Oct 12, 2016

Remembering the 1973 World Series: Game #1 New York Mets vs Oakland A's


New York Mets vs. Oakland A's

Saturday, October 13th 1973: World Series Game #1





Mets Pitching Coach
Rube Walker
Visits with Pitcher
Jon Matlack
The Series opened up on beautiful Saturday afternoon in Oakland, as crowd of 46,021 came to the Oakland Alameda Coliseum. Hank Aaron became the first active player to ever throw out a ceremonial first pitch in a World Series. Aaron was just two HRs shy of the all time HR record (715) as the 1973 regular season ended.

The Mets would have to start the Series, without their main run producer; Rusty Staub, due to the injured shoulder he suffered crashing into the outfield wall in Game #4 of the NLCS. His ailing shoulder would be an issue the entire series.

Willie Mays was in the line up in his place, playing centerfield to the delight of America.

Willie Mays Gets Standing Ovation
It was an extra special treat for Mays & the fans of the Bay Area since he had spent the majority of his career, plating across the Bay in San Francisco. He received a tremendous standing ovation from the crowd during the pre game introductions. It also turned out to be the last game Mays would start.

During the pre game meeting at home plate between the two managers & the umpires, Dick Williams asked if Yogi Berra minded if infielder Manny Trillo (who was denied activation leaving the A's one man short) could sit in the Oakland bullpen.

Quotes: Berra said "I don't mind as long as a fight breaks out, he stays there!" A great referance to the Harrelson / Rose brawl in NLCS Game #3.

The starting pitchers were Jon Matlack for New York (14-16 / 205 Ks / 3.20 ERA) who had pitched a two hit shutout in his last outing in Game #2 of the NLCS.

Matlack had won four of his last six regular season games as well. Although he was much better than his record shows, history remembers him as one of just four pitchers who started a World Series Game #1 after posting a regular season losing record.

Matlack went up against left hander Ken Holtzman (21-13 / 2.97 ERA / 157 Ks) one of Oakland's three twenty game winners. Holtzman had out dueled Baltimore's; Mike Cuellar in Game #3 of the ALCS, pitching 11 innings allowing just one run on three hits striking out seven Orioles.

Mets Willie Mays Gets First Hit of '73 World Series
The World Series opened up with Willie Mays, getting the Series' first hit, a 1st inning single to left field.

In the Oakland 3rd, Dick Green walked but was thrown out trying to steal second base, after pitcher Ken Holtzman failed trying to bunt. But Ken Holtzman then doubled down the left field line. Holtzman did not bat all season in the American League's first year using the designated hitter rule.

Bert Campaneris followed with a ground ball to second base, that went under the legs of the usually sure handed Felix Millan. Holtzman came around to score the Series' first run, 1-0 Oakland.


Felix Millan's Error
Bert Campaneris, was a six time AL stolen base leader, who had 34 steals on the '73 season, a number that was low for him. Matlack threw to first base & fooled Campaneris with the pickoff throw.

But the throw was too high as first baseman John Milner leaped in the air at first base to make the catch. Campy took off & swiped second base cleanly. Joe Rudi then delivered with a base hit to right field, and just like that it was 2-0 Oakland.

The base running antics of Bert Campaneris who was trouble for the Mets the entire series, caused the first controversy of the game as well.

All Star Short Stops Campaneris & Harrelson
In the 8th, Campy bunted between home plate & first base. Mets first baseman John Milner fielded the ball & attempted a tag on Campy on his way to first base. He slid under the tag, jumped up running safely to first base. He may have been out of the baseline as well but was ruled safe on all accounts.

Manager Yogi Berra came to argue the call saying Milner tagged him, to no avail. The play made the cover of that weeks Sports Illustrated as well.

The two runs proved to be all the A's needed that day, as their pitching held down the Mets to just one run on seven hits.

In the Mets 4th, Cleon Jones doubled to left center field. The Hammer; John Milner brought him in with a single to center field. Jerry Grote hit a long line drive to center that was snagged by Reggie Jackson for the second out. Don Hahn walked but Bud Harrelson struck out to end the inning.

Holtzman went five innings, one run on four hits with three walks & two strike outs. He was relieved by the AL's best relief pitcher; Future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers(7-8 / 22 saves / 1.92 ERA).

A's Ken Holtzman Shuts Down Mets
Fingers served up a leadoff base hit to Cleon Jones in the 6th & went two outs struck out Don Hahn. But the ball scampered away from A's catcher Ray Fossee & Hahn reached base as Joes went to third.

Fingers then struck out Harrelson to end the threat. In the Mets 7th, pinch hitter Kenny Boswell singled but was erased on a double play & the Mets went down quietly.

In the 9th, Fingers got pinch hitter Eddie Kranepool to line out. He then walked Ron Hodges who was pinch hitting for Bud Harrelson. A's manager Dick Williams came to the mound & brought in Darold Knowles (6-8 / 9 saves / 3.09 ERA) .

Knowles would get pinch hitter Jim Beauchamp to pop out & Wayne Garrett to fly out to right field. The first game of the World Series was over, with the Mets taking a rough 2-1 loss.

Matlack went six innings, taking the loss, even though both runs were un earned. He allowed just six hits with two walks & three strike outs.

After the 3rd inning , when the A's had scored their runs, Matlack did not allow any more base runners. Tug McGraw came in relief & pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a walk & a hit.

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