In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The New York Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-5, scoring a run in the ninth inning when Mookie Wilson reached base on a Barry Larkin error in the ninth inning, which allowed Howard Johnson to score. The play was controversial as first base umpire Dave Pallone hesitated to make a safe call with two outs. An angry Pete Rose comes out to argue and shoves Pallone leading to a 30-game suspension.
Dave Pallone the umpire involved in the incident was one of the least liked umpires in baseball. Unpopular with players and his fellow men in blue after crossing the picket line to work during the 1979 umpire strike. He had worked in the National League for ten years, serving behind home plate, when Nolan Ryan got his 4,000th strikeout and when Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb with 4,191 hits.
The New York Mets had gone into Cincinnati, playing excellent baseball as they were on top of the NL East with a record of 14-6 after taking the opener of the three-game series on Friday 5-4. The Reds meanwhile were 11-10 with their top pitcher Tom Browning on the mound against Bobby Ojeda getting the start for New York. The Mets took the lead when Darryl Strawberry scored on a sacrifice fly by Gary Carter in the second inning. The Reds answered in the third on an RBI single by Barry Larkin. The Mets got a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single from Kevin McReynolds, while the Reds scratched out a run in the fifth to make 2-2. The Mets again answered the Reds, scoring two runs in the sixth inning on a home run by Strawberry with Keith Hernandez on first. The Mets added a fifth run in the seventh inning as Tim Teufel scored on a balk by Browning. Trailing 5-2 in the eighth inning the Reds rallied against Roger McDowell, scoring two runs on a bases-loaded single by Nick Esasky. Tracy Jones than tied the game with an RBI single against Randy Myers.
In the ninth inning with John Franco on the mound for the Reds, the Mets got things started with a walk to Howard Johnson. Kevin Elster moved HoJo to second with a bunt as Barry Lyons struck out for the second out. The Reds appeared to have gotten out of the inning when Mookie Wilson bounced to shortstop Barry Larkin. However, Concepcion’s throw pulled Esasky off the bag allowing Mookie to reach on an error. Dave Pallone the first base umpire hesitated to make the call as Mets first base coach Bill Robinson pointed to wear Esasky did not touch the bag. This hesitation allowed Howard Johnson to score the go-ahead run. Reds Manager Pete Rose charged out of the dugout to argue, and things quickly got heated with Pallone putting his finger in Rose’s face. This led Pete Rose to shove Pallone leading to his ejection. Fans in Cincinnati rained debris down on Riverfront Stadium as the players left the field, along with Dave Pallone. After a threat of a forfeit, order was restored with Randy Myers retiring three straight batters after Paul O’Neill led off the ninth with a single to close out a 6-5 win for the Mets.
The fallout from the incident saw Pete Rose receive a 30-day suspension and a $10,000 fan. While Rose severed, Tommy Helms served as manager in Cincinnati posting a record of 12-15 as the Reds finished the year with a record of 86-75.
Dave Pallone’s career would not last much longer as he was forced to resign by the National League after he was alleged to have had sexual contact with a 14-year-old boy, though he never faced criminal charges. In a book written a few years later, Pallone claimed he was fired due to being gay. Pete Rose a year later would also be out of baseball as the gambling allegations came to light in 1989, leading to his permanent ban from the game and the Hall of Fame.