It was actually happening. The New York Mets were in the World Series. A man had landed on the moon, and the New York Mets were in the World Series. On this date, 1969, Tom Seaver kicked, dealt... and served the first World Series batter a lemon he swatted over the center field wall.
1969's Cy Young Award winners faced off that day. The Mets had to endure the screwball of Mike Cueller and could not fathom where to swing. They went scoreless with just three hits into the seventh inning, when Donn Clendenon scored on Al Weis's sac fly. Seaver lasted five innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits, a walk, and three strikeouts. Cuellar closed out the game with only the one run scored. The Miracle Mets were behind.
What else was new?
- Happy 23rd, Jenrry Mejia. Way back in 2004, 15-year-old Jenrry first picked up a baseball, in Santo Domingo, D.R., as a way to break free from poverty. Quite a lot of excitement and a serious elbow surgery later, the rookie's 55 major league innings have included 30 strikeouts and 29 walks. Stay tuned.
- Orlando Hernandez is 47 today -- 43 if he lied on Cuban documents and told the Yankees the truth. El Duque amassed three World Series titles, two Cuban league championships, an Olympic gold medal, and gold in eight other international baseball tournaments. The high-kicking righty closed his globe-trotting career in Queens (apart from minor league stints through 2010) pitching to a 112 ERA+ in '06 and '07. Memorably, he injured himself the day before the '06 postseason.
- Ty Wigginton, 35 today, came up with the Mets in 2002 and hit very well -- .880 OPS in 46 games at third base. Wiggy had a down 2003 but an up 2004 when the Mets packaged him at the deadline for Pittsburgh pitcher Kris Benson (who later turned into John Maine.) A hustling player with a questionable glove and league average bat, Wiggy has been not much better than a replacement player through his surprisingly long and still-going career.
- Joe Ginsberg, 86 today, was an original Met and a Jewish kid from New York City. Did I say kid? The catcher was 36 when he joined Stengel's club and went 0-5 in two ballgames before he was cut.
- Charlie Williams was born in Flushing, Queens, 65 years ago. At what point does a growing boy dream that he plus $50,000 could be converted into Willie Mays? Before the 1972 that brought over the 41-year-old legend, Williams, a pitcher, made nine starts and struck out 53 batters.
Game of the Night
In 1986 on this date -- Brock and I will wear these two years thin, I'm afraid -- the hero was Nails. Dykstra to this point had six career homers in 667 regular season at bats; he smashed three home runs in just the '86 postseason. Houston broke to a 4-0 lead, but the Mets tied it in the sixth with big help from Strawberry's three-run shot. Starting pitcher Ron Darling was out of the game in five, and an errant throw from Ray Knight set up the go-ahead run scoring against Rick Aguilera. Backman began the home ninth by dropping a drag bunt and sliding around an outstretched glove into first. A batter on, one out later, Dykstra's two-run shot put the Mets ahead two games to one in the series.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On October 11, 1976, by a joint resolution of Congress approved by the President, George Washington was posthumously lifted to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States. Only he and John J. Pershing -- leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in the First World War -- have achieved this highest rank offered by the U.S. Army. As with the Mets with regard to retiring numbers, the U.S. Army likes to keep it real.