Mets should honor guys from the lost decade in their HOF

The Mets Hall of Fame is filled with Mets from the 1969, and 1986 era squads, and with John Franco’s induction this past year, they are getting around to the 2000 NL Champions.

There is though, an era woefully unrepresented, and while the exploits of the era fall well beneath the dominance of the mid to late 1980s, the miracles of 1969 and 1973, and the fun of the late 1990s-early 2000s renaissance.  And that is the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s.  Oh sure the era as a whole is for the most part rather forgettable, especially from 6/15/1977 through the sale of the franchise to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon.  But, there are several performers that probably do deserve a look and recognition in the Mets Hall of Fame, and in some way it would help a forgotten era get a little more recognition in the annals of Met history:

Dave Kingman
Outfielder/First Baseman 1975-1977, 1981-1983

In an era where the Shea faithful weren’t watching those home runs go over the wall frequently, they did off of Kingman’s bat.  So much so that upon Kingman’s return in 1981 as a PR gimmick, the Mets set up “Kingman Fallout Zones” in the Shea parking lot.

While an All Star Met once, he did finish in the top 20 in the NL MVP vote twice, in 1975 and in 1976. In 1982 he would lead the NL with 37 home runs, and Kingman’s Met total of 154 home runs is still good to rank him 5th on the All Time list.

John Stearns
Catcher 1975-1984

Pretty much a personification of the years he performed in a Met uniform.  Stearns arrived via the dismantling of the 1969 era team in a trade from Philadelphia prior to the 1975 season with Del Unser and Mac Scarce for Don Hahn, Dave Schneck, and the legendary Tug McGraw, and following his final injury plagued season of 1984, Stearns was quietly granted his free agency, and never signed on with another team as a player.

Selected to 4 All Star Games, Stearns earned the reputation as a hard-nosed, all out player.  As well as a stolen base threat with 25 in 1978, and getting 15 stolen bases in 15 tries in 1979.  His power numbers may have been lacking, but there was no denying that The Dude was in the conversation among that second tier (after the Johnny Benchs, Gary Carters, and Ted Simmons) NL catchers.  Much in the way Jerry Grote was a generation earlier.

Lee Mazzilli
Outfielder 1976-1981, 1986-1989

On here more for his popularity during a rather dreadful era more so than what he brought on the field.  Oh sure, he did get named to an All Star Game, and provided a memorable moment with his pinch hit homer in the game and on a better team he’d be a nice piece to an outfield mix, but The Italian Stallion was more of a drawing card with his matinée idol good looks.

Those are three Mets that came to mind that represented that 1975-1983 era in a way that should be honored in some way by the Mets.  Players such as Jon Matlack, John Milner and Felix Millan (all three probably deserve put into Mets Hall articles as well) are considered more in line with the 1969-1974 era, but feel free to add other names in the comment section.

1 comment for “Mets should honor guys from the lost decade in their HOF

  1. February 11, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Great post; I completely agree. I would say Stearns, Mazilli and Millan. I was always a big Stearns fan and thought he does not get enough credit for his contributions to the team… maybe because the teams he was on weren’t that good. Mazilli is Mr. NY and was the only thing we had it seems like for a while. Felix Millan is another underrated player in Mets history. While Kingman is a bit of a folk hero, not sure he is Mets HOF material. Maybe it was because I was 7 when Milner broke in, I loved the guy and remember spending hours in my back yard trying to perfect his swing and that almost lumbering home run trot he had.

    Another good piece to do is who’s number should be retired. I know the current generation of fans talk about Carter, Piazza and Kieth, but I think Kranepool is overlooked. I agree with retiring Hernandez’s, but I don’t agree with Carter or Piazza. I think Carter’s support is as much sentimental due to his untimely death, but I don’t think his number should be retired. Piazza was a great player for the Mets, but I don’t think he transformed the Mets; had he either won a World Series or kicked Clemens arse, I may think differently. But Kranepool was an original Met at 17 then played the next 17 years with the Mets.

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