Friday, December 12, 2014

1974 mfc/ '73 WORLD SERIES- A's vs. METS /Game 5

Game 5 of the 1973 World Series was played on Thursday, October 18th. 54,817 packed Shea Stadium for another cold and windswept night game in New York City. Southpaws Jerry Koosman and Vida Blue would face off again as they did in game 2 in Oakland. Neither were particularly effective in game 2, but did keep their teams in that extra inning affair.

Once again Charlie O was trying to grab the spotlight, and this was getting on my nerves now. The A's were defending World Champs, and manager Dick Williams planning to jump off that ship was big news. But when I opened the newspaper I wanted to read about my Mets, not the A's looneytune owner Charlie Finley.
Yet he was getting ink left and right. These articles pictured appeared in newspapers the day of the game. I had had enough of Charlie O, as had his manager and all his players. Between the big mouths of both Finley and Reggie Jackson I was sick of the Athletics and couldn't wait for the Mets to do away with them.  But I knew even the best case scenario after game five, win or lose, we were heading to the west coast for more baseball.

I was very aware that this was going to be the last Mets game at Shea Stadium in 1973.

______________GAME TIME____________________

 The Athletics could not touch Koosman over the first two innings. Vida Blue had an impressive first, but New York got to him in the second.

 Unfortunately, Cleon Jones was feeling under the cold weather with a touch of flue. He was removed for a pinch hitter late in game 4 and was still feeling ill before game 5. Fortunately, Jones hitting was hotter than his fever, and he led off the second with a line double over Joe Rudi's head in left.
Mets slugger John Milner followed up with a single through the hole at second that just got by a diving Gene Tenace.

Cleon Jones came around from second and scored the first run of the game. The Mets were up 1-0 after two.

You may have noticed how I enjoy finding pictures that are closely related to the original Topps cards. I dunno why, but I just get a kick out of that.

 1974 Topps WS gm5 card


Here are some other doppelgangers:


<Looks like the same instant^.

<Seconds apart.>
 Topps got the game wrong. Mets wore road unis for game two.


Meanwhile, back at the game......

Aside from a walk to Sal Bando in the 1st, Koosman was cruising. With two out in the 3rd, hot headed Latino leadoff speedster & current Mets nemesis (too much?) Bert Campaneris singled to center. 

And so began a most enjoyable game of cat & mouse. With two out and Joe Rudi up New York was convinced that Campy would steal second as soon as possible. Anyone who does not enjoy this kind of cat and mouse game with a runner, who thinks something like this is a waste of time, you shouldn't be watching baseball.

Koosman didn't waste any time, he threw over right away.

 Jerry Grote would try next. Jerry snapped off a courtesy call to Milner at first and Campy scampered back in time.

The Mets were intent on keeping Campaneris close.

Then Rusty Staub got into the act. On a ball that got away from Grote, Campaneris broke for second. But Jerry was his usual catlike self and got to the ball so fast that the A's speedster stopped and started back to first.

Rusty tried to sneak in behind him, running all the way in from right field, but Campy got back in time.

Look at the throw by Grote. If Staub didn't corral that toss the ball goes all the way down the line and gets bounced around in the right field corner. I think the fleet footed Oakland shortstop would have scored from first and tied the game at 1-1, believe it or not.

Jerry Koosman stuck to his guns. Everything he did from the moment he walked Campaneris involved trying to erase him. He would not give up or give in and finally, to the amazing glee of all Mets fans viewing, Koosman got him!

Kooz fired over there again and caught Campaneris leaning. The A's shortstop was hung out to dry! A high throw made it close, but John Milner got his glove down extremely fast and tagged Campy in a cloud of dirt. Shea went bonkers!

Opening the 6th inning Cleon Jones and John Milner were quick outs. Cleon, who already had 2 hits (one a double over Joe Rudi's head), was robbed of an extra base hit by, who else?
Joe Rudi.

                                                 Rudi again! Dagnabbitt!

                                                  Up to this point Vida Blue was erratic yet adequate. The Mets were hitting him hard with little to show for it. New York threatened in every inning, and Blue had thrown a lot of pitches. He still had his team in the game at 1-0 and here in the 6th he had two out and two strikes on Met centerfielder Don Hahn.

