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Ron Darling Discusses ‘Game 7, 1986’ and 2016 Mets

by Daniel Falkenheim
Ron Darling at a baseball convention in Queens, NY. Photo courtesy of slgckgc (Flickr)

Ron Darling at a baseball convention in Queens, NY.
Photo courtesy of slgckgc (Flickr)

1986 World Series champion Ron Darling visited The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center to promote his new book “Game 7, 1986” and to discuss his thoughts on the 2016 New York Mets on April 21.

It has been 30 years since the New York Mets won their last World Series championship after they defeated the Boston Red Sox in 1986. On the heels of the anniversary, Darling discussed his experiences and thoughts about pitching in the game he had dreamed about since he was a kid — the final game of the World Series.

“Indeed, many will tell you [Game 6] decided the series, which of course was hardly the case. There was still another game to be played. Game 7 — the deciding game. And as it turned out, I would get the start,” Darling wrote in his manuscript. “Game 7 of the 1986 World Series was my ‘be careful what you wish for’ moment.”

Darling said the inspiration for writing the book came from remembering key moments in that season, and he wanted to share his experiences from October 27, 1986.

“It’s a perspective look on my career. When most athletes write a book, they write about what is great in their life, and this stuck in my craw,” Darling said. “[An athlete’s] best [intention] is to have a great game in the biggest game they play, and sometimes that doesn’t happen. That’s what the book is about.”

Game 7 was supposed to take place the night after game 6, but the finale was rained out. Game 7 took place two nights after game 6, and according to Darling, the extra 24 hours of waiting had a big impact on him.

“There was a lot of time to think about it, and I think I thought too much about it instead of letting the natural talent flow,” said Darling. “It didn’t turn out great for me.”

Darling admits Game 7 of the World Series was not his greatest performance. He only pitched three and two-thirds innings and surrendered three runs off six hits without recording a strikeout. Darling recalled in the story how frustrated he was knowing he struggled in the deciding game.

“The stuff of my boyhood dreams — of every boyhood dream — had slipped through my split fingers,” said Darling. “It was a disappointment that would morph into regret over time — a regret that was somewhat softened by the fact that we came back to win the game.”

Darling was let off the hook by a clutch offense and a dominating effort by the Mets’ bullpen as they defeated the Red Sox 8-5 to win the 1986 World Series. Darling recalled in his story the excitement that ensued during the celebration, but also explained that he did not forget his performance earlier in the night.

“I remember heading back onto the field to the mound, sitting with a bunch of my teammates and swilling champagne, wanting this night to never, ever end, wishing like crazy I could forget how it started,” said Darling.

Today, Darling is a color commentator for SportsNet New York, where the Mets broadcast their games. Darling explained that, despite his belief that there are no similarities between the 1986 championship-winning Mets and the 2016 Mets, the current Mets have their advantages.

“I think their pitching is more talented then our pitching was,” said Darling. “Our strength in our pitching was our versatility. Their strength is they just dominate power-wise.”

When it comes to the 2016 Mets, Darling feels they are going to be a special team just like the 1986 Mets were. Darling also wants to see the Mets come together and avenge last year’s World Series defeat to the Kansas City Royals and put their World Series drought to rest.

“All of these young kids who had to listen to their parents go on about how great the 1980s were are finally gonna have their moment in the sun with this 2016 team,” said Darling. “Much like how the Royals did it on the 30-year anniversary of their last World Series, I would like to see the Mets do it this year.”

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