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On the Move

Within the span of 48 hours this weekend, I got e-mails from two different high school acquaintances, both now attorneys, indicating that they were relocating. Eddie Lieber, whom I had lost touch with for a long time, is returning to New York after a brief respite in San Antonio. Jeff Piroozshad, based in Miami for a stretch, has moved to California, where he'll be toiling for the Upper Deck baseball card company.

I bring this up because I'm hurting for something to write about in the short term, and their e-mails provided an inspiration. Jeff, Eddie, and I once attended an otherwise-forgettable Mets walk-off win just prior to the start of our time in college. Jeff and Eddie were classmates and members of my fantasy sports leagues. We also played in a computer baseball league utilizing the now-antique"Earl Weaver Baseball" and to this day, many of us are still convinced that Eddie cheated (his record was something like 75-5 when we were all struggling at .500), though I've since forgiven him.

It was August 24, 1993, a time of mediocrity when plenty of good seats were still available and ours happened to be field boxes along the left field line. A fourth person was in our party, and I believe his name was David "Iggy" Koeppel, and I recall his being irked at my bringing a tape recorder. This was during a time in which I frequently "broadcast" games from Shea's upper deck, and I decided to take my act down to the lower level for this occasion. Iggy wasn't the only one who was annoyed. A number of folks sitting around us got frustrated by our volume (and by the events of the game), but too bad for them.

Somewhere, amongst my stacks of hundreds of cassettes is the call of this contest, hardly an instant classic. The Mets took a 3-0 lead after one, partly due to Bobby Bonillia's two-run home run off Reds starter Larry Luebbers. Mets starter Frank Tanana gave back two quickly, including Tim Costo's first major-league home run, but otherwise was in fine form. Tanana allowed two runs in seven innings before giving way to the bullpen. The Mets added a run in the eighth to have a 4-2 edge heading into the final frame.

The Mets had many moments in 1993 when they conjured up memories of the patheticity of the 1962/63 squads. The 9th inning of this game would be right at the top of the list. Jeff Innis started the Reds rally by walking Reggie Sanders. Tom Howard followed with a grounder to short, but rather than turn two, the Mets turned none when Kevin Baez's throw couldn't be handled by second baseman Jeff Kent ("(it) hit the the second baseman in the worst place -- his glove" was the way it was phrased in the next day's New York Times). Mike Maddux relieved Innis and got the next two men out, but then a double steal followed by a balk produced one run and a Joe Oliver double brought in the tying run.

The Mets got through the 9th without further damage and set about trying to triumph in the home half. With one out, Jeff McKnight tripled off the top of the centerfield fence, putting the hosts in great position to score. Except for one thing: Todd Hundley was coming up as a pinch-hitter.

I have but one solid memory of this game and it's of Hundley's at bat against Reds reliever Kevin Wickander. Or rather, of Eddie Lieber screaming into my tape recorder: "Todd Hundley is going to whiff!" over and over again. These were not good times for Hundley, who entered the at bat hitting .207 and with a rep for failing in situations such as these.

Fortunately for Hundley, the opportunity for failure was taken right from his hands. Wickander bounced one in the dirt for a wild pitch, bringing home the winning run. "Todd Hundley comes through!!" I screamed as we "celebrated" a rare Mets victory.

True Metgal scholars know...This game also stands out in my memory for another reason. A few days after the conclusion, I got an e-mail from a friend saying they heard on WFAN that I won the "Budweiser Mets Win By One" promotion, somewhat ironic considering I don't drink (I don't even remember filling out an entry blank). A few weeks later, I received my prize: a WFAN goodie bag, a rain slicker, and two tickets to the final home game of the truly unMetmorable 1993 season.


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