Keith Hernandez (The Mets Championship & NL Eastern Title Years 1986-1989)

1986 Championship Season: Just four years after Keith Hernandez had won a World Championship with the St. Louis Cardinals, he would help lead the Mets to a Championship of their own, the second in franchise history.

In 1986 Championship everything went right for the Mets as they rolled into first place in April & stayed there all season long.

On opening day in Pittsburgh, Keith's 1st inning double brought home Len Dykstra with the first run of the year. Keith would drive in another run later on in the 4-2 Mets win. 

He drove in a modest seven runs in April & would finish the month batting his usual .300 as well an eleven-game hit streak. 

On May 2nd, he drove in two runs in an 8-7 win over the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, the next day his two run HR off the Reds John Denny led New York to a 4-1 victory. On May 29th, his two-run 7th inning double off Fernando Valenzuela gave the Mets some insurance as they went on to a 5-2 victory over the Dodgers.

Overall, in May Keith drove in seventeen runs & had four separate three hit games, raising his average to .325 by June. On June 13th, Keith it a two run HR off Rick Reuschel breaking a 3-3 tie with the Pirates. Pittsburgh tied it back up but the Mets won it on a walk off HR by Darryl Strawberry. 

He drove in a run in all three games of the Mets series sweep as they continued on a six-game win streak.

In an Independence Day classic, which was also an NLCS preview, Keith drove in a 1st inning run with a base hit off Houston's Nolan Ryan. The Mets went on to a 2-1 win behind Dwight Gooden in his 10th victory of the year. The next day Keith hit his 6th HR of the year, it was the only run the Mets got off Bob Knepper as he defeated Bobby Ojeda 2-1.

1986 All Star Game: Keith made the start at first base for the NL going 0-4 in the 3-2 AL win at the Astrodome.

In two months, he hit just four HRs & drove in 18 runs which was small for Keith Hernandez. He also saw his average drop to .286 by August 1st. 

 But he began that month on a tear driving in 15 runs in the first ten days of August. He would hit safely in 19 of the next twenty games, driving in 26 runs in the month with an incredible 40 hits.

On August 1st he hit a three run HR off the Cubs Jamie Moyer in a losing effort. That began a streak of eight straight games with at least one RBI. The Mets swept a double header on August 6th, winning both games 7-6, where Keith had an RBI in each game.

On August 9th, he drove in three runs collecting two hits against the Expos, including his 24th
double of the year in a 10-8 Mets win. He drove in runs in the next two games as well.

On August 18th, Keith homered off Orel Hershiser & then singled later on leading the Mets to a 5-4 victory in Los Angeles. Two games later he had a two-run single, helping New York beat L.A. 7-5.

On August 23rd, at Candlestick Park Keith came to bat with two on & the Mets down 1-0. Giants pitcher, Kelly Down threw a wild pitch with Keth at bat scoring Rafel Santana. Hernandez then singled driving in what was the game winning run in the 3-2 Met win & Bobby Ojeda's team leading 14th victory. 

On that same West Coast Road trip, he drove in the winning run in a 6-5 Mets win over the Padres, with an 11th inning sac fly off Rich Gossage in San Diego. He closed out the month driving in runs in the last five games of August.

September brought a countdown which was going on all season for a Magic Number on when the Mets were going to clinch the NL East.

At Shea Stadium on September 6th, he tied up the game in home 8th inning with an RBI base hit off the Padres Craig Lefferts. After Keith was picked off first base, Gary Carter delivered with a game winning HR. 

The next day in the second game of a double header with San Diego, he had three hits & drove in three runs in the 6-5 Mets win. 

The Mets went on the road to Philadelphia needing just one win to clinch the NL Eastern Division, but they lost three straight. Then they lost two of three in St. Louis, prolonging the celebration which would have to happen in New York.

As they returned to Shea Stadium on September 17th, Hernandez was hurting with an injury & did not play in the game until the 9th inning. With the Mets leading the Cubs 4-2 in the 9th inning, Keith was put in to replace Dave Magadan so he could be on the field in celebration, thanks to manager Davey Johnson. 

The Mets won the game & clinched their first divisional title in 13 years. Shea Stadium erupted & the Mets fans (including cnterfieldmaz) stormed the field in celebration.

Keith Hernandez closed out the 1986 regular season leading the league in walks (94) batting .310 (5th in the NL) with 171 Hits (9th in the NL) 13 HRs 34 doubles (8th in the NL) 83 RBIs, 94 runs scored (5th in the NL) & a .410 on base % (2nd best in the NL).

