Forty years ago tonight, the National League champion Mets hosted Oakland, tied with the American League champion A’s at two games apiece in the 1973 World Series…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 Shea Stadium scoreboard was hailed as a modern marvel before anybody ever saw it. Billed as “the Stadiarama,” it promised to mesmerize every fan who could see it from the 96 percent of seats planted within the foul poles of the new ballpark. One of its highlights would be the large field given over to electrically transmitted messages, enabled by “approximately 28,000 lamps, arranged in clusters capable of forming letters and numerals [...] [T]hrough one of the message display groupings, it is even possible to show ‘Sing Along’ messages when it’s time to break into song!”
That’s how Met management put it in the Shea preview pages of the team’s 1963 yearbook sold at the Polo Grounds. Ten years later, the reality of the Shea Stadium scoreboard wasn’t quite as breathtaking, and not just because the Mets never seemed to put enough runs on it. As Shea’s first decade wore on, the scoreboard made mistakes. Those letters and numerals didn’t necessarily flash as planned. Lamps that burned out weren’t immediately replaced. From the stands, it looked like a segment of the “approximately 80 miles of wiring” was prone to shorting out.
Yet for as gaffe-prone as the Shea scoreboard could be as it matured, there was no telling that it got a basic fact of the 1973 World Series wrong the Thursday night Game Five ended. The Mets had just won, 2-0, with Don Hahn and John Milner knocking in runs against Vida Blue, and Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw combining on a three-hitter. The Mets were up 3-2 in the best-of-seven set. Given that information, the minds behind the scoreboard controls decided to post a most hopeful message as if it were fact.
“MIRACLE NO. 2,” the Stadiarama gleefully informed 54,817 frostbitten fans, awaited “3000 MILES AWAY”.
Wrong on two counts, it turned out.
You’ll find out the rest of the story, and why it wasn’t necessarily a sad one, when you read The Happiest Recap (First Base: 1962-1973).
Print edition available here.
Kindle version available here.
Personally inscribed copy available here.
No Mets fan should be without The Happiest Recap. It’s got the whole Amazin’ story of the Mets’ most unbelievable stretch drive ever…and everything that brought them there.