Oct 24, 2014

Remembering Mets History: 1986 World Series Game Six!

Saturday October 25th 1986 World Series Game Six- Shea Stadium, New York. 

from centerfield: This game was probably is arguably the greatest Mets game of them all. It was most definitely the greatest Mets post season comeback of them all & one of the most emotionally draining one of all. I am proud to say, as a true life long Met fan, centerfieldmaz was there that night. 

After seeing that fans were setting up TV’s and watching the game in the parking lot during the Series, I figured that where I'll go with other Mets fans. This was my original plan for Game six. A friend of mine at the time and I armed ourselves with a duffel bag full of beer cans parked in the Flushing Marina area near Shea & went looking for a spot in the parking lot to hang out. 

Then the Lord sent me a gift, as a life long die hard Mets fan we ran into a guy looking to sell of his tickets just a bit higher tha regular price. Im sure we would have paid what ever he wanted as long as we had the money. But now we had to put the beers back in the car, we couldn't bring them in & we weren't throwing them away.

On our way to the car, We met a really kool police officer who actually had a beer with us. Thats when he witnessed a guy jumping out of a plane & pointed it it out to us. That was when  Sergio jumped out of the small plane with his "Lets Go Mets" banner onto the playing field. After the cops apprehended him, Ron Darling gave him a high five while sitting on the edge of the dug out. It was a wild night in New York.
The 1986 Mets had left New York down two games to none in the World Series they won the first two games in Boston, taking two of three there. But they were still down three games to two & were facing possible elimination in Game #6 at Shea Stadium. 55, 078 wild Met fans came out to Shea Stadium & would witness one of the most exciting World Series games in history. 

From a Mets stand point this game defines the Championship team of that era. It ranks as probably the greatest game in team history as well.

The starting pitchers for tonight's classic were Bob Ojeda for the Mets & Roger Clemens for the Red Sox. Neither pitcher wold be around for the game's amazing climax four hours later, after midnight.

Starting Lineups

In the 1st inning, Bobby Ojeda had trouble right away, Wade Boggs led off with a base hit & then with two outs he walked Jim Rice. Dwight Evans siezed the moment with a run scoring double putting Boston up 1-0. In the 2nd, Spike Owen singled, Wade Boggs singled again & a Marty Barrett single made it 2-0 Boston, quieting the Mets crowd.

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens was shutting out the Mets until the 5th inning. Darryl Strawberry led off with a walk & then stole second base, getting the crowd back into it. Ray Knight followed with a base hit scoring Straw to put the Mets up on the board. Mookie Wilson followed with a base hit putting runners on the corners. 

Davey Johnson sent in Danny Heep to pinch hit for Rafael Santana. Heep who was always an excellent pinch hitter for the Mets, grounded into a double play but did bring home the tying run making it 2-2.

Ojead was lifted after six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, two walks & three strike outs. Roger McDowell was brought in to start the 7th. He walked Marty Barrett to start the inning. The pesky Barrett got to second on a ground out & then reached third base when Ray Knight made a throwing error on Jim Rice's ground ball. 

It came back to haunt the Mets as Dwight Evans ground out scored Barrett with the Sox taking a 3-2 lead.

An even more important play happened next, as it has also become a classic image from this World Series. With two outs, Rick Gedman singled to left field, Mookie Wilson fielded the ball & threw perfectly to home plate. Gary Carter held his ground, caught the ball & tagged out Jim Rice trying to score. It was a most important play.

McDowell had a rough 8th inning as Dave Henderson singled, Wade Boggs was walked intentionally & then he walked Barrett to load up the bases. Davey Johnson went to Jesse Orosco in the bullpen & he got Bill Buckner to fly out.

In the bottom of the 8th Clemens night was done, he went seven innings allowing two runs on four hits, striking out eight while walking two. Apparantley he developed a blister on his finger which aided the decision for his departure. Calvin Shiraldi came in to pitch. 

With the Mets down 3-2, pinch hitter Lee Mazzilli singled to right field. He was moved over to third on Lenny Dykstra & Wally Backman's sacrifices. Keith Hernandez was intentionally walked bringing up Gary Carter. Carter delivered with a sac fly scoring Mazzilli to tie up the game & get the Shea crowd going on.

 Rick Aguilera who had been summoned to the bullpen in the post season, pitched a perfect 9th inning. In the bottom of the 9th, Ray Knight drew a lead off walk, he was moved over to second, when Mookie Wilson reached on a throwing error on catcher Rich Gedman. But they were stranded there as Shiraldi got Howard Johnson to strike out & Mazzailli & Dykstra to fly out.

