Dec 26

One More Night Of Tom Seaver …

Good morning. I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and you got what you wanted or needed. If I had the power, I would have given you these things:

* One more summer like 1969, when the expectations weren’t high and your team captured the imagination of the City and the nation.

* An ownership group solvent and desirous of giving you the talent you deserve to cheer for.

* One more night of Tom Seaver going into that classic windup and stride, brushing his right knee to the mound and throwing a darting fastball on the corner, with Willie Mays swinging and missing with a mighty grunt.

* Shea Stadium rocking one more time, with the stands actually moving as the K’s mount up for Dwight Gooden.

* Darryl Strawberry uncoiling that mighty swing of his and ripping a majestic blast deep into the bullpen area. That is, if it misses the scoreboard.

* Another summer against the classic rivalries, the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Braves … and beating them.

* Mike Piazza whiplash swing, rifling a line drive deep into the night.

* The gritty play of Len Dykstra and Wally Backman, diving for balls and into bases, letting us know hustle is still in vogue.

* Keith Hernandez, creeping in from first to pounce on the bunt and nail the runner going to third.

* Johan Santana, healthy from April through October.

* Jerry Koosman dropping a slow curve in on the hands of Willie McCovey.

* Those hundreds of creative signs on Banner Day.

* Seeing the stars come in one more time: Mays, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Gaylord Perry, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Richie Allen, Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell, Fergie Jenkins, Dale Murphy and yes, Chipper Jones.

* Jose Reyes drilling a liner into the gap, striding around the bases and diving head first into third with a triple.

* Ed Kranepool holding on speedster Maury Wills at first.

* A Dave Kingman moonshot, without the complementary strikeout.

* Shea Stadium on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.

* Citi Field, full for once on a date other than Opening Day and against somebody other than the Yankees.

* Speaking of the Yankees, sweeping them during interleague play.

* Carlos Beltran running into the gap to chase down a line drive.

* A solid rotation of Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez.

* Randy Myers throwing smoke in the ninth.

* Billy Wagner doing the same.

* Jerry Grote blocking the plate.

* An October of magic, with J.C. Martin getting the call when he was struck running down the line … with Tommie Agee chasing down uncatchable fly balls and Donn Clendenon ripping home runs.

* A summer when the non-descript come through in the clutch: Ken Boswell and Al Weis; Ron Taylor and Don Cardwell.

* Another spring training with Casey Stengel telling his tales.

* Another summer with Gil Hodges in the dugout.

* David Wright with supporting hitters all around him.

* John Olerud’s sweet swing.

* Robin Ventura with the bases loaded.

* R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball floating towards home.

* And, one more dribbler down the first base line from Mooke Wilson ….

 

 

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.’’

BOX SCORE

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.

 

Jul 08

Today in Mets’ History: 1969 Miracle takes form as fate hits Cubs outfielder.

One of my favorite baseball books was “The Year the Mets Lost Last Place,’’ a diary of a three-series stretch in July of 1969 when the Mets played two series with the Chicago Cubs and one with the Montreal Expos.

YOUNG: Fate finds obscure Cubs outfielder.

Dick Schaap was the author and book took the form of timeline, nearly to the minute, of those games.

One of those games came on this date in 1969 when the Mets beat the Cubs, 4-3, on the strength of Cleon Jones’ two-run double to support the strong pitching of Jerry Koosman. Jones’ double tied the game, and Ed Kranepool’s single off Ferguson Jenkins was the game-winner.

However, the emotional spin of this game centered around non-descript Cubs outfielder Don Young, who misplayed two balls to set up the Mets’ three-run ninth-inning rally. Balls get misplayed, that’s part of the game, but the twist came when Cubs star third baseman Ron Santo viciously blasted Young, first to his face in the clubhouse, and then to the media.

The next day, Santo called a press conference and apologized to Young, who played his last major league game in October of that year. He played sparingly the next two seasons and retired.

The Mets pulled within 4 ½ games of the Cubs with the victory and it was clear 1969 was shaping into a remarkable season.

BOX SCORE

 

Dec 30

MMO: Remembering Those We Lost In 2010

The following is a guest post from our friends at Mets Merized Online.

I wanted to make a special post in remembrance of those we lost this past year. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, however these are immeasurable as I’m sure you will all agree.

Sparky Anderson 1934 – 2010

Jim Bibby 1944 – 2010

Phil Cavarretta 1916 – 2010

Mike Cuellar 1937 – 2010

Willie Davis 1940 – 2010

Walt Dropo 1923 – 2010

Bob Feller 1918 – 2010

Ernie Harwell 1918 – 2010

Ralph Houk 1919 – 2010

Jose Lima 1972 – 2010

Bob Mandt 1926 – 2010

Gil McDougald 1928 – 2010

Robin Roberts 1926 – 2010

Ron Santo 1940 – 2010

Bob Sheppard 1910 – 2010

George Steinbrenner 1930 – 2010

Bobby Thomson 1923 – 2010

In 2010, baseball was hit hard with the losses of some of their greatest voices, players, coaches, managers, fan favorites, Hall of Famers, and executives. Many of them changed the way the game was played, but a lot of them just made the game memorable and magical for millions of us. They are forever a part of the fabric of our National Pastime.

The venerable Marty Noble wrote a poignant review of how impactful many of them were to this game that we love so much. Go check it out at MLB.com.

There may be some that I may have missed, but we can honor them too by including them in the comments section as an addendum to this post.

One of the new things that I wish to do with this site in 2011, is to encourage our readers and other Mets bloggers to submit Guest Blogs for NewYorkMetsReport.com. I think it will be fantastic to have some different views and opinions about the Mets posted here and that ultimately it will make for a much more diverse and  interesting experience for our community. To submit a guest blog, simply email me at jdelcos@yahoo.com.