Remembering Mets History (1983) Mookie, Three Walk Offs & A Brawl Make An Interesting Week
In an era with no wild cards, they would win 90 or more games six times in seven years, win two divisional titles & a World Championship. 1983 saw the start of that turnaround, as players like Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry & Ron Darling joined the club. The Mets even brought back their "Franchise" pitcher, Tom Seaver that season for a one-year return.
The Mets had just returned losing seven often on a road trip that took them through Houston, Atlanta & Cincinnati. Tonight, they opened up a three-game set at Shea, hosting Joe Torre's first place Atlanta Braves (61-37).
The Braves held a 4.5 game lead over the L.A. Dodgers, who would eventually take over & win the division in 1983. The Braves had won the NL west the previous year but got swept in the NLCS by the St. Louis Cardinals.The Mets manager at this point was big Frank Howard. As a player the big six-foot seven slugger was nicknamed "the Capitol Punisher" while playing D.C. for the Senators. He led the AL twice in HRs (1968 & 1970). In those years as well as 1969 he hit 40 plus HRs three straight seasons. In a 16 tear career, he 362 HRs for the Dodgers (1958-1964) Washington Senators (1965-1971) Texas Rangers (1972) & Detroit Tigers (1972-1973).
Howard took over as Mets manager earlier that season, when then manager George Bamberger called a team meeting & said he was going fishing, resigning from the job. He would be replaced by Davey Johnson the sext season.
Tonight, the Mets Ed Lynch (7-4) took the mound against future Hall of Famer, Phil Niekro (5-6).
was forced on Rafael Ramirez's grounder. Claudell Washington singled & Dale Murphy brought in the first run with a single as well.
Tuesday July 26th, 1983: After last night's exciting win, 13,380 fans came out to Shea to see veteran Mike Torrez (5-12) pitch for the Mets against Rick Camp (8-8).
In the 4th inning, Atlanta took a 1-0 lead on Claudell Washington's solo HR of the year, his 6th homer of the season.
Bench Clearing Brawl: In the 5th inning, Mookie Wilson was hit by a pitch from Rick Camp. Camp led off the 6th inning & was immediately drilled by Mike Torrez. There was shouting, pointing & then a bench clearing brawl that brought everyone on the field.
Managers Joe Torre & the Mets Frank Howard, who was a giant of a man, were right in the middle of things trying to break it up.
In the bottom of the 6th, Darryl Strawberry walked & stole his twelfth base of the year. Bob Bailor singled to bring in Strawberry with the tying run. It would stay that way until the 10th inning.The Mets Mike Torrez would pitch a complete game ten inning four hitter, allowing just the one run, striking out & walking three. In a three-game stretch Torrez would allow just one run in 25 innings.
Sunday, July 31st, 1983: In his next start, in the second game of a double header sweep over the first place Pittsburgh Pirates, Torrez would shut out the Pirates 1-0, for eleven innings, outdueling Jose DeLeon (9 innings) Kent Tekulve (2 innings) & Manny Sarmiento (0.2 innings). Jesse Orosco pitched a scoreless 12th for the win.
The lone run came when Mookie Wilson led off the 12th with a base hit. Hube Brooks sacrificed him over to second. Keith Hernandez was walked intentionally to get to George Foster.
Foster grounded to second baseman Johnny Ray. Ray threw to shortstop Dale Berra, for the force.
Mookie went to third & never stopped, as third base coach Bobby Valentine waved him home. Mookie went full steam, safely crossing the plate for the game winning run.
Quotes- Dale Berra: "I didn't know Mookie was trying to score until the last second".
The Mets won the first game in walk of fashion as well, as base hits by Strawberry & Brian Giles, set the stage for Bob Bailor's walk off base hit scoring Straw.
Earlier in the game the Mets offense was led by HRs from Keith Hernandez & George Foster. Mookie & Bailor both drove in two runs in the game. Brian Giles also had an RBI hit.