Remembering Mets History (1977) Shea Stadium During The 1977 Black Out

July 13th, 1977: The night began as 14,626 fans came out to Shea Stadium to see Joe Torre's last place Mets (34-53) take on a hot first place Chicago Cubs team (55-32) led by Herman Franks. 

The Cubs had jumped into first place on May 28th & remained there until August 6th, they would finish fourth on the year at 81-81.

This game was almost a month to the day, at 26 games since Tom Seaver had been traded away to the Cincinnati Reds It was just the start of some very dark years (pun intended in honor of the black out) for Mets fans. 

It was a good pitching matchup, as Jerry Koosman (6-10) went for the Mets & Ray Burris (9-8) for the Cubs. Ray Burris had won 15 games in back-to-back seasons for the Cubs (1975 & 1976) he would go 14-16 in 1977. Burris would pitch for the Mets in 1979 & 1980 after he was picked up on waivers, going 7-15 with a 3.94 ERA in his Mets career in 33 appearances. 

In the top of the 2nd, Steve Ontiveros hit a two run HR giving the Cubs an early lead.

But Koosman struck out three batters in the inning & did so again in the 4th. Overall Koosman had already notched eleven strikeouts after six innings of work. 

In the home 5th, Mike Vail homered for New York making it a 2-1 game. It was in the bottom of the 6th inning, and Jerry Koosman grounded out for the first out. Next came up Lenny Randle, facing Ray Burris. 

At 930 PM, the lights went out at Shea Stadium & everything went dark, Lenny Randle thought God had come to take him away. 

Quotes- Lenny Randle: "I thought God, I'm gone. I thought for sure He was calling me. I thought it was my last at bat."

The '77 Black Out: Little did anyone know that all of New York City had gone dark in a wide scale power outage. 

The original problems began when three separate lightning strikes took place at Con Edison's nuclear power plant at Indian Point, as well it's Buchannon & Yonkers sub stations, within a 22-minute period. The remaining lines could not handle the load & Secondary lines became overloaded. 

This led to NY State Power Pool Operators to order an electrical load shed, as its last resort. This is what became known as the famous 1977 New York City Blackout. 

Back at the Ball Park: Shea Stadium had a backup generator that came on keeping the Stadium partially lit, as well as keeping the public address system working. 

Originally, it was thought that the game would resume as soon as power was restored. 

The Mets players made the best of it, sone entertained the Shea fans by doing a comedy routine on the infield, in the partially lit stadium.

Some players signed autographs around the dugout & outfield box seat areas. 

Mets pitcher Craig Swan & utility player Joel Youngblood drove their cars onto the field with their headlights on for extra lighting support. 

Long Time Shea Stadium organist, Jane Jarvis played White Christmas on a hot humid, New York July night. 

Eventually when it was realized how wide scale the outage was, the game was officially suspended. It was scheduled to continue the next night. The players showered in the dark locker rooms & left the Stadium.

Mets Catcher John Stearns
lights candle at Shea Stadium
 The Cubs players were driven to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where they had to walk up to their rooms with candles, since the elevators were not working. The fans left Shea Stadium safely, without any reported incidents. 

New York Tragedy: But the rest of New York suffered one of its worse public embarrassments, getting negative attention in the national media. Looters took to the streets, broke into stores, stealing & walking away with anything they could. Rather than actually getting a job, these criminal losers seized the moment to capitalize on the City's hardships. 

It was one of New York City's lowest moments in that era or any place in the city's history. The power came back briefly the next day but went out again shortly after. 

The baseball game could not be played the next day & was resumed that September, when the Cubs came back to Shea on their road trip. 

Jerry Koosman & Ray Burris would both continue where they left off, the Mets would lose the game 4-2.
 Two days later, on July 15th, play resumed. The Mets & Cubs would play back-to-back double headers splitting both games in each series. 

Trivia: Jerry Koosman would lose twenty games that year, the most losses in the league, while posting a 3.49 ERA. The year before Koosman had won twenty games for the first time in his career (21-10 with a 2.69 ERA). The 1977 Mets were a bad team that finished last at 64-98. 

Shea Stadium Program from That Night


lanzarishi said…
I was there! And I swear I really thought Koosman would break the Mets strike out record that night. We waited for over an hour maybe two, then finally left. I definitely don't remember cars driven onto the field but boy was I angry at not being able to see Kooz break Seaver's record for strikeouts. He was on fire that night!

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