The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

A Mets Anniversary, of Sorts

Sometimes,  coincidences have a way of falling into your lap.

A little while ago, I was replying to a comment on the fine baseball blog, Misc. Baseball, where a conversation about no-hitters as they relate to the Padres (and Mets) was taking place.  I happened to recall that San Francisco Giants pitcher Ed Halicki tossed a no-hitter against the Mets in 1975.  Curious about the date of that no-hitter, I decided to look it up.  Strangely enough, today is the 40th-anniversary of that game.

Here are some bits of trivia I discovered while researching Halicki’s no-hitter.

The Mets manager that day was Roy McMillan, who had replaced Yogi Berra whom the Mets fired just 18 days earlier.  The Mets had gone 56-53 up to the point Berra was fired.  Under McMillan, they went 26-27.

The Giants manager was Wes Westrum.  Westrum had managed the Mets from 1965-67.  After 1975, neither McMillan nor Westrum ever managed in the Majors again.

Entering the ’75 season, both Ed Halicki and Mets starting pitcher Craig Swan had pitched fewer than one-hundred innings apiece in the Majors.  They went on to have not entirely dissimilar careers.  Halicki posted a career record of 55-66 with a WAR of 11.6.  Craig Swan finished his career with a 59-72 record, and a 12.6 WAR.

In 1978, Halicki won just nine games, but led the N.L. with a 1.060 WHIP.

In 1978, Swan won just nine games, but led the N.L. with a 2.43 ERA.

Halicki’s no-hitter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco was the second game of a double-header that day.  The Mets, behind Jon Matlack, won the first game 9-5.  In the first game, the Giants didn’t even attempt to steal a base off of lefty Matlack and catcher Jerry Grote.  In the second game, they ran wild, notching five steals off of Swan and catcher John Stearns.

The most controversial play of the game occurred in the top of the 5th inning.  Mets batter Rusty Staub hit a liner off of the leg of pitcher Halicki, which then bounced over to second baseman Derrel Thomas who picked up the ball, then dropped it.  The official scorer ruled this an error on Thomas.  But Mets beat-writer Dick Young was outraged by this scoring, and complained loudly about it.  He believed this play should have been scored a hit.

Though the no-hitter stood, official scorer Joe Sargis of UPI lost his part-time job as an official scorer.

Giants first baseman Willie Montanez drove in the Giants first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first inning.  Though the Giants would go on to win 6-0, those first two runs would be the only runs Halicki would need to win.  Three years later, the well-traveled Montanez would lead the Mets with 96 RBI.

Other than Staub reaching on an error in the 5th, the only other base-runners the Mets would have that day were pinch-hitter Mike Vail’s walk in the 6th-inning, and a one-out walk in the 9th to center-fielder Del Unser.

This was the last no-hitter ever pitched by a Giants pitcher at Candlestick Park.

It would be another 37-years until Johan Santana would throw the first no-hitter by a Mets pitcher in history (June 1, 2012.)  June 1st is also the birthday of Rick Baldwin, who pitched three innings in relief of Craig Swan on that August day in 1975 at Candlestick Park.

Look closely enough, and baseball is always full of quirky stats and surprises.


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21 thoughts on “A Mets Anniversary, of Sorts

  1. Jason M. on said:

    Wow! Terrific research and an awesome string of coincidences.

  2. I never knew halicki no hit the mets until earlier this year, but now that I do, mike scott no hitting the giants to clinch the division in 1986 feels like proper payback on behalf of the team that drafted and raised him.

  3. It’s kind of cool that 40 years after the no-hitter, the Mets got 20 hits, especially given their recent past. A Mets-Cardinals NLCS would be a back to the mid-80s/back to 2006 moment.

  4. This is a neat piece, and a cool weaving of quirky baseball history into a fun narrative. I’m most curious about the error in the 5th inning. Was Sargis fired for that offense alone, or were there other factors? What became of him, do you know?

  5. In 75 they still had the remnants of the 73 Series team. The next year or two would start one of their periodic horrible eras, one of which we are now emerging from.

  6. Allan G. Smorra on said:

    Once you start connecting the dots, more and more dots show up. Thanks for this look back, Bill.

  7. Nice write up, Bill. I particularly liked the info about the differences in stolen bases between games one and two.

  8. glenrussellslater on said:

    I was watching that game on a color TV set at the Holiday Inn in Poughkeepsie, New York. My family was vacationing in beautiful Poughkeepsie.

    Another thing about that game, Bill, was that Ralph Kiner wasn’t doing the play-by-play on WOR-TV Channel 9. That’s because, on that day, he was far from San Francisco. He was in Cooperstown, New York, being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

    I remember it all like it was yesterday. And it was 40 years ago. Wow.


    • I watched the entire game at home. I had missed the first game of that double-header. I don’t remember why. I didn’t remember that was the same weekend Kiner was being inducted. Thanks for adding that.
      Yeah, time sure does go by, doesn’t it?
      -Thanks very much

    • glenrussellslater on said:

      In the immortal words of Emily Littela, “Never mind!” I was mistaken. I looked it up, and ol’ Ralphie Boy was inducted on August 18th, six days before this date, according to this article in the Beaver County Times. My mom’s parents read the Beaver County Times faithfully, so I know it can’t be wrong.

      I guess that Ralph Kiner figured he’d spend a few extra days basking in Cooperstown, relaxing and basking in the glory. I definitely remember either Bob Murphy or Lindsey Nelson saying during the telecast of that double play that Ralph was in Cooperstown.


      • I’m sure Kiner was buddying it up with whomever else he could hang out with up there in Cooperstown. Maybe he even did an impromptu Kiner’s Korner in the corner of some local bar. 🙂

    • Glen Slater. He’s so tough, he vacations in Po-town.

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