Okay here we are ten players down forty more to go. Today’s featured Met who comes in at number forty on the Top fifty Mets of all time countdown is probably one of the most firey personalities to ever squat behind a plate at Shea Stadium. Thats right I am talking about John Stearns !
The Mets acquired Stearns during the winter of ’74. The Mets gave up fan favorite, reliever, Tug McGraw as well as mediocre third baseman, Don Hahn and outfielder Dave Schneck for Stearns , outfielder, Del Usner and pitcher Mac Scarce.
Stearns saw his first season as a Met ( 1975) as the backup catcher behind veteran Jerry Grote. There Stearns learned from veteran Grote, who had been the Mets’ regular catcher since 1966. As Grote’s backup, Stearns didn’t see much playing time and posted a batting average of just .189 .
1976 was not a good season for Stearns. In limited time he once again hit poorly and was sent down and replaced by Ron Hodges. Stearns fixed his flaws while at the Mets AAA affiliate in Tidewater, and was brought back to the majors as a September call up. He had 18 hits in his first 13 games from being recalled from the minors. He even had seven hits in two games, Stearns was made the everyday catcher for the rest of the season, usurping Grote.
During the ’76 season, John was declared the Mets everyday catcher with both Grote and Hodges serving as backups. John was named the sole Mets player to the All Star Team that July. he would make his appearance catching in the bottom of the ninth. On August 31, 1977, the end of an era occurred when the Mets traded Grote to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two players to be named later.
One of the funnier moments of that horrible ’77 season was when Stearns became livid at Atlanta Braves mascot, Chief Noc-A-Homa, chasing him like a wild man off the field. Us Mets fans warmed up to Stearns very quickly. We loved his take no prisoners approach in the field as well as at the plate. A good example of this is when on a hot June night in ’78 , Stearns broke Pittsburgh Pirates player, Dave Parker’s cheek bone. Parker ( who had a penchant for running over catchers) tried to do the same with Stearns, but John wasn’t having any of that. During that next series against the Phillies, Phillies players thanked Stearns for standing up to Parker.
In 1979 Stearns would be selected to his second All-Star Game, but he would not play. That season , Stearns would also begin playing third base and a little outfield as well as spending most his time behind the plate.
In ’1980, Stearns was selected to his third All-Star Game, and grounded out in his only at bat inthe fifth inning. Stearns season would end that July when he would break his finger on a foul tip.
That injury would be the start of the wear and tear of John’s body. All those years of catching and brawling finally were starting to take it’s toll on Stearns.
In 1982 Stearns made his fourth All-Star Game. But by August he began suffering the effects of elbow tendinitis. He would end up on the disabled list and only made three pinch running appearances the rest of the season.
In 1983 Stearns would barely play because of his elbow tendinitis and was used sparingly as a pinch hitter.
He once again saw very little playing time in ’84, he spent some time with triple A Tidewater and was finally called up that September when he was finally well enough to play , but even then playing time was sporadic at best.
That winter the Mets would obtain Gary Carter from the Expos which would leave Stearns services obsolete. Stears would attempt to make a comeback with the Cincinnati Reds that next season , but he couldn’t make the club out of spring training. He promptly retired.
later on John would make his return to the Mets as a third base coach under Bobby Valentine. He made perhaps one of the best Mets rallying cries ever after a Piazza home run he yelled ” THE MONSTER IS OUTTA THE CAGE !!!”
John is currently a scout for the Mariners organization.
Tomorrow we will unveil number 39 – a player who was one of the most odd ball players to ever play for the Mets.
And with that said… HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
Mets outfielder from ’01-’03, Tsuyoshi Shinjo is 39 today (1972) . Shinjo was a very colorful player during his tenure with the Mets. He often dyed his hair red or orange and was very capable in both the field as well as at the plate. It could be said that he was the best Japanese hitter the Mets have ever had.
New York Mets selected outfielder, Ken Singleton in first round (third pick overall) of free agent draft on January 28, 1967. Singleton was a highly touted outfield prospect who later would be traded to the Expos for fan favorite , Rusty Staub. Ken had a long prosperous career with both the Expos and the Baltimore Orioles.
New York Mets signed free agent outfielder, Benny Ayala on January 28, 1971. I think the only thing Benny will ever be known for is that he is the uncle of former Met Luis Ayala.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays signed middle reliever, Tom Martin of the New York Mets as a free agent on January 28, 2002.
New York Mets signed free agent infielder,Todd Zeile of the Montreal Expos on January 28, 2004. It is common knowledge that I didn’t like the Mets signing the first time, but I hated it even more the second time around.
New York Mets signed free agent middle reliever, Mike Matthews on January 28, 2005. Matthews would appear in only six games that season, posting a record of 1-0 with a astronomical ERA of 10.80.
Houston Astros signed reserve outfielder, David Newhan of the New York Mets as a free agent on January 28, 2008. I think it was safe to say that Newhan was the worst offensive player on the Mets during the ’08 season.
And while you scramble trying to find a open Superbowl Box pool, just remember that there are only 63 more days until the Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami and just 70 more days until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn made a army of snowmen which he has named his “Mo Men” in his backyard – he is planning to over throw the world with said Mo Men – I personally think he should be sent to Creedmoor.