Jul 8, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Tom Seaver's Almost Perfect Game

The night of July 9, 1969 is still one of the most memorable nights in Mets history. It was on this night Tom Seaver took a perfect game into the ninth inning with one out when Cubs reserve outfielder Jimmy Qualls singled to left center field breaking up the bid. Qualls was in centerfield that night because Don Young had made a costly error the night before and was benched by manager Leo Durocher. Jimmy Qualls had only 133 career at bats and was a .233 life time hitter out of baseball by 1972.

The Mets were rolling on a five game win streak, and a seven game win streak against these 1st place Cubs. The previous night Jerry Koosman beat Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins 4-3 in a dramatic come from behind 9th inning win. Down 3-1 in bottom of the 9th when pinch hitters, Ken Boswell & Donn Clendenon both doubled. The league’s leading hitter Cleon Jones doubled home both runs to tie the game, and Ed Kranepool (who also homered earlier) singled home the game winning run.

A crowd of over 50,000 including Seaver’s wife & dad, jammed Shea as the excitement of Mets baseball had taken over New York. Seaver was masterful on this night; he had control of all his pitches, and had his best fastball working. At the beginning of the game pitching coach Rube Walker said to Gil Hodges “he has no hit stuff tonight”.

Seaver struck out 11 Cubs, including Al Spangler three times, Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger & Ted Abernathy twice each. Very few Cubs made good contact at all, Qualls hit a deep fly ball to Ron Swoboda in the 2nd, Santo hit a deep fly out to Agee in the 5th, & Kessinger lined out in the 7th. In the 8th Santo flew out to Agee, Ernie Banks & Al Spangler went down swinging for K’s 10 & 11. In the 9th inning catcher Randy Hundley tried to bunt. Seaver played it & fired to first, one out. Hundley was booed off the field, nice try. Then came Qualls.Seaver said “I never faced Qualls before & had no scouting report on him, we didn’t know how to play him”. He singled to left center field, the only runner to reach base all night.

The crowd gave Seaver a standing ovation, it was the night he became great. He got the next two outs a foul popup & then a fly ball to Cleon Jones in left. The win put him at 14-3 on the year with a 2.46 ERA, both among the best in baseball. After the game Tom met his wife Nancy in the clubhouse, she was crying. He said why are you crying we won? she laughed & said “I guess a one hit shutout is better than nothing”.

The Mets scored 4 runs & had eight hits on the night; the losing pitcher was Ken Holtzman. Cleon Jones hit his 10th HR of the year & was hitting .352. Tommie Agee had two hits, including a triple, scored a run & drove in a run. Seaver himself helped his cause with an RBI hit raising his average to .190. The other Met run was driven in by a guy named Bobby Pfeil. Pfeil was playing shortstop because Bud Harrelson (Seaver’s room mate) was fulfilling an obligation in the military reserves in Watertown New York, watching the game in a restaurant. Pfeil doubled in the bottom of the first and drove in one of his 10 career RBIs. The Cubs made three errors on the night.

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