You may have seen a few posts back the exclusive interview with Kelvin Torve, whose “accidental” issue of the 24 jersey in 1990 caused a minor stir among Met fans and a major event in team history when viewed through the numeric prism. Photographic evidence of the event was difficult to come by, to say the least — even a thorough re-examination of Mets Inside Pitch issues from 1990 produced nothing.
That was before MBTN user TommieCleon (aka Paul C) stepped up to the plate, and just like Kelvin Torve on Aug. 9, 1990, smashed one off the wall. Pictured here are videocaps from that historic occassion — not only one of the few games Torve spent wearing No. 24, and not only his best moment — his pinch double drove in 2 runs including the game-winner and made him a hero — but for the lengthy, violent, bench-clearing brawl that occurred only an inning before.
The brawl was precipitated when Phillies pitcher Pat Combs returned fire to Dwight Gooden, then hitting. Gooden earlier in the game had hit Phillies Dickie Thon and Tommy Herr with pitches. Tension between the Mets and Phillies had dated to a year before when Darryl Strawberry and Darren Daulton tangled.
Gooden charged Combs after the pitch struck him in the leg in the 5th inning. “You go with your first reaction and mine was to get him,” Gooden later recounted. The ensuing melee, a “Pier 6 Brawl” as Bob Murphy might describe it, lasted nine minutes and halted play for 20. Strawberry went after Daulton but was interrupted by Von Hayes and they went at it. An obscure Phillie reliever we’d come to know, Dennis Cook, was yanked from the pack and thrown to the ground by umpire Joe West, and then he really got mad. Met outfielder Kevin McReynolds wrenched his back in the scrum. In all six players (Strawberry, Gooden and Tim Tuefelfor the Mets; and Combs, Daulton and Cook for the Phils) were ejected, along with Phillies bullpen coach Mike Ryan.
Expect this game to be referenced often as talk heats up of the Mets and Phillies renewing hostilities this season.
As for Torve’s role in the number controversy, Paul has this to say:
Based on materials in the public record concerning the Mets issuance of uniform #24, I think that present management is not inclined to retire the number. Of course, this is somewhat obvious based on the simple fact that the Wilpons still haven’t retired the number in the almost 30 years that they’ve owned the ballclub. Still, Kelvin Torve might have been a guinea pig in a calculated ploy to gauge public sentiment over the reissuance of #24. Perhaps there is a better explanation for Torve as #24, but to me, the notion that either Charlie Samuels or Met management forgot about the significance of reissuing the number is simply implausible, no matter how momentary this alleged lapse in memory was.
The Mets solution to this uni controversy appears to be a compromise; keeping the uniform mostly in limbo is consistent with their own view against retiring the number. By allowing the uni to be reissued to a special player, (e.g. Rickey Henderson, a first ballot HOF’er and one of the two or three dozen best players of all-time), Met brass appears to be minimizing instances of fan disappointment. After all, one would think that the benefits of acquiring that special player would outweigh whatever negativity might arise from having that player wear #24.
As you admire this awesome collection of historic Met bloodshed which Paul was cool enough to provide, give some thought to his points above: What should the Mets do with 24? How cool was this brawl? And how awesome do the numbers look without the awful drop shadow?