Fifty years ago, a baseball team captured the hearts of generations of New Yorkers by winning a World Series against improbable, if not impossible odds. That team, nicknamed “The Amazin’ Mets” continues to live on in the memories of those who experienced a special time in New York baseball.
One of the players on that team, Art Shamsky, has written a book (“After the Miracle, the Lasting Brotherhood of the ’69 Mets”) recounting each game the Mets played against the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles. More importantly, the book describes a poignant mini-reunion at the California home of the Mets ace pitcher, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who is sadly battling dementia.
Seaver recently announced the diagnosis, which came as a shock to baseball fans around the country who saw him pitch and still imagine the right-hander as forever young in their hearts and minds.
Bud Harrelson, the Mets gritty shortstop, who made the trip to see his former teammate, is also fighting dementia, making this reunion perhaps a final chance to reminisce about that great season a half century ago.
Shamsky, along with fellow outfielder Ron Swoboda, pitcher Jerry Koosman and Harrelson got together at Seaver’s Fresno, California home where he has been growing grapes and making wine since he retired as a pitcher and longtime broadcaster of both the Mets and Yankees and before that NBC’s Game of the Week.
According to Shamsky, it was a hit or miss opportunity to make this reunion happen. Seaver’s wife of more than 50 years, Nancy told him that Tom has good and bad days and to call before heading over. Fortunately, on the day the group made the long drive from San Francisco to Seaver’s home, Tom was having one of his good days. The former teammates had lunch, walked in the vineyards and went back in time to relive the great moments of their championship season.
As a 3rd grader in 1969, I wasn’t yet following the day-to-day goings on in sports that closely in New York. However, as the Mets became the talk of baseball in September and won the division and eventually the National League pennant, we all started to pay attention. During lunch recess, our elementary school wheeled these old, black and white TV’s into the auditorium so we could watch a few minutes of the World Series. Remember, those were the good old days when the Series was played in the afternoon.
When the Mets won the World Series in game five, a teacher came outside as we were waiting for the school bus and told us the news. The celebration on the ride home was as jubilant as what was going on at Shea Stadium.
I recommend the book for anyone who would like to relive that special time or for those who want to find out what made it so meaningful.
Click here to listen to my conversation with Art Shamsky.
ga('create', 'UA-96384574-1', 'auto');