centerfieldmaz at the 1969 Mets Reunion & Autograph Show

It was an "Amazing" day at the Huntington Hilton on Long Island, for the 1969 Mets Autograph Reunion show. The line up was incredible: Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Bud Harrelson, Gary Gentry, Jerry Grote, Al Weis, Wayne Garrett, Ed Kranepool, Ed Charles, Ron Taylor, Rod Gaspar, Jim McAndrew, Duffy Dyer, Bobby Pfeil, coaches Joe Pignatano, Eddie Yost & special guest Dwight Gooden.

Centerfieldmaz was there taking pictures, getting autographs and of course buying old baseball cards. (I added nicely to my collection of pre '69 Mets.)

I couldn't get to everyone, so I pretty much went with the players I haven't met in the past. I did miss out on Garrett & Dyer who appeared before 11 AM. While mingling in the hallway I got to greet Seaver & Gooden on their entrances, I also got a hand shake & quick conversation from a pure gentleman; The Glider- Ed Charles. As he exited, Charles was thanking the fans for coming.

All the players were really pleasant and friendly, considering what a crowded mad house it was. The longest lines were for Nolan Ryan & Tom Seaver. What do you say to Tom Seaver? All I could say is thanks for all the great memories and making us a winner, he thanked me back! He was relaxed & willing to sign & take photos while making a little conversation.

I asked Ron Swoboda about his catch in Game #4 of the 1969 Series, he said he didn't know he was going to catch it, until after he dove and it hit the webbing of his glove, then he knew he had it. He said he was going to go for it all the way. He was just happy he did it in the World Series.

I asked Jerry Koosman when the Mets were going to retire his number? Telling him, centerfieldmaz has e-mailed the Mets with that request and got no reply. He said "the Mets didn't answer hunh, with a smile." What a clutch pitcher he was in the big games! I thanked him for all the thrills he pitched as well.

Cleon Jones was really kool, I asked him to sign a glove I have with a bunch of all time Mets signatures. I asked him to sign right next to his old pal Tommie Agee's signature, he did & smiled. He got up to accommodate me taking a few photos. I told him he was one of the best outfielders the Mets ever had & deserves more credit than he gets. He sincerely thanked me.

I told Al Weiss how do you manage to hit the biggest HR of your career to tie the last game of the World Series? Especially when you only hit seven in a ten year career? He said it just worked out at the right time. I also asked about the two he hit in the regular season, both in a key games. He quickly recalled they both came in July at Wrigley Field during the race with the Cubs.

Gary Gentry made a rare appearance,
and I must say, I haven't seen him in pictures or anywhere since the mid seventies when he was in Atlanta. He looks good, but he's no longer the young kid of '69. He is defiantly a fun guy and was having a great time. He drew long lines since its rare to see him.

I got to chat with Joe "Piggy" Pignatano, one of my favorite coaches of all time. The Italian American Brooklyn native, was all smiles & jokes, happy to take a few pictures with me and talk about his tomato plants in the bullpen. Yea he still lives in Brooklyn & goes to Cyclones games.

Last but not least, there was Doc Gooden. Who signed an 8 x 10 "Doc Gooden - be cool". How great is that? I told him how I use to go to all the games he pitched in 1984-1986, and what a thrill it was to watch him pitch and bring us to the top again. He thanked me, was very humble & appreciative. He seemed very happy to pose for pictures too.

The Hilton was definatley not prepared for the huge turn out. The lines were long and unorderly until you actually got up front past the security & the ropes. Problem was all the players were in the same area across the back so it was a madhouse anywhere in the vicinity. The dealer tables should have been arranged differently and a bigger venue should have been use overall.

What a great afternoon, with alot of great memories. Its hard to believe its 40 years since those miracle Mets, the first team to go from worst to first. As Bud Harrelson said any underdog team that wins,or comes from last to first is always compared to the '69 Mets.

If only todays Mets could learn from the '69 team! Friday night Citi Field honored the Mets in a brief pregame ceromony. Bringing out most of the same lineup that was at todays show, plus a few others. The ceromonial first pitch was thrown out by The Big Three; Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, & Nolan Ryan. Yea, even Ryan came back for this celebration, it was his first return to a Mets event since 1972.


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