Then, he lowered his head. Then, and only then, did everyone in Shea Stadium know it was gone.
Todd Pratt, the Mets' backup catcher, had sent his team to the National League Championship Series with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, pounding a solo shot off Diamondbacks reliever Matt Mantei on Oct. 9, 1999. "The Tank" would have a chance to roll around the bases in the fan's No. 10 highlight, propelling the Mets to a 4-3 win in Game 4 of the NL Division Series.
"When he hit it, I saw Steve Finley going back real slowly," Mets infielder Shawon Dunston said, according to the New York Post. "He timed it. He's not a Gold Glover for nothing. When he came down calm, I thought he had it. Then he came down too calm, and I knew it was gone."
Al Leiter had started the game, lasting 7 2/3 innings to allow three hits and all three of the Diamondbacks' runs. The Mets trailed 3-2 in the eighth inning, but Roger Cedeno hit a sacrifice fly to score Edgardo Alfonzo, while Armando Benitez and John Franco held down the next two innings for the Mets until Pratt's shot.
All of the talk before the game had been about the absence of Mike Piazza, who had to sit out with a swollen left thumb. After the game, Pratt didn't want to play up what was the fourth postseason-series-ending home run in baseball history.
"I'm not an offensive power like Mike, but I can handle the bat all right," Pratt said, according to USA Today. "Honestly, I don't think it was that big a deal. To be honest with you, it's just like another game. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy I gave my team a chance to go to the NLCS, but I'm one guy in the mix. I could have easily been the goat today."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.