1973 World Series
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1973 World Series (4-3)
Willie Mays would record the final hit of his storied career in Game 2. In four World Series (1951, 1954, 1962, and 1973), Mays did not hit a single home run. He hit only one in the post-season, during the 1971 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This was the last World Series in which each team sold separate programs for their home games. Starting in 1974, Major League Baseball printed the official World Series program that was sold in both stadiums.
The New York Mets
The Mets' .509 season winning percentage was (and remains) the lowest posted by any pennant-winner in major league history. Under the comparatively new divisional play system, the Mets found themselves back in the World Series, but with a much weaker team than in their legendary 1969 championship season.
At 82-79, the Mets had the worst record of any team to ever play in a World Series. They had only the ninth-best record in the 24-team major leagues, behind the Oakland Athletics, the Cincinnati Reds (who they beat in the National League playoffs) and the Baltimore Orioles (who were defeated by Oakland in the American League playoffs), as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, the Boston Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals, none of whom made the postseason.
Stumbling through the summer in last place, the Mets had gotten hot in September as the rest of the National League East collapsed, ultimately winning a mediocre division with a mere 82 victories. The final standings placed them 1.5 games ahead of the Cardinals (81-81), 2.5 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (80-82), 3.5 of the surprising Montreal Expos (79-83) and 5 of the Chicago Cubs (77-84).
1969 holdovers Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Tug McGraw joined forces with the Mets' farm-system alumni John Milner and Jon Matlack and trade-acquired Rusty Staub, Felix Millan, and future Hall of Famer Willie Mays, now 42 years old. Don Hahn and Mays alternated in center field, although they both batted right-handed.
The Mets' National League playoff opponents were an imposing Cincinnati Reds squad that posted 99 victories during the regular season and was the favorite to return to the Series for a second consecutive year (The Reds had fallen to the A's in the previous year's Series). The NLCS went the full five games, and featured a now-famous brawl between the barrel-chested Pete Rose and the wispy Met shortstop, Bud Harrelson. In the end, the Mets continued their improbable rise and bumped Rose and the rest of the mighty Reds from the playoffs.
The Oakland Athletics
The A's, defending world champions, still possessed a formidable lineup headed by a healthy Reggie Jackson (.293, 32 HR, 117 RBI, 22 stolen bases), who would be named league MVP in 1973. Jackson was joined by standouts like third baseman Sal Bando, the fine defensive outfielder Joe Rudi, the speedy shortstop Bert Campaneris, and the 1972 World Series hero Gene Tenace, now playing first base. The pitching staff featured three 20-game winners, Ken Holtzman (21-13), Catfish Hunter (21-5), and Vida Blue (20-9), with Rollie Fingers (22 saves, 1.92) serving as the A's ace relief pitcher.
As usual, the A's offered entertainment both on and off the field in 1973; their day-glo uniforms were the perfect metaphor for a team notable for clashing personalities. The stars engaged regularly in conflicts with each other and with owner Charles O. Finley.
With the designated hitter rule in effect for the first time in 1973, American League pitchers did not bat during the regular season. They were, however, expected to take their turn at the plate during each game of this Series. So it was that a man who had played no offensive role during the regular season came to make a key batting contribution for the A's during the Series. With some extra batting practice, A's pitcher Ken Holtzman would stroke a double that helped the A's to win Game 1 - and another double that helped them secure the deciding seventh game.
This Series was also made famous when Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley attempted to "fire" second baseman Mike Andrews for his errors in Game 2 (see below). Commissioner Bowie Kuhn reinstated Andrews and socked Finley with a healthy fine. Despite the hostility of the Oakland players toward the team's owner, the A's became the first team to repeat as World Champions since the 1962-1962 New York Yankees, although manager Dick Williams would announce his resignation minutes after the deciding seventh game.
Oakland reliever Darold Knowles became the only pitcher to appear in every game of a seven-game World Series.
- Marty Springstead (AL), Augie Donatelli (NL), Jerry Neudecker (AL), Paul Pryor (NL), Russ Goetz (AL), Harry Wendelstedt (NL)
SummaryAL Oakland Athletics (4) vs. NL New York Mets (3)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Mets – 1, A’s – 2||October 13||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||46,021||2:26|
|2||Mets – 10, A’s – 7 (12 inns)||October 14||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||55,989||4:13|
|3||A's – 3, Mets – 2 (11 inns)||October 16||Shea Stadium||54,817||3:15|
|4||A's – 1, Mets – 6||October 17||Shea Stadium||54,817||2:41|
|5||A's – 0, Mets – 2||October 18||Shea Stadium||54,817||2:39|
|6||Mets – 1, A’s – 3||October 20||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,333||2:07|
|7||Mets – 2, A’s – 5||October 21||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||49,333||2:37|
The Mets and A's opened the Series in Oakland with Jon Matlack and Ken Holtzman as the starting pitchers. For the Mets, Willie Mays started in place of the injured Rusty Staub and batted third in what turned out to be his final big league start.
