My younger brother Josh was a major Mets fan, and my parents had arranged for him to have a set of season tickets for the 1986 baseball season. We couldn't afford tickets for every game, unfortunately, and so we had tickets for weekend games only. Also, we also could only afford two tickets per game for a family of five, so most of the time one of my parents or my older brother went with Josh to the games.
Until the Mets got into the World Series. As season ticket holders, we were entitled to purchase tickets to games being held on the same day of the week we had tickets. So we managed to get tickets for games 1 and 7, which were supposed to be held on a Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Game 1 was in fact held on the evening of Saturday, October 18, 1986, and since I had not been able to go to many of the games during the season, the family agreed that I would be the one to escort Josh to Shea Stadium for both games (should there be a game 7). The first game was a disappointment to us, of course, as the Mets lost 1-0. It was not exactly an auspicious moment for them, or for us. As Mets fans, we obviously wanted the Mets to win the World Series, but as holders of tickets for game 7, we needed it to be a squeaker.
Over the next week, we watched the games on television, saw the Mets lose game 2 at Shea, and then win games 3 and 4 at Fenway. The series was now tied 2-2, which gave us hope, until the Mets lost game 5 by a score of 4-2.
And then they returned to Shea for game 6. Everyone knows what happened during game 6, held on the evening of Saturday, October 25, so I won't recount it here. What I will note is my vivid memory of us watching as it looked like the Mets were going to lose, and how terribly disappointed and even depressed we were beginning to feel at my house. Josh and I desperately wanted to use the tickets to game 7, and if the Mets had lost we wouldn't even get to keep the tickets as a souvenir of a game that was never played; they had to be returned for the full refund. So we watched and moped, until Mookie Wilson did what he did and we knew game 7 was a reality.
And then it rained on Sunday, postponing the game to Monday. There was talk of holding the game during the day, and I had visions of bringing a note to school on Tuesday: "Please excuse Michael from being out yesterday, as he had to attend the World Series." Fortunately, they chose to play that game at night.
And so Josh and I went. After the final game of the NLCS and game 6 of the World Series, game 7 felt almost like an anticlimax. The Mets managed to score 6 runs by the top of the 8th inning, and although the Sox finally scored 2 runs of their own, the Mets scored 2 more and the game ended 8-5. I will never forget how Jesse Orosco pitched that final strike and fell to the mound in joyous gratitude that he had won a World Series.
Nine years later I found myself married to a Red Sox fan, and we avoided talking about the 1986 World Series until 2004. Finally, I can breathe free again, and as the Cardinals and the Tigers pound away, I can revel in the memories of a beautiful World Series, played twenty years and a lifetime ago.
1986 World Series by Baseball Almanac
Copyright © Michael Burstein