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1969 Was Good For The Other Guys Too

It seems obligatory that I write something about 1969 these days, but I'm wondering how much I can tell you that you haven't already heard before. If you're reading this blog, you probably know the basics about how the Miracle Mets overcame a huge deficit to top the Cubs and win the NL East, than shocked the Orioles to win the World Series.

I was watching a documentary about Ron Santo on TV the other night and it spent a good chunk of time documenting the heartache of the 1969 Cubs. I was already familiar with the basics of that story, but after watching video of a number of victory celebrations, I learned something new.

I would have liked the 1969 Cubs, and the 1969 Orioles as well, because they both had amazin' seasons when it came to walk-off wins.

The 1969 Cubs had 11 walk-off wins, one more than the 1969 Mets did, and if you saw the manner in which they won some of these games, you probably would have been easily convinced that it was meant to be their year.

On April 13, a bases-loaded, two-out walk, and follow-up single by Ernie Banks capped a three-run 9th in a 7-6 win over the Expos.

On May 14, they scored twice in the 9th to beat Johnny Podres and the Padres (yes, really), 3-2. Banks tied that one with a homer and Willie Smith won it with a single.

On June 22, they scored four runs with two outs in the 9th to beat the Expos, 7-6, winning on a walk-off homer by former 1962 Met Jim Hickman. They scored two in the 9th the next day to beat the Pirates, 5-4, on Ron Santo's sac fly. Hickman won another game with a walk-off homer three days after that.

On July 28, they scored twice after having two out with nobody on in the 10th to beat the Giants and Juan Marichal 4-3, overcoming a go-ahead hit by Willie Mays in the top of the inning.

Likewise, the Orioles had their share of absolutely ridiculous victories. Including postseason, they won in walk-off fashion 15 times. No Mets club has ever reached that number.

One of those victories came on a date quite familiar to Mets fans- July 9, 1969. While Tom Seaver was threatening perfection against the Cubs at Shea, the Orioles were finishing a sweep of the Yankees in rather imperfect fashion.

With the score even, 5-5, in the last of the 10th, Boog Powell's one-out hit gave the Orioles a chance to work their magic. With the count 3-2, Powell (a rather large man if you've ever seen him now), took off with the pitch. That paid off handsomely when Brooks Robinson's hit to right field went under the glove of Yankees outfielder Bobby Murcer, allowing Powell to lumber home with the winning run. The win gave the Orioles a rather staggering record of 59-25, part of their romp to an AL championship.

Of course, while I marvel at the walk-off history of these two clubs, there is one important fact to keep in mind.

Neither managed a walk-off win against the 1969 Mets.

True Mets fans who were around in 1969 know...The 24 teams who played in 1969 season tallied 207 walk-off wins (8.6 per team), up significantly from the 141 tallied by 20 teams the previous year (7.1 per team).


How many walkoff losses did the '69 Mets have? I'd look it up myself but I'd feel like I was treading on the maestro's turf.
metswalkoffs said…
Only 4.

May 1 vs Expos (Coco Laboy SF)

August 8 vs Braves (Felipe Alou 1B)

August 31 vs Giants (Jim Davenport BB)

September 3 vs Dodgers (Willie Davis 2B)
What's Amazin' is that three of the walkoff losses came during the period when the Mets were unstoppable at the end of the year--on August 8 they were still somewhat stoppable, but it was close. And Coco Laboy took 'em down at Parc Jarry? Sacre bleu!

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