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Sixty, Count Em Sixty! (Part IV)

Better late than never...continuing our countdown of the 60 best Mets regular-season home runs.

30- Carlos Beltran, September 28, 2008 (#5,915)


The last good thing that happened to the 2009 Mets was their last home run in 2008. This was supposed to be the home run that was going to make the closing of Shea a great day- a two-run game-tying shot against Marlins starter Scott Olsen, in the sixth inning. It was supposed to be the home run that erased the memory of that last at-bat in 2006. It was supposed to be the home run that would springboard the 2008 Mets into the postseason.

It was not.

True Mets home run historians know...Carlos Beltran has the Mets lead for most home runs against the Marlins, with 18. Mike Piazza is next with 16, David Wright is next with 12, followed by Jeromy Burnitz with 10.


29- Howard Johnson, September 10, 1985 (#2,317)

The home run that put Howard Johnson on the map as a Met was this one. The Mets and Cardinals entered their 136th games of the season tied in the standings at 82 wins apiece. The Cardinals struck first against Ron Darling when Tommy Herr homered in the opening inning.


The Mets were in need of a quick response against Danny Cox and got it. Keith Hernandez singled in a run, and after an intentional walk and hit batsman loaded the bases, Johnson crushed a grand slam. After George Foster was hit by a pitch, the benches cleared, though no punches were thrown. Johnson took personal offense.

“It was their way of saying they'd rather pitch to me,” Hojo said to the media afterwards. “They felt they could get me, but I got them.”


The Mets had to sweat this one out, but Roger McDowell gutted through 2 2/3 innings of relief to earn the save in a 5-4 victory, putting the Mets into first place in the NL East.

True Mets home run historians know...This was Howard Johnson's second career grand slam. He hit his first while with the Tigers against Bob Gibson...not the Hall of Famer, but the former one-outing Met, in 1984.


28- Gary Carter, August 11, 1988 (#2,781)

Gary Carter hit both his 100th and 200th home runs against the Mets. He hit number 300 for the Mets, but boy was it ever a torturous exercise to get there. Perhaps we should have braced ourselves for this adventure with what happened in going from 99 to 100. Carter hit 29 home runs in 1980, but it took him three weeks to advance from double to triple digits (vs Mark Bomback, May 10, 1980).

But perhaps we got teased by the ease with which The Kid went from 199 to 200, by homering in both ends of a doubleheader (against Ron Darling and Mike Torrez) to make the climb an easy one.

The pressure of hitting number 300 got to Carter, as we've previously detailed, and lasted nearly three months. He finally got there on August 11, 1988, after nearly three months of effort, against Al Nipper at Wrigley Field. Nipper was a familiar foe to Carter, who must have been pretending it was Game 4 of the 1986 World Series when he clocked one to lead off the top of the second inning.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets record for most consecutive games WITH a home run is 5, set by Richard Hidalgo in 2004.


27- Willie Mays, July 21, 1972 (#1,091)


Less heralded than his first home run with the Mets, was his fourth home run with the Mets. Mays returned to San Francisco for his first game in front of the Giants fans who had pulled for him since the team moved to the city in 1958.


This may be less noted because there were only about 18,000 or so in the stands at Candlestick Park that day (Murray Chass wrote in the papers the next day that turnout was low because Yogi Berra had planned not to play Mays). In his first at-bat, he grounded out. In his second at-bat, he flied to center. In his third at-bat, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 Mets lead into a 3-0 advantage.

True Mets home run historians know...Willie Mays homered AGAINST 22 different Mets pitchers, but went homerless, with five hits and nine strikeouts in 24 at-bats against Tom Seaver.

26- Edgardo Alfonzo, August 30, 1999 (#4,344, 4,347, 4,348)

The best day ever for a Mets batsman was this one, in which Alfonzo got six hits, scored six runs, hit three home runs, and drove in five. He did it in the Astrodome, which wasn't exactly the most hitter-friendly baseball facility. Alfonzo actually had a chance for a four-homer game when he came up in the ninth inning, but settled for a double in a 17-1 romp.


Two folks who have seen a lot of baseball- Mets manager Bobby Valentine and Astros skipper Larry Dierker- said afterwards that it was the best offensive performance they'd ever seen. Who are we to challenge them?

True Mets home run historians know...Since the Mets inception in 1962, only two major leaguers: Shawn Green (2002) and Edgardo Alfonzo have had a three-homer, six-hit game.


25- Marlon Anderson, June 11, 2005 (#5,256)


I've written about this game many times previously, so it's hard to come up with some fresh material. I made sure to include this one in the top 25, as its one of my all-time favorites, for those unfamiliar, a game-tying inside-the-park home run off Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning.


“It's exciting when you watch and nerve-wracking when you're running around there and can't see anything,” Anderson said, describing his path around the bases.”


