Saturday, August 23, 2014

>>>>1974 MFC '73 NLCS- Game Five


In the early '70's a playoff round between the season and the World Series was a relatively new thing. It started four years earlier in 1969. I wasn't too thrilled with it then because it was just an additional hoop for the Mets to jump through to get to the fall classic. It would have changed everything if New York didn't get by Atlanta in '69. But I liked the concept.  In 1973 the set up served us well. It gave the Mets a chance. Of all the pennant clinching teams that year the Mets, just three games over .500, had the worst record by far.

If I was told at the beginning of the season that the Mets would finish at 82-79 I'd have said, great, whoop-di-doo, another third place finish. In 1971 & '72 the team had won 83, good for 3rd.

1973 Division Winners
New York Mets: 82-79
Oakland Athletics: 94-68
Baltimore Orioles: 97-65   
Cincinnati Reds: 99-63,
the best of all of them.

As a matter of fact in the Reds division, the N.L. West (there was no central division at the time), there were three teams under Cincinnati who had a better win/loss record than the New York Mets. The thought of the lowly Mets beating the best team in baseball became fuel for those who opposed to the idea of having a playoff round at all. 

After having them now for over 40 years, and even more being added (along with the wild card) I have to say I enjoy the playoffs. As far as a lesser team being able to advance past a more talented and powerful team, I feel that baseball would not be the awesome game that it is if it was impossible for David to slay Goliath.

 So it came down to this. A sudden death playoff game. New York, a team with the worst record ever to clinch,  won games 2 and 3. Cincinnati, the best team in MLB in 1973, took games 1 and 4. You would think that the Reds had some momentum. But we had Tom Seaver.

If you were a Mets fan and it came down to one game for all the marbles you couldn't wish for it to be set up any better, with one exception.

Rusty Staub would not be playing in game five. Cleon Jones would take on the right field duties and bat third in Rusty's place. Original Metropolitan Ed Kranepool was inserted in left, batting fifth.
Staubs game saving catch the day before injured his right shoulder badly. He couldn't even lift his right arm for game five. Le Grande Orange would have to settle for rooting from the dugout. Not having Rusty's wicked bat in the lineup was a bad break. But did I mention we had Tom Seaver? If Tom had his good stuff we were in the drivers seat.

New York's pitching was a riddle the Reds could not figure out. The Mets pitchers had effectively shut down the N.L. West Champs explosive offense. In both wins Cincinnati scored two runs on two solo homers. There were no run scoring rallies or big three run blasts, and they certainly had their chances.

Over the long season a team had to excel in a number of different areas to make it to the post season. But once there, especially in the days when the playoffs were only a best of five series, pitching alone could carry a team to the top.

The funny thing was that besides the gemtastic 2 hitter hurled by Jon Matlack in game 2, New York got their best pitching performances in the two games they lost to the Reds. Baseball is wacky like that. 

Jack Billingham (19-10 / 155 Ks3.04 ERA in 1973), who pitched a magnificent game one for the Reds, would be on the mound for Cincinnati. Billingham was part of one of the biggest trades in Reds history. Cincinnati sent Lee May, Tommie Helms, and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Billingham, Denis Menke,  Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister right before the 1972 season. The Reds pitcher had the best season of his career in 1973 and was 4th in the Cy Young voting.

Jack has a footnote in Mets history as well as baseball history.

Billingham is a cousin of Christy Mathewson.

In 1969 the Montreal Expos traded future Met Donn Clendenon to the Houston Astros for future Met Rusty Staub. Clendenon refused to report, and the Expos later sent Billingham to Houston completing the trade.
"Cactus Jack" Billingham
would surrender Hank Aaron's 714th four bagger in April of 1974, tying the great Babe Ruth. 
The right hander would pick up 2 World Series rings with the Reds in 1975 and '76.

Billingham would face the best pitcher in Mets history. One of the best in the history of the game itself.
George Thomas Seaver.
In 1973 Tom won 19 while losing 10. He posted the 2nd best ERA of his young career at 2.08.
Seaver averaged almost 8 Ks a game in '73 for a total of 251 in 290 innings.

