Mar 26, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1973): Willie Mays Last Career Walk Off Hit

Saturday April 7th 1973: The Mets opened up their 1973 NL Pennant winning season with an Opening Day win at Shea Stadium, where Tom Seaver beat Steve Carlton 3-0 in a five hit shut out.

The second game of the season was also a thriller with heroics provided by another future Hall of famer & New York National League legend.

18,738 fans came out to see Yogi Berra's Mets & the previous year's NL Rookie of the Year, Jon Matlack, host Danny Ozark's Phillies with Jim Lonborg on the hill for the Phils.

The Phillies would go 71-91 on the season with Steve Carlton winning 27 of those 71 wins.

Starting Lineups


In the 1st, (future 1986 Mets batting instructor) Bill Robinson walked & stole second. Then "the Hot Dog" Willie Montanez (a future Met) singled in Robinson for the first run of the game.

In the home 2nd, the '73 Mets leading HR hitter John Milner hit his first of the season to make it 1-0. In the home 3rd, with two outs, Rusty Staub doubled & scored on Cleon Jones RNI single, to the Mets up 2-0.

Bill Robinson struck again in the 6th, as he led off the inning with a solo shot off Matlack to tie the game up at two.

In the 7th, the Mets threatened as Matlack walked, then Bud Harrelson  & Felix Millan both singled. Danny Ozark removed Lonborg & brought in Billy Wilson. He got Willie Mays to ground into a double play third to home to first (5-2-3). Rusty Staub was walked intentionally, but Wilson got Cleon Jones to ground out unassisted to short to end the threat.

Matlack, a favorite of manager Yogi Berra, remained in the game, he retired the side in order in the 8th. In the 9th he walked Montanez, Deron Johnson then sacrificed him to second.

Next up "the Bull" slugger Greg Luzinski was walked intentionally. Matlack the got Jose Pagan & Bob Boone to both fly out to end the Phillies threat. Over nine innings, Matlack had walked five & only struck out two, but he only allowed two runs on two hits.

In the bottom of the 9th, former Met Dick Selma, who was a high school & college friend to Tom Seaver in Fresno, California, was on the mound for Philadelphia. 

Pinch hitter Ed Kranepool led off with a walk. Ted Martinez was brought in to run for Kranepool. The next two Mets were retired & the stage was set for Willie Mays with Martinez on second & two outs.

The Say Hey Kid, delivered with a base hit, Teddy Martinez crossed the plate & the Mets had an exciting walk off win. The Shea crowd went wild & cheered for Mays their future Hall Of Fame hero. It was Mays last walk off hit in his career.

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