Among the quirky things that seem to happen during Subway series games is Roger Cedeno stealing home. Behind the pitching of Al Leiter, the Mets have a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.
After two outs, Cedeno triples to centerfield off of Lilly. Mets third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo comes to the plate. Cedeno has never previously even tried stealing home and has no intention to try today.
But the Mets dugout is along the third base side and manager Bobby Valentine starts yelling “Go, go, go!”. Valentine notices that Lilly is taking his time with a full windup delivery instead of pitching from the stretch.
The other Mets players think he just wants Cedeno to decoy and distract Lilly into balking.
“He likes that play. Break hard, make the pitcher think he’s stealing home plate, and maybe make the wrong move and get the balk. I saw him take off. It surprised me.”Edgardo Alfonzo
“I can recognize his voice. He just kept shouting, ‘Go, go, go!’ I looked into the dugout and made a face like, ‘Are you sure?’ You don’t want to be wrong about a thing like that.”Roger Cedeno
Cedeno dashes for home as soon as Lilly begins his delivery. Yankees catcher Alberto Castillo briefly fumbles the ball. But he has it way before Cedeno arrives. But Castillo is off balance and his tag is high, allowing Cedeno’s feet to slide under his glove.
It’s the Mets first steal of home since catcher Todd Hundley did it on the back end of a double steal on June 16, 1997. That was also against the Yankees. It was the Mets’ first straight steal of home since Tommie Agee did it against the Cubs on July 31, 1971.
“You don’t see it much because very few pitchers wind up anymore with a runner at third, which used to be commonplace. I just yelled ‘go’ because I wanted him to come down the line. His options are to keep coming or stop if the pitcher speeds up. Fortunately, he was able to make it.”Bobby Valentine
“That was my fault. I was asleep at the switch. I should have told him to pitch from the stretch. The pitcher doesn’t have to think of things. We’re the observers in the dugout.”Joe Torre
The Mets went on to win the game 11-2.
Watch as Tom Seaver throws a perfect strike to Mike Piazza for the ceremonial first pitch in Citi Field’s first Opening Day. On Monday night, April 13, 2009, the New York Mets held Citi Field’s inaugural opening day. In the new stadium’s first regular game, the Mets faced off against the Padres in front of a crowd of 41,007.
Mike Pelfrey, known as “Big Pelf”, started for the Mets while Walter Silva took the mound for the Padres. San Diego led 5-2 before David Wright tied the game with the first Mets home run in Citi Field history in the bottom of the fifth.
However, Luis Rodriguez starts the top of the 6th by reaching on a three-base error by Mets right fielder Ryan Church. Then with two outs and David Eckstein at-bat, Pedro Feliciano commits a balk allowing Rodriguez to score what would become the winning run. The Mets lose 6-5.
Related: Citi Field FAQ
On September 22, 1988 the New York Mets clinch their second division title in three years. Ron Darling tosses a complete game 6-hitter in the 3-1 win over the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The Mets finish the regular season with a 100-60 record, the second-best in franchise history.
Watch Gary Carter punch Keith Hernandez (accidentally) in the face! It’s at the beginning of the on-the-field celebration of winning the NL East. Mets Pitcher Ron Darling gets a strikeout for the last out. Hernandez and Carter both rush to the mound at the same time, with Keith coming in behind Darling. As Carter embraces Darling, his glove smacks Hernandez right in the face, almost knocking his cap off!
It was back on July 24, 1988, that the Mets honored Tom Seaver during a pregame ceremony at Shea Stadium. “Tom Seaver Day” was devoted to celebrating “The Franchise” and retiring number 41.
Seaver became the first Mets player to have his number retired by the club. The team’s all-time top pitcher, “Tom Terrific” still holds just about every club record for a starting pitcher.
Related: Who has the lowest ERA for the Mets?
The pregame ceremony was attended by a packed crowd and included former players and team officials. When it’s his turn to speak, Seaver chooses a unique and classy way to thank the fans. He runs out to the mound and bows to the fans in each section of the stadium.
Seaver was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.
Related: Remembering Rusty Staub Day.
The Mets opponents on “Tom Seaver Day” were the Braves. The team that had originally selected Seaver before having to forfeit their rights to him for violating MLB rules. Another amazing coincidence is that the Braves starting pitcher that game, making his MLB debut, was future Hall of Famer John Smoltz!
The Mets have used pre-season television commercials to get fans excited about the upcoming season for decades. Advertising the team’s changed roster, or new manager, and a promise of great things ahead. Here are a few old Mets commercials from the 1980s.
When it comes to promoting Mets baseball, things can get tricky. In 1980 the Mets were fined $5,000 because the ad agency they hired made a commercial insinuating that Yankee Stadium was not safe because of the neighborhood it’s in.
