Longtime New York Mets catcher and four-time All-Star John Stearns has passed away following a bout with cancer, the team announced on Friday morning. He was 71.
Stearns was the No. 2 overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1973 amateur draft. He was traded to the Mets in 1974 and three years later, he played his first full season in the major leagues.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Met John Stearns.” – New York Mets
Stearns enjoyed the best spell of his career between 1977 and ‘82, hitting .265/.345/.382 in over 700 games. He earned his four All-Star call-ups during that period (1977, ‘79, ‘80, ‘82).
Injuries cut his career short, following which, he embarked on a career as a coach, scout, and manager.
He went on to work for several organizations, including the Brewers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and a return to his beloved Mets. Stearns served as the Mets’ bench coach in 2000 and third base coach the year after.
“To my generation of Met fans, John Stearns will forever be linked to his iconic “The monster is out of the cage” exclamation about Mike Piazza in the 2000 NLCS.” – John DeMarsico
Mets fans from all over the world have taken to Twitter to pay homage and offer their condolences.
John Stearns was present at Mets Old Timers’ Day
John Stearns was present at the Mets Old Timers’ Day only three weeks ago. He even stepped in for a swing of the bat before the game got underway.
One OTD-attending fan shared a video of Stearns walking away to a roaring round of applause from the crowd.
Mets President Sandy Alderson released a statement, saying that Stearns “literally willed himself” to make it to Old Timers’ Day.
“No one played the game with more spirit or determination than John Stearns. He literally willed himself to attend Old Timers’ Day last month so he could visit friends and old teammates. Despite his illness, he even managed to step into the batting cage to take a few swings. His nickname, ‘Bad Dude’ couldn’t have been more appropriate.” – Sandy Alderson, President, New York Mets
Stearns is survived by his son, Justin, his two brothers – Richard and William, and his sister, Carla. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and numerous fans during this incredibly difficult period.
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