In the top of the 10th inning the tension was building & there was an excitement for October World Series baseball in the air. The Red Sox Dave Henderson took the life out of Shea Stadium when he blasted a Rick Aguilera pitch, down the left field line for a lead off HR. Shea was silenced, as was all of New York. The bench drew very irritable as well, as the Mets now faced possible elimination.

After a pair of strike outs, Wade Boggs doubled, Marty Barrett who would be prematurely announced as the Series MVP in the bottom of the inning, singled to center making it 5-3 Red Sox. It seemed the nail was beaten in a bit deeper on the mets coffin & it seemed Boston was ready to celebrate their first Championship since 1918, although there wasn't much mention of that in the eighties.

Rick Aguilera was devastated, Davey Johnson was visibly upset pacing in the dugout, he even banged his head behind him, against the dug out wall in frustration. The Mets bench was very quiet & hanging their heads as well. Kevin Mitchell was already in the club house making arrangements to fly home to the west coast.

The Red Sox were cocky, leaning on the edge of the visiting dugout at Shea Stadium with smiles on their faces, some with arms around each other. They were just waiting to celebrate. Oil Can Boyd had words for the camera's tuned in on him.

Calvin Shiraldi came out to the mound & got Wally Backman to fly out to left field to Jim Rice for the first out. Next up Keith Hernandez lifted a fly ball to center but it died in the glove of Dave Henderson who carefully caught it & snugged it in with some emotion.

from centerfield: At this point it all seemed over. After our main clutch guy, Keith Hernandez made out & the Mets were down to their last out it was almost final. I can clearly remember saying well we might as well go down with them & watch the final outs. It was such a hurting feeling, to be a Mets fan my  whole life, be this close in Shea Stadium & have it all end. But still some where for me & the 56,000 others who never left there was a small hope inside of us. In the next twenty minutes, the swing of emotions was never felt before or afterward in my life. There was a special bond with all the fans around me, people I didn't even know. There was witness to a sports miracle, witness to what the Amazing Mets legend always was & witness to what has defined a franchise to that generation. Shea Stadium would go from total silence & a feeling of draining defeat to nail biting nervous energy to absolute bedlam & an ecstatic happiness of winning orgasm. I am thankful to have been there live & witness this great night of Mets history, live in person.

The Mets were down to their last out. Keith Hernandez tossed his helmet down in disgust, went into the Mets club house, sat in a directors chair in Davey Johnson's office & lit a cigarette. He couldn't bear to watch the Red Sox win & celebrate on his home field. Hernandez recalled " I was going to go out get drunk, stay up all night. I was thinking of eating a hamburger at 7AM."

The Shea Stadium message board even put up "prematurely" once again, Congrads Red Sox.

Gary Carter came to the plate, as he later wrote in his book " I was not going to make the the last out of the World Series. I felt certain of that. It would have been unacceptable, impossible; I would have had to live with that all winter & probably beyond." Gary Carter came through & singled to left field. There was a pulse.

Next, due up was Aguilera, he had moved into the 5th spot when Davey Johnson made the decision for double switch in the 9th inning. He left Mazzilli in the game batting 9th & put Agiulera in Darryl Strawberry's fifth spot. This bothered Strawberry but Johnson felt he was out of quality relievers at that point.

Drama: After the game Strawberry was angry in the Mets clubhouse. He told the media he had lost a lot of respect for his manager for being removed from the game. He said he was embarrassed & didn't even want to talk or sit down next to Johnson. Davey Johnson replied " After Darryl gets a few more years in, maybe he'll be managerial material. But right now I wouldn't classify him as that". 

Kevin Mitchell  had to be called in from the clubhouse, grab a bat get ready & come to bat as a pinch hitter. Mitchell said "My grand parents at home must have been doing a lot of praying" Mitchell came through with a base hit to center field. There was life, now as the tying runs were on base. 

The crowd grew restless & nervously anxious. Next up was Ray Knight, who had been holding his bat since he returned to the dug out between innings. Even though he was scheduled up fifth, Knight was still upset at himself for the throwing error earlier. " I didn't want to be the goat that lost the World Series. I said a prayer & thought if there are redemptive factors in this game, then I'd get another at bat. So I was happy to be up in that situation".

Knight got down to two strikes at 0-2 the Mets were down to their final strike as more tension built inside Mets fans stomachs. But Knight looped a base hit to center field scoring Gary Carter making it a one run game. Kevin Mitchell was now on third base & Shea Stadium was alive again.

Mookie Wilson came up to the plate in one of the most important & best at bats in Mets history. Boston manager; John McNamara had seen enough, he lifter Schiraldi & brought in veteran Bob Stanley. Shea Stadium was noisy & lively. In the Mets clubhouse, Keith Hernandez was going to come to the dug out but said, no way this chair has hits in it & remained in Johnsons office.

