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'Bear' Facts

June 9 (Saturday) marks the second anniversary of our first blog posting. It also marks the anniversary of three Mets walk-off wins and while you're bowing your head in shame after the events of the past three days, I figured I'd share the story of one of the two that I haven't written about in my previous 448 posts.

Some people have told me that my blog is unappreciated by the masses (recent day tallies include fewer than two dozen visitors)and that's okay, because I've got a hit counter of 61,000+ that keeps me pretty happy. But to appease those folks, I thought I'd draw the parallel with a Met for whom June 9, 1964 is a day of significance. Well, maybe not really, but I find it so.

On that date, Larry Bearnarth set a Mets record that has yet to be broken. In fact, in the last 30 years, no one has come close to approaching it. In the first game of a doubleheader against the Cubs, Bearnarth labored through 10 innings- as a RELIEVER..

In this day and age clubs carry seven bullpen moundsman, pitch counts are maintained and a day's work rarely lasts more than three frames. But Bearnarth didn't live by those rules and earned his way into the Great Big Book of Minutiae (not to be confused with one Mets blogger's "Holy Books") on the way to becoming the first Met to register a four-game win streak.

This was not an easy task by any means. Getting through these Cubs required fighting through a lineup in which the two through five hitters were Lou Brock, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks. Bearnarth did so with great aplomb (second time this week we've used that word) though the three who preceded him in this contest struggled mightily.

With the score tied 4-4 in the third inning, Bearnarth relieved Tom Sturdivant, who was ineffective in replacing Bill Wakefield, who was reasonably decent after relieving Al Jackson, who was just plain lousy. The Mets had already used three pitchers and had another game following this one, so the ball was placed in Bearnarth's hands for the long term. He was a good caretaker.

The Cubs did not score in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th and in fact, they didn't muster even a single hit in those six frames. The Mets didn't do much better and their failure to score meant a day of bonus baseball beyond the two-for-one plans of the day.

The Cubs finally tagged Bearnarth for two hits in the 10th but he was able to escape that inning and the next one without damage, as did Cubs starter Dick Ellsworth, whose 4-run 12-hit line through 11 innings showed he was more lucky than good in this game.

In the visitors 12th, Bearnarth finally yielded, as back-to-back singles by Santo and Banks set a table which Dick Bertell cleaned off with an RBI single to put the Cubs in front, 5-4.

Thankfully for the Mets, they had the heart of the lineup due up in the home half and though the trio of Ron Hunt, Joe Christopher and Charley Smith doesn't strike the same kind of fear as Beltran-Delgado-Wright, it was made up of enough quality and heart to reward Bearnarth for his performance.

Such a triumph did not come without assistance though. With one on and one out, Santo booted Smith's grounder, giving the Mets a real good scoring chance rather than put them on the throes of defeat.

The Mets went 10-42 in Amado Samuel's appearances this season, but on that day, his appearance provided a pleasant spark. Subbing at the plate for Bearnarth against reliever Lindy McDaniel, Samuel rapped what I'm guessing was the most clutch of his 79 big league hits, a single that scored Christopher with the tying run and sent Smith scampering to third. Then, following an intentional walk to Roy McMillan, reserve catcher Jesse Gonder produced a hit of his own, one that brought home the winning run, and one that made Bearnarth's efforts well worth the trouble.

True Metnarths know...The Mets other June 9 walk-off wins took place in 1982 (the high drama of a Hubie Brooks game-ending fielder's choice) and 1999 (Rey Ordonez beats the Blue Jays). If you want to read about the excitement of the latter and how it was overshadowed, feel free to click on the following link.


Anonymous said…
Dude, you've got some of the most desirable demographics in the business. Happy anniversary!

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