1969 World Series
|Dates:||October 11–October 16|
|MVP:||Donn Clendenon (New York)|
|TV announcers:||Curt Gowdy, Bill O’Donnell (Games 1–2) and Lindsey Nelson (Games 3–5)|
|Radio announcers:||Jim Simpson, Ralph Kiner (Games 1–2) and Bill O’Donnell (Games 3–5)|
|Umpires:||Hank Soar (AL), Frank Secory (NL), Larry Napp (AL), Shag Crawford (NL), Lou DiMuro (AL), Lee Weyer (NL)|
|Hall of Famers:||Mets: Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver.|
Orioles: Earl Weaver (mgr.), Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson.
|ALCS:||Baltimore Orioles over Minnesota Twins (3–0)|
|NLCS:||New York Mets over Atlanta Braves (3–0)|
Karl Ehrhardt, known as "the sign man" at Shea Stadium, held up a sign that read There Are No Words, which was seen in the Series highlight film soon after the final out was made.
The Mets became the first expansion team to win a division title, a pennant, and the World Series, winning in their eighth year of existence. Two teams would later surpass that, as the Florida Marlins won the 1997 World Series in their fifth year (also becoming the first wild card team to win a World Series) and the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series in their fourth year of play.
New York MetsThe New York Mets, who had never finished higher than ninth place (next-to-last) nor won more than 73 games in a season since joining the National League in 1962, were not highly regarded before the 1969 season started. In fact, the best that could be said for them was that because the National League was being split into two divisions that year, the Mets were guaranteed to finish no lower than sixth place. The fact the Mets began the season by losing 11–10 to the then-expansion Montreal Expos seemed to confirm this. With three weeks to go in the season, the underdog Mets stormed past the Chicago Cubs, who had led the Eastern Division for most of the season, winning 38 of their final 49 games for a total of 100 wins and capturing the first National League Eastern Division crown. Third-year pitcher Tom Seaver won a major-league-leading 25 games en route to his first Cy Young Award; the other two top Mets starting pitchers, Jerry Koosman and rookie Gary Gentry, combined to win 30 more games. Outfielder Cleon Jones hit a (then) club-record .340 and finished third in the National League batting race, while his lifelong friend and outfield mate Tommie Agee hit 26 home runs and drove in 76 runs to lead the club; they were the only players on the team who garnered more than 400 at bats. Manager Gil Hodges employed a skillful platoon system not unlike the Yankees of the Casey Stengel era, in which Ron Swoboda and Art Shamsky became a switch-hitting right fielder who hit 23 home runs and drove in 100 runs, and Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon added up to a switch-hitting first baseman who hit 23 more homers and knocked in another 95 runs. Everyone on the bench knew what their role was in the platoon—nobody felt that they'd ever lost their jobs. Almost to a man, the 1969 Mets were united in their praise of their manager's skill. In the first League Championship Series, the light-hitting Mets, once again considered underdogs (even though the Mets actually had a better record than the Braves), put on an uncharacteristic power display by scoring 27 runs in sweeping the favored Atlanta Braves in three games.
Baltimore OriolesThe Baltimore Orioles, by contrast, were practically flawless and featured stars at almost every position. They breezed through the 1969 season, winning 109 games (until 1998 the most games won since the advent of divisional play) and brushing aside the Minnesota Twins in three games in the ALCS to win their second pennant in four years. The Orioles were led by star sluggers Frank Robinson and Boog Powell, who each hit over 30 home runs and drove in over 100 runs; third baseman Brooks Robinson, perhaps the best-fielding hot-corner player in baseball history; and pitchers Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Jim Palmer, who combined for 63 victories. It was felt that in the face of such statistical comparisons, only the most reckless gambler would put any money on the Mets.
SummaryNL New York Mets (4) vs. AL Baltimore Orioles (1)
|1||October 11||New York Mets – 1, Baltimore Orioles – 4||Memorial Stadium||2:13||50,429|
|2||October 12||New York Mets – 2, Baltimore Orioles – 1||Memorial Stadium||2:20||50,850|
|3||October 14||Baltimore Orioles – 0, New York Mets – 5||Shea Stadium||2:23||56,335|
|4||October 15||Baltimore Orioles – 1, New York Mets – 2 (10 innings)||Shea Stadium||2:33||57,367|
|5||October 16||Baltimore Orioles – 3, New York Mets – 5||Shea Stadium||2:14||57,397|
Matchups Game 1Saturday, October 11, 1969 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
|WP: Mike Cuellar (1–0) LP: Tom Seaver (0–1)|
BAL: Don Buford (1)
The Mets got their run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by light-hitting Al Weis.
Despite the opening-game loss, nobody on the Mets seemed discouraged. Tom Seaver - the game's losing pitcher - said years later "I swear, we came into the clubhouse more confident than when we had left it. Somebody - I think it was Clendenon - yelled out, 'Dammit, we can beat these guys!' And we believed it. A team knows if they've been badly beaten or outplayed. And we felt we hadn't been. The feeling wasn't that we had lost, but Hey, we nearly won that game! We hadn't been more than a hit or two from turning it around. It hit us like a ton of bricks." 
