1986 World Series
|Dates:||October 18 – 27|
|MVP:||Ray Knight (New York)|
|TV announcers:||Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola|
|Radio announcers:||Jack Buck and Sparky Anderson|
|Umpires:||John Kibler (NL), Jim Evans (AL), Harry Wendelstedt (NL), Joe Brinkman (AL), Ed Montague (NL), Dale Ford (AL)|
|Hall of Famers:||Mets: Gary Carter.
Red Sox: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice.
|ALCS:||Boston Red Sox over California Angels (4–3)|
|NLCS:||New York Mets over Houston Astros (4–2)|
|World Series Program|
The 1986 World Series pitted the National League champion New York Mets against the American League champion Boston Red Sox. The Mets won the Series in the seventh game, after overcoming a nearly hopeless deficit in Game 6 due to a late-game error by Boston's first baseman Bill Buckner. Game 6 was also cited in the legend of the "Curse of the Bambino" to explain the error.
New York Mets
The New York Mets finished the regular season with a franchise record 108–54, winning the National League East division by 21 1⁄2 games over division rival Philadelphia Phillies. They then won a tightly contested 1986 National League Championship Series, four games to two, over the Houston Astros, clinching the series in a sixteen-inning Game 6. The talent of the team was colored by controversy during much of the season, with scrappy players both on and off the field. On July 19, 1986, Mets infielder Tim Teufel and pitchers Rick Aguilera, Bobby Ojeda, and Ron Darling were arrested after fighting with policemen outside a bar in Houston. Just three days later, they played a game which became a microcosm of their season when two Mets were ejected after a bench-clearing brawl. A total of three ejections in the game forced starting catcher Gary Carter to play third base, and the Mets to play a pitcher in the outfield, with left-hander Jesse Orosco and righty Roger McDowell alternating between the pitcher's mound and the outfield as needed. Despite the adversity, they still won the game in the fourteenth inning on a three-run homer by Howard Johnson. Former NL MVP George Foster was released a few days after the game, based partly on his refusal to move from the Mets' bench during the fracas.
Boston Red Sox
Boston went 95–66 during the season, winning the American League East division by 5 1⁄2 games over their biggest nemesis, the New York Yankees. The gritty play of eventual ALCS MVP Marty Barrett and Rich Gedman; clutch hitting from veterans Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Don Baylor, Dwight Evans and Dave Henderson; and quality starting pitching, especially from 1986 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Oil Can Boyd, pushed the Red Sox to the World Series. The team's defining moment occurred in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series against the California Angels. With the Angels leading three games to one in the best-of-seven series and their top reliever Donnie Moore on the mound, the Sox needed a last-out miracle home run from Henderson to survive Game 5; they later loaded the bases and got the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly from Henderson off Moore in the eleventh. The Angels never recovered from this blow, and with Boston capitalizing on some defensive miscues by the Angels, and clutch performances by some of their big name players (namely Rice and Clemens in the deciding game), the Red Sox clinched the pennant with a seven-game win.
|1||October 18||Boston Red Sox – 1, New York Mets – 0||Shea Stadium||2:59||55,076|
|2||October 19||Boston Red Sox – 9, New York Mets – 3||Shea Stadium||3:36||55,063|
|3||October 21||New York Mets – 7, Boston Red Sox – 1||Fenway Park||2:58||33,595|
|4||October 22||New York Mets – 6, Boston Red Sox – 2||Fenway Park||3:22||33,920|
|5||October 23||New York Mets – 2, Boston Red Sox – 4||Fenway Park||3:09||34,010|
|6||October 25||Boston Red Sox – 5, New York Mets – 6 (10 innings)||Shea Stadium||4:02||55,078|
|7||October 27†||Boston Red Sox – 5, New York Mets – 8||Shea Stadium||3:11||55,032|
†: postponed from October 26 due to rain
|WP: Bruce Hurst (1–0) LP: Ron Darling (0–1) Sv: 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, and getting Ray Knight to ground into an inning-ending double play to escape trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning. New York's Ron Darling was equally effective, yielding only an unearned run in the seventh inning when Mets second baseman Tim Teufel committed an error eerily similar to the one committed by Félix Millán in Game 1 of the 1973 World Series that allowed two unearned runs to score in Oakland's 2–1 victory over the Mets. Red Sox closer walked Darryl Strawberry to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Mets fans visions of a rally. However, Schiraldi got Ray Knight to force Strawberry at second base, and got Wally Backman to fly out to left field. With two outs, Danny Heep was called upon to bat for weak-hitting shortstop Rafael Santana. Schiraldi worked him to a 2–2 count, and got Heep to swing at the last pitch for a strikeout and a save.
