Mets Merized Online » 1969 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:14:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 When America Needed A Miracle… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/when-america-needed-a-miracle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/when-america-needed-a-miracle.html/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:51:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=186230 1969 miracle mets

In the 1977 classic film “Oh, God,” Jerry Landers (John Denver) is speaking with God, played by George Burns. Landers asks God about miracles and He replies, “The last miracle I did was the ’69 Mets. Before that you have to go back to The Red Sea.”

There’s been a lot of talk about October baseball in Mets circles these days, which after the six previous seasons is a much welcomed change. Some might say we’re a lock for the postseason, others say we’ll be a near miss, and others still say it would take another miracle.

Ironically, there are a few similarities between the 2015 Mets and the 1969 version that shocked the world. Perhaps most apparent is the top-flight pitching and the below average offense.

That ’69 team also had a lot of personality and swagger too, not to mention a tremendous manager and plenty of outstanding defensive players both in the infield and outfield. But there was so much more to the Miracle Mets and that turbulent, transformative and thrilling year.

To fully grasp what that Mets team meant let’s take a step back. Defeating the Orioles over a few days in mid-October meant much more then a World Series flag flying over Shea. It was more rewarding then the small amount of money collected by the winning team. It proved that anything is possible. That dreams, do in fact, come true. And when this nation needed it most, the Mets showed that Miracles can happen.

RFK

There has never been a more tumultuous time in America as the 1960’s. This nation was turned upside down. The status quo was in question and authority was being second guessed. The fabric of America was in tatters.

Just three plus years into the decade the unthinkable happened when our own president was assassinated in broad daylight in Dallas. It took several years for hushed rumors to begin circulating that perhaps there was more to this than one lone gunman who acted alone. The word ‘conspiracy’ entered our vocabulary and for the first time ever we began to ‘question the government.’

But the murder of John Kennedy was just the beginning. In  April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis.

As if that was not enough for America to deal with, just weeks later another Kennedy was killed. Bobby Kennedy was attempting to follow in his brothers footsteps and rise to the highest office in the land. That dream ended in a hotel kitchen in Los Angeles when he was brutally murdered in a hail of gunfire.

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Cities burned. Presidents, politicians and leaders were being killed on our own streets. For the first time since we had won our independence from England the future of our Republic seemed in doubt. Everything was changing.

By the end of the 60’s, there seemed to be no hope. We were embroiled in an ever deepening war in southeast Asia. A war that was now expanding beyond the borders of Viet Nam, a war that was seeing American casualties mounting, a war that had no end in sight. And for the first time in our nations history citizens were protesting against the government by the tens of thousands.

African-Americans had also reached their breaking point. They would no longer be content with sitting in the back of a bus, drinking from different water fountains and not being allowed to use ‘white restrooms.’ And while blacks were getting sprayed with water hoses and had to face the gnarling teeth of German Shepherds in the south, police in Chicago beat up and clubbed American students who were protesting outside the Democratic convention in 1968.

Women were also beginning to demand equal rights and equal pay. The sexual revolution was taking place. Slogans like ‘Make Love Not War’ were disconcerting to the powers-that-be.  Drug use was commonplace and in the open. Men grew facial hair and dressed in anti-establishment clothing. The man in the grey flannel suit was replaced by a ‘hippie’ in a tie-dyed shirt.

Comedian Lenny Bruce tested the limitations of ‘free speech’ and was arrested for using the F-word in his stand up routine. For the first time TV shows began showing married couples sleeping in the same bed.

Woodstock460

CBS-TV was fined after an appearance by The Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show when Jim Morrison sang the lyric, ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much higher,’ an obvious drug reference. The Beatles classic album Sgt. Peppers was banned because of John Lennon’s line in ‘A Day In The Life’ when he sang, “I’d love to turn you on.”

In August 69, a concert in upstate New York attracted hundreds of thousands who listened to music, got high and made love in open fields.

On a fairly unpopular TV show entitled ‘Star Trek’ William Shatner kissed Nichelle Nichols, the first interracial kiss ever televised. Surely, the world was coming to an end.

Even the grand ol’ game of Baseball underwent major changes in the 60’s. A young outfielder in the Giants minor league system named Garry Maddox had to receive a special ok from the commissioner to grow a beard. Up until then ball players were prohibited from displaying any facial hair, but Maddox had been scarred while serving in Viet Nam.

There was now a domed stadium in Houston. Natural grass was replaced by something called ‘Astro-Turf.’ When a reporter asked Mets reliever Tug McGraw if he preferred artificial turf to grass, Tug replied, “I don’t know. I never smoked artificial turf.”

America was definitely in chaos. This nation was at a crossroads. Would things change? Could things change? Were we truly a nation of freedom? Was true change really possible or was it just some innate concept?

1969 mets

The Mets showed that anything–ANYTHING–was possible. Long before Rocky Balboa defeated Apollo Creed, long before Billy Chapel pitched an unlikely Perfect Game against the Yankees and then retired, long before the NY Giants shocked the world and defeated the undefeated Patriots, the ’69 Mets were true underdogs. Outside of New York names like Swoboda, Agee and Koosman were not known.

Just 12 weeks after man landed on the moon, the Mets landed on top of the baseball world. And if the Mets of all teams could win a World Series then anything was possible.

For seven years this club had been a joke, a laughing stock. But not any longer. No, Tommie Agee didn’t make those catches for America. Ron Swoboda did not dive across the grass at Shea for any reason other then to catch a sinking liner. The only reason Jerry Grote hoisted Jerry Koosman into the air was simply to celebrate a victory, not for equal rights or a war protest. There was no hidden agenda for Gil Hodges and that 69 club. They were not out there to make any kind of statement. But that is exactly what happened.

The victory of the Mets over the powerhouse Orioles, symbolizing David beating Goliath, signaled something different as the 60‘s came to a close. Things can change. America can become a better place. The war in southeast Asia can come to an end and certain groups can obtain equal rights and get equal pay. After all, if an unlikely team of nobodys like the Mets can win the World Series, then anything truly is possible. Miracles can happen.

we're number one 1969 mets topps

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MMO Hall of Fame: Left Fielder Cleon Jones Was Always At Center Of Things http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-hall-of-fame-left-fielder-cleon-jones-was-always-at-center-of-things.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-hall-of-fame-left-fielder-cleon-jones-was-always-at-center-of-things.html/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 16:35:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177997 cleon jones 2

When he removed his Mets uniform for the final time he was our all-time leader in hits, runs, RBI’s, doubles and 2nd in batting average. There was no fanfare, no celebration of his achievements, no day honoring his accomplishments after a decade of playing in New York.  Instead, he lumbered away, head down, disgraced, a beaten man.

He’s one of very few Mets who can call himself a two-time pennant winner. He had a direct impact on both the 69 and 73 season. Teammate Buddy Harrelson said of him, “Even if he was in a 0-for-20 slump, he was the guy you’d still want at-bat.” Tom Seaver was our first superstar. But this man was our first offensive superstar. He caught a fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson and dropped to one knee, an image that remains one of the most iconic in team history.

He was never given a snazzy nickname like Doctor K, Nails, Kid, or The Franchise. Instead, we referred to him by his given name only: Cleon

Cleon Joseph Jones was born August 4, 1942 in Mobile, AL, the same birthplace as Hank Aaron. He’d wear number 21, the same as Roberto Clemente. His first Major League game was playing center field in the Polo Grounds, the same position patrolled by Willie Mays. And although Cleon was nowhere near the player these Hall of Famers were, it was okay. He was our legend.

Numerous players throughout history have been seemingly predestined for a career in the majors, be it the ability to throw a ball at 100 MPH with pinpoint accuracy, blinding speed or remarkable hand-eye coordination. Cleon was not one of them.

Whereas some burst on the scene, Cleon yo-yoed for several years. Wearing number 34, he made his major league debut on September 14, 1963. Manager Casey Stengel put the 21 year-old in as a defensive replacement for Duke Carmel. In what would be one of the final games ever played at the Polo Grounds, Cleon played CF. And like Moonlight Graham’s one inning, they never hit the ball anywhere near him. .

Cleon had 15 AB’s that September, getting just two hits for a forgettable .133 BA.

He spent all of the 1964 season with the AAA Buffalo Bisons. The next year, he made the team out of spring training. However, after one month and a meager .156 BA, he was once again demoted to Buffalo. Cleon was a late-season call-up and on September 22, 1965, in a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh, he hit his first HR, a solo blast off of Bob Friend. Despite the dinger, however, he batted just .149, 11-for-74. The Mets finished in 10th place, 50-112, 47 GB.

