It was a Mets town once, and to a Mets town it will one day return. Who was the first New York club to draw three million fans in a season? The Mets. Only in sunny California had they ever seen those numbers, yet somewhere in a teeming crowd at Shea Stadium on this date, 1987, there sat Mr. or Ms. Three Million taking in a game. (To conceptualize the volume, that's 1,600 blue whales worth of fan weight, give or take.)
Dwight Gooden couldn't tame his fastball for the occasion and was knocked out by the Pirates in three innings. Even the skinny lead-off man Barry Bonds thumped one out. The Mets were behind seven runs -- and attendance had surely ebbed below the historic mark -- when Lee Mazzilli popped a home run for the die hards, but the Mets fell 8-2.
A dozen years passed, then even the Yankees drew three million!
Doug Sisk (turns 55) was a right-handed, sinker-balling relief pitcher who walked scores (4.6 BB/9) but kept the ball in the yard like few others (0.2 HR/9). He threw 412 innings with the Mets from 1982-87 and looked fearsome in '82 and '83. Sisk was a member of the Scum Bunch, which you can read about in Modern Drunkard Magazine.
The pitcher George Medich earned the nickname "Doc" the old fashioned way -- with a stethoscope. In 1977, he was sore about being traded away from the Pirates and, by the same token, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he was enrolled part-time. Doc was shunted from the A's to the Mariners to, on this date, the last-place Mets, all in '77. It was a most curious move for a bottom-feeding club, two weeks from season's end, to buy a contract of an impending free agent.
Game of Note
On this date, 1975 -- and into the next date -- the Mets battled through two 12-inning games in Philadelphia, emerging after several rain delays at 3:14 a.m. with a split decision. In the second game, Jerry Koosman went straight on through the stroke of midnight, allowing one run on four hits in 11 innings' work. The Mets won that game on Felix Millan's RBI-double against Tug McGraw, 3-2. Hours and hours earlier, the Phillies' Garry Maddox, 0-5 at the plate, made a final 12th inning at-bat count, poking home the walkoff single for the 4-3 victory.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon went on the teevee for America's first boob tube debate. Kennedy was an avid Red Sox fan, appointing an unofficial "Undersecretary of Baseball" to keep the President in boxscores. Nixon, too, loved America's game; in fact three separate times he came out with All-Star teams broken down by era. In 1992, Nixon picked Seaver as the ace of his 1960-91 squad, and included current, past, or future Mets Gary Carter, HoJo, Doc Gooden, and Bobby Bonilla on his "active" team. Doc Ellis, pitching a no-hitter on LSD in 1970, had the "crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire."