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Jerry Koosman

Jerry Koosman on September 28, 2008
Born: December 23, 1942 (1942-12-23) (age 67)
Appleton, Minnesota
Batted: Right Threw: Left 
MLB debut
April 14, 1967 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
August 21, 1985 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career statistics
Win-Loss record     222-209
Earned run average     3.36
Strikeouts     2,556
Career highlights and awards

Jerome Martin Koosman (born December 23, 1942 in Appleton, Minnesota, his last name was originally Koosmann) is a former left-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies between 1967 and 1985. He was generally considered the #2 starter on the Miracle Mets (behind Tom Seaver) when they won the World Series in 1969.


New York Mets

Rookie Year

After leading all International League pitchers in strikeouts in 1967, Koosman broke into the Mets’ rotation in 1968. He posted a 19-12 record with seven shutouts, 178 strikeouts and a 2.08 earned run average. The wins, shutouts, and ERA set franchise records, breaking those set by mound mate Tom Seaver just the year before. Koosman also made the first of two All-Star teams in his career. The National League won the game 1-0 (to date, the only All-Star Game to end in a 1-0 score) in this, the “Year of the Pitcher.” Koosman pitched a scoreless ninth for the save, striking out Carl Yastrzemski for the final out. Koosman would be named to the 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie Roster and finish runner-up to Johnny Bench for the National League Rookie of the Year honors.

The Miracle Mets

In 1969 Koosman posted a 17-9 record with a 2.28 ERA and 180 strikeouts in making a second All-Star appearance. That year, he was a member of the Mets team that unexpectedly won the National League East title (both leagues were now split into two divisions after expanding from ten teams to 12) after not only finishing dead last in five of their first seven seasons, but also trailing the Chicago Cubs for much of this season, by as many as 9½ games on August 13. The day before, Koosman had lost to the Houston Astros to fall to 9-8; he would win eight of his final nine decisions.

In Game Two of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Koosman was shelled for six runs in 4⅔ innings (including a Hank Aaron three-run homer). The Mets won 11–6, however, then won the next game to complete the series' sweep.

Koosman was the pitching star of the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. After Seaver was defeated in Game One, Koosman, leading 1-0, held the Orioles hitless until Paul Blair singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning, eventually scoring on Brooks Robinson’s only hit in 19 Series' at-bats. The Mets regained the lead in the top of the ninth; Koosman got two outs in the bottom of the frame, then walked the next two batters, when he was relieved by Ron Taylor who induced Robinson to ground out to end the game.

With the Series shifting from Memorial Stadium to Shea Stadium for the next three games, the Mets won Games Three and Four, and Koosman took the mound for Game Five. He fell behind 3-0 in the third inning after giving up home runs to his mound opponent, Dave McNally, and Frank Robinson. The Mets, however, cut into the Oriole lead on Donn Clendenon’s two-run home run in the sixth, then tied the game in the seventh on a homer by Al Weis, who had hit only six career homers at that point—none of which had been in a home game. The New Yorkers scored two runs in the eighth to take the lead, and after walking Frank Robinson to lead off the ninth, Koosman retired the next three hitters to end the game and complete the Mets’ improbable World Series win.

Game ball for game 5

After leftfielder Cleon Jones caught the ball for the final out of the World Series he gave the game ball to Koosman. That ball as well as the game ball from game 2 was stored in a safe in Koosman's residence. In the early 1990s Koosman sold the game ball from game 5. The game 5 ball's current whereabouts are unknown.[1]

“You Gotta Believe!” and “It’s Never Over 'til It’s Over”

In 1970 Koosman posted a 12-7 record with a 3.14 ERA. Over the next two seasons, however, posted losing records: 6-11 in 1971 (a season in which he was beset by arm woes) and 11-12 in 1972 with a 4.14 ERA—more than a run and a half above his career ERA to that point. In 1973 he went 5-0 in his first six starts, but ended the season 14-15. However, as in 1969, the Mets unexpectedly won the NL East title—once again overtaking the Cubs, whom they had trailed this time by as many as nine games—on the strength of the pitching of Koosman, Seaver and the previous year's NL Rookie of the Year, Jon Matlack. (This season would become famous for two slogans: Tug McGraw’s “You Gotta Believe!” and manager Yogi Berra’s “It’s never over 'til it’s over.”)

In Game Three of the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, Koosman pitched a complete-game, 9–2 victory in a game headlined by Pete Rose's altercation with Mets' shortstop Bud Harrelson. The victory gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the NLCS; they won the pennant two days later in five games.

