It was thirty years ago ago today that one of the most infamous moments in baseball history had “occurred”: when Cosmo Kramer and Newman believed they had been spit on by former Met legend Keith Hernandez after a Philadelphia Phillies-New York Mets baseball game in Queens.
The following was detailed in the two-part episode of “Seinfeld” entitled “The Boyfriend” which guest starred Hernandez and had originally aired on NBC on Feb. 12, 1992. 17 million viewers tuned in, beating the “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and “Anything but Love” combo (13.8 million) on ABC in the 9-10 p.m. hour, but ranked behind the Albertville Winter Olympics (25.6 million) on CBS that night.
NEWMAN: June 14, 1987. Mets-Phillies. We’re enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the right-field stands, when a crucial Hernandez error led to a five-run Phillies ninth. Cost the Mets the game.
KRAMER: Our day was ruined. There was a lot of people, you know, they were waiting by the players’ parking lot. Now we’re coming down the ramp, Newman was in front of me. Keith was coming toward us. As he passes Newman turns and says, “Nice game, pretty boy.” Keith continued past us up the ramp.
NEWMAN: A second later, something happened that changed us in a deep and profound way from that day forward.
ELAINE: What was it?
KRAMER: He spit on us. And I screamed out, “I’m hit!”
NEWMAN: Then I turned and the spit ricocheted off him and it hit me.
ELAINE: Wow! What a story.
JERRY: Unfortunately the immutable laws of physics contradict the whole premise of your account. Allow me to reconstruct this, if I may, for Miss Benes, as I’ve heard this story a number of times.
Newman, Kramer, if you’ll indulge me. According to your story Keith passes you and starts walking up the ramp, then you say you were struck on the right temple. The spit then proceeds to ricochet off the temple, striking Newman between the third and fourth rib. The spit then came off the rib, turned and hit Newman in the right wrist, causing him to drop his baseball cap. The spit then splashes off the wrist, pauses — in mid-air, mind you — makes a left turn and lands on Newman’s left thigh.
That is one magic loogie!
NEWMAN: Well that’s the way it happened.
JERRY: What happened to your head when you got hit?
KRAMER: Well, uh, well my head went back and to the left.
ELAINE: So, what are you saying?
JERRY: I am saying that the spit could not have come from behind. That there had to have been a second spitter behind the bushes on the gravelly road. If the spitter was behind you as you claimed, that would have caused your head to pitch forward.
ELAINE: So the spit could have only come from the front and to the right.
JERRY: The sad thing is we may never know the real truth.
In the second half of the two-part episode, Keith Hernandez confronted Kramer and Newman …
KEITH: The way I remember it, I was walking up the ramp. I was upset about the game. That’s when you called me pretty boy. It ticked me off. I started to turn around to say something, and as I turned around I saw Roger McDowell behind the bushes over by that gravelly road.
Anyway, he was talking to someone and they were talking to you. I tried to scream out, but it was too late. It was already on its way.
JERRY: I told you!
NEWMAN: Wow, it was McDowell.
JERRY: But why? Why McDowell?
KRAMER: Well, maybe because we were sitting in the right-field stands cursing at him in the bullpen all game.
NEWMAN: He must have caught a glimpse of us when I poured that beer on his head.
In reality, the Mets were in Pittsburgh on June 14, 1987 to take on the Pirates. New York won 7-3. Hernandez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a solo home run. Roger McDowell didn’t pitch that day.
The Big Lead surmised the inspiration for the story actually came from a May 2, 1987 game where the Mets had a 6-4 lead entering the 9th inning against the Montreal Expos. Montreal rallied with 2 runs in the 9th, then scored 5 runs in the top of the 10th inning to win the game. Keith Hernandez committed an error in that 10th inning.