By Joe Rini
The 2022 All-Star Game brings to mind the feats and firsts of the New York Mets at the midseason classic. While the AL’s 3–2 victory on July 19 was a quiet night for the Mets All-Stars, the Mets have had their share of memorable All-Star moments.
Two Hall of Famers more noted for their non-Mets careers represented the team in 1962 and 1963 games. There weren’t many All-Star caliber players on the woeful 1962 Mets. However, Richie Ashburn’s .306 batting average earned him the distinction of being the first Mets All-Star in 1962. While the 40-win Mets only won one of every four games, Ashburn singled and scored in his only at-bat. Ashburn retired after his only season in New York, but newly acquired Duke Snider represented the Mets at the 1963 ASG in Cleveland. Playing in his final ASG in his lone Mets season, the former Brooklyn Dodger struck out as a pinch hitter.
1964 saw the first and only ASG at Shea Stadium and more significantly, the first Met to start an ASG. Ron Hunt started at second base one year after finishing second to Pete Rose in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Hunt singled in his first plate appearance in a game memorialized by John Callison’s walk-off three-run home run.
Feats and Firsts
As more home-grown Mets talent reached the majors in the late 1960s, their representation in the ASG became more pronounced. For example, in his rookie season, Tom Seaver picked up the save in the NL’s 2-1 victory in the 1967 ASG. Seaver subsequently represented the Mets in eight of the next nine All-Star games, including pitching three scoreless innings to open the 1970 ASG.
Jerry Koosman duplicated Seaver’s fireman role when he saved the 1968 ASG, a 1-0 NL win, striking out Carl Yastrzemski to end the game. He pitched another scoreless outing at the 1969 ASG while teammate Cleon Jones singled and scored twice for the victorious NL.
The newly minted Mets added more firsts to their All-Star resume in the 1970s. For instance, Gil Hodges managed the 1970 NL All-Star team. Also, besides Seaver starting the 1970 ASG, Tug McGraw earned the win in the 1972 ASG with two scoreless innings. Jon Matlack picked up the win and co-MVP honors with Bill Madlock in the NL’s 6-3 victory in 1975 ASG. Lee Mazzilli homered and drove in the winning run in the NL’s 7-6 victory in the 1979 ASG. Mazzilli’s home run was the first home run by a Mets player in an ASG. Willie Mays played in his then-record-tying 24th ASG while a member of the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets in 1973.
Gooden & deGrom
The Mets were well-represented in the All-Star Game during the 1980s. Dwight Gooden, Jesse Orosco, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and David Cone took turns pitching for the NL between 1984 and 1988. Meanwhile, position players Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, and Howard Johnson started for the NL in the 1980s.
The 19-year-old Gooden ASG struck out the first three batters he faced in 1984 ASG. Thirty-one years later, Jacob deGrom similarly introduced himself in his first ASG. DeGrom electrified the baseball world by striking out the side on ten pitches in his one inning of work in 2015. Also, perennial All-Star David Wright batted .389 across seven ASG appearances.
The quiet night by the Mets All-Stars means none will join the ranks of the feats and firsts in 2022. Of course, there’s always next year. Perhaps Pete Alonso hits the game-winning home run and makes a winner of Edwin Diaz in 2023. More importantly, with the stretch run upcoming, Mets fans are hoping Buck Showalter manages the NL squad next year.