Feb 7, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1999): NLDS Game #4: Todd Pratts Dramatic Walk Off HR Clinches Series

Saturday, October 9th 1999 NLDS Game #4- Shea Stadium, New York. It turned out to be a great finish, and one of the most remembered moments in more recent in Mets post season history. 56,000 plus, packed into Shea Stadium on a chilly Saturday afternoon, for the 3:30 PM start. There was excitement in air as a Mets win would advance them to the NLCS for the first time since 1988.

Mets manager; Bobby Valentine juggled 15 different players in his line up throughout the day, only managing to get eight hits out of their bats. His biggest bat, Mike Piazza was sidelined due to a sore thumb and back up Todd Pratt was inserted in the lineup.

Starting Lineups

Al Leiter  (13-12 / 4.13 ERA / 162 Ks) got the start against Brian Anderson (8-2 / 4.57 ERA). Leiter he was outstanding, allowing just two hits & a run in the first seven innings. The run was a solo HR to Greg Colbrunn. The Mets had scored their first run on an Edgardo Alfonzo solo HR in the 4th to tie the game.

In the home 6th, Rickey Henderson & John Olerud both singled. Then Benny Agbayani doubled bringing in Henderson to put the Mets ahead.

In the top of the 8th, Leiter got the first two outs but then walked Turner Ward & gave up a single to Tony Womack. Bobby Valentine removed Leiter, handing the ball over to Armando Benitez.
Benitez immediately gave up a double to Jay Bell, giving Arizona the a 3-2 lead.

But the Mets came right back in the home 8th. Edgardo Alfonzo walked, and John Olerud reached base on a Luis Gonzales error. Roger Cedeno then tied it up with a sac fly setting the stage for extra innings.

 Benitez got through the 9th & John Franco tossed a scoreless 10th inning. Arizona brought in Matt Mantei to pitch, & with one out, nobody on backup catcher Todd Pratt came to bat.

Pratt had been up twice in the game with runners in scoring position went hitless both times. But here he blasted a shot to deep centerfield; Steve Finley leaped to the top of the fence at the classic 410 marker on the Shea wall. He landed on the ground & for a moment no one knew if the catch was made or not. 

Pratt stopped half way around first base to pray & see if Finley had made the catch. But it was soon clear Finley came up empty & it was ruled a HR. The Shea Faithful & the Mets team went crazy as Pratt leaped in the air
getting mobbed at home plate by his team mates.

He became the just fourth MLB player in history to end a Post Season Series with a walk off HR. The Mets advanced to the 1999 NLCS & avoided a date in the desert facing Randy Johnson for Game #5.  Arizona manager Buck Schowalter was soon fired after the series.

Pratt became a Mets hero and will always be remembered for hitting one of the most memorable HRs in Mets history. Just when he thought his job as Mike Piazza’s back up was to be an unmemorable experience. Pratt had only hit three HRs all year, in 71 games. He had batted a solid .293 with 21 RBIs.

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