Remembering Mets History (1969) World Series Game #5: Amazing Mets Are World Champions

Thursday, October 16th 1969: World Series Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. 

On this day, the biggest miracle in sports history became a reality. 

On this day the New York Mets, the once loveable losers, became Champions of the World, the Miracle Mets. 

On this day the team became officially known the Amazing Mets, a title that would stay with the team forever.

The Mets began the year as 100-1 odds to be World Series champions. They would forever define the underdog winner in sports. As short stop Bud Harrelson later said, any underdog team that ever comes back to win, is always compared to the '69 Mets

In just eight short seasons since they began play, a team that had finished last six times were now the Champions of the baseball world. What a way to end the sixties.

The pregame festivities featured New York baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Before the game he was reunited with another New York baseball legend, his former team mate now a Mets coach, Yogi Berra. 

Everyone in New York was tuned in somehow some way on this historic day.

Mets Manager Gil Hodges sent his left hander Jerry Koosman (17-9 / 2.28 ERA / 180 K's) to the mound. Koomans was the winner of Game #2 in Baltimore, he was slowly on his way to becoming the best Mets post season pitcher in team history.

Koosman would be facing off against Earl Weaver's Oriole pitcher, Dave McNally (20-7 / 3.22 ERA / 166 K's). McNally was on the losing end of Game # to Koosman in Baltimore.

57,397 fans filled Shea Stadium to witness the Miracle of all baseball miracles. There was no stopping the Mets on this day even after they fell behind early on. 

Jerry Koosman had an easy 1st inning, as Don Buford grounded out & then Paul Blair & Frank Robinson both flew out.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, Tommie Agee led off with a walk. After Bud Harrelson struck out, Agee stole second. Cleon Jones then flew out to right. Dave McNally waled Donn Clendenon as well, but then he struck out Ron Swoboda to end the inning.

The 2nd inning was quiet with the exception of a Davey Johnson base hit.

In the top of the 3rd, the Orioles had their biggest inning of the Series. First light hitting short stop Mark Belanger singled to right field. Then Koosman made one of his few post season mistakes, as he served up a two run HR, to of all people in the strong Oriole line up but the opposing pitcher, Dave McNally.

Koosman then got Don Buford to ground out for the first out, He next struck out Paul Blair. But

 with two outs, Frank Robinson hit a HR to left center field. It was just Robinson's third hit of the series in which he would bat a measly .188. In the 1969 regular season he had hit 32 HRs with 100 RBIs batting .308 but he was shut down by Mets pitching.

It was just the third HR of the Series for the Orioles who had hit 175 during the season (3rd most in the AL). The other HRs came from Dave McNally earlier in the inning & Don Buford who led off Game #1. All of a sudden it was 3-0 Orioles, quieting Shea Stadium.

Jerry Koosman came into the Mets dug out angry at himself & threw his glove down to the ground. He told his teammates "I'll hold them right there; you guys go out & score some runs."

Koosman did exactly that, holding the mighty Orioles down the rest of the way, allowing just one more hit & one walk in the next six innings. He retired 19 of the next 21 batters & no other Oriole would even got near second base.

In the 4th, he recorded a fly ball out & two infield ground outs. In the 5th Koosman got Mark Belanger & Don Buford to fly out, as well as striking out Dave McNally. 

In the top of the 6th inning, Frank Robinson suggested he was hit by a Koosman pitch, but home plate Umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree. 

In his usual annoying, complaining Robinson way, he left the batter's box & went to the dugout. He dropped his pants & had the trainer put ethyl chloride on his leg. Frank Robinson held up the action & took his sweet time, delaying the game.

Umpire Lou Dimuro did not change his mind or look at the wound, he just went over to the dugout & told manager Earl Weaver to get him back at bat or he'd be called out. 

Weaver who had been ejected from Game #4 for arguing balls & strikes with home plate Umpire Shag Crawford, held back his usual fiery temper in fear of being ejected again.

When Robinson came back to the box, Koosman struck him out looking. His plan to disrupt Koosman didn't work. The Mets fans let him have it on his way back to the dugout, as F. Robinson just hung his head.

