John Milner
vs. the Mets
John Milner
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Game Log Memories of
John Milner
John Milner
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 51 of 1043 players
John David Milner
Born: December 28, 1949 at Atlanta, Ga.
Died: January 4, 2000 at Atlanta, Ga.
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Height: 6.00 Weight: 185

John Milner has been the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup 12 times, most recently on November 14, 2016.

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First Mets game: September 15, 1971
Last Mets game: October 2, 1977

Share your memories of John Milner


Warren Meyers
I saw Milner hit one of the most impressive Home Runs in Major League Baseball. It was at Wrigley Field and was an afternoon game either threatening to rain or just after a rain delay. Milner took a pitch into the third or fourth row of the second (Top) section of bleachers in centerfield. The ball went out on a dead line drive in about 3 seconds. If that seat had not been in its way, that ball would be traveling today.

Richard S.
In 1972, Milner, Matlack and Dyer were signing autographs for fans at the old Mid-Island Plaza in Hicksville, NY. As a ten-year old, the wait in line seemed to be an eternity. Then it was my turn. Matlack was at the first table. He autographed my hat and ball, then posed for a picture. Then, the security guard came over and said "You are only allowed to get autographs from one player. Now leave." As I began to cry, John Milner came over, took my hat and ball, sat back down and autographed them. He then smiled and let me take his picture, ignoring the security guard. He then passed my things on to Dyer, who did exactly what Milner did. I have never forgotten John Milner's kindness towards me. When he passed away I was very sad.

January 29, 2001
Great swing...great leverage...Always thought he could be more...but was my favorite Met during this period...I too was sad to see him go.

March 17, 2001
John Milner was one of the major reasons why the Mets made the World Series in 1973. He was the Mets hottest hitter in the early season and, without his bat, the Mets would have fallen too far behind. When the Mets started to heat up in August, Milner was a major cog to the machine. After injuring his shoulder, he struggled down the stretch. The Hammer was the first left-handed power hitter the Mets organization produced.

March 18, 2001
Seemed to have a knack for the Grand Slam. Got his revenge against the Mets when he was with the Pirates. Even though he didn't hit for average, he was still a favorite.

Happy Recap
April 11, 2001
I just noticed that in 1972, Milner hit 17 homers, but only drove in 38 runs. I thought that had to be a mistake, but I looked it up in my Baseball Encyclopedia, and the numbers are accurate. I guess it shows how few baserunners the Mets must have had that year, for so many home runs to produce so few RBI.

October 2, 2001
Milner was a stiff. Every year the program cover early in the season would have "The Year Of The Hammer". He always had hamstring pulls and always stood at the plate with his bat leaning on his body taking the first pich for a strike. Every pitcher in the NL knew this. I remember going to an Old-Timers game when he hit 2 two-run homers for the Bucs. After the game ended he came out to sign autographs. I was sitting in the first row of the loge and I started to yell at him. He shouted back at me. After we were done Lindsey Nelson leaned out of the WOR booth to see what was going on. I complimented Lindsey on his jacket and he just turned away in disgust. I just felt Milner was showing up the Mets and the Met fans. Rubbing it in. But I got to say this, he sure did look like a clown in an Expo uniform.

don kincaid
December 12, 2001
I started liking the Mets when they beat the Reds in the 1973 playoff series and John Milner became my favorite Met, still is. I just liked the way he carried himself and his left handed batting stance. I was saddened to hear of his death at such a young age.

January 19, 2002
He was an overrated player....that's all...we all expected too much from this guy...sorry to hear of his passing....

January 31, 2002
I'll never forget "The Hammer" for a hammerin' my mother laid on my behind on one of his best days as a Met. It was 1976 and I had just played in a Little League game in White Plains. I was in the on-deck circle and my mother called out to me from the stands, but, trying to emulate Major Leaguers when fans call out to them, I ignored her. However, I do remember hearing her last words, as she was telling me she had to leave the game: "Just wait 'til I get home." I walked home and the baby-sitter and I turned out Channel 9 to watch the Mets and Cubs from Wrigley Field. Milner - who all you other Met fans remember, had a penchant for belting grand slams - came up with the bases loaded. He hit the jackpot and the Mets went on to win. But whatever joy I had was short-lived. My mom hadn't forgotten my dissing her earlier and whupped by butt with a belt the way "The Hammer" whupped the fastball from his poor victim. I never, EVER ignored my mother for the rest of my childhood.

