In the tradition of Independence Day, I decided to look back a one memorable moment in Atlanta sports history. It turned out to be one of the craziest, if not infamous, baseball games played. Fittingly it involved your Atlanta Braves.
On July 4, 1985, 44,947 baseball fans settled in for a matchup between the New York Mets and your Atlanta Braves at an also now defunct Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. For the Fourth of July, the Mets ushered out flamethrower Dwight Gooden while right handed journeyman Rick Mahler took the hill for the Braves. Neither pitcher lasted very long, partly due to a rain delay that hit in the second inning. Gooden was gone after 2 1/3 innings and Mahler lasted just 3 1/3.
After play resumed, the Mets crawled out to a 7-4 lead and looked to close out the game with young left hander Jesse Orosco coming on to pitch in the eighth. The Braves had other ideas. Terry Harper capped a four-run rally with a home run and just like that, the Braves chased Orosco and took a one-run lead into the ninth inning. The lead was short lived through as the Mets tied in it the ninth to force extra innings.
For the next four innings, the game turned into a dual of the bull pens as both the Braves and Mets used reliever after reliever to shut each other down. Finally in the thirteenth inning the Mets scored twice to take a two-run lead. Along the way though, they burned through all of their main pitchers and had nothing but scrubs left.
The Braves took advantage, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning and once again, the game was tied. The Mets Tom Gormon, who gave up the two tying runs, shut the Braves down over the next four innings and the Mets again took a one-run lead in the top of the eighteenth inning (now ere at the end of the second regulation game). Gormon returned to seal the deal and finally give the fans in attendance their much anticipated post-game fireworks show. Forget it. Out of options, the Braves sent up pitcher Rick Camp to hit. All Camp did is take an 0-2 forkball over the left field fence and wouldn’t you know it…tied again.
Finally, in the nineteenth inning, the Mets scored five runs and looked to end the insanity. The Braves scored two runs in the bottom of the inning before Camp came up with two runners on and a chance to tie the game once again. So what happened? He fanned and at last, the game was over.
As it turned out, the fireworks show, which finally did go down at 4:01 a.m. on July 5 wasn’t even relevant.