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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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The Happiest Recap: 112-114

Welcome to The Happiest Recap, a solid gold slate of New York Mets games culled from every schedule the Mets have ever played en route to this, their fiftieth year in baseball. We’ve created a dream season that includes the “best” 112th game in any Mets season, the “best” 113th game in any Mets season, the “best” 114th game in any Mets season…and we keep going from there until we have a completed schedule worthy of Bob Murphy coming back with the Happy Recap after this word from our sponsor on the WFAN Mets Radio Network.

GAME 112: August 15, 1985 — METS 10 Phillies 7
(Mets All-Time Game 112 Record: 20-29; Mets 1985 Record: 69-43)

What happens when two of the three greatest starting pitchers in Mets history hook up at Shea Stadium? Not the pitching duel you might imagine, not when it was Dwight Gooden briefly off the top of his game and Jerry Koosman at the end of the line…and not when it was stiflingly hot at Shea and the ball was carrying into a dimension momentarily unmarked by time and space.

Now that we mention it, Gooden vs. Koosman does sound a little Twilight Zone-esque, offering as it does a blurring of noncontiguous Mets eras. Jerry Koosman was the lefty anchor of Mets staffs from 1967 through 1978. Doc Gooden headed Mets rotations from 1984 until 1994. The gap between their tenures would imply a stark separation of their careers. Yet while Gooden, 20, was taking the National League by storm as a sophomore in ’85, Koosman was  hanging on as  42-year-old Philadelphia Phillie. The veteran of the Mets’ first two pennant-winning clubs actually hadn’t pitched that badly in his twilight — entering this Thursday matinee with a 6-3 record, 3.71 ERA and three complete game wins to his credit on the year — but this was neither 1969 nor 1973 any longer.

Then again, by the time the day was over, it wouldn’t look like the same 1985 Gooden had been steamrolling through since April.

Koosman took his licking first. Three Mets batters in Davey Johnson’s righty-stacked lineup — perhaps a sign of respect for the old southpaw who flied him to left for the final out of the ’69 World Series — showed no sentimentality in the bottom of the first when, with the Mets down 1-0, they made Kooz feel every one of his 42 years. Pennant-race pickup Tom Paciorek, Gary Carter (making a rare start at first base) and Ray Knight all homered. It was the first time three Mets had homered in one inning in eleven years. The Mets took a 5-1 lead and figured Doc would cruise, per usual, from there.

Gooden promptly gave back a run when Koosman’s second-inning groundout scored Glenn Wilson to make it 5-2. It was the 46th RBI of Jerry’s career, and it would be the last positive accomplishment of Koosman’s baseball-playing life. In the bottom of the second, after recording two quick outs, Paciorek walked, Carter singled and Darryl Strawberry singled to bring home Paciorek. That put the Mets up 6-2 and brought John Felske out of the Phils’ dugout to remove Kooz.

Jerry would make one more start six days hence, against the Dodgers at Veterans Stadium. He’d give up a grand slam to Mike Marshall, follow it with a homer to Candy Maldonado and leave in the top of the first with five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning pitched. Between his abbreviated outing at Shea and that nightmare at the Vet, Koosman saw his ERA climb from 3.71 to 4.62. He’d go on the DL shortly thereafter in deference to a chronic knee problem and never pitch again. Kooz would retire from the game after 19 seasons with 222 wins and a perfect mark of 4-0 for the Mets in six postseason appearances. (He always did prefer pitching in cooler weather.)

Koosman was already the distant past for Mets fans in 1985. Gooden was the scintillating present. He could do no wrong all summer — except for this sweltering day at Shea when he couldn’t do much right. Mike Schmidt tagged Doc for a two-run home run in the third and Rick Schu reached him for a leadoff shot in the fourth. After Dwight enjoyed his first scoreless inning of the day in the fifth, Davey figured five runs and eight hits were enough in the 95-degree heat and lifted his prodigy with a 6-5 lead. It was his shortest outing of the year, save for the rain-soaked night in Atlanta that became the 16-13, 19-inning marathon of July 4 & 5. Following that epic strangeness, Gooden won each of next his seven starts, completing five of them.

