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Old Time Mets (1966) - Bob Friend, Bob Shaw, and Ralph Terry

Barry DuchanSaturday, November 3, 2007
By Barry Duchan

Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

In 1966, in the days before Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Ryan, when the Mets' young pitchers were named Selma, Rusteck, Sutherland, and Gardner, the Mets tried to provide some veteran presence on the staff to help carry the team to respectability while the young pitchers developed.

In the early '60's, you could make up a pretty good core of a major league rotation with the likes of Bob Friend, Bob Shaw, and Ralph Terry - all workhorses who each had one outstanding season, and some other pretty good ones. Couldn't they help the Mets? Well, Shaw and Friend did, but only in the short term and when a team goes on to lose 95 games, maybe it would have been better to look at some younger pitchers. Still, it made sense to take a chance on these veterans to help stabilize the pitching staff. After all, the Mets were willing to pay the "big" salaries that came along with these pitchers, even though their best years were behind them. They were each acquired in cash transactions, so no prospects (or non-prospects) were sacrificed to get them.

On June 10th of 1966, the Mets purchased Bob Shaw from the Giants. The previous season, he had gone 16-9 with San Francisco, but was off to a shaky start at 1-4 in '66. Shaw was 34 years old at the time but proved he still had one good season left in him. From the time he arrived, he was arguably the Mets' best starting pitcher, going 11-10 in 25 starts. After a 3-9 start in 1967, Shaw was sold to the Cubs. Shaw always seemed like the type of guy who had to be doing a good job in order to keep his place on any team. I don't remember exactly why, but I seem to recall that he was pretty set in his ways and not exactly the easiest person to get along with.

Five days later, the Mets purchased veteran Bob Friend who had previously starred with the Pirates, but at the time was with the Yankees. At age 35, having thrown a ton of innings when he was in Pittsburgh, his career was at its tailend. He managed to post a 5-8 record with the Mets that season, but the Mets were 6-6 in the games Friend started, not bad for a team that would finish 66-95.

On August 6, 1966, the Mets purchased former Cy Young Winner Ralph Terry from Kansas City. A 23-game winner for the Yankees in 1962, Terry was never quite the same after that, with unsuccessful stints with Cleveland and Kansas City. The A's gave him 10 starts in 1966, where he went 1-5. By the time he came to the Mets, he was little more than a mopup man, although the fans and the organization were probably hoping for a lot more, since Terry was still only 30 years old. Terry made the Mets' roster again in 1967, but appeared in just 2 games and was released in May. That was the end of his baseball career.

Of course, throughout their history, the Mets (and in general, every other basebll team), tried to mix in some veterans along with younger pitchers. For the Mets, it finally clicked in 1969, when pitchers like Cardwell, Taylor, and Koonce were integral parts of the staff along with younger arms like Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, Ryan, and McGraw.

The 1966 edition was nowhere as successful, but the Mets did manage to escape the cellar that year for the first time and certainly part of that could be attribued to the contributions of Shaw and Friend.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (3)

I remember when Shaw came over he won four straight, which was a huge deal at the time. I seem to recall he had a lead in the game going for five straight, but blew it. After that he wasn't very good, plus he was a hothead.

Ah names from the past, I love to read them. Permit me to empty a small bag on the floor here.

I didn't grow up in New York or as a Mets fan; Shaw I remember as an alright pitcher for the Giants. I lot of decent pitchers drifted through San Fran back then. Bob Friend, the #2 starter for the 1960 World Champions, did not throw hard at all; in Brosnan's book on the '61 season he wrote of batters returning from At Bats against Friend, complaining: "Alice ain't got a thing!" and "He couldn't bruise your eye with his best fastball!" It's not always about the velocity of course.

Terry never was the Yankee's #1 starter either, even with the twenty win season, any more than Koosman ever took emminence over Tom Seaver. The Yankees had Whitey Ford. And by the way, Terry never won a Cy Young award. He WAS on hand, I believe, to give up a line drive to Willie McCovey in Game Seven of the 1962 World Serious, the one that somehow found its way into Bobby Richardson's glove and deprived the Giants of a championship.

I love the game of baseball, but back then it really, really mattered to me. Which is probably why I keep it slightly at arm's length today; it's just too hard to sustain such a torrid romance for so long.

You are right about Terry never winning the Cy Young. Back then, there was only 1 Cy Young for both leagues, so Terry's 23-12 record in 1962 might have made him the top pitcher in the American League, but Don Drysdale won the Cy Young.

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