In 1966, Cleon was named the Mets everyday starting center fielder. Not because of a overwhelmingly solid performance, but largely due to the fact the Mets had little else. In his first full season, Cleon improved. .275-8-57 and 16 steals. His performance earned him fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting.

There was optimism coming into 1967. For the first time, the Mets had NOT lost 100 games the previous season and two rookie pitchers, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, showed lots of potential. However, Cleon backpedaled. His BA dipped to a disappointing .247 and he ended up in a CF platoon with Larry Stahl. The team as a whole also backtracked, once again losing over 100 times that year. Six seasons, five of which saw more than 100 losses. Would things ever improve?

In 1968, Cleon was shifted to LF to make room for a newly acquired CFer. Tommie Agee had been AL Rookie of the Year in 1966 and was a childhood friend of Cleon. Management also brought in a new manager, much loved former Brooklyn Dodger Gil Hodges. Despite Hodges, Agee and defending NL ROY Tom Seaver, Cleon’s struggles returned. Six weeks into the season he was hitting just .205 and found himself in a platoon again, this time with Art Shamsky.

Then it happened. Something clicked.

On May 18, Cleon went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s and a pair of runs scored. He started to hit. And there was no stopping him. On July 16th against the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium, number 21 went 4-for-6 with 3 RBI’s, 1 RS and played all 3 OF positions. He ended the season batting .297, fourth best in the NL. Next up: 1969. And our left fielder was in the center of it all.

Although he notoriously started slow and was always a streaky hitter, Cleon was 26 and coming into his prime. He kicked butt from Opening Day and never looked back. By the All-Star Break he was batting .341 with 10 HR’s and 56 RBI’s, good enough to earn a starting spot in the Mid-Summer Classic along with the likes of Aaron, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey and future teammate Felix Millan. Cleon went 2-for-4 with two runs scored against the best the American League had.

By that summer Mets fans were beginning to think the unthinkable. The team that had lost 737 games in seven seasons actually had a good chance to finish .500. However, Gil Hodges, a man who knew a lot about winning, wanted more. In late July the Mets were 55-41 and in second place, just five games behind the powerhouse Cubs. Despite the fact Chicago was laden with future Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins, Hodges kept the Cubs right in the Mets’ crosshairs.

July 30th in Houston was the turning point in the season. And yes, Cleon was again in the center of it. The Mets got trounced in the first game of a doubleheader, 16-3. The Astros continued the embarrassment in the nightcap, jumping all over Gary Gentry for 8 ER in 2 2/3 IP. In the third inning, Cleon failed to hustle after a ball that went for a double.

gil hodges

To Gil Hodges, it didn’t matter that the Mets were in a pennant race for the first time in their history. It didn’t matter that Cleon Jones was an All-Star. It didn’t matter that he was our best hitter. The Mets skipper would not sit idly by tolerating lackadaisical play. Hodges, stoic as always, stepped from the dugout, took a lengthy slow walk to left field and conferred with his star hitter. After a few words, Hodges turned and walked off the field. Cleon, like a chastised little boy, shadowed Hodges into the dugout.

Years later, Jones claimed he advised Hodges the turf was wet. Hodges replied there must be something wrong with his ankle and pulled him from the game. “Gil was my favorite manager I ever played for,” Cleon clarified years later. “He’d never embarrass a player that way.” We may never know the true content of the conversation. However, the implication was undeniable. This was Gil Hodges’ team. You either play hard or you don’t play. The Mets lost the nightcap, 11-5. They wouldn’t lose too many more.

Hodges’ club played .780, winning 39 of the last 50 games and capturing the division by 8 games. Cleon ended up hitting 340, third behind Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente.

In the first ever NLCS, the Mets swept the Braves. Cleon hit 429.

In the World Series few gave the Mets any chance of defeating the mighty Baltimore Orioles. And when Don Buford opened the Fall Classic with a HR off 25-game winner Tom Seaver, it appeared we were out of Miracles.

The Mets tied the series when Jerry Koosman outdueled Dave McNally 2-1. Back in New York for game three, the Mets drew first blood. Tommie Agee opened the game with a HR. He also made not one but two of the greatest catches in history. Gary Gentry outpitched future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for a 5-0 Mets win. In game 4, Seaver returned to form. After struggling in the opener, Tom Terrific threw 10 innings, the Mets prevailed 2-1 and were now one win away from a championship.

The Orioles, however, showed why they won 109 games. Needing a win to return the series to Baltimore, they scored early off Koosman and took a 3-0 lead. In the top of the 6th, Kooz delivered an inside pitch. Frank Robinson claimed the pitch hit him. Home plate umpire Lou DiMuro disagreed. Replays clearly showed DiMuro blew the call.

Lightning struck again in the bottom of that same inning. And once again, Cleon was in the center of it. McNally threw a pitch low. Cleon danced out of the way, the ball ricocheted into the Mets dugout. Cleon, like Robinson, claimed the ball hit him. DiMuro claimed it did not. Gil Hodges ever-so-slowly walked onto the field and presented a ball with shoe polish to the umpire. DiMuro changed the call and awarded Cleon First Base. Seconds later, Donn Clendenon deposited McNally’s offering beyond the LF auxiliary scoreboard to cut the lead to 3-2. And one hour after that, Cleon caught that fly ball and dropped to one knee.

In the late 60’s/early 70’s, pitching dominated the game, especially in the NL. Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton and Phil Niekro, all future inductees in Cooperstown, quieted NL bats. But don’t tell that to Cleon. From 68-71 Cleon averaged 308.

The 1973 NL East was a dogfight of mediocrity. On August 30th, the Mets were in last place, but just 6 ½ back with 30 games remaining. Just like 1969, the Mets got hot at the right time. By September 17th, the Mets inched up to 4th, were just 3 ½ GB of Pittsburgh—with the Mets and Pirates playing a rare 5-game series–2 in Pittsburgh, 3 in New York. The two contests at Three Rivers were split and the series moved to Shea for three crucial games.

The Mets captured the opener, 7-3, and for only the second time in his career, Cleon went deep twice in one game. The lead was trimmed to a game a half. The following day, September 20th, one of the strangest yet most memorable play in team history occurred. And once again, Cleon was in the center of it.

Jerry Koosman faced off against Jim Rooker. A Mets victory would bring us to within a half, a loss would shove us 2 ½ back with just 9 games remaining. It was a back-and-forth contest. Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the 4th. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 6th. Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 7th. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 8th. Pittsburgh scored 1 in the top of the 9th to go up 3-2. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the 9th.

In the top of the 13th, Richie Zisk singled with one out. Pinch Hitter Dave Augustine came up and sent the Ray Sadecki pitch into the night. Cleon turned and ran…and ran…and ran some more. The ball did not go over. Nor did it bounce off the wall. It bounced on top of the wall. Cleon played the carom perfectly, pivoted and fired to relay man Wayne Garrett who turned and threw a bullet to catcher Ron Hodges who applied the tag to keep the game deadlocked at 3-3. In the bottom half of the inning, the Mets won, First place and the post-season was now within our grasp.

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In the 1973 League Championship Series against the Big Red Machine, Cleon batted .300, 6-for-20 with three RBI and three runs scored. In the World Series against Oakland, Cleon hit .286. Of his eight hits, three were for extra bases. He scored five runs in seven games.

In 1975, it would all come crashing down like a Shakespearean tragedy. Spring training saw Cleon suffer a knee injury. He stayed behind when the team went north. On the morning of May 4 in St. Petersburg, FL, Cleon was arrested at 5:00 am. The charge? Indecent exposure.

Police found the 33 year-old sleeping inside a van next to a 21 year-old female who was in possession of marijuana. Cleon insisted he didn’t know the woman, that he met her at a party and was giving her a ride home when the van ran out of gas and he fell asleep. Ultimately, the charges were dropped. “Indecent exposure” was the fact Cleon was barefoot. However, in the eyes of Mets chairman M. Donald Grant this was inexcusable debauchery.

Grant was an autocrat, a tyrant who viewed his players as chattel. He once relinquished his membership to an exclusive Connecticut country club when he learned an inferior individual named Tom Seaver was also a member.

Grant fined Cleon $2000, four times more than any other player had ever been fined. Worse than the financial punishment was the degradation imposed on the Mets superstar. In the glare of the media, with cameras recording every mannerism, spotlights bathing him in a stifling glow and situated behind a bank of microphones angled like missiles about to launch, Cleon was ordered to apologize—to fans, to teammates, to his employer. And to his wife, Angela, who Grant insisted appear at his side.

