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Sixty, Count Em, Sixty (Part V)

Continuing along with out list of the top 60 Mets regular season home runs of all-time. You may have to wait a bit for the top 10 to come out...

20- Ray Knight, July 3, 1986 (#2,413)

One of my all-time favorite regular season moments is this one, the conclusion of a Mets-Astros game that foreshadowed how the key game in October would play out. The Mets and Astros went to the 10th inning tied, 3-3. Houston scored twice on a two-run home run by Phil Garner.

The Mets responded quickly in the home half when Darryl Strawberry hit a monstrous game-tying home run against Astros reliever Frank Dipino.

Knight came up a couple batters later. He had fanned four times previously against the combo of Jim Deshaies and Charlie Kerfeld. This time, he got up, 2-0, and took advantage, homering to left field to win the game. It was the first time that season that the Mets had rallied with three runs in the 10th to win a game, 6-5. It wouldn't be the last.

True Mets home run historians know...Four Mets have struck out four times and hit a home run in the same game- Bobby Bonilla, Knight, Dave Kingman, and Tommie Agee.

19- Darryl Strawberry, May 3, 1988 (#2,712)

The game in which Darryl Strawberry set the new Mets career home run record is oft-forgotten, because the contest was not close. Straw's homer didn't even earn top billing in the New York Times or Newsday the next day, as that was dedicated to David Cone's first career shutout. That seems rather shabby in hindsight, considering that Straw's final mark still stands 21 years later.

The homer that passed Dave Kingman was number 155 in Strawberry's career and came with two men on base against Braves reliever Juan Eichelberger, with the Mets up 5-0 at the time.

The best quote I could find came from USA Today, and it didn't even seem like Strawberry was really enjoying the moment.

“Everybody expected 50 homers a year from the start,” Strawberry said. “I'm just happy to have been in a position to break it.”

True Mets home run historians know...Strawberry's next home run after this one was more meaningful. It was a two-run walk-off home run to beat John Franco and the Reds, 4-3 in 10 innings. The Mets had two outs with nobody on base when Keith Hernandez walked. Strawberry hit the next pitch off the scoreboard in right center.

18- Darryl Strawberry, April 4, 1988 (#2,681)

Randy St. Claire got fired as Nationals pitching coach not too long ago, so now he's back to being best known not for that job, but for yielding one of the longest home runs in Mets history. With the Mets leading 7-4 in the 7th inning on Opening Day, St. Claire delivered a pitch that Darryl Strawberry put into a monstrous orbit with a huge uppercut swing. It hit the Olympic Stadium roof in right field before coming down.

This was part of a day in which the Mets broke the 1932 Yankees record for home runs on Opening Day by clocking six. As much as Strawberry's record-breaking home run has been ignored, this one has been played up quite a bit.

“Just another home run,” Strawberry told the media afterwards. Marty Noble got a great quote from Tim Teufel into his story the next day:

“Maybe we can convince someone to climb out (on the roof) and look for a dent. Where's the great Wallenda?”

True Mets home run historians know...Darryl Strawberry hit the most home runs at Olympic Stadium of any Met. He had 16. Mike Piazza and Howard Johnson are tied for second with nine.

17- Tommie Agee, April 10, 1969 (#708)

Since we're saluting long home runs, we might as well go back-to-back here with the famous Tommie Agee home run, the only one to ever reach the left field upper deck at Shea Stadium. It came in the second inning of a 4-2 win over the Expos. The New York Times estimated that tier of seats to be 100 feet off the ground, and the angle and distance required to put a ball into that spot makes it easy to understand why that was the sole ton of swat (a previously referenced pun) in that section. For good measure, he'd hit another in this game.

The Times also noted how this was an important stepping-stone game for Agee, who'd been awful in 1968, partly due to the aftereffects of a Bob Gibson beaning. These two home runs set the stage for a magical season.

True Mets home run historians know...If you were to list the Mets home run hitters alphabetically by last name, Tommie Agee would come third, after Kurt Abbott and Benny Agbayani.

16- Johnny Lewis, June 14, 1965 (#382)

One of the most amazin' wins in the history of the Mets was this one, in an otherwise mostly-meaningless season (save for Casey Stengel's retirement). The Mets had lost 10 in a row, including a three-game stretch against the Hall of Fame combo of Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax. But this would be the game in which they were dominated most.

