Friday, September 17, 2010

PTWSW #66: The 1969 New York Mets

Manager: Gil Hodges
Record: 100-62
Ballpark: Shea Stadium
Owner: Joan Payson
GM: Johnny Murphy
Coaches: Yogi Berra, Joe Pignatano, Rube Walker, Eddie Yost

Future Hall of Famers: Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver

All-Stars: Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver

Team Leaders, Batting

Cleon Jones, .340
OBP: Cleon Jones, .422
SLG: Cleon Jones, .482
OPS: Cleon Jones, .904
2B: Cleon Jones, 25
3B: Ken Boswell, 7
HR: Tommie Agee, 26
RBI: Tommie Agee, 76
BB: Cleon Jones, 64
SB: Cleon Jones, 16

Team Leaders, Pitching

Tom Seaver, 25 (NL leader)
SO: Tom Seaver, 208
ERA: Tom Seaver, 2.21
IP: Tom Seaver, 273.1
CG: Tom Seaver, 18
SHO: Jerry Koosman, 6
K/BB: Jerry Koosman, 2.65
SV: Ron Taylor, 13


Oldest Player: Ed Charles (b. April 29, 1933)

Youngest Player: Jesse Hudson (b. July 22, 1948)

First to Leave Us: Danny Frisella (d. January 1, 1977). Frisella was sadly killed when a dune buggy he was riding in overturned.

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Don Cardwell (debut April 21, 1957)

Last in Majors: Nolan Ryan (final game September 22, 1993)

First to Play For the Franchise: Al Jackson (April 14, 1962). Jackson, who was sold to the Reds in June, was the Mets' starting pitcher for the third game in franchise history.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Tom Seaver (October 1, 1983)

Pre-union Team: The 1965-67 White Sox had three: Tommie Agee, J.C. Martin and Al Weis. Agee and Weis joined the Mets as part of the same trade, and Martin was acquired that same offseason as the player to be named later from a previous trade.

Reunion Team: No team had more than two.


Tom Seaver, NL Cy Young Award

Season Summary

Since their inception in 1962 the Mets had never finished higher than ninth place in a ten-team league. 1969 was the year their core of young players blossomed into a winning team. Their philosophy was run prevention, run prevention, run prevention. The Mets' defense was the NL's best, and their pitching staff put up an ERA+ of 122, tied for first in the league. That defense was a big part of it, as the Met hurlers' strikeout and walk rates were good but not great. Young Tom Seaver was their ace, winning 25 games and the Cy Young Award, while Jerry Koosman was a fearsome number two. Offensively, the Mets were downright, well, offensive. They were second-worst with an 84 OPS+, and below-average in every offensive category despite playing in a neutral hitter's park. It didn't matter, as their pitching and defense were just that good.

The Mets started out the season as the mediocre team they were in 1968. On May 27 they were 18-23, nine games out of first. An 11-game winning streak brought them above .500 and into second place, but they were still seven games behind the first-place Cubs. Speaking of those Cubs, for most of the season it looked to be their year. They got off to an 11-1 start and held onto first place until September. The tide began to turn in the Mets' favor in mid-August. On August 13 the Mets were in third place, ten games behind Chicago (and one game behind the second-place Cardinals). They then went on a 12-1 run to get back in the running while the Cubs slumped. In early September the floundering Cubs hit a 1-11 skid while the Mets won 10 in a row to take over first place, a position they'd hold onto for the rest of the season. By the time it was over the Mets had won 100 games, finishing eight ahead of Chicago.

1969 was the first year of divisional play, and the Mets easily won the first National League Championship Series by sweeping the Atlanta Braves. It was on to the World Series, where they'd face the heavily-favored Orioles, winners of 109 games. Game 1 went according to schedule, with the Orioles' Cy Young-winning ace Mike Cuellar beating Seaver. The Mets struck back in Game 2 behind Koosman, tying it up with a 2-1 victory. Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan combined to shut out the Orioles in Game 3, but Met center fielder Tommie Agee stole the show with two sensational catches and a home run. Seaver and Cuellar matched up again for Game 4, but this time Seaver would be the winner. Right fielder Ron Swoboda made an incredible catch in the ninth, and the Mets scored the winning run in the tenth on Oriole pitcher Pete Richert's error. Everything was going the Mets' way, and their momentum continued into Game 5. Koosman earned his second win of the Series thanks to Donn Clendenon's third homer, a round-tripper from the light-hitting Al Weis and Ron Swoboda's go-ahead double. The "Miracle Mets" had pulled off a true Cinderella story, going from last-place laughingstock to World Series champions in just two years.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

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