In October 1969, Cleon caught a fly ball and cemented a miracle. It was the highest point in Mets history. Now, less than six years later, Cleon was again in the center, but this time it was the lowest point in Mets history.

He returned to the team in late May. But was not welcomed back. As if the financial punishment and humiliation were not enough, the order had come down from management that Cleon was to only play sparingly. For two months, the Mets icon was largely relegated to riding the pine. He seldom started and was used meagerly as a pinch-hitter. Such sparse play inhibited his ability to get any timing, extra burdensome knowing he was notoriously streaky. In July Cleon reached his breaking point. Hitting only 240 he got into an altercation with manager Yogi Berra. Grant now had more ammo and fired the fatal bullet. After 13 seasons, he was released outright.

The following year, 1976, he played for the White Sox but Cleon, a slow-starter, was hitting just 200 and promptly released. Cleon Jones, loved and adored by fans in New York, a World Champion, an All-Star, an almost Rookie of the Year and almost batting champion, was unwanted by any club. He was shamed out of Baseball by age 33.

For those of us lucky enough to have seen him play, he was the one that made you sit a little closer to the TV, move up onto the edge of your seat at Shea and chant Lets Go Mets a little louder. He was the one you always made sure to watch when he stepped to the plate, the one guy you wanted to get to in the batting order if you were trailing. He was flashy without being flashy.

It’s been nearly forty years since Cleon wore a Mets uniform. He played in a time when pitching dominated the game. And despite the fact that names like Strawberry, Hernandez, Piazza, Carter, Wright, Ventura and Reyes came after him, Cleon Jones still remains near the top in runs, hits, doubles and RBI’s.

In July 1969, he was involved in a play that turned around the season. In October 1969, he was involved in at-bat that opened the door to the Mets comeback in Game Five. In 1973, he was involved in one of the most famous, most strange plays in history, yet another turning point that led to yet another pennant.

MMO Hall of Fame cleon jones

And with that, Metsmerized Online is pleased to announce that Cleon Jones is this year’s inductee into the Metsmerized Hall of Fame.

Jones now joins mike Piazza, Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden and David Wright in our own hallowed halls honoring the best players the Mets ever had. Congratulations, Cleon!

Feel free to leave your best memories and most heartfelt recollections of Cleon in our comment threads.

MMO HOF BANNER

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Bing Devine Brought the Mets A Championship and “The Franchise” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bing-devine-brought-the-mets-a-championship-and-the-franchise.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bing-devine-brought-the-mets-a-championship-and-the-franchise.html/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:00:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167667 As we continue to wait out the Sandy Alderson era for a return to former Mets glory, here’s a little something about another Mets GM who helped engineer the first championship in franchise history in 1969. I’m talking, of course, about the great Bing Devine.

bing devineDevine’s tenure as General Manager of the Mets spanned the years 1965 to 1967 in between stints with the St. Louis Cardinals where he engineered some of the greatest teams in Cards history.

I would hardly call his work with the Mets perfect, especially since he had the final call on drafting Steve Chilcott over Reggie Jackson, but he was certainly an aggressive executive who while building up the farm system was also always looking to improve the team with trades and waiver pickups

In his 2004 book, Memoirs of Bing Devine, he states that in 1967 alone, the Mets made 54 deals.

While many of the players acquired did little or nothing to help the Mets, seven of those players, Tommie Agee , Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce, Art ShamskyJ.C. Martin, Al Weis  and Ed Charles were later instrumental in helping the 1969 Mets win a World Championship.

Earlier in Devine’s tenure, he had also dealt for Jerry Grote and Don Cardwell. Grote, of course, was a significant part of the Mets turnaround, both with his stellar defense and also for being charged with helping to develop a cadre of young and inexperienced pitchers who would eventually become the pride of the franchise. None of these players carried a high price tag or cost the Mets any promising young talent.

seaver-tom_ryan-nolan_69Add to Devine’s accomplishments that it was completely upon his recommendation that George Weiss agreed to put their name in the hat for the Tom Seaver lottery.

“The Franchise” would become the only Mets player ever enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Devine recollected that Weiss was reluctant to spend the $50,000 the Mets would have to pay Seaver if they won a drawing for him in April 1966.

“George Weiss was against it,” Devine told famed author Peter Golenbock. “He didn’t know anything about him. I made a big case, and I recall it was only hours before we had to make a decision and agree to that, and George Weiss finally shook his head, I’m sure not wanting to do it, and said, ‘If you people make such a big case of it, go ahead.’”

It was also Devine and his assistant Joe McDonald that persuaded Weiss to keep Jerry Koosman who he was preparing to release after a poor season in the low minors.

Devine’s time with the Mets was relatively short, but he certainly accomplished a great deal in that time. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2007 at the age of 90 at his home in St. Louis.

Devine once said that success required more than a sharp baseball intellect. “You have to be lucky,” he told The Evansville Courier in 2003. “And you’re never going to get lucky if you’re afraid to make a deal.”

Did You Know?

It was a trade engineered by Bing Devine that had the greatest impact on Major League Baseball and changed the game forever.

On October 7, 1969, Devine traded star center fielder Curt Flood, along with Tim McCarver, Byron Browne and Joe Hoerner, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson.

Flood refused to go to Philadelphia, ultimately challenging baseball’s reserve system that bound players to one team. His suit against baseball set the stage for free agency, and was undeniably one of the most pivotal events in the game’s history.

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Trust Me Tom, It Was A Miracle… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/trust-me-tom-it-was-a-miracle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/trust-me-tom-it-was-a-miracle.html/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:26:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167391 1969 Mets, Jerry Grote, Rod Gaspar, Mayor Lindsay Mets sweep the Braves.

As the Kansas City Royals continue to weave their own miracle finish, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver told Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post that he doesn’t believe the 1969 Mets should be remembered as “The Miracle Mets.”

Seaver, who went 25-7 that year, acknowledged that he understands why they were called the Miracle Mets, but simply doesn’t see it that way.

“I understand why people got caught up in what we did. We had been a horrid franchise, and suddenly we weren’t. But we also had a guy who won 25 games. We had a guy Cleon Jones who hit .340. We had one of the best catchers in the game in Jerry Grote, and a great, great manager. And by the way? We won a hundred games!”

1969 mets

Seaver is not the only ’69 member who feels that way, Ed Kranepool, Ron Swoboda, Art Shamsky and Jerry Koosman have all made similar remarks over the years, and you know what, from their perspectives they’re all right.

The 1969 Mets were perfect in so many ways. A team built on the backbone of elite pitching with a a mediocre lineup that could score runs when they needed them, and buy, could they play stellar defense. Add to that a manager in Gil Hodges who was a brilliant strategist and a great motivator.

What an amazing  team… It was a magical season when baseball was still pure and innocent… We rooted for players who’d probably get torn apart these days because their OPS wasn’t good enough… So many endearing personalities. Those were such good times…

The “miracle” tag came mostly from a stunned country and a shocked and emotional fan base who had endured seven straight losing seasons including an 89 loss season the previous year in 1968. From our perspective we had no doubt that divine intervention played a huge role in what would transpire in 1969.

It was the year of miracles, especially for New Yorkers. The Jets won the Super Bowl, the Mets won the World Series, and Apollo 11 astronauts - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – landed and walked on the Moon.

Trust me on this one Tom, I was there, it was a Miracle…

1969 mets

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Mets Are More ‘Clutch’ Than The Nats, Statistically Speaking http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-are-more-clutch-than-the-nats-statistically-speaking.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-are-more-clutch-than-the-nats-statistically-speaking.html/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 16:16:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163431 eric campbell homers

Judging from comments on my twitter feed, I’d venture to guess that the prevailing emotion among Mets fans out there for this season is abject frustration. While there are times when we are offered glimmers of hope and slivers of consistency, they tend to be quickly snuffed out. The team itself is probably more likeable than it has been in a while, but the constant RISP and LOB trends tend to put a proverbial damper on these good feelings like a wet wool blanket tossed on uncle Jimmy after his little bbq accident at the 4th Of July get together. We’re left with that nasty smell of burnt forearm hair and losses that should have been wins.

I can’t remember a season so full of “could have beens.” I honestly believe we might have easily been 8 or 10 wins up in the win column if only we’d had a few things break our way, if only we had a few more clutch hits. The Mets, post 2006, have been plagued with the worst label you can have as a team, they are perceived as unclutch. More recently they seem capable of pitching well enough, they’ve repaired a chronically leaky pen, but the team as a whole continues to struggle with scoring runs in high leverage situations. Is this apparent perception borne out statistically?