Seaver won the Cy Young Award for his performance this season. Ron Bryant  had a record of 24 wins & 12 losses pitching for the 3rd place San Francisco Giants. If the Mets didn't make it to post season I don't think The Franchise lands this one. Even Jack Billingham himself could have nabbed the award, and if the Reds had won he very well might have.

Seaver had a shaky start in the first. After getting Pete Rose to ground out he walked Joe Morgan. Reds rookie Dan Driessen slapped a single past Harrelson at short to put runners on 1st and 3rd. A pitch to Tony Perez, batting cleanup, got away from Mets catcher Jerry Grote and Driessen advanced to second. Tom proceeded to strikeout Perez but he wasn't about to mess with Johnny Bench. He walked the Reds catcher intentionally to load the bases. Then the New York flamethrower pumped a high fast ball to Ken Griffy Sr that he popped up to Don Hahn in center to end the nail biting opening frame.

'76 bfc Johnny Bench
Keeping Reds All Star and future Hall Of Fame catcher Johnny Bench in check was a big reason the Reds offensive punch was lacking. Johnny crushed a huge game ending home run off Seaver in the first contest, and that was it. One homer and one RBI for the entire series. Holding Bench down was crucial.

<(I had to make a card out of this Bench photo because it was taken from behind the railing at Shea Stadium)
I'll be damned. Who is that on the bench behind Bench? 
Why, it's Joe from The Shlabotnik Report!! That guy gets around.

In the Mets half of the first they showed that they meant business. With one out back to back singles by Felix Millan and Cleon Jones put two on. Billingham then issued a base on balls to John Milner to load 'em up.
So right away we felt the loss of Rusty Staub. It would have been nice to have had his bat in there. Who was up? It was Ed Kranepool, perennial Metropolitan. Ed was a fan favorite but we were not expecting much here. Just stay out of the inning ending double play Ed. A sac fly would be nice.

And this is one of the reasons The Krane was loved by Mets fans. He lines one to left over short for a HUGE  2 RBI single! The stadium was thumping as Steady Eddie rounded first. The Mets #1 son had given us a 1st inning 2 run lead in the deciding game.

After the game Ed would say this N.L. championship was more gratifying than in 1969. When asked why he responded,
" Because we didn't let down."

Tom Seaver with a two run lead. Things were looking good. Tom's shaky start was soon forgotten as he set down Cincinnati in order in the second.

 I said earlier if Seaver had his good stuff there was no stopping us. He didn't. Tom's usual heat on the fastball was lacking in this game, and Jerry Grote did some fine tuning to get the best of what Seaver had available. Tom was a pitcher, much more than just a hurler. He would adjust. Grote was a pitchers physician, and his prescription was not more cowbell. He would tell the pitcher what adjustments were needed and Grote called for a change in speeds to keep the hitters from timing in. It was working.

Cincinnati would reach Seaver for a run in the 3rd. With one out Joe Morgan ripped a double and advanced to third when Cleon Jones flubbed it in right. Dan Dreissen then lifted a fly to left, deep enough that Ed Kranepool could not stop Morgan from tagging up to make it 2-1 Mets.

            Neither team could get anything going until good ol' Pete Rose doubled to lead off the Reds fifth. Seaver almost got out of it, getting both Morgan and Driessen to ground out. But Tony Perez was able to lift one over second baseman Felix Millan's head and Rose zipped home with the tying run, 2-2.

It didn't stay tied for long. In the Mets bottom half they rallied. Wayne Garrett pulled a drive to right center that Reds centerfielder Caesar Geronimo misplayed into a double.

 Felix Millan then tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. It was not a good one, too hard, just to the pitcher Billinghams right. Jack scooped it up and had plenty of time to get Garrett. He pegged the ball to Dan Driessen at third, who caught it and then came off the bag, applying no tag.

 The inexperienced Reds rookie third baseman made a crucial mistake as Garrett was not forced at third and had to be tagged for an out. Driessen thought he had a force play, applied no tag, and the fielders choice left the Reds in a pickle with runners on 1st and 3rd and no outs for New York.