Jerry Grote, leading off first base, had singled through the hole into left. Blue looked like he would make quick work of Hahn but he left one out over the plate and Hahn ripped it into left center.

The ball went all the way to the wall and by the time Reggie Jackson retrieved it Hahn was speeding past second base and Grote was rounding third. The Mets catcher looked like he was running with a piano on his back as he chugged home with New York's 2nd run. Hahn pulled up at third with the only triple that he would hit in 1973.

After the game Hahn had this to say:  

"He blew the first two pitches by me so I choked up on the bat. Only a Met could try to stop from striking out by cutting down on his swing, and hit a triple."

 That was it for Vida Blue. Hahn's triple knocked him out of the game. A's manager Dick Williams gave the ball to Daryl Knowles for the fifth time in five games. Williams used Knowles carefully. All he wanted from him in game 5 was one out. Knowles took the mound with Hahn on third, intentionally walked Buddy Harrelson and went after Jerry Koosman, striking him out to end the inning. New York was up 2-0, and now I felt I could breath a little easier.

Jerry Koosman started the top of the 7th inning by walking Gene Tenace. He got Jesus Alou to pop out foul to Grote and then Ray Fosse slapped a double down the left field line. Kooz still had some left in the tank but with the tying runs in scoring position Mets manager Yogi Berra decided it was Tugger Time™.

Tug McGraw couldn't even wait for the Mets baseball-capped bullpen cart to stop before he jumped out and headed for the mound. Never in my life had I seen a relief pitcher so pumped up on his way into a game (well, maybe Tug himself a few times). And to look at Tugger, never did a relief pitcher want the ball more.
 The electric atmosphere of Shea was suddenly zapped up a few volts. I'm surprised the air wasn't crackling.

The A's with only one out, Gene Tenace on third, Ray Fosse on second, and Deron Johnson at the plate (batting for 2nd baseman Dick Green). Tug would say later that he wasn't yet completely warmed up and loose when he faced Johnson. He drove the count to 3-2 and then walked him.

Tug:"Those six pitches to Johnson got me ready. I didn't feel like I was going to mess up."

With the bases full of yellow-backed Athletics, McGraw got pinch hitter Angel Manguel to pop out to Bud Harrelson at short for the 2nd out. Now the Mets ace reliever had to get that current thorn in their side, Bert Campaneris. You would not have thought it possible, but Tug ramped up the voltage even more. He challenged Campy and blew him away, the last strike the Oakland shortstop could only look at.
Tug:"I wasn't surprised he took it. It was the kind of pitch that was tough to swing at and tough not to swing at."
 Relief legend Rollie Fingers came in to pitch the 7th for the A's. Aside from a base on balls to Rusty Staub he had no problem in the 7th.

With two out in the 8th McGraw pitched extra carefully to Reggie Jackson and Gene Tenace, walking them both. He just wasn't going to give them any good pitches to hit. Next up, Jesus Alou, got a good pitch to hit and ripped it, but the wicked line drive was right to Wayne Garrett at third, who gloved it where he stood to end the inning.

Tug:"I really don't think they thought I would be throwing my fastball because I've pitched so much in this series. But I had a good one and I threw it a lot. And I think they were expecting to see a lot of my screwball, but I didn't throw more than a half dozen."

For me this outing was the very peak of McGraws tenure with the Mets. In this crazy '73 season, his "You gotta believe!" mantra started something that took us from a banged up basement team to one win away from the World Championship.

Tug:" I like my job. I enjoy the idea of someone relying on me. Everybody likes to feel important. To be able to do the job well and get out of those tough situations is very gratifying- especially in January when you go in to talk contract."

Tug threw 2.2 inning's in game 5. The A's reliever Daryl Knowles had pitched in all 5 games for a total of 5.2 innings at the conclusion of this contest. McGraw saw no action in game four, but he had logged 12.2 World Series innings up to this point, including the crucial 6 inning stint in game 2. Only one pitcher in the series had more innings under his belt, Jon Matlack with 14.

Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw held the Oakland A's to three hits in game five of the '73 World Series.

 Koosman scattered the three hits, Tugger gave up none.

