Gil Hodges, the new Mets skipper was on hand for his first Opening Day at Shea Stadium as his team hosted the former New York National Leaguers, the now San Francisco Giants, marking their tenth year on the West Coast.
The Giants always drew well returning to New York & on this day 52,079 were on hand at Shea Stadium as Hodges sent his young lefty, Jerry Koosman to face Herman Franks & the Giants' Mike McCormick. McCormick was the NL leader in wins the previous year posting a 22-10 mark with a 2.85 ERA.
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The 1968 Mets Opening Day line up were soon to be all key players for the Miracle of '69. In the home 2nd it was Cleon Jones who got the Mets off to a 1-0 lead with his first HR of the season. The score would stay that way until the 6th, when Ken Boswell singled & advanced, scoring when "The Glider" Ed Charles doubled to left field.
The final Met run came in the 7th, reliever Bobby Bolin surrendered a double to catcher Jerry Grote. Bolin then booted a grounder by Koosman putting two men on for the Mets with no onuts. Al Weis would then single to left field bring home Grote to top off the 3-0 win.
As for Koosman, he was excellent, scattering seven hits, walking two & striking out ten batters. He would strike out eleven in his next start. In the 7th he struggled a bit giving up a hit & a walk but then ended the inning when he struck out Jim Davenport for the third time on the day.
Koosman would start out the year at 4-0 & finish up at 19-12 on a team that was 73-89. His 19 wins were 4th best in the NL. He struck out 178 batters but incredibly he kept an ERA under two all season until September 24th. That day he gave up five earned runs to the Atlanta Braves, putting his ERA at 2.12, the first time it was over two all season.
He ended the year with a 2.08 ERA (4th best in the NL).
In his first start, his first of the year, he shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 at Dodger Stadium. He only struck out three & walked four but only allowed four hits.