Just as they did in the League Championship Series against Houston, 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 did not pitch in the series because of injury.)
|WP: Steve Crawford (1–0) LP: Dwight Gooden (0–1) Sv: Bob Stanley (1)
BOS: Dave Henderson (1), Dwight Evans (1)
After dropping the first game, the Mets turned to young phenom Dwight Gooden in what figured to be a classic matchup with Boston's own young pitching sensation Roger Clemens. That duel did not materialize, as neither pitcher went beyond five innings. The Red Sox drew first blood in the top of the third inning, when after a leadoff walk to Spike Owen, Keith Hernandez fielded a Clemens bunt, but threw it away trying to catch Owen at second base. This was costly, as Wade Boggs drove in Owen with a double, Marty Barrett drove in Clemens with a single, and Bill Buckner drove in Boggs with a single to give the Sox a 3–0 lead.
The Mets struck back in the bottom half of the inning, putting runners on second and third base for Wally Backman. Backman grounded one up the middle, plating Rafael Santana, and Hernandez grounded out, allowing Gooden to score and bring the Mets within one run. However, Dave Henderson, the hero of the ALCS, drove the second pitch from Gooden in the top of the fourth inning to left-center field for a home run. Dwight Evans followed with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning, bringing the score to 6–2.
Although Clemens had a comfortable lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning, he was pulled in favor of Steve Crawford after facing three batters, leaving runners on the corners. Crawford promptly gave up a single to Gary Carter that sent Backman home, cutting the lead to three runs. Crawford struck out Darryl Strawberry and got Danny Heep to ground out to quash any threat, but this left Clemens ineligible to receive a decision in the game.
Gooden was gone after five innings, being relieved by Rick Aguilera in the sixth inning. Aguilera loaded the bases in the seventh inning, and after consecutive RBI singles by Henderson and Owen, was pulled in favor of Jesse Orosco, who shut down the Red Sox over the next two innings.
The Red Sox were not done, however. Facing Sid Fernandez, pitching in relief with runners on first and second base in the ninth inning, Boggs drove in Henderson with a double to make the score 9–3. The Mets were unable to recover from this deficit, and took the loss, giving Boston a 2–0 advantage heading to Fenway Park.
Tuesday, October 21, 1986 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
|WP: Bob Ojeda (1–0) LP: Oil Can Boyd (0–1)
NYM: Lenny Dykstra (1)
The Mets bounced back from their early-series sluggishness in the top of the first inning, when Lenny Dykstra led off with a home run to give the Mets an early lead. Gary Carter followed with an RBI double, and Danny Heep drove in two runners with a single to give the Mets a 4–0 lead in the first inning. After the rocky start, Red Sox starter Oil Can Boyd settled down, but Bob Ojeda pitched well and Boston was unable to overcome their early deficit. In his first at bat in the World Series, Don Baylor almost homered in the second inning but it turned out to be a double off the Green Monster.
Ojeda gave up an RBI single to Marty Barrett in the bottom of the third inning, but this would prove to be the only Boston run of the game. Carter drove in two runners with a single in the seventh inning, and Ray Knight drove in Darryl Strawberry with a double in the eighth inning. Roger McDowell pitched the final two frames to seal a 7–1 Mets victory.