Koosman was the winning pitcher in Game Five of the World Series against the defending champion Oakland Athletics, holding Oakland scoreless for 6⅓ innings. This victory gave the Mets a 3-2 lead in the Series; however, Oakland would win the next two games to repeat as World Champions.

Later Met Years

Koosman posted a 15-11 record in 1974 and 14-13 record in 1975. In 1976 he had possibly his best season ever, establishing career bests with 21 wins (against 10 losses) and 200 strikeouts. He also finished runner-up to Randy Jones for the National League Cy Young Award. In 1977, the Mets traded Seaver to the Reds. The remainder of the team deteriorated, especially Koosman who slumped to 8-20, finishing tied with Phil Niekro for most losses in the NL. After a 3-15 season in 1978 Koosman, seeing no imminent improvement to the team, was traded to the Minnesota Twins at his request. His departure left Ed Kranepool as the last remaining member of the 1969 Miracle Mets (although Seaver would return to the Mets for the 1983 season).

The Mets acquired Jesse Orosco in the trade that sent Koosman to the Twins. (Orosco had been the player to be named later who went to the Mets to complete the deal, which had been made two months earlier, in December 1978.) Coincidentally, Orosco was on the mound for the final out of the 1986 World Series—the only other Fall Classic the Mets have won to date. In another coincidence, the '86 Championship team was managed by Davey Johnson, whom Koosman had retired for the final out in the '69 World Series.

Later career

Koosman rebounded in 1979 to post a 20-13 record, and went 16-13 in 1980. On August 30, 1981, less than a month after the strike ended, the Twins traded Koosman to the Chicago White Sox. He went 4-13 on the season, again finishing tied for his league lead in losses.

Koosman posted identical 11-7 records in 1982 and 1983. In the latter year, the White Sox won the American League West title to make their first post-season appearance since the 1959 World Series; however, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the White Sox in four games. After the season Koosman was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies; he went 14-15 in 1984 his last productive season.

With 222 wins, he is tied (with Hooks Dauss) at #70 on the all-time win list. He ended his career with a 222–209 record and a 3.36 ERA in 612 games. He struck out 2556 batters in 3839⅓ innings pitched.

Koosman was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1989. He attended a 40th anniversary reunion of the 1969 Miracle Mets at Citi Field on August 22, 2009.[2]

Federal tax problem

The Associated Press and other news sources have reported that Koosman plead guilty in May 2009 to federal tax evasion. Court records show Koosmam failed to pay Federal Income taxes for 2002, 2003 and 2004. According to assistant U.S. attorney John Vaudreuil, Koosman defrauded the federal government for up to $90,000. Koosman agreed with the judge when asked if he was "suckered" by anti-tax rhetoric.[3] According to the court record, Koosman actually pled guilty only to one count of willful failure to file a federal tax return, a misdemeanor, under 26 U.S.C. § 7203.[4] On September 3, 2009, he was sentenced to six months in prison.


  • With teammate Tom Seaver, the Mets' pitching staff was known in the early seventies as "The Tom and Jerry Show"
  • Koosman gave up Pete Rose's 4000th career hit on April 13, 1984.
  • Koosman loves to joke about how "valuable" his 1968 Topps rookie card (#177) is. Its value, however, is mostly due to the fact that it is Nolan Ryan's rookie card.
  • Koosman was discovered by the son of a Shea Stadium usher who caught Koosman when he pitched in the Army at Fort Bliss Texas , he had written to his dad about Koosman. The Mets offered Koosman a contract after his discharge.[5]
  • Koosman was about to be cut from the Mets in 1966, when Joe McDonald, the Assistant farm director requested Koosman be retained at least until his first payday as he owed the Mets money they had wired him after his car broke down en-route to spring training.[5]
  • On the 1980s/1990s American television sitcom Growing Pains, the main characters are the Seaver family, and their next door neighbors are the Koosman family.

References and notes

  1. ^ Not having a ball for the Miracle Mets 40th reunion Newsday August 22, 2009
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Todd Richmond, May 22, 2009, "Jerry Koosman pleads guilty to tax evasion," Associated Press, at [2].
  4. ^ Plea Agreement, May 22, 2009, docket entry 7, United States v. Jerome M. Koosman, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison), case #: 3:09-cr-00051-bbc-1.
  5. ^ a b New York Mets , 25 Years of Baseball Magic (p70)

See also

External links

Preceded by
Ken Henderson
Major League Player of the Month
April, 1973
Succeeded by
Willie Crawford
Preceded by
Joe Decker (15)
Minnesota Twins Single-Game Strikeout Total Record Holder (15)
Succeeded by
Bert Blyleven (15)

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