The Mets were still the reigning N.L. Champions at the time, but their days were numbered as they were eleven games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.
The St. Louis Cardinals were in heavy pursuit of the Pirates just 2 ½ games back, alive & well in the pennant race. (Eventually the Pirates would win the East in 1974 but lose to the L.A. Dodgers in the '74 NLCS).
Jerry Koosman (13-9) was the clubs top pitcher that year, as Tom Seaver was struggling through the season with back issues which effected his mechanics. Koosan took the mound for the Mets at 7:05 PM, going up against the Cards; Bob Forsch.
The Cardinals Hall of Famer; Lou Brock had just set a modern day single season record for stolen bases (105) the night before in St. Louis, breaking the L.A. Dodgers Maury Wills old record of 104, set back in 1962.
A young Keith Hernandez was in the Shea Stadium visiting dugout that night and had only played in five career MLB games going 4-11 (.364) at the plate, since his debut on August 30th, 1974.
The Mets leading hitter in 1974 was Ed Kranepool (.300) while the John Milner (20 HRs) & Rusty Staub (19 HRs - 78 RBIs) were the teams leading power hitters.
Koosman got himself in trouble early on, walking two batters in the first inning and allowing an RBI single to St. Louis' first baseman; Joe Torre. The Mets came right back as Felix Millan reached on an error & then was forced by Cleon Jones. Jones reached second on a wild pitch & soon scored on a John Milner double, it was tied at 1-1.
The score remained tied into the bottom of the 5th inning, when Felix Millan singled & Cleon Jones hit a two run HR putting New York up 3-1.
Koosman rolled along, allowing just the one run & three hits until the 9th inning. He then allowed a double to catcher Ted Simmons, but then struck out Joe Torre & Bake McBride. But with two out, Cardinals third baseman Ken Rietz, blasted a game tying HR over the Shea Stadium fence.
The Cardinals sent relief ace Al Hrabosky (the Mad Hungarian) to the mound, he shut down the Mets’ Don Hahn, Duffy Dyer & pinch hitter Ted Martinez in the 9th. Hrabosky kept the Mets down in the next two innings as well. The Mets brought in reliever Harry Parker, who kept St. Louis in check for three innings, including getting the pinch hitter Keith Hernandez to fly out to lead off the 12th inning.
In the top of the 13th inning, Mets pitcher Bob Miller (who was a member of the both the 1962 original Mets & the 1973 pennant team) took the mound.
There was some excitement when Joe Torre who walked & advanced, attempted to score on a base hit by Bake McBride. Torre was nailed out at the plate, on a series of relay throws from Cleon Jones to third baseman Wayne Garrett to catcher Duffy Dyer, who made the tag.
The Mets threatened again in the bottom of the 13th, as Dave Schneck doubled & Don Hahn was walked. But they left both men on base as Folkers, got pinch hitter George “the Stork” Theodore to ground out. In the 14 inning the Mets threatened once again, as Bud Harrelson walked & was sacrificed over to second by Felix Millan. Next, Cleon Jones was intentionally walked, but Pitcher Claude O’Steen retired John Milner & Wayne Garrett. O’Steen would pitch nine innings of relief that night, striking out five Mets, while allowing just four hits along the way.
The Mets Bob Apodaca pitched three scoreless for New York, handing the ball over to rookie Jerry Cram who would then pitch eight fantastic innings of relief.
Cram allowed seven hits, with four walks, while stranding eight Cardinal runners on base, escaping trouble each time he got into a jam.
In the top of the 20th inning, Mets catcher; Ron Hodges now behind the plate, was involved in an obstruction call on an at bat by Joe Torre. Mets manager; Yogi Berra came to argue the call & was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Ed Sudol. In the top of the 24th inning, Joe Torre involved in another game highlight, singled with two runners on. But no one was able to score, then Cram got Dick Billings to ground out.
The Mets leading RBI hitter, Rusty Staub who had been sitting on the bench nursing an injury, came up as a pinch hitter, to the excitement of the remaining Shea crowd. Unfortunately, Staub grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the 25th inning, Yogi Berra brought in the Mets sixth pitcher of the night, September call up Hank Webb. Webb had been the second best pitcher at AAA Tidewater that year, behind Randy Sterling, going 10-8 for the Tidewater Tides.
The Cards; Bake McBride, led off the 25th with a single, his fourth hit of the night & then all hell broke loose. Webb attempted to pick off the speedy McBride, but threw the ball wide of first base.
John Milner chased the ball all the way to the outfield as McBride circled the bases. Milner threw home, but McBride scored on another error by catcher Ron Hodges. This turned out to be the winning run.
In the bottom of the 25th inning, Ken Boswell & Felix Millan were both retired quickly. Then with two outs, the legendary early seventies Mets yearbook prospect; Brock Pemberton, got his first career hit, a pinch hit base hit, coming in just his second career game.
Future Mets pitcher, who was a Cardinal at this point, Sonny Siebert, then struck out John Milner to end the game.
After seven hours & four minutes the line score read: Cardinal- four runs, 18 hits two errors, the Mets- three runs 16 hits four errors.
Mets pitchers struck out twelve batters while walking eight & Cards pitchers struck out sixteen batters while walking eleven.
The Mets used 24 players while the Cards used 26 players. When the game ended the big Longines clock on the Shea scoreboard read 3:07 AM. For the record, It is the second longest game in history in terms of innings (25).
The Mets as a team have played in four games of the 42 games in MLB history lasting twenty or more innings.
Also that night at Shea in attendance was Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, along with his family, he was reported as staying for the whole game.