Great journeys begin with small steps and the Mets took on this day in 1969 when Ed Kranepool homered twice to back Tom Seaver to a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was the Mets’ sixth straight victory and it gave them a 24-23 record to pull them over .500 at the latest point in the season in club history.
I grew up in Cleveland, but had family in New York that we visited every summer. This was about the time I started paying attention to the Mets watching them on Channel 9.
I used to love watching Ralph, Murph and Lindsey Nelson.
The TV coverage of the Indians at the time was horrible, but these guys made it fun to watch the games, and when they started winning it was even better.
Juan Marichal was awesome to watch with that high leg kick and fall-off-the-table breaking ball. He always fell short of Sandy Koufax in notoriety during that era, but was an ace nonetheless, on a par with Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale.
MARICHAL: Dominance with a kick,
For the most part, Marichal had his way with the Mets, going 26-8 with a 2.13 ERA. That dominance included nine shutouts and 26 complete games.
Marichal also struck out 241 Mets while walking just 44.
However, on this day in 1971, the Mets beat him 5-2 in San Francisco.
The Mets got three hits from Bud Harrelson and two each from Tommie Agee, Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool and Duffy Dyer.
SWOBODA: One of the Amazins.
There were signs prior to their showdown series against the Cubs that 1969 had the potential to be a breakout, if not special season.
The Mets always had their troubles against the Giants, and finding little ways to win was never their forte. However, on this day in 1969 the Mets completed a three-game sweep of San Francisco at Shea Stadium, winning 5-4 on Ron Swoboda’s bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning.
Swoboda signed with the Mets after playing one year at the University of Maryland, and debuted with the team in 1965. Swoboda hit 15 homers by the All-Star break, but finished the season with 19, then a Mets’ rookie record (broken by Darryl Strawberry in 1983).
For all his strength, Swoboda never became a big time home run hitter and finished his career with 73. He will always be remembered for hitting a pair of two-run homers off Steve Carlton, Sept. 15, 1969, and robbing Brooks Robinson of extra bases with a diving catch in right field in Game 4 of the World Series.
SWOBODA CAREER STATS
Greetings all. I hope you had a great holiday weekend. I was away at a place with no Internet access and it was like being stranded on Gilligan’s Island without the Professor.
KRANEPOOL: A busy day.
I see I didn’t miss much with the Mets during the Phillies series. A lot of pre-series talk about getting back to .500 and making a statement went by the boards. It’s time to climb out of the hole again.
Tonight it is the Pirates, but on this day in 1964, the Mets played an unforgettable doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. The Giants swept, winning the first game, 5-3, but needing 23 amazing innings to prevail in the nightcap, 8-6.
“I wanted it to go a little longer,’’ said Ed Kranepool, who played in all 32 innings. “That way I could say I played in a game that started in May and ended in June.’’
The Mets tied it in the seventh inning on a three-run homer by Joe Christopher off Bob Bolin and even turned a triple play in the 14th inning. The game lasted 7:23.
It’s always fascinating looking at the box scores for games like this. Eight different players, including Willie Mays for the Giants and Kranepool for the Mets had 10 at-bats. Galen Cisco for the Mets pitched nine innings of relief and took the loss, while Gaylord Perry worked ten innings in relief for the Giants and earned the win.
Years later, Perry said that game enabled him to break into the Giants rotation and launch his Hall of Fame Career.
I’d be lying if I said reporters didn’t have their favorite athletes. One of mine was Todd Zeile, whom I covered when he was with the Yankees. When Zeile retired following the 2004 season, he did so with the distinction of hitting at least one homer for each of the 11 teams he played for during his career. He also homered in his final at-bat, Oct. 3, as a Met. However, on this day in 2000, Zeile homered twice, including a grand slam, as the Mets beat St. Louis, 12-8.
NOTE: Going away for the weekend for friend’s wedding. Will take laptop with me, but don’t know about Internet. Will try to blog if I can. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.