Stanley then threw  a pitch that almost hit Mookie Wilsoon on the foot. Mookie did a dance got out of the way of the pitch & fell down. The ball got past catcher Rich Gedman & Kevin Mitchell came scampering in with the amazing tying run. 

Unbelievable, just like that it was tied. Shea Stadium erupted, into an emotional frenzy. It was loud, it was literally shaking as people were jumping up & down in amazement as well as happiness.

At this point I know I & I believe everyone else knew, the Mets were going to win this game. 

Mookie Wilson hung in there in this spectacular at bat. In the nine pitch sequence, he fouled off five pitches. The first pitch was fouled off, then there were two balls, making it 2-1. Three more foul balls followed, ball three & another foul keeping the count full. 

Then Mookie Wilson made contact, as he tapped a little roller along the first base line. First baseman Bill Buckner who was known to have have a bad ankle & had been replaced in late innings for defensive purposes in the past, went after it. He attempted to field it buy the ball got by him, under his glove into right field. Ray Knight came running home hands on his helmet in amazement as he scored the winning run.

The Mets won the ball game, the World Series was now tied at three games each & Game Seven would be played at Shea Stadium. The crowd was even more ecstatic if thats possible. Shea Stadium fans were jumping for joy, hugging, kissing high fiving each other. Papers & anything else that was not harmful was tossed in the air in celebration. Even NBC broadcaster Vin Scully was silenced & let the TV cameras do all the work. Scully said " If a picture is worth a thousand word then you've just seen a million of them".

Mookie Wilson said " mirrors magic wands, no matter how we did it we won the ball game". Mookie has always said that he felt with his speed he was going to beat Buckner to the bag even if he had fielded the ball.

Maybe it was true maybe it was in Buckner's defense. Bill Buckner lived a baseball hell for many years after that & was known as one of the most hated Red Sox in team history. Finally after the Sox did win a World Series in the new millennium, he was forgiven & welcomed back to Fenway Park in a ceremony.

Quotes: Bill Buckner-" I did concentrate on the ball. I saw it well, it bounced & bounced & then it did not bounce. It just skipped, the ball missed my glove. I can't remember the last time I missed a ground ball. I'll remember that one."

Mets coach Bill Robinson: 'This is a very tricky infield. It's a good infield but it hasn't been the same since the fans came out on the field & destroyed it".

Davey Johnson- " I'm not an emotional guy. I never run on the field, but when I saw the ball get by Buckner, I was out on the field."

This was certainly one for the ages.

2006 NL Eastern Champion Mets Pitcher: Pedro Martinez (2005-2008)

Pedro Jaime Martinez was born October 25th, 1971 in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic. The five foot eleven right hander was signed by the Los Angeles dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1988.

Pedro would pitch two seasons with the Dodgers going 10-5 with a 2.61 ERA in the 1993 season.

In November 1993 he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Delino Deshields. He would pitch four years with the Expos starting out in the strike shortened 1994 season where he was 11-5 for the first place Expos. That year no post season games were played & the Expos missed out on their second chance at getting to the playoffs. In 1995 he went 14-10 with a 3.51 ERA.

On June 3rd he pitched nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres, but left in a scoreless game in the 9th inning. He earned the win in the 1-0 win.

By 1997 he was becoming one of the games top pitchers winning his first Cy Young Award. He led the NL in ERA 1.90 & complete games (13). He went 17-8 striking out 305 batters (second in the NL) with the best strike out per nine inning ratio in the league.

In November 1997 with his free agency looming, he was traded with Carl Pavano to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later, Tony Armas. The Sox gave him the largest contract ever given to a pitcher up to that point. In his first year he was 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA.

In 1999 he won his second Cy Young Award, leading the league in wins (23) going 23-4 with one of the best pitching seasons ever. He also led the league in winning % (.852%) ERA (2.07) & strike outs (313). That year he was second in the MVP voting as well. He was only the eighth pitcher to ever put in back to back 300 plus strike out seasons.

That season he put together a record setting ten game win streaks to start out a season. He also had a record streak with strike outs in 40 consecutive innings. In that record setting streak, Pedro averaged 15 strike outs per nine innings.

Post Season: in the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, he was forced to leave the series opener with a strained back. He came in relief in Game #5 in the third inning of an 8-8 tie. He went on to pitch six scoreless innings earning the 12-8 win.

In the ALCS he defeated the rival AL New York club & steroid user Roger Clemens, in Game #3 handing them their only post season loss.

In 2000 he started out the year with a 17 strike out game on May 6th, in a heart breaking 1-0 loss to the Tampa Rays. In his next start he struck out 15 Baltimore Orioles in a 9-0 shut out. He won Cy Young Award number three, as he went 18-6 on the year leading the league in ERA (1.74) Shut outs 94) & strike outs (284). Injuries held him to 18 starts going 7-3 in 2001.