“It was a weird day,” Gooden assessed of his most unDoclike effort in this otherwise magical season. “I just didn’t do my part.”

Still, if the Mets’ bullpen could pick up for him, Doc was in position to improve his record to an otherworldly 19-3, showing that even when he didn’t do his part, Gooden still knew how to gain at least partial credit.

Unfortunately for the Doctor’s ledger, the bullpen didn’t do its part all that well. In the seventh, Terry Leach’s bout of wildness and Rafael Santana’s error on a Von Hayes ground ball led to the Phillies’ sixth run, tying the game and costing Doc a decision. Strawberry’s fielder’s choice grounder regained the lead for the Mets in the bottom of the seventh, but Doug Sisk and Jesse Orosco combined to re-create a tie in the top of the eighth, making the score 7-7.

Salvation, with an air-conditioned chaser, awaited in the bottom of the eighth when Lenny Dykstra broke the deadlock with a wind-assisted RBI ground-rule double. Then Hayes, beneficiary of Santana’s E-6, discovered the fates could be fickle when he overran a Strawberry pop fly in left (where Felske had just moved Von from center) and two more Met runs scored. The Mets went out in front 10-7, and Orosco pitched an uneventful ninth for what became his fourth win of the year instead of Doc’s nineteenth.

Koosman might have been done for good, but Gooden would be back to being Gooden circa 1985 soon enough. He still hadn’t lost since late May, he was still riding a franchise-record 12-game winning streak and the Mets were still undefeated in his starts dating back to late June. The Mets, meanwhile, had just finished a stretch where you could say they had given it their all. On July 1, the fourth-place Mets lost 1-0 to the Pirates to fall to three games over .500, five games behind the frontrunning Cardinals. Then the Mets took off on one of their all-time Amazin’ tears: 30 victories in 37 games, bracketed by two nine-game winning streaks.

Yet no matter the confidence expressed by the likes of rookie Dykstra — “if we keep playing like this, with everybody contributing, I don’t see why we can’t walk away with it” — the portion of the schedule when the Mets routinely dominated their competition was over. This 10-7 sloppy slugfest the day after a vexing defeat — the automatically clutch Keith Hernandez mysteriously grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the Mets down 2-1 — left the Mets only a half-game up on the Cards for the division lead. They had played so well for so long, yet they couldn’t shake the Redbirds. On the other hand, the Redbirds had played very well themselves and couldn’t shake the Mets.

Neither the Mets nor the weather would stay as hot as they had been from July 2 to August 13, but arguably the Mets’ hottest pennant race ever hadn’t even begun to reach its boiling point.

ALSO QUITE HAPPY: On August 9, 2006, a Mets legend’s homecoming was on the verge of overstaying its welcome. Shea Stadium stood and cheered the night before when Mike Piazza returned to the scene of his most dramatic triumphs. That Piazza was wearing a San Diego Padres uniform didn’t bother too many people. With the first-place Mets rampaging through the N.L. East and leading 3-2, Mets fans could be magnanimous with its applause as good ol’ Mike singled in the sixth off Steve Trachsel. The Mets held on, Mike had his hit, all vibes were good.

Now it was the second night of Piazza’s return, and everybody who didn’t get a chance to greet him the night before was just as welcoming. The bonus this Wednesday was Pedro Martinez’s inclusion in the script. Pedro was a pretty popular figure at Shea himself, and his start was more than incidental. It was the first appearance at home in almost seven weeks for the injury-plagued ace. The good news for Mets fans was Pedro looked perfectly healthy, giving up only two runs and three hits in 7⅓ innings. The other good news was Piazza evoked the halcyon turn-of-the-millennium days at Shea when he rocketed a solo home run off Martinez with one out in the fourth. The Mets were still ahead 4-1 at that point and, again, magnanimity could rule — Piazza received a huge ovation as he rounded the bases. He even received a curtain call afterwards.

“The last thing I want to do is show up the other team,” Mike explained, with typical humility. “When they ask you to do it, it’s one of those things.”

