Forty years ago tonight, the Mets were hosting Pittsburgh, sitting in second place, a half-game behind the front-running Pirates in the N.L. East with a record of 76-77…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)…
The Mets commenced to grabbing. As of September 12, they had won nine of thirteen. They’d take an additional three of four as they headed into Pittsburgh to begin their two-city, five-game showdown against the Bucs. They’d lose one, then win the next three. And finally, on the evening of September 21, they ascended to where nobody in his right mind would have predicted the morning of August 31.
Tom Seaver threw a Friday night five-hitter while his teammates pounded luckless Steve Blass and five Pirate relievers to beat the Bucs at Shea, 10-2. In a four-day span in September, an unprecedented Metamorphosis occurred. The Mets not only picked up one game per day in the standings, they picked up one place per day. From fourth and 3½ out after Monday, they climbed to first and a half-game up on Friday. It had been barely three weeks since they were in last place. Now they were in first place. And for good measure, they brought their record to 77-77, .500 for the first time since they were 21-21 on May 29.
Everybody else was under .500, but only the Phillies could be written off as out of it. The Pirates trailed by that half-game, the Cards by one, the Expos by one-and-a-half and the lately undead Cubs by two-and-a-half. The National League East was still up for grabs, but there was no mistaking that it was the first-place Mets — on a four-game winning streak and a 16-6 roll — who had chosen the ideal moment to make their play.
They’d grabbed hold of a lead. With eight games left, the challenge would now turn to holding on to it.
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.