Saturday, November 16, 2013

1969 World Series Fantazy Cards- Game Two

____________Starting Pitcher Jerry Koosman____________

In every department the Baltimore Orioles had the Mets beat. Offensively they were a powerhouse. Boog Powell led the team in home runs with 37, followed by Frank Robinson (32), Paul Blair (26), and Brooks Robinson with 23. For the Mets only Tommie Agee had more than 20 long balls. The Mets RBI leaders were Agee (76) & Jones(75) who together totaled 151 runs batted in. Boog Powell alone drove in 121! F.Robby also drove in 100 giving their big guns a total of 221.

New Yorks pitching was their strong suit. It was what got them there. But the Orioles pitching staff had a lower overall ERA than the Mets. They had two 20 game winners in Mike Cuellar (23) and Dave McNally (20). Jim Palmer was on his way up going 16-4. Before the series Earl Weaver was quoted saying, "I heard the Mets have 6 good pitchers. Well, we got ten."

I didn't even check to see if they were all All-Stars in '69 but I'm sure at one time or another they all were. Nothing got through Brooks and Belanger on the left side. For a bunch of years Boog was one of the most feared sluggers in the A.L. and no slouch with the glove. These were years before Davey Johnson started smacking HR's at an impressive rate. In '69 he only had 7 round trippers. He did hit .280 and drive in 57 runs, very nice production from the position. Most impressive was a .984 fielding percentage that topped even Brooks.

Baltimore Oriole pitcher Dave McNally had been pitching for the Birds since 1962 at the age of 19. For the first few years of his career he was a mediocre lefty. In 1966 when Baltimore went to the World Series McNally was 13-6, his best record up to that point. Then in 1968 he became almost untouchable. Overcoming a lingering shoulder problem and the re-discovery of his slider made him one of the best pitchers in the game in the late 60's through to the early 70's. From mid 1968, when he found this form, to July of 1969 McNally won 29 of 31 decisions! He won his first 15 decisions in '69 and finished the season 20-7. Interestingly all seven of his losses occurred in August and September at seasons end.

Once again the Mets looked to their lefty ace Jerry Koosman to lift their tilting ship and set things right. In 1968 Kooz won 19 games and lost out on the Rookie Of The Year honors to future Hall Of Famer Johnny Bench. He won 17 in 1969 with 16 complete games. Koosman and McNally locked horns for the first 3 innings, neither allowing a run. McNally hit a few bumps, but Jerry was just cruising, setting down one Baltimore batter after another.

In the Orioles half of the 3rd Buddy Harrelson dove deep into the hole at short to spear a line drive off the bat of Don Buford. Bud took away a sure single and the Birds remained hitless.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the diamond,  O's shortstop Mark Belanger was doing the same. He robbed Tommie Agee of single in the hole in that same inning.

This was a great display by two of the best fielding shortstops in the game. Belanger wasn't going to get Agee at first and he went for the force at second. He caught a hustling Al Weis by an inch.

The game was scoreless through three when Mets first baseman Donn Clendenon, who had singled and doubled in game one, led off the fourth with a opposite field homer. The Mets were on the board and the Orioles had yet to get a hit.

Jerry Koosman was masterful. In the first inning Frank Robinson smashed a deep drive to the gap in right center that was chased down by Ron Swoboda at the 390 mark for the third out. That was the hardest ball hit by the Birds in game 2.

Other than a 2nd inning walk to Dave Johnson the Orioles couldn't get past Koosman who held them hitless into the 7th inning.

Paul Blair led off the 7th inning with a grounder through the hole at short and Baltimore had it's first hit of the game. Jerry would get F.Robbie to line out to center and Boog Powell to pop to short, two huge outs.

With Brooks Robinson up, 2 out, Blair stole second, getting into scoring position. Brooks promptly batted a grounder up the middle to drive him in and tie the game at 1-1.

I've been a big fan of Brooks since I was a kid playing third base for the O.L.A. Tigers. He showed a bit of flashy leather, or skin (two identical barehanded plays in games 1&2), in '69 but it was nothing compared to his unbelievable 1970 World Series performance. Always wanted to see that awesome picture of the Brooks '70 WS catch on a baseball card.

Did you know that Brooksie only had one hit? 
It was in this game and it was an important one but I'm talking about the entire series. Brooks had only 1 hit in 19 at bats for the whole '69 World Series. He drove in a total of two runs. Even when he hit the ball well it found Met leather waiting for it. Hey Brooks, that's baseball. Definitely next year. See ya then.

