Dec 1, 2019

Remembering Mets History (1973): World Series Game #6- A's Even Up Series

Sunday October 21st, 1973 World Series Game #6
Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Oakland California

Mets Tom Seaver , Bud Harrelson & Wives
Arrive At San Francisco Airport Prior to
Game Six of the 1973 World Series


Managers Yogi Berra & Dick Williams
The Mets were one game away from winning their second World Series in four years. As Game #6 was approaching, Mets manager, Yogi Berra made a pitching decision that affected the outcome of the series. 

George Stone last pitched in the 12th inning of Game #2 at Oakland earning the save, but he had not appeared in the World Series since. 


He had been on six days of rest if he had gotten the call. Stone had not made a start since Game #4 of the NLCS which was eleven days prior. He certainly was well rested & certainly had the credentials after having a fine season.

Stone had gone 12-3 with an .800 winning %. He posted a 2.80 ERA on the year & since July 14th had won his last eight decisions. In two post season appearances he had posted a 0.93 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched.

But with the talents of Cy Young Winner Tom Seaver, lefty Jerry Koosman & the Mets latest young stud; Jon Matlack, he was not managers Yogi Berra's go to guy. 

In fact looking back, Stone had not pitched in any games in the final week & a half of the regular season which spanned six games.

In the World Series, with New York back in Oakland needing just one game to finish off the mighty Oakland A's, Manager Yogi Berra chose to skip over Stone once again. 

Stone would not appear again until the 7th inning of Game Seven.

Berra chose to go with the ace of his staff for Game #6, the man known as "the franchise"; Tom Seaver. What makes the decision strange is that Seaver was working on three days' rest, with 290 regular season innings & 26 post season innings on his arm (316 total).

Quotes: George Stone-"A lot of people have asked me that over the years. I thought I had a chance to start and I was disappointed that I didn't. He decided to go with the three main starters, but I was a control-type pitcher, the kind of pitcher that gave Oakland trouble.

I thought I deserved a chance to start. And even if we lose, we still have Game 7 and everyone on an extra day of rest. Some of the players begged Yogi to start me. I even talked with the opposing players and manager, and they had a scouting report ready for me because they thought I was going to start. But it's best to get over it. Yogi might have had orders from above."

Some of the Mets players felt Stone was best choice for that game. If he had gone out & pitched poorly, Seaver could always come in relief. 


If he went deep into the game & lost, all three Mets top pitchers would have been ready for Game #7.

It was a luxury Berra had with such a talented staff, the Mets best weapon & the main reason they were this close to a championship.

Cleon Jones -"We can all second-guess Yogi. We talked to Yogi about it, and a bunch of us wanted him to start Stone. He was our best pitcher in September.

And when we asked Yogi to start him, he said if he did that the writers would eat him alive. But if you win it's different. Good managers take chances and don't worry about what the writers say. 

If we needed to go to the seventh game, we had four great pitchers. If we couldn't beat Oakland with those four, we didn't deserve to win. I felt that way then, and I feel that way now."

Not everybody on that Mets team agreed, at least not publicly. Jerry Grote never debated Berra’s decision: "It was his decision, and we were not in a position to question the manager's decision, we didn't have a choice. If Seaver had won, no one would have said a word. I'm not about to second-guess him."

Tug McGraw said: "Some of the guys wondered why we pitched Seaver in the sixth game & Matlack in the seventh game.

They felt Seaver was tired & could have been held back a day & maybe Stone should have started instead. He'd pitched super all season & deserved a shot. But Yogi went with Seaver, the club stopped hitting anyway".

Jack Benny Tosses Out First Pitch
49,151 fans came out to the Oakland Coliseum on sunny Saturday afternoon for Game #6. 

It was once again a top marquee billing, as Tom Seaver went up against Catfish Hunter. Jack Benny threw out the first pitch from Charlie Finley's box seat.

Starting Lineups



 

In the top of the 1st, the Mets quickly got two men on, as leadoff batter Wayne Garrett walked & after Felix Millan popped out Rusty Staub singled to center.

But Hunter got Cleon Jones & John Milner to both fly out ending the inning.

In the A's 1st, Joe Rudi singled to right field. Seaver struck out Sal Bando but with two outs, Reggie Jackson doubled to the left field gap, scoring Rudi with the A's first run, making it 1-0.

In the home 3rd, Seaver got Bert Campeneris to hit a pop up foul ball, that John Milner caught. He then struck out Joe Rudi. 

But the middle of the order struck again, Sal Bando singled to center. 

Reggie Jackson, was just starting his reputation as "Mr. October" during this World Series, the first of four he would play in, in six years. 


Here, Jackson doubled to right center field bringing in the A's second run, his second RBI, making it a 2-0 A's lead.

After the game Jackson would give Tom Seaver a major tribute, telling the press that Seaver did not have the same overpowering fastball he had in New York. 

He said he had all the respect in the world for Tom Seaver. He was not himself & he gave them seven great innings.

Quotes- Reggie Jackson: "He's the greatest athlete in the world. Tom Seaver wasn't Tom Seaver in ability, he was only Tom Seaver from his heart".

Seaver would give up a hit in the 4th, a single to Dick Green. Then a single to Deron Johnson in the 6th. In the 7th he struck out Hunter & Campaneris. 


He then walked Joe Rudi, just his second walk of the day. After a wild pitch, he retired Bando on a fly out to center. The day was over for Seaver.

He may not have been his Cy Young Award self, but still put in a fine day; seven innings, two runs on six hits, two walks & six strike outs. 

But the Mets bats could not hit Catfish Hunter. Hunter was better, he retired the Mets in order in the 2nd, 3rd & 4th innings. 

He gave up a single to Jerry Grote in the 5th, then retired the next eight batters in a row, into the 7th inning. John Milner singled in the 7th, but Grote & Don Hahn were retired to end the inning.

Hunter went into the 8th inning, Ken Boswell came up & got his second pinch hit of the Series, a one out single into right field. 


Trivia: Boswell would set a World Series record the next day, with three World Series pinch hits. 

Manager, Dick Williams brought in Darold Knowles to pitch in his sixth Series game. 

The Mets started a rally as Wayne Garrett & Felix Millan both singled. Ken Boswell came home making it a close 2-1 game.

A's manager Dick Williams then went to his best reliever; a future Hall of Famer, Rollie Fingers. Fingers came in to face the heart of the Mets batting order. 

Fingers struck out, the Mets biggest hitter, Rusty Staub, for the second out. Then Cleon Jones flew out to Reggie Jackson in centerfield, ending the Mets threat.

In the home 8th, Tug McGraw came on to pitch, Reggie Jackson led off with a base hit to center, Mets centerfielder Don Hahn had the ball go past him, Jackson scampered all the way to third base, as the A's fans went nuts. It was Jackson's third hit of the game.

Ed Kranepool Makes Final Out 
McGraw then walked Gene Tenace. Next up, pinch hitter Jesus Alou hit a sac fly to Cleon Jones in left field, scoring Jackson with the A's third run. 

It would be all the A's needed, as Rollie Fingers retired the Mets in order in the 9th. John Milner flew out to right field for the first out. Jerry Grote grounded out to second for out number two.

Then pinch hitter; Ed Kranepool, batting for Don Hahn popped up & made the final out. 
The A's won it 3-1 & the World Series was now tied at three games each. Game Seven was set for Sunday afternoon in Oakland.


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