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Didja ever notice where you were when it happened?

I will be heading out of town at the end of the week for seven to 10 days (those who know me know where I'll be), but I wanted to maintain regular blog postings through the end of the World Series. So, this post will stay up through the weekend and will set the tone for a series of postings from guest bloggers next week. The theme of these posts deals with Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, as part of my "Didja ever notice..." series.

I can tell you where I was for all sorts of events of varying significance. I can remember everything from my reaction when my sister was born (March 23, 1981, awoken from sleeping in the middle of the night after having watched the Burt Reynolds movie "The End" with my grandmother) to when O.J. Simpson was acquitted on murder charges (in a dorm room, along with several students at The College of New Jersey, one of whom kept saying over and over again "What a crock!")

I can tell you where I was when Ross Jones got his first and only hit as a Met and when Bob Gibson pitched his first and only inning (Shea Stadium, in both instances).

And yes, I can tell you where I was on October 25, 1986, though much to my chagrin, not to the degree that I would like. Years ago, my sister warned me that repeated video viewings of this game and others would not only wear out a VCR but would cause my memories to blend together. That was a slightly accurate assessment on her part. I was only 11 then, so I attribute some of the memory loss to that, but the game left enough of an impression on me that I savor the key moments.

It is a longtime tradition that my dad invites his friends over to watch the Super Bowl, and in 1986, he extended that to the World Series as well. Thus, three middle-aged men named Al Braverman, Bob Ferrucci and Joel Verbit, found themselves at the Simon residence on Manhattan's Upper East Side and were our viewing companions for the evening.

I'm not going to get into an inning recollection of the first nine and a half innings because those memories pale in comparison to the others. I remember being shocked when Michael Sergio parachuted into Shea Stadium (One of my dad's friends had a habit of spilling drinks whenever he came over and I'm guessing this is when the liquid hit the carpet and my mom went running into the kitchen to get napkins) , quite pleased when the Mets rallied to tie the game in the eighth inning, annoyed when Howard Johnson couldn't advance two baserunners via bunt in the ninth inning, dismayed when Dave Henderson homered in the 10th, and somewhat puzzled when Vin Scully announced that the Miller Lite Player of the Game was not Henderson, but Marty Barrett (Scully gave it an odd sell at the end, noting that Barrett not only had three hits and two RBIs, but "handled everything hit his way," which was somehow more important than hitting the go-ahead homer that the Red Sox had been waiting 68 years for).

The first pitch of this particular game came at 8:27 pm and the last pitch came at 12:29 am and some time after midnight, Joel just couldn't take it any more. Al and Bob were diehard followers, but Joel was more of the casual fan. The funny thing is that no one amongst our group noticed that he had fallen asleep on the couch, except me, and I wasn't about to disturb him. There was a bottom of the 10th inning. I was on the floor and I was deep in thought. The Mets were losing, 5-3, and things were looking pretty bleak.

We sat there pretty much in silence, if I do recall, as Wally Backman flied out to left and Keith Hernandez flew out to Henderson in deep center (he handled everything hit his way too). Gary Carter singled, which gave us a little hope, Kevin Mitchell's single gave us a little more hope and Ray Knight's single with two strikes had us feeling pretty good. Now, my mind tends to process things pretty quickly and a 60 to 90 second commercial break prior to Mookie Wilson's at bat for the pitching change removing Calvin Schiraldi for Bob Stanley gave me a chance to ponder all the possibilities for what could happen.

There were multiple conversations going on at this point amongst those who were still awake. I'm guessing the adults were planning out a few hands of the popular pastime, postgame poker (long before the "sport's" explosion). I interrupted with a question.

"Wouldn't it be funny if there was something like a balk or a wild pitch here???"

Al must have had a revelation at that moment that I was clairvoyant. He thought that remark to be clever and worth repeating, perhaps for good luck.

"Yeah, a wild pitch...That would be great."

Well, needless to say, it was. The game was tied and then, in a matter of a few moments, it wasn't anywhere. The Mets had won. I wish I could tell you that I danced around the house, yelling and screaming, but I don't really remember, and that's probably a little out of character for me. I think it was a matter of what the doctor on Seinfield called "restrained jubilation." (I've used that phrase before in this blog) with high-fives all around. We woke Joel up and told him what happened and I think he was a little miffed that he missed the ending. The guests departed not long thereafter and somehow, I went to sleep. The next morning, we got up pretty early for a Sunday (7:30 am or so), en route to a baseball card show in either Union or Jersey City, NJ (the second card show at which my dad, now a 19-year veteran of the business, ever sold memorabilia). It was a dreary morning. Game 7 would be rained out that night and pushed back to Monday. The one thing I remember from that day was that my dad's friend, Marty the cabdriver, was pretty cheery when he greeted us, even though he was a Yankees fan. He greeted us with a rousing "How 'bout those Mets???"

How 'bout those Mets, indeed.

True Mettleheads know... Joel's mom, Helen was a theatre, television and movie actress, who appeared in the Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof." One of her guest starring appearances has a Mets connnection. Helen played "Mrs. Wilcox" in the next-to-last episode of the TV show "Eight is Enough." One of the plots in this episode dealt with professional baseball player Merle "The Pearl" Stockwell, husband of Bradford sister Susan (the redheaded one), forced to retire due to a shoulder injury (this was the early 80s, when such injuries weren't as easily treatable), and his acceptance of a job as an assistant high school baseball coach. Which major league organization did Merle "The Pearl" pitch for? None other than the New York Mets, where in one episode he was shown along with teammate Neil Allen. Coincidentally, Stockwell also was a member of a minor league team on the show and that squad was appropriately known as "The Cyclones."


Anonymous said…
From Mark's dad - the regular readers here must know that I am a diehard Mets fan

After game 7, I told Mark enjoy it now, you never know when it can happen again.

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