career batting average.  He’s tied for third all-time in slugging percentage (.506) and fourth all-time in on-base percentage (.381).  His 203 home runs, often considered the most important statistical column, currently ranks third all-time as well.

Clearly, David Wright ranks amongst the best offensive players to ever lace up in the blue and orange, but does that make him the best of all-time?  For all the positive records Wright currently holds and/or will hold if he ends up signing a contract extension in the not so distant future, he already holds the team’s all-time strikeout record, with 1,007.  I’m sure there will be many of you who will find other reasons to deny Wright’s greatness.  Often referred to as Captain Unclutch, Wright has posted a career .294 batting average with runners in scoring position.  That includes five career grand slams and a career batting average of .331 with the bases loaded.  Certainly not the numbers of a man who can’t come through when it matters.

Realistically, I think the most logically hesitation for most Mets fans to shy away from calling Wright the best Met ever is the fact that the team hasn’t won a championship during his tenure.  Unlike Seaver, Kranepool and Ryan who were a part of the 1969 champion ship team, and Strawberry, Gooden and Carter who were a part of the 1986 championship team, Wright hasn’t been able to bring the hardware back to Queens.  Should that matter?  Maybe..maybe not..  But much like the fact the Mets won’t be headed to the playoffs may impact RA Dickey’s Cy Young bid, the players who contributed to a championship will forever hold a soft spot in the hearts of Mets fans who are fortunate enough to remember those times.

Others may argue that Wright, despite being widely considered to be the face of the franchise and captain of the team, has either been incapable or worse yet, unwilling to become the vocal leader we once anticipated.  Ultimately, Wright’s name will always be attached to what will be considered a losing era in franchise history to this point, but should that take away from what he’s accomplished?

Do Tom Seaver’s 198 wins, his 2,541 strikeouts as a Met, and his contribution towards one of only two franchise championships trump Wright’s offensive contributions which have rewritten the team’s record books?  Perhaps its a player like Mike Piazza, whose timely home runs account for some of the most significant moments in franchise history, who holds the biggest part of your Mets’ heart?  The fact is that Wright’s career numbers to date, despite the slumps, the recent injuries, and the uncertain future should without question lodge him amongst the franchise’s greatest all-time players.  However, is he the best?

Follow me on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.

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Prayers, Thoughts, Support and Love For Shannon Forde http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/09/prayers-thoughts-support-and-love-for-shannon-forde.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/09/prayers-thoughts-support-and-love-for-shannon-forde.html/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 21:49:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=97200

Hi everyone…

I wanted to update you on some of the details regarding the Mets benefit dinner and the Mets Meet and Greet to raise funds for longtime Mets staffer and current Media Relations Director, Shannon Forde.

Pitcher Matt Harvey, former Mets manager Willie Randolph and Joe McEwing, a member of New York’s 2000 National League championship team, are the latest additions to the Nov. 1 dinner honoring Shannon Forde. Forde, who has been with the Mets for 18 years in the media relations department, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When I read about Shannon I just knew I had to be there for her,” said Randolph. “She just made things so much easier for me when I was with the Mets.”

The fundraiser will be held at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, NJ.  Admission to the dinner is $100, while there is a meet and greet with Daniel Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, John Franco, Bob Ojeda, Al Leiter, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Kranepool, Ed Charles and New York Giants Super Bowl punter Sean Landeta for an additional $250.

Guests at the dinner, which runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., will be able to bid on such unique items as:

  • Dinner with Darryl Strawberry at his restaurant.
  • A 30 minute pitching lesson with Dwight Gooden.
  • A visit to the SNY booth to meet announcers Keith Hernandez, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling.
  • A private meeting with Mets manager Terry Collins, plus the chance to sit in on is pre and post game press conferences at Citi Field.

To purchase tickets to this event please visit the website at www.hopeshinesforshannon.com or contact Debbie Durante at durantedebbie@hotmail.com or Cindy Santos at tripletmomof3@hotmail.com.

To make a monetary donation, checks should be made payable to “Hope Shines for Shannon” and can be mailed to P.O. Box 3145, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742.

Hope Shines for Shannon, the organization raising funds to assist longtime Mets staffer Shannon Forde’s medical expenses in her fight against Stage IV breast cancer, has opened an online auction featuring some pretty cool items and experiences.

You can access the auction page here:http://www.charitybuzz.com/auctions/Shannon.

Auction items include:

  • Meet Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan at a Taping of Live! With Kelly & Michael in New York
  • Learn from the Best with a Pitching Lesson from Mets Star R.A. Dickey at Citi Field and Watch Batting Practice From The Field
  • Enjoy 2 Tickets to Saturday Night Live Including a Backstage Tour of the Set
  • Mets Star David Wright Will Give You a Hitting Lesson at Citi Field!
  • Meet Jon Stewart & Get 2 Tickets to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in NYC

And many, many more. Please consider supporting this cause, and remember that tickets for Shannon’s Nov. 1 fundraising dinner/auction are available athttp://www.hopeshinesforshannon.com.

The dinner is two weeks away and we would love if you could give your readers a reminder of what a great and fun event it will be.

Matt Harvey, Daniel Murphy, Willie Randolph, and Super Joe McEwing  have been added to the special meet and greet lineup that also includes Gooden, Strawberry, Franco, Ojeda, Alfonzo, Leiter, Ed Charles and Ed Kranepool.

Tickets to the Meet and Greet cost $250.

 

The dinner will be emceed by Ron Darling and will feature more than 50 amazing sports related silent and live auction items.  We have signed merchandise and/or experiences from the Mets, Yankees and many more MLB teams, the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Rangers and more. Plus, there’s an open bar and premium food, dancing and plenty of laughs.  Tickets to the dinner cost $100. http://www.hopeshinesforshannon.com/Dinner.html

 

Lastly, there’s an online auction going on for some unique experiences ranging from a hitting lesson with David Wright to meeting Jon Stewart and watching a taping of The Daily Show. Here’s the full listing: http://www.charitybuzz.com/auctions/shannon

 

 

A special person in our Mets family needs our help…

The Mets will host a fundraiser on Nov. 1 to benefit Shannon Forde, their senior director of media relations who was diagnosed earlier this month with Stage IV breast cancer.

