Sunday, October 25, 2009

The game that got me started

Well, 23 years ago today was the day that started it all for me. I'm talking about one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history. Game 6 of the '86 'Series. I have no recollection of any games from 1986 or before, except for the one I attended as a clueless kid in mid-September, before this game. I really don't remember anything from the first 9 1/2+ innings of the game either, aside from the video tape and DVD in much much later years. That bottom of the 10th is engrained in my memory though.

As an 8 1/2 year old with a future closer to the sciences than the arts, I remember that night as being the night we changed the clocks back to end Daylight Savings Time, and that I was even allowed to stay up well past midnight as my parents had friends over to watch the game. In fact, the nights of Game 6 of the World Series and ending DST coincided up until a couple years ago when both were pushed back. I thought I might get to be up to see 1am twice. I almost saw it once that night. Instead (and staying up that late at that time in my life was a pipe dream), I saw something much bigger and much more memorable.

I saw the greatest comeback in baseball history and it made me a fan forver. It made me a Mets fan forever. The bottom of the 10th is my flagship baseball moment. I have the audio of the bottom of the 10th from WHN (Mets) radio with Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne. Bob Murphy, forever the voice of the Mets, captured the hope and joy perfectly on radio. I'm listening now, with the DVD cued up for later today. An abbreviated transcript from Bob Murphy (in blue) and Gary Thorne (in orange):
Veteran relief right-hander Bob Stanley being brought on now by John McNamara. Stanley has pitched effectively in this World Series. He'll be pitching to Mookie Wilson. The Mets were down to their final strike. Ray Knight kept it going with a base hit.
Boston 5, New York 4. The first two batters up in the home 10th inning were retired. Three hits in a row. Gary Carter, a single to left. Kevin Mitchell, a single to left. Ray Knight with a two strike count, a single into Centerfield, scoring Gary Carter. Now, one more hit and the Mets, for the third time tonight, would have come from behind and tied this ballgame.
Bottom half of the 10th inning. Red Sox, one out away from a World's Championship. Stanley in the set position, the pitch. Foul ball, skidding off the bat handle, and again, the Mets are down to their last strike.
Stanley really anxious to get it overwith. He's getting the ball back and almost quick pitching. So Mookie will step out on him to slow him down a little bit. 2 balls and 2 strikes. Mets have only one strike left.
Stanley is ready. The pitch. Gets away! Gets away! Here comes Mitchell! Here comes Mitchell! Tie game! Tie game!

Unbelieveable, a wild pitch!
The game is tied 5 to 5. Mitchell comes in to score. Knight, the winning run is on second.
Mookie Wilson, still hoping to win it for New York. 3 and 2 the count. And the pitch by Stanley, and a ground ball trickling, it is a fair ball. Gets by Buckner. Rounding 3rd, Knight. The Mets will win the ballgame. The Mets win! They win!
Unbelieveable, the Red Sox in stunned disbelief!
A slow ground ball went right through the legs of Buckner, down the rightfield line. The Mets have won the ballgame. 3 runs in the bottom half of the 10th inning. 3 runs in the 10th inning. They were down to their final strike twice, in the bottom half of the 10th inning. They win the ballgame!

I won't go into the "why's", which are really from Boston's side. Or the "what if's". I just enjoy it. Bob Murphy's call of the 10th which I probably recorded one Christmas Day from WFAN when they would play the tape rather than have someone on air. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he was the guy hired to call Mets games 25 years earlier to work with the Hall of Fame player and Network-caliber broadcaster, getting his first chance in the World Series. Vin Scully's priceless work on NBC. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he used to call games in New York for a team that left nearly 30 years before. Or that he was a Hall of Famer who would still be going strong on a reduced schedule 23 years later. Or that Boston hadn't won in 67 years (at the time), and in numeric synergy, would win 18 years later breaking their drought of 86 years. It was just a magic moment that would make me a fan.

The story continues in 2 days (remember that the Mets only won Game 6 to tie the series, winning the right to play one more game, and that game would be rained out the next night).

Never Forget '69 has the transcript of the entire bottom of the 10th inning.

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  1. I noticed a lot of our fellow Mets bloggers writing about Game 6 today. I can't remember a more improbable victory by any team facing those odds in such a high-stakes game (facing elimination in the World Series). It was truly miraculous.

    Reading the transcript of the 10th inning, it looks like Bob Murphy knew exactly what that moment meant in Mets (and baseball) history while Gary Thorne had nothing relevant to say (he was probably in full hockey mode already).

    Great post...can't wait to read your continuation for Game 7!

  2. Outstanding post! This game made me a Mets believer for life. It's embedded in my soul. I'm so glad to see that you and others have taken the time to remember this special day. Lets Go Mets!!!

  3. Guys, thanks as always for reading. Part of being in the blogging community is that we each have a forum to share our memories of momumental events in Mets history.

    Ed, I linked to another blog that has the full transcript of the half inning where Gary Thorne has a bit more to say. Imagine how we'd remember this if it happened in one of Thorne's innings (assuming they alternated in extra innings like they do today during the first 9). I almost left it with a simple recap of the half inning picking on Thorne's empty comments, but that wouldn't have been fair.

  4. On Studious Metsimus, I included a link to your blog and the Never Forget '69 blog with the full transcript of the bottom of the 10th inning for my readers. By reading everyone's memories of this classic game, the game will never lose its meaning.

    Somehow, I also included a video of ALF in my blog, but it wouldn't be Studious Metsimus if I didn't do something like that...