That Magic Moment: On This Date in Mets History

The date was May 21, 1969. Tom Seaver shutout the Braves 5-0 and evened the Mets record at 18-18 in a season they would win 100 games. Seaver went on to win 25 games, his first Cy Young Award, and become a lynchpin in the magic that would become the '69 New York Mets.

The Mets' magical romp through the 1969 season, though, almost didn't happen. Owners and players were embroiled in a re-negotiation of the contributions owners would make to the players' pension funds from television revenues. Picket lines appeared, and some players even crossed them. Eventually, an agreement was reached and the season began with a slight delay.

The odds were stacked against the Mets. It was Manager Gil Hodges' first season after suffering a heart attack the previous September. His team boasted only one legitimate star - Seaver - two if you count Jerry Koosman. A young future Hall-of-Famer named Nolan Ryan wasn't even counted on to contribute much. Imagine that.

The odds makers didn't give the Mets much of a chance either. After all, the Mets had averaged only 56 wins in the previous seven seasons. As such, they were given a 100-1 chance of winning the National League pennant.

The year 1969 began with the New York Jets making their own magic by shocking the nation with their Super Bowl victory over the Baltimore Colts. An electric magic continued through the spring and into the summer. Man walked on the moon. More than half a million young people gathered for a music festival in upstate New York to celebrate their independence and coming of age. And the foundation for what would become the Internet - the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) - was built. Against the backdrop of these historical and monumental events, the New York Mets and their fans were experiencing a brand of magic all their own.

After Tom Seaver had evened the Mets' record at 18-18 on May 21st, they fell below and stayed below the .500 level into June. In July, they had fallen into third place, 9½ games behind the Chicago Cubs. The Mets moved into first place on September 10, 1969 and never looked back, finishing 8 games ahead of the Cubs.

After beating the Braves in the first-ever divisional playoffs, the Mets faced the Baltimore Orioles - winners of 109 games - in the World Series. What a mismatch. The Orioles held an edge in almost every offensive and defensive category against the Mets. On paper, at least, the odds of a Mets' World Series victory seemed extremely slim.

On the radio and in the background, a nation listened to the song, ‘Time of the Season', by the Zombies. Allowing for some literary interpretation, Mets' fans could argue that their ‘time of the season' occurred on October 16, 1969 at Shea Stadium during Game 5 of the World Series. The Mets won the game 5-3 and the Series, beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1.

After seven years of futility and a season that almost didn't begin, the New York Mets sat atop the baseball world. In doing so, the Mets became the first expansion team to appear in and win a World Series. Many of the frenzied fans that excitedly participated in and felt the magic of the Mets' season would brand them - The Miracle of '69.

Tom Seaver once commented that "God is living in New York City, and he is a Mets fan." How else would a 100-1 shot become a World Series champion?

Maybe for one magical summer, God and all of heaven might have been indeed Mets fans.

John C. Sinclair writes a New York Mets historical column every Wednesday on NYMFansOnly.com


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