The world of sabermetrics seems to put out a new stat every week, and each one more complex than the last. I actually read an article a couple of days ago that asked you to refer back to first year calculus, that’s like asking me to refer back to my time in the birth canal. There are some things I’d rather not remember. There is actually a stat now called “clutch.” Clutch = (WPA / pLI) – WPA/LI. It is a measure loosely based on something called sequencing and “performance bunching.” In a nutshell, clutch measures a team’s ability to group fortuitous events together with productive results.

Take the Nats series for instance, the Mets left a bunch of runners on base, and inning after inning seemed to string hits together only after getting two outs, which resulted in being repeatedly turned away without scoring — they had a clutch score of -0.07 (0 = average). The Mets, ostensibly, appear to be extremely unclutch, however, when you take a closer look, the numbers don’t exactly bear this out. They have a whopping -44 rdif and according to fangraphs, offensively are the tenth most “clutch” team in baseball with a rating of -0.20. Are you kidding me?

Mets hitters are actually more “clutch” than the Nationals (the Nats have a clutch rating of -0.44) … Why?? I don’t know … THIRD BASE! But before I add another “and I don’t give a damn,” Lou Costelloism, I should mention that given what the Mets have accomplished statistically, they have won more games than they should have. Wonderful, so the Mets are actually pretty clutch given how bad they are. That makes about as much sense as saying a pig can fly fairly well considering he’s a pig … but I get it.

This my friends is why we may be stuck with Terry Collins. The numbers gurus are quick to dump out buckets of stats showing that given what the Mets have produced, they’ve actually won more games than they should have. Right now the most clutch teams in baseball are the Royals, the Orioles, the Red Sox (really?), the Yankees, and the Braves, the least clutch teams are the Twins, the Rockies, the Angels, the Rays, and the Cubs. The Mets currently have a .471 winning percentage, however, BaseRuns a statistic that strips away variation from performance and tells you in a sense what a team should have done were it not for sequencing and “clutch events,” says the Mets should have a .458 winning percentage.

Statisticians are also quick to point out that clutch is meaningless, primarily due to the inordinately high probability of regression. According to their theory, the Giants were never really better than the Dodgers, they have simply been extremely clutch, similarly they cite the Orioles and the Royals as examples of teams that are currently running ahead of their competition contrary to actual on field performance … again mostly because they’ve been lucky enough to group or sequence productive events (they’ve been clutch). Regression, however, is unavoidable. Jeff Sullivan of fangraphs recently showed in convincing detail that there is no such thing as clutch … clutch is simply a grouping of productive events that happens to coincide with high leverage situations, it is random and thus highly vulnerable to regression. Which means the Mets, given their production, may end up losing at an even higher rate than they have thus far.

Now I am not familiar enough with what goes into these statistics to comment on whether clutch performances are anomalies on a team level and whether regression is inevitable. If it is then the Royals will not win their division and the Rays will make a run at some point, but some teams, the Orioles and Giants come to mind, appear to be consistently “clutch” which runs contrary to league regression trends. There are outlying examples of teams that do not regress. In these instances there may be opportunities for determining whether there are in fact occasional examples of teams that have been for whatever reason capable of bunching improbable productive events together consistently. We saw this first hand with the Giants. An error here, a passed ball there, and poof, they snatch a win from the jaws of defeat. Maybe clutch has something to do with not being bright enough to be nervous in a situation where you should be nervous … Hunter Pence, that poor man’s wanna-be Brandon Nimmo, comes to mind. Who knows. I sure don’t.

If I had to guess I would say that clutch hitting does not correspond accordingly with clutch pitching, if it did I’m sure the Nats with their 17 WAR for pitching would have a higher overall clutch rating. While the Mets have failed to produce on par with a .471 winning percentage, their pitching has been stifling at times and I think clutch pitching performances are more difficult to qualify than clutch hitting performances because of all the myriad situational nuances that go into a pitcher’s mound presence and execution. Tom Seaver by most accounts would be considered a clutch pitcher, but he was also really really good. I would wager the 1969 Mets were an extremely clutch team if you go off of their production, but I’d also wager the teams who faced the Mets down the stretch and in the playoffs in 1969 didn’t think clutchness had anything to do with it … they simply overwhelmed you with pitching.

What worries me in light of all this is that our current front office’s adherence to sabermetrics dictates that the team is performing above it’s capabilities, which would imply their coaching staff and manager are doing a great job. The problem with this approach is it is an after the fact analysis. The Mets have not produced but have somehow won more than they should have given their production … unfortunately one of the reasons they’ve failed to produce is a problematic roster and an even more problematic allocation of playing time from said roster. It is akin to a baker using the wrong ingredients in a cake that ends up tasting terrible and giving him a pass because, well it isn’t fair to expect a cake with the wrong ingredients to taste good.

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MMO Flashback: A Death In The Mets Family http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-death-in-the-mets-family-jane-jarvis-passes-away.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-death-in-the-mets-family-jane-jarvis-passes-away.html/#comments Sat, 25 Jan 2014 13:39:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=20139 An MMO Flashback remembering the passing of beloved and iconic Mets organist, Jane Jarvis, who passed away on this day in 2010. Enjoy…

When one thinks back to the Mets of the 1960’s and 70’s, certain images come to mind: Casey Stengel, Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw pounding his glove on his leg, black cats, Miracles, fans ripping up the field and so forth.

Off the field, however, there were others who were just as much a part of Shea Stadium folklore. One such Mets icon was organist Jane Jarvis. Miss Jarvis died on January 25, 2010 in Englewood, NJ. She was 94.

Just as the performing of The National Anthem or singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ is a deep seeded Baseball tradition, so was Jane playing ‘Meet The Mets’ on her organ for us Mets fans. As those first few notes filled the air in Flushing and the Mets took the field we all knew it was time to ‘Play Ball.’

At just 5 years old Jane was considered a piano prodigy. Her family relocated to Gary, Indiana and at 12 she was playing the piano at radio station WKJS. However, just one year later, she was orphaned when both her parents were killed when their car was struck by a train.

In 1954 Jane was given her own TV show in Milwaukee entitled ‘Jivin’ With Jarvis’ where she was allowed to create and pursue her first love: Jazz Music. It was at this time when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. They were looking for an organist and hired Jane. She was reluctant to take the position due to the fact that she knew absolutely nothing about sports, especially Baseball. During her interview she asked the Braves executive, ‘When do I get to play?’ The Braves employee replied, ‘Whenever a team gets three outs.’ Jane looked at the man with a quizzical expression and asked, ‘When is that?’

She stayed with the Braves for eight years before moving to New York in 1962 where she took a position with the Muzak corporation as a staff composer and arranger. She would quickly ascend the corporate ladder and become Vice President.

As the Mets prepared to debut their new home in 1964, they decided to draw on yet another tradition of NY’s baseball past. The Dodgers organist, Gladys Gooding, developed a fan following and became a huge part of Ebbets Field history. The Mets wanted to do the same and brought Jane on board.

Although she remained working at Muzak until 1978 during her stint as Mets organist, she became an integral and unforgettable part of our club. She was as much a part of the Shea Experience as the Sign Man Karl Ehrhardt and even Mr. Met himself. She worked for us almost as long as our original broadcast team of Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner.

On June 13th, 1977, during the 6th inning of a game against the Cubs, the city was besieged by a massive blackout. Shea was suddenly thrust into darkness. Total blackness stretched as far as one could see in all directions. However, as strange as it was, Jane’s vintage Thomas’ Organ was not affected. Sitting in total darkness, blinded by blackness, Jane began playing upbeat tunes in a attempt to calm the nerves of frightened fans.

Jane came full circle with the Mets. In 1964, we were in last place. She was there for the Miracle in ’69 and the pennant in ’73. But by 1979 the Mets were once again in the cellar. Nelson Doubleday bought the Mets in 1980 and GM Frank Cashen was determined to make serious changes to the team. One such change was to start playing pre-recorded music rather than sticking with the traditional organ playing. After 16 seasons Jane was uneventfully let go. Organ music would never again be heard at Shea.

She remained in the city performing Jazz at various nightclubs. She is credited with having written or co-written over 300 compositions as well as recording several albums. Her final jazz album was entitled ‘Atlantic/Pacific’ which was released in 2000. She was 85 years old at the time.

