Skip to main content

Doubting Thomas

They are throwing a parade on Tuesday for Pittsburgh's newest sports heroes, the Super Bowl champion football team that plays in that city, and they are a rightfully deserving group. But we're going to throw our own little parade here, paying tribute to another of Pittsburgh's finest for a walk-off of a rather impressive nature.

I'm referring, of course, to the game between the Mets and Cardinals that took place on July 9, 1964, a couple of weeks in which Shea Stadium was witness to a feat that, while not quite as amazing as the 23-inning game that took place a little more than a month prior, or as impressive as Jim Bunning's perfecto a few weeks hence, was worthy of high acclaim.

The Cardinals would eventually prove to be parade-worthy themselves, and on this day, they jumped on Mets starter Al Jackson for two first-inning runs and handed the ball to lefty twirler Curt Simmons, a pitcher whose reliability earned him two World Series starts that October. Simmons had no issues through the first two frames, but ran into trouble in the third, yielding the tying runs on a two-run single by pesky second baseman Ron Hunt.

The score remained even until the seventh when the Mets fortunes took their usual downward turn. With two outs, Curt Flood singled in the go-ahead run, handing Simmons a 3-2 lead. Simmons set the Mets down without issue in the seventh and eighth and through that point had retired 10 men in a row. The New York Times game story notes that Simmons had his offspeed pitches working quite well that day and the Mets hitters were mystified by his junk.

The Cardinals would rue that they couldn't take advantage of a scoring chance in the ninth, when after a Mets failed pickoff attempt allowed Julian Javier to take second base, he was thrown out on another pickoff try, cutting him down on his way to third.

In the last of the ninth, Joe Christopher got the Mets off the schneid, with a leadoff single, putting the tying run on base immediately and ending the jinx against Simmons. However, neither George Altman (popup) or Jim Hickman (flyout) could advance Christopher to scoring position.

The wise old sage that was Casey Stengel realized that with weak-hitting Roy Mcmillan coming up next, the best chance to win this game might actually be sitting beside him in the dugout. With that, Stengel called upon the man of the Mighty Casey of the night, Frank Thomas, as a pinch-hitter.

Thomas, a Pittsburgh native who began his major league career with his hometown team, had been battling a glandular infection and hadn't played since the previously referenced May 31 marathon against the Giants. The newspaper reported he took 10 swings during a rainy batting practice, but was ready to go if needed.

It wasn't quite Kirk Gibson vs Dennis Eckersley, but this was a night for an ailing slugger to come through. On a 2-1 pitch, Thomas hit a shot down the left field line that was right in the vicinity where the fair/foul question comes into play. Thomas thought, that with his luck, it was going to go foul, but the ball stayed in fair territory. Not only that, it cleared the fence for a game-winning two-run home run.

This was the 52nd and final Mets home run for Thomas, who would be traded to the Phillies a few weeks later, but it is the one for which he should be best remembered. It showed that he was capable of a feat akin to any Man of Steel.

True Metlers know...Had the Seahawks won, I likely would have written about the only two Seattle natives to play for the Mets- John Olerud and Glendon Rusch.


Popular posts from this blog

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

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

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 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