 Rose chases Cleon's double

Cleon Jones followed and was clutch as he blasted a double just over Pete Rose's helmeted head in left, driving in Garrett to break the tie, 3-2.

This would be the end of the road for "Cactus Jack" Billingham. Don Gullett was brought in to face John Milner. The Red reliever didn't want the Hammer getting down and he walked John to re-load the sacks.

Again, a rally that Rusty Staub would have been in the middle of. It was Ed Kranepool due up, and before we could even began to wonder if Ed could do it again, he went back into the dugout. Yogi was going to pinch hit. Was Staub okay enough to bat? No, that wasn't Rusty. It was Willie Mays who emerged from the Mets dugout and Shea Stadium went bonkers.

This game would be the last time I ever saw Willie playing with my own eyes.
I appreciated this.
The score was still close. I was well aware that it might be the last game in Willie's illustrious career. I really wanted him to knock one out and add more greatness to his legend.

I'm sure he wanted to as well as he took a big cut at a low fastball and topped it. The ball shot down and hit the plate, bouncing up and taking an incredibly high hop. The Baltimore chopper was hit in a perfect place, between 3rd base and home near the baseline in fair territory.

 Reds pitcher Clay Carroll, brought in to face Mays, made a nice play getting to the ball but had trouble getting it out of his glove. Millan was busting it for the plate and beat Carroll's late throw as he slid by Bench.

Sparky Anderson played the infield in for the bases loaded situation and continued to do so. Grote hit an easy grounder and 2nd baseman Joe Morgan was able to force Cleon at the plate.

Don Hahn followed with a grounder up the middle that was snagged by shortstop Darrell Chaney, but a force at second was his only play. As he erased Grote at second Milner crossed the plate for New York's fifth run.

Bud Harrelson then capped it off with a single to left-center. Mays scored but the inning came to a close as Hahn broke a cardinal baseball rule and Pete Rose gunned him down trying to go from 1st to 3rd on Buddy's single for the last out. No one was booing the effort. We were cheering wildly. We had a 6-2 lead through five.

Seaver settled down, on top of his game now. He retired the Reds in order on two come-backers and a pop fly to Willie Mays in center. Batting in the 6th Tom terrifically led off the inning with a double in the gap past Rose.
The Mets were able to tack on another run as Cleon Jones once again came through, whacking a frozen rope over second for a crucial base hit, bringing home Seaver with the 7th run. Cleon would bat an even .300 with 3 big juicy rib eye steaks on 6 hits in the five game series.

          Once again I moved down to the field level box seats later in the game. I didn't use my lucky right field ramp like I did in game four. The far left field ramp was a mirror of the right and the experience was the same. 
 I had no problem.

      It was after New York scored their 7th run in the 6th that I figured if I wanted to get close to the field for the last out I should make my move. The friend I attended the game with was not with me and I have no recall of how we became separated. I found out later that he ended up on the 1st base side of the field. 
My journey occurred in increments, each break in the action taking me closer to field. I was an early bird. This was a bit before (what seemed like) everyone else in the stadium decided to do the same thing. So isles were clear and I could move unimpeded.

         With no difficulty I found myself right at the railing of field level box, near the Reds dugout, across from 3rd base. I can't say for sure but I figure this was before the start of the 8th inning that I sat/crouched there in the isle and watched the rest of the game. I was fully prepared to be snagged by security or police and told to return to my proper seat. I had been busted by ushers for not having box seat tickets a number of times in the past. But this never happened.

  With the score 7-2 New York, Tom Seaver went into cruise control through the 6th, 7th & 8th innings. Seaver shut the Reds down by mixing speeds and hitting corners with his curve. The Mets entered the ninth with Seaver on the mound and 3 outs to go.

        During game 4 a lot of fans made their way down to field box and I didn't expect this game to be any different. As the 8th played out areas behind me began to fill up with people. Much more than the game before. I can't swear to this but they all seemed to be around my age (15) give or take a few years. And I'm sure a good percentage of them were, like me,  "children of 1969". That is to say that the '69 Mets championship season was their first serious exposure to the team.