Then Mike did it again, this time with two out in the sixth, also with nobody on. This second home run off Pedro cut the Mets’ lead to 4-2 and some grumbling could definitely be detected in the crowd. The warm feelings for Piazza would never dissipate from Flushing airspace, but this was suddenly a game and the 2006 Mets were most definitely the home team in the present.

Mike: “I think after the second one, it wasn’t as warm. I felt the energy shift.”

Which is why Piazza’s final attempt to awake the ghosts of Mets past became so suddenly irksome. He made his bid in the eighth, the Padres down two, with two on. Aaron Heilman was pitching after Pedro had walked Brian Giles and ex-Met Mike Cameron. Piazza stepped up with a chance to put his new team ahead. He was not being cheered lustily anymore. He was actually booed by a significant percentage of the crowd that adored him when he represented benign nostalgia innings earlier.

Being Mike Piazza, he brought the drama, taking Heilman deep…deep enough for breath-holding, though not deep enough for soul-crushing. Piazza’s long fly came down in front of the center field wall, caught by Carlos Beltran. Mike could return to the gauzy pedestal he built for himself from 1998 to 2005, and the post-Piazza Mets of 2006 could hold on to win again, 4-3.

GAME 113: August 13, 1982 — METS 6 Cubs 4
(Mets All-Time Game 113 Record: 23-26; Mets 1982 Record: 49-64)

Some years what little that goes right eventually leads to more wrong. For proof of that sad phenomenon in the lost Mets season of 1982, look no further than right field at Shea, where for one Friday night, everything seemed just fine.

Ellis Valentine was as much the personification of that benighted campaign as anyone. Acquired in 1981 for promising reliever Jeff Reardon, the Mets looked to him as a buy-low bargain. Valentine was one of those five-tool players: hit, hit with power, run, field and especially throw. Injury had derailed him in Montreal. Perhaps he’d put it all together once more in New York.

He didn’t, not even when the Mets put him together with George Foster and Dave Kingman in the middle of a lineup that, as the ads had it, promised to light up the city via Metropolitan power surge. The lights no more than flickered with Valentine starting in right and batting fifth. The club began falling apart in June and Ellis did little to keep it together as summer took its toll on the Mets’ chances. He showed little power, almost no speed and his batting average was meandering around .250 as August approached.

His arm, though, was still golden. The rest of his game may have been less Dave Parker than Dorothy Parker, but Valentine could throw with the best of them any day of the week, a skill he demonstrated on a Friday night in Flushing against the Cubs before an intimate gathering of 12,617.

In the top of the fifth, Bill Buckner led off with a walk versus Pat Zachry. Leon “Bull” Durham singled to right. Buckner, who could still run, raced for third. Valentine pulled the trigger on his rifle of a right arm and shot him down. Buckner was thrown out at third. The Cubs didn’t score.

One inning later, it was ex-Met Steve Henderson’s turn to lead off, and he doubled. Junior Kennedy lifted a fly to right, catchable by Valentine, but deep enough, to Hendu’s thinking, that he could dart to third and get in scoring position. But no — it was rifle time again. Valentine gunned down the erstwhile Stevie Wonder for his second outfield assist at third base of the night. And the Cubs didn’t score in that inning either.

Ellis Valentine’s arm was just one tool, but it had a brilliant evening. His bat didn’t do too badly, either, as Valentine’s single in the bottom of the seventh (his second of the night), proved the key hit in a three-run inning. Ellis’s hit put the Mets ahead 5-4 in an eventual 6-4 win. But Valentine’s bat wasn’t the story. It was his arm. Twice. Ellis Valentine, who not long before was fighting the since-traded Joel Youngblood for playing time, didn’t seem like such a bad acquisition after all.

“Valentine has the best throwing arm among right fielders in the National League,” George Bamberger told reporters afterwards. “No one is close. He has won the job, and no one is going to take it away from him.”

What a nice night for a guy who’d had too many rough ones. And what a nice note to leave Ellis Valentine’s Mets career on…but we can’t quite say goodbye on two dynamite outfield assists because Ellis stepped on his own storyline.

