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These Blogs are Made for Walking

I mentioned recently that I didn't know whether 19 men left on base was some sort of a Mets walk-off record (that's the total they had in their marathon win over the Pirates a week and a half ago). Well, this morning, I happened to stumble upon notice of another such contest in which the Mets stranded 19, and by happenstance, it took place 44 years ago this May 15.

I imagine the frustration of Mets fans over the teams recent play is rather significant and perhaps it matches that of Lou Klein, the skipper of the day in the "College of Coaches" system, who was running things that day for the Cubs in this ninth-place showdown.

The Cubs led this game 1-0, 4-1 (against first-time Mets starter Vinegar Bend Mizell) and 5-4 but did not win it. The Mets did and did so in rather ugly fashion, as the game stories of the day explained. The first four runs came home on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly, an infield single that barely reached the pitcher, and a bad-hop single by Gus Bell over the head of first baseman Ernie Banks with two outs in the ninth to force extra innings.

The Cubs probably thought they had this one won in the 10th when Billy Williams homered but the Mets responded with a legit rally, tying the score with two outs (again!) on a base hit by Charlie Neal. That they stranded the bases loaded for the third time could be easily overlooked.

This one lasted until the 13th inning when none of Klein's three pitching choices could throw the baseball over the plate. With the bases loaded and one out, the infamous Harry Chiti (later to be traded for himself) hit into a force play, leaving matters up to Hobie Landrith. The man who was the hero of the Mets first walk-off win, just a few days previous, took four straight pitches for balls. The 15th (!) Mets walk ended this game and temporarily moved them out of the National League cellar.

This was part of a hot streak in which the team won eight of 11 games, with a host of dramatic victories and marked a high point of a season. Soon thereafter they would lose 17 straight, a fate far worse than that which has befallen the 2006 squad recently.

True Metters Day Observers know...That I'm a bit tardy (or perhaps "stinky" as my mom likes to say) in referencing Mother's Day in this space and I must admit that I have not done the necessary research regarding the subject as it pertains to the Mets.

I can share my favorite Mother's Day sports memory. I was 10 in 1985 when the family went for our annual Chinatown lunch in lower Manhattan. My dad brought along his transistor radio because something significant was taking place that day and we wanted to know the result. So it was mid-afternoon, before the main course, if I remember right, that my dad flipped on 1010 WINS. When he learned that the New York Knicks had just been awarded the first pick in the NBA's first ever draft lottery, he had a reaction Charles Schulz would describe as "unbridled joy and enthusiasm" (he started screaming). Fortunately, our waiter did not ask us to walk-off.


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