"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

What in the World Were You Thinking?

Here’s Peter Gammons writing about Game Six of the 1986 World Series in the ’87 SI Baseball Preview:

“Last year should be remembered not for one inning or one game,” said veteran relief pitcher Joe Sambito, “but what for most of us was the best of times.”

The worst of times, of course, came in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series, when the Boston Red Sox turned a 5-3, two-out, bases-empty lead into a 6-5 loss to the New York Mets. In order, Gary Carter singled, Kevin Mitchell singled, Ray Knight singled to score Carter and send Mitchell to third, Mitchell scored on a wild pitch as Knight went to second, and Knight scored the winning run when Mookie Wilson’s grounder went through Buckner’s legs. Though it has been used many times before, the first paragraph of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities truly does describe Game 6: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way….”

Game 6 has now taken its place with the other great World Series contests: Game 8 in 1912, Game 4 in 1947, Game 7 in 1960 and Game 6 in 1975. But in a way it stands alone as the greatest “bad” game in Series history. The Mets, who in 1986 won more games (116) than all but two teams ever, were facing the Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series since Babe Ruth pitched for them. For much of the Series, the two teams bumbled around like a couple of September cellar dwellers. And managers McNamara and Davey Johnson, otherwise sound strategists, often seemed to be off in other worlds.

I was in 10th grade when the Mets beat the Red Sox and was pulling for Boston all the way (I knew more Mets fans at school and even though the Red Sox beat my second favorite team, Reggie’s Angels, in the playoffs, I was an American League man first and foremost). I wasn’t crushed, of course, when the ball went through Buckner’s legs but I was furious thinking of all the mess the Mets fans would be talking at school the next day.


1 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 28, 2011 11:39 am

If Peter Gammons 2011 wrote that article, the Red Sox would have won game six. It really is amazing and kind of sad to see what he once was compared to what he is now.

2 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 28, 2011 11:49 am

And yes, I wasn't yet born for the 86 World Series. Takes that old people

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Mar 28, 2011 11:56 am

I read this a few years ago, the thing that always struck me about it was how EVERYONE involved with the Sox felt the need to put in an opinion on what happened. Even Marty Barrett's wife put her two cents in, how the hell is a team expected to move on from that??

4 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 28, 2011 12:04 pm

You missed the best game ever, youngin' >;)

5 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 28, 2011 12:06 pm

That whole '86 playoffs was classic .... Mike Scott vs. the Mets ... Donnie Moore .... Buckner ....

6 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 28, 2011 12:19 pm

Ah, Donnie Moore...

7 thelarmis   ~  Mar 28, 2011 12:45 pm

i was rooting for the Muts, hardcore. not only did i *HATE* the s**t sox, but Mookie was my favorite player. my godfather/uncle was no longer the Muts VP, but i still had close ties to the team and it was New York, after all.

i remember exactly where i was in the house watching when Mookie "smashed" that ball! ; )

kinda like the Cubs in '03, folks forget there was a Game 7 to lose...

yeah, Donnie Moore...

8 YankeeAbby   ~  Mar 28, 2011 1:17 pm

[2]...yeeeeaaah, um, I graduated from high school that year! Now pipe down over there, grandma is trying to take a nap!

9 Raf   ~  Mar 28, 2011 2:46 pm

I don't know how Bob Knepper got anyone out given his stuff.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 28, 2011 4:45 pm

It's funny. At the time, I was also rooting for Boston for the same reason:
many of my friends on the block were Mets fans. In retropsect, however, I am very glad the Mets won. In a weird way, I almost enjoy Game 6 of the 1986 World Series as much as some Yankees' victories.

[1] At one time, Gammons really was at the top of his profession. Reading his columns was a must if you were a baseball fan. What's more, he was also very progressive, and used his column to promote others who were breaking new ground. Toward the end of his time at ESPN, he became stale, but at least he had the good sense to move on to NESN and end his career basically covering the team he loved.


11 hiscross   ~  Mar 28, 2011 6:41 pm

I was stationed in Guam (Air Force) and had a guy working with me that was Red Sox fan. I remember seeing the Red Six take the lead, but I could see the finish because a friend of mine needed some help. I stopped by shop an hour later and saw the Red Six fan outside. I didn't know how the game turned out so I said to the kid, "You guys finally won one". His chin seem to be dragging on the ground when he walked up to me and said, almost crying, No we lost!. I was happy for the Mets. but a bit sad for that kid. I bet he was elated in 04 and i can't blame him.

12 Professor Longnose   ~  Mar 29, 2011 8:41 am

I'm a Yankee fan and Met hater, so I was rooting for the Red Sox. A crushing loss.

A funny note from '86. I was in the hospital when the Mets and Astros played their 16-inning playoff game. I had just come out of surgery (nothing major) and was recuperating with the TV on. I was floating in and out of consciousness, not being able to concentrate well on the game. I remember thinking, "Boy, I must really be doped up. This game feels like it's taking forever!"

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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