A lot is made about who the Opening Day starting pitcher is going to be each new season. But who can guess or remember the names of the pitchers who have started the final game each season? Who are those Rodney Dangerfields of pitchers who get oftentimes get tabbed to pitch in what ends up being another meaningless game? See if you can remember some of these Mets players as we take a decade by decade look at which pitchers started the final games of each season.
1962 – Willard Hunter. He was the losing pitcher on September 30, 1962 and lost the Mets 120th game of the season. He did it in 1962 Mets fashion. He walked the Cubs Ken Huggs in the first batter he faced at Wrigley Field that day. Then he got Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ernie Banks to ground into force plays at second base to get out of the inning. He didn’t fare too well in his second inning. George Altman led off the inning with a single. He then proceeded to walk Nelson Mathews, Andre Rodgers, and Cuno Barragan on twelve straight pitches. After 8 batters, Willard was out of the game. He would appear in 41 more games in his major league career, but would never start another one. He finished that season with a 1-6 record.
1963 – Larry Bearnarth. Larry also lost on September 29, 1963 at Colt stadium against the Houston Colt 45s, facing a starting lineup that featured Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub. That loss dropped his record to 3-8 and he lasted just 3 innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 3 and allowing 7 runs – all earned.
1964 – Galen Cisco. On October 4, 1964, Galen lost his 19th game of the season and finished with a record of 6-19. On the other side of the ledger, the St. Louis Cardinals Bob Gibson won his 19th game of the season while coming out of the bullpen that same day. Galen only lasted 4 innings, allowing 5 runs – all earned. In a bit of irony, Willard Hunter, who made his final MLB start as the final day pitcher in 1962 also pitched that day, this time making his final major league appearance after allowing 3 runs in 1 inning.
1965 – Jack Fisher. The final game of the season was the 2nd game of a doubleheader on October 3, 1965. Jack Fisher lost that game for his league leading 24th game of the season and finished 1965 with an 8-24 record. Jack’s outing was longer than any of the prior final game starters combined. In fact, he put in a 13 inning complete game outing to finish the season. That’s right – 13 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. September call up and future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins got the win in the game. Jack’s stat line that day in the 3-1 loss – 13 innings pitched, 8 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and 1 HR allowed. Jack allowed only one run through 12 innings before he allowed a leadoff home run to Billy Sorrell to lead of the 13th inning.
1966 – Bob Shaw. For the second season in a row, the Mets finished the season with a doubleheader. Bob Shaw started the final game of the season at Shea Stadium against the Houston Astros on October 2, 1966. Once again, the Mets dropped the final game of the season and the loss dropped Bob’s record to 12-14 for the year. Bob lasted only 2.1 innings that day, allowing 5 runs before giving way to Tug McGraw. The Mets eventually lost the game 5-1.
1967 – Danny Frisella. The Mets dropped their season finale for the 7th straight season, this time it was Danny Frisella who absorbed the loss on October 1, 1967 at Dodger Stadium. Danny was the hard-luck loser in the 2-1 loss as he went 7.2 innings and did not allow an earned run. The only two Dodger runs scored on a Ken Boswell error in the bottom of the 8th.
1968 – Tom Seaver. Once again, the Mets lost the season finale. This time, the Franchise pitched the final game on September 29, 1968 against the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The loss dropped Tom’s record to 16-12 for the year, and in the outing he went 7 innings in the 10-3 loss. Tom’s pitching line that day was 7 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, and 2 HR allowed.
1969 – Gary Gentry. The Mets continued to lose in the final game of the regular season, this time losing 5-3 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 2, 1969. Gary picked up a no-decision that day, going 4 innings with Don Cardwell eventually taking the loss.