1986 World Series
From BR Bullpen
In the 1986 World Series, the New York Mets defeated the Boston Red Sox 4 games to 3. The most notable play of the series being a ground ball by Mookie Wilson that went through the legs of Bill Buckner in the 10th inning of Game 6 and which allowed the Mets to tie the series at three games apiece, denying the Red Sox their first championship since 1918.
After two extremely dramatic Championship Series, the World Series was not expected to be as exciting. The Boston Red Sox, in the Series for the first time since 1975, had gone without a championship since 1918. The Mets faced the eventual American League Cy Young Award winner in Roger Clemens, but the offensive forces were many on the Sox. Wade Boggs won the batting title, Jim Rice was among the league leaders in RBI, and 37-year-old Don Baylor hit 31 home runs. It followed Red Sox form, then, that none of those men were a deciding factor in the series.
The Sox jumped out to a two-games-to-none lead in the Series after a four-hit shutout in Game 1 at the hands of Bruce Hurst and an 18-hit explosion in Game 2. The Mets got revenge in the next two games, scoring four runs in the 1st inning against Oil Can Boyd in Game 3 and riding two home runs by Gary Carter in Game 4. Dwight Gooden ran into trouble in the 5th inning of Game 5, and the Sox went up three games to two as the series returned to Shea Stadium.
Game 6 went into extra innings tied at 3. Rick Aguilera gave up a home run to Dave Henderson and a run-scoring single to Marty Barrett in the 10th inning, and the Sox fans began to celebrate. The scoreboard at Shea Stadium briefly congratulated the Red Sox as well, in a minor gaffe by the operator. In the bottom of the 10th, against Calvin Schiraldi, the Mets quickly made two fly outs, then Gary Carter, pinch-hitter Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight singled consecutively, and Carter scored to move the Mets to within one run. Bob Stanley replaced Schiraldi and promptly threw a wild pitch facing Mookie Wilson, scoring Mitchell and tying the game. Wilson then hit a squib to first baseman Bill Buckner, which went through his legs for an error, scoring Knight and ending the game. Bob Murphy's call of this play ("Gets by Buckner!") remains a classic. In that game, Bruce Hurst of the Red Sox was prematurely announced as MVP of the World Series.
After the emotional roller-coaster of Game 6 and a rainout the day after, the Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 7 against Ron Darling. Hurst held the Mets in check until the 6th inning, when the Mets tied the game, scoring three runs. The Mets also scored three in the 7th and 2 in the 8th, and won, 8-5. Jesse Orosco saved the game, dropped to his knees, threw his glove in the air, and was mobbed by his teammates. Knight was named MVP after batting .391 in the series and hitting a homer in Game 7. Jesse Orosco won 3 games and saved 2 during the postseason.
- John Kibler (NL), Jim Evans (AL), Harry Wendelstedt (NL), Joe Brinkman (AL), Ed Montague (NL), Dale Ford (AL)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Red Sox – 1, Mets – 0||October 18||Shea Stadium(New York)||57,908||3:18|
|2||Red Sox – 9, Mets – 3||October 19||Shea Stadium(New York)||57,911||2:44|
|3||Mets – 7, Red Sox – 1||October 21||Fenway Park (Boston)||33,595||3:09|
|4||Mets – 6, Red Sox – 2||October 22||Fenway Park (Boston)||33,920||3:22|
|5||Mets – 2, Red Sox – 4||October 23||Fenway Park (Boston)||34,010||2:55|
|6||Red Sox – 5, Mets – 6 (10 inn.)||October 25||Shea Stadium(New York)||57,908||3:18|
|7||Red Sox – 5, Mets – 8||October 27||Shea Stadium(New York)||57,911||2:44|
 Game 1
|W: Bruce Hurst (1-0) L: Ron Darling (0-1) S: Calvin Schiraldi (1)|
In the opener, Boston's Bruce Hurst dazzled the New Yorkers with his looping curve and forkball, allowing only four hits over eight innings. New York's Ron Darling was equally effective, yielding only an unearned run in the 7th inning on an error by second baseman Tim Teufel. That run proved to be the only one of the game, and just as they did in the League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, the Mets opened the series with a 1-0 defeat. Mets legend Tom Seaver, as a member of the Red Sox, got a large standing ovation from the Shea Stadium fans during the Game 1 introductions. Seaver would not pitch in the series because of injury.
 Game 2
|W: Steve Crawford (1-0) L: Dwight Gooden (0-1)|
|HR: BOS – Dave Henderson (1), Dwight Evans (1)|
After dropping the first game, everybody expected the Mets to come back strong, especially having Dwight Gooden on the mound at home. With his counterpart Roger Clemens taking the hill for Boston, Game 2 figured to be a fabulous duel between baseball's top two pitchers. What it turned out to be was the poorest game of the series, the Red Sox crushing the Mets behind an 18-hit attack. Gooden's excellent pitching in the League Championship Series did not carry over to the World Series, as he lasted only five innings, yielding six runs and eight hits. Clemens was not much better himself, as he departed before five innings and didn't even earn the win in spite of the offensive barrage by his teammates.
