Golden Baseball Magazine
December 23, 2019
Quotation


"If you don’t win, you’re going to be fired. If you do win, you've only put off the day you're going to be fired."

Leo Durocher on being a manager

Cardinals Clubhouse

Season in Time - 1934

September

The Cardinals embarked on a grueling 23-game road trip that included a crucial four-game series with the Giants.

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Odd Baseball Facts


A HR that became a triple, a doubles machine, a novel way to pull a rib cage muscle, and more.


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Even the Greats Have Bad Days


Buster Posey
- 2014 World Series


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How Would You Rule?

HR hitter injured while circling bases

Baseball Quiz

First black manager in National League

                    Amazin' Ace                    
Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated (October 21-28, 2019)
Because of the granite reliability of his pitching and his steady persona in a turbulent time, [Tom] Seaver is the touchstone to that 1969 [Mets] magic. The numbers speak to the passage of time. He was 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA. As the young Mets ran down the more seasoned Cubs in the National League East, Seaver went 10-0 with a 1.34 ERA in his last 11 starts. He was nearly perfect in six September turns: no home runs, no stolen bases allowed, no losses and no relievers.
Astoundingly, Seaver was 12-5 that year when New York scored just three runs or fewer (.706), the highest winning percentage in such low-scoring games in the live ball era (minimum 14 games since 1920). No better testament to his will exists than this: Seaver pitched the ninth inning 18 times and never surrendered a run or even an extra base hit. Seaver and Virgil Trucks ('49) are the only starting pitchers to do that. ...
Seaver was the happiest accident that ever happened to the Mets. Growing up in Fresno [CA], Seaver didn't make his high school baseball team until his senior year. He went to Fresno City College, where he was a good pitcher but nothing special, then transferred to USC, where he blossomed. In 1966 the Braves gave him a $51,000 contract, but commissioner William Eckert nullified the deal on a technicality: College players weren't eligible to sign once their seasons had started. (The Trojans had played two exhibition games.) Eckert announced a lottery for Seaver. Any team willing to meet the $51,500 bonus price could enter. Only three other teams did: the Phillies, Indians, and Mets.
On April 3, 1966, Eckert pulled the Mets' name out of a hat. Losers of no fewer than 109 games in each of their four years of existence, the Mets finally won something. They literally hit the lottery.
A year later Seaver was in the big leagues. He won 16 games and the Rookie of the Year award, then another 16 in 1968, when ninth-place New York had a very modest 73-89 record - the best in club history.
That offseason Seaver went back to USC to complete his degree in public relations. Mets GM Johnny Murphy signed him for $40,000, making him the highest-paid player on the team, and told other clubs that Seaver and lefthander [Jerry] Koosman were "the untouchables."
On March 18, 1969, Seaver told reporters, "I might be a supreme optimist, but I think we have a good chance to be in the World Series." By mid-June the Mets actually had a winning record (29-25) but trailed manager Leo Durocher's Cubs by 8 1/2 games. "We've got the best pitching in the majors," Seaver said the day before a start at Dodger Stadium. "I think our pitching will hold up better than Durocher's. And it gets hot in Chicago in the daytime in July and August."
Seaver beat Don Sutton the next night 3-1. The Mets would go 71-37 from that game on. They won in such improbable ways, they embarrassed magicians. They took both ends of a doubleheader 1-0, with each run driven in by a pitcher. They struck out 19 times and made four errors and won. They won when [Manager Gil] Hodges put the hit-and-run on with the bases loaded; the runner at third, Cleon Jones, sprinted so hard that the batter, Jerry Grote, had to check his swing for fear of maiming his teammate. He hit a bloop over the head of a first baseman for a three-run double. Of course.
Three years earlier Time asked in a famous cover headline, IS GOD DEAD? By October, Seaver had an answer. "God is a Met," he said. ...