Defensively he won another Gold Glove, led the league in fielding for the second straight year & was second in assists & double plays turned.
The '86 Mets were known as a raucous bunch, wild party guys who always seemed to be in some kind of trouble. Other clubs & their fans hated the teams "in your face" flashy attitude, but the Mets fans loved it.

Keith was very emotional on the field & outspoken off the field as well. He would be seen catching a quick smoke in the side of the dugout at times & was looked at as a Mr. Party type Guy.

Quotes: Hernandez once told Daryl Strawberry how to break out of a batting slump. Strawberry said, laughing: “Go out and get totally smashed.” Strawberry remembers when Hernandez told him he'd found the perfect drink, “you only get five or six in a night, a Dry martini."

1986 Post season- NLCS: In Game #1 of the NLCS at the Houston Astrodome, against the Astros, Hernandez went 1-4 off Mike Scott.

In that Game Mike Scott shut out the Mets, holding them down to five hits, as he beat Dwight Gooden 1-0. Scott would beat the Mets again at Shea Stadium in Game #4, holding them to just three hits in a 3-1 win. 

They were the only two games the Astros would in the Series, if a Game #7 was necessary, Scott would have gotten the start. 

Hernandez was very outspoken, as was other Met players, who accused Scott of scuffing the baseball, to get extra movement on it. Thus was born the legacy of "Mike Scuff". Hernandez went 0-4 in Game #4, an overall 1-8 against Mike Scott.

In Game #2, Hernandez drew a pair of walks & got two hits. In the 5th inning with the Mets up 3-0, he tripled off Nolan Ryan, helping the Mets in the 5-1 win to even the series. 

As the series moved back to New York, Shea Stadium was filled with excitement for the Saturday afternoon Game #3. Keith got two more hits & scored on Daryl Strawberry's 6th inning, three run game tying HR. Lenny Dykstra won it with a walk off HR off Dave Smith in the bottom of the 9th.

Hernandez crosses the plate with 9th inning
 tying run in 1986 NLCS Game #6
In Game #5, Hernandez had one hit & a walk, in the 2-1 classic where Doc Gooden & Nolan Ryan went at it in a great pitcher's duel. Nolan Ryan pitched nine innings & Dwight Gooden pitched ten, as they held their opponents to one run. centerfieldmaz was at this game as well.

It was back to Houston, for the classic 16 inning Game #6, the game Keith said was the greatest game he ever played in. Hernandez had just one hit in seven at bats, but it was a big one. In the 9th inning, he doubled to centerfield off Astro reliever, Bob Knepper, bringing in Mookie Wilson to bring the Mets within a run. He then scored the tying run on Ray Knights sac fly.

The game went to the 16th inning, as the Mets took a three run lead. Jesse Orosco then gave up two runs bringing the Astros to within a run, Hernandez walked over to the mound & told Orosco "if you threw another curveball we're going to fight!". Orosco listened & struck out Kevin Bass to end the game. 

The Mets advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1973.

In the NLCS he went 7-26 (.269) with a double, triple, three RBIs & three walks, posting a .346 on base %.

1986 World Series: In the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Keith went 6-26 (.231) with five walks, four RBIs & a run scored.

In Game #1 he went 0-3 as the Mets suffered a heart breaking 1-0 loss. In that game Ron Darling pitched seven innings allowing one run (unearned) on three hits, walking three & striking out eight.

In Game #2 he had one hit with a ground out RBI in the Mets lost 9-3 & headed to Boston down two games to none.

In Game #3 he got two hits as the Mets won their first Series game 7-1 behind Gary Carter's  two HRs & Bobby Ojeda in his return to Fenway Park. Hernandez singled in the 1st & scored on Danny Heep's base hit. Heep was the very first DH in World Series history, so Hernandez scoring n his hit was historic in its own right.

Keith Congratulates Roger McDowell After Mets
Win Game #3 of 1986 World Series at Fenway Park Boston
After going hitless in Game #4, he hit safely in the next three games. 

In Game #6 he had a 6th inning single but was left stranded on second base. The Red Sox went ahead in the 10th inning, as Dave Henderson homered & Marty Barrett singled in Wade Boggs. 

Hernandez made the second out of the 10th inning, as the Mets were on the brink of elimination down 5-3 in the game & three games to two in the World Series. 

After flying out to center, he went into the locker room, sat in a clubhouse chair, sulking & had a beer. 

