It’s a time to reminisce for Mets fans, who 25 years ago were celebrating the 1986 World Series Championship with a ticker tape parade. Six years later, I was born. I’ve never celebrated a Mets World Series, and in 19 years I’ve seen some pretty horrifying things from my team. But I’ll save those for another post. Today, I’m going to reminisce about the Mets in my own way: by counting down the top 10 Mets moments I have witnessed from a stadium seat.
10. The Everett head-butt
In July of 2000, a few friends and I went with our dads to see the Mets play the Sox at Fenway. I was eight years old, and I was thrilled to see my Mets play at Fenway Park. As a bonus, I got to see Carl Everett — by this time a Red Sock, not a Met — head butt home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, after Kulpa ejected Everett for having his back foot too close to the plate. I remember watching from the third base line as Everett slammed his helmet down, chest bumped Kulpa and initiated the infamous butt.
9. Six-run comeback in ’97
Strangely, Carl Everett was involved in this one, too. The date was September 13, 1997 (I was five), and the Mets were trailing 6-0 and being one-hit going into the bottom of the 9th. After they pushed two runs across and loaded the bases, Everett hit a grand slam to tie it. In the bottom of the 11th, the legendary Bernard Gilkey won it with a three-run shot.
8. Mike Piazza‘s last game as a Met
This wasn’t exactly a good Mets moment, since Piazza was my favorite player for a long time (and I may or may not have dressed up as him on Halloween for three straight years). But it was an unbelievable game to be at, and I’ll never forget the eight-minute ovation the fans gave him after he was pulled from the game in the 8th — the Mets and Rockies players standing in appreciation as Piazza blew kisses to the crowd. It marked the end of an era for the Mets and for me as a fan, which is similar to how I will feel if Jose Reyes departs…although I loved Piazza more.
7. 2006 NLCS, Game 6
What I remember most about this game is the buzz inside Shea Stadium before it began. The Mets were facing elimination, and John Maine was facing Chris Carpenter, and yet it still felt like we were going to witness something amazing in those next two days. When Jose Reyes hit a leadoff home run, the stadium erupted. Maine allowed no runs in 5.1 innings in the biggest start of his career to that point. Billy Wagner made things interesting in the 9th, of course, but the Mets won 4-2 to force game seven.
6. Two outs at the plate, 2006 NLDS Game 1
It was only the second inning of the 2006 playoffs, and already it looked like the Dodgers were going to jump ahead. Instead, they committed one of the strangest base-running blunders I’ve ever seen. Jeff Kent was on second, J.D. Drew on first, and Drew got a much better read than Kent on a Russell Martin base-hit to right. Both of them rounded third and tried to score, and Jose Valentin took the cutoff and one-hopped it to Paul Lo Duca. Lo Duca tagged out Kent, showed the ball to the umpire, and then, with the help of David Wright (and me) jumping and screaming frantically, he noticed Drew and tagged him out as well. That’s a 9-4-2 double play on your scorecard.
5. The Johan Complete Game, 2008
I was sitting — standing, actually — along the first base line for this one, which gave me a perfect view of Johan Santana for one of the guttiest performances imaginable. It was Game 161 of the regular season, and the Mets needed to beat the Marlins to stay alive. Johan had thrown a 125-pitch shutout three days earlier, and on this day the Mets grabbed a lead in the first and Santana held onto it with all his might. By the 8th inning, the whole crowd was chanting “Jo-han, Jo-han.” My heart stopped with two outs in the 9th when Cody Ross cracked one to deep center that could have tied the game — but there was Endy Chavez, at the warning track, to seal the 2-0 victory and keep the season alive. (My friends and I also got interviewed by SNY after this game about the closing of Shea. My voice was raspy from screaming, but I told them — not so eloquently — that many of my fondest memories had been made in that stadium.)
4. Mora comes home
The Mets entered the final day of the 1999 season tied with the Reds in the Wild Card race, trying to sweep the Pirates to guarantee at least a one-game playoff. They had been two games out in the Wild Card when the series began, and it was incredible that they were even in this spot. In the bottom of the 9th, with the game tied 1-1, Mike Piazza came to the plate with Melvin Mora on third. I remember being absolutely certain that Piazza would win it. And yet the storybook, Piazza walk-off ending was not in the cards. Instead, Brad Clontz (ex-Met extraordinaire) delivered a wild pitch. Even Piazza seemed shocked, but Mora scooted across home plate where his teammates mobbed him. The Reds won later that day to force a one-game playoff, but there was no stopping the Amazin’s at that point.
I am one of the only Mets fans who did not actually see Endy Chavez make his unbelievable catch in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. I was sitting in the upper deck in left field, where the only part of the field I couldn’t see was the exact area in left field where Endy worked his magic. Nonetheless, the roar after he caught that ball was the loudest I have ever heard at a Met game. The replay was then shown three times on the scoreboard, which may well have caused the second, third and fourth loudest cheers I’ve heard. I still contend that that is the best catch I have ever seen, even when the situation is not considered.
2. Robin Ventura’s “Grand-Slam Single”
Okay, so I wasn’t actually there when this happened. I was seven, and I went with my dad and my friend and his dad. We all took my dad’s car, and my much-less-interested-in-the-Mets-than-me friend decided in the 11th inning that he was, well, tired. I could go on about how horrible this is, but it was 12 years ago — I think I’m starting to get over it. Anyway, long story short, I heard Ventura’s walk-off on the radio, just as we pulled into my friend’s driveway. Legend says that Ventura got mobbed by his teammates after he rounded first.
1. The Agbayani Walk-Off
I didn’t actually see this one, either. (So yes, my top three Mets moments are ones I didn’t actually see. Deal with it.) But unlike the Ventura moment, I was in the stadium at the end of Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS. I was sitting in the mezzanine along the left field line, and for some reason Benny Agbayani’s ball disappeared from my view before it reached the seats. I only knew it was gone when I saw Barry Bonds put his head down and turn around. Agbayani had won it in the 13th, giving the Mets a 2-1 series lead and ending a nearly five-and-a-half hour game. I will never forget the complete euphoria in the stands after so many hours of tension. That is my all-time favorite Mets memory, and Benny’s home run ball has still not landed in my mind.
Topics: 1999 Mets, 2000 Mets, 2006 Mets, Benny Agbayani Walk Off, Best Mets Moments, Endy Chavez Catch, Johan Santana, Lo Duca Two Outs At Home, Melvin Mora, Mets, Mike Piazza, New York, New York Mets, Rising Apple, Robin Ventura Grand Slam Single, Top 10 Mets Moments