Tonight, the Mets will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets. With the Giants being in town last weekend, and the celebration this weekend, I got to thinking about what a truly amazing feat winning the 1969 World Series was. That got me to thinking about how wonderful it must’ve been for Met fans to see their team as World Champs.
I was too young to remember 1969. I do remember Buddy Harrelson and Pete Rose fighting it out back in the 1973 playoffs at Shea. The boys of 1986 will always be my favorite Met team, but that 1969 team will always be magical.
Imagine New York National League baseball in the 1940′s and 1950′s. The Dodgers and the Giants. Two NL teams, one of baseball’s greatest rivalries. Who could possibly imagine one team leaving NY let alone both leaving, both at the end of the same year. The Dodger fans and Giant fans had to be broken hearted. I remember seeing old news footage showing the fans holding signs saying “STAY TEAM STAY”, fans openly weeping. From 1958-1961 the only team in town was the Yankees. Those must have been awful days.
I could not imagine the glee that Dodger & Giant fans felt when they heard National League baseball was returning to New York. From day one the New York Mets were loved! Mrs. Payson, and her management team did all the right things for Dodger and Giant fans. They made the team colors Dodger Blue, and Giants Orange. They drafted as many former Giant and Dodger players as they could. In those early years they made the Mets for the Giant and Dodger fans. In 1964 when that beautiful ballpark know as Shea Stadium was opened it was christened with water from the Gowanus Canal (Dodgers), and Harlem River (Giants). In 1962 it didn’t matter that the Mets lost 120 games, what mattered was that National League baseball had returned to New York.
Sure in the period from 1962-1968 the Mets were awful No one in their wildest dreams could ever have imagined what was going to happen in 1969. With former Dodger Gil Hodges as manager the 1969 Mets would become World Champions! After only eight seasons of being in existence, just a little more than a decade after the beloved Giants and Dodgers headed west, the Amazing Mets were kings of the baseball world. For those fans who suffered through the heartache of watching the Dodgers and Giants leave New York, it must have been pure joy!
I didn’t see the 1969 Mets play. But I can certainly understand why they are such a special team to so many people. Mention the 1969 team to those fans who saw them play. Look in their eyes, see the twinkle, the joy. From the lowest of the lows, 1969 took the Mets to the highest of highs. On Saturday night, it will be pretty cool seeing the Miracle Mets at CitiField, but I’ll be looking at the “old time” Met fans. Looking in their eyes to see that twinkle one more time.