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Sixty, Count Em Sixty (Part III)

Here at MetsWalkoffs.com, there are 2 kinds of lists we really like- the bests and the worsts. Sunday, Pat Misch became one of the worst pitchers ever to throw a shutout for the Mets. That's another ranking for another time. For now, we'll continue along with our weekly Monday feature, ranking the best 60 regular season home runs in Mets history.

#51-60 can be found here
http://www.metswalkoffs.com/2009/09/sixty-count-em-sixty-most-metmorable.html

#41-50 can be found here
http://www.metswalkoffs.com/2009/09/sixty-count-em-sixty-part-ii.html

Today, we present the next 10 in our countdown.


40- Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell, July 27, 1986 (#2,435, #2,436, #2437)

Remember when the Mets used to beat the snot out of the Braves? The Mets went 49-23 against Atlanta from 1984 to 1989, including a win on this date. Poor Rick Mahler had the misfortune of going through the primary years of his career during that stretch.

He lost to the Mets 12 times in 14 decisions, including 11 straight, and happened to be the man on the mound when Carter, Strawberry and Mitchell went deep in succession, in the third inning of a 5-1 win. Some teams mail it in during the last game of a 10-game road trip. Not the 1986 Mets.

“This club is the biggest home run threat since the Reds in 1976, when they were a machine, and we're doing it in a league with big parks,” Keith Hernandez told the media afterwards.

True Mets home run historians know...From 1984 to 1989, the Mets went 59-9 when they hit at least three home runs in a game.

39- John Milner, August 12, 1974 (#1,302)

This spot is to celebrate one of the standard setters for Mets moon shots at Shea Stadium. Milner's a 475-foot blast in a 3-1 win over the Dodgers in an otherwise very forgettable season. The newspapers said it was the longest homer in Mets history to this point (they forgot one though, which we'll get to eventually).

It was since surpassed, to the point where it's now omitted from the media guide, most notably by Mo Vaughn's clout off the Budweiser sign, estimated as a 505-footer, against the Braves in 2002, a game-winning 485-foot home run by Mike Piazza against Tom Glavine in 1998, and a trio of Darryl Strawberry home runs in 1986, 1987, and 1988.

True Mets home run historians know...No Mets hitter had more home runs in the 1970s than John Milner's 94.

38- Darryl Strawberry vs Lee Smith, September 11, 1990 (#3,131)

When I told my father that I was making a list of the 60 greatest Mets regular season home runs, he told me to make sure to include Darryl Strawberry's against the Cardinals. Not the one you'll read about in a couple of weeks, from 1985 in St. Louis, but one from the very end of Straw's Mets career.

This one has taken on legendary status in our household, and father does indeed know best.

We've recounted this story a couple of times before- of how we were at this Mets-Cardinals game, one that went back-and-forth, and back, with relief appearances by both Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda. A 1-0 Cardinals lead turned into a 5-2 Mets edge, turned into a 6-5 Cards advantage, turned into an 8-6 Mets nailbiter, turned into 8-8 with Dave Magadan batting and one on in the bottom of the ninth.

Magadan did what turned out to be the best possible thing. He failed to sacrifice, popping out to the catcher. That got more than a few boos.

The fan sitting behind us at the game that night said, in a moment we'll always remember: “Don't worry, Strawberry's going to hit a home run here.”

A few moments later, after a no-doubt missile to right on Lee Smith's first pitch, he had more words for us. They were a little louder and a little happier. Something along the lines of “Toldyaso.”

True Mets home run historians know...Darryl Strawberry's last home run as a Met came on September 23, 1990 against Cubs starter Greg Maddux.

37- Jose Valentin, September 18, 2006 ( #5,553, 5554)

Jose Valentin had a couple of decent statistical seasons, but I'd hope he'd rank 2006 among his favorites, since the expectations were so low for him coming into the year (he hit .170 with two home runs the year prior). Valentin made clinching day his day with a two-home run effort, as the Mets won the NL East by beating the Marlins.

It capped a season in which Valentin hit .271 (his second-best batting average) with 18 home runs and 62 RBI. Sometimes the guys who don't figure in your plans at all are the ones who make the big difference in a championship-caliber year.

True Mets home run historians know...Among the nearly 200 players who, at press time, had 249+ career home runs, Jose Valentin's .243 batting average ranks 4th-worst, behind Gorman Thomas, Dave Kingman, and Greg Vaughn.

