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Jon Matlack
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Memories of
Jon Matlack
Jon Matlack
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 44 of 1043 players
Jonathon Trumpbour Matlack
Born: January 19, 1950 at West Chester, Pa.
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Height: 6.03 Weight: 200

Jon Matlack has been the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup 16 times, most recently on December 10, 2017.


First Mets game: July 11, 1971
Last Mets game: September 30, 1977

Winner of National League Rookie of the Year award, 1972. (New York Mets)

Share your memories of Jon Matlack


I really admired Jon Matlack becuase we spelled our names the same way. I recall one time he took a screaming line drive off his forehead and went straight down. I remember my Dad saying it looked like he could've been killed -- but I don't think he even missed a start.

Boy, how much a pitcher like Matlack could command in 2000 salaries. Jon was a pitcher who would have been the ace of most teams, except that the Mets had Seaver/Koosman. If Jon was pitching today, he would be one of the top 5 in the game. His high kick, but smooth delivery made him one of the Mets most durable pitchers as well. Man, if the Mets could have fielded a halfway decent hitting team in the 70's they would have won several more championships. Now that baseball is so watered down it really makes one appreciate the solid players like Jon Matlack.

I didn't realize that Matlack was traded for Willie Montanez. I was more interested in playing baseball (copying all of the Met player's batting stances and windups, of course!) then following who was traded for who. Matlack was the most fun to emulate with that high kick. The sad thing is is that Montanez became my favorite Met and I even had his number on the back of my Met batting helmet! I'll have to rethink this memory...

I was at old-timers day in 1974, I think, when Jon Matlack started for the Mets against John Curtis of the St. Louis Cardinals. Cleon Jones hit two 2-run home runs, but the star of the game was Matlack who pitched a brilliant one-hitter. However, it was really annoying that Matlack gave up the one hit to Curtis. Arggh!

Paul S.
March 24, 2001
The Seaver/Koosman/Matlack combo was the 70's equivalent to the Braves' Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz. If only the Mets had some decent hitting, they may have outdone the current Braves in post-season choking opportunities. As it was, '73 was Matlack's only post- season trip.

May 11, 2001
I always thought Matlack looked exactly like Herman Munster, but man could he pitch. Look at those numbers in 1973. 265 innings pitched, 14 complete games, 2.41 ERA...AND HE HAD A LOSING RECORD!!!! Imagine numbers like that today, good god.

May 11, 2001
Typo. Those numbers are from '74.

January 31, 2002
The 7th game of the '73 WS was broadcast on ESPN classics recently. Matlack was absolutely mowing down the A's, and then the bottom fell out in the 4th inning. The Met starters had pitched so many innings down the stretch that they had to be spent. He had GREAT stuff, and really could have been a BIG winner with a team with ANY offense. I agree with the Herman Munster reference.

mel rojas
May 24, 2002
I was 8 years old at the time, and I cried my eyes out when the Mets traded Matlack to the Texas Rangers. Then my family moved to Dallas, and my parents took me to Arlington Stadium for my 9th birthday, and Matlack was pitching. He threw a complete game and won. Looking back at his 1978 numbers with the Rangers, it's absolutely mind boggling. Matlack went 15-13, 2.27 ERA, 18 complete games, 270 innings pitched. Utterly incredible numbers.

July 31, 2002
As Chris Oliver said up above, this guy had amazing stuff.

BUT....it seemed he always pitched just well enough to lose, 2-1 or 3-2. Those Mets didn't score a lot of runs.

Best game of his career had to be game 2 of the NLCS in Cincinnati in '73. Complete game, 2-hit shutout, struck out 9, to save the Mets from falling behind 2-0 in a best-of-five series.

Mr. Sparkle
August 1, 2002
I loved this guy. He was one of my favorite players in my formative years as a fan. He never gave up a lot of runs and would have had a much better record if the Mets could have only scored for him. He would be great if he were around today. He was a true class act. I'll never forget the line drive that hit him in the head. That was pretty scary. Thank God he was OK.

