The Wild Pitch, 26 Years Ago

26 years ago today, the Mets won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, which has become best known for the the ground ball through Bill Buckner’s legs in the bottom of the 10th inning.

October 25, 3:23 pm: Friend of Rich MacLeod sent in the following, with regards to whether Mookie Wilson could have been safe regardless of Buckner’s error:

“The ball was an estimated 10-15 feet behind the first base bag. I’ve calculated that it took Mookie Wilson exactly 1.9 seconds from the exact moment the ball touched Buckner’s glove until he touched first base. There are two variables here. 1. Would Bob Stanley have beaten Wilson to the base in time to catch the ball for the out? The camera angles are inconclusive but from my estimations, no. In full it took Mookie Wilson just 4.3 seconds to reach first base from the batters box. Stanley finishes his move to his right, the opposite side in which the ball was hit and had to plant, turn and sprint to first base. Stanley was a heavy-set closer, so it does not appear that he would be able to beat Mookie to first.  The second variable is Bill Buckner. Assuming Stanley would not reach the base in time, Buckner would have had to corral the baseball and sprint the 10-15 feet to first base in less than 1.9 seconds in order to record the out.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

October 25, 11:45 am: This game is always remembered for Buckner, but it’s the wild pitch from Bob Stanley that really shifted the game’s power. He let his pitch go, inside, Mookie Wilson leaped like a cat, the ball rolled by and the tying run scored. The pressure, at that point, turned to Boston. The Mets had been one out away from losing the World Series so many times earlier that inning, everyone (players and fans) were on the edges of seats, holding breaths, biting nails in disbelief, replaying the regular season in our minds and wondering how it could end like this, we were all panicked and fearing the worst, and with that one pitch it was all erased. Order was restored. In an instance, with one bad pitch, the Mets were in the better position because, though still tied, they were now just 90 feet away from being able to fight again in Game 7.

Later, a ground ball dribbled through Buckner’s legs, which was a blessing from the Baseball Gods, but even had he scooped it up, the game was still tied.

Damn, what a great game… In fact, when I meet guys from that team I always say, ‘Thank you,’ not for the winning the game necessarily, or winning the Series, but for giving me that experience of being able to watch that game on my sofa and taking me on a ride from total hopelessness to utter amazement within a few minutes of one another…