With the exception of one fairytale season in 1969 when they won the World Series, the New York Mets were largely synonymous with futility for the first quarter of a century of their existence. The Mets languished in the shadow of their striped neighbors in the Bronx, the New York Yankees, but a second-place finish at the start of the 1986 season raised hopes of a second World Series title for the franchise.
With a constellation of stars on the roster (Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter and freaks Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry), the Mets have won more games than any team in National League history besides the Chicago Cubs. of 1906 and the Pittsburgh Pirates of 1909.
“Unlike 1969, when no one thought the Mets could win, in 1986 the Mets were seen as a powerhouse, a 108-game winning team that outscored their rivals in the NL East by 21.5 games,” said said the official historian of Major League Baseball, John Thorn.
With their prodigious consumption and penchant for punches on and off the diamond, the ’86 Mets dominated not only the back pages of the New York tabloids, but the front pages as well. Pitcher Ron Darling described the team as “a traveling rock show” in his autobiography. As brash and resilient as their hometown, the ’86 Mets embodied New York and delivered one of the most memorable seasons in baseball history.
Here are six of the craziest moments of their championship season:
1. July 19, 1986: Quatre Mets spend a night in a bar and behind bars
After suffering a loss in Houston, four Mets players celebrated the birth of infielder Tim Teufel’s first child at the Cooter’s Executive Games and Burgers. After spending the night drinking, the Mets wanted to continue the party after the bar closed at 2 a.m.
However, when Teufel attempted to leave with an open beer, a uniformed Houston policeman hired by the bar to provide security attempted to grab him. An altercation ensued and Darling rushed to his teammate’s defense by delivering what he called a “world class punch” to the officer before the pitcher was thrown through a window.
Teufel and Darling were arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer, and pitchers Rick Aguilera and Bob Ojeda were handcuffed and charged with obstructing an arrest. The four Mets spent 11 hours in a holding cell inside Houston City Jail before being released. Arriving at the Astrodome for that night’s game, the four players discovered that their playful teammates had decorated their lockers with strips of black duct tape to make them look like prison cells. The charges against Aguilera and Ojeda were ultimately dropped. Darling and Teufel were fined $ 200 and received one year probation.
July 2, 1986: “Base Brawl” in Cincinnati
The Mets also threw punches on the diamond, and a late July game in Cincinnati turned into a slugfest in more ways than one. In the 10th inning, Reds outfielder Eric Davis, who was running for player-manager Pete Rose, stole third base and accidentally struck Mets third base Ray Knight when he stood up.
The pair have exchanged words, then jostle each other. An enraged knight then connected on a right hook which emptied the benches. As Mets outfielder Kevin Mitchell threw opposing players to the ground like rag dolls, Reds pitcher and karate black belt John Denny overpowered Carter with a lethal grip on his shoulder blade.
The brawl in Cincinnati was the fourth in New York City in eight weeks. “People hate winners. That’s what matters, ”said Knight, a former Golden Gloves boxer. Opponents also hated their arrogance.
“They certainly weren’t liked and were doing things that weren’t considered proper baseball with the showboating and curtain callbacks,” says author Jeff Pearlman, who chronicled the ’86 Mets in his delivered, The bad guys have won! “They enjoyed fighting, and Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight are probably two of the top 50 brawlers in baseball history, and they’re on the same team.”
3. August 29, 1986: the Mets really become rock stars
Inspired by the “Super Bowl Shuffle” recorded by reigning Super Bowl champion the Chicago Bears, nine Mets players made their own boastful rap, “Get Metsmerized.” The song, which promised a title for New York, was recorded after a regular season game. The Mets had 161 games to play.
“Get Metsmerized” never threatened the charts, but a song commissioned by the team composed by Leigh Palmer, who wrote the jingle Meow Mix, went triple platinum. The four-minute video for “Let’s Go Mets!”, Which debuted at Shea Stadium Diamondvision in a season-ending game, featured cameos ranging from Howard Stern to shaggy movie critic Gene Shalit and was shown regularly on MTV.