September 9, 2002
I share the opinions of how good he was as a Met. I thought his career would really take off at Texas, where they were supposed to have a good hitting team, (favored to win their division with guys like Al Oliver and free agent Richie Zisk) but it never really panned out for him over there. Looking back on it, how pathetic must the Mets offense have been to have Seaver, Koosman and Matlack together all those years and to have so little to show for it?

December 25, 2002
The line drive to the forehead (and it did hit him flush) was by the Braves Marty Perez.

Matlack subsidized his salary by making appearances (who didn't?) but I met him at age 14 when he was the "special guest" on the dais of my friends bar-mitzvah. Matlack and my buddy's parents deserve some grief for that one.

His ERA was the most wasted asset in sports. He was an All-star game MVP.

Don Jerue
February 11, 2003
I was only eight years old, when I distinctly remember Jon Matlack getting struck by the line drive off Marty Perez's bat. What is really amazing is that he didn't miss a start. My first Mets game was that next start by Matlack against the Pirates. He pitched well, but I believe he did not get the win.

Joe "Metsie" Feltman
April 29, 2003
Always thought he looked like Herman Munster, in that episode when Herman turned into a "normal" looking person. In other words...he looked like the young Fred Gwyne, like on "Car 54 Where are You?"

Philip Ohler
June 5, 2003
Jon Matlack moved into the house next door to my family's in 1972. I was 13 years old at the time and wow! what a great experience. Jon and his wife, I believe it was Dee or Deedee, were so nice. I occasionally babysat for their young kids and best of all went to several games with his wife and sat in the wives section behind homeplate at Shea. My fondest memories are Jon giving me a ball from a 7-0 shutout of San Diego, a ball signed by the 1973 Mets and attending the playoff game where the infamous Rose vs. Harrelson fight took place. Jon was a great neighbor, great pitcher and I was sad when he was traded away to Texas. Wondering what he's up to today? Anyone know?

Bob P
June 7, 2003
According to this link, Matlack is or recently was a roving minor league pitching instructor for the Tigers. The home page of the website has a 2002 copyright on it, so I'm not sure if Matlack is still there considering all the turmoil the Tigers have gone through lately. Maybe someone else knows more?

June 14, 2003
"Bob" above was the first to mention The Greatest Game Ever Pitched By a Mets Pitcher.

Forget Al Leiter vs. Cincinnati in the one-game playoff in '99; that was great, but how about Matlack?

Game 2, 1973 playoffs he TWO HIT the Big Red Machine. I'm going to check the box score after I post this, but I recall that Andy Kosko got both hits. I.e., Rose, Morgan, Bench, Perez, et. al. were shut down, and journeyman A. Kosko got two hits.

This was a road game, too, and game 2 in a best of five, so the pressure was enormous. What a peformance. Would love to see it on video.

March 4, 2004
Imagine what a team the Mets would have been in the early 70s if they could hit to back up a rotation that included Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. I will never forget Matlack's performance in the playoffs against the Reds in 73 (I forget which game). Read a book a while back about the short-lived senior baseball league that played mostly in Florida in the early 90s and Matlack pitched for the team in Orlando (I think). Was still a good pitcher.

Larry Yarnall
April 10, 2004
It must have been around April 1962. Jon was on my Uncle Roland Willard's Little League ball team the Bootery. My Uncle had the number 1 team for as long as I can remember. Well, I went to a practice at the Legion and caught for Jon. He liked to have broken my hand, no joke. You don't forget a pain like that.

I first met Jon around June of 1961 he lived down the street from a long time best friend of mine Frankie Guinta. This was on Locust Lane near Hoopes Park in Good old West Chester. His sister Debbie and I were in the same class.

Then in High School when I was a Freshman and he was a Senior in 1966-67 we ate at the same lunch table all year. This is unheard of. Seniors did not associate with Freshmen. None the less Seniors did not give me a hard time.

