Jul 12, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1977) Shea Stadium During The '77 Black Out

July 13th 1977: The night began as 14,626 fans came out to Shea Stadium to see Joe Torre's last place Mets (34-53) take on a hot first place Chicago Cubs team (55-32) led by Herman Franks. 

This was almost a month to the day, since Tom Seaver had been traded away on the Midnight Massacre. It was the start of some very dark years for Mets fans. 

Starting Lineups

Two good pitchers took the mound on this night; Jerry Koosman for the Mets & Ray Burris for the Cubs. Burris would pitch for the Mets in 1979 & 1980. In the top of the 2nd, Steve Ontiveros hit a two run HR giving the Cubs an early lead.

But Koosman struck out three batters in the inning & did so again in the 4th. Overall Koosman had already notched eleven strikeouts after six innings of work. In the 5th, Mike Vail homered for New York making it a 2-1 game. 

It was in the bottom of the 6th inning, and Jerry Koosman grounded out for the first out. Next came up Lenny Randle, facing Ray Burris. At 930 PM, the lights went out at Shea Stadium & it went dark, Randle thought God had come to take him away. What actually was happening was the famous 1977 New York City Blackout. 

Shea had a backup generator that came on keeping the Stadium partially lit & the public address system going. The original thought was that the game would resume as soon as power was restored. 

The Mets entertained the fans by doing a comedy infield routine in the partially lit stadium. Some players signed autographs around the dugout & outfield box seat areas. Craig Swan & Joel Youngblood drove their cars onto the field with the their headlights on for lighting support. Long Time Mets organist; Jane Jarvis played White Christmas on a rather hot humid, July night. 

Shea Organist: Jane Jarvis
Eventually the game was suspended & was scheduled to continue the next night. The players showered in the dark locker rooms & left the Stadium. The Cubs were driven to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where they had to walk up to their rooms with candles, as the elevators were not working. The fans left Shea Stadium, safely without any reported incidents. 

But the rest of New York suffered one of its worse public embarrassments, getting negative attention in the national media. Looters took to the streets, broke into stores, stealing & walking away with anything they could. Rather than working themselves, the losers of society, seized the moment to capitalize on the City's hardships. It was one of New York City's lowest moments in that era or any era. The power came back briefly the next day but went out again shortly after.

Mets Catcher John Stearns
lights candle at Shea Stadium

Shea Stadium Program From That Night
The game was resumed that September, when the Cubs came back to Shea. Koosman & Burris would both continue where they left off. The Mets would lose the game 4-2.

Over those next two days the Mets would play back to back double headers against the Cubs splitting both games in each series. 

Trivia: Jerry Koosman would lose twenty games that year, most in the league, posting a 3.49 ERA, as the Mets would finish last 64-98 . The year before Kooz had won twenty games for the first time in his career (21-10 with a 2.69 ERA).

1 comment:

lanzarishi said...

I was there! And I swear I really thought Koosman would break the Mets strike out record that night. We waited for over an hour maybe two, then finally left. I definitely don't remember cars driven onto the field but boy was I angry at not being able to see Kooz break Seaver's record for strikeouts. He was on fire that night!