The footage at the start of every ballgame on WOR-TV in the early '70's showed clips of Mets fans celebrating with the players after winning the World Series. This was burned into our brains as much as Agee's two catches and the two Jerry mound hug. 
     Now, here in 1973 I thought I would be part of a historical moment in Metropolitan history. The Mets would take the N.L. pennant and I'd be part of it, jumping around with the team on the field. Individually it was all very innocent. Collectively it became a nightmare.
A simulation
       Now when I say I was situated at the railing in field level box you would think that I would have a clear path to the field. I didn't. For the playoff series the powers that be constructed an additional section of seating. It was a makeshift wooden walled trough like box that ran from the dugouts down the baselines. There were photographers and what I assumed were V.I.P.'s in this section. I learned later that the people in there on the third base line were families of Cincinnati Reds players.

     Tom had gotten Cesar Geronimo to line out to Millan for out number one in the 9th inning. Ex-Met Larry Stahl, who hit .500 in a pinch hitting role for the Reds during the series, batted for Darrel Chaney and lined a single to left. Seaver then walked Hal King who was hitting for the pitcher. Not a good sign. With Pete Rose up next Tug McGraw got up in the bullpen. Seaver got two strikes on Rose.

By this time the field level box was packed tighter than a tin of sardines. Unlike game four there were no empty spaces left. It looked like everyone from the upper decks had moved down. My nice little open spot at the rail by third had now become a claustrophobic cluster of kids. Being right on the railing I was being pushed up against the metal barrier.  Literally being squished at the waist (it was impossible to sit at this point). It was more than just uncomfortable. It was difficult to breath. Looking down the rail I could see others in the same predicament. The crowd had become a sea of people. When one swayed, we all swayed in a domino like effect.
Now I'm not a big guy but I have a big mouth and can be forceful. I started pushing back those up against me and was telling anyone who would listen to please move back. There was no more room. Some listened, some didn't. I made enough room around me so I could at least breath.

      I thought the stadium might explode. Glancing over to the other side of the diamond I could see that something similar had happened. But over there the custom wooden box along the first base line was overflowing with people. It looked even more cramped over there. Then the unthinkable happened.

            A loud crack caught my attention and I watched as a big section of the box wall behind first base collapsed, with fans literally pouring out of it onto the playing field. Those along the partition fell flat with it as those behind fell on top of them, creating a human pile up. Some got up and tried to scramble back in. The contest came to a grinding halt.
A simulation
      This was unreal. Grounds crew and police ran to the area as everyone got up and tried to get back into the box. It took a few minutes for them to accomplish this, and when all were off the field the police put the barriers back in place and stood there to insure the plywood plank would remain up. 
   Tom Seaver was visibly agitated on the mound. He walked toward the ruckus, yelling at the fans to get back in the stands.
 Everyone was yelling at this point. Cops and ushers poured out of the dugouts, the box seats, and the bullpens and lined up in front of the stands. The police had the Reds relatives come out of the special box in front of me and onto the field. Then they led them down the left field line into the visitors bullpen and to what I'm sure was a safer location.

        I really thought it was a big over reaction at that moment, but in retrospect it was a wise decision. Behind me was the reason why. We must have looked like a mob ready to rumble. I didn't realize this at the time, but that's just what we did look like. That's just what we were. Looking back I was fooling myself in thinking this just was an extra excited mass of Mets fans. Although we truly were, that day I learned that a large crowd can take on a life of its own.

    Now, with the constructed box section empty, and for what was our own safety, the folks being crushed at the railing climbed into the vacated area. It didn't take long to realize that the same thing that happened in the stands would happen here in the box as it filled to capacity. But it got to a point where no more could fit and things settled down in a sense. Once again, play had resumed.

Seaver's rhythm had been disrupted. He already had two strikes on Rose but try as he might he could not lock in again. It didn't help that home plate ump Bruce Froemming was suddenly squeezing the strike zone. Tom felt drained. Whatever adrenalin that would have pumped him through to the end had dissipated during the delay.
The Metropolitan pitcher lost the Cincinnati lead off man to a base on balls. The bases were full of Redstockings with only one out. Shea was swaying. Tom knew it was time to turn to Tug.