Game 2Sunday, October 12, 1969 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
|WP: Jerry Koosman (1–0) LP: Dave McNally (0–1) Sv: Ron Taylor (1)|
NYM: Donn Clendenon (1)
However, Koosman would lose both the no-hitter and the lead in the seventh as Paul Blair singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Brooks Robinson. But, that would be it for the Orioles' offense. The Mets pushed across a run in the top of the ninth on back-to-back-to-back singles by Ed Charles, Jerry Grote, and Al Weis, scoring Charles.
Koosman had trouble finishing the game, as he issued two-out walks in the bottom of the ninth to Frank Robinson and Boog Powell. Ron Taylor came on to retire Brooks Robinson for the final out and earn the save.
Game 3Tuesday, October 14, 1969 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, New York
|WP: Gary Gentry (1–0) LP: Jim Palmer (0–1) Sv: Nolan Ryan (1)|
NYM: Tommie Agee (1), Ed Kranepool (1)
Ed Kranepool added a home run and Jerry Grote an RBI double for the Mets, while Gary Gentry pitched six shutout innings and helped his own cause with a second-inning two-run double. Nolan Ryan, making what would be his only World Series appearance in his 27-year career, pitched the final 2 1⁄3 innings (benefitting from Agee's second catch) and earned a save.
Game 4Wednesday, October 15, 1969 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, New York
|WP: Tom Seaver (1–1) LP: Dick Hall (0–1)|
NYM: Donn Clendenon (2)
Tom Seaver atoned for his Game 1 ineffectiveness by shutting the Orioles out through eight innings. Once again, Donn Clendenon provided the lead with a solo homer in the second. In the third inning, after arguing ball-strike calls too strenuously with plate umpire Shag Crawford, Earl Weaver of the Orioles became the first manager since 1935 to be ejected from a World Series game.
In the top of the ninth, Seaver ran into trouble. Frank Robinson and Boog Powell hit back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and third. Brooks Robinson then hit a sinking line drive towards right that Mets right fielder Ron Swoboda dove for and caught just inches off the ground. Frank Robinson tagged and scored, but Swoboda's heroics kept the Orioles from possibly taking the lead. Elrod Hendricks then flew out to Swoboda to end the inning, but not before coming within inches of a home run that would have given the Orioles a two-run lead.
In the bottom of the tenth, Jerry Grote led off by blooping a double to left. Al Weis was intentionally walked, and Mets manager Gil Hodges sent J. C. Martin up to hit for Seaver. Martin laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Orioles reliever Pete Richert hit Martin in the wrist with his attempted throw to first. Rod Gaspar, running for Grote, came around to score the winning run.
Replays showed Martin was inside the first-base line, which hindered Richert from making a good throw. It was suggested that had the Orioles protested the call, claiming interference (which they never did), that the protest would have been disallowed since Martin did not intentionally interfere with the throw (as per Major League Baseball Official Rule 7.08[b]).
Game 5Thursday, October 16, 1969 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, New York
|WP: Jerry Koosman (2–0) LP: Eddie Watt (0–1)|
BAL: Dave McNally (1), Frank Robinson (1)
NYM: Donn Clendenon (3), Al Weis (1)
The Mets, however, would benefit from two questionable umpire's calls. In the fifth inning, Mets' starter Jerry Koosman appeared to have hit Frank Robinson with a pitch, but plate umpire Lou DiMuro ruled that the pitch hit his bat before hitting him and denied him first base. Replays showed, however, that Robinson was indeed hit first—the ball struck him on the hip, then bounced up and hit his bat.
In the sixth, McNally bounced a pitch that appeared to have hit Mets left fielder Cleon Jones on the foot, then bounced into the Mets' dugout. McNally and the Orioles claimed the ball hit the dirt and not Jones, but Mets manager Gil Hodges showed the ball to DiMuro, who found a spot of shoe polish on the ball and awarded Jones first base. McNally then gave up Series MVP Donn Clendenon's third homer of the series (a record for a five-game World Series that was tied by the Phillies' Ryan Howard in the 2008 Classic) to cut the lead to 3–2.
However, the renowned "shoe polish" incident may not be such a simple, straightforward matter. On August 22, 2009, at the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Mets' 1969 Championship, held at their new stadium, Citi Field, Jerry Koosman stated in several media interviews that, in actuality, Hodges had instructed him to rub the ball on his shoe, which he did, and it was only after this that Hodges showed the ball to the umpire. Koosman's claim doesn't necessarily mean that the ball didn't strike Jones on the foot, nor does it even mean that the polish on the ball seen by the umpire was put there by Koosman—it's certainly conceivable that there was already a genuine spot of polish on the ball, which easily could have escaped Koosman's notice as he hastily created the fraudulent one. In any case, Koosman's allegation at the very least adds an intriguing layer of uncertainty and possible chicanery to an already legendary event.
