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Number One In Our Hearts

Shea Stadium has been home to 335 Mets walk-off wins (so far).

It just occurred to me that I've never written about the first one.

The beginning began on May 8, 1964, a Mets-Cardinals game at Shea and who knew then that the Cardinals would go on to be World Series champs, and that the Mets would play such a significant role in their end-of-season race past the Phillies. You may have heard those stories before.

There isn't as much to this tale, but it's still noteworthy nonetheless. Two of the primary participants for the Cardinals, starter Ernie Broglio and reliever Bobby Shantz weren't long for St. Louis, as they'd be traded a month later for someone named Lou Brock.

The Mets started well off Broglio, scoring twice in the first, with the key hit being Jesse Gonder's RBI triple. They'd be up 4-1 by the eighth, with Jack Fisher sailing along, but alas with two on and two out in the eighth, pinch-hitter Carl Warwick hit a game-tying three-run home run. The last of 31 career homers for Warwick tied the score, 4-4, and sent Fisher to the sidelines in favor of second-year moundsman Larry Bearnarth.

Shantz, on in relief, pitched a scoreless eighth, but ran into some issues in the ninth. The little lefthander (5-foot-6) won eight Gold Gloves in his career, but he couldn't cleanly field George Altman's shot leading off the home ninth. It went for a single, and a bunt and intentional walk set up a scenario with runners on first and second with one out.

Casey Stengel went to his bench for Joe Christopher, whose 1964 season was the finest of an eight-year career. Christopher adeptly slashed (as the New York Times described it) a base hit to left, scoring Altman with the winning run. The Mets were walk-off winners in the seventh game in Shea Stadium history.

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