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New York Mets History

Mets History: Keith Hernandez hits for the cycle in 19-inning game

1989: Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets looks on during batting practice before a game in the 1989 season. ( Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
1989: Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets looks on during batting practice before a game in the 1989 season. ( Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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In the game where Keith Hernandez hit for the lone cycle of his career, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves played one of the matchups in baseball history.

The Fourth of July is about celebrating America’s independence from England. On July 4, 1985, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves played in one of baseball’s wildest games on the American holiday. A 19-inning affair which lasted into the wee hours of the following morning ended with a final score of 16-13 in favor of visiting Mets.

Before the fireworks went off in the sky, first baseman Keith Hernandez made some of his own. He knocked a double in the first inning, a triple in the fourth, and a home run in the eighth. Finally, in inning number twelve, Hernandez singled to complete the feat. These hits to complete the cycle were 4 of 28 Mets players had in what some call “The Rick Camp Game.”

Who is Rick Camp?

He’s the man who, with two outs in the 18th inning, hit a home run off of Mets pitcher Tom Gorman to tie things up yet again. It’s a notable achievement because in his other 196 plate appearances as a major league pitcher, Camp never hit any other ball as far. In what became his final season, he went yard for the first time as a major league player.

Camp did later take the loss in this one after the Mets managed to score five runs in the top half of the 19th. The Braves mustered to squeeze out another pair before Ron Darling finally shut the door.

Usually, when a player hits for the cycle, it’s the headline in the story. Not on this day. In a game that didn’t start until shortly after 9:00 pm, the tale was about which fighter could outlast the other.

It was a game of mostly singles for the Mets. Aside from Hernandez’s extra-base hits, Ray Knight added a double and Howard Johnson hit the only other home run. It was a night for knocking singles and drawing walks. Mets pitchers issued 12 of them and their batters managed to draw 10 for the game.

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In Mets history, there weren’t too many games as whacky as this one. Overlooked because of the 6+ hours it took to complete, Hernandez’s cycle was still an important part of this extraordinary holiday event.

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