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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Flashback Friday: 1985 (Part I)

The year was 1985. I was 22.

I graduated from college. I should’ve been focused on finding my way in the Real World as it was known. I should’ve outgrown baseball. Or downgraded its importance. Or found something else to do.

None of that happened. If anything, I gave myself over to baseball and the Mets in 1985 in a way I never had before. There were two reasons for that which trumped my aborted attempts at maturity.

1) There was pent-up rooting inside me. Four years away at college had limited my Met interaction. I spent, depending on my class schedule, some summer at Shea but always missed April and always missed September. Having gone to school on the other side of the Howard Frankland Bridge from Al Lang Stadium, I did get some spring training in, but it wasn’t the same. I was back in New York and even if it meant moving back home and dithering over life’s decisions and direction, I was determined to catch up on my Mets.

2) The Mets were great. Absolute contenders in 1985. Absolutely worth putting everything on hold for. I knew it. Everybody knew it. Best of all, the Mets knew it.

It all started on a Monday night the previous December when I was still a senior at the University of South Florida (it wasn’t actually in South Florida, but then again, I wasn’t there to major in geography). I’m walking back into Fontana Hall where I lived throughout college. The guy sitting behind the desk, also named Greg, also from Long Island, also a Mets fan — and at one point my roommate…go figure — waved me over.

“Didja hear about the trade?”

“What trade?”

“The Mets got Gary Carter.”

“You’re kidding.”

The other Greg the Mets fan from Long Island didn’t have all that magnificent a sense of humor, so no, he wasn’t kidding. The Mets really did make a completely unforeseen trade for the best catcher in baseball. Holy crap! We were serious about staying good.

1984 had been such a pleasant surprise. There’s no better good season than the one you don’t see coming. After seven consecutive years of lousy baseball, the Mets hopped uninvited into a pennant race and I thrilled to it from a thousand miles’ distance. That was the problem with being away at college. The Mets weren’t good when I left for it. But by the time I was completing my junior year, they were getting somewhere without me. The Mets were retaking New York and I was cooling my heels in Tampa, reduced to Tribune boxscores and every stray detail I could shove into my head.

As I spent the summer of ’84 at USF collecting nine credits, I anxiously punched (516) 976-1313 every night. Sportsphone. Phone bill? Think an enhanced phone bill wasn’t worth paying in exchange for the Mets in a three-way battle with the Cubs and the Phillies for first? Think it wasn’t worth the extra 50 cents and the 24-hour delay to go the Hometown News Stand down Fletcher Avenue to buy a day-old Post? Think I didn’t break all speed limits in the middle of July when, with classes over, I raced up I-95 to join in the fun? I had only six weeks in New York that summer but it was long enough to get a good look at Dwight Gooden. I got to one of his starts in August after reading about the commotion he was causing for months. As soon as he was at strike one on the leadoff hitter, I was up and clapping.

“Hey,” said the man behind me. “It’s early. Sit down.”

“Sorry,” I told him. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

’84 didn’t quite work out, the Cubs overtaking the Mets as I was heading back down south. But it felt so good to be a Mets fan again. Not a few New Yorkers lived in Fontana and we Mets fans found and congratulated each other that September and into the off-season. When we got Carter, fuhgeddaboutit.

“The Cubs may have won last year,” one guy on my floor said. “But we’re gonna win for the next ten years.”

“Yeah!”

What was there to do but agree with such airtight logic?

I was never as antsy to get a season underway as I was in 1985. I was still one month shy of graduating but I had a new weapon in my media arsenal. In my final semester at USF, I had become the Commentary editor of our daily paper, The Oracle, and The Oracle had an AP wire. I didn’t know how it worked except that a lot of copy paper flowed from it and that bells went off whenever a bulletin moved across. My best friend on the paper, Chuck, whenever he had what he thought was big news to tell me, would preface it with “ding, ding, ding”.

I also knew we had a wire editor, a girl named Brenda. She’d stand over the unfurling paper and clip out little bits of world, national and state news for a column we ran on page 2. I hardly ever said two words to her but on Opening Day, I saw a good reason to get to know her.