Joe Cardelli
February 7, 2002
I loved John. The very first Mets game I went to against Montreal, John hit a grand slam to beat the Expos and he was my favorite player of the early seventies. I got to meet him when I was six years old at the Mets vs. Reds game three playoff game in October of 1973. He came over to the stands on the Mets side of the field and began signing autographs. My dad knew he was my favorite player and put me up on the railing so he would sign my baseball card of him. He did, and rubbed my hair, and he is forever my favorite Met. I couldn't believe he died at age 50. I can't wait to pitch BP to him in heaven. God Bless you John!

February 16, 2002
I saw "The Hammer" as a kid hit a blast off the Scoreboard at Shea in 1972.

Jim Snedeker
March 19, 2002
Another of my favorite Mets from the 70s. I have a picture I took of the Shea scoreboard all lit up with one word: "HAMMER." Which of course means he had just hit a homer.

Yeah, this year was always going to be "his" year, but things just never quite materialized. I also remember during the drug scandals surrounding the Cardinals and Pirates, Milner was quoted as saying that Willie Mays had some kind of special goop he'd consume during Met games, implying that the Say Hey Kid wasn't as clean as we thought he was. Hammer got a lot of flack for that.

And he passed away two years ago? That's crazy, man.

Larry Burns
May 28, 2002
"The HAMMER" He was an early favorite when I started to root for the Mets in the early 1970s. He was a decent 1st baseman who generated good power. He would easily hit 40 - 50 home runs if he were playing today. He was also a quiet athlete--he scorned self-advertisement. When he died I read where some people who knew him said he was a good guy---he was too young to go. RIP Hammer!

Kenny M
May 29, 2002
John was a cool-looking player and looked great in a Met uniform. Great stance and sideburns. I enjoyed every one of his at-bats. It was nice to see Karl Erhhart's sign "Nailed by the Hammer!" raised after his home runs. What ever happened to Erhardt?

August 31, 2002
He hit my friend's sister in the eye with a foul ball. They had to leave the game and missed the famous Hahn/Theodore collision an inning or two later.

January 23, 2003
Milner was a sulky underacheiver with a bad attitude who was influenced by Cleon Jones during Cleon's own bad attitude period (1974-75). We had to endure this guy for six years waiting for the big breakout year that NEVER came. He ended up involved in drugs and testifying in the big baseball cocaine trial in the mid-80s. He ratted on Willie Mays, saying "yes, even the great one" as he recounted a strange red juice (speed) that Willie kept in his locker in 1972-73. Milner couldn't help but take a taste and said it was horrible stuff. Figures he couldn't resist a snifter. See my comments re Pirates game 6/24/78.

Larry Burns
January 27, 2003
The Hammer was the Man and he told the truth about the "saint" Willie----so what? Anyone who has ever had any dealings with Mays will tell you he is an awesome player (maybe the greatest ever) but a below average human being----just like the Yank-mee Clipper Joe DiMaggio. The Hammer was a good major leaguer who died prematurely. I remember him being an above average hitter with power who delivered occasionally in the clutch. I say Remember the Truth----The Hammer was The MAN!

Mr. Sparkle
January 28, 2003
I loved the Hammer when I was a kid. He always seemed to be clutch and had decent power. Also, didn't he have 3 or 4 grand slams one season? I still remember seeing him trot off the field after the last out during the 73 NLCS and then have the camera swing widly towards second base where that low life Pete Rose was pounding on Buddy Harrelson.

I was somewhat shocked when during the drug trials in Pittsburgh in the 80's John deflected blame from himself by saying Willie Mays has this powerful "red juice" he would drink while with the Mets, insinuating that it was laced with speed. Still, the Hammer is an all-time great and was one of my favorites in the 70's.

April 1, 2003
Fouled off more pitches than any Met ever.

Joe "Metsie" Feltman
April 30, 2003
My father used to get me pissed-he used to call Milner "Pop-up Milner." I would angrily shoot back that Milner was "the Hammer" and my father would laugh and say, "watch him pop out." Sure enough, about 99% of the time my pop was right-Milner would always pop out-usually foul, down the 1st base line.

rich salustro
May 16, 2003
John Milner signed two of my cards of him via mail RIGHT BEFORE he passed. I had no idea he was on his deathbed when he signed it. RIP HAMMER!