He could not bear to watch the Red Sox celebrate on his home field. As the Mets began to rally & tie up the game, he started heading back to the dugout, but realized; he couldn't leave that spot, telling himself "That chair has hits in it"!

Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell & Ray Knight all singled. Then Mooke Wilson had his miraculous at bat where Bob Stanley threw a wild pitch scoring Mitchell & Mookie's little roller up along first, got by Bill Buckner scoring Knight with the game winning run.

Shea Stadium went crazy as it was absolute bedlam, the rafters were shaking, everyone was hugging each other in celebration. centerfieldmaz was there in the greatest game of all.
The Mets won the Game 6-5 forcing a Game #7.

Keith's Big Game Seven Base Hit
Another Big Game Seven For Hernandez: In Game #7, Shea Stadium was absolutely insane, centerfieldmaz was there as well. Keith had one hit, but it was one of the biggest of the Mets entire season. 

In the home 6th the Mets were down 3-0, then Lee Mazzilli & Mookie Wilson both singled. Tim Teufel walked off Bruce Hurst to load the bases.

Hernandez came to bat & electrified the Shea Stadium crowd, lining a single to centerfield scoring Mazzilli & Mookie as the Mets were back in it. It was reminiscent of his 1982 Game Seven World Series Heroics. Gary Carter tied it up with a grounder to short right scoring Teufel.

Later in the 7th inning, he added an RBI sac fly to make it 6-3 New York. HRs by Ray Knight & Darryl Strawberry led the way to victory. Jesse Orosco got the final out & the Mets won the World Series title, the dream had finally come true. 

Hernndez & the rest of the '86 Mets were now legendary in franchise history.

The next day, he joined the team in a victory Parade down "the Canyon of Heroes" at Broadway to City Hall, where he & Gary Carter lifted the World Series trophy for New York City.

Hernandez & Carter Raise the Trophy at City Hall

After the Championship- Team Captain: Prior to the 1987 season, Hernandez was named the first team Captain in New York Mets history. His uniform now had a big "C" on the upper left-hand side of his chest. Gary Carter was named co-captain, something Keith felt upset Carter.

On April 7th, 1987,  the Mets raised the World Championship banner to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day, Hernandez had two hits, including a double. 

He began the month slow, kick staring it up on April 24th, as he tied a 1-0 game against the St. Louis Cards. The Mets went on to a 2-1 win.

He closed out the month hitting HRs in the final three games. On April 29th, he drove in both runs including a HR off Mike Sott, in a 2-1 Mets win over Mike Scott & the Houston Astros.

By mid-May, he got himself over .300. On May 29th, Keith broke a 4-4 tie in San Diego with a solo HR off Craig Lefferts for what was to be the game winning run.

 On June 7th, he drove in a run leading the Mets to a comeback win over John Smiley & the Pirates. 

 On June 10th, he hit two HRs while driving in three runs in a 13-2 Mets romp at Wrigley Field. Keith then drove in five runs & had five hits, over the next three games at Pittsburgh against the Pirates. 

At the end of the month, although the Mets lost two of three in St. Louis, Keith hit two HRs & drove in four runs in the series.

The World Champions were struggling trying to defend their title, by July 1st they were five 1/2 games behind the rival Cardinals.

1987 All Star Game: Keith lost out to the Cardinals Jack Clark in starting the Mid Summer Classic played in Oakland. Keith was a reserve & got two at bats, collecting a 10th inning base hit off the Blue Jays Tom Henke. He later struck out. 

The NL won it 2-0 in 13 innings on Tim Raines' double. It was his 5th & final All Star game.

In August Keith got hot, he had a seventeen-game hit streak & drove in 22 runs in the month. On August 2nd, he drove in three runs in a 7-4 win over the Expos in Montreal. 

The next day, he came to bat in the bottom of the 11th inning in a 2-2 tie with the Phillies. Keith hit a walk off HR against closer Kent Tekulve for a 3-2 exciting Mets win. 

A week later, on August 11th, he would have a three RBI Day, with a two run double then getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded from pitcher Floyd Youmans, in a 6-2 win over the Expos. As the Mets went to Wrigley Field for a four-game series, he drove in runs in all four games. On August 23rdm he had three hits & drove in a pair of runs in the Mets 23-10 blowout.

On August 24th his 4th inning RBI single off L.A.'s Shawn Hillegas, was the only run of a 1-0 Mets victory over the Dodgers. Two days later his 6th inning HR off Bob Welch was the difference in a 3-2 Mets win over L.A. as well.