  Yogi came out for the ball and Tug walked in from the pen. The bullpen-mobile was already tucked away deep in the bowels of the stadium from fear of the crowd. McGraw strode briskly out to the mound.

       McGraw had his work cut out for him. The bags were juiced and he needed two outs. Having a 5 run lead was nice but that didn't matter to Tug. He had very sharp concentration no matter the inning or situation. The guy who flapped his glove on his thigh was unflappable. And, even with this insane crowd, maybe even because of it, McGraw wanted to be right where he was. On the mound about to clinch the N.L. pennant.
      Meanwhile I was now being squished against the custom wooden wall from behind. If I hadn't just seen it happen across the field I would have been shocked senseless, but I had. So it was no big surprise when the wall I was pushed up against collapsed with another loud crack, sending me sprawling out onto the field.

      I didn't fall, just staggered off to the side, as others behind me did fall and another pile up of bodies began to take shape. It was chaotic but I wasn't scared or panicked. I was in the moment and my main concern was for my own survival. Again police and stadium employees rushed to the scene to aid the fallen and try and restore order. Once again the game was stopped.

         I stood there dumbfounded. I didn't know quite what to do. I did know one thing. I wasn't going to go back into those stands. No way. As fans were being helped to their feet and squeezed back into the box I slowly took a few steps backwards with thoughts of escape. But to where? Scanning the area there was only one thing I could do. I calmly walked to my left, down the steps and entered the Cincinnati Reds dugout.

    No one seemed to notice me as they were all focused on the area where the walls came down. There was an empty stool in the corner of the visiting dugout. I walked directly to it and took a seat as if it had my name on it. I sat there for what felt like a while. I entertained the thought that I might be able to stay right here until the game was over. I was sitting there as still as a statue, totally in awe as I looked down the bench and saw the likes of  Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, & Tony Perez. Sparky Anderson was at the other end and he didn't look too happy.

I don't recall if the game had resumed as a police officer approached me and looked me over. " You don't belong in here," he said to me, " You don't belong in here,... you can't sit there!" I gave him the most pleading expression I had in my arsenal and shot back with," I am NOT going back in those stands," while pointing out of the dugout. He gave me a look of pity and I thought maybe he would let me be. But he didn't. He couldn't. He had a job to do.

He wasn't forceful or rude. The officer came right up to my face and compassionately, yet sternly, said, " I'm sorry, you can't stay in the dugout. You have to return to the stands." I could see there was no arguing with him. I got up, climbed out of the dugout and into the photographers box, back with the sardines.

Tugger on the mound in the 9th
Amazingly, on the mound Tug McGraw was not phased by any of this. He had seen the brewing crowd from the bullpen before he entered the game, and he already felt things were out of control in the stands. But Tug, like Pete Rose, fed off this kinda shit.

During the delay he flapped his glove against his thigh and gestured for the fans to calm down. He may have thrown some warm up pitches, I don't recall. After each interruption he picked up right where he left off , with a ferocious focus that made him the great pitcher that he was. Barring any more unforeseen disasters on the field (with the team) or off (with us fans) this game would be over in just a few minutes.

       Like I said I don't remember how long I was in the Reds dugout. In my memory it was a long time but it could not have been. It was long enough that my parents and brothers, watching T.V. at home, saw me sitting there. I've never seen footage of the telecast so I don't know if it was an extreme closeup or an overall shot of the scene. The timing was not so hot because it showed me sitting there with a cop in my face. When I got home I had a bit of explaining to do. But as I climbed back from the frying pan into the fire I had no idea I was on TV. I have looked for recordings of this game and I have never found one.

       It was ironic. I had hoped to be part of a Mets clinching celebration and as a result, probably be on TV, but at that moment being on TV was the furthest thought from my mind. I just wanted this to be over. This was not going down like I pictured it.

      The game had resumed. With all that was going on my attention to the game was intermittent. Now back in the stands, I saw a shallow pop out to Buddy by third base. There were two outs and I was ready.

     Two outs, Dan Driessen at the plate. As soon as the ball came off Driessen's bat heading fair, before it even bounced twice on the infield grass, the forces of the crowd brought all the box seat walls down. There was a line of police and personnel but the kids ran right around them.