The $100 fundraiser includes a dinner, open bar, cocktail hour and dancing at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, N.J., emceed by broadcaster Ron Darling.

The Mets will also host a $250 meet-and-greet and autograph session with former Mets Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, John Franco, Bobby Ojeda, Edgardo Alfonso, Al Leiter, Ed Charles and Ed Kranepool, as well as New York Giants two-time Super Bowl winner Sean Landeta.

Tickets for either portion of the fundraiser can be purchased separately or together as a package for $300. They are available at hopeshinesforshannon.com, or by contactingDebbie Durante at durantdebbie@hotmail.com or Cindy Santos at tripletmomof3@hotmail.com.

Fans unable to attend can also make monetary donations by mailing checks payable to “Hope Shines for Shannon” to PO Box 3145, Point Pleasant, N.J. 08742.

I first got to know Shannon via a phonecall in 2009. After years of trying to get a press credential for our site the Mets finally got the okay from MLB to make a one-time exception to their No Credentials for Bloggers policy. I was given her name and number, and when I called I was greeted by the sweetest and most courteous person I could have ever imagined.

We sent one of our original MMO writers at the time, David Ponte to represent the site. Shannon was there to greet him, show him the ropes and make him feel at home. “She was absolutely wonderful”, David told me.

He went on to the filed to interview a very young Angel Pagan, Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy and John Maine. Then he met and spoke to then manager, Jerry Manuel. After fielding drills and batting practice it was up to the press box for our very first time and Dave quickly made himself known by sitting in Jay Horwitz’s chair. All the other beat writers knew that, but hey let’s mess around with this greenhorn from Mets Merized Online. :-)

Jay soon entered and looked down at Dave and with a crooked smile said, “I believe that’s my seat”. Everyone shared a laugh. It was breakthrough for us. We were the first independent Mets site to be treated like we were beat writers. Two years would pass until things loosened up and more independent bloggers received that kind of access, but we were once told that it was our professionalism and the way we conducted ourselves that blazed the trail for everyone else.

In all that time, every single game we may have covered, every single interview we brought to you, every single event that we have covered, were all because of Shannon. When I was diagnosed with cancer and some other medical issues, Shannon always asked me how I was in all our correspondence. She’d ask which hospital I was at and what date my surgeries were. She always cared and made me feel special. Everyone at Mets Media Relations have always made me and all our writers and contributers feel special.

When I saw this news posted on Anthony DiComo’s blog, it made me cry. I’m really not a wuss, but it reminded me of the day when I found out I had cancer, and all I could think of was “God, please give Shannon the strength and courage to get through this the way I did.”

I know that someone as special and caring as Shannon, is surrounded by a lot of love from all her family and friends. We have a lot of love for her here too.

I’m going to make a monetary donation to “Hope Shines for Shannon” and send it to PO Box 3145, Point Pleasant, N.J. 08742.

If you love this site and especially all the interviews from myself, Pete, Mike, Clayton, Jim, Joe, and everyone else over the years, please consider a donation. Getting sick is expensive, so please send Shannon your prayers, your support, your love, and a small donation if you can. If you can attend the event, it would be awesome. You’ll have a great time, meet some Mets, and be doing something wonderful for a great person who can use our help. Thank you.

Shannon, God Bless you. We are all pulling for you at Metsmerized. We send you our love and prayers. You are a beautiful soul and a wonderful person and you’re going to fight this and beat it!

Please visit www.hopeshinesforshannon.com to find out how you can help Shannon!

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Unburied Treasure: The Ed Kranepool Story http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/06/unburied-treasure-the-ed-kranepool-story.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/06/unburied-treasure-the-ed-kranepool-story.html/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2012 17:30:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=86414 Introduction by Stephen Hanks

When the New York Mets announced their All-Time Team last week in honor of the franchise’s 50th Anniversary (Davey Johnson as manager over Gil Hodges? No freakin’ way!), it was no surprise that the first baseman was Keith Hernandez. But for Mets fans who go all the way back to the first days of the club (my first live game was at age 8 at the Polo Grounds in 1963), it was nice to see Ed Kranepool make the list of nominees at the position. Although he will eventually be overtaken by David Wright if the third baseman signs another long-term deal with the Mets, Kranepool still leads the organization all-time in games played, at bats and hits. In 1990, after years of seemingly being forgotten, the Mets honored Krane’s accomplishments by inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Back in 1984, when I was editing my newly-launched magazine, New York Sports, the former 17-year-old wunderkind from James Monroe HS in the Bronx had turned 40 and yet had never been recognized by the team in any kind of ceremony or “day.” At the time, the comedian Red Buttons was known for his hysterical routine on the Dean Martin Comedy Roasts, one liners that began with . . . “So and so never got a dinner!” Since Ed Kranepool had never gotten a “day” from the Mets, let alone a dinner, New York Sports decided to profile him in our story called, “Ed Kranepool Never Got a Day,” wonderfully written by freelancer Len Albin (who I had worked with at SPORT Magazine in the late ’70s).  We thought an appropriate image for the story would be to have Krane, in uniform, stand in front of a microphone at home plate at Shea Stadium—but with nobody in the stands. Kranepool signed on to the idea and the Mets’ PR department graciously allowed us to set up the shot (below). We hope you enjoy this vintage mini-biography of the legendary Met, Ed Kranepool.

He was a major-leaguer at 17, “over the hill” at 19, and never became
“The Pride of the Mets.”
Yet he played 17 years in New York and did become a Metsian legend.
Now that he’s 40, it seems an injustice that . . .

