Remembering Mets History: (1976) Dave Kingman's Walk Off Preserves Craig Swan's Gem

Thursday, June 17th 1976: It was just three weeks away from America's 200th birthday, during the bicentennial year of 1976 and all of the nation was feeling good. The National League was celebrating it's 100th centennial Anniversary that year as well.

On this night, Walter Alston's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (36-27) were in town to face Joe Frazier's third place Mets (32-33). 

A crowd of 20,268 came out to Shea Stadium as New Yorks; Craig Swan went up against the Dodgers future Hall of Famer; Don Sutton. 

 It was a classic pitcher's duel, as the two starters shined. Swan was spectacular as he went ten innings, allowing just three hits as he struck out eight Dodgers, walking no one.

Unfortunately on the other side, Sutton shut out the Mets for nine innings, allowing six hits on two walks with four strike outs. 

In the home 10th, Alston brought in Mike Marshall to relieve Sutton, Marshall threw two more scoreless innings getting to the 11th. After ten innings, Frazier put Mike Vail in to pinch hit for Swan. With Felix Millan on first base, Vail grounded out to end the inning. Skip Lockwood, a fine reliever for the Mets during this period in team history came on to pitch four scoreless innings. He did not allow any hits & just one walk. 

Finally in the bottom of the 14th inning, with Charlie Hough now pitching for L.A. Dave Kingman connected with a walk off HR, giving the Mets an exciting 1-0 win. Kingman would come in second in the NL in HRs in 1976, setting a club record with 37.

Trivia: Kingman would tie his record in 1980 & in 1988 Darryl Strawberry broke that record with 38. 

In 1976 Swan would go 6-9 with a 3.54 ERA. In 1978 Swan would lead the NL in ERA at 2.43. Skip Lockwood saved 19 games, second in the NL. He would save 15 or more in each of the next two seasons as well.


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