Feb 02

Mets Vs. Jets: Which 1969 Championship Had The Most Impact?

Regardless of the outcome of today’s Super Bowl, it won’t be a defining upset in the way the New York Jets’ stunner over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Of course, that was the Joe Namath Super Bowl, the one in which unfortunately Johnny Unitas didn’t make an appearance until it was too late. Namath played a brilliant game that eventually carried him to the Hall of Fame. Without that victory, I don’t know if Namath makes it to Canton.

NAMATH: Led Jets to historic upset.

NAMATH: Led Jets to historic upset.

The Jets’ victory over the Colts is arguably one of sports’ greatest upsets. Several months later there was another, courtesy of another New York team, when the Mets stunned the Orioles in five games in the 1969 World Series.

As the Colts were overwhelming favorites, so too were the Orioles. Both, were stuffed.

So, which was the more surprising? Which was the most significant?

The Mets’ championship was harder to attain because they had to overcome a supposed superior opponent four times instead of once.

In one game, anything can happen, like the Colts throwing four interceptions and Earl Morrall not seeing a wide-open Jimmy Orr at the end of the first half. If one or two plays had been different, the Colts might have prevailed.

Given a football game can change on one or two plays, in retrospect the Jets’ victory is more easily comprehendible than it was in the hours after final gun in the Orange Bowl.

Sure, the odds were long, but throughout history – in all sports – teams have played the perfect game to orchestrate upsets in all sports.

However, in looking at the Mets, they won 100 games that season, so while their first trip to the playoffs was surprising, they were not a fluke team. By the time they overtook the Chicago Cubs, there was an inkling this was going to be a special team.

The 1969 Mets had one of history’s greatest pitching staffs, won their division going away and crushed Atlanta in the playoffs. Then, they dismissed the Orioles in five games, shutting down a crushing offense with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, and an array of clutch offensive performers – Donn Clendenon for one – and defensive gems – Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda.

Clearly, the Jets’ victory was the most significant as it drove the merger between the established NFL and the AFL. The Jets’ victory might also have been the most stunning because they needed to catch lightning in a bottle to upset a superior opponent.

But, the Mets, while their title was an upset, in hindsight they were a lot better than history might remember them.

May 19

Today in Mets History: Agee goes deep twice.

I remember when Shea closed going up to the higher reaches of the upper deck where the No. 20 was painted in recognition of Tommie Agee’s monstrous homer.

AGEE: Had big day vs. Expos.

Agee first popped into my consciousness when he played for the Chicago White Sox in the mid-1960’s, when I rooted for the Cleveland Indians.

Agee was a tremendous fielder and will always be remembered for making two game-saving catches in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series to save a potential five runs. What people forget, however, is Agee also homered to lead off that game.

On this date in 1970, Agee homered twice in a 7-4 victory at Montreal. Agee had a 20-game hitting streak, April 16-May 9 of that season.

BOX SCORE

Unfortunately, chronic knee pain slowed Agee’s career in 1971 and 1972, and he was traded to Houston after the 1972 season. The Astros traded Agee to St. Louis in August of the 1973.

After the season, the Cardinals dealt Agee to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In one of those twists, Agee was released by the Dodgers in spring training and never played for the team. However, his final baseball card showed him as a Dodger.

Agee relished being a part of the 1969 Mets and appeared as himself in a 1999 episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.’’

He suffered a heart attack, Jan. 22, 2001, and died at Bellevue Hospital Center. He was posthumously inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame the following summer.

CAREER NUMBERS

If you have any Agee memories, I’d like for you to share them. Thanks.

 

Feb 11

Let it stand ….

SHEA: Honor its legacy.

SHEA: Honor its legacy.

There is one remaining wall of what was Shea Stadium that’s still standing. I know it won’t happen, because such decisions are never made on the fly, but I’d like to see it remain standing. It would make a great gesture to the past.

However, the Mets could still honor their Shea history by outlining a replica of the playing field in the parking lot and denote where some of the most memorable plays occurred with statues. Such of Seaver on the mound when he struck out 19 Padres, or Buckner, or the Swododa and Agee catches, of Cleon catching the final out of the 69 Series.

In Atlanta, the Braves have a replica of an outfield wall and mark where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record, so it’s not like this hasn’t been done before.

Sep 24

The one event you didn’t see.

A lot of you have mentioned your favorite Shea Stadium memories. But, what about the ones you missed. Tell me the one moment in Shea Stadium you would have liked to have witnessed live, but didn’t.

Tom Seaver? Tom Agee’s homer into the upper deck? The 1969 World Series? The Beatles? The Stones? The Spiderman Wedding?