ED KRANEPOOL NEVER GOT A DAY

New York Sports Magazine, November/December 1984, by Len Albin

METS SIGN SCHOOLBOY FOR $75,000, blares the 1962 headline in the New York Times . . . METS SHELL OUT 90 GRAND, NAB 17-YEAR-OLD PHENOM, announces The Sporting News

Mets Sign Schoolboy For $75,000, blares the 1962 headline in the New York Times…

 

In the World-Telegram and Sun, manager Casey Stengel says Kranepool has “a lovely future” and compares his “kid genius” to another teenager who played in the Polo Grounds: “Now don’t get me saying that in one National League game I have spotted a new [Mel] Ott. But who can tell?” In the Journal-American, Kranepool says he looks forward to “playing 20 years in the major leagues.” And in the New York Post, James Monroe High’s Ed Kranepool is compared to Commerce High’s Lou Gehrig, another Bronx native who made it big playing for the hometown team. “As legend would have it,” wrote Post columnist Maury Allen in ‘64, “the Mets’ regular first baseman Tim Harkness would get sick; Kranepool [would] start a game and play 2,129 more.”

Two decades later, these bits of crumbling newsprint, some held together by decomposing scotch tape, give off the pungent aroma of nostalgia. For this November, Ed Kranepool, who never quite became the “Pride of the Mets,” turns 40.

Kranepool is probably best known to a more recent generation of baseball fans as the pre-Rusty Staub-era pinch-hitting specialist. From ‘74 through ‘77, he batted .477 off the bench, and his .486 average in ‘74 (17 for 35) still stands as the best pinch-hitting mark in major-league history (though, like Staub, he preferred a full-time role). But most of us remember Ed Kranepool fondly as that eager, oversized teenager who joined the Mets just after breaking Hank Greenberg’s 32-year-old home run record at Monroe High, back in the days when people followed Moon Mullins and Ed Sullivan in the Daily News. We also remember the Mets of the early ‘60s, when they summed up broken dreams and disappointment for everybody. In those days, Kranepool was a marginal Met, but he ultimately became as much “Mr. Met” as Stengel or Seaver. He somehow managed to last 17 years in the majors, yet he disappeared with less fanfare than the Daily Mirror. Though he eventually set seven all-time Mets career batting records, including most RBI’s, total bases, hits—he was banished from the Mets scene in 1979 like a horse way past his appointment at the glue factory. While Mets promotion director Tim Hamilton admits, “he was a fan favorite,” Kranepool never got the kind of festive kiss-off that the Yankees gave this year to Lou Piniella—who wasn’t even a career Yankee. In fact, during Kranepool’s last season, the Mets feted an outsider—the Cardinals’ retiring Lou Brock. But as Red Button’s might kvetch on the “Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, “Ed Kranepool never got a dinner.”

“They didn’t even say goodbye to me,” says Ed Kranepool in 1984.

These days, Ed Kranepool has a regular job. He’s a salesman (and a minor partner) with the Lesjay Corporation of Long Island City, which sits on the waterfront of the East River. The firm occupies about 180,000-square feet of warehouse space in a musty, century-old building (that used to house a hamper factory) across the street from a clutch of low-income housing projects. Ed drives his beige Oldsmobile in each weekday from his condominium in Old Westbury. On this particular summer afternoon, local black kids greet their hero by rapping on the car as he pulls up. Kranepool rolls down the window to see about a truck blocking the Lesjay driveway.

“What’s this guy doing?” Kranepool asks. “Is he making a delivery?”

“What’s your problem, slick?” one of the kids says. “Just squeeze in. You know how you get into some tight pants, don’t you?” Kranepool eases the car around the truck and points with pride to having a new generation of fans. “When I first came here,” he says with a smile, “They couldn’t believe it was me.”

Kranepool with his mom Ethel after he signed his “bonus baby” contract with the Mets in ’62.

Ed Kranepool doesn’t seem much different from his playing days—just older. The deep creases at the corners of his eyes are well carved from years of squinting into the sunlight from the dugout shade. He’s developing a bald spot and a set of jowls that remind one of a mature Duke Snider. He’s also 10 pounds over his playing weight (205) and has diabetes, for which he takes daily insulin shots. Otherwise, he’s like many men his age: Divorced once, married twice, with three teenage kids (including two step-children) and a steady income. But he never jogs. For recreation, he likes skiing, boating, and working around the house. (Last year, he constructed a tri-level outdoor deck in his backyard; this year, he built a 1,200 square-foot basement.) But he rarely visits the ballpark. “I haven’t watched nine innings since I retired,” Kranepool admits. “The last time I did that I was playing.”

Kranepool’s company manufactures “point-of-purchase” displays, one of the growing specialty areas in consumer marketing. “It’s a tremendous field,” Kranepool crows. “Some of these companies have tremendous budgets.”

Among the products on exhibit in Lesjay’s makeshift lobby (really a finished basement decorated with a plastic azalea bush) were the plastic storage bins that hold “Danskin” pantyhose, a “Redken Skin Care” cosmetics display, and the plastic beer signs with the “moving” twinkly lights seen in liquor stores. In a word, they’re in plastics. Kranepool pulls out one of the tiny plastic components of another stocking display and animatedly explains that it’s made through the process of “injection-molding.”

“See, you have the tools and you make trays and stuff like that,” he says, slipping the plastic drawer back into place. “That comes out of molds and stuff like that.”

The point-of-purchase display biz is just one subsidiary of the Kranepool business and investment “empire.” For a guy who didn’t attend college, he’s doing very well. He’s putting up a hotel in the Catskills near a ski resort called “Deer Run,” and he owns a vacation home in the Poconos. On the side, Kranepool is a partner in a sports-marketing company called “Sports Plus.” The angle here is packaging business junkets for executives-coordinating hotel and airline reservations, and events—with a theme in mind. For example, when Xerox introduced its new “l0K” model copier, Sports Plus arranged 10K mini-marathon races in the Caribbean for the corporation.

