Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, Brook Robinson, and Paul Blair weren't playing for your 2012 Cinderella namby-pamby O's. The Orioles had clear-cut the American League, piling up 109 wins and clubbing 175 homers, of which these four men had 118.
And in the Blue Corner: the Mets' Al Weis. In eight years as a major league middle infielder, Al had popped a total of six home runs. He was a Long Island native, but when the White Sox traded him to the "fumbling, stumbling Mets" -- his words -- he only thought, "There go my chances of ever playing in the World Series."
Weiss was no Cassandra, for this was the fifth game of the World Series and the Mets had stumbled and fumbled to a miraculous or amazin' -- you choose -- three games to one lead. Jerry Koosman's was the left arm entrusted to hold up against the Orioles' hacks. In the third inning, a solo home run followed by a Frank Robinson two-run shot put the Orioles ahead 3-0.
In the fifth, the Mets swung back. Facing all-star left-hander Dave McNally, Cleon Jones stood his ground to be plunked by a pitch and Donn Clendenon, up next, sent his offering whistling into the left field seats. Meanwhile, around Robinson's home run the O's big foursome produced only a single between them; they went 2-19 against Koos.
Then up stepped Al Weis. From the eight spot, Weiss showed them how it was done, cranking his pitch to deep left field -- surprise! -- and tying the game. Koosman pitched a shutdown 1-2-3 eighth, and in the bottom half, doubles from Cleon Jones and Ron Swaboda made the go-ahead run. A misplayed ground ball from Jerry Grote provided the thinnest insurance, and Koosman was sent back out to -- surprise! -- hand a series victory to the Mets.
The heart of the order was up. Frank Robinson worked a walk. Boog Powell grounded out to the second baseman. Then two fly ball outs later, it wasn't a dream.
The Mets had won the World Series.
Hear that, world? The Mets won the World Series.
- Kevin McReynolds, a sixth overall pick for the Padres in 1981, was a Met from '87-91, notching 15.2 WAR , placing third in MVP voting in '88, and earning lots of Mets fans' ire for excess body mass and alleged laziness. The outfielder, 53 today, came back to play 51 games in '94 and hit .256/.328/.406 before announcing his retirement.
- Righty reliever Josias Manzanillo, 45 today, had an 11-year major league career in which he averaged just 31 innings per. He threw for the Mets in '93, '94, part of '95, and '99, striking out 98 and walking 32 in 94 innings. He was all over the Mitchell Report.
- Darren Reed, 47 today, had 42 PAs playing the outfield with the 1990 Mets, 167 PAs in his major league career. In 2004 he played a mutant in the low-budget B-movie spoof, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
- Six-foot-eight righty Billy Taylor, 51 today, threw 13.1 innings for the '99 Mets. He came over from Oakland in a trade for Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael. It took 14 years from his draft day to climb into the major leagues.
Game of Note
Thirty-one years to the date after their first World Series title, the Mets rode a complete game shutout performance from Mike Hampton to claim the National League pennant. Ahead three games to one, the Mets were seeing their one chance to close out the series at Shea. They got to work. Timo Perez slapped a lead-off single up the middle, stole second base, and came around on Edgardo Alfonzo's single to left. Alfonzo and Piazza would then score in turn after Piazza's walk, a Ventura single, and a grounder, the first out of the inning. Little more offense was needed, it turned out, but the Mets piled on. Todd Zeile cleared the table with a double in the third inning, and, in the seventh, two wild pitches sent Mike Bordick home from second base. The Mets won the game, 7-0, and Mike Hampton was the Series MVP. Next stop: New York, N.Y., then New York, N.Y. for the Subway Series.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date, 1986, mountaineer Reinhold Messner became the first man to climb all 14 of the world's "eight-thousanders," peaks reaching 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level. Messner, not incidentally, has only four remaining toes. R.A. Dickey, who has 10, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters) in the offseason to raise money for charity, and not because he's a mad, Teutonic obsessive literally out of a Herzog film. But I still bet the two could have a mountain of fun together.