The Year the Mets Jumped Over the Moon

On July 20, 1969, males walked on the moon in what turned the centerpiece of one in every of the extra indelible years in American historical past.

That similar day, 50 years in the past, the New York Mets break up a doubleheader with the Montreal Expos. You might say, so what? But the Mets, till then a baseball punch line, had all of the sudden grow to be a group to reckon with in the eighth yr of their existence. The two video games towards the Expos gave them a 53-39 document, which meant they have been a giant, fats 14 video games over .500. Considering every little thing that had come earlier than for the Mets — the preliminary buffoonery, the occasional lunacy, the lopsided shedding data — it appeared that they, too, have been now defying gravity.

A month later, on the similar weekend as the Woodstock music competition, the Mets actually took flight. They swept 4 video games from the San Diego Padres and commenced a surge that carried them into first place in September and all the option to the World Series in October — which they proceeded to win, in 5 video games, towards the closely favored Baltimore Orioles.

When it was over, after the Mets had been drenched in ticker tape in a parade up Broadway — a feat that had been unimaginable when the season began — it took some time for folks to regain their senses.

Just how had this occurred? Yes, the Mets had wonderful pitching, stable protection at key positions and a few excellent younger gamers, however their lineup was hardly overwhelming. And but, that didn’t matter in the common season, when the Mets received a whopping 100 video games and, in the course of, beat out a Chicago Cubs group that performed three future Hall of Famers day by day.

Nor did it matter in the National League Championship Series, when the Mets swept an Atlanta Braves membership led by Henry Aaron, one in every of the finest gamers in the sport’s historical past. Or in the World Series, when the Mets went up towards a mighty Orioles group anchored by the two Robinsons, Frank and Brooks. The Orioles, winners of 109 video games in the common season, appeared unbeatable till the Mets rapidly proved in any other case.

Making this all the extra exceptional is that the 1969 Mets didn’t symbolize the starting of a dynasty. In the seasons that adopted, the Mets received significantly fewer video games and whereas they did make it again to the World Series in 1973, they did so virtually by chance, having completed the common season with a completely mediocre 82-79 document.

But none of that diminishes what occurred in 1969. Here was a bunch of gamers who stumbled throughout the place in 1962, with followers who embraced them virtually in defiance. A group that slowly improved in the years that adopted, however solely slowly. And but a group that proceeded to determine all of it out for one intensely memorable season.

It isn’t straightforward to clarify, however 50 years later, it’s value revisiting. Time has taken its toll on this group; a half-dozen gamers who had important roles have died, and others, together with Tom Seaver, are actually fighting severe well being points. But what endures via all the bittersweetness is what they achieved collectively. From the depths of the standings they soared proper into area.

NEXT UP: 1962: The Bumbling Beginning

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