With the 2014 Subway Series getting underway tonight, it had me thinking back on all the great moments over the years. Although the series has lost some of its lust in recent years, it’s always fun when the Mets and Yankees meet.
These are my top 5 Subway Series moments (2000 World Series excluded):
5) “Mr. Koo” steals the show – May 21, 2005 Mets 7 Yankees 1 Shea Stadium
Dae-Sung Koo, better known as “Mr. Koo” to Mets fans, provided one of the more entertaining moments in Subway Series history. The left-handed reliever pitched the seventh inning with the Mets leading 2-0. In the bottom half of the inning, manager Bobby Valentine decided to let Koo hit. In his only other career at bat, Koo went down looking at three straight pitches.
This time he was due to face Randy Johnson, arguably the most intimidating left-handed pitcher in history. Koo, then shocked the city. He connected and took a ball deep to center field for a stand up double, but that was only the beginning. Jose Reyes then bunted for a single and Koo hustled to score all the way from second base with a nifty slide at the plate. This brought about plenty of smiles and laughter from the Mets bench and fans alike.
My favorite part of that story is when it was later revealed that the jacket he wore on the bases still had weighted baseball in it. That would be the last at bat of his short-lived career.
4) First ever Subway Series game – June 16, 1997 Mets 6 Yankees 0 Yankee Stadium
When inter league play was first introduced, there were mixed emotion across baseball. Purist opposed the idea, wanting to keep the World Series as the only time teams from opposite leagues would meet. But I think most of those opinions were changed when the games were wildly popular and well received among fans.
There was a buzz in the city as the Mets visited Yankee stadium for the very first match up. Journeyman starter Dave Mlicki was on the mound and made it a one man show. Mlicki threw a complete game shutout, as the Mets won the first ever subway series game in dominant fashion behind Mlicki’s curveball.
(Video is only footage of the last out of the game, Mlicki striking out Derek Jeter with his signature curveball)
3) Matt Franco beats Mariano Rivera – July 10, 1999 Mets 9 Yankees 8 Shea Stadium
In 1999, the Yankees were right in the middle of their dynasty reign. Mariano Rivera had now established himself as the best closer in the game and seemed to never blow a save. While the Mets were just starting to come together, as this scrappy bunch was on their way to making the franchise relevant once again.
With the Mets trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, it appeared the game was over as Mr. Sandman came on close things out. But the Mets put a rally together and loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Matt Franco. He was able to put a line drive into right field scoring Ricky Henderson and Edgardo Alfonso to win the game in walk-off fashion. Although the Mets would go on to win a few games against Rivera over the years, this was the first and by far the most memorable.
This is my personal favorite Subway Series moment. I remember watching that game and feeling a mixture of shock and enjoyment that the Mets were able to beat the great Mariano Rivera.
2) Luis Castillo drops the ball – June 12, 2009 Yankees 9 Mets 8 Yankee Stadium
Ah yes, the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball. It was one of those games that everyone seems to remember what they were doing and where they watched this memorable blunder. With 2 outs in the 9th inning, closer Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) got Alex Rodriguez to pop up for what looked to be the final out of the game. In what could only happen to the Mets, Castillo began to look nervous as he circled underneath the ball and inevitably dropped it. With the runners hustling, the Yankees were able to not only tie, but win the game.
This play will live forever in the blooper reels.
1) Roger Clemens beams Mike Piazza – July 8, 2000 Yankees 4 Mets 2 Yankee Stadium
I’ve been to quite a few Subway Series games in my time, there have probably been only a handful of years where I didn’t attend at least one game, but this was by far the most memorable one. What people tend to forget was the sheer dominance that Mike Piazza had against Roger Clemens, going 7-12 with two home runs leading up to this game. Simply put, Piazza owned “The Rocket”.
Clemens, was notorious throughout his career for being a head hunter. He never hesitated to brush a batter off the plate and putting one right underneath their chin when he desired. In this case he took it too far, Clemens struck Piazza right on the bill of his helmet that left Piazza in a dazed and confused state around home plate.
Yankee stadium was full of commotion the moment Piazza went down. Conflicting chants, arguments and fights broke out. It was probably the only time I felt like I was at something other than a baseball game, hard to explain just what it was like to be in the crowd that night.
Might not be for the best of reasons, but nonetheless, this is certainly the most memorable moment from the Subway Series.
Of course this wasn’t the last moment between these two, but we’ll leave that story for another day.