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The Quickies

So, yesterday at work, I heard a colleague commenting about some piece of baseball minutiae that intrigued him (the Marlins having a good record in series finales since the All-Star Break). His last words on the subject, before moving on to other matters were:

"I don't know what that means, but it's an interesting fact."

That's kind of how I feel about what I'm going to share with you today, which feels particularly pertinent since I'm still a little groggy from watching last night's Yankees-Red Sox debacle. Be forewarned that this is a rather lengthy tale that begins with the following piece of information.

True Metophiles know: 3 of the 5 quickest walk-off wins in Mets history (asterisk game not included) took place on August 21, and they occurred over three consecutive seasons (1971, 1972 and 1973).

We got cutesy a couple months ago and wrote about the quickest of the quick, a 1-hour, 58-minute affair that took place against the Dodgers on August 21, 1973. You can read about that game (in brief) here.

We'll offer a slightly more detailed description of the game that took place a year prior to that, while at the same time wishing a happy birthday to former Met Jim Beauchamp (pronounced "Bee-chum" for those who never saw him play).

August 21, 1972 was Beauchamp's most glorious day in the big leagues, a day on which he turned 33 years of age. Beauchamp, referenced in the New York Times story the next day as "a wise old drifter" got the start at first base, despite a rather ugly .185 batting average, which was okay because neither team really hit much in this particular game. Beauchamp had two of the teams four hits, the first a 7th inning home run off Jerry Reuss, which temporarily gave the host Mets a 2-1 lead on the Astros.

Cesar Cedeno, a famous thorn in the Mets side many years hence, promptly tied the score in the top of the 8th with an RBI double against Mets starter Jon Matlack.

We sped along to the last of the ninth, with the score still 2-2 and the contest less than two hours old. With two outs, Astros reliever Jim Ray got a little too fine with Milner, walking him. Beauchump, who had never hit more than two homers in a season to that point, followed with a walk-off shot to left field on a Ray curveball. The game time of 2 hours and 3 minutes makes it the 5th quickest walk-off win in Mets history. The neat thing for Beauchamp was that the following day he had 4 RBI, including the game-winning 2-run hit in the 8th inning against the Astros the following day (Milner's feat the next season, of back-to-back walk-off hits on August 21-22 would be slightly better).

The final August 21 affair of which we speak took place the preceding season, and a fine 1971 campaign it was for Tom Seaver, who would be a beneficiary on this particular day.

This was one of those rare contests in which Seaver was actually outpitched, by rapid-working Padres hurler Dave Roberts (who would conclude his career in 1981 with the Mets). It was a rematch of a game that took place 10 days prior between the pitchers with the two best ERAs in the NL. It was one in which Roberts pitched 12 shutout innings and won 1-0 on a walk-off throwing error by Mets catcher Jerry Grote. The hot rumor of the day was that the Mets were trying to trade for Padres slugger Nate Colbert, but the manner in which this contest was decided made for a better story.

Roberts allowed only 3 hits, but had the misfortune of surrendering 2 of them to Cleon Jones. The first was a triple leading off the last of the 7th and Jones would eventually score the tying run on a Tommie Agee sacrifice fly. The second came with the score even at 1 in the last of the 9th. As the time clock on this contest struck 2 hours, Jones struck for a walk-off home run, one that hit the top of the fence in right center field before falling over. It gave the Mets what is now the 2nd quickest walk-off triumph in their history.

"A couple of inches this way and it's inside the park," Roberts told the media of the home run. "I guess that's what makes the game so fascinating."

That and the otherwise useless trivia that I've just finished sharing with you.

True Metkies know... Looking at this from another angle:

The slowest Mets walk-off win (REGULAR SEASON): 5 hours, 21 minutes, an 18-inning win over the Pirates on April 28, 1985

The slowest Mets walk-off win (OVERALL): 5 hours, 46 minutes, Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS, a 15-inning clash with the Braves

The slowest Mets walk-off win (9 inning game) 3 hours, 47 minutes, July 10, 1999, against the Yankees.


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