His arm had barely cooled off when his mouth got going. Given the media’s attention the afternoon after finally starring in a Mets win, Valentine didn’t waste it, at least not to his thinking at the time. He announced that he considered the Mets “the worst organization in baseball,” that “they can offer all the money in the world, and I wouldn’t stay” and, oh yeah, “I believe there’s a conspiracy against me in this organization.”

Mind you, this was one day after his shining moment in the field. It was perfect, in its way, for 1982, a season that began with some promise — 27-21 — and had spiraled well down Flushing’s plumbing system since (and was about to get a whole lot worse; a 15-game losing streak was literally a day away when Ellis voiced his discontent). Bamberger was compelled to readjust his attitude toward his right fielder: “If a man walks in that door and says he doesn’t want to play, I will do all I can to get him off [the club].” The manager added he’d keep playing Valentine every day, but “if he comes in here and tells me he doesn’t want to play, boom — that’s it.” Frank Cashen, meanwhile, called the situation “distressing”.

Funny thing was Youngblood’s August 4 trade to Montreal, best known for positioning Joel to collect two base hits in two cities in the same day, was a boon to Valentine in the short term; he had gone 14-for-32 in the week-and-a-half since it happened. But don’t get Ellis Valentine started on the Joel Youngblood trade: “They traded him right back into our division. I thought that was very stupid.”

He may have had a point, actually, but there would be latent bright sides to this dark lining in the silver cloud of the Met win Valentine made possible with his arm on August 13.

The Mets withstood their right fielder’s tantrum in decent shape. Valentine, who was in the final year of a three-contract that paid him $200,000 annually, wasn’t given “all the money in the world” to stay. Bamberger played him plenty the rest of the way, and Valentine did raise his average cosmetically, to .288, but it was over for him and the Mets. That was fine because the Mets had another right fielder who was almost ready to play full-time. Kid named Darryl Strawberry…from the same Los Angeles high school as Valentine, as it happened. The Mets were desperate for credibility and power when they traded for Valentine in 1981. With Strawberry and others in the pipeline for 1983 and beyond, their desperation days were ending, and they’d make few godawful trades like Reardon for Valentine in the immediate future.

As for Ellis Valentine himself, he knocked around baseball a couple more years before finding himself out of the game at age 31. Beset by drug and alcohol problems, he realized his life wasn’t going to get better without help…which he found. He worked to overcome his demons and has devoted his life since baseball to proactively advising kids to not make the same mistakes he did.

That, too, should be scored an assist for Ellis Valentine.

ALSO QUITE HAPPY: On August 10, 2005, the baseball world was still buzzing from the highlight that was beamed from Petco Park late the night before. It was the seventh inning in San Diego. Brian Giles was the batter with nobody on and one out. He swung at a Dae-Sung Koo delivery and blooped it off the end of his bat into short left field…or deep short, depending on your perspective. It was going to fall in, because the only fielder with any kind of angle on it was third baseman David Wright, and Wright is a righty, so his glove hand was…

…of no consequence whatsoever.

Wright reached out and grabbed Giles’s ball with his bare right hand; he grabbed it, he fell with it, he held on to it. Petco gasped and then applauded. Because everybody probably needed to catch their breath after that most unroutine flyout, Willie Randolph made a pitching change. The audience that stayed up late in New York was treated to a dozen more replays. It never got old. The only problem was it didn’t get the Mets back into the game. They were trailing 6-3 and wound up losing 8-3.

So how does Wright react the next night? He takes matter into both of his hands this Wednesday evening at Petco: He singles home the Mets’ first run in the top of the first; he takes second on a double steal four pitches later as Carlos Beltran steals home to make it 2-0; he doubles home two more in the top of the third to make it 4-0; he smashes a three-run homer off Brian Lawrence in the fourth to make it 8-0; he tops it of with an ninth-inning single that helps build a run to make it 9-0. The final is Mets 9 Padres 1, David Wright going 4-for-5 with 6 RBI, 3 runs scored, a homer, a double, a stolen base…and in the field, on the heels of his making quite possibly the most astonishing regular-season catch in New York Mets history?

