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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.

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The Shea Countdown: 28-26

28: Tuesday, August 5 vs Padres

Ladies and gentlemen, often this season as part of our Countdown Like It Oughta Be, we have saluted some very, very long nights in the history of Shea Stadium. It didn't get any longer or later, however, than it did on the night of September 11 — and the morning of September 12, 1974. Let's just say if you were here from first pitch to last pitch, you developed a new understanding of the phrase “in for the duration”.

Twenty-five innings played. Fifty players used. Seven hours and four minutes of action. Ten major league records set, including longest night game ever played. Approximately 1,500 fans in attendance when Sonny Siebert struck out John Milner to seal the 4-3 win for the Cardinals. Behind the plate for every ball and strike: umpire Ed Sudol, who officiated the Mets' 23-inning game here in 1964 and the 24-inning game they played in Houston in 1968.

And on Channel 9 after the game? Kiner's Korner, of course.

To remember the night Shea nearly greeted the sun, we've brought back a few old friends to remove number 28.

While Ed Sudol manned the plate, this longtime National League ump monitored the goings-on around third. Please welcome Frank Pulli.

A young man who collected a couple of hits that night…in eleven at-bats, more than anybody else. Say hi to Dave Schneck.

He made his Major League debut as a pinch-runner in this game and must have wondered, “Is it like this every night?” A real Shea fan favorite, Bruce Boisclair.

The Mets' pitcher of record, though I think we'd all agree it was wrong that anyone had to take a loss that night, welcome back Hank Webb.

The Cardinal who singled to lead off the 25th and scored on a pickoff throw that got away. He had a wonderful season and a wonderful career, Bake McBride.

And finally, the Mets reliever who came away with a no-decision but deserved something more for his eight innings of shutout relief, give your Shea Stadium best to Jerry Cram.

27: Wednesday, August 6 vs Padres

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, to remove number 27 from the right field wall, we have an all-star team of sorts. The catch is they all play the same position.

By the time Shea Stadium opened in 1964, the legend of third base as the hottest of hot corners for the New York Mets had already taken root. It was a position that saw many occupants, but no owner. It would take a long time before there was genuine stability at third. Before then, there was many a Met to ply his trade and try his best. We have nine of them with us tonight.

He played 53 games at third base as a Met, including 28 in the opening year of Shea Stadium, say hi to Bobby Klaus.

Twelve games in 1967 added our next guest to the list, but no list of Mets third basemen would be complete without the name of Joe Moock.

From Westrum to Parker to Hodges, this infielder gave the Mets 54 games at third between 1967 and '68, how about a warm round of applause for Jerry Buchek?

He wasn't only from Brooklyn, he was the final Brooklyn Dodger to remain active in the big leagues, doing so as third baseman 97 times for the 1971 New York Mets. A big Shea Stadium welcome to Bob Aspromonte.

This next Met from the '70s played all over the infield and a little bit in the outfield. He made two tours of duty with the organization, manning third for 38 games in 1970 and '71, and eventually wound up with a well-earned World Series ring from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Say hello to Crazy Horse, Tim Foli.

One of the bright prospects from Tidewater in the mid-'70s, he was the Mets' third baseman on 142 separate occasions in 1975, 1976 and 1977. It's good to see Roy Staiger once more.

A utilityman of the most useful order, he gave manager Joe Torre 14 turns at third in '78 and '79. Every Mets fan from that era remembers Sergio Ferrer.

It was a brief but memorable tenure that this ex-Tiger established as a Met third baseman in 1980 and 1982. He played the hot corner 16 times as a Met, he's here tonight, he's Phil Mankowski.

And finally, the man who may have seemed just another in the long line of Met third basemen at the beginning, but he would grow into the first Mets third baseman to claim the position as his own for an extended period of time, paving the way for later, less roiled circumstances at third. He came up in late 1980, won Rookie of the Year votes in 1981 and was a key member of the Met renaissance of 1984. He left in a swap that benefited both teams but returned in the early '90s as an outfielder. Always loved at Shea Stadium, the third baseman in 516 games as a New York Met, welcome home Hubie Brooks.

26: Thursday, August 7 vs Padres

Imagine, ladies and gentlemen, you are inserted into a major league lineup. You're probably pretty happy about that. Except it's a day game in April and the shadows are a little unkind. Plus you're facing the hardest-throwing and best pitcher in all of baseball that afternoon. He's at the top of his game. It's a tall order.

It's one our guests today accepted. They didn't do so with the intention of being on the wrong side of history, but they undeniably became part of the record books at Shea Stadium on April 22, 1970. They faced the future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. It was the first Earth Day. It was also Seaver's day. He tied a National League mark by compiling 19 strikeouts in nine innings and he set a major league record by striking out the last ten batters in order.

We have with us the eight surviving San Diego Padres who struck out in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings against Tom Terrific. For being such great sports and returning to the scene of that 2-1 Mets win from 38 years ago, Tom has graciously sent each man a case of fine wine from his California vineyard.

Raise a glass of your own, then, to these 1970 Padres who became a part of Shea Stadium lore:

• the great slugger who would go on to drive in 13 runs in a 1972 doubleheader, Nate Colbert

• a longtime ESPN baseball analyst, one of the best, Dave Campbell

• drafted by the Padres from the Mets in 1968 and the Mets' rightfielder a dozen years later, Jerry Morales

• the catcher Bob Barton

• pinch-hitter Ray Webster

• third baseman Van Kelly

• two-time world champion manager for the 1992 and '93 Toronto Blue Jays, Cito Gaston

And to take down number 26, the Brooklyn-born outfielder who may have struck out first and last among Tom' ten victims, but homered that afternoon, too. A real solid player for eight big league seasons, please welcome Al Ferrara.

Numbers 31-29 were revealed here.

2 comments to The Shea Countdown: 28-26

  • Anonymous

    As I sat in a local bar watching the last 3 innings of the opener- seeing those outfield shots with the two buildings standing side-by-side- I was feeling overwhelmed by the significance of this the final season.
    Your post Greg pulls me back into the long good-bye that 08' will be. I hope that fans just let the season happen and not spoil this special and unique season..Win or lose…
    ..Let me pitch one in…Do you remember Ken Singleton's first game as a Met? How about Lee Stanton wacking a triple in his first at bat and then getting nailed by the relay throw as he slid into third? Do I remember this correctly? How about Mike Jorgensen in his first game hitting the scoreboard in right center? All that promise and all those hopes all the names..
    Remember 69' always..Remember running home from school to see those middle games? How about 73' and those playoff games after school with Jim Simpson and Maurey Wills?…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Glad you didn't include that little old grave digger, Ritchie Hebner, in thegroup of Met third basemen. He never wanted to play in New York and couldn't wait till he no longer needed to wear the orange and blue.
    After he was acquired from the White Sox, Charlie Smith became the Met regular third baseman in 1964, leading the club with 20 homers. Ironicly, the first to play third at Shea was the eventual starting second baseman in that year's all-star game (hosted by the Mets) and the first Met ever selected for the starting lineup – Ron Hunt.