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Grieve owes perfect managerial record to Torre

Grieve owes perfect managerial record to Torre

Grieve owes perfect managerial record to Torre
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tom Grieve is in the Rangers Hall of Fame. A case could be made that he should be in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Turns out, Grieve is undefeated as manager of the Mets. That's right, the former Rangers outfielder and general manager also managed the Mets ... for one game. Joe Torre was the one who put him in charge.

"I got fired after that, too," Torre said.

That's not exactly how the timeline went and Grieve didn't cost Torre anything. Grieve was the Mets manager of the final game of the 1978 season and led his team to a 5-3 victory over the Cubs.

"That's something I'll never forget," Grieve said.

Grieve was at the tail end of his career. After spending eight seasons with the Washington Senators and Rangers, Grieve had been traded to the Mets the previous winter. He spent the 1978 season as a reserve outfielder for a last-place team.

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On the last day of the season, Torre asked Grieve if he wanted to manage. It was not the first time Torre had allowed a veteran player to manage the last game of the season.

"I think it started with John Stearns," Torre said. "He was one of my catchers and he was smarter than everybody else. So on the last game of the season, I asked him if he wanted to manage. Of course he said yes. So about four or five times during the game, he came up and asked me a question. I said, 'Don't bother me, you're so smart. ... You figure it out.'"

Grieve was given the honor in 1978 and reminisced with Torre about it on Wednesday in Rangers camp. Torre was there to meet with the Rangers in his new role as vice president for Major League Baseball. Torre was finishing his second season as Mets manager when he turned over the reins to Grieve.

"He said you can do anything you want except change pitchers," Grieve said. "I said, 'Can I put on the suicide squeeze? He said, 'Sure.'"

Grieve got his chance in the fifth inning. The Mets led 1-0 and had one out, a runner on third and pitcher Kevin Kobel at the plate. Grieve called for the squeeze.

"He fouled the pitch off," Grieve said.

Kobel then grounded out, but the run ended up scoring anyway later in the inning on a hit, and the Mets ended up winning the game. That left them 66-96 on the season, but Grieve, who retired in 1979, became part of a special tradition that Torre kept up all the way through his 29-year managerial career.

Among some of the other players Torre let manage included Paul O'Neill, Mike Mussina, Tino Martinez, Cecil Fielder and Brad Ausmus.

Oh yes, Ruben Sierra too.

"Ruben and Fielder could imitate me really good," Torre said. "At first, we didn't let the player go to the mound to change pitchers, but eventually we did after talking to the umpires and the other team.

"So there's Ruben going out to change the pitcher and he's walking just like me in front of everybody."

Grieve didn't get to do that. But he does have a 1-0 record as a Major League manager, even if the actual credit goes to Torre.

"That was a great thing that he let players do," Grieve. "I'll never forget it."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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