Skip to main content

Rocky Mountain High

The Mets weren't a particularly good team in their first seven seasons of existence, but their penchant for dramatic comeback victories is such that you can find one from practically every one of their 44 years of existence.

Ron Swoboda reminded us of this when we briefly chatted with him about Mets walk-offs on Thursday. Now a broadcaster for the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, Swoboda had his share of remarkable Mets moments, such as the two home runs he hit to beat Steve Carlton the day in 1969 that Carlton whiffed 19 Mets and the 9th inning diving catch that was an significant moment of the Mets win in Game 4 of the World Series that season. Swoboda, known by the nickname "Rocky," had one walk-off hit during his career with the Mets and he shared his memory of that moment with us.

First, some background, with some help from Swoboda and Bob Lipsyte's story of that game in the New York Times. It was August 4, 1966 and the Mets trailed future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal and the Giants, 6-1 in the eighth inning. Marichal had a perfect game for 5 2/3 innings and historically was dominant against the Mets, but somehow, the folks from Flushing managed a terrific rally.

The Mets cut the lead to 6-4 with three runs in the eighth and chased Marichal from the game after Ken Boyer led off the final frame with a home run. Two singles sandwiched around a botched bunt put runners on first and second, with one out. The Giants changed pitchers bringing in southpaw Bill Henry to pitch to leadoff man Chuck Hiller, but Mets manager Wes Westrum had a righty bat on the bench to pinch-hit in second-year man Swoboda, who had already homered to beat Henry earlier in the season.

The count went to 2-0 and Swoboda crushed the next pitch, a fastball, over the left field fence for a game-winning three-run home run, one that knocked the Giants out of first place, and sent Swoboda and family to see the Broadway show Man of La Mancha, in a great mood.

Hiller worked for the Mets in a variety of capacities for 24 years, but passed away last year. Whenever Swoboda bumped into Hiller, he reminded his former teammate of a promise, one that didn't make the newspaper that day.

"I always kidded Chuck," Swoboda said. "Before I came up, he said 'If you hit a homer, I'll kiss your (butt). He never got to pay it off."

True Metographers know...Ron Swoboda is the Mets all-time leader in walk-off walks, with four.

"That's odd, isn't it?" said Swoboda, who couldn't come up with a reason for his success in that department. "I was a bit of a free swinger. Sometimes you walk because you're swinging the bat well, and sometimes you'll walk because you'll miss a pitch that you should have hit. Those (walk-offs) aren't the ones you remember. "

No other player has more than one walk-off walk with the Mets.

Comments

Just discovered this site today (from a link on Simply Amazins)
Awesome! Very well done. I'll check back often.

-- Dave Murray (Metsguyinmichigan.blogspot.com)

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for