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Trades From The Past - Millan and Stone for Gentry and Frisella

Barry DuchanSunday, November 25, 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.

The Mets' recent acquisition of Luis Castillo brought to mind another Mets' second baseman with similar skills - Felix Millan. Like Castillo, Millan was a low-profile, but excellent player who excelled in handling the bat and playing an outstanding second base. Felix was one of the main reasons the Mets surprisingly made it to the World Series in 1973, and he remains, arguably, the best overall second baseman the Mets ever had.

I was on vacation in Japan when the Mets acquired Millan in the winter of 1972, so I found out about the trade - Millan and lefty pitcher George Stone from the Braves for starting pitcher Gary Gentry and reliever Danny Frisella - via a tiny box in the International Edition of the New York Times. 1972 had been a very disappointing, injury-filled season for the Mets. Prior to the season, the Mets had acquired perennial all-stars Jim Fregosi and Rusty Staub and adding them to the lineup to go along with the best pitching in baseball figured to make the Mets a strong favorite for another championship. By the time the season ended, the pitching was intact, but the lineup was in shambles. In addition to the injuries, regular second baseman Ken Boswell finished the season at .211, bad any way you look at it, but especially for a second baseman whose bat was considered his best asset. So the Mets looked for a replacement.

Millan was a former all-star coming off his worst season, but undoubtedly a better second baseman than Boswell. Gentry was, at 26, still young enough to become a star, although he was no better than a third starter with the Mets. Stone was a fringe major leaguer and Frisella a good reliever who was behind Tug McGraw in the Mets' bullpen hierarchy. At the time, the deal didn't look all that good to me, because Millan at best was "steady" and Stone looked like he'd struggle to make the Mets, while the two pitchers the Mets gave up were young enough and good enough to have long, productive careers. But it turned out to be a steal for the Mets.

Millan gave the Mets 4 very solid seasons before tailing off in 1977. He finished his career playing in Japan. George Stone was remarkable for the 1973 Mets, finishing 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings. After '73, Stone did little to help the Mets and was gone after 2 more mediocre seasons. But clearly, this trade put the Mets in the 1973 World Series as much as anything.

As for Gentry and Frisella, elbow problems plagued Gentry for the rest of his career and he never really helped the Braves. He got one last spring training shot with the Mets a few years later, but was quickly released. Frisella was a mediocre reliever the rest of his career before his untimely passing in a dune-buggy accident before the 1977 season.

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 (6)

My lingering memory of Felix Millan is of Ed Ott of the Pirates slamming him to the ground after Millan got in his face after a play at second. This pretty much ended his career.

As for George Stone, the Mets might have won the 1973 World Series if Yogi Berra had started him instead of Matlack on short rest in Game 7. This poor decision still hurts because the Mets might have three championships now plus everybody still shows the clip of Reggie Jackson stomping on home plate after his homer in Game 7. The Mets held the A's homerless through the first six games of that series.

Felix Millan is living well now in Claremont Florida and him and his brother's look very healthy at there age. The slam to the ground did not end his career it was something personal that happened to the family. How do i know? He's my son's uncle. But yeah my dad tells me now that Castillo does remind him a bit of Millan.

Felix Millan is one of these Mets who fall into a specific category of Mets player: a guy who played genuinely well for the Mets for a pretty long period of time, but who isn't talked about much because he wasn't on a pennant-winning team. Other Mets in this category would include, I think, Al Jackson, Ron Hunt, Skip Lockwood, Craig Swan, Hubie Brooks, and Todd Hundley.

What sort of pitcher was George Stone, any of you out there who saw him throw? From what little I remember reading and from his numbers he sounds like an earlier Glendon Reusch, a pretty fair twirler with decent control, but wiyh a propensity for giving up the bomb. But I never saw him throw the ball that I can recall.

Any eye-witness accounts out there? Youth needs to know!

Felix Millan WAS on a pennant-winning Mets team, the '73 NL Champs and he was probably the MVP (not counting pitchers) of that team.

As for Stone, the comparison to Glendon Rusch is a pretty good one, in style as well as results.

I liked Millan (I was only 7 when the Mets acquired him)I remember bits and pieces of him from WORTV channel 9 broadcasted games. He gave the Mets a steady glove. He and Doug Flynn were two of the better defensive Mets secondbasemen. I wish I could mention Robby Alomar in that sentence, or maybe Carlos Baerga. Hope Castillo holds up for the next 4.

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