Welcome back to Shea Stadium for the Mets hosting the Houston Astros on July 10th, 1973. This night game offers another glimpse of the more restrained appearance the ballpark had over its first 15 years. No picnic area (bleachers), no home run apple ready to rise up from center field, and a strict limit on advertising signage. Our view toward left field shows a spacious openness, with only a large (and rather empty) parking lot in the distance.
Even though the team would catch fire in late August and snatch the division from the Cubs on the season's final day, Mets fans were skeptical. Less than 20,000 fans were on hand.
You never know what you'll see until the game unfolds. Sometimes, there's a slugfest. Occasionally, a game full or quirky plays or errors. This turned out to be the best game lefthander Jon Matlack ever threw as a Met -- a one-hit shutout.
Duffy Dyer singled in Rusty Staub in the 2nd inning for the game's only run. Hard luck loser Jerry Reuss also tossed a complete game, but the one run he allowed turned out to be one too many.
Matlack gets congratulations from his teammates after closing out his masterpiece.
Details on this game are here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN197307100.shtml
On the passing of Bobby Murcer:
He was the most talented and charismatic Yankee from the team's least productive and most forgettable period. And just as a stronger core of talent was assembled around him, he was traded to the Giants (and that windswept absurdity Candlestick Park), missing the Yankees' '70s renaissance. Never as productive away from New Yor, he later moved on to Cubs. As his career wound down, the Yanks brought him home as a reserve and DH, a victory lap that allowed him to finally reach the post-season (1980) and World Series ('81) in pinstripes. Much like another longtime Yankee favorite Phil Rizzuto, Murcer's playing career was followed by an even lengthier and equally joyous tenure on the club's broadcast booth.
I can't say I knew Bobby well. I only met him twice. Even in those interviews, his warmth came across. He instantly made you feel at ease with that Southern charm, good manners and delight in living a dream life. He loved Yankee tradition, fine food, Ray Charles and Sinatra, '60s pop and sharing his memories of a baseball life that bridged Mantle to Jeter. While handed the most awful of holiday "gifts," a brain cancer diagnosis in 2006, Bobby took only a positive view of things. He published his memoir, the aptly titled YANKEE FOR LIFE, returned to the broadcast booth and exuded a dignity and faith-driven confidence that only made one admire him more.
It would be deeply appropriate if the final plaque -- not a retired number, just an affirmation of his 40 years with the club and the ways he served it with distinction -- at Yankee Stadium honors Bobby Murcer. No one wore the pinstripes more proudly or provided a friendlier broadcast voice. Unveil it at the House That Ruth Built. And then move it across the street with the tributes to those others who made that field so special.