Brooks Simpson,52, Gilbert, Ariz. History teacher, Arizona State University. In September 1969, he wrote an article for the Seaford Junior High School newspaper predicting the Mets would go to the World Series.
When I wrote it, the Mets were just about to play the Cubs in that [Sept. 8-9] series at Shea, the "black cat" series. A few days after that, on the 10th, they actually went into first place.
They weren't a good team, except for some individuals. . . . You never would have thought a team with [Ed] Kranepool and [Ron] Swoboda and Ed Charles . . . would go anywhere, but everything seemed to click. Every day, a guy like Al Weis would do something.
What I remember about that team was good pitching and timely hitting, and the cliche that good pitching and timely hitting [win games]. I just remember that they came out of nowhere. At the beginning of the year, they weren't that good. They lost Opening Day to the Expos . . .
The Mets took advantage of the fact it was a down year for the Cardinals. . . . We learned to hate the Cubs for no apparent reason. . . . They were the Cubs. They had more name players than the Mets had. They seemed to be the establishment, oddly enough. I guess in 1969, it was a bad thing to be seen as the establishment. [Cubs manager Leo] Durocher seemed to be evil incarnate.
Seaver became this profound sage . . . and [Jerry] Koosman was this reliable lefty. . . . They had the crusty catcher with [Jerry] Grote and all the rest. It was an interesting set of stereotypical ballplayers, and this was Kranepool's great moment. We all saw this club as not very good, but good enough.
It was pure joy. . . . Their winning lost them their charm, [but] it was a trade-off worth having. Every day, something different would happen, and some different player would come out of nowhere. Some bit player would come and do something tremendous. There was something wonderfully innocent about them at a time when people were getting jaded. I think it's something that unified New York. It brought Long Island together.