In 2003, now living in Cocoa Beach, FL, she was given a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the Space Coast Jazz Society. But she missed the culture and excitement of The Big Apple. She decided to forego the warm Florida weather and moved back. In 2008, however, Jane was forced to vacate her home on E 50th St when a construction crane collapsed and damaged her apt. She spent the last months of her life residing at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She passed away on January 25th,  2010 at 94 years old. She leaves behind 1 son, 1 daughter, several grandchildren and great grandchildren. And also memories to millions of fans who can still hearken back to the days of their youth and hear Miss Jarvis playing ‘Meet The Mets.’

“I cant even bear to think about it,” stated Jane in 2008 as sadness came over her. Her voice cracked. Her eyes watered up. Her beloved Shea would soon be torn down. She hoped that perhaps the Wilpons would welcome her back to Shea for one final visit. Mets management spent much of that season bringing back historical figures from our past. But the phone call never came. However, she harbored no hard feelings towards the Wilpons since she never really worked for them. “I’m 93 years old,” she stated and then added with a smile, “And no matter what, I’ve had an amazin’ life.”

Rest in Peace, Jane. And Thanks for the Memories.

Presented By Diehards

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Greatest Underdog Achievements: 1969 Mets Were A 100:1 Longshot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/12/greatest-underdog-achievements-1969-mets-were-a-1001-longshot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/12/greatest-underdog-achievements-1969-mets-were-a-1001-longshot.html/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 17:22:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=102128 The 1969 Mets shocked the baseball universe with an improbable 100 win season and a World Series victory over the mighty Baltimore Orioles. The Miracle Mets will find their way onto any list of the greatest underdog achievements in sports.

Underdog Sports Bets

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This Day In Mets History: Hodges Pulls Cleon Jones For Not Hustling http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/this-day-in-mets-history-hodges-pulls-cleon-jones-for-not-hustling.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/this-day-in-mets-history-hodges-pulls-cleon-jones-for-not-hustling.html/#comments Mon, 30 Jul 2012 13:30:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=90453 Every team’s evolution from doormat to contender has that defining moment when somebody grabs the team by the scruff of the neck and shakes it awake.

That moment for the 1969 Mets came on this date when manager Gil Hodges walked out of the dugout and strolled out to left field, where he removed Cleon Jones.

The Mets lost the first game of a doubleheader, 16-3, and were getting pasted in the second, 8-0, when Johnny Edwards doubled past Jones.

It was reported at the time Jones had sustained a leg injury, but it later surfaced Hodges was angry at Jones for not hustling.

The was Jones described it, Hodges came out to him in left field and said, “that ankle is bothering you, you better come out, if you’re nursing it like that”.

A bewildered Jones replied, “I told you I can play through it Gil, the grass is just wet”. But Hodges pulled him from the game anyway and walked away and headed back for the dugout with a deflated Jones following Hodges a few feet behind him with his head hanging low,

Jones was 3-5 that day and was the Mets leading hitter at the time with a .344 batting average. Bur after that doubleheader loss to the Astros, the 1969 Mets reeled off a 45-19 record and the rest as they say was history.

In 2009 during an event honoring the 40th Anniversary of that team, Jones recalled the incident as a galvanizing moment. Jones also said Hodges was his favorite manager.

]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/this-day-in-mets-history-hodges-pulls-cleon-jones-for-not-hustling.html/feed/ 0 1969 Mets Discuss Gil Hodges’ Hall Of Fame Chances http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/1969-mets-discuss-gil-hodges%e2%80%99-hall-of-fame-chances.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/1969-mets-discuss-gil-hodges%e2%80%99-hall-of-fame-chances.html/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2011 14:00:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=66087 As we all know, Gil Hodges will be on the Veterans’ Committee Hall of Fame ballot for 2012. So expect to hear plenty of discussion over the next few months about whether or not he should be enshrined.

I personally was not around when Gil played or managed, but I consider myself lucky to have heard the great stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1969 Miracle Mets. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Joan Hodges recently, who said she hopes this is the year for Gil—even though she believes he should have been inducted a long time ago.

In addition, to speaking with Mrs. Hodges, I caught up with a few members of the 1969 Mets and asked their thoughts on if they think Gil will be elected this time around. The players only had great things to say about their former manager.

“I hope it’s the year,” said ’69 Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. “He was a very special man, not just as a ballplayer in Brooklyn but a very special man in the community.”

While his on-field achievements speak for themselves, Gil left just as significant an impact as a manager.

“I think Gil certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said original Met Ed Kranepool. “We would have won more pennants under Gil Hodges.”

Hodges died from a heart attack in spring training 1972—right at the peak of his managerial career when the Mets were a feared team in the National League. Still, the players agree that Hodges got them to play much better than they should have.

Hopefully, the word continues to spread about what Hodges meant to the game of baseball.

“I know a lot of people have been working hard to help in that regard,” said ’69 Mets platoon right fielder Art Shamsky. “I think he’s certainly deserving of it, not only as a player and manager, but he was such a great person and ambassador for the game.”

Shamsky noted that Hodges was the main reason the Mets went from being the laughing stock of professional baseball to World Champions just eight years after coming into existence.

Being on the Veterans’ Committee ballot may work in Hodges’ favor for next year’s voting.

“These are people that might have recognized Gil or played against him, know what he’s done, and can vote the way it’s supposed to be voted,” said Kranepool. “There are guys in the Hall of Fame that don’t have his credentials.”

Harrelson likened Hodges to his own father in that both were rugged on the outside but were great men on the inside who deeply cared for their families.

“I loved him as a person and as a manager,” said Harrelson, who also looks forward to someday heading to Cooperstown for Gil’s induction ceremony.

Whether that’s this year or in the near future, I’ll likely be joining Buddy in paying homage to a great baseball player, a great manager and an even better man.

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The New York Petulance http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/the-new-york-petulance-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/the-new-york-petulance-2.html/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 14:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=65071 We tend to see the world and everything that encompasses it through our own shaded lenses. Our biases and preconceptions while defining us can often prevent us from understanding the whole truth. If the truth you’re seeking is to know if a candidate for President is a serial sexual harasser or whether perhaps a venerable college football coach for years turned a blind eye to his assistant’s deviant behavior or even if a certain baseball executive is merely a cost cutting puppet, hired at the behest of the league Commissioner, our instincts, often our greatest asset, can at times make decisions for us based on emotion alone – neglecting facts.

Some Met fans are beginning to foreshadow that we’re headed into “dark times” as a franchise. Now far be it from me to state without a shadow of a doubt what constitutes “dark times”. I’m all of 37 years old and never lived through the early days of the New York Mets, especially the inaugural record setting 120-loss season of 1962. Imagine an expansion team today, with all the costs incurred with attending a game, losing 75% of them. Imagine the outcry from the fanbase.

Never mind the fact that in their 50 years of existence, the Mets have won just two World Championships, the most recent 25 years ago. It’s been over a decade since this team even participated in the World Series. We were teased in 2006 but had our hopes dashed by the young Yadier Molina. Yet there’s this lingering notion that the “stuff” is about to hit the fan now. What I’d really like to know is when in its 50 years of existence, has this team really had all its “stuff” together?

Some of us feel like there’s no tangible plan coming from Sandy Alderson as to this team’s future. Again it’s what we want to see, or hear versus the facts. He’s said on many occasions that this team needs to develop from within and use free agency to enhance itself where need be. Not the other way around. The situation regarding Jose Reyes has many wondering what Alderson’s game plan is. Does the team pay an exorbidant amount of money over many years to a player who’s played in only 60% of his team’s games the past three seasons – regardless how talented he is?  Now I’m a Met fan and I love Jose Reyes. Then again I loved Mackey Sasser so I’m not sure what that tells you.  I hope Reyes does return to the Mets but think of it this way, you own a business and one of your best employees for the last three years, worked only 6 out of every ten days for you, and earned one of the highest salaries.  Ouch.

Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to signing Reyes and either choice comes with it’s own set of risks. All the advanced statistics in the world can’t predict a person’s health. With that said – to assume that anyone outside of the organization is entitled to have detailed knowledge of what is going on is both presumptuous and arrogant. I don’t know what Apple’s detailed plans are going forward now that Steve Jobs has passed. Do you? And that’s a publicly held company.