Over the years I have followed Jon's success with much pride. Hometown boy made good. I was drafted into the Army in 1970. My lottery number was 5. I made a career of it. I remember the big send off when Jon left from the Shortline Bus station on Market St. in West Chester that must have been 1969 or 1970. What a pitcher.

I am happy to have known him. He was great even in Little League. I know because I was there. We all have to start somewhere. I'm happy to have been a witness to the begining. He's a great guy -- not a bragger. Jon, I wish you all the best. A little kid's dream from West Chester, PA was to play on the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. They missed the boat when Jon went to the Mets.

June 7, 2004
I remember going to see the Mets play at Shea when I lived in New York, and all my family ate, breathed and slept was the Mets. I had a big crush on him, and his trading card was my most prized possession. I cried like a baby when I watched him get hit with that line drive, and (don't kill me for saying this!) John Rocker reminds me a bit of him. I traded my brother's Tom Seaver card on the school playground, he traded my Jon Matlack card and to this day I have never forgiven him. Jon Matlack is a great man.

June 9, 2004
In terms of "stuff", he's the best the Mets ever had. Better than Seaver, Gooden, Cone, any of them.

Whenever I hear a hitter from the 70s/80s talk about the toughest pitchers they faced, invariably they mention Matlack (especially the lefties).

Frank the Met
July 13, 2004
It is amazing how the passing of time plays tricks on your memory. A couple of years ago Jerry Koosman was named the all-time left-handed starter for the Mets. But during the heyday of the Seaver-Matlack-Koosman troika, it was Jon Matlack who was always considered #2 behind Seaver. Jon made three all-star teams, Koosman none during that period. The pitching rotation was always set up with Matlack as #2. The Mets offered Jerry Koosman to the Giants for Dave Kingman, but the Giants insisted on Matlack. The Mets refused. Matlack was simply considered by all to be the better pitcher.

It is remarkable to look back and see that Matlack was a mere one game over .500 for his entire Mets career. He seemed to be so much better than that. It's true, the Mets lacked a strong offense, but somehow that doesn't quite seem to answer the question as to why Jon's numbers were so mediocre.

He was an enormous talent, was clutch down the 1973 pennant drive, and was outstanding during that year's postseason (notwithstanding his game 7 loss in the World Series.) But he seemed to start each season so well, then fade. He never really became the outstanding pitcher that his talent showed he should have been.

I wonder if anyone remembers this as I do.

flushing flash
August 3, 2004
I recently watched the DVD "100 Years of the World Series" and for recollections of the 1973 Series they interviewed Matlack. I have to tell you that until they showed his name on the screen I had no idea who it was. Doesn't look a thing like he did as a Met. Completely unrecognizable.

Hank M
October 18, 2004
I met Jon Matlack during spring training in 1977. It was a memorable experience that my family and I look back at with a little laughter.

It was a rainy day in St. Petersburg. The only players who were practicing were pitchers and catchers, who had shelter above them. When my mother saw the big number 32, she yelled, "There's Jon Matlack!" Everyone around was able to hear it. So now, whenever we see a picture of Jon, we always show Mom and say that.

After running a few sprints in the rain, Jon came over to us and signed autographs for me and my sisters. My father took pictures of his signing our books -- with water dripping from his nose! These are two wonderful and humerous memories we have of Jon.

Seriously speaking, Jon should be in the Mets' Hall of Fame alongside Seaver, Koosman and McGraw. He was Rookie of the Year in '72, pitched seven shutouts in '74 and was a 3-time NL All-Star (he was the winning pitcher and co-MVP in the '75 game.) He also had 205 K's in '73, which is still a team record for lefties. On top of that, there is game 2 of the '73 NLCS (a 2-hit shutout over the Reds. Jon did a lot in his 6+ years in orange and blue. He deserves induction into the Mets' Hall of Fame.

