Remembering Mets History (1986) Ron Darling in the World Series

centerfieldmaz Looks back at Ron Darling's fine performances in the 1986 World Series.

Saturday October 18th, 1986- World Series Game #1 (Shea Stadium, New York):
There was much excitement in New York City as the World Series began. One of the best Mets teams ever assembled were popular favorites to win the World Series, their first Championship since 1969. Davey Johnsons club had won 108 games, 21 1/5 games ahead of the second place Phillies.

John McNamara's Boston Red Sox were 95-66 on the season & had just defeated the California Angels in the ALCS. Bruce Hurst (13-8 / 2.99 ERA / 167 K's) who would be a thorn in the Mets side all Series, got the ball for the opener facing off against The Mets; Ron Darling (15-6 / 2.81 ERA / 184 K's).

Popular Actress & big Mets fan Glenn Close sung the National Anthem to get things underway. 

Ron Darling took the mound & the World Series was underway. In the 1st inning he got Wade Boggs to ground out to start the game. Next Marty Barrett reached on an infield single. But Darling got Bill Buckner to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Darling got into a groove, he retired the side in order in the 2nd. In the 3rd inning he got Dave Henderson to fly out to left to start the inning. He struck out Soike Owen & Bruce Hurst.

He began the 4th by striking out Boggs looking & Barrett swinging. Bill Buckner then singled to left & advanced on a wild pitch. Darling still a bit rattled walked Jim Rice. But he got out of any trouble as Dwight Evans flew out to left to end the inning.

In the 5th he started off striking out Rich Gedman for his fifth strike out. Dave Henderson then singled for the third hit off Darling. But Spike Owen flew out & he struck out Bruce Hurst to end the 5th with the game still scoreless.

In the 6th he retired the side in order again. In the 7th inning, Darling walked Jim Rice to start out the inning. He would advance on a wild pitch. Then with one out, Rich Gedman grounded a ball to second base that went under the glove of Tim Teufel. The error allowed Rice to score in what turned out to be the only run of the game.  

Darling's night was done as Roger McDowell came on for the 8th & 9th innings. In seven innings of work, he allowed one run, unearned, scattering just three hits. He struck out eight & walked three, taking a heart-breaking loss.

On the Boston side, Hurst shut out the Mets in eight innings allowing just four hits. Calvin Schiraldi closed it out in the 9th & the Mets found themselves down 1-0 in the series.

Wednesday October 22nd, 1986 -World Series Game #4 (Fenway Park, Boston): 
The Mets had dropped the first two games at Shea Stadium but won Game #3 at Fenway Park. Down Two games to one in the series, Darling got the start in Game #4.

Darling had grown up in Millbury, Massachusetts just 45 miles west of Boston, as a Red Sox fan. He sat in the bleachers in the 1975 World Series at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox
+ take on the Cincinnati Reds in one of the best World Series played in that era. It was a big thrill for him to be pitching in the World Series at Fenway Park.

33,920 filled Fenway on a cool New England night, as Darling was to go up against the Red Sox, Al Nipper (10-12 / 5.38 ERA).

Possibly a bit nervous with all his family & friends in the crowd, Darling gave up a double to Marty Barrett, then with two outs he walked Jim Rice & Don Baylor. But he got Dwight Evans to ground out to end the inning.

In the 2nd, he gave up another double, a lead off one to Rich Gedman. He then struck out Dave Henderson, then retired Owen & Boggs. He would retire nine in a row until he walked Spike Owen in the 5th inning.

By then the Mets already had a 3-0 lead. In the 4th inning Wally Backman led off with a base hit & advanced on a fielder's choice. Gary Carter then hit a HR over the green monster putting New York up 2-0. Darryl Strawberry doubled off the wall as well & Ray Knight drove a base hit to center bringing in Straw with the third run.

After Darling had walked Owen, he got Boggs to fly out. With two outs Marty Barrett singled up the middle for the Red Sox third hit, but Bill Buckner popped up to second base to end the 5th. 

