When mentioning this to local sports fans, they know. They just know.
Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox lives on as one of the most improbable comeback victories in sports history. And it happened right here in the Diocese of Brooklyn on Oct. 25, 1986.
It’s the type of moment that often leads to the question: Where were you? When Cathy Morgese is asked this question about where she was 35 years ago on that night, her response is simple.
“I was there.”
Morgese is the younger sister of Father Bill Sweeney, a diehard Mets fan and pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor. Father Sweeney had a pair of season tickets in 1986, which also meant that he was able to purchase playoff tickets.
The four Sweeney siblings decided that they would split the playoff games since they were all Mets fans — though Cathy admittedly not as diehard a fan as her brothers and father. Together with her fiancée Michael Morgese, Cathy made her World Series pick before the Fall Classic began.
“We chose Game 6,” said Cathy, who grew up in St. Joseph’s parish, Astoria. “My brothers laughed and said they might not even make it to a Game 6.”
Based on their 108-win regular season, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Mets simply dominated the Red Sox in four or five games to take home the World Series crown. Yet after they dropped the first two games of the series at home, Game 6 became a must if the Mets were going to win a title.
The Mets then won two out of three in Boston to bring the series back to Shea Stadium. Cathy Sweeney boarded the 7 train with Michael Morgese and arrived along with 55,078 other fans at the ballpark — where right from the start things appeared amiss as an actor named Michael Sergio parachuted onto the field with a “Go Mets” sign right in the first inning.
Sitting along the first-base line in one of the mid-tiers, Cathy could sense the excitement in the stadium. She did recall that a group of fans in front of her were sour on their team and worried that a loss would negate an otherwise outstanding season.
Boston led by two runs heading into the bottom of the 10th inning. Two quick flyouts from Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez had the Mets down to their final out. The champagne was ready to be popped in the visitors’ clubhouse, and in a devastating twist, a congratulatory message flashed on the Shea Stadium scoreboard as Gary Carter came to bat.
“It’s not even over! It was disgusting,” said Cathy, who remembers the crowd feeling hopeless in that moment.
But not so fast. Three straight singles by Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight plated a run, and a Bob Stanley wild pitch sent Mitchell home with the tying run. The whole stadium was on its feet, as the players refused to make the last out.
After fouling off several tough pitches, Mookie Wilson trickled a ball up the first-base line. From where she was seated, Cathy did not have a good view of the play, especially since the gentleman sitting in front of her was tall.
However, though she couldn’t necessarily see, she could totally hear. Wilson’s roller went right through first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs, Knight scored, and the Mets somehow won the game.
“When Ray Knight scored, it was intense! It was unbelievable!” Cathy said. “My brothers all thought that I missed it. They thought that I would have left.”
The celebration continued from the stadium to the parking lot to the subway as people honked their car horns, shouted with joy, and hugged anyone and everyone in sight.
“It was like the end of a war,” Cathy said. “Everybody loved each other! It was like New Year’s.
“Quite honestly, I thought we won the Series in Game 6 because that game was so exciting. That game was so energetic. It was exhausting.”
Yet Game 6 was what it was: only Game 6. The Mets still had to win Game 7, which is exactly what they did two nights later — again in come-from-behind fashion.
Father Sweeney went to a number of those playoff games, yet having Cathy go to Game 6 of the World Series instead of himself was probably for the better.
“Thank God,” he said, “because I think I would have had a heart attack!”
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.