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The National League Championship Series was played between the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds from October 6 to October 10. New York won the series three games to two and advanced to the World Series, where they lost to the Oakland Athletics in what was the second of three straight world championships for Oakland.

The 1973 NLCS was marked by a fight that broke out in the fifth inning of the third game, beginning with a tussle between Cincinnati's Pete Rose and New York's Bud Harrelson at second base. Players from both sides joined in a general melee that lasted for several minutes and set off rowdy fan behavior at Shea Stadiummarker in New York. Photographs of the fight, autographed by Rose and Harrelson, are now available at a number of Internet sites.


New York Mets vs. Cincinnati Reds

Game summaries

Game 1

Saturday, October 6, 1973 at Riverfront Stadiummarker in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker

The starting pitchers, New York's Tom Seaver and Cincinnati's Jack Billingham, produced a classic pitcher's duel in Game 1. The Mets threatened in the first, loading the bases with one out, but Cleon Jones grounded into a double play to end the inning. New York got what proved to be their only run in the second when Seaver himself doubled home Bud Harrelson of later fight fame. Meanwhile, Cincinnati did little except make outs against the masterful pitching of Seaver until the eighth inning, when Harrelson’s eventual fisticuffs partner Pete Rose homered with one out. Seaver yielded another homer in the ninth to Johnny Bench, and the Reds walked off with a 1–0 advantage in the series. Despite his complete-game six-hit effort Seaver took the loss, though he would later gain a measure of revenge.

Game 2

Sunday, October 7, 1973 at Riverfront Stadiummarker in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker

New York leveled the series in Game 2 behind the superb pitching of starter Jon Matlack. Rusty Staub homered for the Mets in the fourth, and that was the only scoring either team could manage against the stingy pitching staffs for the first eight innings. Cincinnati's bullpen—in particular, Tom Hall and Pedro Borbon—finally collapsed in the ninth and allowed four runs. Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson all connected on run-scoring singles for New York to break open the game. Matlack completed his sparkling two-hitter by retiring the Reds 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the series went to Shea Stadiummarker tied 1–1.

Game 3

Monday, October 8, 1973 at Shea Stadiummarker in Queens, New Yorkmarker

Game 3 wasn’t much of a contest in baseball terms, but the Shea Stadiummarker crowd got plenty of excitement from another source. The Mets scored early and often, piling up nine runs in the first four innings. Rusty Staub hit his second homer of the series in the first inning, and the Mets erupted for five more runs in the second, highlighted by yet another homer from Staub, a three-run shot. The Reds got their only two runs of the game in the third on a Denis Menke homer and an RBI single by Joe Morgan. Mets starting pitcher Jerry Koosman got in on the fun in the third with a run-scoring single of his own, and the Mets closed the scoring with two more in the fourth on RBI hits from Cleon Jones and John Milner.

By now the Reds, fabled as Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, were getting frustrated with their feeble offense against New York's strong pitching staff. In the top of the fifth Pete Rose slid hard into Bud Harrelson as he tried (unsuccessfully) to break up a double play. Exactly who started the fight is disputed, but Rose and Harrelson were soon battling at second. Both teams poured onto the field and a general brouhaha ensued, marked by particularly vigorous efforts from Cincinnati's excitable relief pitcher Pedro Borbon. Order was eventually restored, but the Shea Stadium crowd showered Rose with debris when he returned to his left field position in the bottom of the fifth. Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson pulled his team off the field until several Mets players persuaded the fans to stop the rowdiness. The rest of the game was relatively uneventful as the Mets took a 2–1 advantage in the series.

Game 4

Tuesday, October 9, 1973 at Shea Stadiummarker in Queens, New Yorkmarker

After the fight in the preceding game, Game 4 turned into a tense affair that wasn’t decided until the twelfth inning. The Mets opened the scoring with what would be their only run of the game in the third, when Felix Millan singled home Don Hahn. Cincinnati's pitchers clamped down almost completely after that, holding the Mets to two harmless singles for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Reds finally broke through in the seventh on a game-tying homer from Tony Pérez. The game went into extra innings, and Cincinnati threatened in both the tenth and eleventh but couldn't score. Much to the displeasure of the Shea Stadiummarker crowd, Pete Rose then hit a game-breaking homer in the twelfth to give the Reds a 2–1 win and even the series.

Game 5

Wednesday, October 10, 1973 at Shea Stadiummarker in Queens, New Yorkmarker

Game 5 gave the Mets their second National League pennant, as Tom Seaver once again pitched New York to victory. After the Reds loaded the bases in the top of the first but couldn't score, the Mets took the lead on a two-run single by Ed Kranepool in the bottom of the inning. Cincinnati bounced back to tie the game with single runs in the third and fifth on a sacrifice fly by Dan Driessen and an RBI single by Tony Pérez. The Mets won the game and the series with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth, capped by a run-scoring single from Game 3 combatant Bud Harrelson. Seaver himself scored New York's final run in the sixth when he doubled and came home on a Cleon Jones single. The Reds could do little against Seaver after the fifth, though they finally loaded the bases in the ninth. But New York closer Tug McGraw came on to get the final two outs, and the Mets went to the World Series. The Shea Stadium crowd poured onto the field at the game’s conclusion, which sent players for both teams—especially Pete Rose, who was a baserunner at first—scurrying for safety.

Composite box

1973 NLCS (3–2): New York Mets over Cincinnati Reds

Series quotes


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