Boy 2009 was an awful season for Mets fans. Between the injuries and the awful World Series we had to suffer through, things couldn’t seem to get worse for us. Well even after the disaster of a season we suffered through, the baseball gods managed to punish us further in the off season. Our hated rivals, the Phillies recently traded one Cy Young winning ace for a similar Cy Young winning ace they could hold on to for 3-4 years. The number one pitcher on the market went to the Red Sox. And the best move the Mets made so far is not signing 35 year old overweight strikeout machine Bengie Molina to the 3 year deal he demands.
Well fans, let me take you back to a time not so long ago, when Obama wasn’t the only one preaching “hope.” Back in the early part of 2009, even after our division rival won the World Series , Sports Illustrated predicted the Mets would win the World Series and Omar Minaya seemed to have made all the right moves to put us back on top of the division. Even as players began to fall with injuries, the team pressed on and in early May, things didn’t seem so dire.
The thing I’d like to remember most from 2009, occurred on May 23rd when the Mets were visiting the Boston Red Sox. (It’s actually kind of funny to think about now, but at that point in the season the Mets were the only New York team that could beat the Sox) I was at a friend’s house for a Memorial Day bbq and a few of his friends attending were Red Sox fans. I was one of two Met fans there and the five of us were preoccupied with the game while the rest of the party was guzzling beers and stuffing their faces.
Things didn’t look good for our side. There were two outs in the top of the ninth. Slow footed Gary Sheffield was on base and a rookie catcher in his late 20’s was at the plate facing one of the most feared closers in the game. The guy sitting next to me was looking at me grinning ear to ear while pointing at the front of his Trot Nixon jersey. Keep in mind that at this point in the season, there was still a lot of hope for the Mets stealing back the division, so this game meant more to us than say… any game in September did.
Santos seemed to know exactly where Papelbon was going to place the pitch. The Boston closer is as cocky a personality there is in the game today, and we can be sure he wasn’t even remotely concerned about giving up the lead to a rookie backup catcher. Then came the heart stopping moment. As Papelbon goes into his delivery, Santos shifts his weight back, wags the bat backwards, and lifts his front foot. Jonathan Papelbon launched a 97mph heater right… in Santos’ wheelhouse.
Any child growing up a fan of baseball dreams of a moment like this. Sure, it’s not the World Series. But think about it. When your team is down and you represent not only the winning run, but also the last out and the first pitch you swing at sails towards the top of the Green Monster looking like it might reach the Mass Pike… you just fulfilled the dream everyone watching you play has ever had.
As the ball bounced off the top of the Monster, I leaped from the couch and screamed “It’s out!!! It’s out!!! Go!! Go!! I can’t believe it!!” The Sox fan next to me was silent and staring in disbelief. Everyone at the BBQ stopped what they were doing to come over and look at the TV. The umps quickly overturned their original call, and signaled for Santos to touch ’em all. I was shocked, excited, and elated at my team and their resiliency.
Over the course of summer, those feelings turned to despair, but I will always look to that game winning home run at storied Fenway Park as a bright spot in a very dark 2009 season.
Below you will find the only video I could find of this home run on You Tube. No announcer making the call, black and white, but no matter what, it’s still is an awesome moment.