14: Saturday, September 6 vs Phillies
Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon for our Countdown Like It Oughta Be salute, we honor one of the most memorable seasons in Mets history. In many ways, “season” is an overstatement because this Mets team did all its important business in the span of about six weeks. No team ever accomplished so much in so little time. You could even call them the patron saint of lost baseball causes, because after the world saw what the 1973 Mets could do after being in last place at the end of August, no team could ever lose faith in its chances again.
The essentials of this particular Met miracle have been handed down over 35 years now, but the telling never gets old. On August 30, the New York Mets were a last-place team. On October 10, the New York Mets were National League champions. You've heard it a thousand times if you've heard it once that it wasn't over 'til it was over and that you had to — absolutely had to — believe, but there is a well-kept secret about those 1973 Mets.
They had some pretty good players. If injuries hadn't gotten in their way, maybe the flag they earned would have come about in a more conventional manner. But then we wouldn't have the story to tell and retell, and we sort of enjoying doing that.
Let's meet nine of your 1973 New York Mets right now. They were all, to say the least, pretty good players.
We'll start on the mound, where manager Yogi Berra could depend on depth that was the envy of the other skippers in the N.L. East. For example, few teams had the luxury of a proven lefthanded veteran — a 20-game winner no less — filling in as a swingman, starting or relieving as needed and providing great leadership every step of the way. This man delivered all that and more to the Mets across five wonderful seasons in New York. Welcome back the southpaw Ray Sadecki.
Another pitcher who could take the ball in whichever inning was necessary enjoyed his first full season in the majors in '73 and boy did he make the most of it. An 8-4 record with 5 saves to boot, he was a rock for pitching coach Rube Walker. Give a warm hand to Harry Parker.
Also coming up to stay in 1973 was a righty with a world of promise, talent that would show itself most noticeably a year later when he led the National League in earned run average. He defended the honor of the Mets against Pedro Borbon and the Reds in the NLCS, proving his versatility as a fighter as well a pitcher. Let's have a big round of Shea Stadium applause for Buzz Capra.
Of course when you mention versatility in the context of the 1973 Mets, you have to mention the man who filled in so ably while so many regulars were on the shelf. He played short, third, second, left and center, and he handled them all like the pro he was. Say hi to old friend Teddy Martinez.
Our next two guests from the summer of '73 have to come out together, but they're going to be careful. They gave the Shea crowd quite a scare on July 7 when they collided at the left field wall in pursuit of a Ralph Garr fly ball. It wasn't pretty, but both players were typically giving it their all. Safe and sound, let's welcome home Don Hahn and the Stork, George Theodore.
If the pennant achieved by the '73 Mets is viewed as a surprise, then this fourth starter's accomplishments probably shocked a few people. He was a capable pitcher for his former team, but when he came to the Mets, he simply excelled, posting a 12-3 mark and making a case for the ages that he sure would have looked good taking the ball in Oakland during the World Series. We remember him fondly today as we greet him in Queens, ladies and gentlemen, George Stone.
George had some company in coming to the Mets from the Braves. His companion was one of the best second basemen in the National League, a title he maintained when he arrived in New York. Not only was he a surehanded fielder and the steadiest of hitters, he was an instant fan favorite. One of the most popular Mets of his or any day, let's hear it for someone who inspired a million area kids to choke up on their bats as high as they could, Felix Millan.
And to lead our group of 1973 National League champions to the right field wall to remove number 14 is a Met who burned hotter than just about any of his teammates down the stretch drive. Six homers, 17 ribbies, a .323 average, an Amazin' glove at third. He was so hot, it was probably more than genetics that caused his hair to glow a bright red. Ladies and gentlemen, one of the true Met stalwarts of 1973, Wayne Garrett.
Number 15 was revealed here.