Wednesday, October 22, 1986 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
|WP: Ron Darling (1–1) LP: Al Nipper (0–1) Sv: Jesse Orosco (1)
NYM: Gary Carter 2 (2), Lenny Dykstra (2)
Ron Darling faced off against Al Nipper, as the Mets looked to tie the Series. Neither starter allowed a run until the top of the fourth inning, when Gary Carter ripped a two-run home run over the Green Monster and Ray Knight drove in Darryl Strawberry with a single. Lenny Dykstra came through with a two-run home run of his own in the top of the seventh inning, and Carter hit a solo shot in the top of the eighth inning.
The Red Sox did not go quietly, scoring two runs on a Dwight Evans single and a Dave Henderson sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, but it was not enough, and the Mets evened the series at two games apiece.
Thursday, October 23, 1986 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
|WP: Bruce Hurst (2–0) LP: Dwight Gooden (0–2)
NYM: Tim Teufel (1)
Mets ace Dwight Gooden once again struggled, this time surrendering four runs on nine hits in just four innings. Despite a strong relief effort from Sid Fernandez, Bruce Hurst was dominant again, allowing ten hits and just two runs in a complete game win to give Boston a 3–2 series lead heading back to New York.
|WP: Rick Aguilera (1–0) LP: Calvin Schiraldi (0–1)
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 fifth inning on a single from Ray Knight and a run-scoring double play by Danny Heep (his last at-bat ever as a Met). An error by Knight led to Barrett scoring in the seventh to give Boston a 3–2 lead.
In the top of the eighth, the Red Sox had Dave Henderson on second with one out. Manager John McNamara sent rookie Mike Greenwell to pinch hit for Roger Clemens in an effort to match Greenwell, a left-handed batter, against the Mets' dominant short-relief man Roger McDowell even as righty slugger Don Baylor sat on the bench; Greenwell struck out and the Sox scored no runs that inning. The Red Sox brought in closer Calvin Schiraldi to replace Clemens for a potential two-inning save. It was a move that failed to pay off in two ways, as the Mets tied the game on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly. However, the Mets would get no more as Darryl Strawberry flew out with Lenny Dykstra, the go-ahead run, on third and the inning came to an end. After the inning, however, Strawberry was removed from the game as part of a double switch which saw Lee Mazzilli take his spot in right field instead of Mookie Wilson's in center.
In the Red Sox ninth, Rick Aguilera faced off against Jim Rice, Evans, and Rich Gedman. Rice led off the inning by striking out. Evans reached on a Kevin Elster error, but Aguilera got out of it by inducing Gedman into a double play. The Mets threatened again in the bottom half, as Knight reached on a walk and Wilson laid down a bunt that Schiraldi misplayed, throwing to second to try to get Knight but throwing wide. However, Schiraldi escaped further damage by striking out pinch hitter Howard Johnson and getting Mazzilli and Dykstra to fly out to send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the tenth inning, Aguilera's second pitch to Henderson was driven out of the park to left field to give Boston a 4–3 lead. After striking out Spike Owen and Schiraldi back to back, Aguilera gave up a double to Wade Boggs. Barrett followed with a single to drive him in. This made the score 5–3 and with Barrett now in scoring position having advanced on the throw home, Aguilera hit Bill Buckner to put two runners on. Rice then responded with a flyout to end the inning, but the Mets were now two runs behind entering their half of the tenth.
For the home tenth, John McNamara began with two decisions that would later come into question. He left Schiraldi on the mound for a third inning of work, something he was not used to doing, and sent Buckner out to play first base instead of replacing him with Dave Stapleton as he usually would do late in games due to Buckner's bad ankles (McNamara saying that he felt Buckner deserved to be on the field). The move initially did not cause any problems, as Schiraldi retired Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez on back to back fly balls, putting the Red Sox one out away from a World Series title.
Carter worked the count to 2–1 before lining a single into left field to keep the inning alive. Since Strawberry had been swapped out in the double switch that brought Aguilera in, the pitcher's spot was now up and the Mets needed a pinch-hitter. Backup outfielder Kevin Mitchell, who had gone into the clubhouse after the second out was recorded to book a flight home, had to be retrieved from the clubhouse so he could hit for the pitcher. He followed Carter's single with one of his own, putting two runners on with two out.