Milner gloved the grounder, unaware that a large stampede was crossing the foul line right behind him, flying onto the field like a swarm of bees. McGraw charged from the mound towards first base.

      The swarm had come just as strong from the left field stands. John Milner stayed focused, took the ball from his mitt and tossed underhand to McGraw. 
Rusty Staub in right field wasn't sure if he should back up the play or head directly for the Mets bullpen and safety. He chose the bullpen.

       The fans were now a tsunami. Well onto the outfield grass in left and right, the human wall was about to cross the lines into the infield. People were jumping down from the tops of both dugouts now.

       The baseball landed safely in Tugs glove and he stomped on first as he ran by the bag. He charged through the crowd like a running back looking for openings, making his way to the dugout.

Willie Mays, out in no mans land in center, saw Rusty exiting and took off for the bullpen as well. He almost didn't make it.
Some fans got roughed up while trying to get The Say Hey Kids baseball cap.

After he was safely in the clubhouse Mays said, "I know the kid just wanted a souvenir but I wasn't going to give up my good luck cap. If he asked I would have given him my jersey."

Can you imagine that!? Getting a Willie Mays Mets jersey? All the kid had to do was ask. Amazin'.

    I hit the field running and headed towards third base. A clear line to 3rd closed up with moving bodies, so I swerved, cut to the right, and ran down the third baseline towards home.  I considered sliding into home but there were just too many people for such antics.

    I wasn't looking for a souvenir. I didn't want a base or home plate or anything like that. I'd have loved to get a player's cap but I would never rip one off a guys head. Maybe a handful of Shea grass but I wasn't even thinking about that. I just wanted to be there, be part of it. 

 It was obvious the moment we young Mets fans had longed for, had dreamed about, was ruined. And we had ruined it. There would be no celebrating with the players on the field. We had run them off in fear. That was not the intention of even one fan in that crowd. But together, we became something else.
Running down the third baseline I decided I wanted to be on the mound and I turned and ran for it.

Approaching I saw a good looking girl in shorts trying to get the pitchers rubber from the mound. She was pulling at it from both sides but it wouldn't budge. When she stood up and saw me approaching, she ran at me and jumped. I caught her as she wrapped her legs around my waist and we spun around in a Grote / Kooz type mound hug. She had her arms up and was pumping them up and down. After our brief spin I put her down and we both took off in opposite directions. That was the extent of any real positive celebration that I experienced. And that was awesome! I never saw that girl again.

I took off towards second base, slowing to a trot. A slew of guys were ripping up large square sections of sod right off the infield dirt between first and second. I thought that a bit much. Those were pretty good sized chunks to have to be carrying around. They threw them over their shoulders like they were pelts.

I reached down to where the edge of the outfield grass met the infield dirt behind second, grabbed a fist full of grass, and shoved it into my pocket.

       I continued on to the outfield coming to a stop in dead center. I stood there and looked back at the horseshoe shaped stands of Shea, taking it all in. Confetti was snowing down from the outfield corners. The infield was a big cloud of dirt and dust from the stampede. People were still pouring out of the stands. Everyone was chanting, " We're number one!,We're number one!".

       I wondered around center towards right, where I came upon one of the most bazaar spectacles I had ever seen. There was a group of policemen, a few on horseback, gathered on the outfield warning track. Behind them were large rectangular slivers of outfield wall that had been ripped off. The wooden sections were leaning at an angle on the existing wall right next to the holes created from their departure.There was a large group of fans gathered around in front of the cops intermittently raising their hands. An officer was yelling out numbers. Holy crapoli. The cops were auctioning off these sections of fence. I assumed fans had ripped em down and the cops took them away and were having some fun. People were actually bidding. This was nuts.

I've read since that it was possible a reaction to the game 3 fight was the reason that the Shea crowd got out of control. Or some heavier shit like it was a reflection of the times.

This outpouring was not about Rose or the fight. It had nothing to do with world events. This was not about anything than just fans trying to share a historical moment in Mets history. There was just too many of us.

