Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool sat in front of the 1969 Miracle Mets display Wednesday in the team’s hall of fame and museum and took a trip back in time. They flashed back to those amazing days while the highlights rolled on the screen behind them and the World Series trophy sat in the case next to them.
“It’s interesting, because I think for Eddie and me, living in this area, it doesn’t seem as long as 50 years as for some of the guys in other areas, because every day somebody talks to me about 1969,” Shamsky said. “It was such an incredible year for all of us who were part of it. Fifty years, it went by pretty fast.
“The legacy of that team has been passed on from generation to generation. But the reality of it is, it was such an incredible time in New York, in the country and the world. What we did as a team collectively helped people get through some really tough times.”
Shamsky, a 77-year-old Manhattan resident and then a platoon rightfielder, and Kranepool, a 74-year-old Jericho resident and then a platoon first baseman, spoke to reporters at Citi Field and met with fans there at a blood drive. The two are scheduled to attend with Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda when the 1969 team is honored at the New York Baseball Writers’ dinner Jan. 26.
But the real happy 50th anniversary celebration is coming with a reunion weekend when Atlanta visits June 28-30. There will be an on-field ceremony before the Saturday game.
“We’re looking forward to June being here,” Kranepool said.
Nobody had expected a 73-win, ninth-place team from 1968 to take a giant leap to 100 wins, then sweep three from Atlanta in the NLCS and beat Baltimore in five for first prize.
“We had such great stars on the team, of course, with Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Cleon Jones,” Shamsky said. “But the reality of that team was that everybody on that team contributed to the success of the team. When we won that World Series, no matter what we did before or after, we were remembered for that team.”
Kranepool, who debuted with the expansion Mets in 1962 at age 17 and played for them through 1979, hit .238 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs, and homered in Game 3 of the Series. Shamsky, a Met from 1968-71, hit .300 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs, and batted .538 in the NLCS. Their lefty bats contributed under the platoon-oriented style and firm hand of manager Gil Hodges.
“Hopefully, when he comes up again in 2020, he gets nominated for the Hall of Fame,” Kranepool said. “I really think he deserves it.”
The Miracle Mets clinched their crown when Davey Johnson’s fly to left settled in Jones’ glove. The joyful fans stormed the field.
“I guess Shea Stadium fertilized a lot of lawns around New York,” Kranepool said, “because everyone seems to have the grass.”