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The Run Home Derby Part II

Continuing Monday's list of the most notable plays at the plate in Mets history

September 20, 1973

We've referenced "Ball on the Wall" many times in our writings here, and I strongly suggest you check out some of what we've done on the subject that was a vital game between the Mets and Pirates.

The moment of moments took place in the top of the 13th when Pirate Richie Zisk was thrown out by Mets left fielder Cleon Jones trying to score on what he had to have thought was a sure-thing home run to left field by Dave Augustine. Imagine his shock to learn that the ball hit the fence, caromed to Jones, and with a perfect relay throw to home plate, Zisk was toast.

I've read a good number of accounts on what took place on that play, but Jones' account, as featured in the next day's pages of the Bucks County Courier Times, trumps any I've read.
"The ball didn't hit the top of the fence," Jones said. "It hit the corner of the two-by-four, which is the top. And the ball had a spin on it. I didn't think it was going out. That's why I turned the way I did. I knew we had to win after that."

They did, on Ron Hodges RBI single in the home half.

September 26, 1975

The Mets and Phillies played out the final days of the 1975 season with little purpose, but that didn't halt a twi-night doubleheader that was halted by a trio of rain delays and extended by extra innings in Game 2.

The second game ended when Mike Rogodzinski doubled and Tim McCarver tried to score the tying run from first. The battle between catcher and catcher came to a head when Jerry Grote took Felix Millan's relay throw and held on for dear life as McCarver barreled in.

AP described it this way:

"Jerry Grote held on to the throw from the outfield during the smashup and made the tag. Grote had to be helped from the field and McCarver walked off feeling like he'd been hit by an Amtrak Metroliner."

July 1, 1978

John Stearns should rank as one of the toughest Mets of all-time and the giving away of 50 pounds and a lot of bulk in a game-ending collision with Dave Parker should justify that.

Parker tried to score on a fly out, down a run with two outs in the ninth. Stearns caught Joel Youngblood's throw home and successfully withstood the bone-jarring impact that knocked him back 10 feet, baseball planted firmly in glove. Parker, unprotected by any equipment, suffered a broken cheekbone and posed in a Friday The 13th-style hockey mask for photos upon his return.

Said Pirates manager Chuck Tanner to the media afterwards: "It was like the Pennsylvania Railroad colliding with the B&O."

August 27, 1986

The highlight of John Gibbons brief playing career was this play, a game-winner in San Diego. Lenny Dykstra threw Garry Templeton out at the plate, trying to score on Tim Flannery's single. Dazed, but not confused after being bowled over, Gibbons got up and threw to third base, to nail Flannery trying to advance for the game's final out.

"That's what you're talking about, when you're talking about a magical year," Flannery said afterwards.

1988 NLCS Game 1
You're not supposed to lose a postseason series when you win a game the way the Mets won Game 1. Not when you come back from trailing 2-0 in the 9th inning to a pitcher who has thrown 67 consecutive scoreless innings. Not when after getting embarassed by a pair of Jay Howell curveballs, Gary Carter pokes a third one into centerfield, just eluding the reach of playing-too-deep centerfielder John Shelby.

Not when your strongest player, Kevin McReynolds, bowls over their strongest player, catcher Mike Scioscia, to score the go-ahead run on the subsequent play at the plate.

The meeting of minds between Scioscia and McReynolds would be remembered a lot more fondly by Mets fans had the team won the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't the last time we'd note the play of Scioscia in this NLCS.

April 1, 1996
Rey Ordonez's defensive wizardry was best displayed in the seventh inning of the Mets opener against the Cardinals. With a relay throw from his knees in left field, Ordonez threw Royce Clayton out trying to score. It was the pivotal play in a Mets comeback from 6-0 down to win, 7-6. Even Ozzie Smith was impressed.

"The play speaks for itself," Smith said after the game, then was quoted in Dave Anderson's New York Times story as saying "It's safe to say he's the second coming of me."

September 14, 1997
We spend so much time grumbling about how an umpire's call was to our detriment, that we might as well acknowledge an instance in which we benefitted.

Larry Vanover goofed at a most important moment, with one out in the 9th inning of a 1-0 game, with the Mets in front. David Segui tried to score on Darin Fletcher's double and was called out by Vanover, despite catcher Todd Pratt dropping the ball on the relay throw from Rey Ordonez. One out later, the Mets had their victory.

June 11, 2005

The bubble didn't burst for the 2005 Mets for another couple of months, though Marlon Anderson's bazooka gum-bubble burst somewhere along his 120-yard dash around the bases in the most exciting play I've seen in person in three decades of going to games.

The Mets had no shot against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, trailing by a run in the ninth inning, unless what happened, happened. Anderson hit a line drive into the gap on which fine-fielding centerfielder Steve Finley narrowly missed a shoestring catch.

Instead, Finley kicked the ball, and kicked it just far away enough that Vladimir Guerrero would have a long ways to go to chase it down on the warning track. Even Guerrero's throw and a strong relay weren't enough to get Anderson, who had just enough left for a safe slide into home, an instant prior to a quick tag by Jose Molina.

The Mets would win in the 10th on Cliff Floyd's three-run walk-off home run, an ultra-dramatic moment in its own right, but for the elements of surprise and elation, it would be hard to top Marlon's mad dash home.


Binny said…
I'm assuming there's more to come so I won't plead the cases for some post-2005 moments, but I'd like to lobby for the inclusion of Mr. Koo's wild ride from 2nd to home on a Cairo sac bunt against the Yankees in May, 2005. It was an incredible image, what with Koo, wearing a jacket (which I remember reading had weights in its pockets!) sliding under the glove of a chasing Posada. It culminated some of the best 3 minutes the Mets have ever had against the Yankees.

Great concept for a post, by the way.
Binny said…
And if this is the end of the list, I'd also throw in the Kent/Drew "Double-tag" of October 06 (most exciting home plate play that I've seen in person), and Ryan Church's finest moment as a Met, the evasive, game-tying slide last September against the Cubs.

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