Schiraldi then ran up an 0–2 count on Ray Knight, putting the Red Sox one strike away from winning the series. On the third pitch, Knight made contact for the third consecutive single of the inning, scoring Carter from second and allowing the speedy Mitchell to advance to third. Although the Red Sox still had a one-run lead, McNamara decided to replace his tiring closer and brought in the man from whom Schiraldi had inherited that role, veteran hurler Bob Stanley. With the tying run at third and the winning run at first, it was now up to Mookie Wilson to try and keep the game alive. Stanley was able to get two strikes on the Mets' center fielder, but only because Wilson kept fouling pitches off. Wilson, in the meantime, had worked the count to 2–2. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Stanley threw a wild pitch into the dirt that nearly hit Wilson. The ball skipped past Gedman allowing Mitchell to score the tying run and Knight to advance to second.
Wilson stepped back in with a full count and fouled off the next two pitches. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Wilson hit a slow ground ball along the first base side. Buckner, who had been playing over several steps, went to retrieve it and had a play, but the ball took a quick bounce and went under Buckner's glove. Knight rounded third and scored on the error and the Mets had a 6–5 victory. Knight grabbed his helmet as he jumped on home plate to win the game in an iconic image of one of the most famous comebacks in World Series history.
|“||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!||”|
Scully then remained silent for more than three minutes, letting the pictures and the crowd noise tell the story. Scully resumed with:
|“||If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words, but more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets are not only alive, they are well, and they will play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow!||”|
Bruce Hurst was set to be named the World Series MVP minutes before the Mets comeback. The award would eventually be presented after Game 7 (see below) to Knight. Bobby Richardson, who played for the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, would remain the only World Series MVP from a losing team.
This game caused the first cancellation of Saturday Night Live, due to extra innings. Ron Darling explained that when they entered the locker room, they were informed that they caused the first delay in SNL's 11 year history (at the time) to their dismay.
|WP: Roger McDowell (1–0) LP: Calvin Schiraldi (0–2) Sv: Jesse Orosco (2)
BOS: Dwight Evans (2), Rich Gedman (1)
NYM: Ray Knight (1), Darryl Strawberry (1)
Rain postponed Game 7 from October 26 to 27, forcing some adjustments for both teams. For the Mets, who had employed a three-man rotation for the series, this enabled Ron Darling to get an additional day of rest as he was slated to start. For the Red Sox, Oil Can Boyd was scheduled to take the mound for Game 7. However, his struggles in Game 3, where he gave up six runs, and the unexpected day off gave John McNamara a secondary option and he elected to use it. Bruce Hurst, who would have won the series MVP had the Mets not been able to force this game, returned on three days rest with a chance to win his third game of the series.
Boston got to Darling early, recording three second inning runs. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman hit back to back home runs to lead the inning off and with two out, Wade Boggs drove in Dave Henderson with a single for a 3–0 Red Sox lead. Darling did not pitch as well as he had earlier in the series and was pulled in the fourth inning with two outs and a runner in scoring position. Sid Fernandez came in and after walking Boggs, he was able to retire Marty Barrett on a fly ball to right field. Fernandez then retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth.
Still trailing 3–0 and having only one hit to show for their outing so far, the New York bats came alive in the bottom of the sixth against Hurst. After recording the first out, Lee Mazzilli and Mookie Wilson recorded back to back hits and Tim Teufel drew a walk to load the bases. Keith Hernandez singled to drive in Mazzilli and Wilson, and Gary Carter followed with a liner to right that dropped in front of Evans. Hernandez had held up in case the ball was caught and was forced out at second, with Tuefel scoring the tying run. Hurst would be pulled from the game after the inning.
After Roger McDowell retired the Red Sox in order in the seventh, the Mets went back to work against Game 6 losing pitcher Calvin Schiraldi. Ray Knight led off with a solo home run, the first one by the home team in this Series, and pinch hitter Lenny Dykstra followed with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Dykstra would score on a hit by Rafael Santana to make the score 5–3, and after McDowell laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Santana to second base McNamara pulled Schiraldi in favor of Joe Sambito. After putting Wilson on intentionally Wally Backman drew a second walk, and a Hernandez sacrifice fly gave the Mets a three-run lead entering the eighth.
