Thursday July 4th 1985 : At this point in time, Davey Johnson's New York Mets were tied for third place with the Chicago Cubs with a 41-35 record. They were 4 1/2 games behind the first St. Louis Cardinals & three games behind the second place Montreal Expos.
The Mets were in Atlanta on this Independence Day, facing Eddie Haas' fifth place Braves (34-42). The Braves were eleven games behind the first place (reigning N.L. Champion) San Diego Padres.
The game began in front of 44,947 fans with Dwight Gooden going to the mound against the Braves; Rick Mahler. Neither starter was around for too long. There were two rain delays, which didn't help the time situation that was about to unfold.
In the 1st inning, the Mets Wally Backman singled but was picked off first. Keith Hernandez then doubled & scored on a Gary Carter RBI single. But the Braves answered as Claudell Washington tripled & was brought home by Rafael Ramirez.
In the 3rd inning, Dwight Gooden was removed from the game early, getting relieved by Roger McDowell who surrendered a two run double to future Mets coach Ken Oberkfell.
The Mets answered back knocking out Mahler in the top of the 4th. Rafael Santana & Len Dykstra both singled. RBI hits by Wally Backman, Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter followed, making it 5-3 New York.
Former Met; Rick Cerone drove in a run for the Braves in the 5th inning. In the top of the 6th, Backman & Carter both singled. Darryl Strawberry then got a base hit to bring in Gary Carter with the Mets sixth run.
But the Mets wouldn't go down quietly in the mid eighties. In the top of the 9th, Howard Johnson & pinch hitter Danny Heep both singled. Lenny Dykstra tied it up with a base hit off star reliever; Bruce Sutter.
The game remained at 8-8 until the 13th inning when the Mets Howard Johnson hit a two run HR off pitcher; Terry Foster.
In the bottom of the 13th inning, the sixth Mets pitcher of the night; Tom Gorman surrendered a two run HR to Terry Harper . It was now tied up at 10-10.
Gorman would pitch six innings in the long game, allowing three runs on five hits. After Bruce Sutter, the Braves had Gene Garber pitch three innings & Rick Camp pitch another three innings.
In the 17th inning, Darryl Strawberry was ejected from the game, by home plate umpire Terry Tata for arguing while getting called out on strikes.
In the 18th inning, Howard Johnson got a base hit & Danny Heep reached on an error. Len Dykstra's sac fly scored Hojo giving New York a 11-10 lead. But in the bottom of the inning, Braves pitcher Rick Camp answered with a HR off Tom Gorman to tie it up once again.
It was an incredible moment, the first HR of Camp's career in one of the wildest games ever.
Mets third baseman Ray Knight threw his arms in the air in disbeielf & second baseman Wally Backman screamed in shock as Camp rounded the bases.
Even the Braves mascot came onto the field to congratulate Camp. The game is still remembered as the Rick Camp game by many.
In the 19th inning with Rick Camp still on the mound, the Mets struck again, going ahead for good. Gary Carter led off with a base hit & John Christensen bunted him over. Pinch hitter; Rusty Staub was then walked intentionally.
Ray Knight doubled bringing in Carter with the tie breaking run. Staub went to third base. Hojo received an intentional walk & Danny Heep then delivered with a two run single, scoring Staub & Knight It was 15-11. Wally Backman added a base hit, scoring Heep & making it 16-11 Mets.
Terry Harper singled, driving in two more runs making it 16-13 Mets. It looked like the game would never end but Darling reared back & struck out Rick Camp who was still in the game to finish it off six hours & ten minutes after it began.
The fireworks display went on at 400 AM for the few that were left to watch the lit up morning skies. Atlanta residents who didn't know about the baseball game going on so long , awoke in fear that the South was once again under attack.
Trivia: In the marathon the Mets used 14 position players & seven pitchers (Gooden, McDowell, Terry Leach, Orosco, Doug Sisk, Gorman & Darling).
The winner after all was said & done was Tom Gorman who would go 4-3 on the year. The Mets knocked out a club record 28 hits that night, five hits for Gary Carter & four hits each for Keith Hernandez & Wally Backman.
Gary Carter caught all 19 innings of the game & back up catcher Ron Reynolds was the Mets only position player not to get into the game.