There’s no question that the rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets is among the most heated in the league. That has not always been the case. After all, the franchises rarely were competitive at the same time.
There have been several players on both ends of the rivalry, including some great Phillies who went on to join the Mets.
We take a look back at some that played for the Mets before their time in Philadelphia.
Tug McGraw (Mets 1965 – 1974, Phillies 1975 – 1984)
Tug McGraw appeared in 37 games with the Mets as a rookie, posting an ERA of 3.32 in 97 1/3 innings. After a 4-19 start over the first three seasons with an exponentially growing ERA, McGraw spent the 1968 season in Triple-A.
In 1969, just the eighth season in franchise history, the Mets were World Series champions. McGraw played a key part during the regular season, going 9-3 with 12 saves in 42 appearances with an ERA of 2.24. After posting an ERA of 3.28 over 90 2/3 innings in 1970, McGraw was one of the best relievers in baseball over the next two seasons, posting identical 1.70 ERA, and allowed only 144 hits and seven home runs in 217 innings.
After a mediocre 1974 campaign, McGraw was traded along with Don Hahn, and Dave Schneck to the Phillies for Del Unser, John Stearns, and Mac Scarce. McGraw immediately showed his worth, earning an All-Star spot and went 9-6 with 14 saves and a 2.98 ERA.
McGraw was a mainstay in the Phillies bullpen, posting solid numbers through the 1978 season before having his worst season in a Phillies uniform in 1979. Although he converted 16 saves, McGraw had an uncharacteristically high 5.16 ERA and allowed nine home runs.
Arguably the best season of McGraw’s career came in 1980, particularly down the stretch he was unhittable. Finishing fifth in the NL Cy Young voting, McGraw posted a very slim ERA of 1.46 with 20 saves, allowing only three home runs and 62 hits in 92 1/3 innings. He was particularly dominant in the World Series, allowing only one earned run in 7 2/3 innings, striking out ten.
Although he was still effective in his final four seasons, his workload declined to just 34 games in each of 1981 through 1983 and 25 appearances in 1984. McGraw’s stats were nearly identical in Philadelphia (49-37, 94 saves and 3.10 ERA) and New York (47-55, 86 saves and 3.17 ERA). He will forever be remembered in Philadelphia for striking out Willie Wilson to end the 1980 World Series.