In 2002 he won twenty games for the second & final time in his career, going 20-4 with the league’s best win % (.833%). He also led the league in strike outs for the third & final time (239) as well as ERA 2.26. He won another ERA title again in 2003.

Post Season: In Game #3 of the ALCS after allowing runs in three straight innings, Pedro hit the AL New York teams; Karim Garcia with a pitch in the shoulder.

The bench started shouting at Martinez & he pointed to his head meaning he will remember what catcher Jorge Posada was mumbling about. This caused coach Don Zimmer to come out after Pedro, Martinez shoved him aside & the old coach fell to the floor. Benches cleared but order was restored.
In the Red Sox 2004 history making season Pedro was 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA second on the staff to Curt Schilling (21 wins & a 3.26 ERA).
Post Season: In the post season he was the winning pitcher in the ALDS Game #2 against the Anaheim Angels. In the ALCS he took the loss in Game #2, although he pitched well three runs on four hits over six innings.

He came in relief in the 7th inning, Game #7 as the Sox completed the greatest comeback in sports history, sweeping the AL New York club after being down three games to none.

In the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals he was the winning pitcher in Game 3 pitching seven scoreless innings. He was part of the Red Sox first championship team since 1918 making Boston sports history.

In December 2004 he signed on with the New York Mets. The acquisition of Pedro along with center fielder Carlos Beltran brought a lot of excitement to Shea Stadium. Pedro made his Mets debut on Opening Day 2005 in Cincinnati. He earned decision after pitching six innings allowing three runs on three hits, striking out twelve Reds.

His next start was a beauty; he earned his first Mets win as he pitched a complete game two hit one run game in Atlanta beating the Braves.

In his New York debut he earned no decision pitching seven innings against the Florida Marlins. Pedro gave up two runs on three hits; as the Mets went on to win it with a walk off Ramon Castro base hit. After a 2-1 April he went on to win five straight decisions. With a 7-1 record at the start of June and a 2.45 ERA, Pedro quickly became a fan favorite at Shea Stadium.

On June 7th he tossed anther two hit, one run performance at Shea, beating the Houston Astros. He matched his season high strikeout total with 12. At the All Star break he was 10-3 among the top pitchers in the league in wins, ERA & strike outs. He made the All Star team but did not pitch in the game held at Comercia Field in Detroit.

After the break he beat the Atlanta Braves & Los Angeles Dodgers at home, besting his record to 12-3. In August he struggled at 2-3 but still held his ERA under two at 2.90.

In September he was 2-2 finishing up the year as the Mets top pitcher He was 15-8 (9th in the NL in wins) with the league’s best winning % (.652). Pedro was the best pitcher in the NL in strike out to walks ratio with a 4.426% .

He was fifth in the league with an 8.62 strike outs per inning ratio, with 208 strike outs (3rd in the NL) & just 47 walks in 217 innings pitched. He posted a 2.82 ERA (4th in the NL) with four complete games (3RD most in the NL).

The 2006 Mets season began with allot of promise, as Carlos Delgado, Paul Loduca, José Valentin & Xavier Nady joined an already good team. Pedro debuted in the third game of the season beating the Washington Nationals even though he allowed five runs. His next start in Washington was a seven inning three hit 3-1 victory.

On April 22nd in San Diego, Pedro struck out eleven Padres in a seven inning one run performance. He started out the year winning his first five games going 5-0. In May he got five no decisions as the bullpen blew two more chances he had a victories.

In a May 26th start against the Florida Marlins he was instructed by umpires to change his undershirt as it was interfering with the vision of the pitches. He slipped in the run way injuring his hip & although it was not known at the time, affected his pitching.

In June Pedro went 2-3 , on June 28th he returned to Boston pitching at Fenway Park. He was greeted with an eight run, seven hit Red Sox out bursts, sending him to the showers after three innings.

That outing led to injuries where he would miss the next month. Four starts later he went down for another month returning in mid September. By then the Mets were ready to clinch the NL Eastern Division,

Pedro would close out the year losing his last four starts. After his last ineffective start he was seen in the dugout with tears in his eyes from pain. An MRI showed a torn rotator cuff, & a torn calf muscle. He would not be able to pitch in the post season & be highly missed by the ball club.

Possibly a healthy Pedro would have at least advanced the Mets to the World Series. The Mets also lost pitcher Orlando Hernandez & eventually lost the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals. He ended the year 9-8 with a 4.48 ERA, making 23 starts. He struck out 137 batters in 132 innings.