Red pitcher Jim Maloney took a no hitter through 10 innings, with 17 strikeouts to that point. He actually got stronger as the game lasted, having allowed no baserunners from the fourth through 10th innings. He entered the 11th having struck out seven of the last nine batters he faced. But since the Reds couldn't push a run across either (Maloney actually could have won his own game with a base hit in the 10th, but was unsuccessful), the score was still tied.

Johnny Lewis led off the 11th, hitting a 2-1 pitch “that sped on an ascending line to straightaway center. There it cleared the inside barrier that delineates the field of play with at least five feet to spare and slammed into the outer wall erected recently to screen off the glare of traffic on a new superhighway” reads the description in the New York Times. The Reds went down with a whimper in the home half and Maloney finished an 18-strikeout, two-hit loser. The Mets winning ways didn't last long. They dropped their next five.

It's too bad the Mets couldn't play extra-inning games every day. They went 8-6 when the game lasted beyond regulation, 41-106 otherwise.

True Mets home run historians know...Johnny Lewis hit three home runs against Jim Maloney, his most against any pitcher.

15- Carlos Beltran, August 22, 2006 (#5,526)

Good things happen to those who swing the bat. This was how the 2006 NLCS should have ended, with Carlos Beltran capping a great come-from-behind win by slamming a walk-off home run against the Cardinals closer (in this case Jason Isringhausen, not Adam Wainwright). This was one of the more fun days of the season, with Carlos Delgado joining the 400 home run club, in addition to the Mets rallying from six runs down, and a tally behind when Beltran launched his big swing.

True Mets home run historians know...The Mets have hit 24 walk-off home runs in situations in which they were trailing at the time. This was the most recent one.


14- Mike Piazza, June 9, 2000 (#4,450)

This is the kind of walk-off we like a lot:

“By the time Roger Clemens walked off the mound, almost every Yankees fan in the ballpark was booing, except for mayor Rudolph Giuliani.”

That was the lead of the AP story the day after Mike Piazza belted a grand slam against Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, as part of a 12-2 Mets rout in the Bronx, a day in which Clemens matched a career-high with nine runs allowed. All part of the continued avenging of Clemens act of bullpen vandalism during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

True Mets home run historians know...Of the 20 players who, since the Mets inception, have hit 30+ home runs against the Yankees, only one- Carlos Delgado- has played for the Mets.

13- Howard Johnson, April 24, 1986 (#2,346)

The race for first place in the NL East essentially concluded 11 games into the season, or more specifically, with one out in the home ninth inning of the Mets-Cardinals game that day. It was then that Howard Johnson hit a game-tying home run against Cardinals closer Todd Worrell. The two-run shot tied the game, 4-4, and the Mets would win in 10 on George Foster's RBI hit.

The win made the Mets winners of six in a row and the Cardinals losers of four straight. The Mets had a 1 ½ game lead in the standings, but it might well have been what it ended up at after 162 games- 21 ½ games. The Mets would go on to sweep the series and bury any team that came close to them the rest of the season.

True Mets home run historians know...Howard Johnson career vs Todd Worrell: 6 for 13, 4 home runs, 6 walks. The other pitchers whom Howard Johnson owned were Mike Lacoss (5 HR, 22 AB), Pat Perry (4 HR, 13 AB), and Jim Acker (4 HR, 15 AB).

12- Donn Clendenon, September 24, 1969 (#813, 815)

The game that clinched the 1969 NL East title was never in doubt and the man who made sure of that was the one who was credited with having the biggest impact on the team's fortunes over the last three-and-a-half months of the season. Four batters into the game with the St. Louis Cardinals, Clendenon clinked a three-run home run off Steve Carlton. The Mets scored five runs in the first inning, which held up under Gary Gentry's fine pitching. Clendenon added another home run in the fifth to account for the final tally.

True Mets home run historians know...The 1969 Mets tied a club record at the time by having 10 instances in which a player hit two home runs in a game. The mark had previously been established by the 1962 Mets. The current record is 18 instances, by the 2008 squad.

11- Willie Mays, May 14, 1972 (#1,048)

I'm sure I'm going to get some arguments from people who feel that this home run belongs in the top 10, but I'm going to spot it right here. I was born in 1975, and had I lived through this moment, I probably would have rated it higher. I'll grant you that it was a pretty Amayzin' (deliberately spelled that way) moment for Willie Mays to hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run in his first game with the Mets (against the Giants, no less). But this one is about sentiment, more than significance, so it nestles into this location in the rankings.

True Mets home run historians know...Twelve of Willie Mays' 14 home runs with the Mets came with the score within three runs, one way or the other.

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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