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Walk-Off Lament

I was reminded on Tuesday night of the lament proffered by Charlie Brown not long after the 1962 World Series concluded. I would have filled in Paul Lo Duca's name in his wail of anguish

"Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher???"

I really thought that Lo Duca was going to get the tying or winning hit last night, particularly because of the way he fought through that final at-bat before popping to second base. Perhaps had he been able to strike the ball just a little harder, the outcome would have been different. The way that this team has won games this season, it just felt right that they would find a way to pull this one out.

Followers of the team in 1969 must have felt the same way after their May 15 defeat to the Braves. The scenario was slightly different, with the Mets rallying from a 6-2 deficit to trim the score to 6-5 by the last of the 8th. In the 9th, with the hosts down a run, they immediately staged a rally. Bud Harrelson singled and the following batter, pinch-hitter Jerry Grote was plunked by a pitch, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. A successful sacrifice by Tommie Agee put the tying run 90 feet away, and the winning run 180 feet from home.

Braves pitcher Cecil Upshaw purposely walked Wayne Garrett to fill the bases and that decision proved to have a nice payoff. Ken Boswell grounded into a force at home, setting up the ultimate scenario- bases loaded, two outs and Cleon Jones at bat.

Jones set the standard for Mets hitters that season, batting a robust .340. That average would have been 2 points higher, had Braves second baseman Felix Millan not made a leaping backhand grab of Jones' subsequent walk-off destined line drive towards right center, turning potential victory into a very hard-to-swallow (even for the 15-18 squad at the time) defeat.

True Metments know...Felix Millan would go on to have 3 walk-off hits in his Mets career.

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