 Game 3
|W: Bob Ojeda (1-0) L: Oil Can Boyd (0-1)|
|HR: NYM – Lenny Dykstra (1)|
The Mets regrouped in a big way in Game 3, scoring four times in the 1st inning. Their rally began when Lenny Dykstra belted a lead-off homer off Boston's Oil Can Boyd to give the New Yorkers a lift. Boyd settled down after that, allowing no more runs until the 7th inning; however, the Red Sox were unable to mount a comeback as Bob Ojeda, the Mets' main man in the Calvin Schiraldi deal, pitched a gutsy game, allowing five hits for a win.
 Game 4
|W: Ron Darling (1-1) L: Al Nipper (0-1)|
|HR: NYM – Gary Carter (1,2), Lenny Dykstra (2)|
Wanting to give his top three starters (Hurst, Clemens, and Boyd) some extra rest, Boston skipper John McNamara took a gamble by starting Al Nipper in Game 4. His earned run average of 5.38 was the highest for a series starter since Hal Gregg's 5.87 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Despite his bloated ERA, Nipper performed well, allowing only three runs in six innings. It didn't matter, though, as Ron Darling continued to sparkle in the postseason, this time pitching the Mets to even the series at two games apiece. The game featured two home runs over the Green Monster by Gary Carter.
 Game 5
|W: Bruce Hurst (2-0) L: Dwight Gooden (0-2)|
|HR: NYM – Tim Teufel (1)|
The Red Sox halted the Mets' momentum behind another dominating performance from Bruce Hurst, leaving Boston just one game away from their first title since 1918. Hurst pitched a complete game, striking out six and allowing just two earned runs. Dwight Gooden had his second consecutive ineffective start for the Mets, being pulled after allowing nine hits and four runs in just four innings. The one bright spot for the Mets was a sharp outing from Sid Fernandez in relief, pitching four scoreless innings and allowing just three hits.
 Game 6
|W: Rick Aguilera (1-0) L: Calvin Schiraldi (0-1)|
|HR: BOS – Dave Henderson (2)|
In Game 6 , Boston took a quick 2-0 lead on RBI base hits from Dwight Evans and Marty Barrett. The Mets tied the score in the 5th inning on a single from Ray Knight and a run-scoring double play by Danny Heep. An error by Knight led to Barrett scoring in the 7th to give Boston a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the 8th, the Red Sox had Dave Henderson on second with one out. Manager John McNamara then made a questionable decision by sending rookie outfielder Mike Greenwell to pinch hit for starting pitcher Roger Clemens. Don Baylor, who was a big part of the Sox offense all year as their designated hitter, was available since this was the first World Series where the DH was used only in the American League team's home ballpark. McNamara later defended the move, saying it was a lefty-righty percentage move against Roger McDowell, a right-hander. Greenwell struck out. McNamara also explained that Clemens had complained of a blister on his pitching hand and had asked to be taken out, justifying the use of a pinch-hitter. Clemens has maintained to this day that, while he did have a blister, he never asked to be removed from the game.
The Mets rallied in the bottom of the 8th, tying the game on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly. It could have been much worse for the Sox, as reliever Calvin Schiraldi had loaded the bases with no outs and had a 3-0 count on Carter, who swung away at the next pitch to hit the fly ball. The Mets missed a golden opportunity to win the game in the 9th. After a walk and an error put two men on with nobody out, Howard Johnson was sent to the plate to sacrifice the winning run to third. It was then, however, that Mets manager Davey Johnson made his most criticized decision of the series. After HoJo failed in his first bunt attempt, Davey took the bunt off and had HoJo swing away; HoJo ended up striking out, leaving runners at first and second with one out. Lee Mazzilli followed with a deep fly to left that would have won the game had the runner been at third, but it became the second out as runners held up. Lenny Dykstra then flied out for the third out, sending the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 10th inning, Dave Henderson homered to pull the Sox within three outs of a world championship, and Barrett singled in Wade Boggs to make it a 5-3 lead. When Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez were retired to start the bottom of the 10th, the championship seemed at hand. After Hernandez made the second out, he went to the Mets' locker room, took off his uniform, and watched the rest of the game on the clubhouse TV, thinking the game and the Series would be over soon. Indeed, the Diamond Vision screen in left field at Shea Stadium prematurely flashed congratulations to the Red Sox with two outs.
