1973 National League Championship Series
|Umpires:||Ed Sudol, Ed Vargo, Chris Pelekoudas, Bob Engel, Bruce Froemming, Jerry Dale|
|1973 World Series|
The 1973 National League Championship Series was played between the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds from October 6 to 10. New York won the series three games to two and advanced to the World Series, where they lost to the Oakland A's in what was the second of three straight world championships for Oakland. The Mets set a record for lowest win percentage by a pennant winner, finishing the regular season with an 82–79 record.
The 1973 NLCS was marked by a fight that broke out in the fifth inning of the third game, beginning with a tussle between Cincinnati's Pete Rose and New York's Bud Harrelson at second base. Players from both sides joined in a general melee that lasted for several minutes and set off rowdy fan behavior at Shea Stadium in New York. Photographs of the fight, autographed by Rose and Harrelson, are now available at a number of Internet sites.
This was the only NLCS between 1970 and 1980 not to feature either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, from 1969 to 1980 The NL East champion was either the Mets, Phillies or Pirates.
New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds
New York won the series, 3–2.
|1||October 6||New York Mets – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 2||Riverfront Stadium||2:00||53,431|
|2||October 7||New York Mets – 5, Cincinnati Reds – 0||Riverfront Stadium||2:19||54,041
The starting pitchers, New York's Tom Seaver and Cincinnati's Jack Billingham, produced a classic pitcher's duel in Game 1. The Mets threatened in the first, loading the bases with one out, but Cleon Jones grounded into a double play to end the inning. New York got what proved to be their only run in the second when Seaver himself doubled home Bud Harrelson of later fight fame. Meanwhile, Cincinnati did little except make outs against the masterful pitching of Seaver until the eighth inning, when Harrelson's eventual fisticuffs partner Pete Rose homered with one out. Seaver yielded another homer in the ninth to Johnny Bench, and the Reds walked off with a 1–0 advantage in the series. Despite his complete-game six-hit effort Seaver took the loss, though he would later gain a measure of revenge. NBC immediately went to breaking coverage of the Yom Kippur War after the game.
New York leveled the series in Game 2 behind the superb pitching of starter Jon Matlack. Rusty Staub homered for the Mets in the fourth, and that was the only scoring either team could manage against the stingy pitching staffs for the first eight innings. Cincinnati's bullpen—in particular, Tom Hall and Pedro Borbón—finally collapsed in the ninth and allowed four runs. Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson all connected on run-scoring singles for New York to break open the game. Matlack completed his sparkling two-hitter (reserve outfielder Andy Kosco collected both hits, in the second and seventh innings) by retiring the Reds 1-2-3 in the ninth, striking out Johnny Bench for the final out, and the series went to Shea Stadium tied 1–1. In a postgame interview Harrelson stated of Matlack's pitching, "He made the Big Red Machine look like me hitting today."
During pregame warm-ups, Harrelson was confronted by Reds second baseman Joe Morgan. During this confrontation, he received a warning that 1973 batting champion, and NL MVP, Pete Rose was unhappy with Harrelson's game two quote.
Game 3 wasn’t much of a contest in baseball terms, but the Shea Stadium crowd got plenty of excitement from another source. The Mets scored early and often, racing out to a 6-0 lead after just two innings. Rusty Staub hit his second homer of the series in the first inning, and the Mets erupted for five more runs in the second, highlighted by yet another homer from Staub, a three-run shot. The Reds then got their only two runs of the game in the third on a Denis Menke homer and an RBI single by Joe Morgan. Mets starting pitcher Jerry Koosman got in on the fun in the third with a run-scoring single of his own, and the Mets closed the scoring with two more in the fourth on RBI hits from Cleon Jones and John Milner.
By this point the Reds, fabled as Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, were getting frustrated with their feeble offense against New York's strong pitching staff. In the top of the fifth with Pete Rose on first, Joe Morgan hit a double play ball to Mets first baseman John Milner, Rose slid hard into Bud Harrelson as he tried (unsuccessfully) to break up the double play. Whether Rose slid hard to break up the play or if Harrelson was being sensitive to the warning he received prior to the game about his game two quote is a matter of debate, but they were soon battling at second. Both teams poured onto the field and a general brouhaha ensued, marked by particularly vigorous efforts from Cincinnati's excitable relief pitcher Pedro Borbón. Order was eventually restored, incredibly neither Rose or Harrelson were ejected for the fracas. But when Rose returned to his left field position in the bottom of the fifth fans at Shea Stadium began showering him with debris. Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson then pulled his team off the field until order was restored. When National League president Chub Feeney threatened the Mets with a forfeit, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub and Cleon Jones all walked out to left field and persuaded the fans to stop the rowdiness. The rest of the game was relatively uneventful as neither team scored a run after that. The Mets won 9-2 and took a 2–1 advantage in the series.
After the fight in the preceding game, Game 4 turned into a tense affair that wasn’t decided until the twelfth inning. The Mets opened the scoring with what would be their only run of the game in the third, when Félix Millán singled home Don Hahn. Cincinnati's pitchers clamped down almost completely after that, holding the Mets to two harmless singles for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Reds finally broke through in the seventh on a game-tying homer from Tony Pérez. The game went into extra innings, and Cincinnati threatened in both the tenth and eleventh but couldn't score. One reason was an unbelievable catch by Rusty Staub in the 11th inning, robbing Dan Driessen of an extra base hit. However, he wound up separating his shoulder in the process. In the twelfth, much to the displeasure of the Shea Stadium crowd, Pete Rose then hit a game-breaking homer off Met reliever Harry Parker to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. Pedro Borbón came on and retired the Mets in order in the bottom half for the save and even the series at 2-2.
Game 5 gave the Mets their second National League pennant, as Tom Seaver once again pitched New York to victory. After the Reds loaded the bases in the top of the first but couldn't score, the Mets took the lead on a two-run single by Ed Kranepool in the bottom of the inning. Cincinnati bounced back to tie the game with single runs in the third and fifth on a sacrifice fly by Dan Driessen and an RBI single by Tony Pérez. The Mets won the game and the series with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth, capped by a run-scoring single from Game 3 combatant Bud Harrelson. Seaver himself scored New York's final run in the sixth when he doubled and came home on a Cleon Jones single. The Reds could do little against Seaver after the fifth, though they finally loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. But New York closer Tug McGraw came on to get the final two outs for the save, with Driessen grounding out for the final out of the series, and the Mets went to the World Series. The Shea Stadium crowd poured onto the field at the game's conclusion, which sent players for both teams—especially Pete Rose, who was a baserunner at first—scurrying for safety.
Composite line score
Back to McGraw, he is going to take it to the bag...ooh Mets win the National League Pennant, the Mets have won the National League Pennant, and there is a wiiild scene here at Shea Stadium, the fans pouring on to the field, unbelievable!!—Bob Murphy, Mets radio broadcaster.
Ya gotta Believe!!!—Mets closer Tug McGraw.
Kranepool flies to right. Agnew resigns.—Note handed to Justice Potter Stewart by his clerk during a hearing.
- Von Benko, George (July 7, 2005). "Notes: Phils–Pirates rivalry fading". Phillies.MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
- "Pirates perform rare three-peat feat 4–2". USA Today. September 28, 1992. p. 5C.
The Pirates...won three (NL East titles) in a row from 1970-72.
- "1973 NLCS Game 1 - New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1973 NLCS Game 2 - New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1973 NLCS Game 3 - Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1973 NLCS Game 4 - Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1973 NLCS Game 5 - Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- Time Magazine, "Keyholing the Supreme Court"
- Baseball-reference.com - 1973 NLCS