Pedro missed most of the 2007 season, returning from his surgery in September. On September 3rd he pitched for the first time in almost a year, making a start in Cincinnati. In five innings he gave up three runs on five hits earning a win in the Mets 10-5 victory. He returned to Shea Stadium on September 9th getting a win over the Houston Astros. He finished up the Mets miserable two last weeks of the season with a loss to the Cardinals on September 27th. He went 3-1 in the month with a 3.57 ERA in five games.

In 2008 there was promise for Pedro after what looked like a successful return from the surgery. But in the second game of the season in the fourth inning he heard a pop.

He went down with a hamstring injury sidelining him for the next two months. ON June 3rd he returned pitching six strong innings, allowing three runs earning a win in San Francisco. His fastball was never the same again, he went .500 most of the season, going 5-6 with a 5.61. It was the highest ERA posting of his career.

In 2008 the Mets missed the post season once again, losing on the last day of the season in the final game ever played at Shea Stadium. After the season he was let go to free agency & that winter he displayed he was healthy by pitching six strong innings in the World Baseball Classic. In his Mets career he pitched 79 games going 32-23 (.582%) with a 3.88 ERA, 464 strike outs & 137 walks in 486 innings.

In July 2009 he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, debuting at Wrigley Field on August 12th. He earned a win in five innings pitched.

On August 23rd he returned to Shea Stadium & earned a 907 win after pitching six innings, allowing four runs. The game ended on a very unusual unassisted triple play. On September 13th he pitched eight innings of shut ball against his old Mets team mates beating Tim Redding in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

Post Season: On the year he was 5-1 helping the Phillies to the post season. He appeared in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching seven shutout innings in the Game #2 loss but earned no decision. In the World Series he was the losing pitcher in two of the games. Pedro retired after the season.

In an 18 year career he won three Cy Young Awards, made eight All Star teams & won a World Series, making five trips to the post season. He was 219-100, for a .687 winning % (6th best all time) he is also 76th all time in wins.

He had 3154 strike outs (13th all time) with the third best strike out per nine inning ratio (10.04 per game).

In his career he is tied for third all time with the most 15 plus strike out games (10). Pedro walked 760 batters in 2827 innings pitched (162nd all time) in 409 starts (116th all time) in 476 games. He had 17 shut outs, with 46 complete games.

1951 New York Giants Hero Who Hit the Most Famous HR In Baseball History: Bobby Thomson (1946-1953 / 1957)

Robert Brown Thomson was Born October 25, 1923 in Glasgow, Scotland. His father came to America working as a cabinet maker, and moved the family to Staten Island, New York shortly after. Bobby grew up in a large family of five brothers & sisters.

He eventually earned the nick name the “The Staten Island Scot” while attending Curtis High School. there he was a top athlete playing soccer & baseball. His father was a Brooklyn Dodger fan, taking little Bobby to his first MLB game at Brooklyn's Ebbetts Field. His older brother bought him a baseball glove & taught him to play the game. The tall six foot two right hand hitter tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers but they hesitated on signing him. In 1942 he was signed by the New York Giants. Sadly his father passed away shortly after and never saw him play at the big league level.

He played in 34 games in the low minors in 1942 before joining the military, serving three years in the Air Force during World War II. He came back to play for the AAA Jersey City Giant,, batting .280 with 26 HRs & 90 RBIs playing in the outfield as well as at first base.

He made a September call up in 1946, debuting on September 9th 1949. In his first game he got a pair of hits & drove in two runs. On September 18th he hit his first career HR, it came against the Chicago Cubs. He batted .315 (17-54) hitting his first two career HRs.

In 1947 he became Giants regular outfielder, coming in third for the Rookie of the Year Award. He would hit 29 HRs (5th in the N.L.) with 85 RBIs, 60 extra base hits, 105 runs scored (6th in the N.L.) 26 doubles, 5 triples, & 154 hits. He learned to play outfield under the leadership of Giants Hall of Famer Mel Ott, who was now his manager in the early years.

Thomson said: "After a while, I felt center field was the ultimate place to play in the outfield. That was the guy that could do everything. So I went to Mel Ott, and said, 'Why can't I play center? I can run as well as Lockman.' Mel Ott said he didn't realize I felt that way. By 1949 I was the regular in center, and Lockman played left.” Thomson would be the Giants center fielder until Willie Mays arrived in 1951.

In 1948 Thomson made his first All Star game although his numbers fell off a bit from his rookie year; 16 HRs 20 doubles 63 RBIs & a .248 average. In 1949 he had one of his best seasons, batting a career high .309 (6th in the league) with 27 HRs, 35 doubles, 9 triples, 109 RBIs (6th in the league) scoring 99 runs, & making another All Star team. He led all outfielders in games played (157) was second in put outs (330) fourth in assists (9).