Then, with two strikes, Carter singled to left. Pinch-hitter Kevin Mitchell then singled to center and Shea Stadium started to get loud. Knight went down in the count, 0-2 bringing the Mets to their last strike once again, but he hit the next pitch into center field for a single that scored Carter and advanced Mitchell to third base, making the score 5-4 and bringing Shea to full life. Before his at-bat, Mitchell had been on the phone in the locker room making plane reservations to fly home to San Diego, CA, thinking the game would be over in a moment. He had already gotten out of his uniform and was in street clothes, and, when he was told he was batting, got off the phone and hurriedly got dressed again.
The Red Sox replaced pitcher Schiraldi with Bob Stanley to face Mookie Wilson. Wilson got the count to 2-1 but fouled the fourth pitch away to bring the Mets to their last strike again. He stayed alive fouling off two more Stanley pitches. Then, the seventh pitch sailed towards Wilson's knees sending him to the ground, but the ball hit nothing and went straight to the backstop. Mitchell scored uncontested on the wild pitch to tie the game and Knight advanced to second base. The Red Sox were shocked to have blown the lead with the game all but over, much as the California Angels had done while facing them in the ALCS almost two weeks prior.
At one point during Wilson's at-bat with Knight on second, Knight strayed so far off the second-base bag that Marty Barrett started yelling for Stanley to try to pick him off. However, because of the raucous crowd noise, Stanley couldn't hear Barrett. Also, Stanley was intent on trying to retire Wilson.
When things calmed down, Wilson was still at the plate and fouled off two more pitches in a fantastic at bat. Finally, on the tenth pitch, Wilson hit a ground ball which rolled up the first base line and appeared to be easy to field. The most pressing question in the few seconds was whether the lumbering Bill Buckner, with his chronic bad ankles and knees, would be able to beat the speedy Wilson to first base to finish the inning. The question would never be answered as the ball somehow snuck between his legs under his glove and rolled slowly into right field. Shea Stadium exploded and the Mets' players and fans looked as though they couldn't contain themselves. Knight tried to hold his helmet on while jumping towards home plate with the winning run in a scene that many Mets fans would never forget. Buckner and the stunned Red Sox slowly walked off the field.
Vin Scully's call of the play would quickly become an iconic one to baseball fans, with the normally calm Scully growing increasingly excited:
So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. (A) little roller up along first... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!
It's also notable that during the regular season, McNamara had usually substituted the defensively-challenged Buckner in the late inniings with the Red Sox leading, inserting Dave Stapleton in his place. However, he had failed to to do so with a lead in game 6, because he had wanted Buckner to be on the field to celebrate the Sox's championship. That decision was also vehemently criticized after Boston had lost the game.
 Game 7
|W: Roger McDowell (1-0) L: Calvin Schiraldi (0-2)|
|HR: BOS – Dwight Evans (2), Rich Gedman (1); NYM – Ray Knight (1), Darryl Strawberry (1)|
Game 7 was delayed a day due to rain, being played on Monday, October 27th. The postponement seemed to be a major point in Boston's favor; not only would it give them an additional day to recover from their crushing defeat in Game 6, but it allowed them to bypass Oil Can Boyd (who had lost to the Mets in Game 3) in the seventh game and give series star Bruce Hurst the start. Things looked promising for Boston in the beginning. After two excellent outings, the Mets' Ron Darling struggled as the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Sid Fernandez saved the Mets' hopes, however, by coming on in relief and retiring seven consecutive hitters, striking out four. Meanwhile, after being held to one hit through five innings, the Mets lineup finally figured out Hurst in the 6th, scoring three runs to tie the game. Ray Knight homered off Calvin Schiraldi leading off the 7th to give the Mets their first lead. The Mets scored two more runs in the inning to go up 6-3. A two-run double in the 8th cut the Mets' lead to 6-5, but Sox reliever Al Nipper gave back those runs in the bottom of the frame on Darryl Strawberry's leadoff home run and an RBI single by pitcher Jesse Orosco. Orosco worked a 1-2-3 9th to clinch the title, whiffing Marty Barrett for the last out. The final score was: Mets 8, Red Sox 5.
Due to the destruction wreaked by Mets fans storming the field when the team clinched the division championship at home, security was tight at Shea Stadium for Game 7 and the crowd was well-behaved in its celebration of the city's first baseball world championship in eight years.
 Composite Box
|New York Mets||4||0||2||3||3||3||7||6||1||3||32||65||5|
|Boston Red Sox||1||5||5||1||4||0||4||4||1||2||27||69||4|
|Total Attendance: 321,774 Average Attendance: 45,968|
|Winning Player’s Share: – $86,254, Losing Player’s Share – $74,986 *Includes Playoffs and World Series|
 Quotes of the Series
...And the Mets are down to their last out!-- Vin Scully (NBC Sports) as New York Mets were down to the final out of the 1986 season.
