Remembering Mets History: (1986) Mets Clinch the NL Eastern Title


Wednesday September 17th, 1986: The 1986 Mets had been in first place since April 24th, the tenth game of the season. They ran away with the division back in June going ten games ahead of the rest if the pack. The magic number countdowns for clinching of the division began in August.

On this night they had a 19-game lead over the second place, Philadelphia Phillies. It seemed kind of funny, but us fans were actually happy that the Mets got swept in a weekend series in Philadelphia, then split a two-game set in St. Louis, putting them on a streak of six losses in their last eight games. 

All it meant was that they would have the chance to clinch the NL East title at home in Shea Stadium. I got my ticket at an A&S Ticketron & centerfieldmaz was on hand with 47,823 other crazy, excited Mets fans.

The Mets hosted 
Gene Michael's fifth place Chicago Cubs (61-80). Fittingly, Dwight Gooden (14-6) was on the mound going up against Dennis Eckersley (6-9).



Doctor K went on to have a good night, going the distance, pitching his 12th complete game of the season, while earning his 15th win (15-6). Gooden allowed two runs on six hits while striking out eight & walking five.


For the Mets offense, in the 3rd after Gooden led off striking out, Len Dykstra & Wally Backman both singled. Then rookie Dave Magadan, who was making his first MLB start (his third game overall) singled bringing in the first run of the night. Magadan was playing for an injured Keith Hernandez.

Daryl Strawberry followed, with an RBI single of his own making it 2-0 in a very loud Shea Stadium. 

In the 5th inning the crowd roared again, Dykstra doubled & Wally Backman reached on an error. Then that rookie Dave Magadan singled home Dykstra making it a 3-0 Mets lead. Magadan was an instant hero in New York.

In the 7th Magadan got his third hit of the night, then gave way to pinch runner Stanley Jefferson. Jefferson would come home when Darryl Strawberry collected his second RBI single of the night. 

That was all Gooden & the Mets needed for the 4-2 win.

The Cubs scored their only runs in the 8th inning, on a two run HR by Rafael Palmeiro.

Keith Hernandez, who was out of the lineup due to injury begged Davey Johnson to put him on the field for the final outs of the 9th inning. The Manager agreed.

In the top of the 9th, Gooden who may have been tiring, walked Jody Davis. The fans were on their feet, anticipating the clinching & were ready to storm the field. The walk to Davis just seemed to prolong things.

Next, Shawon Dunston grounded into a force for the first out. The next hitter, Jerry Mumphrey struck out looking. The crowd erupted & was busting at the seams waiting to explode.



Then, Chicago's Chico Walker grounded to Wally Backman, he threw to Keith Hernandez at first base and the Mets clinched their third NL Eastern title. It was the first in thirteen years, back in 1973.

Dwight Gooden jumped for joy & was greeted by his teammates. Then they ran for safety, in fear for their lives.

The Shea fans went absolutely wild. It was like a flashback to 1969 & 1973 as they stormed the field. It was a wild scene once again, as they tore up the infield & ripped away anything they could.




from centerfield: I was in the upper deck & made my way down the ramps to the infield seats. There was a cop trying to coral people trying to get by him. He was doing a pretty good job too. I waited for him to grab someone & ran around him. I remember the feeling I had when I jumped off the dugout & onto the field. I said to myself "This is where They play!". 

I ripped up some grass & milled about with all the happy Mets fans. We were all escorted out through the center field gates into the parking lot. On my way out I had my piece of infield grass but didn't feel it was long lasting. I ripped a piece of the original wooden, center field wall & carried it under my arm & away I went. Quite a souvenir, I may not be able to prove its authenticity, but I know what it is!

It was to be the last time in Shea Stadium history that the fans would storm the field. 

As after this game, the NYPD got involved, with mounted police, making sure no damage would ever occur on the baseball field in New York City during the post season.




Comments

Unknown said…
i was there that night also. the noise level was incredible from start to finish. when the announcer said, "playing first base for the ny mets, dave madagan", the entire stadium roared "who?" 3 hits later, we knew who. lol!
Unknown said…
i was there that night also. the noise level was incredible from start to finish. when the announcer said, "playing first base for the ny mets, dave madagan", the entire stadium roared "who?" 3 hits later, we knew who. lol!

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