“Hey Brenda.”

“Hey.”

“Could you do me a favor?”

“Sure.”

“When you’re going through the wire today and you see anything having to do with the Mets, would you please clip those stories and give them to me? Anything you see about the Mets.”

“No problem.”

“Thanks! I really appreciate it.”

Ooh, I felt so connected. Every other idiot in the Tampa Bay area would be walking around uninformed and here I had my own pipeline to the 1985 season opener, Mets versus Cardinals, Gooden pitching, Carter catching, Shea sold out. Yes!

A couple of innings later, as I was chatting with yet another Greg (our managing editor, but not from Long Island and not a Mets fan), Brenda came by and said, “here are those stories you wanted.”

All right! Fresh information, I can’t wait to see how the…

Medflies?

MEDFLIES?

Brenda apparently didn’t hear me, didn’t know of my reputation from across the crowded newsroom as the office Mets fan. She sat in her corner clipping items about the Board of Regents and she heard me, somehow, say “Medflies. Give me everything you’ve got on medflies.”

I didn’t say that. While it was true that California was experiencing a potentially dangerous infestation of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, and I was not unsympathetic to the plight of that state’s agricultural industry, the only fruit I wanted information on was Strawberry. If he caught a fly or three that day, all the better.

“Brenda, I didn’t say Medflies.”

“No?”

“No. I said Mets. New York Mets. Baseball. They’re playing their first game of the season today.”

“OH!”

We all had a good laugh over that. Brenda may not have known sports but she was a good one and clipped those Mets dispatches for me. And I availed myself of a State University System phone to dial (516) 976-1313 for quicker updates. We were supposed to log all long-distance calls. I didn’t. But I’ve got my diploma, so I think I’m safe.

Sportsphone eventually reported and the AP confirmed that Opening Day ended when Gary Carter, our new hero, drove a pitch from Neil Allen, our old reliever, over the left field wall in the tenth. Mets win!

I ran around the newsroom delivering high-fives. We had a Twins fan, a Pirates fan, a Phillies fan, a Braves fan and, for the afternoon, a clutch of converted Mets fans. I came to work that day the sole serious Mets fan on The Oracle. We hit our deadline with my having played pied piper to a bunch of otherwise disinterested bystanders who couldn’t tell a medfly from an infield fly. It was a good feeling.

My skin went relatively unused that April. I was jumping out of it. The Mets were 5-0. The Mets were 8-1. The Mets were on The Game of the Week and Gary Carter read the lineups. Is there anything he can’t do?

Graduation Day came on April 28. At first opportunity after the ceremonies, I did what I’d been doing since the fall of ’81. I called Sportsphone.

The Mets and Pirates were tied.

The Mets and Pirates were going into extra innings.

The Mets and Pirates were still in extra innings.

The Mets and Pirates were in extra innings and Rusty Staub was in the outfield.

The Mets and Pirates were in extra innings and Davey Johnson kept moving Rusty Staub to keep him out of harm’s way.

The Mets and Pirates were in extra innings and despite Davey’s machinations, a ball found Rusty and Rusty made an unbelievable catch.

Why couldn’t have I graduated last week? I was supposed to be using this interval to change for dinner before meeting my family who were over at the Interchange Motor Inn. I stalled. I said I had some stuff to do. I drove over to a friend’s apartment ostensibly to wish him a nice life but mostly because I knew he had cable and I hoped against hope that his system included the WOR superstation. No, it didn’t. Oh well. Have a nice life.

The Mets won in 18 innings. It would be the last time that missing a Mets game would be a matter of course. I was headed back to New York the next morning where channel 9 and WHN were readily available.

Was this too big a price to pay? I’ve never been good at making plans. Big plans, I mean. Life plans. I certainly wasn’t good at it then. Here I was, freshly graduated with a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Political Science, living in a city that I’d come to know and where I could probably find a job and cultivate a network and all that, but I was leaving it and heading home.

It wasn’t just the Mets. It was my mother.

It wasn’t that I was jumping out of my skin to see her. No, quite the opposite. There was a reason I chose a college in a place where she wasn’t. But now those four years were up and it was kind of understood that I’d move back home.

