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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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No, It Really Happened

An amusing, apocryphal anecdote alluding to Gibson’s legendary power is told about a home run he hit in Pittsburgh. The ball jumped out of the park like it was shot out of a cannon, clearing the fence and sailing out of sight. The next day, in Philadelphia, a ball came down out of the sky and landed in an outfielder’s glove, whereupon the umpire promptly declared to Josh, “You’re out yesterday in Pittsburgh!”
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

The mist became a downpour. The infield disappeared under a tarp. Time in this particularly interminable game — two hours to play five innings, dictated to a great extent by a strike zone known only to Mike Estabrook’s fortune-teller — was suddenly of the essence. The tarp wasn’t going anywhere, but a train or two would be. The goal went from wriggling Mike Pelfrey out of his jams, to not standing around when we could be making tracks.

The tarp stayed, covering up not just basepaths but all physical evidence of the five longest 1-0 innings Citi Field has ever witnessed in its short life. We left, satisfied that while Pelf bent and bent and bent, breaking was no longer what he automatically did. My friend was soon Jerseybound. I just wanted Woodside and a convenient connection to the Babylon line.

I could babble on, all night, I suppose, about what a strange venue Citi Field was for a Sunday night, late April, five-inning-ish affair. How strange the 8 o’clock start. How strange the breath that visibly wafted from everyone’s mouth. How strange the utility of that ski cap the Mets gave out the other night; I thought I’d be wearing it in December, not right away. How strange the Mets’ offer to let everybody move down and get wet in better seats. Was management taking pity on its customers or just noticing that empties don’t look very good on ESPN?

Thirty or so pitches for Pelfrey in the first, but no runs. Thirty or so more pitches for Pelfrey in the second, yet again no runs. Ride that Pelf! Alas, you can only ride that pony so far for so long at such a Mike-boggling rate, thus we were all over his pitch count, but he got us through five alive. Tommy Hanson of the Braves wasn’t exactly an exercise in economy, either. He needed to throw 93 pitches to an inept offensive team for five innings, giving up only one unearned run. Pelfrey worked harder — 106 pitches — but the batters he faced were even more offensively inept (half the Brave lineup was batting below .200) and besides, Mike just keeps finding ways to toughen when he used to just tighten.

Raul Valdes comes on in the 1-0 game to start the sixth. He threw exactly one pitch to Jason Heyward. It was a strike. Then lightning figuratively and literally struck. Buckets of rain. Never has a tarpaulin been such a happy sight. We assume the game will be called. We’re not sure, but trains are trains, and it’s after 10 o’clock and come on, will ya look at what’s coming down?

I’m home by 11:30. Just before 11:40, I turn on ESPN, for whose benefit we play 8 o’clock Sunday night games, and I see “F/6” — that means it’s final; all you need is five innings, of course. I start clapping in my living room for our 10-9, series-sweeping Mets, not much more than an hour since I stood surveying the skies over Citi Field and fumbling for my umbrella. We just this very moment won, and technically I stayed for every pitch.

All 200 of them.

10 comments to No, It Really Happened

  • Matt from Sunnyside

    Hells Yeah! Mike Pelfrey, 106 pitches, half your lineup left on base twice, and buckets of rain.

    Jose scratching out a run on sheer personality.

    Take that Braves!

    Seriously, think about how much God hates you, Bobby Cox.

  • Andee

    Pelf hasn’t given up a run in 24 innings, and it seems like he’s squirmed his way out of jams in at least half of those that would have sent the old Pelf straight to Yip City. Maybe Otis Redding’s “I’m a Changed Man” should be his new theme song?

    And Jason Heyward (I keep wanting to call him Justin Hayward, but no, that’s the guy in the Moody Blues) was quiet all weekend too. But mostly, this weekend was about Brian McCann forgetting the infield fly rule; I don’t think they ever recovered from that.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    If Valdes had waited just a few seconds more, the game would have been held up before he threw that one pitch and Pelf would have had a complete game, 106 pitch shutout (even if the record books wouldn’t acknowledge it as so).

    We’re getting all the breaks from both, those up above and pop-ups hit up above. And I bet there isn’t a Met fan out there who can’t wait for Chipper’s return to Citi Field.

  • CharlieH

    I think this series may just be the one that rids of the Chipper Scourge forever…

  • Nice, the Mets sweep the Braves… about 5 years after the Braves stopped being anybody’s rivals. Now work on the Phillies… or the Marlins… or the “Natinals”!

  • Pelf and Maine and Bring the Rain
    Hold those ticket stubs. You get to go see the Padres. Hopefully on a dryer night–though imagine how good the Mets could be if they only had to play five innings a night. John Maine would still have trouble getting complete games.

  • Guy Kipp

    Good, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Mike Estabrooks’ strike zone was somewhere between puzzling and non-existent. With a more conventional strike zone from a competent plate ump, I don’t think either Hanson or Pelfrey would have flirted with 100 pitches nearly as early as they did. It may have ended up being a 7-inning, rain-shortened game instead.

  • Lenny65

    I was certain that the rain would stop, the game would resume and the bullpen would blow it. It’s what would have happened last season, thank goodness for fresh starts. Maybe all that lousy karma is finally turning around? Watching Pelfrey struggle yet somehow manage to wriggle out of trouble did my heart good. Pelfrey maturing into the pitcher he’s been so far this season is just what the doctor ordered for the starting staff. Keep it up, Mike!!

    What is the record for consecutive scoreless innings by a Met pitcher? Am I correct when I say I think it’s Jerry Koosman with 34 or something like that?

    • srt

      Yes, I believe it is Koosman with somewhere around 32 innings.
      Next is John Maine (believe it or not) in 2006 with 26 scoreless.

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