Apr 1, 2016

Remembering Mets Opening Days of the Past: (1985) Gary Carter's Triumphant Debut

Thursday April 9th 1985: The 1985 New York Mets had just come off their best season in years. It was their first winning season since 1976, & there was a lot to be excited about with all the talented young players, as well as some solid veterans mixed in. That off season brought the game's best all around catcher to New York, All Star Gary Carter.

The Mets already had the games youngest exciting pitcher; Dwight Gooden who's blazing fastball burned rookie strike out records all across the league. A young Ron Darling was the number two man behind Gooden & the bullpen featured Jesse Orosco & Roger McDowell who would both save 17 games apiece.

Young slugger Darryl Strawberry & veteran Keith Hernandez, a true .300 hitter & RBI man were the punch in a line up that featured speedster Mookie Wilson & veteran HR hitter George Foster. All this brought a new revived excitement to Shea Stadium & it was the place to be in '85.

The '85 season opened up at Shea, a crowd of 46,781 came out to see Davey Johnsons Mets take on Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets & Cardinals were  becoming bitter rivals at this point in Mets history & it would only heat up as the season went along.

Manager Whitey Herzog had been the Mets Director of Player Development in the sixties, and lost out on a managerial job to Yogi Berra in 1972 after the passing of Gil Hodges. He left the Mets organization bitter, going on to success in Kansas City & now St. Louis. Herzog's had an ongoing feud with Keith Hernandez since his Cardinal playing days. It was mainly because of Herzog that Hernandez had been traded to New York. All this only fired things up to a much higher level.

The Opening Day pitchers were the Mets rookie phenom of 1984; Dwight Gooden, getting his first Opening Day start, going up against the Cards, Joaquin Andujar.

The 1985 Mets Opening Day lineup:
Wally Backman 2B
Mookie Wilson CF
Keith Hernandez 1B
Gary Carter C
Darryl Strawberry RF
George Foster LF
Howard Johnson 3B
Rafael Santana SS
Dwight Gooden P

The wild game began in the 1st inning, as Mookie Wilson singled & stole second. Keith Hernandez rubbed it in the Cardinals face right away with a base hit, bringing in Mookie to make it 1-0. 

Gary Carter came to bat for the first time as a Met to a huge ovation. He was hit by a pitch & two men were on. Darryl Strawberry then walked & the bases were loaded. Andujar then walked Howard Johnson as the second Mets run crossed the plate.

In the 2nd inning, St. Louis' Jack Clark led off with a HR making it 2-1 Mets. In the 3rd, Lonnie Smith singled & went to third on Tommy Herr's double. He then scampered to the plate & Gary Carter was charged with a passed ball as the game was tied. But the Mets answered in the home 3rd, as George Foster hit a solo HR.

In the home 4th, Doc Gooden helped his cause with a base hit. Next, Wally Backman reached on an error. Then with two outs, the reliable Keith Hernandez brought in another run with a base hit, making it 4-2 New York.

The Mets added another run in the 5th as Foster singled & Rafael Santana doubled him in, making it 5-2 Mets.

But the  pesky Cardinals fought back. In the 7th, back to back singles knocked Gooden out of the game & Johnson brought in Doug Sisk.

Sisk got former Met Mike Jorgensen to strike out & Lonnie Smith to ground out. But then Tommy Herr singled, bringing in the two runners in, making it a one run game.


In the 9th Sisk, couldn't close it out. Willie McGee had a one out pinch hit single & Lonnie Smith was hit by a pitch. Tommy Herr then singled again, loading up the bases with  just one out. Sisk struck out Terry Pendleton, but then walked Jack Clark, tying up the game at five runs each.

The Mets threatened in the bottom of the 9th, as HoJo singled & pinch hitter Rusty Staub walked with two out. Wally Backman then reached on an error but (former Met) relieveri Neil Allen got Mookie Wilson to fly out. Allen was the player traded to St. Louis for Keith Hernandez.

In the home 10th, Allen started the inning by striking out Hernandez. Then the newest Met, became the newest Mets hero.

Gary Carter blasted a walk off game winning HR giving the Mets the 6-5 win. Carter raised his hands in the air as the Shea crowd went wild with joy. It was a time of high fives & cocky Mets attitudes , for one of the best Mets eras in history. The winning pitcher was Tom Gorman for the Mets, Allen the loser.

The Mets finished second to the Cards that year, falling short in the final week of the season. The Cards got to the World Series but lost to the Kansas City Royals.

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