Oct 15, 2016

Remembering Mets History: 1969 World Series Game #5: Koosman Clinches Amazing Mets World Series Championship

Thursday, October 16th 1969: World Series Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. 

On this day, the biggest miracle in sports history became a reality. On this day the New York Mets, once loveable losers, became Champions of the World, the Miracle Mets. On this day the team became officially known the Amazing Mets, a title that would stay with the team forever.

The Mets began the year as 100-1 odds to be world series champions. They would forever define the underdog winner in sports. As Bud Harrelson recently said, any under dog team that ever comes back to win, is always compared to the '69 Mets. In just eight short seasons, a team that had finished last six times were now the Champions of the baseball world. What a way to end the sixties.

Manager Gil Hodges, sent Jerry Koosman (17-9 / 2.28 ERA / 180 K's) to the hill. Koos was the winner of Game #2 at Baltimore, he was soon to become the best Mets post season pitcher in team history. 

He got the call for Game Five, facing off against Earl Weaver's Oriole pitcher; Dave McNally (20-7 / 3.22 ERA / 166 K's). McNally was the loser to Koosman in Game #2.

57,397 fans filled Shea Stadium to witness the Miracle of all baseball miracles. There was no stopping the Mets on this day even after they fell behind early on. 

The Mets drew two walks in the 1st inning, but nothing came of it. Koosman had a shaky 3rd inning, first allowing a single to Mark Belanger. He then served up a two run HR to the opposing pitcher; Dave McNally & then a solo blast to Frank Robinson. All of a sudden it was 3-0 Orioles.

Koosman came in to the Mets dug out angry at himself, he threw his glove down to the ground. He told his team "I'll hold them right there, you guys go out & score some runs."

Koosman did exactly that, holding the mighty Orioles down the rest of the way, allowing just one more hit & one walk. He retired 19 of the next 21 batters & no other bird even got near second base.

In the 6th inning, Frank Robinson complained he was hit by a pitch. Umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree. 

Robinson left the plate & went to the dugout, dropped his pants & put ethyl chloride on his leg. Dimuro did not change his mind or look at the wound, he just told Weaver to get him back at bat or he'd be out.

It wasn't until the bottom of the 6th inning, when the Mets made another Amazing come back. It all started when Gil Hodges pulled the famous "shoe polish incident". 

Dave McNally threw a pitch to Cleon Jones, that either bounced first or hit Jones in the foot. The ball then rolled into the Mets dugout. Hodges picked up the ball & walked out to home plate umpire; Lou Dimuro

He showed DiMuro a ball with a shoe polish smudge on it, saying "Lou the ball hit him". Seeing the polish as proof that Jones indeed was hit by the pitch, Umpire Dimuro agreed & awarded Jones first base. 
Gil Hodges: "There was a big polish mark across the ball, I'm just glad our club house gut keeps our shoes nice & polished."

Trivia: Years later, Jerry Koosman said that Hodges had come over to him in the dugout & told him to rub a ball on his shoe. That made the smudge & that was the ball that Hodges had brought to the umpire. Even Art Shamsky stated that Gil always kept a ball with polish on it in his jacket.

Baltimore manager Earl Weaver (who had already been thrown out of one Series game) came out to argue the call. He was bit more careful this time & pretty much knew he had no case. He also felt the same aura going around New York, that his team was about to be done.

Next up came World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, in amazing 1969 Mets fashion, he followed with his third HR of the Series. He put the Mets with in a run, it was now a 3-2 game, sending Shea Stadium into a frenzy.
In the Mets home 7th, the weak hitting; Al Weiss who had never homered at Shea Stadium, and only had hit two HRs all season (in 247 at bats) blasted a HR over the left field wall tying the game. Shea Stadium, the whole city of New York & the whole world it seemed went nuts. 

The underdog little guys every where found a new hero in Mr. Al Weiss. He would hit an amazing .455 in the World Series.

Al Weiss said: " I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know how far it go. I dont have enough experience in judging those things."  His father was ecstatic,it was a dream to see my boy in a World Series, but to see him be the batting hero is too much!"

All Star short stop Bud Harrelson made some outstanding fielding plays in the Series & it was acknowledged by broadcasters Curt Gody & Tony Kubek. Harrelson had made 17 assists in the five game series. 

On Al Weiss, Harrelson said "I thought we had them when Weiss hit it out to tie it. You could almost see them collapse & go whoosh. Heck Clendenon is getting paid to hit, Al isn't. In my mind he's the MVP." 

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Cleon Jones doubled off O's reliever Eddie Watt to lead off the inning. Ron Swoboda, then came through with his second hit of the day. It was his fifth hit in the last two games as well. Swoboda doubled down the left field line, scoring Cleon Jones with the go ahead run. Swoboda then scored as well when Jerry Grote reached base on pitcher Eddie Watt's error.

Koosman came out to complete his five hit World Series victory. Frank Robinson led off with a walk, but Koosman got Boog Powell to ground out in a force play & Brooks Robinson to fly out to right field.

The final out was made by future Mets manager; Davey Johnson. He hit a fly ball to left field, Cleon Jones got down on one knee, made the catch and sealed the Championship. At first Koosman later said, he thought it may have been a HR saying to himself "ut oh". But he was relieved as he saw Cleon Jones kneel down with his glove up. 
At 3:17 PM, Cleon Jones closed his glove on the final out of the 1969 World Series, it is an image that is now iconic in Mets history. Jones jumped & hugged his buddy Tommie Agee & the two ran to the dugouts for saftey, as fans poured onto the field.

Koosman's line score was: nine innings, three runs on five hits, five strikeouts with one walk. After the final out, Koosman leaped into the air into catcher; Jerry Grotes arms. The Glider; ed Charles leaped in the air & did a jig style of a dance. This scene is forever etched into the minds of Mets fans, as the 1969 World Series win became real.


It was his second win of the World Series going an overall 2-0, allowing four runs on seven hits in 17.2 innings. He could have easily been the Series MVP as well, but the honors went to slugger; Don Clendenon who set a five game World Series record (at the time) hitting three HRs . "I know the whole thing seems like a dream, but if it is I don't want to wake up" said Clendenon.


The fans poured onto the field & celebrated wildly. They tore apart the grass taking turf for souvenirs. After the players jumped for joy & hugged each other on the field, they ran for the safety of the Mets club house. In side it was a wild celebration, as champagne flew every where.

The media crowded in & all the lost game coverage began. Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner did interviews for television, as did NBC's Tony Kubek,
 Gil Hodges received a phone call from the President of the United States. Hodges told the press "It's been a year of miracles & I'm just thanking God it's over. It was a colossal thing they did. These young men showed that you can realize the most impossible dream of all. I'm so proud of them all."
Ron Swoboda said " This will give heart to every loser in America, we are the saints of lost causes".
Quotes: Tom Seaver "It was the greatest collective victory by any team in sports."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never count yourself out! What a great victory over the experts.