Scoring touchdowns is cool. When Steph Curry is wet from splashing threes all night, it’s exciting to watch. A snipe from the blue line gets the juices flowing. But above all else, chicks dig the long ball.
The Mets have been going yard since 1962, but I’ve only been around 1989. So when I think about the most memorable home runs in franchise history, I can only go as far back as my memory will take me.
Yes, there’s the internet, and sure, I can ask my dad about it, but no YouTube video or story from the days of old can replicate the magic you feel coursing through your veins when you have an emotional attachment to the game.
That being said, I am going to rank my Top 5 Mets Home Runs that I’ve actually witnessed. I know most of you will have a different list, but that’s what makes this game so amazing; the way it affects us all differently.
5) The Big Sexy Bomb
Name a more lovable guy than Bartolo Colon. You can’t. I’m pretty sure his AARP card came in the mail last week, and (for now) he’s still in the league. The dude was an All-Star in three different decades. Oh, and I guess there’s also that whole “he’s a PITCHER” thing, too.
Any time a pitcher takes one deep it gets you pumped, but when Bartolo Colon hits one and runs the bases in record low speed, your heart can’t help but explode.
4) Todd Pratt Sends the Mets to the NLCS
I was still kind of young at this point, so this series is kind of fuzzy for me. What I do remember is my dad tucking me in the night of October 9, 1999.
When the Rangers won the cup in 1994, every night before bed for, what felt like, months, my dad would tuck me in, give me a kiss goodnight, tell me he loved me, and then yell, “WE WON THE CUP!” right as he walked through my doorway. This was kind of like that.
The home run was amazing, of course. The look on Finley’s face realizing he didn’t have the ball was almost poetic. But the joy in my dad’s face tucking me in at night (though it would be short lived for the rest of the ’99 postseason) was without a doubt the best thing to come from that homer.
3) Wilmer Flores Brings Magic to Flushing
The only word to describe what happened from July 29th through October 2015 – until it all came crashing down in the World Series – is magic. And it all began with Wilmer Flores.
We all know the story: Flores heard the rumor from fans that he was getting traded, cried on the field, the Citi Field faithful gave him a nice send off, but out of nowhere, the trade fell through. But instead of lamenting about missing out on Carlos Gomez, Mets fans just didn’t seem to mind. Wilmer staying just felt right.
Here was a guy who loved this franchise, loved this city, and loved his teammates. He knew that there was something special here, and he just wanted to be a part of it. Our World Series run started that day. Two days later, however, is when it was truly cemented.
A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have scripted it better. Tied in the bottom of the 12th against the division rival Nationals, who the Mets trailed by three games in the standings, and up to the plate he walks. Flores’ walk-off homerun that night was the catalyst to the fairy tale that was the 2015 Mets. They may not have gotten their story book ending, but the ride Wilmer launched them on was nothing short of spectacular.
2) Piazza Caps the 10-Run Inning Against Atlanta
Remember when the Braves were our biggest rival? I remember hating the Braves with an undying passion, and now I legitimately forget they exist sometimes. Sad!
Back in 2000, my dad was calling the games on TV and I guess this game was a national broadcast and he was off. (Editor’s note: It was actually a WB11 broadcast, so Gary Thorne had the call. Howie was primarily on Fox Sports Net New York. Yeah, I am oddly obsessed with Howie Rose – BE). How did he choose to spend his day off? Take his wife and daughters to Shea Stadium for fireworks night. It was the first – and, come to think of it – only time I ever sat in the stands with my dad at a baseball game. It’s also the day my dad went from being my hero to being my superhero.
The Mets were playing an awful game, and the Braves were on fire. Down 8-1, I was just ready for the game to be over and the fireworks to start (remember how amazing they used to be at Shea?), but the Mets had other plans. With two outs in the 8th inning, the Mets went on a huge rally to get back in the game, and Alfonzo tied the game up. Then up walks Mike Piazza, Flushing’s perpetual hero.
With two men on and the game tied, my dad had never been more sure of anything than the fact that he was taking Terry Mulholland deep. If you’ve ever seen the movie Inside Out, when Riley has those “core memories” that are part of who she is forever, you know what I mean when I say this is my sports core memory. My dad looked at me before Pizza even left the on-deck circle and said, “Watch this, Lyssie Jade, he’s hitting a home run here.” Sure enough, he rocketed one off the retired numbers left. It was one of the most special moments of my life. My dad became (and remains) larger than life to me. The Mets may have won that game 11-8, but the real win that day was the memory I made with my best friend.
1) ”This One’s Got a Chance…”
I don’t just think this is the best home run in franchise history, I think it’s the best home run in baseball history.
I don’t need to wax poetic about the feeling in New York after 9/11. Thousands of innocent lives were lost, and the entire country was in mourning. Everyone was just looking for something to cling onto for hope. Ten days after the most tragic day in our nation’s history, baseball made its return to help unify this city. Piazza delivered against the Braves, yet again, with a shot that sends chills down your spine any time you watch it. Not that I’m biased or anything, but every time I see it and combine it with the call of that home run, I feel like no greater home run has ever been hit.
Honorable Mention: The Grand Single
I remember being at the Grand Single game back in ’99 with my family friends. My mom was reluctant to let me go on a school night, but there was no way 10-year-old Alyssa was missing that game. We were sitting next to Melvin Mora’s brother, who didn’t speak a word of English, but my family friend insisted on trying to have a conversation with him the entire game. The rain was coming down hard, and the adults were checking about every 30 seconds to see if we wanted to go home. It was the 15th inning, young kids should have been fighting to keep their eyes open, but we had electricity pumping through our veins. With the bases loaded, Robin Ventura came to the plate and I pretty much blacked out after that. I just remember jumping and crying and smiling, soaking wet, taking in the sheer bliss of the moment. Even at 10, I knew I’d just witnessed history.