And it's going to go to the backstop - here comes Mitchell to score the tying run and Ray Knight is on second base! - Vin Scully calling Mets' pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell scoring the tying run on Bob Stanley's wild pitch.
...So the winning run is on second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. Little roller up along first; BEHIND THE BAG! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it! -- NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Vin Scully.
...and a ground ball, trickling, it's a fair ball... gets by Buckner!! Rounding third, Knight! The Mets will win the ball game! The Mets win! They win! Unbelievable, the Red Sox in STUNNED DISBELIEF! - Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne, respectively, on WHN Radio, radio home of the New York Mets.
If one picture is worth a thousand words, then you have seen about a million words, but more than that you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Mets are not only alive, they are well, and they play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow. -- NBC's Vin Scully three minutes after Bill Buckner's error.
He struck him out! He struck him out! The Mets have won the World Series! And they're crowd-jamming and crowding all over Jesse Orosco! He's somewhere at the bottom of that pile. He struck out Marty Barrett. The dream has come true! The Mets have won the World Series, coming from behind to win the seventh ballgame. -- Bob Murphy calling the final out of the World Series on New York Mets' WHN radio.
Got 'em!!! -- NBC's Vin Scully calling the final out of Game 7. It's so quiet in New York you can almost hear Boston! -- Vin Scully in the top of 10th inning of Game 6 after Red Sox's Dave Henderson hit a dramatic home run.
The worst nightmare is letting the winning run score on a ground ball going through your legs..... -- Red Sox's Bill Buckner being interviewed in a Boston TV sports broadasting segment on October 7, 1986.
And that's one of the many reasons.... an unexpected guest at Shea Stadium! - Vin Scully while parachutist Michael Sergio landed behind the pitcher's mound at Shea Stadium in Game 6.
Can you believe this ball game at Shea!? -- Vin Scully during the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6.
Daaaryyl, Daaaryyl, Daaaryyl! -- Red Sox fans mocking Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry in Game 5 at Fenway Park.
It is so noisy at Shea you can't even hear the airplanes - Vin Scully after Mets third baseman Ray Knight hit the lead-off home run in the bottom of the 7th of Game 7.
Caaalviiin, Caaalviiin, Caaalviiin! - Met fans serenading Red Sox relief pitcher Calvin Schiraldi after giving up a lead-off home run to Mets third baseman Ray Knight in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 7.
Never have the Red Sox come this close and failed. Never in the Bucky Dent game or the Enos Slaughter game or the Jim Burton game or all the recorded games of frustration had the finish been this close to a championship. Never. Not since 1918. Never. - Leigh Montville writing in the Boston Globe, the day after Game 6.
 Further Reading
- Howard Burman: Season of Ghosts: The '86 Mets and the Red Sox, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7864-7042-6
- John Kuenster: Heartbreakers: Baseball's Most Agonizing Defeats, Ivan R. Dee Publishers, Chicago, IL, 2001. ISBN 978-1566634120
- David S. Neft and Richard M. Cohen: The World Series, 1st ed., St Martins Press, New York, NY, 1990, pp. 412-418.
- Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime: From the Babe to the Beards: The Boston Red Sox in the World Series, Sports Publishing LLC, New York, NY, 2014. ISBN 978-1-6132-1727-6
- Jeff Pearlman: The Bad Guys Won: A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform - and Maybe the Best, Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2004. ISBN 0060507330
- Dan Shaughnessy: One Strike Away: The Story of the 1986 Red Sox, Beaufort Books, New York, NY, 1987. ISBN 978-0825304262
- Mookie Wilson and Eric Sherman: Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2014. ISBN 978-0425271322
- 1986 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1986 NLCS: Game 1 at MLB.com
- 1986 ALCS: Game 5 at MLB.com
- 1986 NLCS: Game 6 at MLB.com
- 1986 World Series by Baseball Almanac
- Good To The Very Last Out at SI.com
- 1986 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- History of the World Series - 1986 at sportingnews.com
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Dave Henderson's Home Run at sportingnews.com
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: E-3 on Bill Buckner at sportingnews.com
- 1986 New York Mets at baseballlibrary.com
- 1986 Boston Red Sox at baseballlibrary.com
- Game 7, Marty Barrett vs. Jesse Orosco: NBC TV version - Vin Scully & Joe Garagiola
- The Ultimate Mets Database - 1986 World Series
- Re-creating a classic
- Ghost of World Series 1986 still resonates
- See the ball that went through Buckner's legs from the Seth Swirsky Collection
- See a video of the return of the Buckner Ball to Shea Stadium for the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Mets victory
 Mookie Wilson's At Bat
- CBS Radio version - Jack Buck & Sparky Anderson
- NBC TV version - Vin Scully & Joe Garagiola
- NBC TV version with audio from WHN - Bob Murphy
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series