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 their eighth year of existence, after finishing in last place five times, the Mets were champions of their Eastern division. They were the first champions of the newly formed National Leagues Eastern Division, since divisional play was in its first year in 1969. 

The Mets & their fans were revved up tonight, as Shea Stadium was jumping with 54,928 fans anticipating the Amazing feat, the young Mets were about to accomplish. 

The Mets (96-61) hosted last years NL Champs, he St Louis Cardinals (82-74).

Gil Hodges sent out his fine young rookie Gary Gentry (11-12) to the mound, going up against future Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton (12-11). Two weeks earlier, Carlton set a record with 19 strike outs in a game but was beaten by the Mets 2-0 on Ron Swoboda's HRs.

Starting Lineups

Tonight, Gary Gentry went out and pitched a four hit complete game shutout, striking out five Cards & walking two. It was Gentry's third shut out of the year, as he went to 12-12 with a 3.53 ERA on the season.

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

Bud Harrelson led off the game with a walk, & Tommie Agee singled. 

Then the Mets slugger, Donn Clendenon blasted a three run HR, bringing the fans to their feet in a loud roar. 

The dug out jumped up & came to the field to greet a happy Clendenon on his 15th HR of the year, his 34th RBI since joining the Mets on June 15th. It was the first of two blasts for Big Donn on the night.

Ron Swoboda then drew a walk. Ed Charles "the Glider", the oldest player on the team at 36, joined in the festivities by hitting just his third HR of the year. 

"The Glider" clapped his hands as he rounded third base He later told the press "just to let the fans know, this was it & because at my age, I might not have any more left". 

Clendenon added his 16th HR, his 12th as a Met in the 5th inning.

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 Cards Joe Torre, who hit into a double play (Bud Harrelson to Al Weiss 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, fire crackers went off and the Met fans swarmed the field, turning it into a chaotic frenzy. The players fled to the dug out, running for thier lives. The fans ripped everything apart making the outfield grass look like the surface of the moon. There was torn up clumps of dirt a foot or more deep looking like carters of the recently landed moon. 

They Shea fans 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 rounded 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 who's team had held on to first place most of the season. 

Kranepool had had dental surgery the day before, and had a swollen jaw 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.

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 

Manager Gil Hodges


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