Nothing. No chances for Wright, as the Padres learned not to hit any balls anywhere near either of his hands.

GAME 114: August 9, 1963 — METS 7 Cubs 3
(Mets All-Time Game 114 Record: 29-19; Mets 1963 Record: 37-77)

Forget that line about how you have to be a pretty good pitcher to lose twenty games. You have to be a plenty strong human being to endure being a twenty-game loser by the first week of August. And to arrive at such a humbling mark in a fashion in which you’d have to believe Somebody Upstairs (besides George Weiss) was telling you to find another profession?

Let’s just say Roger Craig dug deep to persevere as long as he did in 1963. The veteran of two world champion Dodger clubs already knew what he was in the midst of after emerging as the ace of the 1962 Mets. That team was loaded with “pretty good pitchers,” which is to say four of its hurlers lost at least 17 games. Nobody lost more than Craig, who took 24 defeats in the Mets’ inaugural season. On the flip side, he led those Mets in wins with 10 — or exactly a quarter of their 40 victories. By comparison, that year’s Cy Young winner, Craig’s old Los Angeles teammate Don Drysdale, won 25 games, but his total represented a lesser percentage of his team’s 102 wins.

Hard to believe the Cy Young voters overlooked Roger completely.

Come 1963, Craig commenced to setting a much more encouraging pace for himself. When he beat L.A. on April 29, he evened his record at 2-2. Maybe his second year as a Met would be different from his first.

It would. Oh, it would.

Only one of the “2’s” in Roger Craig’s record would hold steady and it wasn’t the one on the right. The win column remained stubbornly unchanging for Craig, but the other column, where they keep track of the losses? The updates would be frequent. Beginning on May 4, with a 17-4 shellacking at the Polo Grounds at the hands of the Giants, and winding through the spring and into summer, Craig did nothing but lose.

There would be a few blowouts, to be sure, but most of Craig’s losing was of the excruciating variety: 4-2…4-3…1-0…like that. As the defeats mounted, the luck grew harder. When Roger lost his 18th consecutive decision on August 4 — the one that made him a 20-game loser with 52 games to go in the season — it was in a 2-1 game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Twelve of those 18 straight losses charged to Craig were contests he lost by one, two or three runs. His luck was typified by the way he lost the eighteenth: the Brave run that beat him scored when a pickoff attempt went awry. And Craig was known to have a great pickoff move.

“If he bought a graveyard,” Tracey Stallard said of his teammate, “Nobody would die.”

Craig somehow kept his perspective alive as long as his unwanted streak insisted on living, too. “I try not to think about how many games I’ve lost, or think about how many I might lose,” he said after the 17th consecutive defeat. “Sure, maybe I joke about it after a game, but I’ll tell you this: If I ever find myself thinking about losing during a game, I’ll know it’s time to quit.”

Roger’s fellow Mets certainly thought of ways to make him a winner. Long before a black cat would take on more positive connotations in Mets lore, catcher Norm Sherry sought to track one down for Craig to bring to the mound with him when he warmed up. That didn’t exactly work out, but anything would go as far as a change of luck was concerned. When the streak was at 13 of all numbers, Stallard loaned Craig his uniform digits, 36. Craig pitched beautifully in them, carrying a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth at Philadelphia. Alas, with one out, he surrendered a triple to Tony Gonzalez and a game-losing home run to Roy Sievers. With 36 having yielded him nothing more than a 14th straight loss, Craig returned to wearing No. 38.

Still, nothing was beyond trying, including yet another numerical stab in the dark. At the behest of a dream Polo Grounds clubhouse guard Ted Decker shared with him — as chronicled in Jerry Mitchell’s The Amazing Mets — Craig switched from 38 to 13 before his August 9 home outing against the Cubs. Decker told Roger he dreamt he saw him winning a game with No. 13 on his shirt. That’s all a pitcher with a 2-20 mark needs to hear to be spurred to sartorial action.

