John Stearns

Matthew Stockman /Allsport

Glad To Have MET Ya: Stearns Wins Parker Plate Collision Showdown

August 05, 2019 - 4:30 pm

By Joey Wahler

In 1973, the Phillies drafted future Mets catcher John Stearns second overall, behind David Clyde and ahead of Hall of Famers chosen third and fourth, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.

"There was a Phillies scout that lived in Denver and he was at a lot of my games at the University of Colorado my senior year," Stearns said. "I got hot, went off. I was hitting home runs, line drives off the fence and stuff. Throwing everybody out at catcher. I don't know, I moved up to the second pick in the first round, which was really surprising."

As a Met, Stearns' toughness earned him the nickname, "Dude." The ex-Colarado defensive back could also run. In 1978, Stearns' 25 steals were then a big league record for catchers.

"It was nothing new to me," Stearns said. "I'd been doing that my whole life. It's just that it was strange to see a catcher in the majors running like that."

Also in '78, up a run with two out in the ninth inning at Pittsburgh, Stearns blocked the plate as 6-5, 230-pound Dave Parker tagged at third and ran full speed, causing a violent collision.

"Obliterated me, actually," Stearns said. "I was way back on the Astroturf about 15 feet behind home plate after he hit me. And I had the ball, I held the ball up for the umpire. I put the tag on him and then he hit me. Held the ball for the umpire, and the umpire went, 'You're out of there!' The game was over. We had won the game.

"He was lying on the ground, holding his cheek and moaning after it was all over. So I got lucky."

Early in 1980, the four-time Met All-Star gave his rebuilding team T-shirts with the slogan, "We Can Win."

"Yeah, I was just trying to get everybody together and on the same page, and believing that we could go out and compete and turn things around and become a good team."

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