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Yes siree, Bob

We are on the precipice of a scenario by which this ballclub could become, by process of elimination, champions of the NL East. This is a feat, previously accomplished on four occasions, and it seems likely that this clinching, as we like to call it, will not come in walk-off fashion. That's perfectly acceptable, even here.

The Mets have never cinched a division championship in walk-off fashion, though their first such celebration came a day after such an event.

The baseball game of September 24, 1969 is well remembered for its conclusion, with Joe Torre hitting into a 6-4-3 double play, assuring the Mets of their first NL East crown. The contest of the previous day isn't as easily recalled, so we'll educate you in this space.

The Mets entered September 23 with a magic number of three, and when Bill Stoneman and the Expos topped the Cubs that afternoon, the super-digit was sliced to just two. In order to reduce it to one and guarantee at worst, a tie for the title, the Mets would have to topple nemesis Bob Gibson (22-5 against the Mets according to the newspapers of the time) and do so with Jim McAndrew on the mound.

McAndrew was up to the challenge and kept the Cardinals off the board for three innings. Wayne Garrett put the Mets ahead with a two-out single in the last of the third. It was not McAndrew's fault that he surrendered the lead in the fifth, as a two-out error by Ken Boswell allowed the tying run to score, and then Torre's RBI single put the Cardinals up 2-1.

McAndrew held the Cardinals at bay, coming out after seven frames with a one-run deficit, because Gibson had ramped up his performance, retiring the Mets in order in the fifth and sixth, then escaping trouble in the seventh. Gibson had a chance to add to his lead in the eighth, but flew out with the bases loaded against reliever Tug McGraw. This was no ordinary out- it required a terrific diving catch by Ron Swoboda, something that Mets fans would see again in a future walk-off win that season.

Had there been a Turning Point of the Game contest back then, that would have been it. In the home eighth, the Mets evened things up. Tommie Agee started with a single, went to second on Garrett's bunt and scored on Art Shamsky's game-tying hit.

Mets manager Gil Hodges decided that the Mets fortunes were best served with McGraw pitching and the reward was bonus baseball, with McGraw weaving out of a jam in the top of the 10th. Gibson stayed in the game, because that sort of thing happened back then, though he must have been fatigued by the 11th. With one out in that inning, Ron Swoboda and Jerry Grote each singled, putting runners on first and second for light-hitting Bud Harrelson.

Now normally, this would figure to be a mismatch, but for whatever reason, throughout their careers, Harrelson had Gibson's number. They would face each other many times and Harrelson was extremely successful with 20 hits in 60 at bats (as well as 14 walks and just three strikeouts).

In this instance, Gibson got ahead with a 1-2 count before Harrelson dropped a single into left center field, plating Swoboda with the winning run and setting the stage for the Metmorable events of the following day.

The truly Metmorable know...Bob Gibson went 28-14 against the Mets, including 16-5 at Shea Stadium, but this was the only time he was on the mound for the winning hit in a Mets walk-off win.


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