Why? Because that’s what she insisted I do. “If you stay in Tampa,” she warned in that “I was just kidding when I said that” way that always made me nervous, “I’ll come down there and burn Mets pennants on your front lawn.”

My mother said all kinds of crazy things. And they usually did the trick.

OK, I didn’t take that as a serious threat, but I never did nail down any serious post-college plans except to freelance for the trade magazines that my sister and her husband worked for and recommended me to. I could do that, live at home and…watch the Mets.

A couple of things about living at home after college:

1) Don’t do it if you can help it. Overcome your inertia. If you can’t afford a dwelling in the area where you’re from, then move somewhere else. Nowadays technology won’t separate you from your baseball team.

2) If you do do it, be true to your baseball team. Don’t let anybody get in your way, and by anybody, I mean your mother. Well, actually I mean my mother in 1985. She’s the one who wanted me back and there I was, doing what I set out to do: watching the Mets. I even sprung for cable for everybody so I could watch as much as possible. The Mets were everything to me in 1985. I saw nothing strange about it. My mother, after a fashion, though, began to wonder about my social life or lack thereof.

“Why aren’t you going to Jewish singles nights?”

That was always big with her, these Jewish singles nights she’d apparently heard more about than I did. In college it was, “why aren’t you going to the Hillel?” It bugged her no end that during my freshman and sophomore years that I had my first girlfriend and she was not Jewish. That ended, but her campaign to hook me up with Jewish singles was perennial.

The only singles that interested me that summer were those generated by Lenny and Wally at the top of the order so they could be converted into runs by Keith, Gary and Darryl. I wasn’t particularly concerned with where any of them went to temple. Though I had actually embarked on a serious letter-writing/stalking campaign of a young lady who was still living in the Tampa Bay area (it didn’t take), I’m pretty sure my mother decided I was gay my first summer out of college based on the choice I made to sit home evenings, watching ball instead of chasing tail. My mother decided at one time or another that every one of my friends, most of my roommates and a random sample of total strangers were gay, so I didn’t get too defensive about it.

“I’m not going to Jewish singles night. I’m trying to watch the Mets.”

3) Getting to know your parents on an adult-to-adult basis can be revealing. So while I never felt completely comfortable about coming home, it did give me some insights into my mother and father that I never had before 1985. Here is the most interesting thing I learned about them:

They were Mets fans.

Maybe they were frontrunners. Maybe my constant rooting since the age of six had rubbed off on them. Maybe they were bored. Or maybe the ’85 Mets had woken some latent tendencies in them. After a childhood feeling very lonely in my baseball-loving ways around the house, I returned as a college graduate to find I had company. Mom and Dad were crazy about the Mets. They were crazy about cable because we got SportsChannel. My mother began to imitate the way Ralph Kiner and Tim McCarver pronounced things. Dad, too. They thought it strange how Ralph said “lihg” for “league” and “Duhwight” for “Dwight”.

But they were into it. They read the same sports sections I did. They listened to games in the car like it was their idea in the first place. I’d heard scattered references through the years to my mother liking the Dodgers as a girl in Brooklyn, and my Dad would occasionally tease me about how much better the Yankees were than the Mets at any given moment but they never showed the slightest inclination to care about the Mets until that summer.

We watched the Mets together on many nights, the three of us. We had something to talk about, the three of us. We were Mets fans together, the three of us. I couldn’t say that before 1985, but now I could.

Maybe my parents were like a lot of New Yorkers then. Maybe they were just bandwagon-jumpers. Why not? If ever there was a team whose cause it was worth getting behind right then and there, it was the 1985 Mets.

My god, how I loved that team. I’d been a Mets fan since 1969 and had loved the Mets all along, but these Mets of the mid-’80s were like totally awesome. They were great players but they were personalities, too. I’d seen nothing like it since I watched Willis and Clyde and Dave The Butcher as I thought he was called when I was little and the Knicks became champions.

The 1985 Mets dripped personality that way. Whereas in the past, I had Seaver and general fondness for whoever else, now I had a whole cornucopia of favorites.

There were Lenny and Wally, the singles hitters. The partners in grime. They got on base. They got basepath dirt all over them. Lenny spit a lot and called everybody Nails. Wally was less unintelligible. He was also a switch-hitter who couldn’t hit lefty. But I loved him.

They’d get on and they’d be driven in by Keith Hernandez. Keith Hernandez. Mex. He was my mother’s favorite. He was everybody’s favorite, certainly everybody’s MVP. Such an intelligent, intense ballplayer. Invented ways to pounce on bunts. Unimaginably clutch. Even when he was in a slump he was fascinating to study brooding on the bench.

Gary Carter. The Kid. Almost as good as advertised. Almost. The Mets were deep into building their tradition of getting stars from other teams who dimmed upon appearing in the Shea constellation. We still had one of those in George Foster playing left. Carter didn’t seem to put up nearly the numbers that he had in Montreal, but he was Gary Carter. First game I got to after USF, he hit a grand slam to beat the Braves. And he was definitely good at getting advertised. He came to New York and endorsed everything in sight. My favorite was a poster he did for channel 9, him as the centerpiece of a Norman Rockwell painting, signing a ball for a little kid. It said “Catch the Rising Stars,” the Mets’ theme two years running (the TV station even had a song go with it…”watch them shine on/channel 9!”). The poster was five bucks, all to fight Muscular Dystrophy. Wasn’t Gary Carter a great guy?

Darryl. Straw. Darryl was already being berated for not being the black Ted Williams and/or the next Willie Mays. I didn’t see it. Darryl was going to be our superstar, the one we’d never had. He was going to hit home runs as a Met. He was going to lead every league and break every record. They said he didn’t play hard, that he didn’t pay attention in right. Nonsense, I said. Look at how he got injured! He was diving for a ball against the Phillies. Of course he hurt his thumb doing that. I wished he hadn’t.

There were HoJo and Rafael (another favorite of my mother’s) and Mookie and all that pitching. Ron Darling with the Ivy League credentials and the GQ looks. El Sid who gave up few hits but won few games. Roger McDowell who came out of nowhere to replace Doug Sisk and push Jesse Orosco and Jesse who I always felt protective of. (Why did Shea fans have too boo their own guys?)

And then there was Doc.

Dwight Gooden was my favorite baseball player ever in 1985. I can’t think of too many human beings I thought more highly of. I had idolized Tom Seaver (Joel from high school, his friend Rich and I drove to Boston to see him get his 299th career win; it was the first time I went to a ballpark that wasn’t Shea), but Tom was on the White Sox. Doctor K was a Met. His heat was high and unhittable. His curve was royalty; McCarver dubbed it Lord Charles. He was the greatest pitcher of the modern era. Everybody said so. Just like that night in ’84, I couldn’t sit down when he pitched, even if I was watching on TV.

Doc never lost. The same Sunday in early August that Seaver won his 300th game at Yankee Stadium (HA!), Doc was in Chicago obliterating the Cubs and Tom’s team consecutive-wins record. When his streak was over at 14, Doc was 20-3. And he was only 20. He was leading the world in everything: wins, ERA, K’s, shutouts, promise of greatness. There was no reason to think Doc wouldn’t just keep winning.

That’s how it felt with the Mets. Only problem was their record didn’t jibe. That 8-1 start in April was a bit of a mirage, particularly after Darryl got hurt in May. The Mets struggled for runs. Though the Cubs had fallen apart (we swept them out of existence in a four-game set at Shea in late June), the Cardinals emerged as our competition. They were in first more than we were but it was close. It was mind-blowingly close. I didn’t go a single day that season without worrying about the standings and, about a third of the way in, the Cardinals.

That race and those Mets simply existed on a higher plane than everything else in baseball. When the Mets got blown out, they didn’t mess around. They lost one game to the Phillies 26-7. It was 16-0 after two innings. When the Mets played extra innings, they were determined to warp time and space. There was that 18-inning game on Graduation Day, but there was a longer, more excruciating, far nuttier game on the Fourth and Fifth of July in Atlanta.