All we can do is take what Alderson has said often and publicly and go from there, and hold him to account. Assuming that Alderson would like to one day leave a legacy of success in New York, destroying the Mets incrementally during his watch most likely isn’t his goal. Also, assuming he has nefarious motives instructed to him by the hive mind of the Selig – to slash and burn payroll at all costs just to save the Wilpons money – is also stretch. The Wilpons aren’t going belly up because of the Mets. If anything the Wilpons, through Sterling Enterprises, is a real estate company. And we all know what’s happened to real estate and the housing market the past few years and it has nothing to do with how much money Johan Santana makes.

Putting the Mets on the road towards a firm cohesive business plan, modeled after most successful teams today, is what it is – an attempt to right the many years of neglect and wrongs which has resulted in just two World Championships. That’s the Alderson plan. Keep that in mind when we argue ad nauseum back and forth about what an acceptable payroll is for a team in this market. From 2004 to 2011 the Mets under the Wilpon ownership have averaged a $119.7 million dollar annual payroll which ranks third in MLB during that time. I wonder how many of us knew that while decriding Alderson for predicting a payroll next year between $100 to $120 million?

As bad as things have been for this team the last few years, from the consecutive end of the season collapses to numerous player injuries to the financial tumult of ownership, I could remember – albeit with some help from the family – how tough it was to be a Met fan in the 1970’s. One of our claims to fame, our “superstar”, was a young handsome Italian boy named Lee Mazzilli. Mazzilli’s “superstar” credentials were bolstered by a few fellow “superstars” such as John Milner who led the Mets in the decade of the 70’s with 94 homers and 338 RBI. No that’s not a typo those were actual team leading, decade leading statistics. Think of that next time we wish to parse whether David Wright is “un-clutch” or not.

Then you had the raw talent of Felix Millan, who if he choked up any further on the bat, would have looked like the baton twirler in a marching band. Third base was a revolving door of talent manned by Joe Foy, Bob Aspromonte, Jim Fregosi and Ed Charles. Finallly in 1973 the Mets solidfied the position naming the lengendary talent of Wayne Garrett the starting third baseman. Of course that only lasted until 1976 when Garrett lost the third base job to another legend, Roy Staiger.

Look don’t get me wrong the Mets weren’t devoid of talent. The team had a genuine Hall of Fame superstar in Tom Seaver. They also had Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Tug McGraw, a young and raw-talented Nolan Ryan – do we see a pattern? To say the Mets are known as a pitching heavy franchise is pretty obvious. Where the team lacked woefully in offense they were teeming with good and sometimes great pitching. But even with great pitching the team only won 763 games in the 1970’s. The point being – we weren’t exactly the big blue and orange machine – and we weren’t far removed from our World Championship year of 1969.

With the prospects of losing Jose Reyes to free agency, the decline of David Wright, the injury history of Johan Santana to the various uncertainties engulfing this team it’s understandable for fans to feel as if a black cloud is meandering its way over Flushing. If you study this team’s history you’ll see that although we love to wax poetic about our history and celebrate our small pockets of success, overall this team has been pretty rudderless since day one. Just existing in this market isn’t enough to be considered relevant. Sorry to all of the “we’re a New York team and should have unlimited resources” types.  Pretending that the answer to absorbing inflated player contracts is to simply increase the team credit limit is as silly as it is dangerous.  In the real, non-baseball world, that lesson is being learned the hard way globally.

Would the success the team had in the mid to late 80’s have been sustained if Strawberry and Gooden didn’t spiral into self-destruction? Possibly. Would we be having this discussion if Yadier Molina didn’t decide to channel his inner Carlton Fisk in 2006? Perhaps. If Carlos Beltran didn’t succumb to the jelly-leg syndrome and take Adam Wainwright’s third strike would we feel this disillusioned? Maybe not. But to say that we’re headed for “dark times” now, I ask you, did we ever truely get out from under that cloud in the first place? Don’t you think fans finally deserve to have a team with a long term formula for success, not just in small 3 to 5 year intervals? Time for us to stop being so petulant. This ain’t gonna be easy for any of us.

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Buddy Harrelson Reminisces About ’69/’86 Teams http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/06/buddy-harrelson-reminisces-about-6986-teams.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/06/buddy-harrelson-reminisces-about-6986-teams.html/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:49:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=52876

Former New York Met shortstop Buddy Harrelson has served as an ambassador for the Long Island Ducks for the past 12 seasons. He does a fine job with community and fan relations, but his true worth to the team involves his 16 years of MLB playing experience and another 11 years as a coach/manager.

Harrelson will always be remembered as the pesky shortstop for the 1969 World Series Champion Mets. Buddy played stellar defense at shortstop and came up with big hits all season.

In addition to his role as a player on the ‘69 team, Buddy served as the third base coach for the 1986 Mets, making him the only player/coach associated with both World Series titles in franchise history. (Technically, ‘86 Mets manager Davey Johnson would fit this category as well, since he made the last out of the ’69 series while playing for the Baltimore Orioles).

Buddy has great memories from both teams. He’ll always remember celebrating the franchise’s first ever World Series title in ’69 and racing Mets third baseman Ray Knight down the third base line in Game 6 of the ’86 Series after the ball had trickled through Bill Buckner’s legs.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ’86 team, and Buddy will never forget the emotion he felt after the Mets battled back in Game 6 and took Game 7.

“You get older, and you’re not involved in winning and losing, but I was really happy and excited,” said Harrelson.

Harrelson affirms that the main similarity between the teams was the strong bullpen in the late innings. Tug McGraw and “Dr.” Ron Taylor were a great tandem in ’69, while not many bullpens in history matched the combination of Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco in ’86.

Though Harrelson claims that both teams had pitching depth, he is well aware of the differences between the two squads. The ’86 started hot out of the gate and never cooled down until October, while the ’69 team didn’t take off until mid summer.

The ’69 team was a disciplined group of ballplayers under manager Gil Hodges, while the ’86 team was known as a fiery bunch. Davey Johnson let them play since the team’s chemistry on the field overshadowed any off-the-field incidents.

However, Harrelson believes the ’69 team showed more consistency and had a better starting pitching staff. While Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bobby Ojeda and Sid Fernandez were tough, matching up against Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew and Don Cardwell was a difficult task. In fact, the ’69 starting staff was so good that Hodges was forced to keep Nolan Ryan—a Hall of Fame pitcher who threw seven career no-hitters—in the bullpen.

“I always say the ’69 team would beat the ’86 team because I have to,” Harrelson said. “I played on the ’69 team.”

Harrelson says the camaraderie of the ’69 team still exists to this day. His roommate during road trips was none other than Seaver.

“Seaver’s like a brother to me,” said Harrelson.

Buddy has used his playing and coaching experience in the big leagues to the benefit of the Ducks franchise. Whoever comes in contact with him not only appreciates his baseball knowledge but also his fun-loving attitude.

“Buddy is a tremendous asset to the Ducks,” said Michael Pfaff, Ducks general manager. “So many people that come to the ballpark have watched him play, or watched him coach, or watched him manage, or grown up as kids watching him here as this ballpark.”

Since Buddy is enjoying what he’s doing, he sees no need to get back involved with the majors.

“This is fun,” said Harrelson. “It’s been fun for a lot of years. I don’t get tired of it. I don’t get tired of going to the ballparks, signing autographs, doing my thing.”

Buddy will continue to “do his thing” as he serves as a pioneer for the Ducks and independent league baseball in general.

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“Hey, Dad, You Wanna Have A Catch?” A Father’s Day Blog Three Generations In The Making. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/06/hey-dad-you-wanna-have-a-catch-a-fathers-day-blog-three-generations-in-the-making.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/06/hey-dad-you-wanna-have-a-catch-a-fathers-day-blog-three-generations-in-the-making.html/#comments Sun, 20 Jun 2010 11:37:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=29425 I was about 6 years old when my father threatened to throw me out of the house. The reason was simple. I told him I was going to be a Yankees fan.

It was the early 1970’s and I knew nothing about Baseball. But still, I was going to root for the Yankees. Why? As my dad watched the local news one night the sports came on. I was close by, doing whatever a typical 6 year old does. The Yankees catcher, Thurman Munson, did something or other. My ears perked up. I was only 6 and I didn’t hear ‘Thurman Munson’ but instead heard ‘Herman Munster,’ the father on the old TV show, The Munsters. That settled it. Herman Munster plays for the Yankees!!! How cool is that?

My Yankee loyalty lasted all of maybe 5 minutes. At 6 years old, I was not ready to live on the streets in The Bronx. My father made it clear he would not live under the same roof as a Yankee fan. And so it began. My somewhat-initially-blackmailed allegiance to the Mets.

