May 9, 2021

Remebering Mets History: (1996) A Brawl on John Franco Day

Saturday May 11th 1996: Today 23,237 fans came out to Shea Stadium to celebrate John Franco Day, as the team honored the Brooklyn native's recent 300th career save.

Dallas Green's New York Mets (15-19) hosted Jim Riggleman's Chicago Cubs (16-20) in what turned out to be a wild brawling afternoon.

Starting Lineups

In the 1st inning the Cubs Sammy Sosa hit a two run HR to start out the scoring. 

In the home 1st inning, Jose Vizcaino singled & Bernard Gilkey walked putting two quick runners on for the Mets. Next up Todd Hundley stepped in & with two strikes was greeted with a pitch by Kevin Foster coming straight at his head. 

Hundley was not amused & neither was pitcher Pete Harnisch. Hundley hit a pop up & made the first out. But next, Rico Brogna singled in both runs to tie the game at two. 

The next inning with two outs & no one on, Harnisch drilled Kevin Foster when he came to bat. The pitch hit him on his left elbow in front of his left side. When asked later if it was intentional, Harnisch relied "I'd rather not answer that". No warnings were issued by the umpires.

By the bottom of the 2nd, everyone was anticipating trouble, as Pete Harnisch was due up. Butch Huskey drew a walk & Rey Ordonez singled, putting two men on with no one out in a 2-2 tie, as Harnisch stepped in. Kevin Foster could not retaliate, but that didn't stop Cubs' catcher Scott Servais, as he & Harnisch exchanged words.

Harnisch would sacrifice the runners over. Lance Johnson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jose Vizcaino struck out, but Bernard Gilkey singled to left center field, bringing home two runs as the Mets took a 4-2 lead.

In the 3rd inning, Rico Brogna led off with a HR which knocked Foster out of the game. 

Jeff Kent walked, then Butch Huskey singled & Ordonez was walked intentionally, to load the bases. Cubs reliever, Rodney Meyers couldn't risk any more runs, so when Harnish stepped in he was pitched too once again. Harnisch grounded out, but then Lance Johnson's sac fly made it 6-2, Mets.

All hell broke loose in the 5th inning. With two outs & no one on base, Pete Harnisch stepped in. Cubs pitcher, Terry Adams' first pitch was aimed at Harnisch's knee, but went behind him. The umpire warned Adams but it was too late.

Harnisch swung his bat at the Cubs catcher Scott Servais. Then, both benches emptied and a brawl broke out swirling around the home plate area like a tornado. The fight even spilled over toward the Cubs dugout & down the steps. There Rico Brogna was pinned to the wall & caught a shot to his cheek.

The bullpens emptied out as well, Mets reliever, the honoree of the day John Franco was caught up in it as well. He had a gash on his face & claimed he never threw a punch, but the umps saw it differently as he was ejected from the game.

Quotes: John Franco: I'm too old to be doing that kind of stuff. I could have been out there in the ninth."

There were nine ejections including Harnisch & Servais who were good friends from their time Houston together.

Order was eventually restored, there were caps, gloves all over the infield & the Shea crowd screamed with a standing ovation.

Quotes: Mets manager Dallas Green: "That was a donnybrook, No question about it. That was a dandy."

Without Franco in the bullpen, relievers Dave Mlicki & Doug Henry gave up three runs to tie the game at six. 

In the bottom of the 9th Rico Brogna came to the rescue blasting a walk off HR to win the game. It was his second HR of the game & his fourth of the year. The Mets won it 7-6.

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