In 1950 the Giants finished third, he led the team in HRs (25) & was second to Hank Thompson in RBIs (91). Thomson would have five straight twenty plus HR seasons, driving in over 100 runs four of five years in that period.

Quotes: On the Dodger, Giants rivalry Thomson said, "It was a pretty fierce rivalry. I'm just speaking for myself, but I think it was general through the clubs. We didn't like them, and they didn't like us."

At Ebbets Field our locker rooms were right next to each other, and we had a common runway between the respective locker rooms and dugouts, so we had a chance to walk back and forth and pass each other. "I can remember one day when I was walking back to the locker room, and I passed Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, and I think 'Pee Wee' Reese was there. Hell, they never even looked at me, except Snider. I looked at Snider, and he looked at me, and all we did was half a nod that was it. We had nothing to do with each other."

In 1951 Bobby began the year with two RBIs on Opening Day in the Giants win at Boston over the Braves. He hit his first HR on April 22nd off Carl Erskine against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Overall Thomson struggled as did the Giants during the first part of the season. He was only hitting .220 at the start of July. He began the month with a bang, hitting HRs in the first four games of the month. He helped the Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies on July 2nd in a 4-3 win.

On July 3rd he had two hits, with a HR & drove in three runs in the 9-8 win. Midway through July, manager Leo Durocher moved him to third base, to make room for rookie centerfielder Willie Mays. Thomson would hit 11 HRs in the month, with 30 RBIs. On July 24th he drove in two runs leading to a 4-3 win. At the end of the month he hit HRs in the last two games, driving in all four runs in a 4-3 win at Wrigley Field. The Giants found themselves 13 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in mid August and it seemed like the Giants were going nowhere. Thomson & his team would make one of the most miraculous comebacks in baseball history, going 37-7 from mid August on.

On August 12th, the Giants began their incredible 16 game winning streak. In the second game of a double header that day, Thomson drove in both runs of a 2-1 win. On August 19th he hit a two run HR in the 8th inning, tying up a game against the Phillies leading New York to a 5-4 win. Overall he drove in runs in four one run games during the win streak & six games overall. In September he began the month with a HR off Brooklyn's Ralph Branca in an 8-1 win at the Polo Grounds. The next day he hit another HR and drove in five runs in the first three games.

In mid September he drove in runs in five games, homering in three straight during a six game win streak. In the last game of the season the Giants needed a win to end up with at least a tie with Brooklyn. They faced off against the Boston Braves, Thomson hit a second inning HR tying up the game. The Giants went on to a 3-2 win. The Dodgers won as well & a three game playoff was set to see would win the National League pennant. The Giants had an incredible month overall, going 21-6 in September, ending the season with a 96-58 record.

As for Thomson, he ended the month with a 15 game hit streak, hitting 11 HRs with 24 RBIs . On the year he hit a career high 32 HRs (4th in the league) with 27 doubles 8 triples (7th in the NL) & 101 RBIs (7th in the NL) while batting .293 (10th in the league).

Post Season: In the first game of the Playoffs at Ebbets Field, Thomson hit a two run HR in the 4th inning off Ralph Branca. The Giants went on to a 3-1 victory, taking a one nothing series lead. Brooklyn won the next game 10-0 & Thomson had one of six Giants hits off Clem Labine. On October 3rd, 1951 all New York came to a halt as the two hated rivals met for the pennant. The stage was set for a classic at New York’s Polo Grounds, with Sal Maglie facing off against Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe.

Before the game Thomson left his home on Staten Island & took the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan. He then took the subway to the Polo Grounds. He met Gil Hodges & his wife outside the park, they wished each other luck. Thomson said one of us is going to leave here very happy today. The game was one of the first to be viewed by a national TV audience, as baseball was just starting to enjoy success on television.

In the top of the 1st inning, the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead on Jackie Robinson's base hit. In the bottom of the 7th inning, Bobby Thomson tied the game with a sac fly, scoring Monte Irvin. Maglie & Newcombe pitched a great pitcher's duel keeping the score tied at 1-1 into the 8th. In the top of the 8th the Dodgers Captain Pee Wee Reese singled, advanced on a Duke Snider hit & scored on a wild pitch.

Andy Pafko hit a shot to third, that Thomson booted allowing Snider to score. It was ruled a single. The Dodgers headed to the bottom of the ninth with a 4-1 lead, feeling like the season was finally over. In the Giants 9th Alvin Dark singled to lead off the inning. After a visit to the mound, Newcombe told Jackie Robinson he was tired. Robinson threw the ball into Nukes glove, looked him in the eye & said “you keep pitching until your arm falls off”.

Strangely, Dodger manager Charlie Dressen told first base man Gil Hodges to hold the runner at 1st base. It was odd because that first run meant nothing with a three run lead. The Giants Don Mueller (nicknamed "Mandrake the magician" because he always found a hole), singled in that open gap at first base.

