New York Mets History: Jon Matlack

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New York Mets History: Jon Matlack

The fine folks over at Centerfield Maz  were kind enough to lend me some articles they wrote, including this one about Jon Matlack

Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009

Former Met of the Day Jon Matlack

(Born Jan. 19,1950 in West Chester, PA) The Mets No. 1 draft pick of 1967. The lefty was another good pitching prospect in the 1960's Mets organization. He became a work horse quality starter, that pitched with little run support, in Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosmans shadow.
He was a favorite of manager Yogi Berra, who said he would never trade Matlack away.

Jon won the 1972 Rookie of the Year, going 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA (fourth the NL). He threw 4 shutouts, 8 complete games (both leading the Met staff) and had 169 strikeouts.
On the last day of the season in Pittsburgh, he made history giving up Roberto Clemente’s 3000th & final hit.

In the 1973 pennant season Matlack didn’t have a lot of run support & pitched well. Winning 14, 205 Ks & a 3.20 ERA. He threw 242 innings with 14 complete games and three shutouts.
On May 5 at Shea Stadium, Marty Perez of Atlanta lined a shot that hit Matlack in the fore head fracturing his skull. He was carried off the field in a stretcher, it was feared his career was over.
Amazingly he returned 11 days later to throw six shutout innings in Pittsburgh. In the final week of the season Matlack pitched a 2-0 win knocking the Cardinals out of the race.

Postseason: In Game No. 2 of the 1973 NLCS, Jon pitched one of the best Mets games ever, throwing a two-hit shutout in Cincinnati, striking out nine Reds.

Matlack would get three starts in the 1973 World Series, pitching well in all of them. He was superb in the opener going six innings, allowing three hits on two unearned runs. As fate would have it an error & a botched pickoff attempt led to the Mets 2-1 loss.

In Game No. 4 at Shea Stadium, Matlack got his lone career World Series victory. Allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 5, & walking 2 in the 6-1 victory.

A tired Matlack was called upon to pitch Game No. 7. He got beat up for 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings earning the loss. Overall in the World Series, he was 1-2, allowing only 4 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. 11 strikeouts, 5 walks, & a 2.16 ERA.

In 1974 Matlack led the league with seven shutouts, led the Mets with a 2.41 ERA, 14 complete games, and 265 innings pitched. He struck out 195 batters but took a lot of hard luck losses going 13-15. He made his first of three straight All-Star Game appearances.
In 1975 Jon was again in the shadow of another a Tom Seaver Cy Young season. Matlack had a great season of his own, 16-12,154 Ks, 8 complete games, & 3 shutouts. He pitched two scoreless innings in the All Star Game, earning the win & the co-MVP honors.

In the bicentennial year Matlack had his best Met season with 17 wins, 16 complete games, a league leading 8 shut outs, and an ERA below three. On July 6 he lost a heartbreaking 1-0, 10 inning game to J.R. Richard & the Astros. He again represented the Mets in the All Star game with Tom Seaver & Dave Kingman at Philadelphia.

The Mets went down hill in 1977 & Jon fell to 7-15 with a 4.21 ERA. He was traded that winter going to Texas in exchange for Willie Montanez, Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve.
In Texas he was among the league leaders 15-13, a 2.23 ERA and a career high 270 innings pitched. In 1979 injuries limited Jon to 5-4. It was his last year with a winning record and he retired in 1983 at the age of 34.

In his 13-year career, he was 125-126 with a 3.18 ERA (better than Steve Carltons) & 1516 Ks. He threw 97 complete games, and 30 shutouts in 2363 innings pitched. Matlack ranks third All Time in Mets ERA at 3.03.
He is tied for second with an incredible 26 shutouts (with Koosman). Second in complete games, seventh in wins, eighth in strikeouts, & sixth in innings pitched.

Jon currently lives in upstate NY in the Adirondacks, and is a roving pitching coach with Detroit.

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