Tuesday, December 15, 2009

(0) Comments

Wes Westrum (Centerfield Maz)

One of my favorite Mets blogs out there is Centerfield Maz, and Maz is cool enough to let me borrow full articles when I'd like.   Maz is also one of the few humans who regularly honors the New York Giants...and this article is one of those.


Former Mets Manager (1965-1967) & NY Giants Catcher (1947-1957): Wes Westrum

Wesley Noreen Westrum was born on November 28, 1922 in Clearbrook, Minnesota. Westrum was signed by the New York Giants in 1941 and spent three years in the military due to WW II. He made his MLB debut in 1947 and was the Giants back up catcher for the next two seasons. Westrum was an excellent defensive catcher, with a good arm posting a life time .985 fielding percentage. In 1950 he led all catchers with a .999 fielding percentage making only one error in 680 chances. That year he became the Giants regular back stop hitting a career high 23 HRs and 71 RBIs with a .236 batting average. On Jne 24th he had a three HR game at the Polo Grounds and just missed a fourth, settling for a triple. In the 1951 Giants comeback pennant season, Westrum hit another 20 HRs, walked over 100 times, drove in 70 runs and although he hit only .220 he posted a .400 on base percentage. In the World Series he went 4-17, drawing five walks and playing in all six games.

Katt caught over 98 games for five seasons up until the 1954 World Championship season. That season he batted a lowly .187 with 8 HRs and 27 RBIs while sharing time behind the plate with Ray Katt. In the World Series Westrum batted .273 driving in a run in Game #3 and two runs in the final fourth game. He stayed with the Giants until their last season in New York; he was the starting catcher for the last Giants game played at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957. He did go with the Giants to San Francisco and coached them from 1958-1963.

He came back to the Polo Grounds coaching for the Mets in 1964, and became their pitching coach in July 1965, after the departure of Warren Spahn. The next month the aging Casey Stengel broke his hip and stepped down as manager, and Westrum became the second manager in Mets history.

He certainly wasn’t the most popular choice but Stengel had promised him the spot and held true to his word, picking Westrum over the popular Yogi Berra. Westrum wasn’t a real learned man, and the press ate him up when he used malapropisms. After a classic Casey Stengel speech, he told the press “boy they really broke the molding when they made him”. After a tight game in St. Louis he said “that was a real cliff dweller”. The Mets finished 19-48 under his watch the rest of the way finishing last.

In 1966 the team improved to ninth place (66-95) not finishing last for the first time in their four year history. In 1967 Westrum’s Mets again finished last. There was a few early bright spots, especially with the arrival of Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman. Westrum was also instrumental in tutoring Jerry Grote behind the plate in his play & his attitude. The word leaked out that Gil Hodges was going to replace Westrum and with 11 games left to go he resigned as the team’s manager. He was replaced by coach Salty Parker. Westrum’s career record as Mets manager was 142-237, a .375 winning percentage.

He went back to coach for the Giants and got another chance to manage in 1974 & 1975 finishing in third place one game under .500 in 1975. Westrum finished his managerial career with a .415 winning percentage. He then scouted for the Atlanta Braves organization. He lived in Dutchess County while playing in New York, then continued to reside near his hometown of Clearbrook where he passed away in 1992 at age 79.

check out Centerfield Maz.

Main Mets Police page
Follow us on twitter @metspolice
Facebook page
send ideas/guest columns to shannon at metspolice.com

Bookmark and Share
0 Responses to "Wes Westrum (Centerfield Maz)"

Post a Comment