No Met had yet worn 13, according to Mets By The Numbers by Jon Springer and Matt Silverman. Baseball was as superstitious as any endeavor in 1963. You didn’t see 13th floors in skyscrapers or Row 13 on any airplane, either. But few of those entities had suffered luck as rotten as Roger Craig’s, so why not tempt fate? And why not up the stakes, as Craig did at the end of the pregame meeting Roger ran as part of his duties as Mets player representative? He completed the business at hand and then added an addendum:

“I’d really like to win this one tonight, boys.”

Maybe that’s what was holding Roger back all those months — maybe he simply forgot to tell his teammates what he wanted. Or maybe it was the sight of No. 13 taking the hill under Coogan’s Bluff that appeased the baseball gods. Or perhaps it was just the streak’s time to take a powder.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be easy, not even with Craig holding Chicago in check for seven innings and the Mets clinging to a 3-2 lead. As had happened so often before, one bad pitch bit the pitcher, in this case, one that resulted in a leadoff eighth-inning triple for Billy Williams, which was followed by a Ron Santo fly to center that tied the score at three and put Craig’s streakbusting in jeopardy. Roger hung in there and didn’t give up anything else in the eighth or ninth. It stayed 3-3 heading to the bottom of the final inning of regulation.

With one out, the Mets tried to rescue Roger from an 0-19 span — which would have matched Philadelphia Athletic Jack Nabors’s all-time worst single-season losing streak from 1916 — and a 2-21 overall mark for the year. Joe Hicks singled off Cubs starter Paul Toth. Choo Choo Coleman struck out, but Al Moran doubled, sending Hicks to third. Lindy McDaniel relieved Toth. Casey Stengel had no choice but to pinch-hit for Craig. He chose Tim Harkness, a hero earlier in the season when he beat these very same Cubs on a fourteenth-inning grand slam. Cubs head coach Bob Kennedy wouldn’t give Tim that kind of chance again, intentionally walking him. That loaded the bases with two outs and brought up Jim Hickman.

Jim Hickman happily played the role of Tim Harkness this time around, working the count to three-and-two before lifting a fly to left field that took advantage of the Polo Grounds’ singularly weird dimensions. “It just ticked the overhang of the upper stands,” Mitchell wrote, “before falling to the field.”

All that mattered is it left the field of play fair for a grand slam home run — the grand slam home run that gave the Mets the 7-3 victory to make a winner at long last out of Roger Craig. Of course no one was quicker out of the dugout to greet Hickman than the winning pitcher.

“The first thing I had in mind,” Craig said, “was to make sure he touched home plate. I’d have tackled him to make him do it if I had to.”

As of Friday the 9th, No. 13 was 3-20 and keeping a death grip on that uniform for the rest of the season. It proved sort of lucky, as Roger went on a three-game winning streak before backsliding to a final record of 5-22, 15-46 in two seasons as a Met. Finally, the fates smiled on him by getting him traded to St. Louis after the season for outfielder George Altman and reliever Bill Wakefield. By October of 1964, he’d be pitching in the Fall Classic and earning his third world championship, as a Cardinal. As Mitchell put it, “No prisoner ever received a pardon with more sincere expressions of gratitude.”

Indeed, Craig evinced no bitterness over his experience in New York, just as he never pointed fingers at an offense that didn’t score for him or fielders who might have made a few more plays on his behalf. “My two seasons with the Mets were a blessing,” he said. “It taught me how to cope with adversity.”

ALSO QUITE HAPPY: On August 11, 1988, the answer to the question, “It has to happen eventually, doesn’t it?” was answered in the affirmative, albeit after an unexpected delay of what felt like epic proportions. “It” was Gary Carter’s 300th career home run, a milestone that figured to belong to the All-Star catcher sooner rather than later as the ’88 season got underway. Carter started the year with 291 home runs and enjoyed a hellacious (or, in the clean-living Kid’s case, “heckacious”) April, belting seven homers in the Mets’ first 18 games. When No. 299 sailed out of Jack Murphy Stadium on May 16, it figured to be only a matter of time before Carter could take a very enthusiastic curtain call in honor or reaching a very significant round number.

But nobody defined “matter of time,” so it became an open-ended chase. Gary went homerless over the second half of May. And didn’t go deep once in all of June. And lit up no skies on the Fourth or any other date of July. Carter’s plate appearances without the one hit he really wanted were mounting at such a rate that they threatened to reach 300 before his home run total did.

