Oct 24, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1986): World Series Game Six!

Saturday October 25th 1986 World Series Game Six- Shea Stadium, New York. 

from centerfield: This game was probably is arguably the greatest Mets game of them all. It was most definitely the greatest Mets post season comeback of them all & one of the most emotionally draining one of all. I am proud to say, as a true life long Met fan, centerfieldmaz was there that night. 

After seeing that fans were setting up TV’s and watching the game in the parking lot during the Series, I figured that where I'll go with other Mets fans. This was my original plan for Game six. A friend of mine at the time and I armed ourselves with a duffel bag full of beer cans parked in the Flushing Marina area near Shea & went looking for a spot in the parking lot to hang out. 

Then the Lord sent me a gift, as a life long die hard Mets fan we ran into a guy looking to sell of his tickets just a bit higher tha regular price. Im sure we would have paid what ever he wanted as long as we had the money. But now we had to put the beers back in the car, we couldn't bring them in & we weren't throwing them away.

On our way to the car, We met a really kool police officer who actually had a beer with us. Thats when he witnessed a guy jumping out of a plane & pointed it it out to us. That was when  Sergio jumped out of the small plane with his "Lets Go Mets" banner onto the playing field. After the cops apprehended him, Ron Darling gave him a high five while sitting on the edge of the dug out. It was a wild night in New York.
The 1986 Mets had left New York down two games to none in the World Series they won the first two games in Boston, taking two of three there. But they were still down three games to two & were facing possible elimination in Game #6 at Shea Stadium. 55, 078 wild Met fans came out to Shea Stadium & would witness one of the most exciting World Series games in history. 

From a Mets stand point this game defines the Championship team of that era. It ranks as probably the greatest game in team history as well.

The starting pitchers for tonight's classic were Bob Ojeda for the Mets & Roger Clemens for the Red Sox. Neither pitcher wold be around for the game's amazing climax four hours later, after midnight.

Starting Lineups

In the 1st inning, Bobby Ojeda had trouble right away, Wade Boggs led off with a base hit & then with two outs he walked Jim Rice. Dwight Evans siezed the moment with a run scoring double putting Boston up 1-0. In the 2nd, Spike Owen singled, Wade Boggs singled again & a Marty Barrett single made it 2-0 Boston, quieting the Mets crowd.

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens was shutting out the Mets until the 5th inning. Darryl Strawberry led off with a walk & then stole second base, getting the crowd back into it. Ray Knight followed with a base hit scoring Straw to put the Mets up on the board. Mookie Wilson followed with a base hit putting runners on the corners. 

Davey Johnson sent in Danny Heep to pinch hit for Rafael Santana. Heep who was always an excellent pinch hitter for the Mets, grounded into a double play but did bring home the tying run making it 2-2.

Ojead was lifted after six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, two walks & three strike outs. Roger McDowell was brought in to start the 7th. He walked Marty Barrett to start the inning. The pesky Barrett got to second on a ground out & then reached third base when Ray Knight made a throwing error on Jim Rice's ground ball. 

It came back to haunt the Mets as Dwight Evans ground out scored Barrett with the Sox taking a 3-2 lead.

An even more important play happened next, as it has also become a classic image from this World Series. With two outs, Rick Gedman singled to left field, Mookie Wilson fielded the ball & threw perfectly to home plate. Gary Carter held his ground, caught the ball & tagged out Jim Rice trying to score. It was a most important play.

McDowell had a rough 8th inning as Dave Henderson singled, Wade Boggs was walked intentionally & then he walked Barrett to load up the bases. Davey Johnson went to Jesse Orosco in the bullpen & he got Bill Buckner to fly out.

In the bottom of the 8th Clemens night was done, he went seven innings allowing two runs on four hits, striking out eight while walking two. Apparantley he developed a blister on his finger which aided the decision for his departure. Calvin Shiraldi came in to pitch. 

With the Mets down 3-2, pinch hitter Lee Mazzilli singled to right field. He was moved over to third on Lenny Dykstra & Wally Backman's sacrifices. Keith Hernandez was intentionally walked bringing up Gary Carter. Carter delivered with a sac fly scoring Mazzilli to tie up the game & get the Shea crowd going on.

 Rick Aguilera who had been summoned to the bullpen in the post season, pitched a perfect 9th inning. In the bottom of the 9th, Ray Knight drew a lead off walk, he was moved over to second, when Mookie Wilson reached on a throwing error on catcher Rich Gedman. But they were stranded there as Shiraldi got Howard Johnson to strike out & Mazzailli & Dykstra to fly out.

In the top of the 10th inning the tension was building & there was an excitement for October World Series baseball in the air. The Red Sox Dave Henderson took the life out of Shea Stadium when he blasted a Rick Aguilera pitch, down the left field line for a lead off HR. Shea was silenced, as was all of New York. The bench drew very irritable as well, as the Mets now faced possible elimination.

