When ‘Saturday Night Live’ Was Upstaged by the New York Mets
Throughout its legendary television run, Saturday Night Live has been a mainstay of weekend late-night broadcasting. But fans who tuned in on Oct. 25, 1986, didn’t get their expected “Live from New York.” Instead, they witnessed World Series baseball history.
That the Mets were in the fall classic was already something of a miracle. Though the team was undoubtedly talented, and won 108 games in the regular season (a franchise record), off-field activities threatened to derail the club. Players lived lives more commonly associated with rock stars than athletes, regularly drinking, gambling and doing cocaine. Despite these demons, the Mets made it to the 1986 World Series where they took on the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox won Games 1 and 2 in New York, only to have the Mets come back and win the next two games in Boston. In Game 5 a home team finally claimed victory, as the Red Sox won to give themselves a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series.
Game 6 would take place on Oct. 25 at Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows. The back-and-forth affair would soon become a classic. With the teams knotted at 3 after nine innings, the bout headed into extras. By this point, the game had stretched well past three hours in length. While sports fans were glued to their televisions, the SNL team was told it would no longer be going live.
In the 10th inning, the Red Sox scored two runs, seemingly putting the game - and the entire series - out of reach. But fate had other plans. After the Mets’ first two batters flew out quietly, the New York team mounted an unlikely rally. After stringing a few hits together, they’d tie the game on a wild pitch. In one of the most infamous moments in baseball history, the Mets would win Game 6 on a routine grounder, which somehow got under the glove of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner.
Watch the Classic Ending to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series
Back at Studio 8H, the SNL cast and crew went forth with their show as planned. However, for this one week, the “live” was taken out of Saturday Night Live. The show was taped and would air two weeks later on Nov. 8.
The Mets went on to win Game 7 and claim the second World Series title in franchise history. SNL celebrated its place as a footnote in the Mets’ championship by bringing pitcher Ron Darling, the team’s Game 7 starter, on the show to record a new opening for the delayed episode.
"When we found out that Saturday Night Live had been preempted, the mood in the locker room dropped quicker than a Roger McDowell sinker ball," Darling deadpanned during his scene. "Sure, we tried to keep up a front, pretending to be happy after we won the Series, but all we could think about were those disappointed Saturday Night Live fans. Even the ticker-tape parade seemed like a hollow charade.
"So, on behalf of all the Mets, I would like to make a public apology," Darling continued. "We didn't mean to do it, it's just that when you're playing in the World Series, sometimes you get all wrapped up in it, and, well, you forget about what's really important. Believe me, I'd gladly give back my World Series ring if it'd bring the show back live, but it won't, so I'm keeping it."