Whitey Lockman then doubled down the left-field line, scoring Dark and advancing Mueller to third. Mueller didn’t slide correctly, twisted his ankle and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. During the delay, Dressen, phoned the Brooklyn bullpen, Coach Clyde Sukeforth said Carl Erskine's was bouncing his curve ball. Dressen chose to bring in Ralph Branca.

As Thomson was walking to the plate, Giants manager Leo Durocher, who was coaching third base, called him over and said “If you ever hit one, hit one now. Thomson thought he was crazy. Thomson was still upset at the error he had made on the field and told himself- “Just give yourself a chance you SOB, do a good job.” Branca's first pitch was a fastball, right down the middle for a strike. Thomson thought to himself "I won't see that one again". The second pitch was a fastball up and in. At 3:51 PM, Thomson pulled it down the left-field line about 320 ft. Brooklyn left fielder Andy Pafko, ran to the wall, looked up and the ball disappeared over the 17 ft. high wall. The HR won the game, won the pennant & became the most famous HR in baseball history.

Thomson ran the bases, as he watched the ball fly over the wall. The Giants went wild crowding around home plate as Thomson jumped in the air landing onto home plate. Russ Hodges made his famous radio call “The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant” The stunned Dodgers walked off the field, Jackie Robinson, the true competitor was the last to leave, making sure Thomson, touched every base. The HR became known as "The shot heard round the world" or “the miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” and has been voted the most famous HR in baseballs history.

That evening Thomson was asked to appear on the Perry Como Show. At first he said no wanting to just go home & celebrate with his family quietly. But when the show offered him $500, he said yes. Brooklyn fans never forgave Branca, he would get phone calls & death threats for years to come. His family members would also get heckled in public. Eventually Branca learned to live with it, but not until he seeked help from a Priest friend of the family. He told him "God gave you this cross because he knew you could handle it".

A short time later, the two appeared on television together singing the song “Because of You” in a comedic parody. Branca said if it was anyone else other than Thomson who hit the HR, he may have felt differently. Thomson was always humble about the game winning hit. The two would go on together doing functions & lectures together for over 50 years.

Trivia: Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella was not behind the plate due to injury. Future Met pitching coach Rube Walker was the catcher who called the pitch. Waiting on deck was the 20 year old rookie, Willie Mays.

Years later it was revealed the Giants were stealing signs, with coach Herman Franks using a telescope to see the opposing catchers signal. A buzzer would ring in the bullpen where reserve catcher Sal Yvars would toss a ball in the air to alert the batter of the pitch. Thomson claimed he never used the signal while batting. The batter would also need to react very quickly to this process & no matter what, he still had to hit the ball.

The 1951 World Series would be Thomson's only World Series appearance. In Game #1 the Giants took a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. Monte Irvin stole home with Thomson at bat. In Game #4 he drove in a run in the 9th inning of the Giants 6-2 loss. In Game #6 with the Giants backs against the wall down 4-1, Thomson drove in a run on sac fly. The Series ended with the Giants finally running out of gas four games to two. Overall Thomson went 5 for 21, (.238) with five walks, a .385 on base % & two RBIs playing in all six games.

After the miracle at Coogan's bluff, Bobby returned in 1952 to lead the league in triples (14) hitting 24 HRs (6th in the NL in HRs) with 29 doubles & 108 RBIs (second in the NL) batting .270. He finished 16th in the MVP voting, making the All Star team. That year the Giants finished second behind the Dodgers by four and a half games. In 1953 the Giants finished fifth, Thomson hit .288 with 26 HRs 22 doubles & 106 RBIs (10th in the NL).

During the winter of 1954 the Giants made a very unpopular trade sending the 1951 World Series hero,Thomson to the Milwaukee Braves for Johnny Antonelli, Don Liddle, Billy Klaus, and $50,000. Thomson was stunned at the trade. He was devastated that the Giants had cut ties with him, him after all the years together. Many of the Giant fans were outraged, missing their hero. Johnny Antonelli went on to win 20 games while leading the Giants to a World Series Championship in 1954, eventually winning over the fans.

As for Thomson, he broke his ankle in spring training & would only play in 43 games that year batting .232. The injury opened a slot in left field for a rookie named Henry Aaron, who went on to the Hall of Fame. After another disappointing year in 1955 (.257 with 12 HRs), Bobby rebounded in 1956. He hit 20 HRs with 74 RBIs but only hit .235. In June 1957 after 41 games with Milwaukee he was dealt back to the New York Giants for Red Schoendienst. That year he missed out on a championship in Milwaukee, as the Braves won the 1957 World Series. They then went on to win a pennant in 1958.

