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.

After a scoreless 1st inning, the Cards took the lead early with a 2nd inning sac fly from John Mabry. 

In the top of the 3rd, St. Louis' Willie McGee singled & scored on Royce Clayton's double for a 2-0 lead. 

In the top of the 4th, the Cards knocked out Bobby Jones when John Mabry hit a solo HR, then two Cardinal singles led to a Willie McGee three-run HR making it 6-0 St. Louis.

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

Todd Hundley then hit the first HR of what was to be his record setting 41 HRs that season. This a two-run shot off Andy Benes to right field. 

In the bottom of the 6th, Bernard Gilkey homered off Benes to make it a 6-3 game. 

After the 7th inning stretch, the Mets had one of the best Opening Day comebacks in team history. They would score four runs with five hits off Cardinal relievers- Rick Honeycutt, Cory Bailey & Tony Fossas.

After Todd Hundley grounded out, Jose Vizcaino & Rey Ordonez both singled off Rick Honeycutt. Then Chris Jones delivered an RBI base hit up the middle off Cory Bailey. Bailey faced just one batter as Tony Fossas was brought in to pitch.

Lance Johnson, who would set a Mets single season record with 227 hits that season, hit a little roller to third base, Ordonez scored to make it 6-5 & Johnson reached safely with a base hit. Bernard Gilkey then tied the game with a base hit scoring Chris Jones. 

With Lance Johnson now on third base, Rico Brogna hit a sac fly to short right field bringing in Johnson giving the Mets a 7-6 lead. 

But on the play, Bernard Gilkey was thrown out at second base, ending the inning. 

Mets reliever, Doug Henry held the Cardinals down in the 8th inning. Then John Franco notched his first save of the year as the Mets took the opening day victory. 

1996 Mets: The Mets would finish fourth in 1996, with a 71-91 record. Dallas Green would be fired & Bobby Valentine would take over to start a winning era. That season there were some team milestones made as well. 

Todd Hundley set a Mets record for HRs at the time, now broken by Pete Alonso. Hundley also set the MLB record for most HRs by a catcher in a single season with 41.  

Lance Johnson a short time Met, set a club record that still stands with 227 hits on the season. He also batted .333 on a club that had three players in the team's regular line up hitting over .300. 

That year (although the stat didn't exist at that time) 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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