After a pair of strike outs, Wade Boggs doubled, Marty Barrett who would be prematurely announced as the Series MVP in the bottom of the inning, singled to center making it 5-3 Red Sox. It seemed the nail was beaten in a bit deeper on the mets coffin & it seemed Boston was ready to celebrate their first Championship since 1918, although there wasn't much mention of that in the eighties.

Rick Aguilera was devastated, Davey Johnson was visibly upset pacing in the dugout, he even banged his head behind him, against the dug out wall in frustration. The Mets bench was very quiet & hanging their heads as well. Kevin Mitchell was already in the club house making arrangements to fly home to the west coast.

The Red Sox were cocky, leaning on the edge of the visiting dugout at Shea Stadium with smiles on their faces, some with arms around each other. They were just waiting to celebrate. Oil Can Boyd had words for the camera's tuned in on him.

Calvin Shiraldi came out to the mound & got Wally Backman to fly out to left field to Jim Rice for the first out. Next up Keith Hernandez lifted a fly ball to center but it died in the glove of Dave Henderson who carefully caught it & snugged it in with some emotion.

from centerfield: At this point it all seemed over. After our main clutch guy, Keith Hernandez made out & the Mets were down to their last out it was almost final. I can clearly remember saying well we might as well go down with them & watch the final outs. It was such a hurting feeling, to be a Mets fan my  whole life, be this close in Shea Stadium & have it all end. But still some where for me & the 56,000 others who never left there was a small hope inside of us. In the next twenty minutes, the swing of emotions was never felt before or afterward in my life. There was a special bond with all the fans around me, people I didn't even know. There was witness to a sports miracle, witness to what the Amazing Mets legend always was & witness to what has defined a franchise to that generation. Shea Stadium would go from total silence & a feeling of draining defeat to nail biting nervous energy to absolute bedlam & an ecstatic happiness of winning orgasm. I am thankful to have been there live & witness this great night of Mets history, live in person.

The Mets were down to their last out. Keith Hernandez tossed his helmet down in disgust, went into the Mets club house, sat in a directors chair in Davey Johnson's office & lit a cigarette. He couldn't bear to watch the Red Sox win & celebrate on his home field. Hernandez recalled " I was going to go out get drunk, stay up all night. I was thinking of eating a hamburger at 7AM."

The Shea Stadium message board even put up "prematurely" once again, Congrads Red Sox.

Gary Carter came to the plate, as he later wrote in his book " I was not going to make the the last out of the World Series. I felt certain of that. It would have been unacceptable, impossible; I would have had to live with that all winter & probably beyond." Gary Carter came through & singled to left field. There was a pulse.

Next, due up was Aguilera, he had moved into the 5th spot when Davey Johnson made the decision for double switch in the 9th inning. He left Mazzilli in the game batting 9th & put Agiulera in Darryl Strawberry's fifth spot. This bothered Strawberry but Johnson felt he was out of quality relievers at that point.

Drama: After the game Strawberry was angry in the Mets clubhouse. He told the media he had lost a lot of respect for his manager for being removed from the game. He said he was embarrassed & didn't even want to talk or sit down next to Johnson. Davey Johnson replied " After Darryl gets a few more years in, maybe he'll be managerial material. But right now I wouldn't classify him as that". 

Kevin Mitchell  had to be called in from the clubhouse, grab a bat get ready & come to bat as a pinch hitter. Mitchell said "My grand parents at home must have been doing a lot of praying" Mitchell came through with a base hit to center field. There was life, now as the tying runs were on base. 

The crowd grew restless & nervously anxious. Next up was Ray Knight, who had been holding his bat since he returned to the dug out between innings. Even though he was scheduled up fifth, Knight was still upset at himself for the throwing error earlier. " I didn't want to be the goat that lost the World Series. I said a prayer & thought if there are redemptive factors in this game, then I'd get another at bat. So I was happy to be up in that situation".

Knight got down to two strikes at 0-2 the Mets were down to their final strike as more tension built inside Mets fans stomachs. But Knight looped a base hit to center field scoring Gary Carter making it a one run game. Kevin Mitchell was now on third base & Shea Stadium was alive again.

Mookie Wilson came up to the plate in one of the most important & best at bats in Mets history. Boston manager; John McNamara had seen enough, he lifter Schiraldi & brought in veteran Bob Stanley. Shea Stadium was noisy & lively. In the Mets clubhouse, Keith Hernandez was going to come to the dug out but said, no way this chair has hits in it & remained in Johnsons office.

Stanley then threw  a pitch that almost hit Mookie Wilsoon on the foot. Mookie did a dance got out of the way of the pitch & fell down. The ball got past catcher Rich Gedman & Kevin Mitchell came scampering in with the amazing tying run. 

