Friday, November 6, 2009
#105) CAL KOONCE
Cal Koonce joined the New York Mets when they purchased his contract from the Chicago Cubs on August 2, 1967. He made his Mets debut just four days later at Shea Stadium on August 6th. The right-hander shined in that first season in New York serving as both a reliever and spot starter. Cal had two complete games (one of which was a shutout) and registered a 2.80 ERA. He would perform equally well in 1968, but was moved exclusively to the bullpen for the 1969 campaign. Koonce was a member of the 1969 World Champion Miracle Mets. He had seven saves and a 6-3 record that year. During the World Series itself he was called on to warmup in the bullpen a few times, but never got into a game. Never one to dwell on the negative, Cal was quoted saying, "You can't change the past. You have the present out there, and that's what you aim for." He remained with the Mets until his contract was sold to the Boston Red Sox on June 8, 1970.
After his baseball career Koonce returned to his hometown of Hope Mills and served his community in numerous ways. First as a physical education teacher at South View High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Then later Cal coached the "Fighting Camels" at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. He also served as the first general manager for the minor league baseball team the Fayetteville Generals. Cal Koonce was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and after several years fighting the disease passed away on October 28, 1993 at the young age of 52.
I created Cal Koonce's card in the set from an autographed index card (with an incredible World Champions inscription) given to me by my friend, and fellow Mets fan, Jessie on November 6, 2009.