1973: Wayne Garrett pops out to Bert Campaneris, Mets lose World Series to Oakland A’s
In 1973, the Mets mustered much of the same “Miracle Mets” energy they had in 1969, vaulting from last place into first in the season’s final month and nearly bringing it all the way home for their second World Championship in five years. After beating the Cincinnati Reds in five games to secure the second NL pennant in franchise history, the Mets embarked on a back-and-forth seven-game series with the A’s to determine that year’s victor.
In that final, winner-take-all game at Oakland Coliseum, the Mets found themselves in an early 4-0 hole after sending the former Rookie of the Year, Jon Matlack, to the mound. Matlack didn’t make it out of the third inning after allowing two two-run homers to Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson (who became the World Series MVP) in a single frame. From there, the Mets attempted to claw their way back.
By the time the ninth rolled around, the Mets were down 5-1, scoring their only run on an RBI double from Rusty Staub in the sixth. They had been mostly unable to solve A’s hurler Ken Holtzman, who had a 2.97 ERA in the regular season and made his second consecutive All-Star team. But facing future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, the Amazins unexpectedly primed themselves for a comeback.
After a walk and a single, Ed Kranepool pinch-hit and kept the Mets’ hopes alive with two outs, reaching on an error by A’s first baseman Gene Tenace (more on costly errors by opposing first basemen later). John Milner scored, and the Mets brought the tying run to the plate in Wayne Garrett as the A’s replaced Fingers with reliever Darold Knowles. Garrett subsequently popped out to the shortstop Campaneris, and the series was over.
As the A’s celebrated their World Series championship in their home stadium, the Mets went home empty-handed. It was 13 years before they made their next Fall Classic appearance, which ended on a much more triumphant note.