(Note – An earlier version failed to not the John “The Hammer” Milner passed away at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer in 2000. He hit .296 in the 1973 World Series against Oakland – MH)
One could make the argument that the 1973 New York Mets season was even more improbable than the 1969 Impossible Dream.
A popgun offense barely managed to support an excellent pitching staff. A manager — while much beloved — was being undermined by a few of his aging veterans, including the great Willie Mays in his sayonara season. A front office, either hampered by ownership or clueless in its own right, that seemed unable to acquire a single impact offensive player to complement Rusty Staub.
Yet, they beat the Big Red Machine and took the Fightin’ A’s to the bring before a controversial managerial / front office / player decision to start Tom Seaver in Game 6 up 3-2), instead of George Stone (12-3, 2.80 ERA), saving Seaver just in case a Game 7 was even needed. Seaver, it is rumored, pushed Berra to start him. Or perhap it was Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant, or even Berra himself, who wanted his best to finish the A’s off as soon as possible. Whoever made the call, it was questionable, as Stone had pitched brilliantly against the Reds in the NLCS, limited the Machine to just three hits over 6 2-3 innings of a eventual 2-1 loss in a 12-inning Game 4 .
But, nonetheless, it was an incredible season that fell just short. Punctuated by the iconic “Ya Gotta Believe!” chants of the late Tug McGraw, it is a season amd postseason held , especially by those who lived through it, as a very special memory.
In this, the 40th anniversary oif that special team, I’m hoping that someone in the Mets’ promotions and/or PR hierachy deems it proper to salute this team at some point next summer. Maybe invite some of those old A’s and Reds, have a special presentation with Pete Rose and Buddy Harrelson, have Yogi with us one more time in his orange and blue. Willie Mays, Rusty Staub, Felix Millan and the whole crew that can make it. Make nice with Ken Boswell. Bring back Matlack.
If I can’t get Oldtimer’s Day back for good, this is a great compromise. Now as you may already know, some Mets fans are upset with me, but I still hope my pals Darren from The7Line.com and Shannon from the MetsPolice.com will still help me get the word out to get this done.
June 27th is my 45th birthday, a number that has special significance for the 1973 Mets. It’s be a great birthday present. It might even get me out to Citi Field.