36- Carlos Delgado, August 22, 2006 (#5,527)

Nothing like reaching a magic number in grand fashion. Carlos Delgado had a flare for the dramatic and for what was needed on this date in 2006. With the Mets trailing the Cardinals, 7-1 in the fifth inning, Delgado golfed a grand slam against Jeff Weaver for his 400th career home run. It was Delgado's second home run of the game, and provided the kind of inspiration the likes we saw in 1986, when it seemed like no deficit was insurmountable for this team.The Mets would go on to win on a two-run home run by the other Carlos in the bottom of the ninth.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets all-time leaders in postseason home runs: Mike Piazza 5, Carlos Delgado 4, Rusty Staub 4, Lenny Dykstra 4, Darryl Strawberry 4, Edgardo Alfonzo 4.

35- Mike Piazza, May 5, 2004 (#5,030)

The highlight of the disastrous run that was 2002 to 2004 was this landmark home run by Mike Piazza against Giants pitcher Jerome Williams. The home run was Piazza's 352nd as a catcher, surpassing the previous mark of Carlton Fisk. He'd eventually reach nearly 400 at the position, setting a standard that will be tough for anyone to surpass.

“I'm really excited and really proud,” Piazza said afterwards. The next night he'd hit one just as Metmorable from our perspective- a walk-off home run to beat the Giants in the 11th inning.

They may call the catchers equipment tools of ignorance, but Piazza was anything but with a bit. He was a very smart hitter for someone with that much power. Consider this: Of all those whose careers started in 1960 or later, the only player to hit 400 home runs AND strike out less than Piazza is Vladimir Guerrero.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets were 141-62 all-time in regular season games in which Piazza homered (.695 win pct)

34- Howard Johnson, July 22, 1986 (#2,430)

The 1986 game against the Reds, was best remembered for a lot of things: There was the Eric Davis-Ray Knight brawl at third base, Dave Parker's dropped game-ending fly ball with two outs in the ninth, and the Mets using a defense that included Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco rotating in the outfield, and Gary Carter at third base. It actually did reach a conclusion. Most of us probably didn't see it live, since the game ended five hours after it began. The ending was sweet, with Howard Johnson supplying the power with a three-run home run against a Ted Power curveball in the top of the 14th.

“If I could bottle that swing and keep it in my back pocket, I could make a million,” The Times quoted Johnson as saying afterwards.

True Mets home run historians know...The latest go-ahead home run in a Mets road game came in the 17th inning by Del Unser in the 17th inning against the Cardinals on April 19, 1976.

33- Kevin McReynolds, August 11, 1988 (#2,783)

Gary Carter hit his 300th home run at Wrigley Field on this date in 1988, but this moment was overshadowed by the clutchness of Kevin McReynolds in helping the Mets acoid getting swept. With the Mets trailing the Cubs by a run with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, McReynolds hit a grand slam off Cubs closer Goose Gossage, and the Mets would win, 9-6, after escaping trouble in the home ninth. For someone who supposedly cared very little about baseball, it was these types of home runs that made for some pretty impressive moments in McReynolds Met career. This one snapped the Mets out of a funk that enabled them to keep any onrushers, like the Pirates and Expos, at arm's length.

True Mets home run historians know...Darryl Strawberry hit 252 home runs as a Met. Kevin McReynolds hit 122. Both guys had the same number of go-ahead home runs in the 7th inning or later: 14.

32- Marv Throneberry, August 21, 1962 (#117)

This, notes Dennis D'Agostino in the book This Date in Mets History, was the kind of moment that earned Marv Throneberry the nickname “Marvelous.” Throneberry came up as a pinch-hitter with two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, after spending the previous few innings subbing for ejected Solly Hemus as first base coach.

Facing Roy Face, who a few seasons earlier finished with a 19-1 mark, Throneberry homered into the upper deck in right, enabling the Mets to split a doubleheader with the Pirates, after blowing a ninth-inning lead in the opener.

True Mets home run historians know...Three players have hit a walk-off three-run home run for the Mets, in a situation in which the team was down two runs and down to its final out: Marv Throneberry, Steve Henderson, and Bobby Bonilla.

31- Carlos Beltran, April 10, 2005 (#5,199)

Willie Randolph's first five games as Mets manager were a disaster. The sixth was one to savor. With one swing, Carlos Beltran erased a 15-strikeout virtuoso effort by Braves pitcher John Smoltz, and turned a 1-0 Braves eighth-inning lead into a 2-1 Mets advantage. Said Randolph after a few puffs on a victory cigar after the 6-1 win, it felt like the Mets were coming home 5-1 instead of 1-5.

True Mets home run historians know...Four Mets have homered more than once against John Smoltz: Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Ryan Thompson each have two home runs against him. David Wright has three.

Next week: # 21-30

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