The A's got two runs in the 3rd inning after Holtzman doubled and scored when Bert Campaneris hit a routine grounder that inexplicably bounced between second baseman Felix Millan's legs. Campaneris then stole second and scored on Joe Rudi's single to right. The Mets came up with a run in the 4th on an RBI single by John Milner that scored Cleon Jones. Holtzman, Rollie Fingers, and Darold Knowles then shut the door on the Mets offense; Darold Knowles earned the save.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Mets 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 2 Oakland Athletics 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 X 2 4 0 PITCHERS: NYM - Matlack, McGraw (7) OAK - Holtzman, Fingers (6), Knowles (9) WP - Holtzman LP - Matlack SAVE - Knowles HOME RUNS: NYM - none OAK - none ATTENDANCE: 46,021
Game 2 proved to be one of the wildest games in World Series history. Eventually won by the Mets, 10-7, in 12 innings, it set a new record for the longest game in Series history at 4 hours and 13 minutes.
Vida Blue opposed Jerry Koosman on the mound, but neither pitched well. In the 1st inning, the A's jumped on Koosman for two runs on a Jesus Alou double and scored again in the second on Rudi's single scoring the ubiquitous Campaneris, who had tripled. The Mets got solo home runs from Cleon Jones and Wayne Garrett in the 2nd and 3rd innings, respectively.
The A's were up 3-2 going into the 6th when things started to get strange. Four Mets runs scored, two of them when Darold Knowles fielded a comebacker to the mound and then threw home wildly in a vain attempt to start a 1-2-3 double play. The A's came back with a run in the 7th and two more in the 9th on RBI singles by Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando. That sent the game into extra innings.
The game was knotted at 6-6, until the 12th, when Mays drove in Bud Harrelson with a single up the middle that gave the Mets a one-run lead. Then two more runs scored when second baseman Mike Andrews let an easy grounder go through his legs with two outs. The very next batter hit a chopper to Andrews, who threw wildly to first to let a fourth run score. It was a strange sequence of events - one that would get even stranger after the game's final out was recorded.
The A's added a run in the bottom of the inning on a Jackson triple, but Andrews' errors proved too much to overcome. George Stone earned the save and the Mets evened the series, winning by a score of 10-7. But that wasn't all this odd game had to offer. A's Owner Charlie Finley was furious at Andrews' 12th-inning miscues; he proceeded to punish Andrews (and further alienate A's manager Dick Williams) by placing the infielder on the disabled list - citing a fake injury that would have sidelined Andrews for the rest of the Series, and trying to replace him with Manny Trillo. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in, reactivated Andrews, and disciplined Finley.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Mets 0 1 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 10 15 1 Oakland Athletics 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 7 13 5 PITCHERS: NYM - Koosman, Sadecki (3), Parker (5), McGraw (6), Stone (12) OAK - Blue, Pina (6), Knowles (6), Odom (8), Fingers (10), Lindblad (12) WP - McGraw LP - Fingers SAVE - Stone HOME RUNS: NYM - Jones, Garrett OAK - none ATTENDANCE: 49,151
Game 3 matched up future Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Catfish Hunter. Hunter had trouble early on when Wayne Garrett homered to right and Felix Millan scored on a wild pitch, but then found his rhythm. Seaver kept the A's off the board until the 6th, when Sal Bando and Gene Tenace broke through with consecutive doubles that delivered a run and cut the Mets' lead to 2-1. Joe Rudi came up with another clutch hit in the 8th when he singled in Bert Campaneris to tie the game and send the second consecutive game into extra innings. Campaneris delivered the game-winning RBI when he singled to center off Harry Parker in the 11th. Rollie Fingers got the save.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 10 1 New York Mets 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 10 2 PITCHERS: OAK - Hunter, Knowles (7), Lindblad (9), Fingers (11) NYM - Seaver, Sadecki (9), McGraw (9), Parker (11) WP - Lindblad LP - Parker SAVE - Fingers HOME RUNS: OAK - none NYM - Garrett ATTENDANCE: 54,817
The tide seemed to turn in the Mets' favor beginning in Game 4. Ken Holtzman couldn't make it out of the 1st inning after Rusty Staub smashed a three-run homer to left-center. Blue Moon Odom relieved and gave up a two-run single to Staub in a three-run Mets 4th. Jon Matlack got the win by pitching eight innings of five-hit ball. New York Mets fans would give pinch-hitter Mike Andrews a standing ovation in the 8th inning, an obvious thumbing at A's owner Charlie Finley and an appreciation for the little guy sticking it to the boss!
