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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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You Gotta Recap: 9/19/1973

Forty years ago tonight, the Mets were hosting Pittsburgh, sitting in fourth place, 2½ games behind the front-running Pirates in the N.L. East with a record of 74-77…and they were about to post one of the 500 most Amazin’ wins of their first 50 years.

From The Happiest Recap (First Base: 1962-1973)

***

These two contenders go back and forth in the early innings. The Pirates strike first on a leadoff home run by Rennie Stennett off George Stone. Cleon Jones one-ups Stennett by smacking a two-run homer off Nelson Briles in the second. Advantage Mets. Stennett returns with a vengeance in the third by tripling and scoring on Dave Cash’s single to left. Advantage Pirates? Felix Millan grabs back the momentum on behalf of the Mets when he singles home the .271-batting Stone, who had led off the inning by helping his own cause (something decent-hitting Mets pitchers were known to do for much of the first half-century of Mets baseball).

The Mets’ 3-2 lead grew by a run in the fifth when Jerry Grote doubled, Bud Harrelson singled and Stone grounded to second. That insurance policy became a smart buy when Stone was befallen by an act of Pops: Willie Stargell, who hit more home runs against the Mets than any opponent in the team’s history, delivered per usual. Luckily, Stargell’s sixth-inning blast was a solo job, so the Mets still held a 4-3 lead when George left after six.

Stone’s successor was Tug McGraw, Yogi Berra’s favorite reliever in September — everybody’s favorite reliever in September, but it was Berra who wouldn’t or couldn’t wait to use him. Firemen, as closers were known then, weren’t kept on ice for the ninth. McGraw came bounding onto the mound in the seventh and wasn’t particularly sharp. He walked pinch-hitter Gene Clines and surrendered a pinch-single to Fernando Gonzalez. The runners wound up on second and third with one out, but Tug stiffened as he almost always did in September 1973, popping up Stennett and grounding out Cash.

***

What happened next?

You’ll find out when you read The Happiest Recap (First Base: 1962-1973).

Print edition available here.

Kindle version available here.

Personally inscribed copy available here.

Pick up The Happiest Recap and get the whole Amazin’ story of the Mets’ most unbelievable stretch drive ever…and everything else.

7 comments to You Gotta Recap: 9/19/1973

  • Dave

    At least FAFIF is observing this anniversary, even if the franchise involved can’t be bothered. Good job. Maybe in 2015 Fred will do a year long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 55 Dodgers.

  • Penacious H

    True enough, Dave. Does anyone know WHY they give our/the Mets’ history such short shrift? Makes NO sense to me. I understand that except in the BX, Old Timers Days don’t seem to happen anymore…BUT the understated celebration of the 73 team (I was an astounded college freshman watching in the Student Center, Channel 9 in fuzzy sort of color), which was honored only, if memory serves, with PLAYING CARDS! on a giveaway. REALLY???? What the Wilpon is going on here.

    So if anyone has a quote/video from Fred or young Jeff, please share. This is just ridiculous. AND the 30th anniversary of 1986 is just a few years away, so we need to get this straightened out!

    • Dave

      The only thing I can think of is that ownership is embarrassed by how 2nd rate the team’s history is compared to the obvious comparison, so best to just not mention it than risk so many condescendingly pointing out that we haven’t won 27 f’ing World Series or can’t claim a lineage like Ruth/Gehrig/DiMaggio/Mantle, etc and all that crap. Perhaps a psychologist could explain this self-inflicted inferiority complex, but I can’t. Maybe – presuming we don’t get our wish and the Wilpons still own the team in 3 years – they’ll acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the 86 team better because he was at least the half owner at the time, so he was part of that. He had nothing to do with 73.

      But I don’t give a f*** how we compare to Yankee history, and it’s a lot more embarrassing for the team to sweep it under the rug than it is to be compared unfavorably to a franchise that got a 60 year head start.

    • Lenny65

      And 1973 always gets the most short-shrifted of them all, always has. Obviously it’d be a different story had they won it, but still, considering how cemented in Mets lore Sept. and Oct. 1973 are it’s weird how they always just sort of shrug it off.

      I’ll never forget the tenth anniversary of the ’69 Mets. They did do a traditional Old Timers day thing but the organization was too cheap to spring for replica jerseys for the ’69 guys. So there was 1969 hero Ron Swoboda, wearing Bruce Boisclair’s uniform with white medical tape over Bruce’s name. One of the shabbiest things they’ve ever done.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    But I’m surprised that you of all people forgot that yesterday was also perhaps one of the saddest days in Met history as well, when nine years ago we lost the wonderful voice responsible for all those happiest recaps ya gotta recap.

    • Joe,

      Murph died on August 3, 2004. His birthday, however, was yesterday. So Happiest of Birthdays to Bob!

      • Joe D.

        Hi Greg,

        I knew there had to be a reason and I’m glad it was my own memory. Yes, it was his birthday yesterday and of course I got the two dates mixed up. Knew you wouldn’t let me down!

        Never question our fearless leader!