Oct 27

Today in Mets History: Pop the corks.

I was driving this morning when I heard Bob Murphy’s call: “He struck him out. He struck him out. The Mets win the World Series.”

It was a chilly Monday night. The Giants were at home to the Redskins, but the real show in town was Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. Game 7′s are usually always a gem, and this was no different, as for the second straight game the Mets rallied to beat the Red Sox.

Everybody remembers Game 6 for the Bill Buckner play, and the conventional wisdom was the Boston would be devastated and fold like a cheap tent. Not so.

A rainout Sunday gave the Red Sox another day to get over the lost and give Bruce Hurst another day of rest. What people forget was the Red Sox taking an early 3-0 lead on Rich Gedman’s homer.

But, the Mets scored three in the sixth and seventh, and two more in the eighth to put away Boston, 8-5.

It was after this game when The New York Times’ George Vecsey became the first to mention a Babe Ruth curse. He didn’t phrase it, “the curse of the Bambino,” but he was the first to associate a curse with the Red Sox.

This was a Mets’ team full of brass and it was supposed to win a string of World Series, but it never happened. Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had drug problems, Mike Scioscia’s homer off Gooden in the 1988 NLCS derailed the Mets that season, Len Dykstra was traded and the team started to unravel.

What was going to be a dynasty never happened and the Mets wouldn’t reach the World Series until 2000 when they were beaten in five games by the Yankees.

Even so, Murphy’s call was the soundtrack for Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett for the game’s final out. Orosco throwing his glove in the air and falling to his knees as he was mobbed by his teammates has been one of baseball’s most enduring images since.

There was no middle-of-the-road with the 86 Mets. You either loved them or hated them. That was the year I moved to New York from Ohio and started following the Mets. They were a cocky bunch which I didn’t like at first, but they grew on me. I loved how Keith Hernandez and Lenny Dykstra played, and grew to admire Gooden’s dominance. Strawberry, I remember, was a player you couldn’t take your eyes off when he came to the plate. After hitting the scoreboard clock in St. Louis, with every at-bat you wondered how far he’d hit the ball.

Some would say this was the Mets’ last great moment, but I dispute that with their pennant run in 2000 and Mike Piazza’s homer after 9-11. The Piazza homer, Endy Chavez’s catch and Carlos Beltran taking a called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS all provided enduring images.

But, 1986 was the zenith for the Mets, and it is true that they haven’t been the same way since. Makes you wonder if the Buckner play started another curse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 19

Today in Mets History: Aggie losses heartbreaker to Braves.

The 1985 season was all about “missing it by that much,’’ and this game on that date was no exception.

Atlanta’s Zane Smith outdueled the Mets’ Rick Aguilera in a 1-0 shutout at Shea Stadium. Smith and Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter combined to give up three hits.

The Braves got to Aguilera in the seventh on a walk to Dale Murphy, and back-to-back singles by Bob Horner and Terry Harper.

With the loss the Mets fell a game-and-a-half behind St. Louis in the NL East.

BOX SCORE

Jun 17

Today in Mets History: Marvelous Marv.

Maybe it isn’t so odd this occurred the day after the Mets lost on a balk in the tenth inning, a disappointing end to what was a good road trip that dropped them below .500 once again.

MARVELOUS MARV

 

On this date in 1962 – the year when the Mets seemed to have invented the word `amazing,’ – it was all about Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who personified those early teams.

Throneberry appeared to hit a two-run triple against the Cubs in the Polo Grounds, but was called out for failing to touch second base. When manager Casey Stengel raced out of the dugout to argue the call, first base coach Cookie Lavagetto stopped him and said, “Don’t argue, Case. He missed first base, too.’’

How can that not make you chuckle?

There were a lot of great stories about the 1962 Mets, several of them involving Throneberry.

Throneberry played for the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Orioles before playing the first two seasons in Mets’ history.

He was demoted to the minor leagues in 1963 and replaced by Ed Kranepool. He retired after that season as a .237 hitter with 53 homers and 170 RBI.

THRONEBERRY CAREER NUMBERS

There was a gentleness about Throneberry, who maintained a sense of humor. Many years after retiring, Throneberry appeared in the Miller Lite ads that featured sporting legends.

THRONEBERRY COMMERCIAL

WARNING: If you click on to this you might spend an hour watching the other links to commercials.

Throneberry passed away at age 60 in 1994.

Jun 16

Today in Mets History: Dave Mlicki’s greatest game.

Dave Mlicki didn’t have a great major league career, going 66-80, but will forever be the answer to a trivia question as on this date in 1997, he threw a nine-hitter to beat the Yankees, 6-0, in the first interleague game.

MLICKI: Forever a trivia question answer.

The Mets and Yankees each had 37-30 records at the time Mlicki outdueled Andy Pettitte.

It definitely was one of those “can’t top this moments,’’ a major leaguer will have in his career.

“My World Series for me,’’ Mlicki once said. “One of my great memories. … I knew it was a big game when I did it and it’s amazing that it’s meant so much to so many people.’’

Mlicki was a non-descript Met then, hardly recognizable, and frequently tells the story of eating breakfast the next morning at a diner and hearing people talk of the game on not know he was sitting at the next table.

Born in Cleveland, Mlicki pitched for his hometown Indians (1992-93), the Mets (1995-98), Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-99), Detroit (1999-2001) and Houston 2001-02).

Mlicki failed to catch on with the Milwaukee Brewers in spring training of 2003 and retired.

MLICKI’s CAREER NUMBERS

BOX SCORE

 

Jun 15

Today in Mets History: The Franchise is traded.

Perhaps no other day in Mets history shook the franchise to its core like this date in 1977 when the organization traded The Franchise.

SEAVER: Traded on this date.

Unthinkable to many, but anticipated by him, the Mets traded the best player – still to this day – Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Pat Zachry, infielder Doug Flynn and outfielders Steve Henderson and Dan Norman.

Three days earlier, Seaver beat the Astros in Houston, 3-1, and after the game said: “This may very well be my last game as a Met.’’

Seaver went the distance that day, giving up five hits while walking two and striking out six to raise his record to 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA.

BOX SCORE OF SEAVER’S METS LAST GAME

Seaver anticipated the trade when contract negotiations stalled with CEO M. Donald Grant. As Seaver became more frustrated, things finally boiled over when cantankerous New York Daily News columnist Dick Young, who publicly and loudly sided with Grant.

Unable to deal with Grant, Seaver went to then owner Lorinda de Roulet and GM Joe McDonald and reached agreement on a three-year extension. However, when Young wrote a column suggesting Seaver’s wife, Nancy, was pushing him to ask for more money, the pitcher called off the deal.

Wrote Young: “In a way, Tom Seaver is like Walter O’Malley. Both are very good at what they do. Both are very deceptive in what they say. Both are very greedy. … Nolan Ryan is getting more now than Seaver, and that galls Tom because Nancy Seaver and Ruth Ryan are very friendly and Tom Seaver long has treated Nolan Ryan like a little brother.’’

When the column hit the streets, Seaver knew it was time to leave.

In 2007, Seaver said: “That Young column was the straw that broke the back. Bringing your family into it with no truth whatsoever to what he wrote. I could not abide by that. I had to go.’’

Young also wrote, “A man lives up to his contract,’’ but four years later he broke his own contract with the Daily News and moved to the Post.