The Shoe Polish Incident:
In the bottom of the 6th,
 the Mets began another Amazing comeback. It all started when Gil Hodges pulled the famous "shoe polish incident". 
Dave McNally threw a low inside pitch to Cleon Jones leading off the inning.
The ball either bounced first then hit Jones or hit first Jones on the foot. 

The ball then rolled into the Mets dugout. Gil Hodges emerged from the Mets dugout with the ball & walked out to home plate umpire, Lou DimuroHe showed DiMuro a ball with a shoe polish smudge on it as proof, saying "Lou the ball hit him". Seeing the polish on the ball, convinced DiMuro that Cleon Jones indeed was hit by the pitch, he awarded Jones first base.

Donn Clendenon argues the ball hit Cleon Jones

Gil Hodges shoes Umpire Lou DiMuro shoe polish on the ball
Quotes- Gil Hodges:
"There was a big polish mark across the ball, I'm just glad our club house guy keeps our shoes nice & polished."

Trivia: Years later, Jerry Koosman said that Gil Hodges had come over to him in the dugout & told him to rub a ball on his shoe. That created the smudge & it was that baseball that Hodges had brought out to show the umpire. 

Even Art Shamsky stated that Gil always kept a ball with polish on it in his jacket.

Baltimore manager Earl Weaver came out to argue the call, but again Weaver was leery of being tossed out of the game. He was bit more careful with his argument & pretty much knew he had no case. 

He also felt the same feeling going around New York City & the baseball world, that his team was pretty much finished & were not going to beat fate.

As play resumed, the Mets had a runner on with no one out. Next up came the soon to be World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, in Amazing 1969 Mets fashion, Clendenon blasted a HR over the left field wall, bringing the Mets within a run. 

The crowd went crazy as here came the Mets. It was Clendenon's third HR of the World Series. He had five hits with two walks & drove in a Series best four runs.

McNally retired the next three batters easily, clinging to the one run lead. In the top of the 7th, Koosman got Davey Johnson to fly out. He then struck out Andy Etchebarren for his third strike out of the day. 

Then Mark Belanger grounded out to Bud Harrelson for the third out. The Mets were six outs away from the Miracle of winning the World Series.

In the Mets home 7th, the normally light hitting; Al Weiss led off the inning. The Long Island native, who platooned at second base with Ken Boswell had the biggest thrill of his career. Weis had never hit a HR in Shea Stadium, & only had hit two HRs all season (in 247 at bats). Today, Weis blasted a HR over the left field wall tying the game at three. 

Shea Stadium & the whole city of New York, as well as the whole world (it seemed) went nuts. 

The underdogs & little guys everywhere found a new hero in Mr. Al Weis

Trivia: Weis He would hit an amazing .455 
in the World Series. Mets/NBC broadcaster Lindsay Nelson said it best when he called him "a mighty mite".

Quotes- Al Weis: " I knew I hit it good, but I didn't know how far it go. I don't have enough experience in judging those things."  His father was ecstatic, it was a dream to see my boy in a World Series, but to see him be the batting hero is too much!"

Quotes- Bud Harrelson: "I thought we had them when Al Weiss hit it out to tie it. You could almost see them collapse & go whoosh. Heck Clendenon is getting paid to hit, Al isn't. In my mind he's the MVP."

All Star short stop Bud Harrelson made some outstanding fielding plays in the Series that just seemed routine. 

Bud's good glove play was acknowledged by broadcasters Curt Gowdy & former short stop Tony Kubek. 

Bud Harrelson had 17 assists in the five-game series. 

McNally remained in the game; he struck out Jerry Koosman who came up to bat to a nice ovation from the Shea crowd. Tommie Agee then flew out & Bud Harrelson line out to third base to end the 7th inning.