It rained a lot and Doc came out early and McDowell was accidentally removed and Darryl was ejected and Davey was ejected and we came back on Bruce Sutter and Mex hit for the cycle and HoJo homered in extra innings and Tom Gorman, who was usually terrible, pitched late and effectively into the night because there was nobody else and no way we could let ourselves lose.

We were one out — one strike! — from winning in the bottom of the 18th. Joel and I had watched most of it in a bar in Rockville Centre but the bar closed up at three in the morning and kicked us out. We were tooling along in my Toyota on Austin Blvd. in Island Park waiting for Gorman to retire the Braves’ final hope, their relief pitcher of last resort, Rick Camp. Rick Camp was trying to extend the game in the dead of night with two outs and two strikes on him. Only one thing could happen.

Rick Camp hit a home run.

Joel and I just sat there, stopped, in the middle of Austin Blvd. to digest this event. Bob Murphy told us there were some games you’re just not meant to win.

By 3:55 AM, Murph was preparing a happy recap. It was one of those nights. The Mets came back with five runs in the 19th and Ron Darling came on and held off Atlanta. It was one of those nights and it was 1985. Stuff like that seemed to happen every time I turned around.

But the Cardinals wouldn’t lose enough to let us back into first. The Cardinals had all this speed. They had Vince Coleman who was a pain in our and Gary Carter’s ass. Carter couldn’t throw him out. They had a second baseman named Tommy Herr who had never hit for power until this year. Jack Clark was superdangerous. Willie McGee was batting way over .300. Joaquin Andujar was a lunatic and John Tudor was a stone killer. They almost matched Gooden and Darling. The Cardinals’ manager was Whitey Herzog, the aptly nicknamed White Rat. I don’t think I’d hated anybody who wore a baseball uniform as much since I decided I despised Leo Durocher. But I was 6 then. I was 22 now and if anything I was taking this stuff more seriously than I had before adulthood began to set in.

Never before was I this absorbed every single day by the Mets. Never. I had been at this baseball thing long enough to know I was in the middle of a sensation that comes along only once in a lifetime. So instead of growing out of baseball, I gave myself over to it completely.

I think I made the right call.

Around the time of that July 4-5 nonsense, the Mets took off and got ridiculously hot. Everybody hit. We went 30-7. The Mets were the toast of the town. Doc’s starts were stories unto themselves. The Daily News printed inning-by-inning totals of his work, how many strikes, how few balls. A really brief baseball strike put a damper on things but it was settled and we were back to Mets day in and day out. By August, I was working in the city, doing in-house work for a publishing company, more often than I wasn’t. It cramped my style during the infrequent day game, but I learned to carry a Walkman to work. And I hadn’t forgotten how to dial 976-1313 (didn’t need an area code in New York).

And then came September. My first indisputable pennant race since 1973. It was the Cardinals leading the Mets by a beak. We’d win, they’d win. We’d lose, they’d win, or so it seemed. We were on this amazing West Coast trip. Keith was in one of his endless slumps facing Mark Davis at Candlestick as a pinch-hitter. Keith homered! We won! The Mets went to San Diego where Gary hit three homers in one game (Darryl had done the same a month earlier at Wrigley) and two in another. We swept. Then it was off to Los Angeles where, if there was any justice, we would see a playoff preview.

Doc faced Fernando Valenzuela on Friday night. Doc went nine. Fernando pitched eleven. Neither gave up a run. In the 13th, Darryl doubled home Wally and Keith. We won 2-0. The next day, a Saturday, the Mets and Dodgers were The Game of the Week but I didn’t get to watch it. With me working a little bit more in the city, my mother decided we all had to go suit shopping on my behalf that very afternoon. I was 22 but I was still susceptible to this stuff. I had to duck into the tailor’s fitting room at Macy’s to divine the pertinent facts: Ed Lynch sucked and I hated Mariano Duncan. The Mets lost. The next afternoon, the two teams played fourteen innings. Mookie settled matters with a homer. What a trip!

And it was only an appetizer.

The Mets returned home to play three games against the Cardinals. They were tied for first. 135 games played, 82 wins, 53 losses apiece.

