On Saturday night the Mets paid tribute to the 1969 Miracle Mets. While the 2009 Mets season will be a season we would like to forget, the Mets management did get one thing right, that was the fantastic, emotional and classy tribute given to these heroes of forty years ago.
I was out at CitiField Saturday night. I seated in the very last row of seats in the stadium, but the large scoreboard afforded everyone a great a view of the celebration. Here a re just a few of my thoughts.
Firstly, props to Howie Rose the on field emcee. I write a lot about the SNY guys, but Rose is about as great a broadcaster as there is. Is work on WFAN is solid. He knows the Mets inside and out. His love and respect for the Mets shows in his work. Howie always hands in a professional job, and Saturday night was no different. Keep in mind Rose grew up a Met fan, these were his boyhood heroes, and now he had the chance to emcee this event. He was great.
The Mets went to great lengths to bring back as many 1969 family members as possible. The image of Mrs. Payson on the scoreboard brought tears to my eyes, and the introduction of her daughter brought boos from the audience. Joy Murphy, the great Bob Murphy’s wife was there. Is was apparent by the applause she received that although Murph is gone he’s not forgotten. Gil Hodges who managed the 1969 was represented by his wife Joan and son Gil. Also drawing a large round of applause was Mr. Kiner and his wife.
While I’m too young to remember the 1969 Mets, I do remember watching some of these guys play with the Mets in 1970’s. Its always fun guessing who the next player to be introduced would be, and to my surprise I knew a great deal of them. Yogi Berra was a coach of the 1969 Mets and received a very warm welcome from the fans. Ron Swoboda also received a very warm welcome, but the largest welcome were reserved for three pitchers. Lefthander Jerry Koosman was greeted with cheers of KOOS, KOOS, KOOS. It was awesome for Nolan Ryan, The Ryan Express to come back home. The Hall of Famer received a large round of applause, and lets hope Ryan doesn’t stay for so long in the future. Of course the largest cheers were reserved for The Franchise. After his introduction, Tom Seaver addressed the Met fans. It was so typical of Seaver. Ever so humble and boyish. Expressing his admiration for Gil Hodges, and his appreciation of the Met fans.
The first pitch was thrown by Seaver, Ryan, and Koosman, to catchers Duffy Dyer, Jerry Grote and Yogi Berra. What an awesome moment. As hokey as it was the celebration ended with a recording of the 1969 Mets singing “You Gotta Have Heart” on the Ed Sullivan show.
Even though the Mets lost the game to Phillies, it was a great night at CitiField ( I still call it Shea). The highlight of the 2009 season for me.