50th Anniversary ofthe 1969 Mets: Mets Sweep Braves In Preview of First NLCS

 50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Friday August 1st, 1969: As the month of August began, Gil Hodges New York Mets (56-44) were 6 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs, in second place in the NL East. The Mets believed they were for real & had goals for winning 85 games & winning their division. 

They opened up a big series, in what turned out to be a preview of the first ever NLCS, as they hosted Lum Harris' first place Atlanta Braves (60-47). 

The Braves were up by one game & had the second best record in the NL. The Giants, the Reds & Dodgers were all within just two games of the Braves, in a tough NL West.

Opening up the series in front of 34,779 paid at Shea Stadium were the Mets , Don Cardwell & future Hall of Famer, the Braves ace, Phil Neikro.

Starting Lineups

Don Cardwell's 1st inning, started out a disaster, he gave up a single, then hit a batter, he then walked the next two, finding himself down 1-0 with no one out. A single to Felix Millan made it 3-0 & he was done. Gil Hodges brought in Cal Koonce for relief. Koonce would pitch into the 7th inning, allowing just a run, an RBI double to Orlando Cepeda, on four hits.

In the home 1st, the Mets led off with three singles to load the bases. Niekro got two outs & was looking to get through the inning un harmed, but he walked Ron Swoboda, gave up a base hit to Rod Gaspar & threw a passed ball to Jerry Grote, giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. 

In the 4th Grote hit his 3rd HR of the year, giving the Mets their fifth & final run as they went on to 5-4 victory.

After Cal Koonce gave up the double to Cepeda in the 7th, Hodges removed him for Ron Taylor. Taylor got Clete Boyer to strike out looking to end the inning. Taylor earned his 10th save of the year as Koonce won his fifth game to get to 5-3.

Saturday August 2nd, 1969: A crowd of 37,442 came out on a humid New York afternoon to see the Mets Jim McAndrew take on the Braves Ron Reed.

Starting Lineups

Both pitchers were on their game today, the Mets youngster, Jim McAndrew would shut out the Braves for seven innings, striking out seven while scattering just three hits. McAndrew would start out a fine August where he went 4-2 allowing nine runs in 33 innings with 43 strike outs. 

Tug McGraw came on in the 8th & would strike out Hank Aaron with two on to end the inning. Orlando Cepeda hit a deep fly ball in the 9th but it was caught by Ron Swoboda.

The only run of the game came in the 7th inning. Ron Swoboda led off with a walk, he was sacrificed over to second by Rod Gaspar. 

With two outs, Cleon Jones, came in to pinch hit for the pitcher, McAndrew. The manager Gil Hodges, pushed the right button again as Jones (who was batting .348) singled, bringing in Swoboda with what was the game winner. 

Sunday August 3rd 1969: This Sunday matinee in a sun soaked Shea Stadium, brought 34,696 out to see young Gary Gentry take on the man once traded for Frank Robinson, Milt Pappas. Neither starter would prevail, as both teams would go through four pitchers on the day.

Starting Lineups

The Braves Bob Tilman hit a solo HR making it 1-0. Gentry got to the 6th inning, when it all fell apart. Three straight singles, highlighted by a Felix Millan RBI hit, led to walking Hank Aaron intentionally to load the bases. 

Tony Gonzales then singled scoring Matty Alou & Millan. Gentry was yanked by Hodges & Don Cardwell came on in relief. He allowed a sac RBI making it 5-0 Braves.

But the '69 Mets would no go quietly. In the bottom of the inning, Tommie Agee led off with a double. With one out Wayne Garret singled, bringing in Agee. Art Shamsky & Rod Gaspar both singled to load the bases. Gaspar had bunted for his base hit.

Pappas was relieved by Cecil Upshaw on the mound. Jerry Grote reached on an error bringing in a run. Then the NL's top hitter, Cleon Jones singled bringing in two more runs. Upshaw was relieved by Paul Doyle, who was greeted by Bid Harrelson's sac fly scoring Grote to tie the game, just like that.

The game rolled into extra innings tied at five. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Mets catcher Jerry Grote ended it, walk off fashion, as he hit his fourth HR of the season, his second of this series. Mets win 6-5 keeping pace with the first place Cubs.


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