Just because it was before my time, that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the miracle that was the 1969 New York Mets. On today’s date 43 years ago, the Mets wrapped up an incredible season as they won their first World Series championship.
I am lucky enough to have worked with several members of both the 1969 Mets as well as members of the Baltimore Orioles from that year. Hearing accounts of that series from both sides has really stuck with me and has helped me to understand why that year was so special in the eyes of every Mets fan.
The Orioles were stacked. Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Paul Blair, Jim Palmer, and Mike Cuellar led their team to a dominating, and league leading, 109 wins that season, 19 games above of the second place Detroit Tigers. 1969 was also the first year of the American League Champion Series, where the O’s would steamroll the Minnesota Twins and win the series in three straight games.
The O’s were the top dogs that season, easily the heavy favorite going into the postseason. They were in the top three in the league in almost every major category including runs, hits, doubles, home runs, walks, on base percentage, slugging percentage, wins, ERA, complete games, shut outs, hits allowed, home runs allowed and walks allowed.
The Mets, on the other hand, although they did finish first, earned 100 wins of their own, were still the new kids in town, and most people didn’t think they stood a chance at winning the World Series. Prior to 1969, the Mets only had eight seasons under their belt, and dismal seasons they were. They hadn’t finished higher than next to last, or even won more than 73 games in a year.
They were seventh in the league in batting average, eighth in the league in batting average, and tenth in on base percentage, yet somehow it all worked out.
But these Mets were special. Led by Tom Seaver’s 25 wins, and first Cy Young winning season, they went on to shock the entire baseball world.
The Orioles went on to take the first game of the series with a 4-1 victory, and it seemed as if the O’s were going to do pretty much what everyone thought they were going to, and sweep the Mets on their way to victory.
But what happened was quite the opposite. The Mets would go on to win the next four games, outscoring Baltimore 14-5. Some still consider it the biggest upset in baseball, and rightfully so. Either way it was truly a miracle, and watching Cleon Jones catch the last out and the Mets proceeding to celebrate on the field at Shea Stadium is an image that Mets fans won’t forget, and will be passed down to generations of future Mets fans.
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