1972 New York Mets season

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1972 New York Mets
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) Joan Whitney Payson
General manager(s) Bob Scheffing
Manager(s) Yogi Berra
Local television WOR-TV
Local radio WHN
(Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy)
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The 1972 New York Mets season was the 11th regular season for the Mets, who played home games at Shea Stadium. Led by manager Yogi Berra, the team had an 83–73 record and finished in third place in the National League's Eastern Division.


Death of Gil Hodges[edit]

On April 2, 1972, Gil Hodges and his coaches Rube Walker, Joe Pignatano and Eddie Yost, were in West Palm Beach, Florida. As they were returning to their motel after a round of golf, Hodges suddenly collapsed, falling backward and cracking his head open. Hodges was dead of a heart attack, two days short of his forty-eighth birthday.[1] The Mets wore a black-armband on the left sleeves of their uniform jerseys during the 1972 season in honor of Hodges.

A new man in charge[edit]

On April 6, the Mets announced their new manager, Yogi Berra. The announcement of Berra's appointment was accompanied by another; the Mets had traded outfielder Ken Singleton, infielder Tim Foli, and first baseman-outfielder Mike Jorgensen to the Montreal Expos for hard-hitting outfielder Rusty Staub. In Staub, the Mets had a bona fide smacker, a .311-hitting, 97-RBI man the year before with Montreal. Also joining the club this year was John Milner, a left-handed, power-hitting, first baseman-outfielder.

Notable transactions[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Season summary[edit]

"Say Hey" is back in New York[edit]

On May 11, the Mets added another "new" face to the team. In a move seasoned with sentiment more than anything else, they acquired Willie Mays form the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Charlie Williams and cash.

The acquisition of Mays had been a longtime dream of that old New York Giants fan, Mrs. Joan Payson.[citation needed] With Willie no longer pulling the weight of his large contract, Giants owner Horace Stoneham made him available, and Mrs. Payson could not resist.

He was, of course, no longer the fabled Willie Mays, the greatest player since Joe DiMaggio, and some said, maybe the greatest ever, which gave him value as a drawing card. He was 41 years old, slowed down considerably in the field and at the plate, no longer possessing that cannon of an arm. He was, in truth, something of a liability now in center and it was more prudent to play him at first base.

A sizzling start, then they fizzled[edit]

The club got off to a sizzling start in 1972, playing better than .700 ball in early June. But soon after, a series of disabling injuries to Staub, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones brought the team up short and dropped them into their third consecutive third-place finish, 13.5 behind Pittsburgh.

It had been a highly disappointing year. Jim Fregosi, who suffered a broken thumb in spring training, never got on track and continued the third-base jinx with a .232 batting average. Ken Boswell hit just .211 and the club was ready to give up on him. John Milner flashed some power with 17 homers but batted only .238. Tommie Agee, unhappy at being displaced in center by Mays now and then,[citation needed] batted .227, and the club already had his ticket punched. Staub, limited to just 66 games because of a broken hand, hit .293 and was sorely missed. Mays batted a respectable .267, but his fielding deficiencies were now glaring.

Tom Seaver was 21-12, Jim McAndrew 11-8, Jerry Koosman 11-12, while Rookie of the Year Jon Matlack was 15-10. Gary Gentry slumped to 7-10, leaving his employers disenchanted. Tug McGraw continued as the bullpen ace, with 8 wins and 27 saves.

Witnessing history[edit]

On September 30, Matlack made the trivia lists when he served up a double to Pittsburgh legend Roberto Clemente. It was the Pirate great's 3,000th and last big-league hit. On New Year's Eve, Clemente lost his life when the plane on which he was taking food and medical supplies to earthquake-smashed Managua, Nicaragua, crashed into the ocean soon after taking off form San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Season standings[edit]

NL East W L GB Pct.
Pittsburgh Pirates 96 59 0 .619
Chicago Cubs 85 70 11 .548
New York Mets 83 73 13.5 .532
St. Louis Cardinals 75 81 21.5 .481
Montreal Expos 70 86 26.5 .449
Philadelphia Phillies 59 97 37.5 .378

Opening Day starters[edit]

Notable transactions[edit]


1972 New York Mets
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats[edit]


Starters by position[edit]

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CF Agee, TommieTommie Agee 114 422 96 .227 13 47
RF Staub, RustyRusty Staub 66 239 70 .293 9 38

Other batters[edit]

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI


Starting pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Other pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Capra, BuzzBuzz Capra 14 53 3 2 4.58 45

Relief pitchers[edit]

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts


Awards and honors[edit]


1972 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

  • Willie Mays, starting center fielder
  • Tug McGraw, reserve
  • Tom Seaver, reserve

Farm system[edit]

Level Team League Manager
AAA Tidewater Tides International League Hank Bauer
AA Memphis Blues Texas League John Antonelli
A Visalia Mets California League Joe Frazier
A Pompano Beach Mets Florida State League Gordon Mackenzie
Short-Season A Batavia Trojans New York-Penn League Wilbur Huckle
Rookie Marion Mets Appalachian League Chuck Hiller



  1. ^ Clavin, Tom; Danny Peary (2012). Gil Hodges: The Brooklyn Bums, the Miracle Mets, and the Extraordinary Life of a Baseball Legend. New York: New American Library. pp. 359–361, 370–375. ISBN 978-0-451-23586-2. 
  2. ^ Nolan Ryan page at Baseball Reference
  3. ^ Rusty Staub page at Baseball Reference
  4. ^ Willie Mays page at Baseball Reference