This Date In Mets History: July 4 — A long (K)night's journey into day ends in triumph for the Amazins

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Third baseman Ray Knight and reliever Tom Gorman help ensure game lasts six hours, 19 innings.

On a rainy night in Atlanta on this date in 1985, the Mets and Braves took the field an hour and a half late and waged an incredible seesaw battle that, aided by a second rain delay and 13 extra-inning runs, ended at 3:55 a.m. on July 5th. It should have ended about 25 minutes earlier after the Mets had taken an 11-10 lead in the top of the 18th. But in the bottom of the inning, after Mets reliever Tom Gorman induced the first two Braves to ground out, Atlanta manager Eddie Haas, having already used all of his position players, sent reliever Rick Camp, a career .060 hitter, up to bat for himself. Camp hit an 0-2 forkball over the fence for his first (and last) professional home run.

In the top of the 19th the Mets made Camp pay for his unlikely heroics by battering him for five runs. Mets manager Davey Johnson, his bullpen depleted after having Rusty Staub pinch hit for Gorman, brought Ron Darling in for his first major league relief appearance. The Braves rallied for two runs and had two men on base with two out when up to the plate, representing the potential tying run, was none other than...Rick Camp (you can't make this stuff up). Anticlimactically Darling struck Camp out to end the marathon.

Outside of Gorman, who also yielded a game-tying two-run homer to Terry Harper in the 13th, the man most responsible for this long night's journey into day was Mets third baseman Ray Knight. Knight, credited with the game-winning RBI, came to bat with the bases loaded in the first, third, and sixth innings, bringing each rally to an end with a strikeout, lineout, and ground ball double play, respectively. The game also would have ended (badly) on the aforementioned Harper blast had Knight not struck a two-out single to put himself aboard for Howard Johnson's two-run homer in the top of the 13th. For his part, Hojo had also scored the tying run in the ninth on a Lenny Dykstra single.

Almost lost is this bizarre contest were the accomplishments of Keith Hernandez, who had three RBI and hit for the cycle, needing the extra innings to get the single that eluded him through the first nine.

Other Games of Note
In San Diego on July 4, 1972, Tom Seaver took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, but, with one out, Leron Lee stroked a clean single to center field. Seaver induced the next batter, Nate Colbert, to ground into a double play to secure his fourth career one-hitter, 2-0.

On this date in 1967, the Mets finally beat Juan Marichal, who started the game with a 19-0 record against them. The Amazins pounced on the Domincan Dandy for three runs in the first, another in the third and chased him with four in the sixth. The Giants rallied against winning pitcher Jack Fisher but fell one run short. Final score: 8-7.

Birthday
Jose Oquendo reaches the half-century mark today, which means he was just shy of his 16th birthday when he made his pro ball debut in 1979 with the Mets short-season A-ball affiliate in the Northwest League. He was only 19 when the Mets called him up on May 2, 1983, and, not surprisingly given his young age, he struggled at the plate, but the Mets saw potential in his glove over 104 starts at shortstop. Oquendo's hitting improved only marginally in 1984 and new manager Davey Johnson saw Ron Gardenhire and, ultimately, Rafael Santana, as better options at short, while Wally Backman and a resurgent Kelvin Chapman blocked him at second base. He was traded to St. Louis where he became a versatile utility player, then the everyday second baseman and, for the last decade-plus, the Cardinals' third base coach.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
In our nation's capital on Independence Day in 1848, the cornerstone was laid for the Washington Monument. In 1980, Mets fans might have gladly erected a monument to rightfielder Claudell Washington after his performance in a July 4th doubleheader versus the Montreal Expos at Shea. In those two games he went a combined 6-for-10 (including a triple), drove home two runs, scored two more, stole three bases, and short-circuited a Montreal rally in the first game (which the Mets won) by throwing out Andre Dawson attempting to go from first to third on a Gary Carter single.

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