Skip to main content

Presidential Walk-Off

I don't really have any memories of Gerald Ford's presidency, since for the portion of it for which I was alive, I was a toddler. So I can't reminisce like others might today, the day after his death.

I do know that Gerald Ford was both sportsman (he aspired to be a pro baseball player but was better in football) and sports fan (he used to take his future wife on dates to see All-American Girls Professional Baseball League games, and his presidential library once hosted a baseball-themed exhibit), so I don't feel it inappropriate to share how his life and this blog intertwine. So I shall tell, in brief, the tale of August 8, 1974.

The Mets were playing the Pirates in Pittsburgh, but of extraordinarily greater significance, the reign of President Richard Nixon was coming to an end. More than 130 million people watched on television as Nixon announced his resignation. WOR-TV interrupted its telecast of the Mets game in the sixth inning because it felt this news was of greater importance than a baseball contest involving the mediocre Mets.

They might as well not have returned. The 3-3 deadlock, a matchup between southpaws Jerry Reuss and Jon Matlack, concluded in the last of the 9th when Pirates slugger Richie Zisk hit a game-winning home run.

Parton Keese, in his game story in the New York Times the next day, described the reaction to Nixon's announcement as mild cheering, particularly when compared to the crowd's roar at Zisk's home run. Apparently there was greater significance for this transfer of power than the one taking place in Washington D.C.

The presidency of Gerald Ford began the next day, lasting slightly more than two years before he lost the next election to Jimmy Carter in November, 1976. I don't have the date sourced for the following quote, but I imagine it came shortly after this defeat.

"In baseball when they say you're out, you're out. It's the same way in politics."

True Metsidents know...Here's a list of the number of Mets walk-offs by presidential administration

Bill Clinton 65
Ronald Reagan 64
Richard Nixon 46
George W Bush 46
Lyndon Johnson 31
George HW Bush 28
Jimmy Carter 26
John F. Kennedy 20
Gerald Ford 15


Anonymous said…
The table at the end of your column gives only the "career" stats for Presidential Administrations. If you divide by the length of their administration, you get a better view of the president/walk-off relationship. By my quick calculations, Nixon was the best president for the Mets on a walkoffs-per-year basis. (Even had I known this at the time, I would still have cheered his resignation.)
Zisk was of course involved in the Ball on the Wall Play on Sept. 20, 1973, one of the most famous of all walkoff Met wins, which they won in the bottom of the 13th on Ron Hodges' RBI single. That day is remembered by the rest of the world as the night Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. Zisk later went on to sign a free agent contract with the Texas Rangers, who of course later were owned by George W. Bush.
Anonymous said…
The Ball off the Wall is one of the greatest plays in Mets history and yet, as Barry points out, wouldn't be remembered as the premiere sporting event of its date (except by us). The same can be said of another great walkoff, the Matt Franco Game versus some other New York team. It came on the same date, 7/10/99, as the U.S. Women's Soccer team winning the World Cup (if that is indeed what they won; I wasn't paying attention).

I ask the resident blogger: Are there other momentous walkoff wins in Mets history that are overshadowed by other less significant (to us) sporting events?

Popular posts from this blog

The best Mets ejections I know

When you think of the Mets and famous ejections, I'm guessing you first think of the famous Bobby Valentine mustache game, when after Valentine got tossed, he returned to the dugout in disguise. You know it. You love it. I remember being amused when I asked Bobby V about it while we were working on Baseball Tonight, how he simply said "It worked. We won the game." (true) But the Bobby V mustache game of June 9, 1999 is one of many, many memorable Mets ejection stories. And now thanks to Retrosheet and the magic of , we have a convenient means for being able to share them. Ever since Retrosheet's David Smith recently announced that the Retrosheet ejection database was posted online , I've been a kid in a candy store. I've organized the data and done some lookups of media coverage around the games that interested me post. Those newspaper accounts fill in a lot of blanks. Without further ado (and with more work to do), here are some of my findings

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 wh

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 their bu