Remembering Mets History (1969) The Amazing Mets Clinch the NL Eastern Title

Wednesday September 24th, 1969: At 9:06 PM on this historic night, the Amazing Mets clinched their first NL Eastern divisional title. 

In the franchise's eighth year of play, the Mets had finished last & lost 100 games five times. They had been the lovable losers of National League baseball in New York City after the Giants & Dodgers went west, the laughingstock team no one took seriously. But now the Mets were champions of the newly aligned National League East in the first year of divisional play. 

The Mets & their fans were revved up for tonight's game, as Shea Stadium was jumping with 54,928 fans anticipating the Amazing's clinching victory.

Tonight, Gil Hodges' Mets (95-61) hosted last year's NL Champions, Red Schoendienst's fourth place St. Louis Cardinals (82-74).

The Mets young 23-year-old rookie, Gary Gentry (11-12) went to the mound, going up against future Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton (12-11). Two weeks earlier, Steve Carlton had set a record with 19 strike outs in a game but lost to the Mets 2-0 on Ron Swoboda's two solo HRs.

Gary Gentry went out and pitched a four hit complete game shutout, striking out five Cardinals while walking two. 

It was Gentry's third shutout of the year, as he went to 12-12 with a 3.53 ERA on the season.

The Mets knocked "Lefty" Steve Carlton out in the 1st inning, as the offense went right to work.

Bud Harrelson led off the game with a single & Tommie Agee drew a walk. After Cleon Jones struck out, Mets slugger, Donn Clendenon blasted a three run HR, bringing the fans to their feet in a loud roar. It was Donn's 15th HR of the year & 3-0 Mets lead.

The dugout jumped up & came to the field to greet a happy Clendenon It was the first of two blasts for Big Donn on the night.

After the excitement settled down, Ron Swoboda drew a walk. Then veteran Ed Charles "the Glider" added a HR of his own to make it a 5-0 game. The Glider clapped his hands as he rounded third base & the Shea crowd cheered him on.  Charles was the oldest player on the team at 36 years of age, it was just his third HR of the year. 

Quotes- Ed Charles: "I clapped my hands Just to let the fans know, this was it & because at my age, I might not have any more left". 

In the 5th inning, Clendenon added his 16th HR of the year, giving the Mets a 6-0 lead. For Clendenon it was his 11th HR & 35th RBI since coming over to the Mets on the June 15th deadline.

In the 9th inning Lou Brock led off with a base hit & Vic Davalillo followed with another. 

Gentry then struck out Vada Pinson for the first out. Then it was the Cardinals Joe Torre, who hit into a double play, Bud Harrelson to Al Weis to Don Clendenon, to end the game. 

The Mets players all ran to the mound area & jumped for joy to celebrate with each other. 

In seconds, confetti streamed down from the stands, firecrackers went off and the Met fans swarmed the field, turning it into a chaotic frenzy. 

The players fled to the dugout, running for their lives. The fans ripped Shea Stadium apart making the outfield grass look like the surface of the moon. 

There were torn up clumps of dirt a foot or more deep looking like craters of the moon which had recently been reached two months prior. 

They Shea fans jumped for joy on the field, as they chanted "We're Number One, We're Number One" as they stormed the field in celebration.

The crowd refused to leave the ballpark until the police started rounding everyone up hours later, exiting them through the center field gates. Several arrests were made but few injuries were reported.

Mets VP in charge of Shea Stadium said "We'll have it back in shape for the playoffs. Fortunately, the club is going on the road, and we have more than a week. It's a mess, a wonderful mess."

In the clubhouse the Amazing Mets celebrated with champagne. Tom Seaver doused a smiling Manger, Gil Hodges "Here's to you skip". 

Jerry Koosman shook the bottle & sprayed the press. A usually low-keyed Nolan Ryan poured some bubbly over Chairman of the Board, M. Donald Grant's head.

Ed Kranepool (an original Met from 1962) shouted "Here's to you Leo" The reference was to Chicago Cubs manager Leo Durocher whose heavily favorite team had held on to first place most of the season, until the Mets overtook them. 

Ed Kranepool had gotten dental surgery the day before, and still had a swollen jaw, he said "screw the jaw, I've waited too long for this." 

Some of the players raised their bottles & remembered Casey Stengel saying "here's to Casey!

The Mets were in the midst of a nine-game win streak to take them toward the end of the season. 

They were now 96-61 & six games up on the Chicago Cubs with five left to play in the regular season. On October 2nd, they would win their 100th game of the season. At the start of the season, they were 100-1 odds to win the world series.

The Glider

Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman celebrate

Ron Swoboda -Art Shamsky & Ken Boswell on Shave Cream

Mets coach Yogi Berra celebrates with his Yoo Hoo

 cheers for Tommie Agee 

Jerry Grote

Manager Gil Hodges


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