“It worked well for Xerox because they got their name out—the 10K—through the race,” Kranepool says. “These are the ideas you gotta come up with.” He’s also got $50,000 sunk in the Tri-Cities Single A ball club in the Northwest League. “It’s in the state of Washington,” he relates. “Pasco, Kennewick, and something else. I don’t know. Three cities. I bought the Walla Walla franchise two years ago and moved it to Tri-Cities the same day I bought it. They didn’t know what was going on, I move so fast.”

Being involved in deal making and investments is nothing new for Ed Kranepool. Since his pro career began, he’s seized moneymaking opportunities the way Pete Rose goes after hits. While a player, he co-owned with teammate Ron Swoboda a restaurant in Amityville, New York called “The Dugout.” In the off-seasons of ‘63 to ‘68, Kranepool worked as a licensed stockbroker with the Manhattan firm of Brand, Grumet, and Siegel, where he traded securities for over 150 clients, including Met teammates Dennis Ribant and Hawk Taylor, and met first wife Carol, a secretary of one of his bosses. In ‘71, he did a guest shot on Sesame Street, helping teach kids how to count to 10. And he would spend much of the fall and winter on the banquet circuit, making, as he admits, “thousands” of paid personal appearances. The Sporting News noticed this in early ‘67:

“In his pre-camp training, Kranepool takes sauna baths, works with weights and plays paddle ball. He needs those workouts to counteract all that good eating he does at the many dinners he attends to promote good will for the Mets . . . Kranepool had no fewer than 13 January banquet dates and 10 in February.” On another occasion, Kranepool took a USC-sponsored 10-day trip to Thule Air Force base in Greenland. This year, when the Mets asked him to “computer manage” the 1969 Mets for the August 31st Computerland promotion, he insisted it couldn’t be just for fun.

“It was a commercial venture and somebody was gaining from it,” Ed reasons, “And I wanted Ed Kranepool to gain from it. I’m gonna take time away from myself and my family. I wanna get remunerated for it.”

So Kranepool’s fat baseball pension probably doesn’t make much difference. Though he isn’t making a 1984 ballplayer’s bucks, he says he’s comfortable and happy. His flair for the dollar has ensured him another “lovely future.” In fact, shrewd planning for the future has always been one of Kranepool’s prime concerns. Reporter Jack Lang once remarked in The Sporting News that Kranepool was “an extremely security-conscious” player. But, as Kranepool is quick to point out, owners weren’t exactly throwing around million-dollar contracts, as they do today.

“When a guy gets two, three, four million dollars,” he observes, “You don’t have to be very smart to prepare for your future. If you have that much cash, you just put it in the bank and you’re in pretty good shape, living off the interest.” But why does he have a seeming preoccupation with the almighty buck? “Hey, nobody gives you anything in this world,” he philosophizes. “So you gotta hustle.”

Kranepool didn’t exactly become Casey’s “new Mel Ott.”

Some in the Met organization felt that had Kranepool hustled as much on the field as he did off it, he just might have become Casey Stengel’s new Mel Ott. But baseball stardom wasn’t his only career goal. “He was consumed by baseball,” recalls his ex-wife Carole, “but he also had a drive within him to make money. Coming out of the Bronx, he had nothing. He was very poor. And he had this tremendous desire to be successful. And it was through baseball that he would achieve that success.”

Before Ed Kranepool’s smooth left-handed stroke convinced scouts that he was going to be “the gentile Hank Greenberg,” he spent his Bronx boyhood obsessed with baseball. Since Ed’s father had been machine-gunned in France during World War II four months before Ed was born, his Little League coach and neighbor, Jim Schiaffo, taught him the game. When young Eddie got a baseball glove for Christmas of ‘55, he asked Schiaffo to come outside and hit him a few grounders. “My wife looked at me,” Schiaffo recalls. “I looked at him. What could you do? He had no father. We went out to the Whitestone Bridge and I hit ground balls to him on Christmas morning. It was as cold as a witch’s backtail. But I loved it, because this kid, he ate, drank and slept baseball.” Then there were the off-season “skull practices,” during which Eddie would stand with a bat over the home plate that Schiaffo had chalked under the Kranepool’s living room rug.

“I’d say, ‘Eddie! An outside pitch coming!’” Schiaffo remembers, ‘“What do you do with it? Left field! . . . Inside pitch! What are you gonna do with it, Eddie? Remember! Bail out! Right field! . . . And keep the head straight! The head’s gotta be straight! The arms take the body around. The body don’t take the arms around.’ That’s what I used to tell him. And kept tellin’ him, and tellin’ him, and tellin’ him.”

By his mid-teens, Kranepool already has a star’s confidence. Throughout his sandlot days, he wore number 7, just like his Bronx idol, Mickey Mantle. In high school, he called himself “The King”—announcing, “The King’s home” to his mother when he swung open the front door. And with his $85,000 bonus money from the Mets—who were obviously counting on him to be their first home-grown hero to put fannies in the seats—he bought himself a fancy car: a white Thunderbird. (Actually, Eddie wanted a sportier Corvette or Jaguar, but he found he couldn’t squeeze his hulking 6-3, 205-pound inside them.) Then “The King” whisked his mom out of their apartment in a three-family house on Castle Hill Avenue in the Parkchester section, and bought an eight-room home in White Plains. He shelled out even more for new furniture, a set of dishes, and a Magnavox hi-fi that cost over $300. (In the Daily Mirror, a smiling Mrs. Ethel Kranepool is pictured sitting at her new sewing machine).

