9/21/14

Thomas Brennan - THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES – VOLUME 7

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 THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES – VOLUME 7

WHEN 457 FEET ARE NOT JUST ENOUGH – by Tom Brennan

Stargell?  Well, I'll get to that in a minute.
A few days ago, I reminisced about the stunning Swoboda tape measure shot out of cavernous Forbes Field at a pivotal point in the Mets September 1969 pennant surge.  I also recently wrote about the ball Agee launched into the upper deck earlier that same year, which almost reached the moon before our astronauts did.

Well, the Mets had an opponent who liked to hit tape measure shots - and hit balls over roofs.  One Willie Stargell.  Willie hit SO MANY more homers against the Mets!  And he hit more homers over the right field roof in Forbes Field than anyone else - combined.  In other words, he was pretty good.

In 1969, the very next day after the titanic blast by Swoboda secured the win, this surreal talent came face to face with one Tug McGraw.  In the second game.  The Mets behind Jerry Koosman had shut out the Bucs in game 1, 1-0.  Shut out the hard-hitting Bucs in their own park.  In the 2nd game, in the 9th, they led also – and also by 1-0 after 8 shutout innings by Don Cardwell.  Impossible.  Miraculous.

Tug happened to rally a moribund Met team that was 10 below .500 in late August 1973 and in last place with his rallying cry of "Ya Gotta Believe." But this was 1969, the first Met year of true miracles.   

The scroogie-tossing McGraw, our saves guy that season, came in to try to secure the save – and with it, help to secure the Mets’ pennant chase lead. 

Little problem – Matty Alou got on via the bunt (was anyone ever better at bunting than Mateo?) and Stargell had to be disposed of.  Like disposing of dynamite.  Proceed with care.

Agee was DEEP in center, and for good reason.  This is the same Stargell guy who I recall reading an anecdote about decades ago where Cleon Jones said that Willie had hit a ball so far into the night, it cleared a tree a hundred feet behind the fence and disappeared into the night.  No human does that. 

Despite McGraw’s best efforts, Stargell promptly launched one to center.  Deep.  Very Deep.  Did I mention DEEP??  It was 458 feet deep in that section.  Where Agee was playing probably would have had him standing behind the center field fence if it were in Shea, so when it was hit, he had time to get there and stand and wait for it - with his back to the wall - and reel it in! 
WHAT…DID…I…JUST…SEE???  Not that picture, but something like it!  Ya Gotta Believe (even if it was still only 1969!)

One out to go.  Deep breath. One more out promptly gotten by the Tugger, and the Mets had swept the mighty Bucs with two 1-0 thrillers – thanks in great part to a 457 foot drive that was caught.
Part of an utterly miraculous Mets week - this game AND the Swoboda slam in the same series and the 2 HR Swoboda game vs. Carlton just a few days later.
What a great memory for a Mets fan.

2 comments:

Mack Ade said...

Any game with Willie in it was one of my favorite games.

Thomas Brennan said...

Stargell was one of the true greats. Younger folks missed quite a treat. In a normal sized park, and not Forbes for the years he played there, he would have put up monster homer #s. A truly feared hitter.

Mack's Mets © 2012