Unbelievable, just like that it was tied. Shea Stadium erupted, into an emotional frenzy. It was loud, it was literally shaking as people were jumping up & down in amazement as well as happiness.

At this point I know I & I believe everyone else knew, the Mets were going to win this game. 

Mookie Wilson hung in there in this spectacular at bat. In the nine pitch sequence, he fouled off five pitches. The first pitch was fouled off, then there were two balls, making it 2-1. Three more foul balls followed, ball three & another foul keeping the count full. 

Then Mookie Wilson made contact, as he tapped a little roller along the first base line. First baseman Bill Buckner who was known to have have a bad ankle & had been replaced in late innings for defensive purposes in the past, went after it. He attempted to field it buy the ball got by him, under his glove into right field. Ray Knight came running home hands on his helmet in amazement as he scored the winning run.

The Mets won the ball game, the World Series was now tied at three games each & Game Seven would be played at Shea Stadium. The crowd was even more ecstatic if thats possible. Shea Stadium fans were jumping for joy, hugging, kissing high fiving each other. Papers & anything else that was not harmful was tossed in the air in celebration. Even NBC broadcaster Vin Scully was silenced & let the TV cameras do all the work. Scully said " If a picture is worth a thousand word then you've just seen a million of them".

Mookie Wilson said " mirrors magic wands, no matter how we did it we won the ball game". Mookie has always said that he felt with his speed he was going to beat Buckner to the bag even if he had fielded the ball.

Maybe it was true maybe it was in Buckner's defense. Bill Buckner lived a baseball hell for many years after that & was known as one of the most hated Red Sox in team history. Finally after the Sox did win a World Series in the new millennium, he was forgiven & welcomed back to Fenway Park in a ceremony.

Quotes: Bill Buckner-" I did concentrate on the ball. I saw it well, it bounced & bounced & then it did not bounce. It just skipped, the ball missed my glove. I can't remember the last time I missed a ground ball. I'll remember that one."

Mets coach Bill Robinson: 'This is a very tricky infield. It's a good infield but it hasn't been the same since the fans came out on the field & destroyed it".

Davey Johnson- " I'm not an emotional guy. I never run on the field, but when I saw the ball get by Buckner, I was out on the field."

This was certainly one for the ages.

1 comment:

Vdog said...

Hey Maz-

Thouroughly enjoyed reading your Game 6 post.That was a very special time in my life, as I was living in Boston then. The company that I was working for had seats at Fenway,; they had a pair of tickets to each of the playoff and WS games to be held there, and held a raffle to see who would wind up with them. My girlfriend (who later became my wife) was a Mass gal, won a pair of tix for Game 5 and opted to take her dad, who being a lifelong Sox fan, had never been to a postseason game in his life. I couldn't be mad about it because a) we'd only been dating for a few months, and I'd be rooting for the Mets, and b) my sister spent a couple of hours on the phone and got some seats out in LF for Game 6 in NY. After watching the Mets go down in defeat in Game 5 (on TV), I hopped the train down to the city. I remember buying a couple of airplane bottles of Remy off some guy in the parking lot, and missing Sandra Santiago (of Miami Vice fame - she was kinda hot in that 80's sort of way) singing the National Anthem. After we got to our seats, we heard all this cheering which seemingly came out of nowhere: Because we were under the overhang, we didn't realize that the cheering was for the parachute jumper because we didn't see him until he was almost on the ground.

I remember the premature message flashing on the scoreboard in the 10th inning: New York Mets Congratulate the 1986 World Champion Boston Red Sox, and thinking that although I was kinda bummed, it wasn't so bad, because the Mets, with that team they had, would certainly be back. My most vivid memory of the evening was when Stanley came into the game after the Mets began their comeback. I saw him emerge from the pen and started jumping up and down with joy. The guy sitting next to me asked what the story was, and I said something like, "I live in Boston, I know this team really well, and that guy fucking sucks. He'll blow this game for sure!" After he did, I remember people going crazy, running up and down the ramps. Do you remember the cardboard cutouts of Carter and Gooden that were in the park that year? The ones that people used to take pictures with? Well there was a woman who must have weighed 300 lbs.; she was so happy the she was ready to strip naked and have her picture taken with them. Needless to say, we left the area; I didn't want to be a witness to that crime. My sister and I did have our picture taken with them (the cutouts, not the woman), I'll have to dig it out of that box in my garage one of these days.

The next day, as pre-arranged, my girlfriend picked me up at the train. I was determined not to gloat; as a Boston resident, I knew what those people were going through, and I have to admit that I felt sorry for them. There may have been a game left, but it was over, and those fans knew it. There was a sports talk radio guy in town who stayed on the air after the game taking calls until 3:00AM, talking people down.

Finally, I remember being surprised that Ray Knight wound up as the MVP; I always felt that Sid Fernandez' stellar relief appearance in Game 7 was what got them to the promised land.