The Mets then tied the score in the seventh on a solo home run hit by the unheralded and light-hitting Al Weis. Weis only hit seven home runs in his big league career; this was the only home run he ever hit at Shea Stadium. Weis would lead all batters in this series with a .455 average.
The Mets' winning runs scored in the eighth as Game 4 defensive hero Ron Swoboda doubled in Jones with the go-ahead run. Swoboda then scored when Jerry Grote's grounder was mishandled by first baseman Boog Powell, whose throw to first was then dropped by pitcher Eddie Watt in an unusual double error. Jerry Koosman would get the win, his second of the series.
In all four Mets victories, their starting first baseman hit a home run: Donn Clendenon in Games 2, 4 and 5, and Ed Kranepool in Game 3. The expression, "Good pitching defeats good hitting," was never more evident than in this World Series: Baltimore collected only 23 hits for a .146 batting average. Boog Powell led the Orioles with five hits—but all were non-scoring singles. Don Buford collected two hits in the opening game, including a leadoff home run against Tom Seaver, but went 0-for-16 over the next four games. Paul Blair went 2-for-20, Davey Johnson 1-for-15 and Brooks Robinson 1-for-19. The vaunted Orioles offense, best in the majors in 1969, only managed four extra-base hits off Mets pitching in the five-game series, all in the first and last games.
This was the second major upset by a New York team over a Baltimore team in a sport's championship event in 1969. Earlier in January, the Jets, led by Joe Namath, upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl, which also aired on NBC. Significantly, both the Jets and Mets called Shea Stadium home at the time.
There are several direct connections between the two Mets World Championship teams. Orioles second baseman Davey Johnson flied out to Cleon Jones for the last out of the 1969 World Series; Johnson would later manage the 1986 Mets to their World Series title. The pitcher on the mound for the last out of the 1986 Series, Jesse Orosco, had been traded to the Mets for Jerry Koosman (the pitcher on the mound for the last out of the 1969 Series) after the 1978 season. 1969 Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson earned a second World Series ring as the club's third-base coach in 1986. However, Mets pitcher Tom Seaver was on the losing end in 1986, as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Composite box1969 World Series (4–1): New York Mets (N.L.) over Baltimore Orioles (A.L.)
|New York Mets||1||3||0||1||0||3||2||3||1||1||15||35||2|
|Total attendance: 272,378 Average attendance: 54,476|
|Winning player’s share: $18,338 Losing player’s share: $14,904|
In popular cultureThe 1969 series is featured in the movie Frequency, a 2000 film starring Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid. When Caviezel's character discovers in 1999 that he can speak to his dead father (Quaid) thirty years in the past using a ham radio set, he proves that he is further ahead in time by correctly predicting the outcomes of each 1969 World Series game.
It was referenced in the 1977 movie Oh God! starring George Burns and John Denver, in which Burns, playing God, quips, "The last miracle I did was the 1969 Mets. Before that, I think you have to go back to the Red Sea." The 1969 series was also referenced in the television show The Wonder Years where lead character Kevin Arnold (played by Fred Savage) recalled his days of youth during that summer.
Television coverageGames 3, 4 and 5 of the 1969 World Series are believed to be the oldest surviving color television broadcasts of World Series games (even though World Series telecasts have aired in color since 1955). However, they were "truck feeds" in that they do not contain original commercials, but show a static image of the Shea Stadium field between innings. Also, the surviving copy of Game 5 as aired on MLB Network in late 2009 had noticeable drop-outs and tape-tracking errors for the first few innings. It is unknown if this was on the original master-tape, or the copy used by MLB network.
Games 1 and 2 were only saved as black and white kinescopes provided by NBC.
- ^ "1969 World Series Game 1 - New York Mets vs. Baltimore Orioles". Retrosheet. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10110BAL1969.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ "1969 World Series Game 2 - New York Mets vs. Baltimore Orioles". Retrosheet. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10120BAL1969.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ "1969 World Series Game 3 - Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10140NYN1969.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ "1969 World Series Game 4 - Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10150NYN1969.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ "1969 World Series Game 5 - Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1969/B10160NYN1969.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ Honig, Donald: "The New York Mets - The First Quarter Century" ISBN 0-517-56218-9. 1986. pg. 61
- ^ Tuite, James (October 16, 1969). "War Casualties Demand Full-Staff Flag at Shea". New York Times: p. 20.
- ^ Golenbock, Peter. Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team. p. 258.
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 326–329)
- Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2179. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
- Forman, Sean L.. "1969 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1969_WS.shtml. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- 1969 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1969 World Series at Baseball Almanac
- 1969 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- The 1969 Post-Season Games (box scores and play-by-play) at Retrosheet
- History of the World Series - 1969 at The SportingNews