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In the Summer of '69 (Part I)

It has been mentioned that Jon Niese was born the day the Mets clinched the 1986 World Series, and it was said during the game the other day that Fernando Martinez was born during the 1988 NLCS (the day of Game 5, actually).

That got me stirring with a new tool, recently obtained from the good folks at the Metstats website- the Mets birthday database- to see which current and former Mets were born during the championship season of 1969. Here's what I found for April and May, and we'll follow up with the rest of the season in a subsequent post.

April 8, 1969 (Pete Walker)

This was Opening Day 1969, the first game in the history of the Expos franchise, which happened to be an 11-10 win over the Mets at Shea. The Mets scored four runs in the bottom of the 9th in hopes of a walk-off win, but came up one tally short.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Walker's lone Mets win was the walk-off win of October 1, 1995, a 1-0 victory over the Braves in the season's final game.

April 15, 1969 (Jeromy Burnitz)

The Mets improved to 3-5 with a 6-3 win over the Phillies, scoring three runs in the eighth. The Mets were in danger of leaving the bases loaded that inning, after making a pair of force outs with nobody out, but Bud Harrelson's hit scored one run and Ed Kranepool's double plated two more. The win made Gary Gentry 2-0 and the rest of the Mets, 1-5.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Jeromy Burnitz hit one walk-off home run for the Mets. It came against the Cubs on September 17, 2002. That's 16 years to the day of the Mets clinching the NL East title.

April 16, 1969 (Fernando Vina and Ken Takahashi)
The Pirates romped over the Mets, 11-3, as both Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan got clobbered, combining to allow nine runs in 3 1/3 innings. Light-hitting Jose Pagan had one of the better games of his big league career, smashing four hits and driving in three.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...The Mets last 15th-inning walk-off win prior to Robin Ventura's grand slam single came on April 27, 1994. Fernando Vina's line drive off the first baseman was good for a double and a 3-2 win over the Padres.

April 26, 1969 (Rick Trlicek)
The Cubs bashed the Mets, 9-3, with Bill Hands pitching a complete game, and Ernie Banks and Ron Santo combining to drive in five runs. This was the second of three straight Cubs wins in the series, a series that left the Mets six games out of first place just 18 games into the season.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...The Mets did salvage the series finale, 3-0, on a walk-off home run by Cleon Jones.

May 10, 1969 (Pete Schourek)
Tom Seaver beat the Astros, 3-1 despite walking six (three in the first inning) and stranding 10 baserunners. Ed Charles and Al Weis each had an RBI in the fourth inning and Cleon Jones padded the margin with a home run in the sixth.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Pete Schourek earned one walk-off win as a Met, getting the victory on May 4, 1991, when Howard Johnson's two-run home run beat the Giants, 6-4, in 11 innings.

May 27, 1969 (Todd Hundley)
The Mets lost a tough one to the Padres, 3-2, stranding 11 and wasting most of their 12 hits. Bud Harrelson's 3-for-3 was a bright spot, but Jim McAndrew took the hard-luck loss.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Todd Hundley's lone Mets walk-off home run came against the Pirates on July 30, 1996, 27 years to the day of the doubleheader sweep of the Mets by the Astros, in which Gil Hodges sent a message to the team by pulling Cleon Jones out of the field (due to lack of hustle) in mid-inning.

May 28, 1969 (Mike DiFelice)
The Mets won their first of 11 straight games, beating the Padres, 1-0 in 11 innings, on Bud Harrelson's walk-off single. Jerry Koosman whiffed 15 hitters in 10 innings and Tug McGraw added another strikeout in the 11th to get the victory.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Mike DiFelice is the manager of the Mets rookie-league minor league team in Kingsport, Tennessee.

May 29, 1969 (Toby Borland)
The Mets took a day off in preparation for a three-game series with the Giants.

Those celebrating a happy Mets birthday know...Toby Borland gave up a walk-off sacrifice fly to Butch Huskey in a 3-2 Mets win over the Phillies on July 17, 1996.

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Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t