The third member of the one-game "Moonlight Graham" Mets was Donald Gary Rose. Don would make a single appearance in New York, but unlike his two predecessors he would continue his major league career. Just not with the Mets.
Rose was drafted by the New York Mets in the 11th round of the 1968 amateur draft. He progressed through the minor league system until he found himself starting the season with the Tidewater Tides. Don pitched the entire 1971 minor league season with that AAA club. He would throw in 31 games, winning 11 games (three of which were shutouts), and finishing with a nice 3.33 ERA. This strong showing earned him his first major league promotion when the Mets expanded rosters that September.
September 15, 1971. The New York Mets had just hosted a double-header against the Montreal Expos the previous day and now were scheduled to play two against the Chicago Cubs. Imagine double-headers on consecutive days at Shea Stadium. The Mets had lost the first game to the Cubs 6-2 and handed the ball to Tug McGraw to salvage the second game of the twin-bill. Chicago countered with a rookie pitcher named Burt Hooton. The Cubs were rolling through the first five innings of the contest with Hooton firing a no-hitter with a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning manager Gil Hodges pinch-hit Dave Marshall for the pitcher McGraw. He grounded out to first base unassisted and the next two batters struck out. After having used a multitude of pitchers over the multiple double-headers Hodges brought the young pitcher, Don Rose into the game with the Mets still trailing by two.
The first Chicago batter of the seventh inning was shortstop, Hector Torres. Rose retired him on a ball chopped in front of the plate that the catcher, Duffy Dyer fielded and threw to first base. One out, and Rose had made his Major League and New York Mets debut. Don had little time to feel good about it though as the next batter Ken Rudolph drove a ball to left field for a double. The opposing pitcher Burt Hooton was next, and quickly struck out. Cubs leadoff hitter Cleo James followed him and grounded out to second base to end the inning.
The Mets tied the score at 2-2 in their half of the seventh on a two run home run by Ken Singleton. So when Don Rose returned to the mound it was the first time the Mets had not trailed all day. Cubs leftfielder, Carmen Fanzone popped up to the catcher in foul ground. Dyer made the catch and there was one away. Light-hitting Paul Popovich grounded out to the first baseman unassisted for the second out of the inning. Things were looking good for Don when Ron Santo came to the plate. The scrappy third baseman lined a pitch into right field for a base hit. However he became the third out of the inning when he was thrown out trying to advance to second base. The Cubs were retired and Rose had preserved the deadlock.
In the bottom of the eight the Mets pinch hit Cleon Jones for Don Rose, and ended his afternoon. His total of two scoreless innings had placed the team in a good spot until New York closer, Danny Frisella gave up a game winning pinch-hit homerun to Billy Williams in the 9th inning of the game. The Mets had just lost the second game of the day to the Chicago Cubs 3-2. Burt Hooton picked up his first career win with a 15 strikeout performance.
Don Rose was involved in what is considered one of the worst trades in baseball history. The New York Mets dealt him along with Francisco Estrada, Leroy Stanton, and the great Nolan Ryan to the California Angels for third baseman, Jim Fregosi on December 10, 1971. Don Rose would pitch for the Angels in 1972. On May 24th in Oakland he would finally receive the chance to come to the plate to hit. Remember Rose had been lifted for a pinch hitter in his lone Mets game a year earlier. In his first major league at-bat he hit a homerun off Athletics starter, Diego Segui.
Don Rose signed and dated this baseball and cards from an autograph request sent to his home address on October 10,2009.