It is no exaggeration and there is no irony intended when I say it felt as if my whole life was leading up to this moment, to this series, to this pennant race, to this season, to these Mets and to that week.

I was excited. Can you tell?

You know how you look forward to certain things and they inevitably disappoint you? This wasn’t one of those things. This was every bit as good as I imagined it would be. The three scores of the three games were 5-4, 1-0 and 7-6.

For the first one, I wore “lucky glasses” (an old prescription) and watched with my parents. Danny Cox had the nerve to hit George Foster and there was a bit of tension, but HoJo defused it. He hit a grand slam. The Mets won.

For the second one, Joel and I decided we would go. Very presumptuous on our part because it was Gooden vs. Tudor. But neither of us had ever witnessed a pennant race in person, so even if it was sold out, we decided this was worth scalping. This, too, was a little haughty because this was the same race every other Mets fan in New York — and there were millions of us now — wanted in on. And proving that I hadn’t improved any on my planning capabilities, I got home from one of my odder freelance assignments (writing descriptions for the backs of home video boxes for an advertising agency; rent Paradise Alley sometime and see my handiwork) and was late in picking up Joel. We drove to Shea but found no parking except under an overpass. And then we found no scalpers. The scalpers wanted to see Gooden and Tudor. I consoled myself by splurging on a poorly made $5 mesh cap, a replica of the white one with the script Mets logo they gave away earlier in the year, and we drove back to Long Island. We watched in the bar where we spent most of the Fourth and some of the Fifth of July. Gooden was brilliant. Tudor was that much more so. It was scoreless in the tenth when Orosco relieved Gooden and Cesar Cedeño homered. Cesar Cedeño? I thought he was retired. Tudor protected his own lead. The Cardinals won.

For the third one, an afternoon affair, everybody was abuzz. Everybody. It was dubbed Baseball Thursday in New York. The Mets and Cardinals in a fight for first at Shea and then, at night, the Yankees and Blue Jays in the Bronx for something similar. The Yankees had a good team that year but could never quite overtake Toronto. They certainly had their followers but they were never the story in 1985 that the Mets were. Still, for the first time ever, it was thought the two New York teams, who were almost never good at the same time, could play in an old-time Subway Series. I wasn’t necessarily looking to share the spotlight. Not that we couldn’t beat them if we had to, but why even start? Either way, we were doing our part, jumping on crazy Andujar for six early runs. We would cruise. How could anybody blow a six-run lead? You’d have to ask Ed Lynch who did (he was never the same after being attacked by Mariano Duncan in L.A.). What he didn’t give back, Orosco did. It was 6-6 in the ninth after McGee homered off Jesse. We should never have let it get this far and now we had no right to expect what happened next: Mookie singled, Wally moved him over and Keith — MEX! — singled to left. Mookie, who used to score from second on ground balls for bad Mets teams, wasn’t going to be denied a chance to put his speed to good use. Vince Coleman fumbled the ball and Mookie scored. The Mets won.

Baseball Thursday was a success. George Plimpton, who during spring training had invented a Mets’ pitcher better than Dwight Gooden named Sidd Finch, immortalized the day and night in Sports Illustrated, writing about his befuddlement over the New York City subway system; he tried to attend each ballgame by mass transit but was practically dizzy by night’s end and hitched a ride home in a bus. While Plimpton tried to find his way back to Manhattan, the Mets had forged a path to first place and a one-game lead over St. Louis. Even before that third game, the Mets were winners. They showed the coin toss on TV between the Mets and Cards to determine home field in the event of a one-game playoff. The coin fell the Mets’ way. “We’ll play at home,” announced a no-kidding Frank Cashen. Everything was going right for the Mets.

Then it stopped. The Mets, like Plimpton, got lost. No foolin’. They went 6-5 after Baseball Thursday. The White Rat and his Redbirds shook off Shea and soared. Won seven. Lost one. Won seven more. While the Mets fell into an offensive rut (Wally gave up trying to switch-hit and Davey got desperate enough to try washed-up acquiree Larry Bowa at second), the Cardinals did everything right. The Mets’ conquest of their rival in what seemed like a decisive series wound up proving nothing. Just when I thought they were for real, they couldn’t maintain any momentum and they would let me down. This would become a pattern of theirs that would haunt me again and again after 1985, but I couldn’t have known that then.