September 4, 1986: Mets fans go crazy
In possession of the first place since April 23, the Mets eliminated all the drama of the pennant race before clinching the National League East title at home with 17 games to play in the season. As Mets fans prepared to celebrate their team’s first playoff appearance in 13 years, general manager Frank Cashen worried about what they might do at the Shea Stadium Diamond.
A recorded message from Cashen who played on Diamondvision warned fans: “We have to keep our playing field intact, so any celebration of a division cannot be done on the pitch. If you are a true Met fan, you will certainly understand this. However, even before the second baseman’s shot Wally Backman settled into Hernandez’s glove for the final, Mets fans overwhelmed the 200 security guards who surrounded the perimeter of the pitch and stormed the field. interior.
The instrument panel read “PLEASE STAY OFF THE FIELD!” As fans ripped off their heroes’ hats and gloves. Mitchell and three police officers rescued Gooden from underneath a pile of humanity. Fans tore up the bases, home plate and vast expanses of turf, which left Shea Stadium looking like a field of sand and Cashen bubbling over. “My emotions have gone from outrage to disgust,” he said. “It was vandalism and destruction, outright. It was a disgrace.”
“These fans don’t deserve this team,” muttered head goaltender Pete Flynn, whose team spent 10 hours repairing the pitch for the game the next day.
October 15, 1986: One Wild Pennant-Clinching Ride
After two thrilling home wins over the Houston Astros, the Mets took a 3-2 lead as the National League Championship series returned to the Astrodome. Although ahead in the series, the Mets knew that a loss in Game 6 would mean Astros ace Mike Scott, who had previously beaten them twice in the series, would make it to Game 7.
Down 3-0, the Mets rallied to tie the score early in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. In the 14th, the Mets took the lead, only to see Astros outfielder Billy Hatcher hit a home run off the left field foul post. After scoring three runs in the 16th inning, the Mets held on for a 7-6 victory in a 4 hours and 42 minutes game.
With champagne, beer and hard liquor flowing free, the charter flight back to New York transformed into an airborne “Animal House”. Players and wives broke seats, got sick from excess, and sparked a food fight at 30,000 feet with slices of chocolate cake flying around the cabin. Gooden wrote in his autobiography that he saw a teammate line the bathroom with cocaine with an open door. It was the first and last time the Mets flew on United Airlines, which sent the team a bill for $ 7,500 for damages.
6. 25 October 1986: a return to the World Series for the Ages
Live from New York, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was an unforgettable Saturday night. With the American League champion Boston Red Sox at bat in the top of the first, a soap opera actor in white overalls was parachuted onto the field with a “Go Mets” banner hanging from his throwing cord. Boston took a 3-2 lead before the Mets tied the score in the eighth inning against Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi, who was traded to New York before the season.
After the Red Sox took a two-point lead early in the 10th inning, Schiraldi struck out the Mets’ first two hitters, leaving Boston one of its first championship since 1918. After making the second out, Hernandez retired. at the clubhouse and watched the game on TV with a Winston Light cigarette in one hand and a Budweiser in the other. The outlook was so bleak that “CONGRATULATIONS RED SOX! flashed briefly on the scoreboard for a few seconds, while the announcement that Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst was named World Series MVP echoed in the press gallery.
As the championship trophy and cases of champagne were transported to the Red Sox locker room, Carter chose Schiraldi. Mitchell, who was on the phone in the clubhouse with his travel agent preparing for a flight home when ordered to pinch the blow, followed with another single, as did Knight. Called from the bullpen, Boston pitcher Bob Stanley then unleashed a wild pitch that tied the score. Three pitches later, a small dribbler from Mookie Wilson’s bat rolled between the legs of hobbled first baseman Bill Buckner as Knight scored the winning point.
“When you cover sports you see how the clubs break down into smaller groups, but this clubhouse was so cohesive it really felt like a brotherhood,” says Pearlman. “They didn’t want to be the last to go out.”
New York’s confidence was at its highest before Game 7. “On a scale of 1 to 10, they were probably around 12,” says Pearlman. After falling 3-0 in the second inning, the Mets fell back again to take the lead and won the World Series with an 8-5 victory.
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