With the New York Yankees and New York Mets both suffering from a spate of injuries -- from outfielders Brett Gardner, Jason Bay, Nick Swisher and Andres Torres (who just returned) to pitchers Michael Pineda and Mike Pelfrey -- let's look back at the most horrifying, ghastly and just-plain frightening injuries the two teams have suffered. We're only going with on-field accidents, which leaves out getting beaned (sorry, Mike Piazza and David Wright) or bizarre off-the-field mishaps (we're thinking of you Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Bobby Ojeda, not to mention Amar'e Stoudemire's fire extinguisher punch-out on Monday night), as we'd have to have a Top 15 to include getting hurt every which way. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 most gruesome on-field injuries.
5. Felix Millan, Aug. 12, 1977: In the dog days of the season, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ed Ott, one of the toughest and strongest players of his era, slid hard into Met second baseman Millan while breaking up a doubleplay. He slid a little too hard for Millan's liking, and the two exchanged words. Millan promptly punched Ott with the baseball still in his hand. Bad idea. The burly Ott picked up Millan and slammed him to the ground. The popular second baseman injured his shoulder and never played in the major leagues again. He did go to Japan for a couple of seasons, and even led the league in batting one year, but that incident ended his days with the Mets. And we've never seen a player choking up on his bat the way Millan did ever again.
4. Mickey Mantle, Oct. 5, 1951: In Game 2 of the World Series, pitting the Yankees against the New York Giants, one innocent fly ball caused havoc and affected the course of an 18-year career. And that innocuous hit involved three of the greatest center fielders to ever play the game. Yankee manager Casey Stengel informed rookie right fielder Mickey Mantle to cover as much ground as possible with the aging, hobbling Joe DiMaggio in center. Leading off the fifth inning for the Giants, Willie Mays hit a fly to right-center. Mantle tore over, but DiMaggio called him off for the easy catch. As the streaking Mantle attempted to stop, though, he caught his spike on a drain cover and crashed to the ground. No one was quite sure what had just happened. Some thought Mantle fainted, and DiMaggio mused that Mantle may have actually been shot. Mantle lay motionless on the ground, with a torn knee. He had to be carried off on a stretcher, missed the rest of the Series and suffered from knee ailments the remainder of his career. Mantle was the first in a long line of New York's famous bad knees, with Joe Namath and Willis Reed to follow.
3. Tony Kubek, Oct. 13, 1960: Another World Series, another crazy injury. In the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 7, with the Yankees leading the Pirates, 7-4, after pinch-hitter Gino Cimoli led off with a single, future Yankee manager Bill Virdon hit a sure doubleplay ball to short. But the ball glanced off a pebble, took a bad hop and struck Kubek in the throat. The force of the ball narrowed Kubek's windpipe, and he went straight to the hospital. That play opened the floodgates for Pittsburgh, as they scored five runs that inning, setting up Bill Mazeroski's heroics in the bottom of the ninth. Kubek won the 1957 Rookie of the Year and made the All-Star Game three different seasons, but he had to retire a young man due to nerve damage to his spine and neck problems, though these weren't thought to be caused by the World Series incident. He did, of course, go on to have a long, successful career in the broadcast booth, mainly with NBC on the Saturday game of the week, and won the Ford C. Frick Award in 2009.
2. Jon Matlack, May 8, 1973: A fraction of an inch here or there and things may have turned out a whole lot different for the Met left-hander. In the top of the seventh, and with the Mets holding a slim 3-1 lead over the Atlanta Braves, Matlack found himself in a two-outs, bases-loaded jam with Marty Perez at the plate. The light-hitting shortstop drilled a line drive that hit Matlack smack in the forehead, with the ball being hit so solidly that it bounced all the way into the Met dugout. Matlack went down like a shot and his teammates rushed to his aid as Braves base runners circled the bases. The umps ruled the play a ground-rule double. Atlanta ultimately scored seven runs in the inning and went on to win, 10-6, with Matlack being tabbed with the loss, to add insult to injury. Though he suffered a hairline fracture of the skull, Matlack was amazingly back on the mound 11 days later, wearing a monster-like mask, and he even threw six shutout innings vs. the Pirates. And he is, no doubt, the only major leaguer to have the middle name of Trumpbour (and, no, I'm not making that up).
1. The Collisions, 1973 & 2005: Ok, we're going to cheat and lump both of these together. The Mets may have never had a no-hitter but they do lead the league in horrifying collisions by their outfielders. Just a couple of months after the Braves almost killed Matlack, Atlanta was at it again. In the seventh inning (again), with one run already in, giving Atlanta a 4-3 lead and Frank Tepedino on third after a George Theodore error, Ralph Garr smashed a shot to left-center. Center fielder Don Hahn and Theodore, both running full speed for the ball, crashed into each other. As both lay writhing on the ground, Garr sped around the bases with an inside-the-park home run. The Braves went on to win, 9-8, but not before both Met outfielders were carried off on a stretcher. Theodore, famously nicknamed the Stork, fractured his hip and only appeared in one more game that season, as a pinch-hitter, along with two plate appearances in the World Series. Hahn was back in action a few days later. Theodore only played one more season with the Mets, ending his two-year career. And it all happened again 32 years later, on Aug. 11, 2005, in San Diego. In the bottom of the seventh (that inning again), David Ross hit a fly to right-center, with both center fielder Carlos Beltran and right fielder Mike Cameron chasing down the ball. With neither backing off, they smashed heads, and Ross ended up with a triple (and eventually scored the winning run). Cameron suffered a concussion, broken cheekbones and a broken nose, and was carried off on a stretcher. It was his last game as a Met. Beltran was able to walk off the field, but he too had a concussion and fractured a facial bone. Six days later, Beltran returned to action, belying his image as a soft player. Met Marlon Anderson was one of the first on the scene, and he stated, "I can't imagine being a paramedic at the scene of a car wreck. And that's pretty much what this was -- a car wreck."