June 5, 2003
I hate to speak ill of the dearly departed and am sorry to have just found out the news on this site. Having said that, I gotta believe that he was the laziest ballplayer I ever saw on the field. Anyone remember the 1973 World Series where Bert Campaneris pushed a bunt too far down the first base line and had Milner waiting for him to make the tag - only to have Campaneris slide safely right underneath him into first because Milner DIDN'T BOTHER TO BEND DOWN TO MAKE THE TAG ON HIM? In a World Series game, no less! I also remember him jogging slowly after a wild pickoff throw which allowed Bake McBride to score from first base in a game that must have lasted about 20+ innings (I'll cut him some slack on that one, since it must've been about 3 in the morning when that happened). End of diatribe - may the man rest in peace.

July 14, 2003
I only have one memory of John Milner and that's standing outside Shea Stadium for over an hour early 1970's (approx. 10 yrs. old), I was among a crowd of about 10 fans. Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee along with some others gave me the cold shoulder. John Milner along with Ron Taylor were the only players to stop and sign an autograph for me. He made a little girl's dream (at the time) come true. THAT'S ALL I NEED TO REMEMBER!

Abe the Babe
July 15, 2003
I was sitting high in the upper deck directly behind home plate with my friends Nev, Donny and our little brothers El and Les. I mean we were next to the last row. When Milner is coming up to bat, this big mountain man behind us tells his buddies that he's gonna call him. We figured JM couldn't possibly hear him with the noise of the crowd and us being up so high. Mountain Man yells "HEY HAMMER!!!!!!!" To our astonishment JM looks up at us and waves! We all looked at each other the way they do in cartoons!

Joseph Kohler
January 15, 2004
Now with the passing of Tug McGraw, I fondly remember John Milner. He was one of the few Mets who gave me an autograph as a child. He seemed to be so menacing at the plate, being the only true power threat the Mets had for a few years.

Joe Figliola
January 23, 2004
When you think of the Mets farm system, you think of all the great/very good pitchers they developed. Hitting? Well, that was another story. I think of all the Mets developed as decent hitters in the minors, the only regulars who were successful projects (and by that I mean on a long-term level) were Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry, Lee Mazzilli, Mookie Wilson, Edgardo Alfonzo... and John Milner. (I can't count Ed Kranepool because he never really did a whole lot of minor league time. I'm also sure that there's a name or two out there that I missed, and Len Dykstra/Wally Backman were predominately part-timers).

Anyway, Milner could absolutely CRUSH the baseball. I remember a game against the Reds in 1972 when he ripped a home run high off the scoreboard. Lindsey Nelson went nuts describing it!

The Hammer's downfall was his hamstrings. It's funny that a poster referred to Vince Coleman as the king of the hamstring pulls. I recall John sitting out often because of various pulls and tightness to said muscles. This problem was even mentioned in the Jack Lang book about the Amazin's.

If it wasn't for the leg problems, I think John would've been an even greater force in the Met lineup than what he was. A fine example would be the first three weeks of the 1973 season, when John was hitting well over the .300 mark with five quick dingers before injuring a leg muscle.

Milner's finest hour? I'd say the 1976 season, when he bounced back from a poor '75 and was hitting grand slams left and right. The '76 season was, I think, his best year overall as a hitter.

Steve Green
March 22, 2004
Two standout memories about Milner here.

He looked cool with those wristbands, so I bought a few so I would look cool, too.

The other memory was in the only World Series he ever played, and he pulled an outside pitch foul -- down the FIRST base line. It would've torn apart anyone who tried to field it. Joe Garagiola, doing the game on TV, mentioned with awe, 'There's no way that anyone is supposed to pull that pitch like that.'

Gatto the Lifer Met Fan
April 1, 2004
I was a young teen when The Hammer was playing. He was my batting hero.

Did you see what Keith Hernandez had to say about him today on It was in an article about how hard it is to play first base:

"The worst for me were John Milner and Joe Morgan,'' Hernandez said. "Milner was a dead-pull hitter, and he hit those topspin grounders. Morgan, you had to play in on because he might bunt, then he'd hit these bullets by you. You have to stay down on that ball, you can't go back on that ball, you have to go forward. It's boom-boom. Before you can get scared, it's over.''

And need it be said that this is an ultimate compliment from the ultimate first baseman?

And I was wondering how John Milner died. Here's what I found on the net:

[L]ast week it was revealed that Bobby Bonds is very ill, stricken with lung cancer... Another thought that came to mind was this: we’re hearing about an increasing number of players from that era (the late sixties and seventies) who have been hit with lung cancer, the probable result of a culture that too readily accepted cigarettes, in part because they didn’t have the volume of medical information that we have today. Mark Belanger, a persistent smoker, died from lung cancer. John Milner, also a heavy smoker, also died from the same kind of cancer. And just last fall, Dave McNally (one of Belanger’s teammates in Baltimore) succumbed to lung cancer.

I hope that you're wearing a Mets uniform in heaven and hitting the balls as hard as you did down here. Thanks for the inspiration you gave me, John, Milner.

Phil Thiegou
April 1, 2004
Whenever they referred to him as ''The Hammer'' l could vision swinging a hammer instead of a bat. ln a way he was like Dave Kingman, wasn't that much of a hitter or fielder, but when he connected, you'd have to measure the shot with a telescope and an odometer. Rest ln Peace John, l hope you're swinging your hammer in Heaven.

April 12, 2004
John Milner was the most memorable baseball player to me. Not because he was a great player but because he was a selfless left handed first baseman with an amazing batting stand. I looked up to him as a kid and I was saddened by his passing 25 years later.

July 13, 2004
Milner hit 60 homers from 1972 to 1974, including 23 in 1973. That was during the old days, when 23 homers meant something, when 35-40 homers would lead the league.

Milner was underrated, and had a sweet lefty swing. I remember him well.

July 13, 2004
My hero in the early 70's. This guy would've been the Mets version of Mattingly if they had ANYONE in their organization capable of teaching young prospects to hit. God bless "Hammer" may there be no towering pop-ups in heaven.

August 10, 2004
I was very saddened to hear that John Milner died. He was always one of my favorites.

He never had that breakout year. He looked all his career like he was about to have that big 30-HR, 90- RBI season, but he never crossed that top step somehow.

I was sorry to hear about his drug troubles, and he looked silly in an Expos uniform, but he did a good job platooning with Bill Robinson in left for the Pirates and spelling Willie Stargell at first base.

I just wish he could have achieved his potential with the Mets.

September 24, 2004
I recently picked up a grainy bootleg DVD of Met highlights from the 1970s on eBay.

I was surprised how many stretches and soft-hand picks Milner made at first base. I don't remember him as being a great fielder.

Of course these were highlights, so I didn't expect to see errors, but The Hammer had some nimble plays.

I also remember The Hammer hitting a grand slam at Shea on a weekend afternoon. My Dad and I were out some family function and the hosts were not into baseball. So, we snuck out to our car in the middle of the picnic to catch an inning or two on the radio. Milner hit it out while we were playing hookey.

Then we slipped back into the back yard before anyone of those Met memories that become personal because of who you were watching/listening with when it happened.

George Cespedes
January 13, 2005
As a child John Milner was one of my favorite Mets. I was very sad to hear of his passing. I have paid tribute to THE HAMMER by naming one of my dogs Milner.

Jonathan Stern
January 27, 2005
I may have seen him play two or three times. On each occasion, it seemed, he hit a grand slam. I didn't like him since he was a member of the 1979 Pirates, a team I had it in for as a kid.

But his stock has risen somewhat in my book since I learned a bit more about his Mets tenure. Too much was expected of him while he was here, and he did drugs. But he was still a pretty decent player. I guess what really won me over was that shot of him jogging off the field at the end of an inning in Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS... then turning around and running back on to help separate Buddy Harrelson from Pete Rose. The commercial break had already begun, with the cue music playing, then all of the sudden, Murph yells "Fight on the field!" A somewhat surreal moment well-captured on the Mets 25th anniversary video.

June 3, 2005
John was a favorite of mine growing up. I loved all the Mets of the early 70's and John played a role. Some say he underachieved and that may or may not be true. Who cares...he helped the Mets and lives on in our hearts. Sorry to hear of his struggles with drugs but who am I to judge. Thanks John...for the memories.

November 6, 2005
Hammer hit a home run at the first Mets game I ever went to. July 31st 1976, Mets vs Phillies. He hit it in the bottom of the 1st off, I think, Larry Christensen. Unfortunately that was the only run the Mets scored that day. Jon Matlack pitched well but gave up 2 runs to the Phils in the 5th. Final score: Phillies 2 Mets 1. Still have the scorecard.

Jamey Bumbalo
November 11, 2006
I'm happy to read so many nice memories of the Hammer, because I too remember him fondly. I loved his '70s sideburns, wristbands, and cool batting stance. As for his drug use, I'm not going to judge him on that. When I met him in Montreal in 1974, I was 12 and he was kind when he gave me his autograph. I remember a game when he was at bat, had two strikes on him, and got hurt on a pitch and had to leave the game. Rusty Staub came in to bat for him, with, of course, the two strikes, and struck out on the first pitch (nothing against Rusty; I just remember this at bat for some reason). Rest in peace, Hammer.

Stu B.
February 3, 2008
Thinking of John reminds me of a New York Daily News Sunday paper giveaway from about 1973 or 74. Each week in the paper was a caricature type poster of top players from the Mets (and Yankees too if I remember correctly). For John the poster showed him swinging a large hammer instead of a bat. For about a year I had his poster hanging in my room (along with caricatures of Rusty and Felix Millan). Wonder if anyone still has any of those old posters?

March 30, 2008
I was lucky enough to snag John Milner's 18th home run ball on 8/1/73 against the Pirates. I was 15 years old at the time and the memories remain like it had just happened yesterday.

Vernon jones
March 3, 2010
I grew up with John Milner. He was my brother's age, five years older than me. I graduated from Russell High in 1973 with his sister Sharon. He had a younger brother we called Funk. Very funny and always telling jokes. His mother and sister still reside here in East Point. John was an East Point HERO. Always buying Christmas toys, giving money and paying bills for people in need. That was a great burden to John. He was a good man. Loved people. A blessing to know him and be in his company. We will always miss and love John Milner. It's really sad. He was just an everyday guy like you and me.

Quality Met
April 24, 2010
John was one of my early heroes. In 1972, he came up to pinch hit in the Mets' first game after the Willie Mays trade - and was booed by the home fans just because he wasn't Willie. What a God-awful way to start a career! He responded to that bit of bad luck with 17 home runs and became a Rookie of the Year candidate, finishing third in the voting. Although Jon Matlack won the award, Milner was just as worthy.

In '73, John beat the so-called "sophomore jinx." He hit 5 home runs in the first two weeks of the season and finished with 23, a big total back then. It was John's unassisted double play in Chicago that cliched the division title and his short toss to Tug McGraw that finished off the Reds in the NLCS. He was right there when the big moments came.

John was the Mets' top slugger during the 1970s (sorry, Mr. Kingman, but it's true.) He hit 94 homers in his six seasons in Queens. His 5 grand slams (3 in '76 alone) set a team record. He also had 2-homer games against two Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton and Phil Niekro. John was the main man in the Met lineup.

It's sad that John isn't remembered much today, just a name from the past. To me, he was the guy who provided the pop. I always got excited when came up to bat. John will always be a big part of my childhood memories.

August 18, 2011
He was one of my favorite Mets when I was attending high school in the 1970's.

Shickhaus Franks
January 23, 2012
When I first started following the Mets in the mid- 1970's, I certainly remember the HAMMER for his great home runs and the smooth way he played 1st base (The Mets have always had great glove guys at 1B i.e. Keith, Olerud, Ike Davis) and for movie buffs in the movie "American Graffiti" Paul LeMat played the drag racing guy named you guessed it... John Milner.

February 11, 2014
Before a game in I think the '74 season, I went early enough to see the Mets hitting batting practice before the game. I was 11 and I remember Milner hitting like 5 consecutive bombs over the right field fence, always flexing or stretching his neck/shoulders in between pitches as if he was hurting or whatever; he was always hurt. Yogi Berra used to say if he saw John in his velour Mets colored robe walking around the locker room an hour before games, he knew not to ask him if could put him in the starting lineup. Anyway, after practice Milner, ever the quiet show off, was collecting stray baseballs and throwing them to the fans but he reserved about 2 dozen for himself. He took each one and from about 20 feet away he started foul shooting them into a white plastic bucket, like the kind they store bakery creme in a supermarket, they weren't that wide as they are tall. I mean, this guy shot about 15 in a row in the bucket and the only one he missed hit the rim and bounced barely over it to our oohs and ahhs watching. He made the final 9 shots or so and we all applauded. He just walked off with that famous duck walk toward the dugout looking back at the bucket with a smile for us. The Mets miss him for his power and only true lefty threat at the time to hit a grand slam each time he was up. Miss you John.

tony bracci
April 28, 2014
THE HAMMER! Oh we loved him here in Pittsburgh. He absolutely tore the cover off the ball in '79, especially in July/August when he hit around .340 and smacked 9 home runs. He was one helluva clutch hitter, and when he came to the plate with men on late in the game, the crowd would get amped. I remember him coming to the plate, and expecting a hard-liner down the rightfield line, and he didn't disappoint (has a lifetime .301 average with 10 homers when the bases are loaded). He tailed off in '80 and '81 and was traded for a past-his-prime Willie Montanez. Pirate fans were disappointed to see him go.

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