Former Mets All-Star catcher John Stearns dead at 71

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

The New York Mets announced Friday that four-time All-Star catcher John Stearns passed away late Thursday night at 71. Stearns had been battling cancer. 

Stearns appeared in 810 games during an 11-year MLB career, 809 of those appearances coming with the Mets. 

New York Mets’ Mike Piazza (L) is congratulated by third base coach John Stearns (L) after Piazza hit a first inning home run driving in Edgardo Alfonzo April 3, 2001, against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Mets beat the Braves 6-4. 
(STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images)

“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,” Mets President Sandy Alderson said in a statement. 

METS’ NIGHTMARISH STRETCH CONTINUES AFTER GETTING SWEPT BY CUBS 

“His nickname, ‘Bad Dude’ couldn’t have been more appropriate. A four-time All Star, John was one of the most complete catchers in Mets history. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”

Stearns was selected with the No. 2 overall pick of the 1973 amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was traded to the Mets after appearing in just one game for the Phillies during the 1974 season. 

New York Mets John Stearns, #12, during game vs Houston Astros at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York May 28, 1982

New York Mets John Stearns, #12, during game vs Houston Astros at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York May 28, 1982
(Photo by Tony Triolo /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

He finished his career with a .260 batting average, 46 home runs, and 312 RBI’s. 

Stearns made an appearance at the Mets Old Timers’ Day in late August.

BRAVES TAKE OVER FIRST PLACE FROM METS, HAVE SOLE POSSESSION OF NL EAST FOR FIRST TIME THIS SEASON

“I am heartbroken,” Mets teammate Lee Mazzilli said. “John was just a joy to be around. He loved the game so much. I was amazed when he went to the batting cage on Old Timers’ Day. That just showed you how much of a competitor he was.”

John Stearns, #12 of the New York Mets, in action against the St. Louis Cardinals during a Major League Baseball game circa 1978 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Stearns played for the Mets from 1975 to 1984. 

John Stearns, #12 of the New York Mets, in action against the St. Louis Cardinals during a Major League Baseball game circa 1978 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Stearns played for the Mets from 1975 to 1984. 
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Stearns would go on to become a member of the Mets coaching staff from 2000-2001. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“John was such a key part of our staff,” former Mest manager Bobby Valentine said. “He had a unique way of lighting a fire under the guys. Every time we spoke by phone, he kept telling me he was going to beat this thing. That was John Stearns to a tee.”