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Remembering '71

The 1971 Mets won't get their own night to honor their 35th anniversary, though in our world, they are a deserving group.

That's because that club set a Mets record with 14 walk-off victories amongst their 83 triumphs. A 3rd-place finish, 14 games from the top, assured their status as a forgotten bunch.

Monday and Tuesday mark the anniversary of this club's standard setting in the walk-off department, though such a record was not acknowledged then because the term "walk-off" had not yet been applied to this sport.

We'll honor it here by recounting the events from those two contests.

On August 28, 1971, the Mets did something they had never before done in their history- swept the Dodgers in a doubleheader. They triumphed in the first contest, 9-2, behind Tom Seaver, who went on to win the ERA title (1.76), and a 4-RBI game from first baseman Donn Clendenon.

The second game was a closer matchup, a pitchers duel between Gary Gentry and future Hall of Famer Don Sutton, with neither team tallying until the 8th inning. In that frame, the Dodgers took the lead when Bobby Valentine scored on Tom Haller's single. The Mets matched in their half when, with two outs, Duffy Dyer doubled, then scored on a Tommie Agee hit.

The last of the 9th repeated a scenario that, as you might recall, we discussed a week previously on its anniversary. With the score still even at one, the first two Mets made out. Then, Cleon Jones came to the plate. For those who forgot, Jones homered in the same situation a week ago against Padres pitcher Dave Roberts (incidentally the last Jewish Met prior to Shawn Green). This time, against Jim Brewer, history repeated itself. Not only did Jones hit a walk-off homer again, he did so on the same count which resulted in the home run vs Roberts (3 balls, 1 strike). It gave the Mets their 11th walk-off win, matching the standard set by the otherwise ignominious 1963 club.

The '71'ers made it an even dozen the following day, overcoming an early deficit. The Dodgers took a 2-0 first inning lead on Dick Allen's 2-run home run off Ray Sadecki, but Ken Singleton got the Mets a run back with a homer in the last of the second. Allen's RBI single in the third made it 3-1 in favor of LA, but the Mets evened things up on RBI doubles by Jones and Ed Kranepool in their half.

Their was no further scoring until the 9th, thanks largely to Tug McGraw's dodging (pardon the pun) a threat in the 8th, retiring Allen and Manny Mota with two men on base.

In the last of the 9th, Singleton led off with a walk and went to second base on Jerry Grote's bunt. Art Shamsky, who never had a walk-off hit in his Mets tenure, missed out on this opportunity by striking out as a pinch-hitter. Manager Gil Hodges went to his bench again, selecting walking wounded Tommie Agee, who was having knee trouble. The newspapers tell how Hodges asked Agee if he could play a few innings, if the game ran long. Agee agreed, then ensured that he wouldn't have to, singling off Bill Singer to plate Singleton with the winning run.

It marked the 12th walk-off win for the 1971 season. The Mets would add two more such triumphs in the month of September, giving them the mark of 14 that hasn't been touched since. The current club would need 3 walk-off wins in its last 16 home games (including Monday's which gets underway in a few minutes) to match that number.

Those who have Met before know...The Mets record for most walk-off LOSSES in a season is also 14, set in 1974.


Anonymous said…
Fergie Jenkins won the Cy Young in 71 not Seaver.
metswalkoffs said…
correct. I shall fix.

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