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1 New York Mets 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 X 6 13 1 PITCHERS: OAK - Holtzman, Odom (1), Knowles (4), Pina (5), Lindblad (8) NYM - Matlack, [[Ray Sadecki|Sadecki]] (9) WP - Matlack LP - Holtzman SAVE - Sadecki HOME RUNS: OAK - none NYM - Staub ATTENDANCE: 54,817
Game 5 was a rematch up of Vida Blue and Jerry Koosman. This time, both men pitched well. John Milner drove in a run for the Mets in the 2nd inning with a RBI single through the right side. Don Hahn's triple to center field scored Jerry Grote with the second Mets run in the 6th. Koosman pitched well and got a win, with a save from Tug McGraw.
The Met fans at Shea Stadium couldn't be happier, as the team that just barely made it into the playoffs was now one win away from upsetting the defending champions for the title.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 New York Mets 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 2 7 1 PITCHERS: OAK - Blue, Knowles (6), Fingers (7) NYM - Koosman, McGraw (7) WP - Koosman LP - Blue SAVE - McGraw HOME RUNS: OAK - none NYM - none ATTENDANCE: 54,817
The A's were in need of a win and they got one, thanks to the clutch pitching of Catfish Hunter (who outdueled Tom Seaver), and the timely hitting of Reggie Jackson. Jackson doubled and drove in Joe Rudi in the 1st inning and Sal Bando in the 3rd to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. In the 8th inning, the Mets threatened, knocking Hunter out of the game after pinch-hitter Ken Boswell singled in a run. Reliever Darold Knowles put out the fire by striking out Rusty Staub on three pitches with two men on base. In the bottom half of the inning, the A's added an insurance run when Jackson singled, advanced to third on center fielder Don Hahn's error, and scored on Jesus Alou's sacrifice fly. Fingers got the save in the 9th inning to force a seventh game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Mets 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 2 Oakland Athletics 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 X 3 7 0 PITCHERS: NYM - Seaver, McGraw (6) OAK - Hunter, Knowles (8), Fingers (8) WP - Hunter LP - Seaver SAVE - Fingers HOME RUNS: NYM - none OAK - none ATTENDANCE: 49,333
Jon Matlack, who had pitched brilliantly in the series, matched up with Ken Holtzman, who was coming back from getting knocked out in the 1st inning of Game 4. The 3rd inning proved to be the difference. Matlack surrendered a two-run opposite-field homer to Bert Campaneris (Oakland's first home run of the series), and then served up another two-run blast when he faced Reggie Jackson, making the score 4-0 in favor of the A's. The Mets came back with two runs after Oakland increased its lead to 5-0 in the 5th inning, but it was not enough. Campaneris snagged a Wayne Garrett pop fly to end the series; Jackson was named the World Series MVP.
Two Series records fell in that game: in the 3rd inning, Gene Tenace walked for the 11th time, tying the Series record set by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in 1926. In the 7th inning, Garrett struck out for the 11th time tying the Series record set by Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves in 1958.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Mets 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 8 1 Oakland Athletics 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 X 5 9 1 PITCHERS: NYM - Matlack, Parker (3), Sadecki (5), Stone (7) OAK - Holtzman, Fingers (6), Knowles (9) WP - Holtzman LP - Matlack SAVE - Knowles HOME RUNS: NYM - none OAK - Campaneris, Jackson ATTENDANCE: 49,333
References and Further Reading
- Jacob Kanarek: From First to Worst: The New York Mets 1973-1977, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008.
- David S. Neft and Richard M. Cohen: The World Series, 1st ed., St Martins Press, New York, NY, 1990, pp. 345-350.
- John Rosengren: Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year That Changed Baseball Forever, Sourcebooks, Inc. Naperville, IL, 2008.
- Matthew Silverman: Swinging '73: Baseball's Wildest Season, Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7627-8060-0
- Curt Smith: "1973 World Series: Two For the Money", in Chip Greene, ed.: Mustaches and Mayhem, Charlie O's Three-Time Champions: The Oakland Athletics 1972-74, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 487-490. ISBN 978-1-943816-07-1
- 1973 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1973 World Series at Baseball-Almanac.com
- Mutiny and a Bounty at SI.com
- History of the World Series - 1973 at SportingNews.com
- 1973 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- The 1973 Oakland Athletics at baseballlibrary.com
- The 1973 New York Mets at baseballlibrary.com
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