Remembering Mets History (1985) Benches Clear with Rival Cardinals as Mets Take Over First Place

Tuesday September 10th, 1985: In the mid 80's heated rivalry between the Mets & Cardinals, this game certainly fueled the fire & was a classic. 

Davey Johnson's Mets (82-53) entered tonight's game a half game behind the Whitey Herzog's first place Cardinals (82-53) in the NL East. An excited Shea Stadium crowd of 50,195 came to see a great match up of 15 game winners, as Ron Darling (14-5) took on Danny Cox (15-8).

 The excitement started right away in this game, with two outs in the 1st inning, Cardinal second baseman Tommy Herr hit a solo HR off Ron Darling to make it 1-0 St. Louis.

The Mets fought right back; Mookie Wilson led off with a single to center field. With one out, Keith Hernandez came to bat. 

Side Note: Hernandez received a two-minute standing ovation from the Shea crowd, as this was his first game back after testifying at the Pittsburgh drug trials. It was there he openly admitted using cocaine while playing with the Cardinals.

Keith responded at the plate, as he hit a long single to center field. St. Louis' Vince Coleman then booted the ball. The hustling Mookie Wilson scored all the way from first base, to tie the game. Then with two outs, the Cards walked Darryl Strawberry to get to George Foster.

Foster took his time around the plate, stepping out of the box for a long time. Cox got flustered & hit Foster on the hip with a pitch.

Foster flipped his bat to his other hand. He stared down Cox & pointed & shouted some words to him. 

In the heat of the rivalry, two teams who hated each other, both stormed the field as both benches emptied.

There was a lot of scuffling around, but no punches were thrown. The umpires & the players held each other back with no more than a bit of shoving around.

Quotes: Keith Hernandez - "I have never seen George step out for such a long time. I have to think George did it on purpose in an attempt to rattle Cox. I have to think he succeeded."

With the bases loaded, Howard Johnson stepped in & connected with a grand slam HR, thrilling the big Shea crowd, as he shoved it right in Danny Cox's face. It was Ho Jo's 9th HR of the year. 

Johnson would hit 11 in 1985 which was his first year with the Mets seeing action in 126 games. 

Trivia: Howard Johnson would hit seven career grand slams.

The Cards would get a run-on Vince Coleman's' RBI single in the 5th. Darling would give up just three hits & hold a 5-2 lead until the 7th.  He issued two walks, then he gave up another RBI hit to Coleman.
Davey Johnson went to his bullpen & brought in Roger McDowell to relieve Darling. 

Darling went 6.1 innings allowing four runs on four hits, striking out seven walking three to earn his 15th win. A Willie McGee ground out resulted in another St. Louis run making it 5-4 Mets.

But McDowell would not allow another run, stranding two in the 8th inning, then tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning, sealing the Mets win & giving them sole possession of first place.

Trivia: The next day, fueling the rivalry, the Mets Darryl Strawberry called Cox a wimp in the media. Danny Cox responded by saying "he knows where to find me".


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