April 3, 1946 |
Long Beach, California
|April 8, 1969, for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 19, 1974, for the San Diego Padres|
|Runs batted in||17|
|Career highlights and awards|
A former player at Long Beach State and Long Beach City College, Gaspar played 178 games in his career, 118 of them in his rookie year, 1969. He began the year as the Mets’ starting right fielder, then became a utility outfielder (he also played left and center field on occasion) after Ron Swoboda became the regular right fielder. That year, he hit .228, recorded in 14 of his 17 career runs batted in, and hit his only Major League home run, off Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on May 30. He also excelled defensively, leading all Mets outfielders in assists with 12, and leading the National League in double plays with six.
That year, Gaspar was a member of the Miracle Mets team that unexpectedly won the World Series in five games over the Baltimore Orioles. Before the Series, Orioles' outfielder, Frank Robinson said, "Bring on the Mets and Ron Gaspar!" He was then told by his teammate, Merv Rettenmund, "It's Rod, stupid." He then retorted by saying, "OK. Bring on Rod Stupid!" In Game Four of that Series, Gaspar scored the winning run on a controversial play at Shea Stadium. With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the tenth, Gaspar pinch-ran for Jerry Grote, who had led off the inning with a double. An intentional walk to Al Weis followed, after which J. C. Martin, pinch-hitting for Tom Seaver, bunted to the pitcher. Both runners advanced, and as Martin ran to first, Pete Richert's throw hit him on the hand and ricocheted away, the error allowing Gaspar to score the winning run. (Replays would later show that Martin had been running inside the baseline, which could have resulted in him being called out for interference; however, the umpires said they didn’t make the call because they felt Martin didn’t intentionally interfere with the play.)
Gaspar's son Cade also achieved some measure of distinction as a baseball player. Cade Gaspar played college ball at Saddleback College for two years before becoming a West Coast Conference All-Star with Pepperdine University in 1994, and the Detroit Tigers selected him with the eighteenth overall pick in the first round of the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft. The younger Gaspar played minor league baseball for three years, in the farm systems of the Tigers and the San Diego Padres.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube