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The 1986 World Series, the 83rd playing of the modern championship series in Major League Baseball, was a memorable battle between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox which helped to spread the legend of the "Curse of the Bambino" to mass public awareness.

Managers: John McNamara (Boston), Davey Johnson (New York)

Umpires:: John Kibler (NL), Jim Evans (AL), Harry Wendelstedt (NL), Joe Brinkman (AL), Ed Montague (NL), Dale Ford (AL)

Series MVP: Ray Knight (New York)

Television: NBC (Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola announcing)

Getting there

The Mets had been in a swirl of controversy during the entire season thanks in part to their edgy and rowdy players, but the team went 108-54 during the regular season, easily the best record in baseball, finished the season 21½ games ahead of the next National League East division contender, the Philadelphia Phillies, and won the 1986 National League Championship Series, 4 games to 2, over the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, went 95-66 during the season, and played a back-and-forth series against the California Angels in the 1986 American League Championship Series. All but eliminated, the Red Sox stormed back to win the pennant (breaking the hearts of Angels fans as a result) and advance to the World Series.

Game-By-Game Recap

Game 1

Game 1: Boston 1, New York 0 In the opener, Boston's Bruce Hurst dazzled the New Yorkers with his looping curve and forkball. He allowed only four hits over eight innings and outpitched New York's Ron Darling, who was equally effective, yielding only an unearned run in the seventh inning on an error by second baseman Tim Teufel.

Game 2

Game 2: Boston 9, New York 3 After dropping the first game, everybody expected the Mets to come back strong, especially having Dwight Gooden on the mound. With his counterpart Roger Clemens taking the hill for Boston, Game Two figured to be a fabulous duel between baseball's top two pitchers. What it turned out to be was the poorest game of the series, the Red Sox crushing the Mets behind an 18-hit attack. Gooden lasted only five innnings, yielding six runs and eight hits. Clemens wasn't a world-beater either, as he departed before five innings and didn't even earn the win.

Game 3

Game 3: New York 7, Boston 1 The Mets regrouped in a big way, scoring four times in the first inning. Their rally began when Len Dykstra belted a lead-off homer off Boston's Oil Can Boyd to give the New Yorkers a lift. Bob Ojeda, the Mets' main man in the Calvin Schiraldi deal, pitched a gutsy game, allowing five hits for a win.

Game 4

Game 4: New York 6, Boston 3 Boston skipper John McNamara took a gamble by starting Al Nipper. His earned run average of 5.38 was the highest for a series starter since Hal Gregg's 5.87 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Despite his bloated ERA, Nipper performed well, allowing only three runs in six innings. It didn't matter, though, as Ron Darling continued to sparkle in the postseason, this time pitching the Mets to even the series at 2 apiece, featuring two home runs over the Green Monster by Gary Carter.

Game 5

Game 5: Boston 4, New York 2 The Red Sox halted the Mets' momentum behind another dominating performance from Bruce Hurst, leaving Boston just one game away from their first title since 1918. Hurst pitched a complete game, striking out six and allowing just two earned runs. Dwight Gooden had his second consecutive ineffective start for the Mets, being pulled after allowing nine hits and four runs in just four innings. The one bright spot for the Mets was a sharp outing from Sid Fernandez in relief, pitching four scoreless innings and allowing just three hits.

Game 6, October 25

In Game 6, at Shea Stadium, 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. An error by Knight led to Barrett scoring in the 7th to give Boston a 3-2 lead and it looked like Knight may be the goat of the World Series but the Mets rallied again, tying the game on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly in the 8th which forced extra innings.

In the top of the 10th inning, Dave Henderson homered to pull the Sox within three outs of a world championship, and Barrett singled in Wade Boggs to make it a 5-3 lead. When Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez were retired to start the bottom of the 10th, the championship seemed at hand.

Then, Carter singled to left. Pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell singled to center and Shea Stadium started to get loud. Knight went down in the count 0-2 bringing the Mets to their last strike but he hit the next pitch into centerfield for a single that scored Carter and advanced Mitchell to third base, making the score 5-4 and bringing Shea back to life. The Red Sox replaced pitcher Calvin Schiraldi with Bob Stanley to face left fielder Mookie Wilson. Wilson got the count to 2-1 but fouled the fourth pitch away to bring the Mets to their last strike again. He stayed alive fouling off two more Stanley pitches. Then, the seventh pitch sailed towards Wilson's knees sending him to the ground but the ball hit nothing and went straight to the backstop. Mitchell scored uncontested to tie the game and Shea Stadium erupted while Knight advanced to second base. The Red Sox were shocked to have blown the lead with the game all but over, much as they had done to the Angels in the ALCS almost two weeks prior.

When things calmed down, Wilson was still at the plate and fouled off two more pitches in a fantastic at bat. Finally, on the tenth pitch, Wilson hit a slow rolling ground ball up the first base line that appeared to be easy to field. The most pressing question in the few seconds was whether the lumbering Bill Buckner, with his chronic bad ankles and knees, would be able to beat the speedy Wilson to first base to finish the inning. (Watch this via YouTube.) The question would never be answered as the ball somehow snuck between his glove and leg and rolled slowly into right field. Shea Stadium exploded and the Mets' players and fans looked as though they couldn't contain themselves. Knight tried to hold his helmet on while jumping towards home plate with the winning run in a scene that many Mets fans would never forget. Buckner and the stunned Red Sox slowly walked off the field.

Line score

         123 456 789 10   R  H  E
Red Sox  110 000 100  2 | 5 13  3
Mets     000 020 010  3 | 6  8  2

Box score

Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox        AB   R   H RBI      BB   K      PO   A
Boggs 3b               5   2   3   0       1   0       1   0
Barrett 2b             4   1   3   2       2   0       1   4
Buckner 1b             5   0   0   0       0   0       5   0
Rice lf                5   0   0   0       1   2       5   0
Evans rf               4   0   1   2       1   0       1   0
Gedman c               5   0   1   0       0   1       8   0
Henderson cf           5   1   2   1       0   0       5   0
Owen ss                4   1   3   0       0   1       2   2
Clemens p              3   0   0   0       0   1       0   1
  Greenwell ph         1   0   0   0       0   1       0   0
  Schiraldi p          1   0   0   0       0   1       0   1
  Stanley p            0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
Totals                42   5  13   5       5   7      29   8

DP: 1.
E: Buckner (1), Evans (1), Gedman (2).

2B: Evans (1, off Ojeda); Boggs (3, off Aguilera).
HR: Henderson (2, 10th inning off Aguilera 0 on, 0 out).
SH: Owen (1, off McDowell).
HBP: Buckner (1, by Aguilera).
IBB: Boggs (1, by McDowell).
New York Mets
New York Mets         AB   R   H RBI      BB   K      PO   A
Dykstra cf             4   0   0   0       0   2       4   0
Backman 2b             4   0   1   0       0   1       0   4
Hernandez 1b           4   0   1   0       1   0       6   1
Carter c               4   1   1   1       0   1       9   0
Strawberry rf          2   1   0   0       2   0       5   0
  Aguilera p           0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Mitchell ph          1   1   1   0       0   0       0   0
Knight 3b              4   2   2   2       1   1       0   0
Wilson lf              5   0   1   0       0   1       2   1
Santana ss             1   0   0   0       0   1       0   1
  Heep ph              1   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Elster ss            1   0   0   0       0   0       3   3
  Johnson ph, ss       1   0   0   0       0   1       0   0
Ojeda p                2   0   0   0       0   1       0   0
  McDowell p           0   0   0   0       0   0       0   1
  Orosco p             0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Mazzilli ph, rf      2   1   1   0       0   0       1   0
Totals                36   6   8   3       4   9      30  11

DP: 1.
E: Knight (1), Elster (1).

SH: Dykstra (2, off Schiraldi); Backman (1, off Schiraldi).
SF: Carter (1, off Schiraldi).
IBB: Hernandez (1, by Schiraldi).

SB: Strawberry 2 (3, 2nd base off Clemens/Gedman 2).
Boston Red Sox        IP     H  HR   R  ER  BB   K
Clemens                7     4   0   2   1   2   8
Schiraldi L (0-1)      2.2   4   0   4   3   2   1
Stanley                0     0   0   0   0   0   0
Totals                 9.2   8   0   6   4   4   9

New York Mets         IP     H  HR   R  ER  BB   K
Ojeda                  6     8   0   2   2   2   3
McDowell               1.2   2   0   1   0   3   1
Orosco                 0.1   0   0   0   0   0   0
Aguilera W (1-0)       2     3   1   2   2   0   3
Totals                10    13   1   5   4   5   7

WP: Stanley (1).
HBP: Aguilera (1, Buckner).
IBB: Schiraldi (1, Hernandez); McDowell (2, Boggs).

