- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The Shea Countdown: 31-29

Posted By Greg Prince On April 7, 2008 @ 4:47 pm In Main Page | Comments Disabled

31: Friday, July 26 vs Cardinals

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 1986 Weekend at Shea Stadium. We are saluting the most recent world championship in Mets history between now and Sunday and we're asking some folks associated with that season to remember to remove the Shea Final Games Countdown numbers from the right field wall. It's appropriate that we bring some '86ers in here because this seasonlong tribute, after all, is the countdown like it oughta be.

If you needed to pinpoint when the buildup to 1986 began to take hold, you would have to look to 1984, the year the Mets shook off the dust of several consecutive second-division finishes and began to contend in earnest for the N.L. East crown. That was when Shea Stadium began to shake, too, with the fierce belief by Mets fans that this team was going somewhere.

Nobody represented the crossroads of hope in the stands and the inspiration for it on the field like three young men who decided to express their belief one letter at a time. That letter was a K and their place was the left field corner from which they waved their Ks — much as National League batters waved at the pitches that resulted in K after K in 1984.

The guys who founded the K Korner are here tonight: Dennis Scalzitti, Bob Belle and Neil Kenny. And joining them to remove number 31…who else but the pitcher who kept them so busy by hanging his shingle out at Shea that summer and for a decade after that, Doctor K himself? Welcome back to Shea Stadium the 1984 National League Rookie of the Year, the 1985 National League Cy Young Award winner and the ace of those 1986 World Champion New York Mets, Dwight Gooden.

30: Saturday, July 27 vs Cardinals

Ladies and gentlemen, many were the hands that contributed to building a world champion at Shea Stadium in 1986, but no two pair of them were steadier than those that built the team and those that guided it.

To remove number 30, we welcome home two gentlemen who came from Baltimore, saw what Shea Stadium could be like when a World Series was won here in 1969 and decided to try it for themselves 17 years later. The general manager of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets, Frank Cashen and the manager of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets, Davey Johnson.

29: Sunday, July 26 vs Cardinals

We are excited, ladies and gentlemen, to be joined by a group of Mets who contributed to one of the two greatest achievements in club history. They were and will forever be champions…1986 World Champion New York Mets. A few of their teammates have come home to Shea this season and removed ceremonial numbers from the right field wall, and we have a hunch that a few more will make it back here before 2008 is out.

Tonight, we have ten men who proudly wear the rings they earned 22 Octobers ago.

The clutch-hitting backup catcher on the '86 Mets, say hello to old friend Ed Hearn.

A ten-game winner during the regular season, he is the pitcher of record on the winning side in the most famous game in Mets history, Game Six of the 1986 World Series, Rick Aguilera.

His walkoff, extra-inning grand slam home run electrified Shea Stadium on June 10. He would go on to homer in the World Series, too: Tim Teufel.

As sound defensively as they came at short, a fixture in the infield on those great Mets teams of the '80s, please welcome back Rafael Santana.

A rookie in 1986, he played with the steely nerve of a veteran when it counted most. Raise your cup and show your support for the man they called World, Kevin Mitchell.

No lefty was a tougher assignment for National League hitters in 1986 or, as he proved in October, that postseason. An 18-game winner for the world champs, ladies and gentlemen, Bobby Ojeda.

You know his voice now. You knew his right arm then, and was it ever right, to the tune of 15-regular season wins and two terrific outings in the World Series. Direct from the SNY booth, say hi to Ron Darling.

He was an All-Star starting pitcher in 1986, but it was in a World Series relief role that he truly earned his Met stripes for all time. His middle-innings appearance changed the tide of the seventh game and set the stage for the second world championship in Mets history. All the way from Hawaii, please welcome Sid Fernandez.

Nobody was grittier, nobody was guttier and, for that matter, nobody among the regulars had a higher batting average in 1986 than the second baseman from your World Champion Mets. Give it up for him as he always did for you…Wally Backman.

And finally, to remove number 29, he was the third baseman on those 1986 New York Mets, he was the comeback player of the year in the National League and he demonstrated some of the greatest never-say-die determination baseball has ever seen. The Most Valuable Player of the 1986 World Series, returning to Shea Stadium as a Met for the first time since the night of October 27, 1986, please give your warmest home-team welcome to Ray Knight.

Numbers 34-32 were revealed here [1].


Article printed from Faith and Fear in Flushing: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com

URL to article: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/2008/04/07/the-shea-countdown-31-29/

URLs in this post:

[1] here: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2008/4/6/3623126.html

Copyright © 2010 Faith and Fear in Flushing. All rights reserved.