In the top of the 8th Koosman was still rolling along. Curt Motton came on to pinch hit, he grounded out to Harrelson at short. Next Don Buford flew out to Agee in center. Paul Blair then hit a bouncer in the hole, it was a long throw for Bud Harrelson at short, but he threw it right on for Donn Clendenon for the third out. Koos had retired seven in a row.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Eddie Watt was the new Orioles pitcher. Cleon Jones doubled to lead off the inning.
Donn Clendenon was next, but he grounded to Brooks Robinson at third.

The next batter was Ron Swoboda. Swoboda who would hit .400 in the series (6-15) came through with his second hit of the day. 

Swoboda bounced a ball near the left field line that Don Buford caught on a short hop bounce, but Jones scored easily with the go ahead run, as it was 4-3 Mets. Swoboda coasted into second with a double. It was Swoboda's fifth hit in the last two games. 

Ed Charles then flew out to left for the second out. Mets catcher Jerry Grote hit a rocket bouncing ball to Boog Powell at first base, the big guy knocked it down & threw to the pitcher Eddie Watt covering first. 

But Watt couldn't handle it, Grote was safe & Swoboda scored all the way from first base giving the Mets a two-run lead.

A determined Jerry Koosman came out to finish off the Orioles & close out the World Series in the 9th inning.

All of New York & Shea Stadium were anxiously awaiting the last three outs with a combination of nerves & excitement. Frank Robinson led off the inning with a walk. Then Koosman got Boog Powell to ground out & forced Robinson at second. But not before Robinson ran out of the baseline trying to take out Harrelson with a cheap slide. The Shea fans booed him off the field once again.

Then Brooks Robinson flew out to Swoboda in right for the second out.

The next batter was Davey Johnson, he hit a fly ball to left field, a
t first Koosman later said, he thought it may have been a HR saying to himself "Ut oh!". But Cleon Jones got under it, went down on one knee, made the catch and lowered his glove, sealing the Championship. On October 16th, 1969, at 3:17 PM the Mets were the World Champions.

As Jones got up to run into the infield, Jerry Koosman leaped into Jerry Grote's arms, as The Glider Ed Chales was dancing around the mound. As the Mets dugout went to congratulate their 
teammates on the field, all hell broke loose. The players ran to the clubhouse for safety & to celebrate.

For Koosman he pitched the complete game victory, going nine innings, allowing three runs on five hits, with five strikeouts & one walk. 

It was his second win of the World Series going an overall 2-0, with a 2.04 ERA allowing four runs on seven hits, nine strike outs & four walks in 17.2 innings. He could have easily been the Series MVP as well, but the honors went to slugger; Don Clendenon who set a five game World Series record (at the time) hitting three HRs.

Quotes- Donn Clendenon: "I know the whole thing seems like a dream, but if it is I don't want
to wake up." 

The Shea Stadium fans swarmed the field & went crazy. Many just wanted to be on the field but others wanted to take something home. They tried to get the players caps, the bases, the coveted home plate & mostly the turf. They tore apart the field, taking clumps of grass for souvenirs. celebrated wildly. They tore apart the grass taking turf for souvenirs. 

Inside the clubhouse it was a joyous celebration, as champagne flew everywhere. The media crowded in & all the post-game coverage began. Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson & Ralph Kiner did interviews for television, as did NBC's Tony Kubek,

Gil Hodges received a phone call from the President of the United States. Hodges told the press "It's been a year of miracles & I'm just thanking God it's over. It was a colossal thing they did. These young men showed that you can realize the most impossible dream of all. I'm so proud of them all."

Quotes- Ron Swoboda: " This will give heart to every loser in America, we are the saints of lost causes".

Quotes- Tom Seaver: "It was the greatest collective victory by any team in sports."

Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman

Linsey Nelson with Rin Swoboda & Tommie Agee

Jerry Koosman

Lindsey Nelson & Tom Seaver

Jerry Grote & Rod Gaspar Pour Champagne on NY Mayor Lindsay

The Glider -Ed Charles

Original Met Ed Kranepool

Gil Hodges & His wife Joan

Gil Hodges with Mets Owner Mrs. Joan Payson


Anonymous said…
Never count yourself out! What a great victory over the experts.

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