Hernandez began September with a bang, hitting HRs in the first three games of the month. The Mets began the month five games out of first behind the Cardinals. 

On September 1st, Keith hit a two run HR & driving in four runs in a 9-1 win at San Diego. The next day he hit a two run HR off Ed Whitson in the 4-3 win over the Padres.

On September 4th, he hit another HR, this one-off Shawn Hillegas in Los Angeles, his 16th of the year. In a three-game span September 6th- 8th he drew nine walks, with two games where he had three bases on balls in each game.

On September 19th he hit a grand slam HR in Pittsburgh, off the Pirates Vicente Palacios helping New York to a 5-4 win.

The Mets were in the race until the final week of the season but finished up losing three of the last six games, finishing up second, three games behind the Cardinals. 

Keith batted .290, his lowest average since 1976.It was the first time he did not bat over .300 since coming to the Mets & playing a full season. He did hit a career high 18 HRs with 28 doubles 89 RBIs 87 runs scored & a .377 on base %.

It would be his last year playing a full season (154 games) as back problems would shorten his career. 

He made his last All Star team & won his tenth Gold Glove. His .993 fielding % & 1298 put outs were second in the NL, & his 149 assists were first.

1988 NL Eastern Champions: The 34 year old Keith Hernandez entered the season with hope, as did the Mets for a repeat of 1986 after a disappointing 1987 season which saw the St. Louis Cardinals win the division & get to the World Series. 

This season, the Mets won the Eastern Division but lost a heartbreaking NLCS to the L.A. Dodgers. In an era with no wild card, the heavily favored Mets fell short of the expectations put on them.

Hernandez struggled early on as a bad back & age was creeping up on him. He hit just .203 the first month 

On April 26th, he had one tremendous day in Atlanta in a 13-4 Mets win. It was one of his biggest days ever, as he hit two HRs, including a grand slam off a young Tom Glavine. He also added a two run shot off former Met Charlie Puleo.

Hernandez drove in two runs the next day & then two more on April 29th in Atlanta. In that game his base hit off the Braves, Rob Murphy, broke a 4-4 tie & was the game winning run. This started a nine game hit streak & a total of 13 hits in those games raising his average to .292. 

He would drive in runs in seven of the first ten games of May. On May 1st he hit a solo HR off Dennis Rasmussen & then a two run double in the Mets 11-0 win. After driving in runs in the next two games, he added another game winning RBI with a 5th inning double off the Reds Don Robinson. 

On May 11th, he drew two walks & had an RBI hit off Mike Scott in an exciting 9-8 win over the Astros.

In that early West Coast Road trip, he had back-to-back three hit games in San Diego, including a three RBI Day leading the Mets to a 5-3 win on May 18th. 

The Mets went on a seven-game win streak, sweeping Dodgers who would defat them in that year's NLCS, Keith drove in three runs in that series. On May 31st, at Shea Stadium the Mets were trailing the Dodgers 4-2 in the 10th inning. Keith singled off Jay Howell scoring Lenny Dykstra with the game tying run. Kevin Elster won it with a walk off HR.

In June the back issues got him, he missed over two weeks of action from June 6th to June 22nd. He returned for just two games, going out for another six weeks. Dave Magadan saw the majority of the playing time at first base, in Hernandez absence, hitting .277. 

On August 5th, Hernandez returned in dramatic fashion, hitting a 7th inning two run HR in Pittsburgh off Dave Rucker, leading the Mets to a 3-2 win. But over the next two weeks he drove in just one run & saw his average fall to .280 as he battled the back problems.

When the Dodgers came to town the Mets swept them again, as Keith hit an August 22nd two run HR as Dwight Gooden & the Mets beat John Tudor 7-1. 

On August 24th Orel Hershiser held the Mets scoreless into the 8th inning clinging to a 1-0 lead. Mookie Wilson led off with a triple & was brought home by Hernandez to tie the game. The Mets went on to a 2-1 win.

On September 7th, Keith hit a three run HR at Wrigley Field in a 9-8 Mets loss. He then missed ten more days of action, injured, but returned as the Mets wrapped up the NL Eastern title. 

On September 22nd at Shea Stadium Ron Darling pitched a complete game 3-1 win over the Phillies to clinch the Mets second title in three years. Keith went 0-4 in the game. 

On the last day of the season, he added another blow to his old Cardinal teammates hitting a HR in the Mets 7-5 win at Shea.