May 13, 2005
I remember having field level seats by third base at Shea, and trying to sneak close to the home plate seats to watch Matlack pitch. I couldn't believe how hard he threw. He was by far the most underappreciated Met ever. He should be honored in some way by the team. He was gutsy in that 73 season.

Jim Go Mets
June 16, 2005
Me and about 8,000 other people were at Shea when Jon got hit in the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Marty Perez. He got hit so hard the ball bounded into the first base dugout. I remember every Met ran to the mound while the Braves rounded the bases. As I recall, the umps gave Perez a ground rule (or as Bob Murphy would say "a groundsrules") double.

Lifelong Fan
July 25, 2005
A great guy and a guy you just had to root for. Great stuff, too. Very underrated.

August 27, 2005
Everything written before me is totally true, except the Kooz WAS the best lefty in Mets history! That rant finished, I must say Jon was an outstanding pitcher in his own right! The saddest part of being a Met pitcher in the early '70's was knowing you had to be just about perfect every time you took the hill! Most pitchers with Jon's Met numbers would have been 20 game winners, year in, year out! Here it was not to be! Still he should be a definite member of the Mets HOF. I read he's still a minor-league pitching coach. Not sure where, maybe San Diego's chain. I'll have to check it out.

Steve DeLong
December 23, 2005
In the sixties, Koosman definitely was the best lefty of the Mets. After he hurt his arm, he got by on control, but had lost a lot of the buzz on his fastball. Matlack could really bring it, and (like everyone else here has said) given even a LITTLE support, he'd have been a perennial twenty game winner. Oddly, during the 90s, there was a brief Senior Baseball League out of Florida that I happened to flip the TV to one day, and I saw this guy pitching show that huge leg-kick, and I thought, "Who the heck is that? He throws just like Jon Matlack." I didn't know that this was a senior league, and when they showed his face, I nearly fell out of my chair. After all those years, it was Jon Matlack, still throwing well. Did anyone else see those games?

Putbeds 1986
February 26, 2006
I remember those Senior League games from Florida. They were on the MSG Network every Sunday afternoon. I think Dave Kingman was on one of those teams as well. Long before it became the HQ of the QVC Network and the antics of that MTV wacko Bam Margera; Jon Matlack was the pride of West Chester, PA. Jon was the one who gave up Roberto Clemente's last base hit (3000th) at Three Rivers Stadium on 9-30-1972, 3 months before Clemente died. If you watch Clemente's documentary, they have footage of that 3000th hit on a cool, gray day.

October 5, 2006
Does anyone remember the game on July 2, 1975? I looked up Jon Matlack's stats because I knew he was walked three times in a game that year and wanted to see what game that was. He was on Kiner's Korner after the game. He jokingly said to Ralph that he should name his newborn son "Walk". That was funny and something I'll always remember (one of my many fond memories of Kiner's Korner). If I ever meet Jon Matlack I'll be sure to remind him of that.

Jeff The Pug
September 16, 2007
As a 7-year-old in 1976, I remember trying to emulate Matlack's uniquely effective pitching motion. I knew he was a lefty and I a righty, but I just had to pitch like him. Aside from his wind-up, Matlack - I pronounced his name Mada-Lack (rhymes with the car)- also seemed larger than life to me. Unlike today, there just weren't that many pitchers who were 6'3".

In my mind'e eye, Matlack, much like Sid Fernandez, had electric stuff and was underrated by everyone except his peers.

Pete H
November 30, 2008
Jonathon Trumpbour Matlack. I may be going out on a limb here but without checking I will state that this is the only major leaguer to have the name Trumpbour as either a first or middle name. Heckuva good pitcher though. Started the first Mets game I ever attended. July 31, 1976. He lost to the Phils 2-1 but pitched very well. John Milner hit a homer in the 1st inning for the Mets only run.

Joe Spagna
January 28, 2009
He was nice in the 70s. He bought my cotton candy. All 42 cones when I was a vendor there.