At 7, my father taught me not just the game but the ‘game within the game.’ I fell in love immediately with the beauty, magic and wonderment of this thing called Baseball, a love that has lasted for over 35 years now. I soon learned that you can actually SEE these games live, not just on TV. It was Helmet Day when I first came upon this huge stadium in Flushing. I’d never seen anything so big, so massive. It was like the Roman Coliseum–but in Queens. “They play in there???” Walking in, I’d never seen grass so green. I’d never seen so many people gathered in one place for the same reason; To root the Mets to victory over the Expos. But it was unseasonably cold, very windy and overcast. This was my very first ballgame and if I was to catch a cold my mom would never let my dad take me to Shea ever again! So, I followed as my dad talked to this guy, talked to that guy, talked to some other guy. Next thing I knew we were sitting in the Press Box, just 2 booths down from the broadcast booth. I was maybe 25 feet away from Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy. We went to another game later that year. Imagine the horror I felt having to sit with ‘regular’ fans. Doesn’t every kid get to sit in the Press Box?

The year was 1973, a good first year. I wore my little Mets hat and my little Mets jacket every day. But as the season wore down and the Mets appeared to be going nowhere, floundering in last place, my classmates, who were mostly Yankee fans, teased me. I cant even remember how many times I came home from school after being picked on all day, only to get reassurance from my seemingly all-knowing father. ‘We’re gonna win, right Dad?’ “Sure, Don’t worry about it,” he confidently told me. “Okay, good.” And I walked away. My mom turned to my dad and asked, “What will you tell him if they don’t?” “I’ll worry about it then.” As the Mets made a miraculous September run and won the Pennant, I wondered to myself if somehow, someway, my dad maybe…did something.

My dad always has been an optimist when it comes to the Mets. As he taught me the game, he advised me, ‘The Mets NEVER lose. Sometimes we just run out of innings.’ He went to the 2nd game the Mets ever played, a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds. He was also in attendance on Father’s Day 1964. The game moved to the 9th inning and Jim Bunning was one out away from throwing only the 5th Perfect Game in history. Mets fans cheered the Phillies pitcher, hoping to witness one of Baseball’s rarest feats. But not my father. He was still cheering for his Mets. When someone next to him asked, ‘Don’t you want to tell people you were at a Perfect Game?’, my dad responded, “No, I’d rather tell them I was at the Perfect Game that got broken up with 2 outs in the 9th.” As recent as 2006, when the Mets moved into 1st place, I’d wake up every day to an e-mail from my dad that was counting down the Magic Number. 94, 93, 92 (yes, he started that early.)

Like most kids, my relationship with my dad has not been great. Better then some, worse then others. He’s disagreed with many decisions I’ve made in my life; jobs, career, girls, even to this day how I drive. But the one thing we could always come back to was Baseball. And the Mets. But even that has caused some disagreements. My dad insists the 69 team was better then the 86 club. My dad loves David Wright, but he will never be as good a 3b-man as Ed Charles in 69. While Endy’s catch was great, it was ‘No Agee.’ No matter how great Johan is, Koosman will always be the best LHP in our history.

Before I was even born it had been predetermined that I would root for this team. My father had been a Brooklyn Dodger fan, just like his father. This love for NY NL Baseball went back to the 1920’s. While New York was in awe of Ruth and Gehrig, my grandfather was a Dodgers fan rooting for guys like Zack Wheat and Dazzy Vance. When my dad was old enough, he too kept up the family tradition and became a Brooklyn fan. Although it’s been close to 60 years since ‘The Shot Heard Round The World,’ my dad still refers to the Giants OF-er not as Bobby Thomson but as ‘Bobby *^%$@# Thomson.’ To this day, my dad insists the final called strike in Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 56 series against Brooklyn was ‘outside.’

The year was 1957 when the Dodgers and Giants vacated New York for the barren wasteland of California 3000 miles away. The heart of every little boy in NY was broken, including my dad’s. It was not until 1962 when NL baseball returned to NY with our Mets. But in those 5 years, my dad’s life had changed. He graduated high school, started college, met my mom and got married. He went from a teenage boy to adulthood. But when it was announced that a new team would be created named The Metropolitans, shortened to Mets, my dad immediately became a fan, as did many old Dodgers and Giants fans.

My dad looked at the 1962 Opening Day roster and, as always, felt confident that we could finish at .500. His dad, my grandfather, followed the Mets, but never really became a fan. He had rooted for Brooklyn for 40+ years. But by 1962, he was becoming older and his health was failing. After rooting for Duke, Gil, Jackie, Roy and Pee Wee, it was hard to get enthused about Choo Choo Coleman, Felix Mantilla and Marvelous Marv.

My dad tried to convince his dad that this new team, the Mets, may be pretty good in a few years. He even joked, “Give it some time. Within a few years, we’ll be in the World Series.” My grandfather shook his head and nonchalantly commented, “I wont live to see it.” My grandfather’s innocent remark was correct. He passed away in May 1969.

To this day, my dad wonders if somehow, someway, maybe….

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Vintage Mets: 1969 Was A Very Good Year http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/02/vintage-mets-1969-was-a-very-good-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/02/vintage-mets-1969-was-a-very-good-year.html/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2010 00:35:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=20957 Here’s a video that recently popped up, and when I saw it I just knew I had to share it with you. It’s the late Lindsey Nelson trying, but not really succeeding, to interview the Mets in the locker room just after they won the 1969 World Series against the Orioles.

It’s a real trip watching these guys… I love those original uniforms and it really makes me wish the Mets would stop playing games and just stick with these original beauties.

The video features Tom Seaver, Donn Cledennon, Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote and even the original Mets owner, Mr. Charles Payson who was celebrating his birthday that day. 

It’s a lot of fun, enjoy it….

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It Was A Memorable 1969 Tribute http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/it-was-a-memorable-1969-tribute.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/it-was-a-memorable-1969-tribute.html/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2009 17:12:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11465

I have to hand it to the New York Mets for doing an excellent job of putting that 1969 Mets tribute together. It was so touching to see all those great Mets of the past, together again for one last time. Unfortunately, many of those who played for the Amazin’s in that magical season have passed on, but I’m sure they were smiling down on their former teammates and even helped to hold back the rain so that the festivities can go on.

I was so happy to finally see Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan wearing his number 30 Mets jersey for the first time in 38 years. After seven no-hitters, he returned to honor the team that gave him his only World Series ring. Maybe his presence may have snapped the curse that has kept us from tossing our own no-hitter. Lets keep our fingers crossed!

Tom Seaver was his usual elegant and eloquent self, and he graced us with some of the night’s most memorable quotes. Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA in 1969 to win the first of his three Cy Young awards. He spoke for the team after everyone was announced, telling the crowd that the improbable World Series championship was a thread that ties the team members, their children, grandchildren and the fans of that team together forever.

“People called us the Miracle Mets, but nothing was impossible when you played for Gil Hodges. You believed in us and we believed we could do it. Thank you, New York.”

I hope most of you were able to watch.

Finally, here is a list compiled by NorthJersey.com of all the 1969 Mets and where they are now.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW

What the surviving members of the 1969 world champion Mets are doing now and the list of deceased members:

Coach – Yogi Berra, Owner, Yogi Berra Museum. Lives is Montclair

2B – Ken Boswell, Rancher, Austin, Texas

3B – Ed Charles, Retired, Queens, N.Y.

P – Jack DiLauro, Consultant, Hudson Capital LLC, Malvern, Ohio

C – Duffy Dyer, Minor league instructor, Padres, Phoenix

SS – Bobby Pfeil, Apartment renovations, Stockton, Calif.

3B – Wayne Garrett, Florida Irrigation, Sarasota, Fla.

P – Gary Gentry, Director of retirement home, Phoenix

OF – Rod Gasper, Owner of money management firm, Mission Viejo, Calif.

C – Jerry Grote, Owner, Texas Java coffee house, Belton, Texas

SS – Bud Harrelson, Co-owner, Long Island Ducks, Hauppauge, N.Y.

LF – Cleon Jones, Retired, Mobile, Ala.

P – Jerry Koosman, Retired, Osceola, Wis.

1B – Ed Kranepool, IRN Credit Card Processing, Jericho, N.Y.

C – J.C. Martin, Retired, Advance, N.C.

P- Jim McAndrew, Retired, Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Coach Joe Pignatano, Retired, Brooklyn, N.Y.

P – Nolan Ryan, President, Texas Rangers, Dallas

P – Tom Seaver, Vineyard owner, Calistoga, Calif.