Before the 1984 season, the Mets made a commercial for WWOR Channel 9. It features new manager Davey Johnson, with outfielders Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, George Foster and reliever Jesse Orosco.
Related: Gooden breaks rookie strikeout record.
Those ’84 Mets would go 90-72 and finish in second place 6 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs. There were no Wild Cards back then. Still, it was a huge improvement over the previous season when they finished 68-94 and in last place.
Next is this old Mets commercial titled “Catch the Rising Stars” for WOR 9 Secaucus NJ in 1985. Putting aside the cheesy music and poor picture quality, it shows action shots of Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Strawberry, Wally Backman, and newly acquired Gary Carter.
What a year that team had! They went 98-64 but came up 3 short to the St. Louis Cardinals. Gooden won the Cy Young award. But since there was no Wild Card, the Mets had no post-season games.
They followed that up the next year with this Mets commercial hyping the 1986 season. The tag line was “Bring it home” and they did!
August 9, 1990: A long, wild fight erupts when Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden charges the mound after being hit by a pitch from Phillies pitcher Pat Combs. Earlier in the game, Gooden had hit Dickie Thon in the 2nd inning and Tom Herr in the top of the 5th.
It’s the bottom of the 5th inning at Shea, with the Phillies ahead 3-1. Mets pitcher Doc Gooden comes to bat, leading off the inning. With his first pitch, Combs hits Gooden in the leg. Doc immediately charges the mound, tossing his helmet away.
Dwight gets in one solid punch before Phillies catcher Darren Daulton puts him in a headlock. Mets teammate Keith Miller piles on and the benches empty. Players from both teams come running out to the fight.
Things appear to be cooling off and Ron Darling tries to get Gooden back to the Mets dugout. But the umpires don’t clear the players off of the field. Instead, they huddle off to the side, discussing things, as Mets manager Bud Harrelson comes over to talk to them. Big mistake by the umps.
Because just as everything seems to be calming down, Darryl Strawberry breaks free and starts a new fight. About 20 players, including Kevin McReynolds, Howard Johnson, and John Kruk, grab hold of him. Meanwhile, another brawl spills onto the pitcher’s mound and it’s a brutal one! Umpire “cowboy” Joe West gets into again, this time grabbing onto Tim Teufel‘s uniform.
Once more, the players are just milling around on the field. They’re not clearing off. And again, Strawberry makes a mad dash for a Phillies player, but Von Hayes intercepts him and slams Strawberry hard to the ground! We’re off to the fights again!
Eventually, the scrum breaks up, with Gregg Jefferies reassuring Doc. The New York crowd roars its approval as the clubs finally return to their respective dugouts.
Related: The Mets Team Photo Day fight.
Ejected players from the Phillies were Combs, Cook, Daulton, and coach Mike Ryan. Mets ejected were Gooden, Teufel, and Strawberry. The Mets would win the game 5-4 with Ojeda getting the win, coming in after Gooden was ejected.
Watch as Wally Backman discusses which major league baseball city has the worst hecklers with outfielder Jasha Balcom. Backman explains why San Francisco and Chicago were considered the worst cities for hecklers when he played for the New York Mets in the 1980s.
After a 14-year playing career in the majors, Wally Backman managed in the minor leagues for eight seasons. On November 1, 2004, he was named as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But then the New York Times reported that Backman had serious legal and financial problems in his past.
In addition to a DUI arrest, he was arrested in connection with a domestic altercation. Plus, Backman had declared bankruptcy to avoid paying debts owed to creditors, including the IRS.
After sticking by Backman at first, the Diamondbacks eventually fired him on November 5, just four days after his hiring. The team followed up the stories in the press and conducted their own investigation, revealing that Backman had misled team officials about his past.
Related: Brodie says WHAT to Wright?
Backman began his managerial comeback with the South Georgia Peanuts of the independent South Coast League in 2007. His return to managing was documented by the TV series Playing for Peanuts – a 10-episode documentary about minor league baseball.
“Was it humbling going to Albany, Georgia? Yeah, it was humbling. Was I above the league? Sort of. But if this is what I need to get another shot in organized baseball, I’ll do it.”Wally Backman told ESPN
Backman led the Peanuts to the first-half title with a 33-11 record. They were leading the second half at 15-8 with just three weeks left. But Wally didn’t make it through the full season, resigning in early August. He says it was in protest of the suspension of two of his players for failing drug tests.
Besides run-ins with umpires, Backman confronted another team’s 22-year-old radio announcer up in the press box. The announcer called Backman an “embarrassment” after Wally tossed bats and balls onto the field after being ejected from a game.
Wally had also forfeited one game with rival Macon when his team refused to return to the field after a brawl. He served suspensions totaling 14 games.
The Peanuts finished with a 59–28 record and went on to win the championship that season. It was their only season as the SCL closed down in March of 2008.