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Still Waiting After All These Years

There are only 2 home games remaining in the regular season (maybe one by the time you read this) and we've been waiting more than a month for the Mets to win via walk-off for the 12th time in 2006 (the last such triumph came on August 22). One thing that I rediscovered in my personal life this past week is the value of patience, so I'm not clamoring for this kind of victory as much as I might have been not too long ago.

Sometimes the Mets require their fans to wait, and wait, and wait, for a walk-off that never comes.

I can tell you that as good as the 1968 season was for the New York Mets, it was not a good year for walk-offs That year, the most victorious (73) in franchise history to that point, the Mets had only three walk-off wins, all of which came within a 6-day span. So had I been alive and inspired to blog that season, I would have had to have been awfully creative the rest of the year.

The last of the three walk-off victories that season came on May 21, in the team's 22nd home game of the season and it required patience from all 8,188 in attendance at Shea Stadium. That's because the game against Pittsburgh lasted 4 hours and 25 minutes.

Tom Seaver got the start that day and after surrendering a two-run home run to Willie Stargell in the first inning, was impressive for the next 10 frames. Seaver allowed only one more run in what was the longest start of his career to that point (11 innings, since surpassed twice and matched once). The Mets prevented him from suffering defeat twice, first by evening the score at two on Tommie Agee's second-inning two-run home run; then again in the fifth on Ken Boswell's RBI double, which knotted the contest at three runs apiece.

Cal Koonce replaced Seaver in the 12th and deftly weaved through five innings without much trouble. He would not reap the rewards of victory either, because his performance was matched by Bob Moose, later to throw a no-hitter against the Mets. Moose entered in the 11th and yielded little, while in search of his second big-league win.

In the 17th, Gil Hodges double switched, bringing Ron Taylor in to pitch and Jerry Buchek to replace Ed Charles at third base. Both moves paid off well, with Taylor setting the side out in the top of the 17th.

Moose remained in the game for the 17th, his seventh inning, and the Mets finally broke the 3-3 stalemate. Agee singled to start things off, then was sacrificed to second by Buchek.

Pirates skipper Larry Shepard was subjected to criticism by the New York Times for his subsequent decision to make a double switch of his own, replacing Moose with Elroy Face, and Hall of Fame 2nd baseman Bill Mazeroski (playing hurt) with Chuck Hiller. That's because, after Harrelson flew to left, Boswell hit a grounder between first and second. Hiller played the ball, but his throw to Face, covering because first baseman Donn Clendenon was unable to get back to the base, was wide. That allowed Agee to race home with the winning tally, giving the Mets a 4-3 win. Their 17th victory (against 20 defeats) was their last walk-off win of the season, as none of the 56 remaining triumphs ended in a manner requiring such blogging.

I don't mind this wait for another walk-off win, not just because I know that this season bears no such comparison to 1968 (Ralph Kiner said that 2005 did). I still have the luxury of a few (maybe more than a few) games in October with which to deal (those count in my database). And the Mets have a pretty good walk-off history in that month.

Those who have patiently Met their obligations this baseball season know...The Mets have had 10 seasons in which they did not have a walk-off win in either September or October, with the most recent coming in 2003 (the others: 1964, 68, 74, 78, 87, 91, 92, 94-strike, and 98).

Also worth noting: The 1986 Mets had no September walk-off wins, but had three October walk-off wins. The 1999 Mets had no September walk-off wins, but had four October walk-off wins.


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