How Newsday covered the Mets' World Series victory on Oct. 16, 1969.
"Wasn't St. Jude the patron saint of lost causes?" Ron Swoboda asked amid the champagne being sprayed about the crush of newsmen like a fire hose. "We should be the patrons of lost causes. We give heart to all the losers of the world."
The Mets have reached .500, they've been to first place, they've won the Eastern Division championship, they've won the National League pennant playoff. And they've won the World Series -- all in the same mind-exploding year.
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Yesterday they won the World Series; beat the unbeatable Orioles, 5-3, in the fifth game. The World Series that threatened to wipe out the Mets in four straight games at the swift mercy of the best team in 10 years belonged, instead, to the Mets. They had lost the first and then won four straight themselves.
The Mets are the world champions. Earl Weaver, the jaunty manger of the Orioles, winced at the sound. "I don't want to hear the words," he said.
These are the Mets of the most humble origin. They finished 80 games under .500 in 1962, the year they were born, and no team has ever been that bad. They had Casey Stengel, Richie Ashburn and Marvelous Marv and no team had ever been that funny. Six times in eight seasons they were 10th. Twice they were ninth. Last year was one of them.
And suddenly they are champions of everything baseball has to offer, riding on a wave they made seem inexorable. If it wasn't destiny, then we'll have to find another explanation.
There was no way the Mets could beat the Orioles -- even in a best-of-seven series. The Orioles had all those wonderful names and all that power. Yet the key hitter, the master batsman of the World Series, turned out to be Al Weis, a lifetime .224 hitter. He won one game with a hit in the ninth inning and, when the Mets closed from 3-0 behind to 3-2, Weis hit a home run to tie the score yesterday. It was his seventh home run in seven seasons in the big leagues.
The Mets had precisely the same things they had all year. Frank Robinson wasn't awarded a base when he appeared to be hit by a pitch in the top of the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth and the Orioles holding a 3-0 lead, plate umpire Lou DiMuro hesitated on the ball that bounced into the dirt and brushed Cleon Jones' shoe.
The ball skittered into the Mets' dugout, Jones took a step toward first base and then everybody froze. Gil Hodges, walking slowly, very slowly, carried the ball to the umpire, displaying the black smudge of shoe polish as evidence.
DiMuro waved Jones to first base and Donn Clendenon followed with a home run. The Orioles still had a 3-2 lead, but the rise of the Mets seemed like manifest destiny again.
"Had the ball gone into their dugout . . . ," Hodges said with a moment of pause for irony. "There are the breaks of the game."
Weis hit his home run leading off the Mets' seventh and that tied the score. It also kept Jerry Koosman in the game. If Weis had made out with the Orioles a run ahead, Koosman would have left for a pinch hitter. All he did was hold the thundering attack of the Orioles to one walk and one infield single over the last six innings.
And the winning run was still to be scored as evidence. Jones hit a double off the highest part of the fence in left-center, leading off. Clendenon ripped a hooking line drive to right that touched down inches foul and then grounded out, but then Swoboda, the man who saved the fourth game with an unforgettable catch, hit a sinking liner close to the line in left.
This one stayed fair and leftfielder Don Buford ran in quickly. He circled in front of it and backhanded the ball on the short hop. He wasn't going to let the ball get past him, but in the meantime the winning run scored.
But it was a play the Mets made the whole series. They made the amazing play time after time, the plays that say nothing succeeds like success. The Mets asked the Orioles to match it and they didn't.
1969 MIRACLE METS
>The Mets turned the baseball world upside down. After escaping last place by a single game in 1968, they won it all.
On July 9, with the surprising Cubs holding a four-game lead over the even-more surprising Mets, Tom Seaver put on a dazzling pitching show at Shea, entering the ninth inning with a perfect game. After Randy Hundley grounded out to Seaver, Cubs manager Leo Durocher sent in pinch hitter Jimmy Qualls, who lined a single to left-center. Seaver, who finished with 11 strikeouts, retired Willie Smith and Don Kessinger to complete one of baseball’s most-famous imperfect games.
On Aug. 14, the third-place Mets trailed the Cubs by 9 1/2 games before going on an Amazin’ streak. They won six in a row, lost to the Giants, and then won six more to find themselves just two games behind Chicago. By Sept. 4, the Cubs had a five-game lead but the Mets got hot, the Cubs got cold and the lead was down to a half-game on Sept. 9.
On Sept. 10, the Mets swept a twin bill from the Montreal Expos at Shea. Nolan Ryan pitched a three-hitter and struck out 11 in the nightcap and the Cubs lost to the Phillies. By the end of the day, for the first time in their history, the Mets were in a meaningful first place. They never looked back.
On Sept. 24, at 9:06 p.m., before 54,928 roaring fans at Shea, Gary Gentry got the Cardinals’ Joe Torre to hit into a double play and the Mets clinched the NL East.
NLCS: Tommie Agee and Ken Boswell hit two homers each and Tom Seaver, Ron Taylor and Nolan Ryan got the victories to power a sweep of the Braves in the first National League Championship Series and, well, you know the rest.