Umpires: Ford (home), Kibler (1B), Evans (2B), 
  Wendelstedt (3B), Brinkman (LF), Montague (RF)

Attendance: 55,078
RBI Baseball Reenactment of the Bottom of the 10th
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Box score and play-by-play from Retrosheet

Game 7 and aftermath

Game 7 was delayed a day due to rain, being played on Monday, October 27. The postponement seemed to be a major point in Boston's favor; not only would it give them an additional day to recover from their crushing defeat in Game 6, but it allowed them to bypass Oil Can Boyd (who had lost to the Mets in Game 3) in the seventh game and give series star Bruce Hurst the start. Things looked promising for Boston in the beginning. After two excellent outings, the Mets' Ron Darling struggled as the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Sid Fernandez saved the Mets' hopes, however, by coming on in relief and retiring seven consecutive hitters, striking out four. Meanwhile, after being held to one hit through five innings, the Mets lineup finally figured out Hurst in the sixth, scoring three runs to tie the game. Ray Knight homered off Calvin Schiraldi leading off the seventh to give the Mets their first lead. The Mets scored two more runs in the inning to go up 6-3. A two-run double in the eighth cut the Met lead to 6-5, but Sox reliever Al Nipper gave back those runs in the bottom of the frame. Jesse Orosco worked a 1-2-3 ninth to clinch the title, whiffing Marty Barrett for the last out. Final score: Mets 8, Red Sox 5.

Due to the destruction wreaked by Mets fans storming the field when the team clinched the division championship at home, security was tight at Shea Stadium for Game 7 and the crowd was well-behaved in their celebration of the city's first baseball world championship in eight years. It would take a decade for a New York team to bring the winner's trophy back.


  • With the Boston Red Sox one out away from winning the World Series in the bottom of the tenth inning of Game 6, the Shea Stadium scoreboard did flash the message, "CONGRATULATIONS RED SOX, 1986 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS." In addition, NBC's Bob Costas was already in the Red Sox's clubhouse in preparation for what was perceived to be the Red Sox's championship celebration.
  • Bruce Hurst would have been named the World Series Most Valuable Player if the Red Sox had held on. Hurst was the Red Sox's starting pitcher in Game 7 (which was pushed back a day due to rain) even though Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd was originally supposed to start. When the Mets came back to win, Ray Knight was named MVP instead.
  • All season long, Roger Clemens followed a routine of not shaving on days he pitched. He shaved soon after being removed from Game 6, hoping that he would look good for the ultimately aborted Red Sox post game championship celebration. Several Mets noticed this and became angered by it.
  • Just prior to Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett to clinch the World Championship for the Mets, a pink smoke bomb was released in centerfield.
  • Just prior to the start of the World Series, Bill Buckner during an interview for Boston television, jokingly brought up the fear of allowing the other team to score the winning run after letting the ball go through his legs. This now unintentionally ominious interview resurfaced during an episode of ESPN Classic's Battlelines.
  • Throughout the series, NBC announcers Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola made repeated references to the fact that Bill Buckner's legs were not 100% healthy. On more than one occasion, Scully referred to Buckner as a "one-legged first baseman".
  • Only two players on the Mets' 24-man roster had been on a club that played in a World Series: Keith Hernandez (with St. Louis in 1982) and Howard Johnson (with Detroit in 1984). Johnson had only a single pinch-hit at bat in the '84 Series.
  • In Game 3, the Mets' Bob Ojeda became the first pitcher ever to start a World Series game against the team he played for the previous year.
  • Before being called to pinch-hit in Game 6, Kevin Mitchell was busy making flight arrangements in order to go home to San Diego. According to Mitchell, just prior to Bob Stanley's wild pitch, Mets third base coach Bud Harrelson had informed Mitchell to be prepared for a ball in the dirt.
  • Keith Hernandez claimed to Bob Costas during the clubhouse celebration that he walked into manager Davey Johnson's office to drink a Budweiser during the 9th inning of Game 6. (He later explained that considering all the Mets had gone through that year, he simply couldn't bear to watch the Red Sox celebrate on the Mets' home field.) Hernandez, who originally accepted defeat, eventually came to the conclusion that Johnson's chair that Hernandez was sitting in was a good luck charm.
  • According to sports journalist Dick Schaap, while approaching an elevator sometime after Game 6, he caught newly elected National League president Bart Giamatti, who was a major Red Sox fan, mutter profanities out of frustration for Red Sox manager John McNamara's decision to keep a battered Bill Buckner in the late innings rather than put in Dave Stapleton for defensive purposes as he had done many times that season.
    • McNamara also received criticism for pinch-hitting Clemens not with veteran slugger Don Baylor, but with rookie Mike Greenwell, who struck out on three pitches.
  • When it seemed like the Red Sox winning Game 6 would be a foregone conclusion, third base umpire Harry Wendelstedt told Wade Boggs to give him his cap as soon as the game was over. Wendelstedt's reasoning according to Boggs was that he always collected caps from teams that had just won a ball game. Boggs brushed off the request, warning Wendelstedt that the game was not over yet.
  • Postponed by rain, Game 7 was televised opposite a Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. Despite the competition, NBC received a national Neilsen rating of 38.9 for Game 7 versus an 8.8 for ABC's football telecast.
  • From 1976-1985 the designated hitter rule had been used in even-numbered years, and completely excluded in odd numbered years regardless of the venue. Beginning with this series, a new rule was implemented whereby the DH would be used in all games played in the American League team's home stadium, with pitchers batting in games played at the National League venue.
  • This was the second consecutive year that a team won the World Series after losing the first two games at home. It was also the second consecutive year that one team was three outs away from being eliminated in Game 6, came back and won, and then won Game 7 as well. (These feats were previously accomplished by the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.)
  • The run scored by the Red Sox in the second inning of Game 5 marked the first time that the home team had a lead in any game.
  • The Saturday Night Live episode scheduled for October 25, 1986, hosted by Rosanna Arquette, was not aired until November 8. NBC was broadcasting Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on the evening of October 25; the game entered extra innings, causing that night's broadcast of SNL to be first delayed and then cancelled. The show was performed for the studio audience starting at 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time, recorded, and broadcast two weeks later.
  • Game 6, a film by Michael Hoffman released in March 2006, uses the eponymous World Series game as a focal point.
  • Gary Carter claimed that he was extremely confident that he was going to get a hit off of Calvin Schiraldi in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6. Carter and Schiraldi were teammates for the Mets the year before. Carter claimed that during a game in Philadelphia against the Phillies Schiraldi was on the mound as the Mets were losing soundly. Carter went on to accuse Schiraldi of having the body language (and therefore, lack of "killer instinct") of a person who was scared during that particular game. Schiraldi responded to Carter's accusations by boldly writing Carter off as a liar. But during an interview with ESPN after Schiraldi saved Game 1, he acknowledged that he was "scared to death."
  • Ray Knight's World Series heroics turned out to be his last accomplishments as a Met. His contract expired following the World Series, and the Mets chose not to renew it. Knight ended up signing with the Baltimore Orioles, marking the first time that a World Series MVP began the following season with a different team.