Thomson made a hero’s return to the Polo Grounds, in the Giants last year in New York. Unfortunately his best days were behind him, as he hit.242 in 81 games with 8 HRs & 38 RBIs. He was in the lineup for the last game at the Polo Grounds on September 29th, 1957 getting a single in the 2nd inning (going 1-3). As the Giants moved to the West Coast Bobby was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Bob Speake. He had a comeback season for the Cubs with 21 HRs 27 doubles, 82 RBIs while batting .283.

He went on to the Boston Red Sox & Baltimore Orioles in 1960 retiring at the end of the season, retiring at age 36.

Quotes: "I had lost the feeling, the enthusiasm for the game. I loved baseball and I loved the feeling of playing the game. But now it was over and I knew it."

In a 15 year career, Thomson hit .270 with 1705 hits 264 HRs, eight grand slams, 267 doubles 74 triples 1026 RBIs & a .332 on base %, in 1779 games. He played 14 years in the outfield (1506 games) making 111 assists posting a .980 fielding %. At third base he played 184 games in six seasons posting a .937 fielding %.

Retirement: After his playing days, Thomson settled in Watchung, New Jersey with his wife Elaine “Winky” and their three children. He worked as a paper products salesman for many years. He appeared at numerous baseball card shows & charity events through the years with his friend Ralph Branca.

In his later years he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he passed away in 2010 at age 86. He is missed but remembered forever, not only for being a great baseball player but a kind man & a professional gentleman.

Family: Bobby has two daughters, and a son whom he tragically lost from a virus that snaked through his heart at the age of 38.

Honors: In 1969, Thomson was named to the Giants' all-time outfield along with Mel Ott and Willie Mays. Bobby’s home run in the 1951 playoff game is considered the most famous home run in baseball history. His bat he used to hit the famous home run is enshrined at Cooperstown, in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2004, he was inducted into The Scottish Sports Hall Of Fame in recognition of his accomplishments.

Oct 23, 2014

Remembering Mets History: 2000 World Series Game #3- Mets Win First Game of Sub Way Series At Shea

Tuesday October 24th, 2000- World Series Game #3- Shea Stadium, NY: 

This is the only game I acknowledge from that Series. centerfieldmaz & entourage sat in the very last seats of the left field upper deck at Shea Stadium. Us & fellow Met fans really let the other NY teams fans have it.

This was the first World Series game back at Shea Stadium since the Championship Year of 1986. A New York crowd of 55,299 came to Shea for Game Three of the Subway Series. 

Bobby Valentine's Mets (94-68) had won the NL Wild Card, beaten the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS in five game & the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS in five games as well.

This World Series was the first New York Sub Way World Series since 1956, when the Brooklyn Dodgers took on the AL New York team.

The Mets had dropped the first two games of the series, losing a 12 inning nail bitter 4-3 & then a heartbreaking 6-5 loss in Game #2. In that game they had scored five runs in the 9th inning & fell just short of a comeback. An earlier base running blinder by Timo Perez may have been the difference. That game also featured the next round of the Mike Piazza vs Roger Clemens drama.

On this nigt the Mets stopped pitcher; Orlando Hernandez's post season win streak at eight games, as they took a 4-2 victory. The Mets starter was Rick Reed (11-5 / 4.11 ERA / 121 Ks).

In the bottom of the 2nd, Robin Ventura put the Mets on the board first with a lead off HR to right center field, almost hitting the famous HR Apple.

The A.L. New York team scored in the 3rd & 4th inning, as Rick Reed lost the lead and the Mets trailed 2-1 going into the 6th inning. 

In the home 6th, Mike Piazza hit a ground rule double to lead off. Next, Robin Ventura got aboard on a walk. Todd Zeile followed with a double bringing in Piazza to tie the game up 2-2, much to the delight of the Shea Mets fans. 

Turk Wendell came on & struck out the first two batters of the 7th inning. He then walked a batter & was relieved by Dennis Cook. Cook hit his first batter with a pitch but then struck out Bernie Williams to end the threat. 

John Franco came on in the 8th with no one out & a runner on. He got a double play ball, gave up a base hit & then retired the last batter of the inning.

In the bottom of the 8th, Todd Zeile singled to center with one out. Benny Agbayani (who hit over .350 in the post season) came up big once again, as he doubled home Zeile in what would be the games winning run. 

Benny Agbayani was removed for pinch runner "Super" Joe McEwing. Next up, Jay Payton got on with an infield hit, advancing McEwing to third. 

Mets pinch hitter; Bubba Trammell then hit a sac fly to center, McEwing scored to make it 4-2 Mets.

Armando Benitez came on in the 9th, he allowed a single & a then a strange play involving defensive put the runner on second base. Benitez managed to get out of it & close out the game with the save.