L-R: Tom Seaver, Gil Hodges, Jerry Koosman
Hodges had become the Mets manager in 1968.
"It's time, I think, we did something about that clown image of the Mets," Hodges said when he was hired. He banned poker playing, instituted a curfew, put controls on drinking and fined players $25 a pop for mental mistakes on the field. ... Hodges brought with him as his pitching coach an old Brooklyn Dodgers teammate, [Rube] Walker ... To protect Seaver and Koosman, as well as up-and-comers Nolan Ryan and Gary Gentry, Hodges and Walker used their young starters in a groundbreaking five-man rotation in '68 and again for most of '69. ...
Down the stretch in 1969, Hodges and Walker took the reins off. Seaver and Koosman, sometimes pitching on short rest, started 24 of New York's final 56 games. The Mets went 20-4. They blew past a wheezing Cubs team to win the division. ...
The Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS to win the NL pennant and face the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
"That guy believes in elves." Orioles 3B Brooks Robinson, before Game 1, laughing at a writer who picked the Mets to beat Baltimore in the World Series.
Seaver would run every day between starts to keep those hydraulic pistons that were his legs pumping strong. But after he beat the Braves 9-5 in Game 1 ... Seaver strained a leg muscle shagging flies and had to take off three days from running before Game 1 of the World Series. He lost 4-1 in Baltimore, allowing three runs in the fourth inning. "I just ran out of gas," he said. ...
Seaver took the ball again in Game 4, on short rest, with the Mets up 2-1. ... Tom held a 1-0 lead in the ninth when Baltimore put runners on first and third with one out. Hodges walked to the mound ... "If the ball is hit back to you, go to the plate if you can," Hodges told Seaver. "We want to stop that run from scoring. How do you feel?"
"I'm running out of gas," Seaver said, "but I still have a few pitches left." There was no way Hodges was taking him out of the game.
Robinson, the All-Star who didn't believe in elves, smashed a line drive to RF. [Ron] Swoboda broke toward it. Each day Swoboda would work on his defense with coach Eddie Yost. He never took fly balls. He always took line drives and ground balls from 150 feet away - the hard stuff. Teammates and coaches always kidded Swoboda about his goofy ways. Bullpen coach Joe Pignatano used to tell him, "Don't think, Swoboda. You'll only hurt the team." But with these drills, "I figured out how to be a better outfielder," Swoboda says.
He dived for the ball, a choice Orioles slugger Frank Robinson later called dumb because it risked having both runners score. But Swoboda snagged it for the second out. One run, not two, scored.
Seaver went back out for the 10th. Again, two runners reached with one out. This time Walker ambled to the mound. "I'm getting tired, but I can continue," Seaver vowed. He induced a fly ball and then, with his 150th pitch on short rest, and working his 296th inning of the year, he struck out Paul Blair.
Mets magic finally showed up in the bottom of the 10th with another one of those Scotch-tape-and-bailing-wire rallies: a pop fly lost in the sun for a double, followed by a bunt, which the pitcher threw off the wrist of the runner at first for a game-ending error. Of course.
Seaver covered 10 innings without allowing an extra-base hit. Only two pitchers ever had won a World Series game that way: Christy Mathewson in 1913 and Carl Hubbell in '33. Nobody has done it since Seaver.
Seaver and Koosman started six of the Mets' eight postseason games ... A couple of hours after the clincher, a 5-3 win at Shea, Seaver and Gentry left the champagne-soaked clubhouse and headed out toward the field. They felt a pull to go back to the pitching mound ... and give thanks.
"We just wanted to see it or walk on it once more," Seaver said then. ...
Seaver climbed the dugout steps to the field. His shirt was open and wet ... When he and Gentry made it to the mound, they were not prepared for what they saw. "By the time we got there, it was too late," Seaver said.
Thousands of fans had stormed the field after the last out, and as if to require physical evidence that the Mets really did win the World Series, they grabbed fistfuls of grass and dirt. Most of the mound where Tom Seaver did some of the best work in the annals of pitching was gone.
A few hundred fans still milled about, not wanting the moment to end. When they saw Seaver they let up one last, loud cheer. Seaver smiled.
"You deserve some congratulations too," he told them. "You people are amazing too."

Seaver and Gentry visit the mound after the World Series clincher