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Bill Buckner

  • ESPN Classic's The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... series featured Bill Buckner. Here are the reasons they gave for not blaming him:
5) Roger Clemens' mysterious exit from Game 6: Nobody knows for sure if Clemens asked to be taken out of the game or if John McNamara pulled him on his own. Whatever the cause, it definitely put added strain on the bullpen.
4) Calvin Schiraldi: The Red Sox reliever lost both Game 6 and Game 7 as a reliever. He had been one strike away from winning the series in Game 6
3) Rich Gedman and Bob Stanley: They got their signals crossed, resulting in the game tying wild pitch in the dramatic 10th inning of Game 6.
2) Mookie Wilson's speed: Wilson was a speedy player and given how far from the base Buckner was and adding to that the fact that Buckner was playing sore knees and was hobbled greatly, even if Billy Buck had fielded the ball cleanly, he probably wouldn't have beaten Mookie to the bag.
1) John McNamara: The Red Sox manager made several poor decisions in the World Series:
  1. Removing Clemens from Game 6 too early
  2. Pinch-hitting Mike Greenwell for Clemens instead of Don Baylor with a runner on second
  3. Not replacing Bill Buckner with Dave Stapleton
  4. Bringing Schiraldi in the next day to pitch after he had been shelled the day before.
  • The Best of the Rest included the 14 men left on base in Game 6, Oil Can Boyd jinxing the team, and the announcement on the scoreboard jinxing the team.

Quotes of the Series

"...and now the winning run is on second with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson...little roller up along first; behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!"--NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Vin Scully

"... and a ground ball, trickling, its a fair ball..gets by Buckner!! Rounding third, Knight! The Mets will win the ball game! The Mets win! They Win!" "Unbelievable, the Red Sox in stunned, disbelief!" Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne, respectively, on WHN Radio, radio home of the New York Mets

"He struck him out! He struck him out! The Mets have won the World Series! And they're jamming and crowding all over Jesse Orosco! He's somewhere at the bottom of that pile. He struck out Marty Barrett. The dream has come true! The Mets have won the World Series, coming from behind to win the seventh ballgame.'"--Bob Murphy called the final out of the World Series from New York Mets' WHN radio

External links

Mookie Wilson's at bat

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