1B/OF – Art Shamsky, Author, New York City

RF – Ron Swoboda, Radio, TV announcer, New Orleans

P – Ron Taylor, Team physician, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto

2B – Al Weis, Retire,d Elmhurst, Ill.

Coach – Eddie Yost, Retired, Wesley, Mass.

Members who are deceased

Mgr. Gil Hodges, died April 2, 1972

Coach – Rube Walker, died Dec. 12, 1992

P – Cal Koonce, died Oct. 28, 1993

CF – Tommie Agee, died Jan. 22, 2001

1B – Donn Clendenon, died Sept. 17, 2005

P – Tug McGraw, died Jan. 5, 2004

P – Don Cardwell, died Jan. 14, 2008

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What Might Have Been: The Nolan Ryan Story http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/what-might-have-been-the-nolan-ryan-story.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/what-might-have-been-the-nolan-ryan-story.html/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2009 12:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11720 Nolan Ryan was one of the many Mets honored before Saturday night’s game at Citi Field during the celebration of the 1969 World Championship team.  It was his first return to Flushing in a Mets uniform since the ill-fated trade to the California Angels on December 10, 1971.  Would Mets history have been different if the Mets weren’t in such desperate need for a third baseman that they were willing to part with the young righthander and other players?  Let’s go back in time to see what might have been had Nolan Ryan remained a Met.

It was 1971.  The Mets had made an improbable run to the pinnacle of the baseball world just two years earlier.  Although they were unable to defend their championship in 1970, they were still able to produce a winning record when they finished 83-79.  They replicated that record in 1971, but finished in third place both seasons in the six-team National League East.

Wayne Garrett was the primary third baseman in 1970.  He finished the season with a .254 batting average, picking up 12 HR and 45 RBI.  However, he spent the first half of 1971 on military duty.  In his stead, Bob Aspromonte (Who?  Exactly…) played third base and was ineffective, producing a .225 batting average with 5 HR and 33 RBI.  Garrett was not much better when he returned to the team in July, finishing the season with only one HR and 11 RBI to go along with a paltry .213 batting average.  Even in the offensively-challenged early 1970s, a corner infielder had to contribute more than their combined 6 HR and 44 RBI.

At the same time, Nolan Ryan was starting to blossom as a starting pitcher.  He started 26 games in 1971 and produced a 10-14 record in 152 innings of work.  He also averaged nearly a strikeout per inning but was very wild, with an average of nearly seven walks per nine innings.  Coupled with the fact that the native Texan was not happy playing in the vastly different metropolitan area, he began to ask for a trade out of New York.

The Mets’ general manger at the time was Bob Scheffing.  Mets fans began calling him by the last six letters of his name after that fateful day on December 10, 1971 when he traded away Mr. Ryan.  Needing an offensive boost at third base, Scheffing traded Ryan along with catcher Frank Estrada, pitcher Don Rose and outfielder Leroy Stanton to the California Angels for infielder Jim Fregosi.  Fregosi had his best season in the majors as a shortstop in 1970 when he hit .278 with 22 HR and 82 RBI.  However, he had an injury-plagued 1971 season that saw him produce a .233 batting average, with 5 HR and 33 RBI, numbers that were eerily similar to Bob Aspromonte’s ’71 campaign.  However, Gil Hodges thought it would be a good trade and no one questioned Gil’s knowledge of the game.  He did not want to give up Ryan but the Angels saw the potential in Ryan that he had not yet fully realized in New York.  Plus, Hodges was a “win now” manager and believed Fregosi would be more instrumental to the Mets making a run in 1972 than Ryan would be.

It was one of the few times Gil Hodges was wrong in a Mets uniform, as Fregosi went on to a forgettable career in his 1½ seasons at Shea Stadium.  He never became the great third baseman the Mets expected him to be.  How did Nolan Ryan do after leaving the town he was uncomfortable playing in?  Allow me to reveal a snippet of his long list of personal achievements:

  • 324 victories pitching for mostly mediocre teams
  • 27 seasons pitched in the major leagues (a major league record)
  • 5,714 strikeouts (a major league record)
  • 7 no-hitters (a major league record and seven more than the Mets have had in their 48-year history)
  • 1 Hall-of-Fame induction

Could Ryan have achieved these numbers in New York despite the fact that he was not fond of playing there?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  One thing is for sure.  Jim Fregosi was NOT the answer at third base.  Other than Howard Johnson in the 80s and 90s and David Wright today, the Mets have had a revolving door at third base.  Had Ryan remained in New York, the Mets’ pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack (NL Rookie of The Year in 1972) and Nolan Ryan would have been a dominant force that should have been able to overcome their offensive shortcomings at third base.  Pitching wins championships and the Mets could have won quite a few had they trotted out that starting four year after year.

Nolan Ryan won his only championship ring (shown above) while as a member of the New York Mets in 1969.  Had he not left New York, he and his teammates might have been fitted for more of those beautiful rings.  However, he did go on to achieve many personal records after he left New York.  I wonder what he cherishes more.  His name all over the record books or his precious piece of jewelry that very few men can claim to possess.  That’s a story that only Nolan Ryan can tell you.

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Oh What A Night It Was! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/oh-what-a-night-it-was.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/oh-what-a-night-it-was.html/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:21:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11591 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.

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Appreciating the Miracle Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/appreciating-the-miracle-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/appreciating-the-miracle-mets.html/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2009 13:18:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11380 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.

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Remembering The Magic Of 1969 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/remembering-the-magic-of-1969.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/remembering-the-magic-of-1969.html/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2009 14:59:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=8302 This week, Sports Illustrated magazine has come out with their annual “Where Are They Now” issue. There are two articles in the issue that are so good, I feel the need to comment on them.

Article number 1 deals with the most special of all the Met teams, the 1969 World Champions. In the article there is a picture of Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan wearing Mets jackets (Ryan even has a Met on). Maybe I’m just a sentimental old fool, but there’s something about seeing the Franchise wearing Mets blue and orange that gives my the goose bumps. The article gives brief accounts on what players like Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Ray Charles, and coach Joe Pignataro are up to now.

What the 1969 Mets did was nothing short of a miracle. This was a team that in 1962 set a record for the most loses in a season. From 1962-1968 the Mets averaged 105 loses per season. They won 100 games in 1969. They had a great blend of young and old players, and some really great pitching arms. Most importantly they had a true leader as their manager in Gil Hodges.

When you hear Seaver, the most important player in franchise history say how Gil Hodges was like a father figure to him, the man who had the most impact on his career, you realize how much of a true leader Hodges was. Bud Harrelson is the only Met from 1969 that still wears a uniform. He is part owner and first base coach for the Independent League Long Island Ducks. In the changing room at Citibank Park, home of the Ducks, Harrelson has a picture of Gil Hodges hanging up in the changing room. Gil managed the Mets to a championship 40 years ago, and his picture hangs in the changing room of the Ducks. I bet he sure had a huge influence on Bud Harrelson’s career too.

When the Mets went down to Baltimore earlier this season, I wrote here about how the Orioles were a team to be reckoned with back in the late 1960′s and 1970′s. I wrongfully skimmed over the contributions of their field manager Earl Weaver.

The second good article in S.I. this week gives a really interesting look at Earl Weaver. I remember how good those 1970′s Orioles teams were, and a lot of that success was due to their manager. Weaver believed that his team was given 27 outs, and each out was precious. He didn’t believe in wasting outs, ie. bunting, and hit run. Weaver believed in pitching, defense and the three run home run.

When Weaver first became manager of the O’s he asked the public relations director to provide him the stats of how the Orioles players did against the opposition and vice versa. Before each game Earl was given a hand written list of the match-ups (remember this was well before the computer era). Weaver would use this match-up information to set his starting line-up. He truly was so far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Weaver wanted to win more than anything else. So much so that he never shook hands with a winning pitcher after the game. He didn’t want anything to do with emotion or friendship, he just wanted to win games.

This is really just a brief summary of two worthy articles to be read, in this week’s S.I. The articles were so good in fact, that I almost forgot S.I. had the Mets listed under the “NOT HOT” section this week.

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Video: These Mets Had Plenty Of Heart http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/04/video-these-mets-had-plenty-of-heart.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/04/video-these-mets-had-plenty-of-heart.html/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2009 22:30:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=3947 Josh from Jorge Says No, emailed me a great video of the 1969 Mets who made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show shortly after they won the World Series.

Check out how young Tom Seaver looks, and Nolan Ryan too.

Wayne Garrett looks just like Richie Cunningham from Happy Days.

Enjoy…

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