Remembering Mets Opening Days of the Past: (1985) Gary Carter's Triumphant Debut

Thursday April 9th, 1985: The New York Mets had just come off their best season in years. It was their first winning season since 1976 & they had won the most games (90) since they had won since the 1969 Championship season, when they won 100.  

There was a lot to be excited going into a new season with all the talented young players, as well as some solid veterans mixed in. That off season the Mets brought in the game's best all-around catcher to New York in All Star Gary Carter.

The Mets already had the games most exciting pitcher in Dwight Gooden, who's blazing fastball burned rookie strike out records all across the league. 

A young Ron Darling was the number two man behind Gooden & the bullpen featured Jesse Orosco & Roger McDowell who would both save 17 games each.

The lineup was highlighted by young slugger Darryl Strawberry who had won the Rookie of the Year Award two seasons earlier as well as veteran Keith Hernandez who was a true .300+ hitter & big RBI. Atop the order speedster Mookie Wilson & in the middle was veteran HR hitter George Foster. All this brought a new revived excitement to Shea Stadium & it was the place to be in 1985.

The '85 season opened up at Shea Stadium to a crowd of 46,781 who came out to see Davey Johnson's Mets take on Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals. 

The Mets & Cardinals bitter rivalry of that era would really heat up as this season went on. 

Whitey Herzog had been the Mets Director of Player Development in the 1960's & helped groom many players on the 1969 Championship team. 

In 1972 after the sudden passing of Gil Hodges, he lost out on the manager's job to Yogi Berra, who was the more popular choice. 

Herzog left the Mets organization very bitter, he moved on to be a successful manager in Kansas City & now in St. Louis. 

Also, Herzog had had an ongoing feud with Keith Hernandez since his days with the Cardinals. Herzog had a big part in Hernandez getting traded to New York. All this drama only fired things up to a much higher level in what was to be a classic rivalry.

The Opening Day pitchers were the Mets rookie phenom pitcher of 1984, Dwight Gooden, who was getting his very first Opening Day start, going up against the Cardinals Joaquin Andujar.

In the 1st inning of this wild game, Gooden retired the Cardinals in order.

In the bottom of the 1st, Mookie Wilson singled & stole second. Keith Hernandez singled, bringing in Mookie to make it 1-0 Mets. 

Next, Gary Carter came to bat for the first time in a Met uniform, receiving a huge ovation. He was hit by a pitch putting two men were on. Darryl Strawberry then walked to load the bases. Andujar having control issues, then walked Howard Johnson as the second Mets run crossed the plate. But then Rafel Santana lined out to end the inning.

In the 2nd inning, St. Louis' Jack Clark led off with a HR making it 2-1 Mets. 

In the top of the 3rd, Lonnie Smith singled & went to third on Tommy Herr's double. Smith then scampered to the plate as Gary Carter was charged with a passed ball tying up the game.

On the bottom of the 3rd, with two outs, George Foster hit a solo HR putting the Mets back on top. 

In the home 4th, Doc Gooden helped his cause with a base hit. Next, Wally Backman reached on an error by the pitcher Andujar. Then with two outs, the reliable Keith Hernandez brought in another run with a base hit, making it 4-2 New York.

In the 5th inning, the Mets added another run as George Foster singled & Rafael Santana doubled him in, making it 5-2 Mets.

But the pesky Cardinals fought back. In the top of the 7th inning, Andy Van Slyke & Ozzie Smith collected back-to-back singles to start the inning. Davey Johnson removed Gooden & brought in reliever Doug Sisk.

Sisk struck out former Met Mike Jorgensen & then got Lonnie Smith to ground out. But with two outs, Tommy Herr singled bringing in two runs in making it a one run game.

In the top of the 9th Sisk, couldn't close it out. Willie McGee had a one out pinch hit single & Lonnie Smith was hit by a pitch. Tommy Herr then singled again, loading up the bases with just one out. 

Sisk struck out Terry Pendleton, but then walked Jack Clark, tying up the game at five runs each.

In the bottom of the 9th, Neil Allen the man Keith Hernandez had been traded for was on to pitch for the Cards. George Foster made the first out. Howard Johnson then singled. Rafael Santana hit a ground ball to Ozzie Smith, but the only play was at first base. 

With two outs, pinch hitter Rusty Staub walked & Wally Backman reached on an error by Herr at second base. But Neil Allen got Mookie Wilson to fly out to end the inning & the game went to extras.

In the home 10th, Allen started the inning by striking out Hernandez. Then the newest Met Gary Carter became the newest Mets hero. Gary Carter blasted a walk off game winning HR giving the Mets the 6-5 win.

Carter raised his hands in the air as the Shea crowd went wild. This was a time of high fives, curtain calls & cocky Mets attitudes one of the best Mets eras in history. 

The winning pitcher was Tom Gorman for the Mets & the losing pitcher was Neil Allen.

The Mets finished second to the Cardinals that year, falling short in the final week of the season. The Cards got to the World Series but then lost to the Kansas City Royals.


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