He finished up 1988 playing in 95 games, the lowest amount in his career since he had become a regular player. He hit .276 his lowest average since 1978, with 11 HRs 16 doubles 55 RBIs & a .333 on base %, his lowest since 1975.

1988 Post Season-NLCS: In the 1988 NLCS the Mets went against the Los Angeles Dodgers whom they had beaten up in regular season play all season. The post season was different & did not turn out as expected.

In Game #1 at Dodger Stadium, Dwight Gooden & Orel Hershiser went at it. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead to the 9th inning. Doubles by Darryl Strawberry & Gary Carter won it for the Mets. Keith went 1-4 with a base in the 3-2 Mets win.

In Game #2 at Dodger Stadium with the Mets down 5-0, Hernandez hit a two run HR off Tim Belcher. The Mets lost the game 6-3 as the series was even heading back to New York.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium, Keith went 1-2 with three walks & an RBI. In the 6th inning he started the inning with a lead off base hit but was thrown out at third base trying to advance on Daryl Strawberry's base hit. 

In the Mets five run 8th inning, Keith drew a bases loaded walk, off former Mets teammate Jesse Orosco, bringing in the Mets seventh run in the 8-4 win.

In Game #4, Hernandez had two hits in the 5-4 Dodgers win. In this game Mike Scioscia hit a game tying, 9th inning HR off Dwight Gooden. In the 12th inning, Kirk Gibson homered off Roger McDowell leading the Dodgers to the win. 

Keith had just one hit in the final two games, as the Dodgers upset New York four game to three. They then went on to further upset the mighty Oakland A's winning the World Series.

Overall, in the 1988 NLCS, Keith Hernandez went 7-26 (.269) with six walks for a .406 on base %.

Keith vs. Darryl Fight: During the 1989 team picture photo shoot, Jay Horowitz told Keith to sit next to Darryl Strawberry. Keith had made some comments to the press when Straw was trying to renegotiate his contract. Saying "a deal is a deal, if Darryl wants an extension, he should keep it out of the press".

When Straw refused to sit next to Keith, Hernandez commented "why don't you grow up you big
baby". Straw said "I've been tired of you for years" he went to punch Hernandez but missed. The team broke it up. Afterward the two met in a private session worked things out. Gary Carter had also commented on Darryl's renegotiation attempts & was in the mix as well.

The Final Mets Season: In 1989 Hernandez began the year going 0-4 on Opening Day. In the final two weeks of the month, he hit three HRs & had a four RBI day in Houston on April 28th.

But overall he had one of his worst starts, batting just .236 by May 1st. He had a good start to
May hitting safely in 9 of 11 games, getting his average above .280. But he then went on the DL missing two months of action.

In his return on July 13th, he drove in a run in a 5-1 win over the Braves in Atlanta. In July he missed yet another week of action, as he did in August as well. 

It was clear that his best days were behind him, at age 35 with back issues & in the final days of his contract, his Mets days were numbered. Hernandez finished 1989 playing in just 75 games, batting a career low .233, with 4 HRs 8 doubles 19 RBIs & a .333 on base %.

All Time Mets Leaderboard:
Hernandez is the Mets all-time leader in on base % (.387%). He is second all-time in Mets history in games played at first base behind Eddie Kranepool with 854. He played 880 Mets games (17th all time).

He is sixth on the Mets All Time list in walks (471) eighth in intentional walks (59) ninth in singles (690) tenth in RBIs (468). Keith is eleventh in sac flies (31) twelfth in doubles (159) & runs scored (455) & thirteenth in hits (939).

Post Mets Career: That off season, he was let go to free agency & signed with the Cleveland Indians. He played just 42 games for the 1990 Indians batting .200 ending his season in late July. On April 25th, he had hit his final career HR, it came off Todd Stottlemyer, in Toronto at Sky Dome. His last career hit came on July 20th, off the Angels, Bert Blyleven in Anaheim.

Career Stats: In his 17-year career, Hernandez hit. 296 with 2182 hits (187th all time) 162 HRs 426 doubles (138th all time) 60 triples 595 RBIs (225th all time) & a .384 on base % (138th all time). 

He has 1070 career walks (88th all time) 1124 runs scored (231st all time) with 1534 singles (183rd all time). He has been on base 3284 times (140th all time) with 646 extra base hits (233rd all time).

At first base he won eleven Gold Gloves, played 2014 games (19th all time) posting a .994 fielding % (37th all time) making 115 errors (92nd all time) in 19706 chances, turning 1654 double plays (9th all time). He made 17909 put outs (21st all time) with 1682 assists (4th all time).


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