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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 Task At Hand

In honor of what transpired 27 years ago tonight, here is the slightest taste of Game 252 among the 500 Most Amazin’ the Mets ever won, from the forthcoming The Happiest Recap: Second Base (1974-1986). This excerpt focuses on the task that threatened to devour the Mets as they headed to the bottom of the tenth inning.

Shea Stadium was built on the site of an ash heap, and as Saturday, October 25, morphed into Sunday, October 26, the locale’s original purpose seemed apropos. This Mets season…the greatest Mets season ever…was three outs from being what you bring to the dump. The 108-54 record wouldn’t matter. The three resurrection wins against the Astros wouldn’t matter. The National League pennant secured in sixteen grueling innings within the Astrodome din wouldn’t matter. Tying the series at Fenway Park wouldn’t matter. Withstanding Roger Clemens wouldn’t matter. Tying Game Six at 2-2 in the fifth and 3-3 in the eighth wouldn’t matter.

Not winning the World Series was all that was about to matter. Losing the World Series, too, for that’s what the Mets were on the verge of doing. The 1986 Mets were built to do everything but that. It was as if a mechanism had malfunctioned, as if Michael Sergio’s rip cord didn’t activate properly. Sergio’s message was GO Mets.

Going home — emptyhanded — seemed the more plausible response.

The Red Sox, despite stranding 14 runners in 10 innings, were two runs up and three outs away from a state of nirvana. Henderson’s home run loomed as a decisive blow for the ages, but the one-two double-single punch Boggs and Barrett threw at Aguilera was what set up the Mets’ mission as almost prohibitively daunting. Boston had every advantage. Schiraldi could afford to give up a run. McNamara could afford to give up a little defense, even if it meant going against his norm. In the three previous Red Sox wins, he inserted Dave Stapleton at first to tighten the infield perimeter. But here in Game Six, with his wounded solider of a starting first baseman having limped this far, the manager hesitated to make that move.

Thus, the same man who left Calvin Schiraldi in for a third inning of work decided Bill Buckner should take the field in the bottom of the tenth.

The rest of the story…coming soon.

And happy anniversary, greatest night that ever was!

7 comments to The Task At Hand

  • I remember it well. It was magical.

    But 27 Years!!!??

  • FL Met Fan Rich

    Funny, I was sitting with a friend watching game two and marveling about how many World Series these two teams have one recently.

    Then I started to wonder if I will ever see the Mets win another World Series in my lifetime.

    I’m not getting any younger!

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Finally the edition I have been waiting for!

  • Dave

    What a night, and my best “I was there” story. A pair of brothers who are friends had tickets, don’t recall how they got them, because they didn’t go to lots of games. But one of the brothers and I were music majors together at college, and he was playing piano in a wedding band. He called me a few days before the game and said that he had a gig to play that night, and I figured he was going to give me a pile of sheet music and ask me to sit in for him. Instead he asked, “you want to go to the game?” So he spent the night playing whatever songs were being played at weddings in the fall of 86, and I was at the game. He might have done some singing in that wedding band too…I, in contrast, came home with virtually no voice.

    And I brought my ticket stub to an appearance by Mookie and Buckner once and got it signed. Got the impression that they haven’t signed many, because Mookie took one of his wide-eyed looks at it and said “You still have your ticket stub?”

    But 27 years…ouch.

  • metsfaninparadise

    I can do nothing but agree helplessly with the sentiments “the greatest night ever”(happily) and “I can’t believe it was 27 years ago” (incredulously). The major difference between then and now? GO SOX!!!

  • Steve D

    I went from saying, “don’t end it on a pop-up” to literally soaring into the air. The only thing that matched that rush since was the no hitter.

  • Barry F.

    So 253 of the top 500 happened in the first 25 years? I must humbly disagree. Have the Mets had more than about 50 amazing wins since 1986?
    1962-86: 3 pennants, two world titles
    1987 to present: 1 pennant, 0 world titles.
    Thinking 1999 will have about 25 games on this list!
    Can’t wait for the next book!