50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"
The 1969 Houston Astros had come into existence in 1962, the same year as the New York Mets. Their home ballpark, the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, billed as the eighth wonder of the world. It was the first multi purpose indoor stadium, housing the Astros, the AFL's Houston Oilers, The Rodeo & the Houston Livestock Show as well as other events.
It featured "Astrolite" the first animated scoreboard & after the grass died, it featured Astroturf, the first artificial grass surface in sports. It was quite a place, even the ushers & usherettes dressed in Outer Space costumes, as a sign of the times in the space aged sixties.
In 1969 the Astros finished in fifth place, twelve games behind the Atlanta Braves. They posted a .500 with a 81-81 record, the first time they had not finished with a losing record.
That year the Astro pitching staff set a record (held until 1996) with most strikeouts in a season (1221). Don Wilson, Larry Dierker & Tom Griffin all had over 200 Ks. Larry Dierker was also a 20 game winner & Don Wilson won 16. Their reliever, Fred Gladding led the league with 29 saves.
The Toy Cannon Jimmy Wynn had 33 HRs 148 walks & 23 stolen bases with 87 RBIs as Dennis Menke & Doug Rader "the Red Rooster" both drove in over 80 runs. Joe Morgan (of future Reds fame) stole 49 bases with 110 walks.
The Astros did their best against the Montreal Expos going 11-1 & the eventual World Champion Mets, beating the Mets ten out of twelve times.
In their first meeting in May, the Mets took two of three at Shea Stadium. Seaver took the first game & an eleven run offensive explosion in the third game gave the Mets an 11-7 victory.
When the Mets went to Houston, Tom Griffin shut them out for the first time, in something that would keep haunting the Mets. Larry Dierker won his second game against the Mets & the Astros managed to beat Seaver, giving him his third loss of the year (6-3).
July closed out with an Astros sweep at Shea Stadium, including a 16-3 blow out & an 11-5 debacle in a double header. This is the famous day, Gil Hodges removed Cleon Jones from left field for not hustling.
In mid August the Mets went to the Astrodome & got swept again in three games, making it nine straight losses to Houston.
Tom Griffin beat the Mets three times in 1969 against no losses, shutting them out in 25 innings & striking out 28 Mets. He was 11-10 on the year with a 3.54 ERA. Dierker was 2-1 against New York with 20 strikeouts.