Mar 28, 2021

Remembering Mets History (1996) Mets Have Their Biggest Opening Day Comeback

Monday April 1st, 1996: It was Opening Day at Shea, as 42,060 Mets fans came to Shea hoping for a good season. 

The '1995 Mets had finished second in the NL East, but with a 69-75 record. Dallas Green, would start out the season as Mets manager, but after going 59-72 was let go & Bobby Valentine began his successful run as Mets manager.

On this Opening Day at Shea, Bobby
Jones took the mound for the Mets, as they hosted Tony LaRussa's St Louis Cardinals. Andy Benes got the start for St. Louis.

The Cards took the lead early with a 2nd inning sac fly from John Mabry. In the 3rd, Willie McGee singled & scored on Royce Clayton's double. In the top of the 4th, the Cards knocked out Bobby Jones, as Mabry hit a solo HR & McGee hit a three run shot, making it 6-0 St. Louis.

The Mets were always a good Opening Day team & this year was no different. In the home 4th, Rico Brogna singled to lead off the inning. 

Todd Hundley then hit the first of his record setting 41 HRs that season, with a two run shot to right field. In the 6th, Bernard Gilkey homered off Benes to make it 6-3. 

In the home 7th, after the 7th inning stretch the Mets had one of the best Opening Day comebacks in history. They scored four runs on five hits, off Cardinal relievers Rick Honeycutt, Cory Bailey & Tony Fossas.

Jose Vizciano & Rey Ordonez both singled off Honeycutt with one out. The Mets, Chris Jones then delivered an RBI base hit up the middle off Bailey. 

Lance Johnson, who would have a Mets single season record 227 hits that season, singled off Fossas to make it 6-5. Gilkey tied the game with a base hit scoring Jones. 

Rico Brogna then hit a sac fly to short right field. Lance Johnson scored easily but Gilkey was thrown out at second base, ending the inning. Johnson's run put the Mets ahead for good.

Mets reliever, Doug Henry held the Cardinals down in the 8th & John Franco notched the first of his 28 saves of the year.

The Mets would finish fourth in 1996, with a 71-91 record. But that season there were milestones made. 

Todd Hundley set a Mets record for HRs & for most HRs by a catcher in a single season with 41. Pete Alonso has since broken the record. 

Lance Johnson, a short time Met, set a club record that still holds, with 227 hits. He also batted .333 on a club that had three batters in the teams main line up that hit .300. 

That year (although the stat didn't exist) Bernard Gilkey put up the Mets third best WAR at 8.1. Gilkey hit 30 HRs & drove in 117 runs (the fifth best single RBI season in team history)

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