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This Date In Mets History: September 23 — Miracle Mets Reduce Magic Number to One

The Mets' best Bud. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)
The Mets' best Bud. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

That Bob Gibson dominated the Mets in 1968 shouldn't be surprising. The man posted the lowest ERA in modern baseball history (1.12) that year, so no NL offense did particularly well against him that season. The Mets, however, were hopeless against Hoot. In four starts against New York, he won four, he finished all four, and he struck out forty in the process.

Gibson started four games against the Mets in 1969, too, his last one coming on September 23. He pitched pretty well in all of them, but this was a different team than the one he ran roughshod over the year before. With a record of 94-61, these Mets had the best record in the National League and needed just one win to clinch at least a tie of the Eastern Division pennant and in the 11th inning, Bud Harrelson helped them do it. Facing Gibson, who he'd hit surprisingly well to this point in his career (8-for-24 with all eight hits being singles), Harrelson went the opposite way for yet another one-bagger to bring home Ron Swoboda with the winning run in a 3-2 triumph.

The victory reduced the Mets' magic number to one, and more importantly, let Gil Hodges relax on what a was milestone night for him. Exactly one year prior, the manager suffered a cardiac episode in the dugout during a game against Atlanta. Prior to the game, his physician wired him a telegram reading, "Happy to see you're No. 1. Hope your team does as well as your heart." They did.

Pete Harnisch (1995-97) is 46. Prior to joining the Mets, Harnisch was a part of perhaps the most lopsided deal in recent memory. In 1991, the Orioles sent Harnisch, Steve Finley, and Curt Schilling to the Astros for Glenn Davis. That's a Hall of Famer, an All-Star center fielder, and an All-Star pitcher for a guy who, within a week of joining a new team, broke his jaw in a barroom brawl. Looking at the stats makes the trade seem even uglier. The three players the Orioles dispatched went on to amass 132.7 rWAR in their careers, while Davis managed just 0.3 before retiring at age 32 with a bad back. Yikes.

Anyway, to bring it back to the Mets, Harnisch didn't pitch all that well in Flushing (in his defense, he suffered a torn labrum and a bout of depression during his tenure), but at least acquiring him only cost the team a pair of minor leaguers.

Game of Note
Rookie Tom Seaver picked up his 16th and final win of the season on this date in 1967. The young ace pitched magnificently through nine, striking out an Astro per inning and limiting the visitors from Houston to three hits, all of the single base variety. In the bottom of the ninth, Seaver's teammates broke through their offense torpor to get him a W. Hits by Bob Johnson and Ron Swoboda sandwiched around an intentional walk of Ed Kranepool loaded the base for Jerry Buchek, who plated the game's only run with walk-off single to left. Seaver's 16 wins would stand as the Mets' single-season record for less than a year, as rookie Jerry Koosman would win 19 the following season. Ever the competitor, Seaver pushed the mark to 25 in 1969 and that's where it's been ever since.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Today would have been the 71st birthday of Hilly Kristal, the founder New York City's CBGB, the club where musicians like Joey Ramone, Tom Verlaine, and Johnny Thunders set up shop in the '70s. Incidentally, all three of those guitarists were members of the 1993 Mets, according to Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents...Major League Baseball, perhaps the best baseball game ever to be released on a Nintendo console. Double Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection: It was on this date in 1889 that Nintendo, the playing card company that would later become the world's largest video gaming company, was founded.