The 1986 World Series pitted the New York Mets against the Boston Red Sox. It was cited in the legend of the "Curse of the Bambino" to explain the error by Bill Buckner in Game 6 that allowed the Mets to extend the series to a 7th game. The NL champion Mets eventually beat the AL champion Red Sox, 4 games to 3.
Boston went 95-66 during the season, winning the American League East division by 5½ games over their rivals, the New York Yankees. The gritty play of ALCS MVP Marty Barrett and Rich Gedman; clutch hitting from veterans Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Don Baylor, Dwight Evans and Dave Henderson; and quality starting pitching, especially from 1986 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Oil Can Boyd, pushed the Red Sox to the World Series. The team's defining moment occurred in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series against the California Angels. With the Angels leading 3 games to 1 in the best-of-7 series and their top reliever Donnie Moore on the mound, the Sox needed a last-out miracle home run from Henderson to survive Game 5; they later loaded the bases and got the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly from Henderson off Moore in the 11th. The Angels never recovered from this blow, and with Boston capitalizing on some defensive miscues by the Angels, and clutch performances by some of their big name players (namely Rice and Clemens in the deciding game), the Red Sox clinched the pennant with a seven-game win.
|1||Boston Red Sox - 1, New York Mets - 0||October 18||Shea Stadium||55,076|
|2||Boston Red Sox - 9, New York Mets - 3||October 19||Shea Stadium||55,076|
|3||New York Mets - 7, Boston Red Sox - 1||October 21||Fenway Park||33,595|
|4||New York Mets - 6, Boston Red Sox - 2||October 22||Fenway Park||33,920|
|5||New York Mets - 2, Boston Red Sox - 4||October 23||Fenway Park||34,010|
|6||Boston Red Sox - 5, New York Mets - 6 (10 innings)||October 25||Shea Stadium||55,078|
|7||Boston Red Sox - 5, New York Mets - 8||October 27||Shea Stadium||55,032|
In the opener, Boston's Bruce Hurst dazzled the New Yorkers with his looping curve and forkball, allowing only four hits over eight innings. New York's Ron Darling was equally effective, yielding only an unearned run in the seventh inning on an error by second baseman Tim Teufel. That run proved to be the only run of the game, and just as they did in the League Championship Series against Houston, the Mets opened the series with a 1-0 defeat. (Mets legend Tom Seaver, as a member of the Red Sox, got a large standing ovation from the Shea Stadium fans during the Game 1 introductions. Seaver did not pitch in the series because of injury.)
After dropping the first game, the Mets turned to young phenom Dwight Gooden in what figured to be a classic matchup with Boston's own young pitching sensation Roger Clemens. That duel never materialized, as Gooden was shelled for six runs on eight hits over five innings, and Clemens was pulled before pitching five complete innings and did not earn the win.
The Mets bounced back from their early-series sluggishness in the top of the first inning, when Lenny Dykstra led off with a home run to score the first of four runs for the Mets in the inning. After the rocky start, Red Sox starter Oil Can Boyd settled down, but Bob Ojeda pitched well and Boston was unable to overcome their early deficit.
Gary Carter hit two home runs over the Green Monster and Boston-area native Ron Darling pitched seven shutout innings as the Mets evened the series at two games apiece, continuing his masterful performance throughout the 1986 postseason.
Mets ace Dwight Gooden once again struggled, this time surrendering four runs on nine hits in just four innings. Despite a strong relief effort from Sid Fernandez, Bruce Hurst was dominant again, allowing ten hits and just two runs in a complete game win to give Boston a 3-2 series lead heading back to New York.
