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

Saturday October 20th, 1973, World Series Game #6
Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Oakland California

Tom & Nancy Seaver arrive in Oakland.

Bud & Yvonne Harrelson Arrive in Oakland

Managers Yogi Berra & Dick Williams
As the Mets arrived in California, they were one game away from winning their second World Series in four years. The Mets were confident & were feeling good, they had their ace Tom Seaver scheduled to start in a rematch with Catfish Hunter.

Yogi's Pitching Decision: Yogi Berra made the pitching decision days before, but it may have affected the outcome of the series. 

The Mets went with a three-man rotation which was pretty much the norm in a short series in those days. But the Mets had George Stone ready to go. Stone had become their fourth starter he went 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA & a .800 winning % in the regular season. Since July 14th he had won his last eight decisions. 

Stone had last pitched six days earlier, in the 12th inning of Game #2 at Oakland & had not appeared in the World Series since. Stone had started Game #4 of the NLCS & held the Reds down to one run in 6.2 innings of work. In two 1973 post season appearances he had posted a 0.93 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched. Another keynote is that A's had never seen Stone pitch.

But with the talents of Cy Young Award Winner Tom Seaver, lefty Jerry Koosman who was even better in the post season & the Mets latest young lefty stud Jon Matlack who had still not given up an earned run in three post season stats, it was easy to see why Berra made the choices he made. After all that was Berra's style of managing anyway.

Seaver was working on three days' rest having pitched 314.2 innings that season. 290 regular season innings & in the last ten days 24.2 post season innings.

If Berra had chosen to go with Stone & he ran into any trouble, he always could have gone with Seaver in relief although that was not something that was done before. 

But the Mets did have a rested bullpen with the exception of Tug McGraw, Ray Sadecki, Harry Parker or Buzz Capra & Jim McAndrew certainly could have handled the load. The latter two made no post season appearances. If there was a Game #7 afterward, Seaver, Matlack & Kosman would all be rested & ready to go.

Quotes- George Stone: "A lot of people have asked me that over the years. I thought I had a
chance to start & 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 Seven & everyone on an extra day of rest. Some of the players begged Yogi to start me. I even talked with the opposing players & manager; 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."

Quotes- 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 &
 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."

But not everybody on that Mets team agreed, at least not publicly. 

Quotes- Jerry Grote: "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."

Quotes- Tug McGraw: "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".

On a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, 49,151 fans came out to the Oakland Coliseum for Game #6 of the 1973 World Series. 

Jack Benny Tosses Out First Pitch

Charlie Finley even though in California, had to bring a bit of Hollywood to the again. Today his celebrity friends in attendance was comedian Jack Benny who would throw out the ceremonial first pitch from Finley's private box seat. 

The Mets had "the Old Professor" Casey Stengel there for moral support as well as the Mayor of New York, John Lindsay on hand.

New York's Mayor John Lindsay with Casey Stengel

In the top of the 1st, the Mets quickly got two men on as leadoff batter Wayne Garrett walked. Garrett started off reaching safely in three of the first six games.

Felix Millan popped out to Dick Green who made a long running basket catch in the vast foul territory of the Oakland Coliseum. 

 Then Rusty Staub singled to center, collecting his ninth hit of the series.

But Catfish Hunter settled down & the Mets could not capitalize. As two of their bigger sluggers Cleon Jones & John Milner both flew out ending the inning.

In the bottom of the 1st, Tom Seaver got leadoff man Bert Campaneris to pop up on a short fly ball into center. 

Joe Rudi then 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.   

Seaver struck out Gene Tenace to end the inning.

After allowing the base hit to Staub in the 1st inning, Catfish Hunter retired 11 Mets in a row to get his team to the 5th inning. He didn't strike any one out & got pop or fly ball outs.

In the home 3rd inning, Seaver retired Bert Champaneris on a pop-up foul ball to John Milner at first base. He then struck out Joe Rudi for his third strike out of the game. 

But the middle of the A's batting order which had been silent in New York struck, Sal Bando singled to center. Reggie Jackson then drove a hit into right field, the injured shoulder of Rusty Staub finally hurt the Mets. Staub tossed the ball lightly back to Felix Millan, as Bando scored & Jackson rolled into second with a double.

Trivia: Reggie Jackson had gone 1-12 in three-night games at Shea Stadium, he would collect three hits in today's game. He was playing in his first World Series after missing last year's Fall Classic with a broken leg. 

It was in this game he started earning his reputation as a clutch World Series hitter & would soon be labeled "Mr. October". This was the first of four World Series he would play in over the next six years. 

