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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, August 10, 2000



Sid recalls his
‘unsung’ World Series

SID Fernandez recently went back to New York City for a ceremony at Shea Stadium celebrating the Greatest Moments in Mets' History.

Particularly honored were members of the "Miracle Mets" and the "Amazing Mets" who won the 1969 and 1986 World Series, respectively.

The 45-minute ceremony before the Mets' 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals --the night when Benny Agbayani, another native from Hawaii, hit a home run --brought back pleasant memories for El Sid.

For those who need their memory banks jiggled, there was no better pitcher in all of baseball in the summer of 1986 than Fernandez.

By the All-Star Game break, Fernandez was the majors' winningest pitcher with a 12-2 record.

He went on to finish with a career-best 16-6 record and 200 strikeouts in 204-1/3 innings as the Mets ran away by 21-1/2 games in the National League East division with a 108-54 record -- still the best in its franchise history.

In all, it was quite a dream season for Fernandez and the Mets, who clinched the NL East title by Sept. 7 and beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series in which Bill Buckner will never forget.

Oh, did we mention that in the All-Star Game at the Houston Astrodome that year, Fernandez struck out the side in the only inning he pitched?

That tied a record set by many pitchers, including the Los Angeles Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela, who whiffed five in a row earlier in the game to tie Carl Hubbell's feat.

As an added baseball nugget, Fernandez was the first Hawaii native to play in the All-Star Game.

Besides Fernandez, others at the reunion included Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Hojo Johnson, Bob Ojeda, Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson.

Naturally, with Mookie on hand, many reminiscences were about the unforgettable World Series with the Red Sox.

It was more about the Red Sox losing the World Series than the Mets winning it.

It was Mookie's squiggling grounder that rolled through Buckner's legs, allowing the Mets to win Game Six. And everyone knows what happens to Boston in Game Sevens of the World Series.

"The man (Buckner) had a good career to be ridiculed for one play," Fernandez said.

"What people forget, too, is that it only tied the Series. The play didn't lose the Series."

Besides, added Fernandez, Mookie really believed he would have beaten Buckner to the bag anyway.

THAT comeback still remains one of the most amazing in baseball, and Fernandez still shakes his head recalling it after all these years.

The Mets, who had lost the first two games at Shea, were one out and one strike away from losing the Series.

"I was in the bullpen, packing my bag, ready to go to the clubhouse. I was thinking, it was all over, thinking about coming back home.

Carter hits a two-strike single. Ray Knight singles to score Kevin Mitchell. A wild pitch ties the score.

"What's going on?" Fernandez wondered.

Then Mookie hits that squib of all squibs.

The Red Sox never recovered and Sid had his championship ring.

He earned it, too, even though manager Davey Johnson took him off the starting rotation, fearing that left-handers wouldn't fare well at Fenway Park.

In his role as middle relief, Fernandez pitched in three games, yielding one run, while striking out 10 in 6-2/3 innings.

No doubt about it, Johnson said later, Sid was the unsung hero of the World Series.



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
bkwon@starbulletin.com



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