Was it all our fault? Was security too lax? Were those wooden boxes along the baselines shoddy workmanship? I could easily answer all of the above, but as a fan who attended the game I'll take the hit.

 There would be no Tom Seaver on the mound to clinch the N.L. crown because of us. There would not be any on field celebrations with the players and fans together in joyful harmony because we couldn't act in harmony. There would be no highlight films with us in them because we were out of control. We would not be in WOR-TV 9's 1974 intro clip. Collectively we embarrassed the city of New York.

If I could go back would I have done anything different? Personally, no. And I bet if you ask anyone who was there they would say the same thing. This was such a powerful experience it would make me a lifelong Mets fan. I was a fan already and I wasn't planning not to be, but this cemented it. This was one of the times of my life.

The Difference
In years past there were field celebrations where fans played a part. Bobby Thompson's shot heard around the world, Larsons perfecto, the classic '69 Mets and more. In those instances a small number of fans had the gonads to run onto the field in celebration. I always wanted to be one of them and wondered if I had the balls to try. And make no mistake about it. Doing that took balls.

So I learned two valuable lessons in the fall of 1973.  
One: Was that a large crowd with one innocent thing in mind could become an uncontrollable many headed beast. This saved my life at a Grateful Dead concert in the future. I may have even saved the lives of others during that adventure.
& Two: In the 1970's New Yorkers had a lot of balls.

I also learned how truly wacky baseball could be. On paper the Reds should have bulldozered over New York the way Rose ran over Buddy. In the sometimes warm light of reality the Mets ended up out-scoring Cincinnati 28 runs to 7.

Umpires: HP - Bruce Froemming, 1B - Jerry Dale
2B - Ed Sudol, 3B - Ed Vargo, LF - Chris Pelekoudas, 
RF - Bob Engel
Time of Game: 2:40   Attendance: 50323 
1973 Mets Highlight Film




  1. Wow, what a great post! And I don't say that just because I was an active participant, either.

    I am eternally late to the party, so I - naturally - didn't become a Mets fan until 1974. I don't really remember, but I probably got caught up in the wake of the 1973 postseason.

    I was enjoying the play-by-play recap, but the first-person recollection of being part of the mob was something I'd never heard or read about, and that was just fascinating to read.

    For the record, I would like to state that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Cincinnati Reds. And I apologize for the week-long delay in my comment, but I'm way behind in posting and reading and I wanted to leave your post for a time when I was able to sit down and read it all on one shot... which ended up being on a Saturday morning, so seeing "myself" in the dugout had me staring at the screen going "whuuuuuuuuh?" until I did the proverbial LOL.

  2. Yikes. I thought I read you were a Reds fan, Joe. Sorry about that. Hope I didn't insult you ;)
    Glad you got a chuckle even though I kinda ruined that joke. Just trying to have some fun with this.
    Being funny on-line is a tough gig. *adjusts tie
    I'm relatively new to the blog scene. I had no idea there were so many great blogs dealing with baseball cards real or imagined. It can be tough to keep up with 'em sometimes.

    Hey, now we have something in common. We are both Mets fans who snuck into the Reds dugout during the '73 NLCS!

  3. Love the customs! Especially the "video card" of Staub's catch! How'd you do that? I make lots of animated gifs, but putting in a video is beyond my knowledge/skills. You should drop me an email sometime if you feel like enlightening me!

  4. Thnx defgav. If you can make .gifs yourself making them into cards is easy. I touched on making them in a comment section of a past page here (the direct reply has the pertinent info. The long winded one is just me looking like an idiot):

    I'll try and do a HOW TO MAKE A .GIF CARD post sometime in the future. If you want any more details aside from what's on that comment page feel free to ask. Like having the ball travel on top of the border had to be done manually, frame by frame. I use Paint Shop Pro 7 & Animation Shop (an old bundled program- don't use Animation Shop much but I use PsP-7 for 90% of my graphic work) and working back and forth between them is fast and easy (considering I add the card border manually to every frame).

    I thanked you for your last comment in another post but looking now I see my response is not there. I wonder if I posted that in the wrong comment section- pretty sure I saw that it went through and all. In any case thank you for the comment on the Reggie cards.