In fact, you could honestly say, “there’ll be lights attached to Wrigley Field before Gary Carter hits his 300th homer.” It was true. The Mets came to Chicago in the second week of August to play what turned out to be (thanks to a rainout) the first official night game in the old ballpark’s history. Carter started in that one, on August 9, came to bat four times, walked and doubled, but extended his homerless streak to 255 consecutive plate appearances.

Two days later, Carter took another shot at 300. And this time, lit by nothing but Thursday afternoon sunshine, he got it, taking a 2-2 pitch from Al Nipper into Wrigley’s left field bleachers to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead. All at once, Carter could relax after nearly three months of letting the chase weigh on him. “I pressed pretty often,” he admitted once No. 300 was tucked away. “It was brought to my attention all the time. Everyday somebody brought it up.” Not that Carter ever shied away from the spotlight, but “when you try for home runs, they never come.”

Two more Met home runs would come that day, one a solo blast from Lenny Dykstra and the other the game-deciding ninth-inning grand slam Kevin McReynolds launched to put the Mets ahead for good, 9-6.

12 comments to The Happiest Recap: 112-114

  • Lenny65

    I was at that 1985 game and yes, it was HOT that day. Totally forgot Koosman was pitching. I do remember the 3 homers in the first, though.

    • I thought Paciorek was going to be a huge addition.

      • Lenny65

        It was the summer of Dwight; I went to his previous start which was a Saturday game of the week vs. Chicago, I think. A friend and I made a spur of the moment trip to Shea to see Doc again. Naturally he had one of his worst starts of the year, but the three homer first inning made the trip worthwhile. I do vividly remember seeing Leach fall off the mound that day though, as well as Carter playing 3rd base. Seems like everyone got a turn at 3rd back in those days, right?

  • Ken K. from NJ

    (perfect mark of 4-0 for the Mets in six postseason appearances. )

    Not to rekindle a 40 year old debate, but if I had to win one Met Postseason game, I’d pick Koos over The Franchise every time.

  • James

    I remember being at the Piazza game in ’06 and how there was a collective gut churn from the crowd when he made his bid for a third home run. It was definitely a titanic fly ball, and only in print does it seem relatively harmless. At the time, I’m rather certain most every person in Shea thought it had a strong chance of clearing the fence.

    I can also say that Pedro’s 7 1/3 innings were deceptive: he might have touched 89 MPH once or twice that night, but his fastball sat in the mid-80s for the majority of that evening. I recall remarking to my dad that though Pedro had returned and was “healthy” enough to pitch, there was definitely something not kosher. So, while I chalk up that game to Pedro’s craftiness and guile, he wasn’t working with much else, and it would promptly show in subsequent starts.

    • Piazza likened it to the fly ball that ended the 2000 World Series — he thought he got all of it. He said something to the effect of that’s what happens here, you’ve got to get all of it. Makes me wonder what Citi Field would have done to him.

      That was Pedro’s final win of 2006 and his final good performance, guile and all. He made only four more starts on the year, one in August, three in September. If only we could have played the postseason in June.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    As Craig began coming within sight of tying the all time record for consecutive losses, the streak consumed lots of local sports news – almost as much as the M and M boys chasing Babe Ruth did two years earlier. Fortunately, Roger did not start losing hair as the other Roger did.

    The day Craig was on the verge of tying that all time mark, the Post had a picture of him sitting down by his locker holding that uniform number 13 while giving the camera a look of helplessness.

    • Did Ralph Branca sue for copyright infringement?

      • Joe D.

        No,he couldn’t because Ralph had a show that came on prior to the pre-game edition of Kiner’s Korner during home games. It was called “Branca’s Bullpen” and so suing would not be in his own interest.

        Ralph followed Ralph and cornered the bullpen.

  • […] Happiest Recap: 115-117 by Greg Prince on 16 August 2011 12:30 pm Welcome to The Happiest Recap, a solid gold slate of New York Mets games culled from every schedule the Mets have ever played en […]