Top 100 Mets #77: Ed Charles

Sometimes a player's contribution to a baseball team supersedes simple statistics. That was the case with Ed Charles during his short stay with the New York Mets. "The Glider" batted only .207 with the 1969 World Champions, and then called it a career. But for the Poet Laureate of Baseball that was only part of the story. His very presence helped to bring together a team of young upstarts, and for that reason he is our Greatest Met #77.

Charles struggled for eight long years in the Milwaukee Braves system, and couldn't break into the majors since the Braves had future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews playing third. Ed also encountered the racism of the still segregated south as a minor leaguer, and he turned his thoughts inward. His poetry is that reaction, as well as a reflection, to some of the hardships he endured and the atrocities that he encountered as a young player. Consequently, he only reached the majors at 29, and was no longer in the Braves chain.

Ed was "The Glider" because he was a very smooth player, and he earned his stripes with the Kansas City A's. He had an outstanding rookie season with them in 1962, hitting 17 homers with 79 RBI, while hitting 288. He followed that with four more solid seasons, "gliding" to double figures in stolen bases in each season with Kansas City. But the A's were a perennial doormat in the American League.

He was brought in to smooth things over for a very young Mets team in the 1967 season. When he was acquired on May 10, 1967, he became New York's oldest starting player. He hit .238 the remainder of the season and was waived at the end of the year. The Mets had the good sense to invite him back for 1968, however, and he made the team again.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

1967

Mets

.238

323

77

3

31

32

4

24

58

.300

.319

1968

Mets

.276

369

102

15

53

41

5

28

57

.328

.434

1969

Mets

.207

169

35

3

18

21

4

18

31

.286

.320



In the 1968 season, better known as the "Year of the Pitcher", the Mets scored a paltry 473 runs the entire year. That abysmal offensive output cost rookie Jerry Koosman a 20-win season, and saddled Tom Seaver with only a 16-12 mark despite having unbelievable pitching stats overall.

During the year, the main offensive contributor was "The Glider". He hit 15 homeruns and drove in 53 runs, while manning the hot corner. He also batted a solid .276. In those days of the Mets, third base was a veritable merry-go-round which featured a new face with each changing season. Ed was one of those many faces, but he helped to bring stability to the position. His 15 blasts amazingly led the club in 1968.

In 1969, Ed played a key role as manager Gil Hodges primarily used a platoon at first, second, third and in right field. Ed was relegated to basically playing against left-handed pitching as he shared time with rookie Wayne "Red" Garrett at third base. But Ed managed to contribute in key situations in 1969, as almost all the Mets were destined to do during that miraculous season.

Playing only part time, Ed hit just three homers and drove in 18 runs. However, he saved one of those three long balls for the right moment. He homered on September 24th, when the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 at Shea Stadium, thereby clinching the NL East, behind the pitching of Gary Gentry.

In the postseason, he was once again in a platoon with Garrett. Wayne played exclusively against the Atlanta right-handers in the NLCS, while Ed played against the Baltimore Orioles' lefties, Dave McNally and Mike Cueller, in the World Series. Although Charles managed only two hits in 15 at-bats for a .133 average, the Mets prevailed in five games.

Following the World Series, the Mets released Charles, and he ended his career as an active player. He decided to go out a winner at the age of 36. From his struggles as a young player to World Champion, Charles always remained dignified and was a class act all the way.

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