Ed Charles had a hot time in the late innings of game 2. He beat Brooks Robinson twice, once with a frozen rope double down the 3rd baseline (BROOKS Game 2 card above) and again leading off the ninth with a single in the hole (Charles 9th inning rally card below).

He also halted a Baltimore rally by making a very Brooks like grab of a one hopper to his left, robbing Davey Johnson and ending the 7th inning with the score tied 1-1.

[It's called over-dramatic license]>>>>
The ballgame was still tied when the Mets came to bat in the top of the 9th. Two sluggers, Donn Clendenon and Ron Swoboda, would lead it off. Dave McNally, who went all nine innings, struck out Clendenon and got Rocky to ground out to first.

With 2 out it was time for the bottom of the lineup to scratch one out. And they did. Ed Charles lined a single past third. With scrappy catcher Jerry Grote at the plate Mets manager Gil Hodges called for a hit and run. Grote was clutch and singled to left, making it first and third, two out, for light hitting Al Weis. Weis drove in
a run during game one with a sac fly but here it wouldn't do the job. The Mets desperately needed a hit. Weis took a McNally fastball and lifted a lilting drive over short that fell in front of left fielder Don Buford for a humongous RBI single. The Mets had the lead again, 2-1, and only needed 3 outs for the win!

In the bottom of the 9th. Jerry Koosman was facing the top of the Baltimore lineup. He got two quick outs as Buford flew out to right and Blair grounded out to short. This brought up slugger Frank Robinson. Met manager Gil Hodges decided to employ an outfield shift on F.Robbie.

He took Al Weis from second and put him in left, going four deep : Cleon in left-center, Agee in right-center and Swoboda in far right. Three infielders.

This was not an unprecedented move by the Met skipper. During the season, on August 19th facing the San Francisco Giants, the Mets were locked in an 0-0 extra inning affair at Shea. Willie McCovey came up in the 13th with two out and no one on.

[Some backstory: In the previous series with the Giants earlier in the season, McCovey homered in all three games. The last time the Mets faced him ,on June 1st, his first two times up in the first and second inning there were two men on with no out. Both times he was intentionally walked to load the bases. He had three more at bats that game in which he singled, doubled and homered. With the score still tied in the Mets 9th Giants reliever John Gibbons fell apart. He walked four culminating with a literal walk off by Ron Swoboda and the Mets won that game 5-4. Another wacky Met win!:End of backstory]

So in the August 19th game with the score tied 0-0 and 2 out in the 13th, the Met manager was taking chances. Hodges went to a four deep shift. McCovey slammed a deep drive to left center and Cleon Jones made this catch pictured, robbing McCovey of at least an extra base hit if not a homer.

FUN FACT: The following inning Juan Marichal, who had pitched all 14 innings for the Giants, gave up a walk off homer to Tommie Agee. The home run by Agee was the first home run in Mets history to produce a 1-0 walk off win. Can I call that a wacky win? I will. Another wacky win!

Things like this were going Gil & the Mets way all season. Still, with two out and no one on in the 9th, this was a radical thing to do in a world series game in which the pitcher had been in total control. Understandably Gil would give Frank Robinson a single on a platter to avoid him swinging for the fences or finding a gap with only a one run lead.

But this might have rattled Jerry Koosman, who was cruising. Jerry, who had issued only one walk way back in the 2nd inning, now walked Frank Robinson and Boog Powell back to back. Maybe Koos was outta gas. In any case Hodges then decided he had to call on Ron Taylor in the save situation.

Doc Taylor came on and put out the fire once again. After running the count to 3-2 Taylor got Brooks to ground out to Ed Charles. What a huge save!
The Mets had won their first World Series game ever! They pulled a split in Baltimore!
___________Starting Pitcher Jerry Koosman___________
All season long the fewest amount of hits the Orioles had in any game was 3. Here in game 2 of the '69 World Series Koosman held them to two.
1969 World Series Game Two. Entire broadcast, commercials and all.
Thanks to ClassicMLB11

Baseball Reference
Ultimate Met Database
MLB Films
Getty Images
Brooks Robinson 1970 Gm 3 photo from Sporting News by United Press International. Tried to dig and find out who took the picture and I think I've narrowed it down to Alex P. Silverberg or George Dorrill. Photo colorized by me.
Thanks for the amazin' info in the book The Amazin' Mets, 1962-1969 By William J. Ryczek.

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