October 19, 2009
I also was at the game where Jon was hit in the head with a line drive. I was 10 years old and was just telling a friend about what I remembered. I remember the sound of the ball hitting the bat and then the sound of the ball hitting his head. The ball did bounce all the way to the dugout. One of my scarier childhood memories of Shea.

September 21, 2010
I was sitting behind home plate (next to Matlack's wife) in 1973 when the Braves Marty Perez hit a line drive off of Matlack's head. The ball hit him so hard that it landed in the stands behind first base. Matlack's wife fainted. I was 13 years old and will never forget that.

Gr8 Call Ump
January 11, 2011
I agree that Matlack is one of the more under-appreciated players in their history. He had some great accomplishments in his all too brief stay with the Mets. Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP (who could ever forget Matlack and Madlock), and big game stud. How he isn't in the Mets HOF is a joke!

Matlack Fan
January 21, 2011
Gr8 Call Ump, I couldn't agree with you more! Jon is so deserving of the Mets Hall of Fame. His not being elected to it is the biggest oversight since it was founded 30 years ago.

I'd like to nominate Jon for the Mets HOF. In fact, this is how his plaque should read:


January 23, 2012
I was at the game when Jon was hit by a line drive. We heard the sound in the upper deck.

Joey Spagna
February 25, 2012
I hope he gets into the Mets Hall of Fame. I'm going to buy him a drink in the Ceasars Club.

Jonathan Stern
March 5, 2012
Because I rarely watch American League baseball, and because he was a Texas Ranger when I was old enough to care about the game, I have no real memories of Jon Matlack other than finding his baseball card in a pack that I bought at the local food mart and thinking it was pretty neat that a ballplayer spelled his first name the same way I spell mine. Mr. Niese spells his name "Jonathon", in case you don't know.

Ever notice how many different ways my first name is spelled? My mom named me "Jonathan" thinking no one would ever misspell it. Go figure.

Mr. Roboto
April 13, 2012
Jon was an excellent starter for the Mets. He should be in the team's Hall of Fame, but there is one thing about him that may be fooling the voters. The total line of his Mets statistics shows that he had only one more win than losses. This might give a false impression that Jon's pitching was no more than mediocre, which it really wasn't. The fact that he pitched in the shadows of Seaver and Koosman could also be working against him.

The "prepared plaque" from Matlack Fan's above entry describes Jon's accomplishments as a member of the team. Based on this information, I can't see why he shouldn't be given the honor of the Mets HOF.

Here's one cool fact about Matlack. On July 22, 1977, he pitched his 26th and last shutout as a Mets pitcher. Jon recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his career to end this game.

Dan Matlack
July 22, 2012
You all have great memories of my father as a player, thanks for sharing! I was just on the field at Citi Field today with my son and his grandson, Jonny Matlack and he seemed to like it there so who knows, maybe in 9 years we'll have another Jon Matlack pitching for the Mets :)

Logan Swanson
November 20, 2013
There was no rationale for trading Jon at the end of 1977. He had an off-year, but there was nothing wrong with his arm. Pitching is the hardest thing to get in MLB, and Jon was one of the premier hurlers in the National League, and a lefty to boot. He would have provided stability to the staff in the late 70s/early 80s, when the Mets desperately needed an anchor.

Anthony C. LoBaido
January 24, 2014
Jon Matlack's daughter Jennifer was my student at Texas A and M when I was working on my PhD there. I told her how her father was my hero growing up. I was left-handed and copied his pitching motion.

Jennifer is pretty and kind of looks like Meg Ryan. She said that when her father was hit in the head with the line drive from Marty Perez, that her mother was at the game and pregnant with Jennifer. Imagine how upsetting this must have been?!

I remember his great game in the 1973 playoffs vs. the Reds. I was so sad when the Mets lost to Oakland in the World Series that year.

If you wish to see Jon Matlack pitch in the 1974 and 1975 MLB All Star Games, please go to Youtube.com where both games can be seen for free, in full.

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