But within two years, astute observers could detect important clues about the young Kranepool’s baseball future. In ‘63 and ‘64, he had to be demoted briefly to the minors, while his beloved number 7 was taken, in succession, by Sammy Drake, Elio Chacon, and Amado Samuel (while Ed settled for number 21). When he pulled a leg muscle in spring training in ‘64, Casey Stengel complained, “You would think you could be 19 and in shape.” And on Opening Day at Shea that year a now immortal banner asked the ultimate question about this underachiever: IS ED KRANEPOOL OVER THE HILL?

“Some guys get their cheap fun going to the ballpark,” Kranepool says today, still annoyed after all these years. “I don’t like anybody who makes fun of anyone else’s inadequacies.” But he soon turned the jeers into cheers. In ‘65, Kranepool made the All-Star team as the token Met after a superb first-half of the season; he was a key player in the Met pennant-winning years of ‘69 and ‘73; in ‘74, he led the league in pinch-hits, and would step to the plate to chants of “Ed-die, Ed-die.” Kranepool now looks back on his career with some pride, insisting that during his last “seven or eight years” he was as tough an out as anybody in baseball. “Obviously I was productive,” he says. “Otherwise I couldn’t fool ‘em for 17 years.”

Family was always important to Eddie (with first wife Carol).

But he wasn’t that productive. His lifetime batting average was .261, and he averaged only about seven home runs per year. On the basepaths, he ran like a retired furrier chasing a mugger. And he wasn’t exactly Nureyev in the field, either. Once, when Kranepool made a diving catch in left field for the Mets’ Triple A team  (where he’d been demoted in. 1970), the play was viewed as a supernatural event.

“If Ed Kranepool makes a catch like that,” said pitcher Bill Denehy, “I know I’m going to pitch a no-hitter.” In retrospect, Kranepool’s most spectacular achievements—aside from his longevity—may be two items already enshrined in the trivia archives. On the weekend of May 30-31, 1964, Kranepool played 50 innings within 33 and a half hours—the first 18 innings in a doubleheader in Buffalo (then the Mets’ Triple A team), and 32 more innings in a doubleheader at Shea against the Giants, which included the famous 23-inning nightcap. (Could Lou Gehrig do this?) Ten years later, Henry Aaron used a 33-ounce, 34 and a half-inch Ed Kranepool-model 220-A Adirondack bat to beat Sadaharu Oh in a home-run-hitting contest in Tokyo.

So, why didn’t Ed Kranepool do as well with the same bat? “They shoulda left me in the minor leagues to develop, and they woulda got a better player out of it,” he says, echoing the arguments that were raised then. “A young guy at 17 isn’t physically ready for the major leagues. Nor was a 17-year-old ready, in Kranepool’s opinion, for the Hall-of-Fame-caliber pitchers lurking in the National League in the mid-1960’s—like Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, and Don Drysdale. There was also knuckleballer Phil Niekro to contend with (Ed’s least favorite pitcher), and some “wild” fastball pitchers.

“Koufax could be a comfortable oh-for-four,” Kranepool recalls. “Bob Veale? You’d stand up there and check your drawers at the end of the night.”

That he didn’t get to develop in the minor leagues was partly Kranepool’s own fault. He wanted to be rushed to the majors. As he told Barney Kremenko of the Journal-American in ‘63, “I chose the Mets not only because they offered me enough money, they also presented an opportunity to make the big leagues in the shortest amount of time. For my career that was very important.”

By 1970, Mets general manager Bob Scheffing found himself paying a fat $35,000 a year to a player who, in Scheffing’s words, “has the unhappy knack of hitting a lot of fly balls on bad pitches.” But Kranepool blamed his own shoddy performance on manager Gil Hodges’ platoon system. He wanted the chance to prove he could be a productive everyday player, eight years into his career.

“He’s been to bat nearly 3,000 times in the majors,” Tom Seaver observed. “That’s not a chance?”

As owner Joan Payson’s favorite Met, Kranepool survived. And once he became an eight-year veteran in early ‘71, he couldn’t be demoted without his permission. The only threat was being released but Kranepool kept the vultures at bay by pinch-hitting so well. Kranepool eventually became part of the Mets “family.” When he got his final Mets contract, a three-year deal at $100,000 per year, he didn’t haggle with Board Chairman M. Donald Grant. Instead, he gave Grant a signed blank contract, and Grant—like a kindly godfather—filled in the numbers. The sweet, secure contract enabled Kranepool to observe first-hand what in his view was the “ruination” of the Mets. “Joe McDonald [then GM] got rid of Seaver, he got rid of Koosman, he got rid of Tug McGraw, he got rid of everybody on the ballclub,” Kranepool says bitterly. “There was nobody left when I retired. I was down to myself.”

When Ed’s three-year contract expired after the ‘79 season, the new Mets management rejected his demand for a two-year extension. But Kranepool still wasn’t going anywhere. Though he was a free agent, he privately told other clubs not to draft him—at least not if they wanted to pay a measly 100 grand.

“What’s the big deal?” Kranepool reasons. “If I’m going to make $100,000 in New York, or even $120,000 in, let’s say, Minnesota, what benefit am I going to gain? I’m not gonna see my family for three months. I have my own living expenses in Minnesota. My businesses that I have in New York go down the tube. Where do I gain? I lose money.” So Kranepool, with the timing of a hitter in a slump, left baseball just as the free-agent market exploded. “Had I known that the owners were going to be so free with their dollars, I’d still be playing today,” he says. “Because the salaries are tremendous. I didn’t have a crystal ball, so maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

Another option in the Kranepool game plan had been taking an executive position with the Mets management. He had anticipated going into the front office under the Payson regime, but when it became apparent that kindly old stockbroker Grant wouldn’t stay around long enough to give him one, Kranepool—undeterred—made inquiries about buying the Mets.

