Mets Birthdays for April 23
A warm happy birthday today to former Mets Warren Spahn (4-23-1921), Duke Carmel (4-23-1937), Jason Tyner (4-23-1977), and Henry Owens (4-23-1979).
Spahn, of course, was one of the greatest lefthanders of all-time, but far past his prime when he reached the Mets in 1965. He went 4-10 with a 4.36 ERA in 19 starts. You may be aware that Spahn pitched in the “golden age of baseball”, and won 363 games and posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over his 21-year career, completing 382 ballgames including 63 shutouts. He threw over 290 innings in a season seven times, and regularly made 35-40 starts per year. Did you know this: he averaged only 4.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. That’s called successfully “pitching to contact”.
Duke Carmel was one of the players I remember being at the old-timer’s games in the early 1980s. He was a baseball and basketball star at Franklin HS in NYC and was the first player to play with the Mets first and later with the Yankees. He was traded by the Cardinals to the Mets in late July 1963 and played in 47 games for the Mets, splitting time between 1B and the OF. In spring training of 1964, he had a little too much Lancer’s rose and made a joke while Casey Stengel was speaking at a dinner — a joke that offended Casey. The next day, Carmel’s locker was cleaned out and he was shunned to AAA Buffalo for the year. Carmel walloped 35 HR for Buffalo in ’64, left off the 40-man roster, and was chosen by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft; in Ball Four, Jim Bouton noted that he was supposed to be the next Joe DiMaggio, but it didn’t work out that way. Carmel had 8 plate appearances for the Yanks in ’65, and never played in MLB again.
Jason Tyner I remember as a speedy centerfielder who hit a lot of ground balls and bloopers. In other words, the outfield version of Luis Castillo. He only played 13 games for the Mets (but it seemed a lot longer, for some reason) before being traded with Paul Wilson to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Rick White and Bubba Trammell.
Henry Owens was the catcher-turned-pitcher who gave up medical school to try baseball instead. He had a wacky shot-put-like delivery and managed to reach the upper 90s with his fastball. Owens and Matt Lindstrom were sent to the Marlins for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick, and pitched effectively for the Fish before going down with a shoulder injury in May 2007. He missed all of 2008 with the injury, then was excluded from the first 50 games of the 2009 season after testing positive for PEDs. He’s currently out of baseball.