At this point, with the Mets only needing one win to be the World Champs, there was MVP chatter and Tugger was the front running candidate. To me it would have been a perfect cap to the season for McGraw to earn MVP honors for the 1973 World Series. I was hoping that it was in the cards, so to speak. It would have made it an amazing storybook tale.

One person who was not part of the MVP discussion was Reggie Jackson. Bert Campaneris was, should Oakland make a come back. But Reggie was no Mr. October at this point. Reggie wasn't Mr. October until 1977. And it's a fact that it was Thurman Munson who gave him that nickname in 1977 during an interview before a series game.

Munson and Jackson had a strained relationship due to Reggie expanding hot air at the Yankee catchers expense.  You might not know that Jax (his nickname up until '77) was the first straw to stir a drink in New York, quite a few years before Darryl Strawberry came along. In a SPORT magazine article (May 1977) the slugging outfielder allegedly boasted: "This team, it all flows from me. I'm the straw that stirs the drink. ".

Great card? Or greatest card ever?
That comment got Reggie in hot water with his manager and some teammates, because he had to add,"Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad."

Two months later Jackson was quoted as saying, "I'm still the straw that stirs the drink. Not Munson, not nobody else on this club."

 So when a reporter approached Munson before one of the series games and asked for an interview, Thurman responded snidely, " Why don't you go and ask Mr. October." 

And that was it.  It stuck immediately. Mr.October was born.

This card goes out to Mark Shachtman, in memory of his brother Dave, two childhood friends of mine who attended this game together in 1977.
As far as I was concerned, after the 3 HRs in one game, on 3 pitches, off three different pitchers in a World Series game (since Jackson had hit a home run off Dodger pitcher Don Sutton in his last at bat in Game Five, he had hit four home runs on four consecutive swings of the bat off four different Dodgers pitchers), I bowed before Jackson and doffed my cap in his general direction. After that you could say anything you wanted Mr. Jackson. You officially became Mr. October.

But here in 1973 Reggie was not yet grown into his britches. He talked the talk but he wasn't walking the walk.

Jackson was having a horrible series. He had only five hits in 21 at bats and aside from the four hits he had in Sunday's game, he'd only gotten three balls out of the infield. He had left 17 on base, 10 of whom were in scoring position.

In this game he struck out in the 1st and hit into a double play in the 4th, popped out to short and walked.

In 1973 I thought Reggie was a big bag of hot air with power. Darold Knowles was once when asked if Jackson was a hotdog, and he famously replied, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson."

 The Mets had taken two of three from the defending World Champions in front of a home crowd at Shea. All they needed was one more win out on the west coast, with two opportunities to get it. We had a totally rested George Stone. We had Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw if it went seven. Things were looking real good at the end of game five.
Game box score and scorecard at the Ultimate Mets Database

When it was over the Mets were confident but not cocky, and the A's were subdued but not beaten. 
The Shea scoreboard was flashing a message:

That scoreboard would not look down on a World Series game again for another thirteen years.


>Reggie  Jackson's "Nicknames of the 70's card":  WHEN TOPPS HAD (base) BALLS-  check out the awesome nickname series, Then & Now cards, '72 IA cards and more
>ClassicMLB11/MLB FILMS used for all .gifcards
>New York Mets yearbooks 1973,1974(thank you Wayne)
>The Ultimate Mets Database
mfc Colorizations: 
>Cleon Comes Home card image.
>Grote/Koosman '69 hug on Kooz mfc card. 
>Reggie Jackson 77bfcWSgm6 card image.
>Johnny Bench's walkoff '73 NLCS (below)

>All .gifs & .gifcards
>Game 5 Koosman header (fleer WScard)
>Koosman Is Superb card image
>Shea Scoreboard flashing msg card
>Johnny Bench's walkoff '73 NLCS (below)
>Koosman- King Of The Post Season Hill (below) was created in PsP7 & CoralDraw6

All original material ©2014/Warren Fottrell

Some game footage courtesy of MLB11@youtube


Bonus pics. 
Only available to those who scroll all the way down here.

Jerry Koosman- King of the Mets Post Season Hill -z14
makes for a nice wallpaper


These three black & white photos were used to create the color shot of Bench's '73 NLCS  game one walkoff.

This card has been added to the mfc '73 NLCS game 1 page.


Up next, game 6 of the 1973 World Series. 


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