50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
Gil Hodges had his players playing with confidence never seen before on a Mets team & why not, this was the best record they had ever had this late in a season.
The Mets flew out to the West Coast for their first California trip of the 1969 season, landing in San Diego to start a three game set with the expansion Padres. It was the Mets first ever visit to San Diego & they dominated it by sweeping a three game weekend set.
Friday June 6th 1969: In the series opener Gill Hodges sent Gary Gentry to the mound to face off against Padre manager, Pretson Gomez's hurler, Joe Neikro, brother of Hall of Famer Phil Neikro, the Atlanta Braves ace.
Trivia: In a 1970 game, Preston Gomez would remove Padre pitcher Clay Kirby for a pinch hitter, in the 8th inning as Kirby was working a no hitter. The Padres were already losing the game at that point. Gomez would do this again to Don Wilson as Astros manager in 1974. Both times the batters made out & his teams lost the game.
In the 1st inning, Gentry was wild, after a lead off base hit, he walked two Padres to load the bases. When Wayne Garrett booted a grounder from former Dodger & part time Hollywood actor, Al Ferrara, it allowed two runs to score, it was 2-0 Padres.
In the Mets 4th, Tommie Agee led off with a triple, his second of the year. Next, Wayne Garrett singled, bringing in Agee. But in the bottom of the frame, Ed Spiezio hit a solo HR to put the Friars ahead 3-1.
Joe Niekro rolled along to the 6th inning, then to lead off the inning Bud Harrelson & Tommie Agee both singled. Two ground outs in a row led to Harrelson scoring to make it 3-2 San Diego still leading. Next it was Ed Kranepool who provided the big hit, a double to centerfield scoring Garrett with the tying run, 3-3.
Padres relief pitcher, Gary Ross came on & after getting out of the 6th, got in trouble in the 8th. With two outs Cleon Jones singled & stole second. It was Jones's seventh steal of the year, he would lead the club with 16 steals in 1969.
Then the managers put their strategies in place. Gomez instructed to walk Ed Kranepool intentionally. Then Gil Hodges sent Art Shamsky up to pinch hit for Ron Swoboda, liking that match up better.
As what had been the case all week & most of the 1969 season, Hodges was correct. Shamsky singled to right field scoring Jones.
In the 9th, Al Weis led off with a single. Ross got the next two outs but then Tommie Agee doubled, bringing in Weis. The Mets went on to win it 5-3.
In the 9th, Gentry started out the inning striking out Ferrara, but then waked Spiezio, his third walk of the day. After Cito Gaston singled, Gil Hodges saw enough. He brought in Ron Taylor.
Taylor got Chris Cannizzaro & Tony Gonzales to both ground out, ending the game. METS WIN STREAK @ 8
Saturday June 7th 1969: The Mets now 27-23 but still eight games behind the Chicago Cubs, who were pretty hot themselves at 36-16. A San Diego crowd of 10827 came to see the Padres veteran Johnny Podres take the mound against Jerry Koosman.
Trivia: Johnny Podres was in his final season of a 15 year career. He began with the Brooklyn Dodgers & pitched the game of his life in Game #7 of the 1955 World Series, pitching a complete game shutout to win Brooklyn's only World Series title.
Podres went to Los Angeles with the Dodgers winning three more Championships. He would win 14 or more games for five straight seasons in L.A. through 1965. In his career he was 148-116 with 24 shut outs 1435 strike outs 743 walks in 2265 innings in 440 games with a 3.68 ERA.
Koosman was fantastic once again, dominating as he was becoming one of the leagues best pitchers. Kooz scattered just four hits into the bottom of the 9th inning, while once again racking up the strikeouts, fanning eleven in this one. In the bottom of the 9th, Ed Spiezio would double in Ollie Brown for the Padres only run as Koosman took the win.
He went to 3-3 on the year, lowering his ERA to 2.03. In his last three starts, Koosman had 34 strikeouts in the last 28 innings, allowing just two earned runs.
After a shaky first three innings, Podres hit The Glider, Ed Charles with a pitch, he then stole second & advanced to third on an error. Jerry Grote's sac fly made it 1-0. Podres made it to the 7th, when the Mets knocked him out. The Padres would go through four pitchers on the day.
Rod Gaspar singled but was forced out on Cleon Jones grounder. It was then that Ron Swoboda tripled in Jones, one of the two times Swoboda tripled all year. Next the Glider, Ed Charles doubled brining in Swoboda to make it 3-0.
In the 8th Al Weis singled, a wild pitch & ground out got him to third. Rod Gaspar hit the only triple of his four year career to seal the Mets 4-1 win. METS WIN STREAK @ 9
Sunday June 8th 1969: A small crowd of 8568 came to Jack Murphy Stadium this Sunday, as the attendance proved San Diego wasn't that interested in the Mets extending their win streak & seeing Tom Seaver take the mound. Today Seaver went up against Italian / American pitcher Al Santorini who was born in Irvington, New Jersey.
In the 3rd he gave up a double to Chris Cannizzaro & a dingle to John Sipin, giving the Padres the lead. It always seemed the most obscure players were the ones to hit well off Tom Seaver. In the 4th, the Padres hottest hitter in this series, Ed Spiezio led off with a HR. Spiezio would hit 13 HRs in 1969 & bat .234.
Santorini kept the Mets hitless through the first four innings & allowed just one hit until the 7th. Cleon Jones singled & advanced to second on a ground out. Ed Kranepool then singled to put the Mets on the board.
In the 8th, the hot Mets did it again. Ed Charles singled. Rod Gaspar pinch hit for Seaver & grounded back to the pitcher for an out. Bud Harrelson walked & Tommie Agee cracked a double scoring Charles to tie the game. Next rookie Wayne Garrett singled to bring home Harrelson with the games winning run.
Reliever Ron Taylor pitched the next two innings, sealing the Mets win for Seaver, while recording his fourth save. Taylor would lead the Mets bullpen with 13 saves, ahead of Tug McGraw's 12 saves.
Taylor would also win nine games (9-4) while posting a 2.72 ERA. He was an important pitcher on that staff as well. Seaver already had 76 strikeouts on the year & this win got him his ninth victory.
The Mets completed the sweep & were moving on to San Francisco. METS WIN STREAK @ 10.