Remembering Mets History (1987): Howard Johnson Joins 30/30 Club -but Mets Take a Heartbreaking Loss All but Ending Teir Reign as World Champs

Friday September 11th, 1987: This was another classic (although not a good end result for the Mets) in the 1980's Mets Cardinals rivalry. There was no love lost between the two teams & when they played each other, they both turned it up a notch.

The Mets were the reigning World Champions & the Cards would get to this year's World Series, losing to the Minnesota Twins. Although the Mets took a tough loss on this night, it was a record setting night for Howard Johnson.

Record Setter: In the 4th inning, Howard Johnson singled to left field with a soft line drive. With the Cards John Tudor on the mound & catcher Steve Lake behind the plate, Ho Jo took off for second base. He stole his 30th base of the year & went into the record books as the first infielder to join the 30-30 club.

He joined an elite group of 30-30 members joining Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds, Dale Murphy & Eric Davis.

On August 19th, Ho Jo had hit his 30th HR of the season, at Shea Stadium off Giants pitcher Mike Krukow in a 10-6 loss to San Francisco. That night, the Mets Darryl Strawberry hit his 30th HR of the year as well.

Howard Johnson would hit 36 HRs (5th in the NL) that year & steal 32 bases. He drove in 99 runs (10th in the NL) & hit 22 doubles.

Davey Johnson's Mets (80-60) entered the game 1 1/2 games behind Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals (82-57). A huge crowd of 51,795 came out to Shea as Ron Darling took on The Cards' John Tudor.

The Mets had an exciting 1st inning, Tim Teufel singled & was brought home on Keith Hernandez's double. Next, Darryl Strawberry blasted his 35th HR of the year giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The Cards scratched out a run in the 2nd inning, after Darling allowed two walks & two ground ball outs. 

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Mookie Wilson hit his 9th HR of the year making it 4-1 Mets.

Ron Darling had a one hitter going for him into the 7th inning. In the 6th he had fielded a bunt base hit off the bat of Vince Coleman. He severely sprained his right thumb & was forced to leave the game.

Quotes- Ron Darling said years later- "My thumb, it was hanging, just dangling off my hand. So, I pulled a Mordecai 'Three Finger' Brown, and just held the ball with three fingers, lobbed it up there, hoping to get some outs. After I was taken out of the game, Steve Garland, our trainer, looked at it and said, 'You really have an issue here.' And I was like, 'I do know that.'"

In the top of the 9th inning, Roger McDowell was on the mound for New York. Ozzie Smith drew a leadoff walk & advanced on a fielder's choice.

With two outs, Willie McGee singled & then Terry Pendleton delivered the now infamous famous blow. He homered into the Shea Stadium parking lot, a massive shot that smashed Ron Darlings Car windshield.

Quotes- Ron Darling: “They put me in my car and told me, ‘Drive over to Roosevelt Hospital, take X-rays and they’re going to repair your thumb.’ I said, ‘okay, fine,’ got in my car…and back in those days we parked out past center field…and as I got in my car Terry Pendleton’s homer nearly hit me in the head.”

The Mets lost the game 6-4 & fell 2 1/2 behind those pesky Cardinals. 

The next day, the Cards rocked Dwight Gooden 8-1. The Mets salvaged the final game but just over 21,000 fans showed up at Shea.

Although the Mets did get to 1 1/2 games behind the Cards, they never caught them, finishing the season three games back. 

This game is looked at as the one that ended the Mets hopes of getting back-to-back Championships.

That night the fans were all over Pendleton who had hit just 12 HRs all year, but none bigger than the one he hit that night for his team.  

Quotes- Terry Pendleton: "There are these kids back there just screaming and yelling — stuff I never heard about me before. Well, there were some things I had heard about me, but I don't know that any of them were true. One of the kids balled up — I don't know what he had, a program or whatever — threw it and hit me in the back with it."


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