Remembering Mets History (1969) Bean Balls Fly at Shea as Koosman Ks 13 & Agee's HR Brings Mets Within 1.5 Games of the Cubs

Monday September 8th, 1969: This is a big night in Mets history & an important series for the 1969 Amazing Mets.

On this night Gil Hodges second place New York Mets (80-57) hosted Leo Durocher's first place Chicago Cubs (84-57) who were holding on to a 2.5 game lead in the NL East. 

On August 13th the Mets were ten games behind the Cubs. But they went into September winning 14 of 16 games & the Cubs lead fell to five games at the start of the month. The Mets had won three of four coming into this series.

The Cubs were on a four-game losing streak, that turned into a nightmare eight game skip, losing 11 of 12 games.

Tonight, an official crowd of 43,274 filled into Shea Stadium on a rainy night of good old fashioned pennant race baseball.

Leo Durocher sent his number two Cubs pitcher to the mound, Hackensack, New Jersey born Bill Hands (16-12) to face the Mets number two-man, lefthander Jerry Koosman (12-9). 

Tom Seaver was "the franchise" to the Mets, but Jerry Koosman was also the man you also wanted on the mound in a big game. This night was a big game. He was coming off a no decision but from here on would go 5-0 thru the September stretch.

The Mets Tommie Agee led off the home 1st inning. Bill Hands immediately threw a fastball high & inside to Agee's head. Agee hit the dirt. The Cubs, Durocher & Hands were sending a message.

After Agee hit the dirt, he stood up & brushed himself off & play went on. That's the way baseball was in those days. Agee grounded out & the Mets were retired in order that inning.

All was calm until the top of the 2nd inning. Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman didn't waste any time, he nailed the Cubs cleanup hitter; Ron Santo on the wrist with a pitch, to send a message right back to the Cubs. Don't mess with these Mets, they mean business.

After the game the press hounded Koosman for his actions, finally he gave in, telling them what they wanted to hear. 

Quotes- Jerry Koosman: "They threw at Tommie; I had to do it and end it right there. If I don't, they keep doing it & they keep getting away with it". 

When asked if the incident was talked about on the bench, Koosman responded "nobody said anything to me. 
I've got to do it & I'll do it again. If Tommie doesn't think I'm working for him, he won't work for me." 

Quotes-Gil Hodges: "Our boys will take care of our boys". The manager certainly agreed.

Koosman not only sent a message with the knockdown pitch, but he sent a message with his performance all night long. After hitting Santo, he struck out the side in that 2nd inning, as Ernie Banks, Jim Hickman & Randy Hundley all went down swinging. 

In the 3rd, inning, Don Kessinger singled, but Koosman retired the other three Cubs on ground outs in the infield.

In the Mets 1969 season, Tommie Agee was one of the most important Mets position players. He made things happen & on the field with his glove, with his base running & with his bat. In the 3rd inning, after Jerry Grote grounded out, Bud Harrelson reached on an infield single to Kessinger at short. Jerry Koosman then fouled out with a pop up to the first base side. 

Tommie Agee stepped in & answered Hands for the knock down pitch, Agee hit a two run HR, putting the Mets ahead 2-0. It was Agee's team leading 26th HR of the season. Shea Stadium went wild as the Mets kept on being Amazing.

Koosman walked Ernie Banks in the 4th & allowed just one hit going into the 6th inning. The Cubs started out the 6th, with three straight base hits from Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert & an RBI single from Billy Williams. Then Ron Santo hit a sac fly to left field, scoring Beckert, tying up the game at 2-2.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Amazing's answered back once again. Tommie Agee led off stretching out a single to left field into a double. Wayne Garrett then singled to right field; Jim Hickman threw home as Agee made a wide turn at third & tried to score. 

The play was close, Agee slid over the leg of catcher Randy Hundley who was trying to block the plate with it, as he took the throw out on front of the plate area. 

Home plate umpire Satch Davidson, called Agee safe. The crowd went wild, Hundley was livid as he argued the call & Leo Durocher came charging out to do the same.

The Mets went ahead 3-2. Donn Clendenon flew out & although Art Shamsky walked; Ken Biswell grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Cubs Catcher Randy Hundley & Manager Leo Durocher argue call 
as pitcher Bill Hands looks toward first base

Koosman struck out Don Young & Bill Hands to start the 7th, he retired the side in order, as
Kessinger grounded to Garrett at third. In the top of the 8
th, Koosman gave up two singles to Glen Beckert & Billy Williams to start the inning. Manager Gil Hodges stuck with Koosman, as he knew he was one of the best in the big situations.

Next up, was clean up man Ron Santo who was batting .295 with 27 HRs & 112 RBIs. Koosman got Santo to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out another Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks to end the threat. The Shea crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the mound.

In the 9th, Koosman came back to close it out. He struck out Jim Hickman then gave up a single to Randy Hundley. Koosman then struck out pinch hitters Ken Rudolph & Randy Bobb to end the game. 

The Mets were now just 1.5 games out of first place, something no one thought imaginable at the start of the season, except Gil Hodges. The Cubs could feel their season collapsing as the Mets could feel their miracle getting closer. 

It was the Mets third win in a row in a streak that would reach ten straight wins & getting into first place.

Koosman was spectacular through the night, as he struck out 13 Cubs, fanning Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Jim Hickman & Don Young two times each. 

He gave up two runs on seven hits, while walking two, in the complete game victory. 
He earned his 13th win of the season (13-9) while lowering his ERA to 2.48.

Koosman would go 5-0 the rest of the way in September pitching five complete games & three shut outs. 

He would finish the year at 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA (5th in the NL) & 180 strike outs. He would pitch six shut outs & 16 complete games. He would go 2-0 in the World Series with a 2.04 ERA.

Tomorrow night would be just as big if not bigger game for the 1969 Mets.


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