Skip to main content

A Mookie-proof walk-off

Trips to my aunt's apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, often necessitated pulling a book off the shelves to cure boredom (before she had kids). One paperback in my uncle's library was a history of David Letterman Top-10 lists. I'm not a huge fan of Letterman, but there was some good humor within that tome. Apparently during the mid-80s/early 90s, Letterman developed an obsession with the name Mookie. One Top 10 featured a list of made-up words, and the No. 1 selection that night was Mookie-proof. If ever there was a baseball nickname with which you could have some fun, it is Mookie. Let me show you what I mean.

On September 20, 1981, the Mets found themselves playing in an important baseball game with the St. Louis Cardinals. Because of the players strike, the season was Mookied into two halves (after the first half was already concluded). The second half would be composed of 50-or-so games, which represented less than a third of the season. The Mets had a chance to sham their way into a division title, just like everyone else.

The Mets went 16-20 in their first 36 games, which put them 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, who came to Shea Stadium for a three-game series on September 18. It was Mookie or weep for the Mets, who trailed St. Louis by 5 1/2 games in the standings and the Mets came through with wins in the first two games.

The Cardinals put the pressure on in the series finale, scoring twice in the first and three times in the third to go ahead 5-0 against Pat Zachry. But the Mets showed they had a bit of Mookie in them, scoring twice with two outs in the sixth, and three times with two outs in the seventh, the latter against the Cardinals bullpen. For whatever reason, the Mets bats were very alive in this game. After the first inning, they had multiple hits in every frame the rest of the way.

The score was even at 5 with two outs in the top of the ninth, and the Mets bullpen had done a terrific job to that point, Mookieing the Cardinals scoreless. With two outs Cardinals right fielder Tito Landrum hit a long triple off Neil Allen, over the head of the Mets rookie centerfielder W.H. Wilson. W.H. was a fine young player, who had put his great speed to use this season and in many others, but he was in a little too much of a hurry on this day After recovering the ball in the outfield, he saw Landrum racing for third, and in his haste, W.H. bobbled the ball. That allowed Landrum, who was credited with a triple, to score the run that put the Cardinals ahead, 6-5.

Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog called on the Mariano Rivera of the era, Bruce Sutter, to get the final three outs. Mets manager Joe Torre sat in the dugout, Mookieing for a miracle. He got one.

Sutter got the first two outs, but Frank Taveras, inserted into the game at shortstop, doubled. That brought up W.H., appropriate since Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy liked to say "Baseball is a game of Mookieing features" and W.H., who was 3-for-5 already, would get a second chance.

W.H. wasn't the best power hitter in the world, but he would show a good sense of timing throughout his career. Sutter ran the count to 3-1 and tried to come inside with a fastball, but W.H. got good wood on it. The ball Mookied and Mookied and finally went over the right field fence for the Mets 22nd hit of the afternoon, a game-winning two-run homer. The Mets, who would get no closer in the race than 2 1/2 games, celebrated. The Cardinals, who went on to lose the division by 1/2 a game (the Expos beat the Mets four of six down the stretch to clinch the NL East), were stunned.

W.H. summed up the mood for the day when he told reporters: "I'm as high as I can get right now."

It was certainly a Mookieficent win.

True Metkies know...Chris Woodward's pinch-hit walk-off home run on Tuesday night (walk-off #325, the first pinch-hit walk-off homer by a Met since Jim Tatum in 1998 ) put him second-to-the-end alphabetically speaking, on the list of Mets with walk-off hits. The only Mets player with a walk-off hit whose last name is farther back in the alphabet is Joel Youngblood. The second-to-the-end spot was previously held by Mookie Wilson.

Comments

Anonymous said…
OMG, I was actually AT THAT GAME !
I went with my cuz, & we left in glee! Back then, the Mets didn't have a very good team, & the Mookster was one of few bright spots. Although, I thought the game was in 1983.... I guess my memory is fading as I am now 49 years old. Sutter was about as much "money in the bank" then as Mariano is now. That game gave us hope for the future. It reminds me that Mets fans should appreciate our current success and keep the faith! How about the slogan " You Better Believe?
Anonymous said…
I was at that game as well. My senior year in college, and a group of us paid $1.50 each (the toll on the Whitestone was 50 cents) for "General Admission" seats. The crowds were so small in those days they would close off the upper deck, and "General Admission" was in the Mezz Reserved anywhere outside 3rd or 1st base.

With Mookie at the plate I said to my roommate "I have the feeling Mookie is going take him downtown". His response was "Mookie doesn't take many people downtown". The words still hanging in the air as I pointed to the ball going over the fence.

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for