Whew…got this in just under the wire. October 16 is arguably the seminal date in Met history. It also has some personal significance as it is my late father’s birthday. More on him in a moment.
Some of the biggest moments in Met history have occurred on this date. For example:
1969: The Miracle culminates with a 5-3 win over the Orioles. Take your pick from this game: Swoboda’s catch, Jones kneeling in the outfield, the wild celebration on the field, in the clubhouse and in the streets. If you look closely at the footage of Koosman jumping into Grote’s arms at the end of the game, one of the fans with his arms up in the air is holding a copy of that month’s Mad Magazine! I was only nine years old at the time and my baseball awakening was still a year or two away.
1973: The Mets lose 3-2 to Oakland on a dropped third strike in the 10th. This was, I believe, one of the first ever World Series games to occur at night. As I was still in grade school and this was a school night, I was only allowed to watch the first few innings. It was Willie Mays’ last appearance in a World Series game. In my mind, Yogi Berra will forever be the goat for losing this series, bypassing the 12-3 George Stone entirely and pitching Tom Seaver on three days rest in Game 6, then forcing Jon Matlack to pitch on short rest in Game 7.
1986: Technically no game today, but a time to stop shaking after what is possibly The Greatest Game Ever, the 16-inning marathon with the Astros that resulted in the Mets clinching the National League pennant. I still have the back page of the 10/16/86 Daily News with “WE WIN” in large block letters.
1999: John Olerud leads the Mets to a 3-2 win over Atlanta at Shea, helping the Mets avoid a sweep and setting the stage for an incredible game the next day. I was at this game with my brother and nephew, but I don’t remember much about it other than yelling at Larry “Chipper” Jones and John Rocker. My dad had died two months before and I was still grieving his loss, which was made more poignant by the date. That 1999 Mets team was perhaps my favorite Met team of all time. Check the box score for this game, that was an awesome team.
2000: In what is probably the most-overlooked pitching feat in Met history, Mike Hampton twirls a three-hitter as the Mets blank the Cardinals 7-0 to clinch their fourth NL pennant. I was at this game as well. Remember the fight at the end of the game after Jay Payton was hit? Every once in a while a radio station within earshot or a restaurant I am in will cue up the Venga Boys “We Like To Party” and I always think about the celebration that erupted after Todd Ziele’s big hit to put the Mets comfortably ahead in that game.
If you haven’t noticed, there are some wide gaps in the years between the games. Oh well, Happy Birthday Dad and Lets Go Mets!