Sep 8, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1969) The Black Cat Game

Tuesday September 9th, 1969: After Jerry Koosman's fine performance the previous evening, the Mets were on fire. They had won four straight & were now just 1 1/2 games out of first place behind Leo Durocher's Chicago Cubs.

The Mets hosted the Cubs on this night as 51,448 paid came to Shea Stadium (an estimated 58,000 plus actually got in) to see Gil Hodges' Amazing Mets & two future Hall of Fame pitchers go at it. Tom Seaver (20-7) for the Mets & Fergie Jenkins (19-12) for the Cubs.

Chicago Cubs       New York Mets
1Don KessingerSS1Tommie AgeeCF
2Glenn Beckert2B2Wayne Garrett3B
3Billy WilliamsLF3Cleon JonesLF
4Ron Santo3B4Art ShamskyRF
5Willie Smith1B5Ken Boswell2B
6Jim HickmanRF6Donn Clendenon1B
7Randy HundleyC7Jerry GroteC
8Oscar GambleCF8Bud HarrelsonSS
9Fergie JenkinsP9Tom Seaver

This game has gone down in history as "The Black Cat Game". While the Cubs slugger, Ron Santo was on deck, a black cat appeared on the field & walked around him over toward the Cubs dug out. The cat scampered glanced in the dug out & moved on. Now in a superstitious world, a black cat is bad luck. On a baseball field, it's doom.

Quotes: Ron Santo:  "I knew right away we were in trouble, I wanted to run and hide." It was ironic the cat walked by Santo, one of the most arrogant of all 1969 Cubs. Santo had a ritual of clicking his heels after a win that season, something many players especially Mets though was a bush league move.

Cats had always lived in or around Shea Stadium. Especially back in the sixties. Cats would be plentiful & give birth to kittens that were also plentiful. It was estimated that neighborhood cats could reach as many as forty on a given night at Shea Stadium. Ed Kranepool commented, the reason for the cats was because there were so many rats too.

The actual game was all Mets. In the 1st, Tommie Agee & Cleon Jones both  walked. A Ken Boswell double made it 2-0 Mets. In the 3rd inning, Donn Clendennon hit his 13th HR of the year, a two run shot making it 4-0 Mets in a wild Shea Stadium.

Wayne Garrett added a sac fly in the 4th to make it 5-0. In the 5th Art Shamsky connected with a solo HR, his 13th of the year.

In the home 7th, Ken Boswell singled with two outs. Donn Clendenon was then hit by a pitch, that's the way it was back then. But Jerry Grote answered back, he took Ferguson Jenkins fastball & doubled to right field, scoring Boswell.

Seaver rolled along, he allowed just one run, an RBI single to Santo who did have some luck that night.

Seaver struck out just five, walked only one & allowed just five hits earning his 21st victory in his first Cy Young Season.

Trivia: A plaque honoring this night is on the Citi Field Fan Walk. 

The next night the Mets beat the Montreal Expos 3-2 in extra innings. Ken Boswell drove in Cleon Jones with a walk off single in the bottom of the 8th, off Montreal's Bill Stoneman putting the Mets in first place. 

The Mets we're indeed No. #1 & continued on to hold that lead the rest of the season, winning the NL East, the NLCS & The 1969 World Series.

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