Wednesday, October 23, 2013
1969 Mets Fantazy Card Opening Day Line-up
At this point "Met magic" is not a phrase yet uttered by man. And after this opening day it's a wonder that it ever was.
The Mets took on a brand new team as a result of league expansion in 69 and that team was the Montreal Expos. The Expos, with their odd logo and powder blue away uni's were expected to be like the '62 Mets, also a team born of expansion. They had some old veteran stars and kids coming up. But no team was as bad as the '62 Mets this decade. On this April 8th at Shea Stadium a topsy turvey, up and downy, wacky and wild game took place. When the dust settled and the game was over the Mets had lost 11-10.
Pitcher Dan McGinn must have become an instant star in Montreal. He got the win in relief and had the distinction of hitting the first home run in Monteal Expos history.
Back then I thought it was an e, l, & b. I figured maybe that's how the French would spell Expos or something. I dunno, I didn't question it. I didn't realize til years later that it was an M for Montreal. Very artsy for its time.
The Expos did spank the Mets on this day, their first game ever. Thirty-five years later New York would play Montreal in their very last game before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals. The Mets would beat 'em by a score of 8-1.
Opening Day Attendance: 44,541
Leading off the season for the New York Mets will be Tommie Lee Agee. Tommie was now healthy and fully recovered from the Gibby concussion in the spring '68. He was ready to play and wanted to show Gil Hodges that he appreciated the support Gil gave him since becoming a Met. Hodges was convinced Agee would be a major addition to the team and had the ability to get things started.
Tommie did just that this opening day. In his first three at bats Agee singled twice and scorched a bases loaded double that drove in all three base runners.
He would have a real fine season leading the team in games (149), at bats (565), H.R.s (26), runs scored (97), and RBIs (76).
Batting second and playing right field is Rod Gaspar._______
"Bring on Ron Gaspar, whoever the hell he is!"
Frank Robinson didn't have his name right, but he would find out who Rod Gaspar was by game five of the World Series.
Before one of the NLCS games in Atlanta Gaspar borrowed an unattended NBC golf cart and used it to shag flies in the outfield. So much for post season pressure.
Today Gaspar would start the season on a good note with two singles, a run scored and an RBI.
Batting third and manning second base is Ken Boswell.______
Ken was considered a candidate for Rookie Of The Year in 1968 before being sidelined for two months on June 24th with a broken finger on his throwing hand. He had only struck out 27 times in 284 at bats.
Boswell had a decent opening day at the plate lining two singles and driving in a run, but in the field he would commit three errors that would figure in 2 unearned runs.
Hitting in the clean up spot is the left fielder, Cleon Jones.____
Cleon was not a typical clean up batter but Gil Hodges was playing the cards in his deck as wisely as possible. He had no real clean-up slugger. The season before Ed Charles led the team with 15 homers. Ron Swoboda led the team in RBIs with 59 in '68. Jones followed them both, smacking 14 HR and driving in 55.
The clean up position was something Gil wanted to fill with more pop, and he would get that from Donn Clendenon when the Mets traded for him mid season.
Cleon would thrive batting 3rd later in the season and had his best season at the plate. He came in 3rd in batting for the National League with a .340 avg. He was right behind his childhood chum Tommie Agee in RBIs with 75.
Veteran third baseman Ed Charles bats fifth.______
35 year old Charles reported to the Mets in 1968 as an invitee to spring training. He had a torrid pre-season and made the big club a week before the season started.
He would lead the team in home runs with 15, but more impressive is that 3 of them were pinch hit homers, and Charles led the N.L. in that department, setting a new club record. Just against lefties "The Glider" batted .350, also hitting ten of his long balls verse southpaws.
Steady Eddie Kranepool will open the season batting sixth and playing first base.___
I wish I could say Ed had a bounce back year after his atrocious '68 campaign. I can't. He raised his batting average 7 points (.231 in '68) to hit .238.
He did produce, however, as he drove in 49 runs with 11 gopher balls. Later in the season he would platoon with Donn Clendenon, who launched 12 long balls. That's at least 23 homers from the first base position. Nice.
Met catcher Jerry Grote bats seventh.___________
Grote had by now established himself as an all star caliber catcher. Behind the plate he was one of the best in the game at the time. Never a great hitter but very clutch at times.
In 1969 he would drive in 40 runs. This, as well as his 6 homers, were career highs. Jerry played in 113 games for the Mets in '69, which was a drop from his surrounding seasons in which he averaged about 122 games.
Playing shortstop and hitting 8th is Bud Harrelson._______
Derrel was born in California, and in high school he was the captain on his baseball team, a halfback on the football team, and also ran the boards with the basketball team. The feisty shortstop would be the only player on the field for both the World Championships of 1969 and 1986 (as a coach).
Mets pitching ace Tom Seaver will start his second opening day game for the Mets.____
"The Franchise" would throw a record 11 opening day starts in his time with New York. Would that record ever be broken?
I try to avoid peeking far into the future in these posts but I will tell you that Dwight Gooden is second in Metropolitan history with 8. Tom Glavine follows him with 4.
I could tell you about the kind of year Tom Seaver had in 1969 but I'm betting you already know.
Peter Max for doing what he does and allowing me to do this to that.