In the 6th inning the first two Red Sox were retired on fly balls. Darling then walked Dwight Evans. Rich Gedman then singled to left field, but he was thrown out trying to turn it into a double, as Mookie Wilson threw him out at second base to end the inning.

In the 7th inning, Lenny Dykstra hit his second HR of the Series, a two-run shot off Steve Crawford making it 5-0.

In the home 7th, Darling issued two more walks, as he walked six on the night. But with two on & two outs, Bill Buckner popped out to Rafael Santana at short to end the inning. Darling's night was over, he had shut out the Red Sox at Fenway Park, allowing just four hits with six walks & four strike outs.

In the 8th inning, Carter hit his second HR of the evening, a solo shot off also off Sox pitcher; Steve Crawford. Up to this point Carter had seven hits in the Series, (7-17 with 2 HRs & 7 RBIs).

Ron Darling went seven shutout innings, allowed just four hits, he struck out four but walked six. He was relieved by Roger McDowell who gave up two runs in the Red Sox 8th inning.

Jesse Orosco closed the game out, as the Mets won it 6-2 & evened up the World Series two games each. 

The Mets lost Game #5 at Boston but came back to New York in heroic fashion. They won Game #6 with one of the most incredible comebacks in World Series history.
But that's another story. 

Just prior to start of that game, a Mets fan jumped out of a private plane & parachuted his landing into Shea Stadium. As he was escorted off the field thru the dugout, a smiling Ron Darling who was sitting on the top of the dugout steps ready to pitch log the game for his next start tomorrow night (if necessary) shook the unexpected visitor's hand.

Ron Darling would get the start in the final Game #7 of the World Series going up against the Red Sox tough lefty, Bruce Hurst. Darling entered the game having pitched 14 innings in the Series without allowing an earned run.

After a scoreless 1st inning, Darling had a rough top of the 2nd. He started the inning giving up back-to-back HRs to Dwight Evans & catcher Rich Gedman. Obviously shaken up & not with his best stuff he walked Dave Henderson. 

He finally got the first out, getting a pop up from Spike Owen. Henderson was sacrificed over & Wade Boggs brought him in with a single to center. With two on, Darling got Bill Buckner to fly out to end the inning. But the Mets were down 3-0.

Darling retired the side in order in the 3rd inning, then came on for the 4th. He started the inning hitting Dave Henderson with a pitch. He got Spike Owen to fly out & then Bruce Hurst had his second successful sacrifice moving Henderson over.

Mets manager Davey Johnson saw enough & removed Darling bringing in Sid Fernandez. Darling's night was over allowing three runs on six hits with a walk & no strike outs in 3.2 innings of work. Although he had had a great series until that point, he stressed in his book not all athletes dream comes true the way they'd like.

Sid Ferandez who had been put in the bullpen with no starts in the World Series became a hero. He shut down the Red Sox for the next 2.1 innings striking out four & bringing the fans back into the game. centerfieldmaz was there!

The Mets would come back in the 6th, on a two-run single from Keith Hernandez & a sac fly from Gary Carter to tie it. Then HRs by Ray Knight & Darryl Strawberry sealed the World Championship for New York.

After the game, in a very classy effort, former Mets teammate Calvin Schiraldi who had a rough series for Boston came to the Mets locker room to congratulate his former teammates & friend Ron Darling.

Darling would celebrate on the pitcher's mound after the game & on field celebrations, as He shared champagne with fellow pitchers Bob Ojeda & Rick Aguilera. Howard Johnson & Kevin Elster also sat on the mound with the pitchers.

Overall, in the World Series Ron Darling made three starts going 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA. He gave up four earned runs, on 13 hits, as he struck out 12 batters & walked 10 in 17.2 innings pitched. 

Darling would be the Mets most effective starter in that World Series. If not for the 1-0 unearned run loss in Game #1, his performance would have been looked back at as even better at 2-1. 

The next day Ron & his wife Terri were on hand for the Mets victory ticker tape victory parade in Manhattan.


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