The Mets went on the road in late September to Save Our Season. They played a game in Wrigley Field. Carter, now on fire and as good as advertised, hit a grand slam in the sixth. I rejoiced. My mother, as capricious as ever, was mad at me for watching. It was Yom Kippur. I was not observant. My mother decided I was. I watched on my own TV. The Cubs came back and won. Infer your own theological theories. Doc made everything right the next day. My dad went to Chicago, though not for the game. He had business at O’Hare. I had business at home. Not just the game and whatever sporadic freelancing that was on deck but a hurricane to prepare for.

Hurricane Gloria was coming to Long Island. Dad flew back the same day and we battened down the hatches. The Mets went to Pittsburgh. Friday, the whole family, Suzan and Mark included, went to a shelter set up at South Side High School in Rockville Centre. We dragged all kinds of necessities. Hefty Bags full of them. We had these hardening bagels fit for no weather. My mother yelled at my father to pack them in a Hefty. When everybody got desperate at the shelter, who’d look like an idiot then?

It wasn’t a long stay at South Side. I ran into a junior high friend of mine, Stephen. He’s the guy who called me before the 1977 season to tell me he was switching from Mets to Yankees. I never had much use for him after that. He started telling me that through whatever company he was working for, he’d been getting really great seats for Yankees games. I excused myself, melted into the crowd and never saw him again. Yankee arrogance is something you can afford to lose in a storm.

When we returned to Long Beach, there was no great damage to the house but the power was out. My mother fretted. Maybe she panicked. Possibly both. She could multitask that way. We ate whatever was in the fridge, lit a few candles and I broke out the batteries. The Mets were still in Pittsburgh. They were still in the race.

Ed Lynch lasted two innings. The Mets led 5-2. By the end of the third, Gorman, no longer in his 3:00 AM Fifth of July form, had allowed three runs and Wes Gardner allowed three more. The lights never came on that night in Long Beach or at Three Rivers. Pirates won 8-7. We were 4-1/2 back with eight to play. Newsday ran our obituary the next morning: New York Mets, 1962-1985…”They were 23.”

Silly newspaper. It was 1985. Nothing was that cut, dried and buried. We got the power back at home and on the road. George Foster homered. Rick Aguilera went eight. The Mets won. The Cardinals split with the Expos. The next day, Sunday, HoJo tied it in the top of the ninth and Carter put us ahead in the top of the tenth. The Mets won again. The Cardinals lost again.

The Mets were three back with six to play. And the first three they’d play?

In St. Louis.

Idiotic software dictates that the exciting conclusion of Flashback Friday: 1985 follow in a separate post. We didn’t have these problems back in 1985. We just used a pen and a notebook, by cracky, and we’d write ’til our wrists cramped…and we loved it!

4 comments to Flashback Friday: 1985 (Part I)

  • Anonymous

    1985 is my all-time favorite Met year.
    I was at that game when Foster got plunked & HoJo hit the salami.
    PS — That was the same night Pete Rose broke Cobb's hit record.

  • Anonymous

    Charles, thanks for discovering 1985! It's one of my two favorite years, trailing only 1999 for thrills, chills, spills and whatnot. Now that you've been nice enough to comment, I'm going to be annoying and point out that the Rose hit that set the record came the night after the HoJo salami. It came during the Gooden-Tudor duel that ended 1-0 on the wrong end. I remember hearing Bob Murphy report it while Joel and I looked for a parking space for our futile scalping attempt.

  • Anonymous

    One of my all time favorite Met years. I loved the july 4th game. I still remember Rick Camp's HR. Don't forget they set fireworks off at 4 am after the game ended.

  • Anonymous

    You might enjoy this in-depth look at that night and morning…
    http://faithandfear.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2005/7/5/997145.html
    Welcome gomets and, of course, Go Mets!