With the money of Bob Abplanalp, the inventor of the aerosol spray device and a buddy of Richard Nixon, behind him, Kranepool approached the Mets at the end of ‘79. If the deal had gone through, Kranepool would have likely become general manager. But Mets owner Lorinda deRoulet (Payson’s daughter) never took them seriously. “It seemed like she wanted to sell to the Doubleday people all along,” Kranepool recalls. “Probably because they were from her social surroundings.” On the other hand, deRoulet might have been astounded by the chutzpa of that Kranepool, a mere employee, trying to buy the Mets. In fact, at the same time, he was still quibbling with management about his 1980 contract.

But if the Mets were to offer Kranepool a front office job today, he would definitely consider it, especially if it was the GM’s position. (“If you gotta start somewhere,” he says.) All Kranepool wants in a baseball job is one that won’t take him away from New York, and one that will pay decent money.

“I love baseball,” he says, “But I love it from a financial standpoint, too. I wanna get paid for my talents, and if I can’t get paid then I’ll do something else. And it doesn’t matter to me what I do to earn a living.” So, if George Steinbrenner asked Ed about joining the Yankees’ front office he’d consider that, too. “I don’t feel an allegiance to the Mets anymore,” Kranepool says. “Loyalty went out the window the day they didn’t sign me.”

When Ed Kranepool drives by his old Bronx sandlot stomping grounds, he notices that no longer are kids playing baseball there from morning ‘til night, as he did as a teenager. “I think kids are missing out,” he says, wistfully, “and I don’t understand it, ‘cause all they gotta do is read the paper and see the salary structure in sports. There’s gotta be more of an incentive to play. Because sports, I guess, is number two economically. Number one would have to be, I would imagine, the entertainment field.” Yes, times have changed.

And so have the Mets—but Kranepool never got too hysterical over this old team’s run at the pennant this summer. When he did tune in a Mets game, his mind tended to fill with memories of days gone by. “Your life flashes in front of you,” he says. “You remember the good old days and what you had.” Most of all he savors that ticker tape parade held on lower Broadway for the ’69 World Champions. Kranepool still gets calls from Art Shamsky, and keeps in touch with Tommie Agee, Ron Swoboda, and Tug McGraw. He’s even become “good friends” with Tom Seaver, even though Seaver was once one of his harshest critics.“Tom Seaver matured when he learned to accept adversity,” says Kranepool, who’s older than Seaver by nine days. All of a sudden he became a .500 pitcher with the Mets and he had to swallow a little crow. He wasn’t the darling of everybody, and he knew what it was like to suffer. He became a better person for it.”

Of course, after playing 17 years for the Mets, Ed Kranepool knows plenty about suffering; adversity was what the Mets were all about, so after a while, you develop a taste for crow. But now that this Metsian legend has hit 40, doesn’t nostalgia dictate that Kranepool have a taste of glory, or at the very least chicken, at a dinner in his honor.

“I don’t need them to give me a dinner,” Kranepool says simply, but not very convincingly. Jim Schiaffo, the man who once hit Eddie grounders at Christmas, feels differently. “I’m personally disappointed,” says Schiaffo about the Mets’ oversight. “Seventeen years with the team, and no recognition. They didn’t even buy this kid a sport jacket, for God’s sake.”

“I hope that someday they will give him a day,” says ex-wife Carole. “I think it would take away some of the bitterness he feels about leaving the team. He’s hurting.”

But whatever happens, we can still remember Ed Kranepool simply—and fondly—as the almost “Pride of the Mets.” Once, he was a promising young star who was going to replace Tim Harkness at first base and play 2,130 consecutive games like Lou Gehrig. Though they weren’t consecutive, he eventually came only 277 short.

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Former Mets Thoughts From The B.A.T. Dinner http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/former-mets-thoughts-from-the-b-a-t-dinner.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/former-mets-thoughts-from-the-b-a-t-dinner.html/#comments Sat, 28 Jan 2012 21:05:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=70858 Mets 50th Anniversary

Here are some Mets thoughts from the afternoon media session from Tuesday’s 23rd annual MLB B.A.T. Dinner.

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield said it was not difficult for him to retire after his long career, which included a World Series championship in 1997 with the Marlins and hitting his 500th career home run as a Met.

“I pretty much did everything I wanted to do on a baseball field,” he said.

He has enjoyed spending time playing football and baseball with his five boys. He thinks his 5-year-old has the best shot to make it big.

Sheffield has been involved with B.A.T. in the past and likes where the organization is headed.

“I think it’s very important for every player to be here,” he said. “A lot of guys fall on hard times, but many of those guys wind up being successful.”

Ed Kranepool

Ed Kranepool

Ed Kranepool

Kranepool was an original member of 1962 Mets, so he was thrilled to be back for the team’s 50th anniversary.

“It’s a lot of fun to be part of it,” he said. “The organization has great tradition, and I hope it continues.”

Kranepool spent his entire 18-year career with the Mets and saw the team’s transformation from “Lovable Losers” to World Series Champions in 1969. He said the team was able to turn it around through the combination of hard work and the development of young players.

He also said Gil Hodges was the main reason for the turnaround.

“Under Gil Hodges’ tutelage, we became a good ball club and we could have won more pennants if he didn’t pass away,” said Kranepool.

Kranepool was the only member of the original Mets to still be with the team in ’69. Naturally, his favorite career memory was winning the World Series.

“Forty years later, they’re still talking about the ’69 series,” he said.

Jay Payton

Jay Payton was back in town for the B.A.T. Dinner, and he was one of the highlights of the afternoon media session.

Currently, Payton is spending time with his 7-year-old son in Oklahoma and is officially retired from baseball. He did say he would be interested in getting involved as a coach at the professional level when the time was right.

The highlight of Payton’s career was the 2000 World Series. He enjoyed playing for Bobby Valentine and said he wouldn’t be surprised at all if Valentine led the Red Sox to the playoff in this his first season with the team.

“We had the right blend of young guys who were hungry and veterans,” Payton said of the 2000 team.

Individually, he’ll always remember hitting a home run off Mariano Rivera. In fact, Payton’s home run in the World Series was one of only two home runs Rivera has given up in the postseason in his career.

When asked about what his advice would be to young players coming to New York, he responded with the following: “Get an apartment about 300 miles outside of the city.”

He stressed the importance of a young player keeping his head on straight, especially in the New York market.

“Having success here is unlike having success anywhere else,” he said.

Payton looks like he’s still in playing shape and joked that he could go out and play right now.

“I only need about five days,” he said with a smile.

Tom Seaver

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver was on hand for the festivities. While many of the reporters were curious to hear about Seaver’s favorite Mets memories from his playing career, all Seaver wanted to talk about was wine.

During his playing career, he was asked what he would do once his career was over.

“I said, ‘I’m going to go back to California to raise grapes,’” said Seaver.

Seaver enjoys his 90-second commute to work where he runs a Cabernet wine bottling company.

“I can’t wait to get out of bed an go to work,” he said.

Seaver said that both his dreams—playing professional baseball and having his own win company—have come true.

Ron Swoboda

Ron Swoboda

Ron Swoboda

“Rocky” was also excited to be celebrating the team’s 50th anniversary. He is currently the color man on the broadcast for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, and he has great fun doing that.

Swoboda will never forget playing for Casey Stengel as a 19-year-old. Stengel never called him the right name—Stengel never called anyone the right the name for that matter—but he knew who Swoboda was.

Stengel placed his confidence in Swoboda as a rookie, which led to Rocky hitting 19 home runs.

“Stengel said, ‘You can’t learn to hit by sitting on the bench,’” said Swoboda.

He called the Mets climb from a 100 loss team to a 100 win team “meteoric,” especially in the days when free agency didn’t exist.

Of course, Swoboda’s legacy is his great catch in the ’69 World Series. But his favorite memories are the months leading up to that catch.

“You don’t make a catch in the World Series unless you get there,” he said. “You have to win a few ballgames to even get there.”

Finally, Swoboda actually thinks the current Mets will be better this year than last year. Let’s hope he’s right.

Wally Backman

Fiery second baseman Wally Backman will take over managerial duties of the Buffalo Bisons this season as he continues ascending up the ladder in the Mets organization. He previously managed the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Binghamton Mets.

However, he doesn’t see too much of a difference jumping from level to level.

“You’re teaching fundamentals,” Backman said. “The same things you’re teaching in the lowest levels, you’re teaching in the highest levels.”

He’s most looking forward to working with outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenheis and the young pitchers Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Zach Wheeler (who will like start the year in Double-A). Backman compared these three pitchers to the Mets young studs in the mid 1980s: Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez and Doc Gooden.

“Being in Buffalo, my job is to get this guys to the big leagues to help Terry (Collins),” he said.

Recently, Backman spent time with Gary Carter at Carter’s golf tournament. He wished Carter the best and said “The Kid” is still fighting.

“Gary wasn’t just a teammate,” said Backman. “He was like a brother to a lot of us.”

Davey Johnson

Who would have thought that Davey Johnson would take over the Washington Nationals last season?

Well, his team played some great baseball down the stretch, and Johnson is excited for a full season at the helm. He did say it feels strange to be back in New York as the enemy.

“I have to whip up on those Metsies that I love,” he said.

Though his team lost out on signing Prince Fielder, he is happy with the current team and is excited to see young phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper take the field.

“Harper hasn’t made my club yet,” Johnson said. “But he’ll have a chance. We’ll find out this spring if he’s good enough.”

Johnson said he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Mets. He even hinted that he had been helping the Mets well before he took over as manager in 1984.

That’s because Johnson made the final out of the ‘69 World Series on a long fly ball to Cleon Jones.

We should be seeing plenty more of Johnson this season.

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1969 Mets Discuss Gil Hodges’ Hall Of Fame Chances http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/1969-mets-discuss-gil-hodges%e2%80%99-hall-of-fame-chances.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/1969-mets-discuss-gil-hodges%e2%80%99-hall-of-fame-chances.html/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2011 14:00:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=66087 As we all know, Gil Hodges will be on the Veterans’ Committee Hall of Fame ballot for 2012. So expect to hear plenty of discussion over the next few months about whether or not he should be enshrined.

I personally was not around when Gil played or managed, but I consider myself lucky to have heard the great stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1969 Miracle Mets. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Joan Hodges recently, who said she hopes this is the year for Gil—even though she believes he should have been inducted a long time ago.

In addition, to speaking with Mrs. Hodges, I caught up with a few members of the 1969 Mets and asked their thoughts on if they think Gil will be elected this time around. The players only had great things to say about their former manager.

“I hope it’s the year,” said ’69 Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. “He was a very special man, not just as a ballplayer in Brooklyn but a very special man in the community.”

While his on-field achievements speak for themselves, Gil left just as significant an impact as a manager.

“I think Gil certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said original Met Ed Kranepool. “We would have won more pennants under Gil Hodges.”

Hodges died from a heart attack in spring training 1972—right at the peak of his managerial career when the Mets were a feared team in the National League. Still, the players agree that Hodges got them to play much better than they should have.

Hopefully, the word continues to spread about what Hodges meant to the game of baseball.

“I know a lot of people have been working hard to help in that regard,” said ’69 Mets platoon right fielder Art Shamsky. “I think he’s certainly deserving of it, not only as a player and manager, but he was such a great person and ambassador for the game.”

Shamsky noted that Hodges was the main reason the Mets went from being the laughing stock of professional baseball to World Champions just eight years after coming into existence.

Being on the Veterans’ Committee ballot may work in Hodges’ favor for next year’s voting.

“These are people that might have recognized Gil or played against him, know what he’s done, and can vote the way it’s supposed to be voted,” said Kranepool. “There are guys in the Hall of Fame that don’t have his credentials.”

Harrelson likened Hodges to his own father in that both were rugged on the outside but were great men on the inside who deeply cared for their families.

