This was fun to do, but it was imperfect. I had one egregious omission. I tended to favor oddities.
It’s time to give that project an update. And why not do it as a top 100?
The Mets have hit 7,671 regular season home runs. The top 80 represent about the top 1%. And the top 20 postseason home runs get us to an even 100 to celebrate.
This is a hard one because I’m not sure what I can tell you about this home run that you haven’t already heard. It’s No. 1 on the list for a reason. It resonates with Mets fans and baseball fans. And it was just a really cool baseball moment.
I went to this game and I remember it being a tough choice as to whether to attend the first sporting event in New York since the September 11 tragedy. There were about 15,000 empty seats at Shea Stadium that night, so it was a good crowd but not an overwhelming one, and though a lot of people came, a lot didn’t. Looking around, I wondered if this would be worth the trip from Pennsylvania.
I remember it being pretty quiet and a little bit awkward, though maybe that was just my vantage point in the upper deck. Newspaper articles remind me that Chipper Jones still got booed, which was good to see, though he got cheered too, which I suppose was acceptable given everyone’s state of mind. Every so often, a chant of U-S-A would break out, but it wasn’t one that was unified across every section. It was more isolated and brief.
It was a somber mood from the pre-game ceremonies through the early innings and I remember being taken aback when Liza Minelli came out to sing “New York, New York” and asked the crowd how it was doing as if it was just another September Friday during the baseball season.
Brief props to Bruce Chen who locked in and pitched a great game. The reason that what happened happened was because Chen kept the Braves to only one run through seven innings. He pitched great. So did Braves starter, Staten Island’s own Jason Marquis.
I forgot that prior to Piazza’s at-bat in the eighth inning, Matt Lawton and Edgardo Alfonzo both stretched reliever Steve Karsay to full counts. Lawton grounded out on the sixth pitch. Alfonzo walked on the ninth.
Piazza’s at-bat lasted only two pitches. When I watch the home run now, I laugh, because I can see how high the ball was hit. Off the swing, I thought he hit a sharp line drive over shortstop. Only then the ball took off like a missile. He crushed the sh-t out of it. The liner over shortstop went 420 feet to left center (I actually thought it went farther than that
“We just wanted to give people something to cheer about,” Piazza said afterwards.
It had the feeling of an all-timer immediately. The ballpark wasn’t full, but it roared like it was. It was something to cheer about at a time in which there was a lot to feel bad about.
“I think small miracles occur in every facet of life,” said Mets manager Bobby Valentine. “Maybe we had one in the middle of the diamond today.”
I’m glad I was there for this one. It wasn’t just the No. 1 home run in baseball history. It was an important moment in New York history too.
My favorite stat: This game was much, much, much more about stories than stats, so I don’t feel like I could justify coming up with a note specific to this moment.
But I was looking for a way to tie everything I’ve done together and I found a note that, albeit slightly convoluted does just that.
Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning against the Braves on September 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium. The Mets were trailing at the time of the home run.
The next time a Mets player hit a go-ahead home run against the Braves that was
- At Home
- With the team trailing
- In the 8th inning or later
Was on September 29, 2019 when Dominic Smith hit a season-ending walk-off three-run home run to beat the Braves.
Westarted our regular season write-ups with Smith’s home run. We end them with Piazza’s home run.
On to the postseason …