Boston had not had a hit since the third inning and did not have a batter reach base since the fourth when they came to bat in the top of the eighth inning, but on three straight hits they scored twice to cut the lead back to one. After Bill Buckner and Jim Rice singled to start the inning, Evans doubled to drive both runners in. That was all for McDowell, who was pulled in favor of closer Jesse Orosco. The Red Sox would not score again as Orosco retired Gedman, Henderson, and Don Baylor to end the threat.
With Al Nipper now pitching for the Red Sox, New York put the game away in the bottom of the inning. Darryl Strawberry led off with a home run, and Knight followed with a single. After Dykstra grounded out, Santana was walked intentionally to bring up the pitcher's spot. Orosco went up to bat and came through with a single to drive in Knight with the last run of the game and give the Mets an 8–5 lead. Boston could not do anything in the top of the ninth and Orosco struck out Barrett swinging to end the game and make the Mets world champions.
After striking out Barrett, Orosco then provided one of the most memorable images of that World Series, which would become an iconic image to the Mets and their fans: he threw his glove high in the air and immediately dropped to his knees while catcher Gary Carter ran out to the mound to embrace him. The photo was taken by Mets photographer George Kalinsky. For many years, this was the final scene shown during the ending credits of the syndicated Major League Baseball news show This Week in Baseball.
This was the Mets' second championship, and their first since 1969. For the city of New York, this was their first World Series championship and their first major professional sports championship since the Yankees won in 1978. For the New York metropolitan area, this was their first major professional sports championship since the New York Islanders swept the 1983 Stanley Cup Finals. The NFL's New York Giants would follow the Mets' World Series triumph by winning Super Bowl XXI at the conclusion of the 1986 NFL season.
The Red Sox were the third professional sports team based in the Greater Boston area to compete for a championship in 1986. The NFL's New England Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX and the Boston Celtics won the 1986 NBA Finals over the Houston Rockets. This was the last Red Sox loss in a World Series game until Game 2 of the 2013 World Series, when the Red Sox lost 4-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals after 9 consecutive wins in World Series play. Their intervening World Series appearances included their 2004 sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals, ending the Curse of the Bambino, their 2007 sweep against the Colorado Rockies, and their win in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series against the Cardinals.
As of 2013, 1986 marks the most recent time the Red Sox have lost a World Series.
Composite line score
|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: 45,967
Winning player's share: $86,254 Losing player's share: $74,986
NBC's broadcast of Game 7 (which went up against a Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants on ABC) garnered a Nielsen rating of 38.9 and a 55 share, making it the highest-rated single World Series game to date.
In popular culture
In the 1998 Movie Rounders, Matt Damon's Character (Mike McDermott) references Game 6 while returning into Teddy KGB's place in the final scene. "I feel like Buckner walking back into Shea."
The collapse of the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 and Game 7 prompted a series of articles by George Vecsey of the New York Times, in which he mentions a "Babe Ruth Curse." Although it had long been noted that the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees had marked the beginning of a down period in the Red Sox's fortunes, this was one of the first instances, if not the first, in which mention of a "curse" was made. The term "Curse of the Bambino" was not in common use by the press during the 1920s, nor can it be found through the 1970s, as a search of historical newspapers will illustrate. In fact, even though Vecsey's articles mention a "Babe Ruth Curse", the New York Times did not use the phrase "Curse of the Bambino" until 1990, the year that Dan Shaughnessy's book of the same name and a Boston Globe article about it were published. Shaughnessy's book The Curse of the Bambino helped that phrase become a key part of the Red Sox lore in the media thereafter.
In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "Mister Softee", Bill Buckner appeared as a guest star, and mocked his famous 1986 mishap by missing a crucial catch of a Mookie Wilson-signed baseball. As the episode is being concluded, he redeemed himself by catching a baby thrown from a burning building.
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- Re-creating a classic
- Ghost of World Series 1986 still resonates
- Mets Win World Series – Bob Murphy Call