McKinney: Quick Hitter

Oct. 15, 2013 @ 09:33 PM

You know you’ve done something special when you’re instantly recognized by two different nicknames.

On this date in 1969, the New York Mets — a.k.a. “The Amazin’ Mets” or “The Miracle Mets” — completed their epic march to the World Series championship.

The Mets defeated the favored Baltimore Orioles 5-3 in Game 5 at Shea Stadium to secure the crown.

The story is the stuff of legend. A franchise that joined the National League in 1962 and never won more than 73 games or finished higher than ninth in the standings came out of nowhere to shock the world.

That’s all true, but people tend to overlook the fact that the ‘69 Mets were a really good baseball team.

The Mets went 100-62 in the regular season and swept Hank Aaron and the Atlanta Braves in the 1969 NLCS.

Manager Gil Hodges boasted a stellar pitching staff led by 25-game winner Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, rookie Gary Gentry and a young fireballer named Nolan Ryan.

Tug McGraw finished 9-3 with 12 saves to anchor a solid bullpen.

The everyday lineup included outfielders Tommy Agee (26 homers, 76 RBIs) and Cleon Jones (.340 average) as well as several effective platoons, most notably Ron Swoboda and Art Shamsky in right field and Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon at first base.

These guys were amazin’ and they worked miracles on the diamond.

But they could also play.

— Mark McKinney