In Game 6 , Boston took a quick 2-0 lead on RBI base hits from Dwight Evans and Marty Barrett. The Mets tied the score in the fifth inning on a single from Ray Knight and a run-scoring double play by Danny Heep. An error by Knight led to Barrett scoring in the 7th to give Boston a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the eighth, the Red Sox had Dave Henderson on second with one out. Manager John McNamara sent rookie Mike Greenwell to pinch hit for Roger Clemens in an effort to match Greenwell, a left-handed batter, against the Mets' dominant short-relief man Roger McDowell even as righty slugger Don Baylor sat on the bench; Greenwell struck out and the Sox scored no runs that inning. The Mets tied the game on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning. The score remained tied through the ninth inning, forcing the game to go into extras.
In the top of the 10th inning, Dave Henderson homered to give the Sox a lead, and Barrett singled in Wade Boggs to make it 5-3. When Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez were retired to start the bottom of the 10th, the Red Sox were one out away from the series victory.
Down to their final out and down by two runs, the Mets would go on to stage a historic comeback. Gary Carter started the rally with a single to left. Darryl Strawberry's spot would have come up next, however Mets manager Davey Johnson had removed the slugger earlier in the game through a double switch. Instead, Johnson sent Kevin Mitchell to the plate to pinch hit for pitcher Rick Aguilera. Mitchell singled to center field.
Mitchell was followed by Ray Knight, who went down in the count 0-2 leaving the Mets a strike away from elimination. Knight hit the next pitch into center field for a single that scored Carter and advanced Mitchell to third base bringing the score to 5-4 and leaving the tying run only 90 feet away.
The Red Sox replaced pitcher Calvin Schiraldi with the veteran Bob Stanley to face left fielder Mookie Wilson. On the seventh pitch of the at bat, with a 2-2 count, Stanley's pitch was too far inside and slipped past catcher Rich Gedman for a wild pitch, sending Wilson to the ground and allowing Mitchell to score from third base with the tying run. Knight moved up to second base on the wild pitch.
With Shea Stadium literally rocking, Wilson stepped back in with a full count and the winning run in scoring position. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Wilson hit a slow ground ball up the first base line that appeared to be an easy play for Boston first baseman Bill Buckner. As the speedy Wilson busted out of the box, the ball snuck between the legs of Buckner who was playing on two bad ankles. The ball slipped under his glove, and rolled slowly into right field. Ray Knight grabbed his helmet as he jumped on home plate to win the game in an iconic image of one of the most famous comebacks in World Series history.
Vin Scully's call of the play would quickly become an iconic one to baseball fans, with the normally calm Scully growing increasingly excited:
So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. (A) little roller up along first... behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!
Game 7 was delayed a day because of rain and was played on Monday, October 27. The postponement seemed to work in Boston's favor; not only would it give them an additional day to recover from their crushing defeat in Game 6, but it allowed them to bypass Oil Can Boyd (who had lost to the Mets in Game 3) in the seventh game and give series star Bruce Hurst the start. Things looked promising for Boston in the beginning. After two excellent outings, the Mets' Ron Darling struggled as the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Sid Fernandez, however, delivered another clutch relief performance, retiring seven consecutive hitters while striking out four. Meanwhile, after being held to one hit through five innings, the Mets lineup finally figured out Hurst in the sixth, scoring three runs to tie the game. Ray Knight homered off Calvin Schiraldi leading off the seventh to give the Mets their first lead. The Mets scored two more runs in the inning to go up 6-3. A two-run double in the eighth cut the Met lead to a single run, but Sox reliever Al Nipper gave back those runs in the bottom of the inning on a leadoff home run by Darryl Strawberry and an RBI single by closer Jesse Orosco. Orosco worked a 1-2-3 ninth to clinch the title, striking out Marty Barrett swinging for the final out. The sight of Orosco, flinging his glove into the air and falling to his knees in celebration after getting the final out would become an iconic image for Mets fans, and would be featured for years as the final footage shown during the end credits of This Week in Baseball.
NBC's broadcast of Game 7 garnered a Nielsen rating of 38.9 and a 55 share, making it the highest-rated single World Series game to date. It is also the last World Series game lost by the Red Sox to date, having swept the series in 2004 and again in 2007.