Remembering Mets History: (1980) John Stearns Tackles A Fan On the Playing Field

Thursday June 12th, 1980: A Shea Stadium crowd of 19,501 fans came out to Shea Stadium, for this series finale, hoping the Mets could sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Joe Torre's fourth place Mets (26-27) were trying to get to .500 as they hosted Tommy Lasorda's second place Los Angeles Dodgers (32-24). 

The Mets sent John Pacella & his classic moustache, to the mound going up against L.A.'s Dave Goltz. Goltz had led the AL in wins (20) & starts (39) playing for the Minnesota Twins in 1977.

It was a wild series that already had had a bench clearing brawl two days earlier. That fight started when the Mets' Pat Zachry hit Ron Cey with a pitch after two Dodger HRs.


In the 1st inning, Pacella walked Davey Lopes, then balked. Catcher, John Stearns threw out Lopes trying to steal third.

In the top of the 2nd, Dusty Baker singled & Ron Cey walked. Rookie catcher, Mike Scioscia then
hit an RBI double scoring Baker for a 1-0 Dodger lead.

In the Dodger 3rd, Bill Russell doubled & Reggie Smith drove him in with a single. Then Steve Garvey singled putting two on for Dusty Baker. Baker hit his 14th HR of the year, a three-run blast making it 5-0 L.A. Pacella exited down by five.

But the Mets bounced back, in the 5th inning John Stearns & Eliott Maddox singled to start the inning.

Goltz attempted to pick off Eliott Maddox at first, he got him initially, but Steve Garvey's error got Maddox all the way to third base as John Stearns was able to score.

Pinch Hitter, Ron Hodges then walked & matinee Mets idol, Lee Mazzilli singled, bringing home Maddox making it 5-2. Lasorda removed Goltz & brought in Bobby Castillo. 

Weak hitting short stop Frank Tavares then singled, bringing in Ron Hodges as the Mets were now down 5-3. Then Claudell Washington grounded to second base, the Dodgers got the force, but Bill Russell's throw to first went wild & Mazzilli was able to score getting the Mets within a run.

In the home 6th, Castillo started the
inning by walking Mike Jorgensen & John Stearns. Then another wild play filled with Dodger errors happened when Eliott Maddox sacrificed to the pitcher Castillo. Castillo threw wild to first base allowing Jorgensen & Stearns to score giving the Mets a 6-5 lead. The Mets overcame the five-run deficit & went on to the win.


Mets Relievers Mark Bomback pitched two scoreless innings, Jeff Reardon a scoreless 6th earning him the win & Neil Allen came on & got a three inning save. It was his tenth save as Allen was becoming one of the league's best closers.

But there was more excitement during the game when two fans jumped onto the field & ran across the outfield. Security guards chased the fans but weren't able to track them down & the game was delayed.

Mets catcher, John Stearns saw enough, the former college football defensive back (University of Colorado) left his catchers spot & ran into left field after the fans. He managed to tackle one of the fans & hold him down until the police came over to arrest the individual. 

"Bad Dude" Stearns: John Stearns was certainly a tough guy; he had been known for brawls & head on collisions at home pate. One famous one was with Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Dave Parker & another with Montreal Expos star (& future Mets All Star) Gary Carter. Stearns even once attacked the Atlanta Braves mascot; Chief Nocahoma after the Chief had been heckling him.

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