The A's had a 2-0 lead. It was apparent that Tom Seaver did not have the same stuff he had in Game 3 at Shea Stadium. Seaver had pitched on Tuesday night, working on three days' rest, having thrown 24.2 innings in three post season games since October 6th (ten days) & was probably a bit fatigued. 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. 
Quotes- Reggie Jackson:
"Tom Seaver today was not the Tom Seaver he was in New York. He didn't have the overpowering fastball that he had in New York. I got to give the man a tremendous amount of credit, I got all the respect for him in the world, because he went out there when he was not himself & he gave them seven great innings. He's the greatest athlete in the world to me. Tom Seaver wasn't Tom Seaver in ability, he was only Tom Seaver from his heart".

In the 5th inning, Jerry Grote collected the Mets second hit with a base hit to left. Hunter then struck out Don Hahn & got two more fly ball outs from Bud Harrelson & Tom Seaver. 

The Mets bats had gone quiet in Game #6 as they couldn't figure out Catfish Hunter. Huter would retire another seven in a row, easily getting to the 7th inning.

In the 4th inning, Tom Seaver gave up a two out single to Dick Green but retired Catfish on a fly out to end the inning. In the bottom of the 5th, with two outs, Sal Bando reached on an error at third by Wayne Garrett. Seaver was holding the A's down, he gave up a two out single to Deron Johnson in the 6th but retired Dick Green to end the inning.

In the top of the 7th, Cleon Jones made the first out, then John Milner got the Mets third hit of the day with a base hit to right field. 

Jerry Grote then hit a screaming liner to left field that Rudi caught at the wall, as Grote just missed tying up the game with a two run HR. It was the third time in the series Grote had hit balls to the left field wall just missing HRs. Don Hahn then grounded to Campaneris for the third out.

In the bottom of the 7th, Seaver seemed to get stronger, as he struck out Hunter as well as Campaneris for his fifth & sixth strike outs. Joe Rudi then reached base for the second time, as Seaver walked him, just his second walk of the day. 

Seaver then threw a wild pitch but he retired Sal Bando on a fly out to center field & his day was over. 

He may not have been his Cy Young Award self, but Seaver still put in a fine day's outing. He allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. He struck out six & walked just two. 

The Mets bats could not hit Catfish Hunter, as he was better on this day. He entered the top of the 8th pitching a three-hit shutout. Bud Harrelson led off & flew out to right.

Pinch hitter 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 collecting three World Series pinch hits. 

Manager, Dick Williams felt Hunter was through with the tying run on first & the top of the Mets order coming up, he went to his bullpen & brought in Darold Knowles. 

Knowles had pitched in all five series games & had been excellent, allowing one run (unearned) on two hits in 5.2 innings of work, earning a save. He struck out four but walked five. 

Here came the Mets again, as they got something going & started a rally. Wayne Garrett singled into left center field & Boswell advanced to third. Felix Millan then delivered a base hit to right field scoring Boswell making it a one run game, 2-1. It was just Millan's fifth hit of the series.

A's manager Dick Williams then went to his future Hall of Famer in the bullpen, Rollie Fingers. Rollie was making his fourth appearance; he was 0-1 with a save. He allowed four runs, just one of them earned on ten hits, with six strike outs & three walks in nine innings of work. Fingers came in to face the heart of the Mets batting order with the tying run on & the hot Rusty Staub coming up.

Fingers got the best of this match up as he struck out Rusty Staub, for the second out. Then Cleon Jones flew out to Reggie Jackson in centerfield, ending the Mets threat as the game remained 2-1.

In the bottom of the 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. It was a two-base error on Hahn. 

The usually subdued A's fans went nuts, on their feet cheering. It was Jackson's third hit of the game.

Tug McGraw then walked Gene Tenace. Tenace now had ten walks, one shy of tying Babe Ruth's
record of 11 in a World Series. 

Next up, pinch hitter Jesus Alou hit a sac fly to Cleon Jones in left field, easily scoring Jackson with the A's third run, making it 3-1. 

In the top of the 9th, Rollie Fingers retired the Mets in order. John Milner flew out to right field for the first out. Jerry Grote then grounded out to second for out number two.

Lastly, pinch hitter Ed Kranepool, batting for Don Hahn popped up to Dick Green at second & made the final out. 

The A's tied up the series with the 3-1 win. The game took two hours & seven minutes to complete. The whole 1973 season would come down to one final Game #7 of the World Series.


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