June 18, 2007

The Midnight Massacre: 30 years ago this week, Tom Seaver and the Mets went through an Amazin' Divorce.

posted by yerfatma to baseball at 01:18 PM - 5 comments

One of the funniest things I read was at the end when they were talking about where all the players in this story are now. Pat Zachry said: "One of my fondest memories of New York was when I tried to use Getty Gas certificates I'd gotten for being on 'Kiner's Korner' at a Getty station on Roosevelt Ave. near Shea," he says. "The attendant had no idea what they were and he came after me with a ballpeen hammer." I used to love "Kiner's Korner." Tom Seaver, even though whenever I saw him (after games or heading to or from the press box when he did broadcast work) seemed to be an egotistical, self-centered jerk, WAS baseball in New York during the late sixties and into the seventies. The way I think about Johnny Unitas when I think about a classic football quarterback, I think of Seaver as the classic baseball pitcher. It definitely added a few more good years for Seaver, but he should have always been a Met. Kingman was always a different sort of guy, but losing him was also tough. The guy could hit some absolutely monstrous homers with just a flick of his long arms. Good story.

posted by dyams at 01:59 PM on June 18, 2007

I remember being disappointed in 1986 that Seaver didn't pitch in the Series against the Mets. Which, in retrospect, makes me sound like a ten year-old Fox producer.

posted by yerfatma at 02:12 PM on June 18, 2007

As for the Mets, the "Midnight Massacre" plunged them into their darkest era. They would finish last in 1977 and would lose 95 or more games in each of the next three seasons under Torre, who would be fired after a 41-62 record in the strike-shortened '81 season. Wonder what Joe learned in twenty years to make him a hall of fame manager?

posted by GOD at 06:17 PM on June 18, 2007

Other than "manage great players"? To be fair, Torre was still wrapping up his playing days when the Mets tabbed him as skipper. It must be close to impossible to divorce yourselves from your friends over the course of a season in a manner that would allow you to successfully manage a team day-to-day.

posted by yerfatma at 06:29 PM on June 18, 2007

One of the greatest baseball games I ever saw in my life was Seaver's one hitter in late summer 1969 against the Cubs. I was for the Cubs all the way, and could not believe what was happening to them as the Mets started showing that freaky 1969 air of inevitablility. I can't remember if Seaver's game put the Mets within a half game of the Cubs or a half game ahead, but it was clear that the Mets were coming on and the Cubs could do nothing about it. I don't remember ever seeing such a prolonged display of palpable momentum in my years of watching baseball. It went on for days, weeks. I watched Seaver's game on a tiny black and white TV on Channel 9 from NY, and the air of excitement I experienced through that broadcast was indescribable. He was killing my Cubs and I was riveted to the spectacle of it all. The sound of the crowd in that game was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I was in my mid teens. Seaver carried a no hitter into the ninth. With 1 out, a rookie named Jimmy Qualls singled to break it up. The Mets closed out the game and the Cubs. I'd rather watch film of that game than any number of no-hitters. When it was over, I didn't know whether I was supposed to try to go to sleep or not. I didn't know what to do. What do you do when you just witnessed something like that? If I had been a little older, I would have had a fairly good answer to that question.

posted by beaverboard at 07:01 PM on June 18, 2007

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