Nov 18, 2017

Remembering Mets History: (1977) Steve Hendersons Walk Off HR

Tuesday June 21st 1977: It was less than a week after Tom Seaver had been traded away & the Mets were in last place. Everything about the Mets seemed dismal. Joe Torre's Mets (29-37) were already 13 1/2 games out of first place as they hosted the last place Western Division, Atlanta Braves (23-44).

The Mets sent Jon Matlack to the mound against Andy Messersmith, who's best days were behind him after being one of the games top pitchers in the early to mid seventies.

In the 1st, the Braves Willie Montanez hit a solo HR. The Mets got  a run back, with one out Bud Harrelson walked, John Milner then doubled bringing Harrelson to third. Messersmith then threw a wild pitch allowing Harrelson to score from third base.

Both pitchers settled in to pitch well, Matlack went eight innings, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strike outs. Messersmith was entering the 9th inning, ahead 2-1 after allowing just four hits & looking for a complete game win.

But long time Mets veteran pinch hitting expert, Eddie Karanepool led off the inning with a pinch hit HR to tie the game. The game went to extra innings.

In the 10th, Braves reliever Don Collins issued three walks, but the Mets left the bases loaded as John Milner struck out & Kranepool flied out to center. In the bottom of the 11th, Collins gave up a double to John Stearns, then intentionally walking Felix Millan.

Up came the newest Met; young Steve Henderson. Henderson had come over highly touted as a future superstar in the Tom Seaver deal. In just his fourth game he added some excitement to a dark period in Mets history. Henderson hit a three run walk off HR giving who ever was left of the 10,613 fans at Shea a huge thrill. 

The Mets won it 5-2 as reliever Rick Baldwin got the win. For at least one day Steve Henderson was a hero & some of the pressure was lifted off him.

In his rookie year Henderson hit 12 HRs with 16 doubles & 65 RBIs batting .295 in 99 games.

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