Sep 09

Today in Mets’ History: The Black Cat Game

Throughout the Summer of `69, Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo celebrated each victory by clicking his heels in the air.

He clicked them often as the Cubs built a seemingly insurmountable 10-game lead by Aug. 13. However, he wouldn’t be clicking them on this day, although superstition would be the headliner.

That lead was cut to a half-game on this date as Tom Seaver, backed by homers from Donn Clendenon and Art Shamsky, beat Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs, 7-1, in what will forever be known as “The Black Cat Game.’’

The black cat symbolized the Cubs' fall.

While the Cubs were batting, a black cat walked behind the on-deck circle where Santo was standing.

“(The cat) kept walking around their on-deck circle,’’ said Ed Kranepool in a phone interview. “The crowd kept yelling and cheering, and the cat just stayed there.’’

No, the cat wasn’t planned.

“We had a lot of cats (at Shea) because we had a lot of rats there,’’ Kranepool said.

From Aug. 14, the Mets sizzled at 39-11 while the Cubs went 21-29 during that stretch, including  8-17 in September. The Mets were 23-7 in September.

The cat is a nice story and a great piece of Mets’ lore. From the Chicago perspective, perhaps Leo Durocher burned out his team – which only played day games at home – by running out the same lineup every day. Five Cubs played in at least 150 games and two more played over 130.

Still, 92 wins for the year isn’t bad.

However, the Mets’ pitching was brilliant with 13 shutouts in August and September.

“We were playing great baseball,’’ Kranepool said. “When we came home from the West Coast (where they went 6-4) we were playing our best baseball of the season.

“The lead went from ten to six, then it kept going down.’’


The victory was the Mets’ 82nd, which assured them of their first winning season.  It was also their fourth in the midst of a stretch where they won 10 straight and 13 of 14 games to go up by 3 ½ games.


Sep 05

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver wins 20th.

The Mets made several runs at the Chicago Cubs in 1969 before they finally overtook, then lapped them en route to their Amazin’ championship season.

SEAVER: First Met to win 20 on this date.

Gil Hodges said in spring training he had a feeling for his team. Not that they would win it all, but he believed their pitching would be good enough to be a factor.

That pitching was highlighted by Tom Seaver, who on this date in 1969, became the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia in the first game of a doubleheader.

It was a typical, efficient, workmanlike effort from Seaver, who went nine innings, and gave up one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

With the victory, the Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs. The Mets lost the second game, 4-2.



Seaver was incredible that season, winning the Cy Young Award and finishing second in the MVP voting.

Going 25-7 was one thing, but he had a 2.21 ERA with 18 complete games, including five shutouts.  Seaver also worked 273.1 innings (which didn’t lead the NL) – unheard of today – with 208 strikeouts, averaging just under seven per nine innings.


Aug 10

Today in Mets’ History: Remembering Don Cardwell.

Tom Seaver always said Don Cardwell was always one of the more important, yet under appreciated pitchers on the 1969 staff.

CARDWELL: Appreciated by his teammates.

On this date in 1969, Cardwell replaced Nolan Ryan in the third inning and went on to pitch four scoreless innings as the Mets defeated Atlanta, 3-0.

Cardwell offered professionalism and leadership to a young, talented staff. That season Cardwell was a study in perseverance. After a 3-9 start, starting in late July, Cardwell reeled off five straight wins, including a 1-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader, Sept. 12.

Jerry Koosman won the first game, 1-0, and in a rarity, both Koosman and Cardwell drove in the runs.

The victory was the Mets’ ninth straight, and came two days after the team moved into first place for good in the NL East.

Cardwell, the prototypical journeyman pitcher, compiled a 102-138 record with a 3.92 ERA pitching for Philadelphia (1957-60), Chicago Cubs (1960-1962), Pittsburgh (1963-66), the Mets (1967-70) and Atlanta (1970).

Cardwell has the distinction of becoming the first major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first start after being traded. After the Phillies traded him to the Cubs, on May 13, 1960, he no-hit St. Louis at Wrigley Field.

That season Cardwell won nine games for the Cubs, but he also hit five home runs.

Cardwell retired in 1970. He eventually returned to his hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, where he died at age 72, Jan. 14, 2008.




Jul 15

Today in Mets’ History: Weis, Gentry beat Cubs.

When the Mets surged into relevance in 1969, the impetus was bookend series against the Chicago Cubs in July.

On this date at Wrigley Field, Al Weis hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Ken Boswell homered in the fifth to back Gary Gentry’s solid pitching to give the Mets a 5-4 victory.

Gentry, the third starter on the staff behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, gave up four runs in 7.2 innings. Ron Taylor closed the game for the save.




Jun 27

Today in Mets’ History: Anthony Young loses again.

YOUNG: The losing never seemed to stop.

Futility is often a word linked to the Mets, and who dealt with it more than Anthony Young who lost 27 consecutive decisions, including No. 24 on this date in 1993, losing 5-3 to St. Louis.

From April 14, 1992 while with the Mets, until May 1, 1994, then with the Chicago Cubs, Young lost 27 straight decisions.

That stretch including 13 quality starts, defined as giving up three runs in at least six innings.

Young finished retired in 1996, last pitching for Houston, with a 15-48 record, but a decent 3.89 ERA.

Do you remember Young and that stretch? If so, please post your thoughts.