“I loved him as a person and as a manager,” said Harrelson, who also looks forward to someday heading to Cooperstown for Gil’s induction ceremony.

Whether that’s this year or in the near future, I’ll likely be joining Buddy in paying homage to a great baseball player, a great manager and an even better man.

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2 Champions – 2 Different Winning Seasons – 2 Opinions http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/03/2-champions-2-different-winning-seasons-2-opinions.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/03/2-champions-2-different-winning-seasons-2-opinions.html/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2011 12:00:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=46308 Spring training is going on as we speak. The New York Mets as well as every other MLB team are practicing and trying to perfect their skills so they can be the best they can be when the season begins. Right now the NY Mets are down in Port St. Lucie honing their skills while getting ready to begin and finish off their year with a bang! They even brought dirt from Citi Field down to Florida for Spring Training so the players can practice on the same turf like they have at home.

Everyone is going around saying what the Mets should or shouldn’t do to get back to where they were. But what should they really do? I’ve had the chance to talk to former New York Mets Players Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool and they explained to me what they believe the Mets should do in order to get back into the game as the well rounded, powerful team they could be.

I had asked Ron Darling if he thinks Terry Collins, the new Mets Manager, will bring his team to a winning season and all Ron could say while laughing was “Yeah, good luck Terry.” He then added that the Mets do have some good things going for them “Carlos Beltron and Jose Reyes are playing for a new contract and when athletes are playing for a new contract they tend to have great years. But who knows what’s going to happen. Philadelphia is such a strong team so they (The New York Mets) are going to have to be at their best and almost have a perfect year.” He also added “I see a bright future for the Mets”.  Now let’s see if Ron Darling’s predictions will come true.

Ed Kranepool had his own opinion on how the Mets will do this year, “I haven’t seen them picking up a lot of trades. They have picked up some players that were injured in the past so they’re hoping for a miracle. But I hope the ball club does better than last year because they struggled. They have to improve their pitching staff and that’s what they are trying to do.” Kranepool then added, “Everyone has to improve their play. They go to spring training hoping to be a better player and that’s what the fun of baseball is all about – being in the World Series.”

Only time will tell if the New York Mets will step up their game this year. I don’t know about you, but I have faith in our Mets. And maybe if all their fans would…They Would!

To see both my interviews with Ron Darling and Ed Kranepool you can click on the links below. 

Interview With Ron Darling – 86 NY Mets World Series Champion

Interview With Ed Kranepool – Entire MLB Career With The New York Mets

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Who’s On First…? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/whos-on-first-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/whos-on-first-2.html/#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 02:11:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=44961 Everyone remembers Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” skit. Well, who is on first for the New York Mets?  As for the current roster our “Who’s” are Ike Davis as the starter and Nick Evans as his backup. Maybe.

On the weekend of the 12th -13th, MAB Celebrity Services had their “Who’s On First Show” at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford.

Former Mets on the guest list included Keith Hernandez, Ed Kranepool, Cliff Floyd, Tim Harkness, Willie Montanez, Jesus Alou and Dave Kingman. At this event you were able to go and meet some of your favorite players.

You should have seen some of the things that fans were having signed - anything ranging from pictures to even memorabilia from Shea Stadium were brought in by fans. One fan had everyone sign a home plate. What are some items that you have had signed by your favorite Met players?

It was great to meet Keith Hernandez, Cliff Floyd and Tim Harkness but I got to spend more time with Ed Kranepool who was one of the first New York Mets First Basemen back when the Mets started out.

He had a lot to say about playing on the NY Mets for 18 years and Spring Training and the upcoming season -

“I hope the ballclub does better than last year, they struggled. They’ve got to improve their pitching staff. Everyone has to improve.”

Also I was able to chat to Mollie Bracigliano who is the owner and founder of MAB Celebrity Services. You can hear more from Ed Kranepool and Mollie next Wednesday, March 2nd on Teen Groove On The Move.

Hey, now we know Who’s On First - but stay tuned for What’s On Second and I Don”t Kknnnooooww’sss On Third!

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Congratulations To The All-Time Hits Leader… Ed Kranepool http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/congratulations-to-the-all-time-hits-leader-ed-kranepool.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/congratulations-to-the-all-time-hits-leader-ed-kranepool.html/#comments Sat, 12 Sep 2009 02:26:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=13048 Derek Jeter broke the all-time hits record for the Yankees when he collected his 2,722nd hit in the third inning of Friday night’s game against the Orioles. In honor of his great achievement, I would like to congratulate Ed Kranepool for being the all-time hits leader for the Mets. (You didn’t think we were going to talk about the Yankees here, did you? After all, this is a METS site.)

Ed Kranepool spent his entire career playing for the New York Mets. After being signed out of James Monroe HS in the Bronx in 1962, Kranepool spent no time at all getting to the majors, notching six at-bats for the original 1962 Mets. Steady Eddie went on to play all or parts of 18 seasons in Flushing. His tenure with the Mets is the longest for any player in franchise history, followed by the 15 years spent by John Franco in blue and orange.

In his time with the Mets, the first baseman collected a franchise-record 1,418 hits. 225 of those hits were doubles, which also ranks as #1 in Mets history.

Derek Jeter might have gotten lots of clutch hits in the postseason for the Yankees, but he’s had plenty more chances to do so. Kranepool only appeared in the playoffs twice. He hit a home run in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series (a game won by the Mets) and delivered a two-run single in the first inning of Game 5 of the 1973 NLCS. That hit got the Mets started on their way to winning the pennant in that deciding fifth game.

A member of the 1965 All-Star team, Kranepool celebrated the silver anniversary of that All-Star selection by being inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1990.

Let’s hear it for the all-time hits leader – Ed Kranepool.

Editor’s note:  This was first posted by Ed Leyro on the Mets site Studious Metsimus.

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