Oct 14, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1969): World Series Game #4: Tom Terrific- Swoboda's Catch & J.C. Martin's Bunt- Amazing!

Wednesday October 15th, 1969: World Series Game #4 - Shea Stadium, New York.

Shea Stadium was was filled again with 57,367 fans ready to witness another Amazing victory. 

In a rematch of World Series Game One starters, NL Cy Young winner Tom Seaver (25-7 / 2.21 ERA / 208 Ks) got the call vs. Baltimore's Mike Cueller (23-11 / 2.38 ERA / 182 Ks).

Seaver's day began when he learned there were leaflets being passed around out side Shea Stadium, with his picture on it protesting the war in Vietnam. There was a quote saying "If the Mets can win the World Series then we can get out of Vietnam". Seaver said any war protest from him would not come during a World Series & it wowuld be him as a citizen not a MLB pitcher.

Orioles Pitcher; Mike Cueller
In this classic game, Tom Seaver was sensational pitching ten innings, allowing only one run on six hits, walking two & striking out six. This would be Tom Seaver's only World Series victory in his Hall of Fame career.

Seaver got some help from Ron Swoboda, who was considered a below average outfielder up until this day, when all the past errors would be forgotten. Swoboda etched himself as another hero in Mets history in the ninth inning of this game. 

Starting Lineups

Seaver started out the 1st inning striking out Don Buford, he closed out the inning striking out Boog Powell looking. In the bottom of the 2nd, the eventual World Series MVP; Donn Clendenon blasted a solo HR putting the Mets to the board to the delight of the Shea crowd. 

It would be the only scoring until the 9th inning, as both pitchers put on a heck of a pitching performance. 

In the 3rd inning, Orioles manager Earl Weaver, beacane the first manager since 1935 to be ejected from a World Series game. He was thrown out by home plate umpire Shag Crawford.

For Baltimore, Mike Cueller went seven innings, allowing just one run on seven hits, he struck out five & walked no one. He gave way to Eddie Watt who pitched two scoreless innings getting the Orioles to the 10th.
As for Seaver, he went into the 9th inning retiring 17 of the last 18 batters he had faced, and he had allowed only three hits up to that point in the game.

Ron Swoboda's Diving Catch
Seaver was beginning to tire, when the O's got two singles in the 9th, coming from Boog Powell & Frank Robinson. With one out & runners on first & third, manager Gil Hodges came to the mound for a visit. Hodges chose to stick with his top pitcher & left Seaver in the game.

Brooks Robinson was the next batter, he then hit a smash toward the right center field gap. Ron Swoboda raced for the ball, he ran as far as he could, then decided to leap after it. 

He stretched out his body & reached with his glove making a remarkable diving backhanded catch. He looked in his glove, and there was the ball. The crowd roared, in disbelief they realized he had made a spectacular circus catch. 

Swoboda said: "I want to thank the Rawlings people for making such a fine glove. You know that if you catch the ball, you aren't going to throw anybody out, but you have to try."
Trivia: A silhouette of Swoboda making his famous catch, is designed on the right field gate entrance at Citi Field in his honor.

Brooks Robinson

Swoboda also had three hits on the day
Although Frank Robinson tagged up from third base and scored the tying run, there is no doubt that Swoboda's grab prevented the go-ahead run from scoring. That would have put the Orioles ahead with a runner on third & just one out. 

Now with two outs & order restored in the universe, Seaver got the final out of the inning, as Elrod Hendricks line out to Swoboda in right field. Ron Swoboda had a good day at the plate as well, collecting three hits. 

Jerry Grote also was hitting well in the Series, he led off the 10th inning with a double off O's reliever; Dick Hall. The ball got him on the fists & dropped in left center field between Don Buford & Mark Belanger. Next, Al Weis was walked intentionally to get to the pitchers spot. Gil Hodges put in pinch runner Rod Gaspar at second, and called on back up catcher J.C. Martin, to pinch hit for Seaver. Pete Richert came in to pitch for Baltimore.

J.C. Martin got the bunt sign, and bunted perfectly back to the pitchers mound. Richert chose to field the ball, instead of letting catcher Elrod Hendricks handle it. His throw to first base hit Martin in the arm as he was running down the base line. The ball ricocheted off his arm & into right field. In the mean time Rod Gaspar was rounding third base & scored the unbelievable game winning run.

After the game the Orioles protested that Martin was running inside the baseline, which could have resulted in an interference call. The umpires said they didn’t make an interference call because they felt Martin didn’t intentionally interfere with the play. 

Catcher Elrod Hendricks was yelling he had it to the pitcher; Richert. Richert said " I just went for the ball, he might have yelled; first base or he might have yelled I got it. With all those people yelling, if I stop to listen I dont make the play."

J.C. Martin said: "I knew it was a good bunt. As I was going down to first, I knew it was going to be a close play. Davey Johnson was getting down real low to take the throw., so I came in high, hoping the ball would hit me & I tried to swell up. When it hit me on the left wrist, it was the greatest feeling in the world."

Trivia: Prior to the 1969 World Series in an interview a very cocky Frank Robinson said he had heard just about enough of the New York Mets hype. He also said " And who the hell is Ron Gasper anyway?"  Mr. Robinson sure knew that the correct name was Rod Gaspar (not Ron,) when Gaspar crossed the plate with the winning run in Game #4.

Quotes: Tom Seaver " I saw him hit the plate & I said to myself, my God I have won a World Series game. This is the most exciting moment of my life. When the run scored I was a kid again & my entire life flashed before my eyes. I have wanted this since I was nine years old." 

Manager Gil Hodges congratulates J.C. Martin
In the dugout Seaver whispered to Jerry Koosman the scheduled Game #5 starter "get em tomorrow, stuff it down their throats, one more!" 

After the game, in the Shea visiting dugout, an ejected manager Earl Weaver complained about the call but MLB Commissioner; Bowie Kuhn stated that the game was official.

After the game Seaver was interviewed by NBC broadcaster, Sandy Koufax. Koufax asked Seaver if he thought God was a Mets fan? Seaver's reply was "no but he might have an apartment in New York". 

Quotes: Tom Seaver: "They overestimated themselves & underestimated the Mets. One more game will really prove it."

1 comment:

Jim T said...

I was thrilled to see the 69 Mets games on MLB network this morning, I was 13 all my life in the Bronx when in 1970 relocated to the Midwest.

I missed Swoboda's miracle catch in Game 4. Does anyone have a video clip of that? I checked youtube...