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Mets Top Cubs as Craig Finally Ends Losing Streak

Aug. 9, 1963 - The Ballad of Roger Craig, a woeful tale of one of the great right-handed tragic heroes of modern times, came to a glorious end today as the New York Mets ended his losing streak by defeating the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, at the Polo Grounds. As with all important ballads, the end of Craig’s 18-game losing streak was accompanied by drama, individual heroism, and high tension. Roger went into the game with a 2-20 record and hadn’t won since beating the Dodgers, 4-2, on April 29. The victory enabled him to evade the humiliation of becoming the second man in major league history to lose 19 in a row in one season. John Nabors of the 1916 Athletics remains the sole holder of that unenviable record. Craig toiled valiantly through nine innings despite two Chicago home runs, two triples, and four other hits. As the game moved into the last of the ninth, however, Jim Hickman lifted the hero’s mantle from Craig’s shoulders and ended the game in truly majestic fashion. With two men out in the ninth, the score tied at 3, and the bases filled, the rangy third baseman came up to face Cub reliever Lindy McDaniel. The 11,566 fans came to their feet with a roaring plea for Hickman to end it. They screeched and blared out with sirens. And Hickman delivered, hitting a 3-2 pitch off the scoreboard on the front of the upper deck in left field for a grand slam. The homer unleashed happy cries of “Break up the Mets” as the crowd headed for the exits. Craig says he isn’t superstitious, but in an effort to shake off the jinx, he wore uniform No. 13 tonight instead of his usual No. 38. “Will you keep No. 13 now?” he was asked after the game. “I’d like to,” he answered, “if the club will let me.” Did he think Hickman’s shot would leave the yard? “No, I didn’t,” he answered. “I thought it was the third out, and I said to myself, ‘Well, at least I didn’t lose this one.’” As soon as the ball grazed the deck facing, Craig ran to the plate happily to greet Hickman. Umpire Al Forman had to hold Roger away so Jim could toe the plate. “I just wanted to be sure he touched it,” Roger grinned. “I would have pulled him across or tackled him.” Craig said that before the game, as player rep, he held a meeting. “I told them I had three things to say. I explained the two business matters, then added, ‘And I’d like to win this ball game tonight.’ I was greeted with silence. But I knew how much they wanted to help.” Met manager Casey Stengel was as happy as a kid at the finish. “Just when we learn how to use that wall, they are taking the ballpark away from us,” he said with a grin. When a reporter noted the Mets had won three in a row, Casey said: “The way we’re going, we might win 45 in a row and catch somebody.”


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