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

Saturday May 11th, 1996: On this day 23,237 fans came out to Shea Stadium to celebrate John Franco Day. The Mets honored the Brooklyn born pitcher who, was a graduate of the nearby St. John's University, in a pre-game ceremony. 

The Italian / American John Franco had recently recorded his 300th career save, less than two weeks earlier.

Om this afternoon, Dallas Green's New York Mets (15-19) hosted Jim Riggleman's Chicago Cubs (16-20) . Pete Harnisch took the mound for New York, and Kevin Foster for the Reds, in what turned out to be a wild, wild brawling afternoon.



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

In the bottom frame, with one out, Jose Vizcaino singled & Bernard Gilkey walked. Next up was catcher Todd Hundley, as he stepped in with two strikes, he was greeted with a pitch straight at his head. 

Hundley was not happy & neither was pitcher Pete Harnisch. Hundley ended up popping up & making the second out. Next, Rico Brogna singled scoring both runs to tie the game at two. 

The next inning with two outs & no one on, Pete Harnisch answered back, as he drilled Reds pitcher 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". 

By the bottom of the 2nd inning, everyone was anticipating more trouble, especially as Pete Harnisch was due up. 

Butch Huskey drew a walk & Rey Ordonez singled, putting two men on with no one out in the tie game, as Harnisch stepped in. 

Kevin Foster could not retaliate, but that didn't stop Cubs' catcher Scott Servais. He & Harnisch exchanged words.

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

In the 3rd inning, Rico Brogna led off with a HR which knocked Kevin Foster out of the game, making it 5-2 Mets. 

The Mets Jeff Kent walked, Butch Huskey singled & Rey 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 & nit hit. 

Harnisch grounded out, but the next batter, Lance Johnson hit a sac fly making it 6-2, Mets.

All hell broke loose in the 5th inning. With two outs & no one on base, Pete Harnisch stepped in with his third at bat. Cubs pitcher, Terry Adams' first pitch was aimed at Harnisch's knee, but it 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 punch 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 Pete Harnisch & Scott Servais who were actually good friends, from their time in Houston together.

Order was eventually restored, there were caps & gloves all over the infield. The Shea crowd screamed at the Cubs & gave their Mets a standing ovation.

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

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

In the bottom of the 9th, Rico Brogna came to the plate facing Doug Jones. He ended the whole thing, shoving it right to Chicago. He blasted a walk off HR to right field to win the game. 

It was his Brogna's second HR of the game & his fourth of the year, as the Mets won it 7-6. Doug Henry got he win & Jones the loss.t

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