Jun 13, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1980) Steve Henderson Hits a Walk Off HR

Saturday June 14, 1980: The Mets didn’t have much to get excited about in 1980. Mets Outfielder Steve Henderson who was highly touted two & a half years earlier, when he had come over from the Reds in the Tom Seaver trade, provided the fans with some excitement in one of his best moments as a Met on this day. 

Joe Torre's 4th place Mets (27-28) actually had a thing going at the time, winning eight of ten games in a stretch where they won 14 of 22 games. They were in fourth place only six games back of first place. Today they hosted Dave Bristol's last place San Francisco Giants (24-34). 

A couple of Italian / Americans from the tri state area  took the mound, as The Mets Brooklyn born, Pete Falcone went up against New Jersey born, Giants pitcher John "the Count" Montefusco.

22,918 fans came to Shea for the game, including a lot of old New York Giants fans.

Starting Lineups

Pete Falcone couldn't get past the 2nd inning, he allowed four runs in the 1st including a three run HR to Rennie Stennett. Mets' relievers; Mark Bomback & Ed Glynn settled things down for New York, allowing just one more run to the 9th inning. Mets closer, Jeff Reardon took over striking out the side in the 9th. 

The Count, John Montefusco ,went into the 8th inning with a 6-1 lead. But Lee Mazzilli & Frank Taveras both singled & with two outs, Steve Henderson singled making it 6-2.

The Mets came to bat in the 9th down by four runs. This team wasn’t known for coming back that much in 1980, so most of the 22,000 fans had gone home. 

But that night “the magic was back" as the new team slogan boasted. The Giants new pitcher; Greg Minton came in to close the door on the Mets but ran into trouble.

Second baseman Doug Flynn wanted to make something happen & bunted for a base hit. He was moved along to third base, after two straight ground outs. Lee Mazzilli then drove a base hit to center field scoring Flynn. Frank Tavares then walked & Claudell Washington singled to score Mazzilli, making it 6-4 Giants.

Up to the plate came Steve Henderson. He had struck out three times on the night, and hadn’t hit a home run since July of 1979, some 226 at bats ago. 

Giants manager Dave Bristol made a pitching change, bringing in Allen Ripley to pitch to Henderson. Met Manager; Joe Torre told Henderson just go up there and take your swings. Ripley greeted Henderson with a high tight one, leveling him to the ground. If anything the pitch angered Henderson. 

On the next pitch Henderson connected for a three run, walk off HR, as the Mets celebrated like they won the pennant. The 7-6 win was one of the few good times of that season for the 1980 Mets & the Shea Faithful. They finished fifth at 67-95 (.414%) twenty four games back of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. 


opaguy said...

My wife and I were at that game and stayed to the very end. It was tremendously exciting: you would have thought we won the World Series. As we drove out of Shea onto the Grand Central Parkway, cars horns were honking. We even got a honk as we neared Hicksville, LI. I suppose what made this game memorable (I still talk about it) was the unexpectedness and joy of brief success. The Seaver trade had brought the franchise to a low point and this brought us hope. We went to the first home game the Mets played in 1962, and have been fans through thick and thin since then!

jpgilligan said...

I was also at the game in eighth grade with my parents and I remember the fans stayed and made Henderson come out a second time after he went into the clubhouse. It was a short lived exciting time as they hadnt played that well in years.

gmoneyballs said...

I was 11 years old with 2 friends and a fatehr. I will never forget how crazy the fans went that night (it was comparable to Game 7 1986 which i also attended).

I just remember the loge section bouncing up and down - literally vibrating. People were jumping up to hand slap each other as we left the stadium via the famous ramps.

Henderson became my favorite player, and 3rd base my favorite position.

Let's go Met's!