Steve Finley is known as the man who just missed Todd Pratt's walk-off home run to end the 1999 Division Series. He just missed this one as well, in a different way, watching the ball kick off his knee and roll away, allowing Anderson to race the bases.


“It tipped off the end of my glove and hit my knee,” Finley said. “It's just a tough luck play, a freak play. You can't defend that.”


True Mets home run historians know...The Mets have hit 67 game-tying home runs in the ninth inning or later. This is the only one that was an inside-the-park home run.


24- Jim Hickman, August 9, 1963 (#209)

Before there was Anthony Young and his gargantuan losing streak, there was Roger Craig. Craig was an average pitcher in a well-below-average situation. In two seasons with the Mets, he went 15-46. For all other teams, he was 59-52.

Over a three-month stretch in 1963, Craig went 0-18, and it was a rather grim 0-18. Craig pitched eight complete games. In 10 of his 19 starts, the Mets lost by either one run or two runs. Twice he started, the Mets won, and he pitched great...but alas, he got a no-decision.

Craig finally broke the losing streak on August 9, when he broke a 3-2 lead, but stuck around for the finish, and was rewarded when Jim Hickman hit a walk-off grand slam.

The famous kicker to the story- Craig had changed his uniform number for the game, switching from No. 38 to No. 13.

True Mets home run historians know...At the end of the 1960s, the Mets all-time home run leader board was led by Ed Kranepool (62), Ron Swoboda (60), and Jim Hickman (60).

23- Tim Harkness, June 26, 1963 (#186)
The best of the home runs of the Mets first two seasons of hopelessness came from Harkness, and it came in the most ultra-dramatic of fashions. The Mets had rallied from 4-0 down at home against the Cubs to tie and force extra-innings. It took until the 14th for anyone else to score, and Chicago tallied twice on an inside-the-park home run by Billy Williams.


In the home 14th, the Mets nearly bungled their way out of a rally when Jim Hickman was thrown out trying to take third base on Ron Hunt's single. Two walks, sandwiched around a flyout loaded the bases for Harkness, who stretched Jim Brewer's count all the way to 3-and-2. The payoff pitch was clubbed down the right field line for a game-ending grand slam- one of two the Mets would hit that season (see previous HR listed).

This one was celebrated in a big way, as a group of fans made there way down to the field, and paraded out to the team's locker rooms, which were located in center field. They wouldn't leave until Harkness came out for a curtain call.

The photo caption in the Chicago Tribune described the newfound popularity of the Mets hero, noting Harkness was the “Newest threat for write-in election as mayor of New York.”

True Mets home run historians know...Tim Harkness was the first Met to bat at Shea Stadium and the first Met to get a hit (a single) there.

22- Keith Hernandez, September 1, 1985 (#2,305)


If at first you don't succeed, keep on swinging. Comparatively speaking, Keith Hernandez was mediocre in August of 1985. A 1-for-17 drought in his last four games finished him at .268 with 13 RBI...decent for some, lousy for Mex. So he ended up on the bench for a game in San Francisco, not called upon until the most important moment.


The Mets were down a run in the ninth inning with a man on second and one out in the ninth when Davey Johnson pulled out his best bench bat. The Giants countered with lefty Mark Davis, who was especially tough for lefty hitters to face. On a 1-2 count, Hernandez homered. He'd refer to it in his book, published in 1986, as “the only homer I ever hit into the upper deck anywhere.”


It was a home run of significant value, because it got the Mets a win on a day that it looked like they would lose. And it shook Hernandez out of his funk. “Can one swing turn around a hitter? Absolutely,” Hernandez asked and answered. You know what he did in the next game? 5-for-5? You know what he hit in September? .395.

True Mets home run historians know...The most home runs Keith Hernandez hit against any pitcher is six, against former Met Mike Scott.

21- Mookie Wilson, September 20, 1981 (#1,880)

The faux pennant race post-strike 1981 was one in which the Mets had deep involvement, down to the season's final days. As one Mets book quotes Joe Torre as saying: “You could steal a pennant.”

The closest thing the Mets had to a pennant thiever was Mookie Wilson, whose error on Tito Landrum's triple in the top of the ninth put the Mets in a one-run hole against the Cardinals in a game that was a must-win, late in the year, for the Mets to have any NL East second-half title hopes. In the bottom half, Wilson atoned for his mistake, with a two-out, two-run walk-off home run, which completed a comeback from an early 5-0 deficit and gave the Mets a wild, 7-6 win and pull within 3 ½ games of first.

“I'm as high as I can get right now,” Wilson said in the locker room afterwards.

True Mets home run historians know...Mookie Wilson also homered against Hall of Famers Rich Gossage and Steve Carlton.

Be sure to check out the ongoing series on Mets one-hitters at http://nonohitters.com

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Cliff Notes

Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t