NOTRE-DAME-DE-LA-MERCI, Quebec — Ray Daviault, a pitcher who played his only season in the major leagues as a member of the 1962 expansion New York Mets, has died. He was 86.
Daviault died Friday in a pool accident at his home, son Francois said. The Quebec native lived in Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, a small municipality about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Montreal.
Daviault, a right-hander, was 1-5 with a 6.22 ERA in 36 games for the Mets, including three starts. He pitched two hitless innings in the Mets’ first home game, a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds.
The original Mets lost a lot that year under manager Casey Stengel—at 40-120, they posted the poorest record in modern history.
“He would joke that he was part of the worst team that ever existed,” his son said Tuesday.
Stengel was past 70 and often mixed up names, Francois recalled his father telling him.
“Dad said Casey would call down to the bullpen to say get Harris warmed up. The relievers would have to figure out who wanted to be Harris that day because they didn’t have anybody with that name,” he said.
Daviault got a no-decision in his best game in the big leagues. In late June, he was summoned to relieve in the first inning with the Mets already trailing 4-0 at Dodger Stadium.
Daviault got Sandy Koufax on a popup to escape further trouble and pitched the rest of the way, allowing just one run—on a homer by Frank Howard—in 7 1/3 innings while striking out seven.
Too bad for Daviault and the Mets, they didn’t rally that day. Koufax pitched the first of his four career no-hitters in a 5-0 win.
“My dad used to say he got to see so many great players that year, guys like Koufax and Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Bob Gibson and Roberto Clemente and more,” his son said.
Born in Montreal, Daviault spoke only French when he started out in the minors with the Dodgers in the early 1950s. He played in Triple-A for San Francisco in 1961 and then was taken 18th by the Mets in the expansion draft.
Daviault spent one year in the minors after playing for the Mets before retiring because of an elbow injury.
In later years, Daviault sometimes pitched batting practice for the newly created Montreal Expos at Jarry Park. He also coached youth baseball teams in Quebec.
In 2017, Daviault was honored on the field along with Russell Martin, Eric Gagne and other Canadian-born players when the Toronto Blue Jays took on Pittsburgh in a spring training game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.