9/11/14

Thomas Brennan - THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES - VOLUME 2

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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES, by Tom Brennan

SWOBODA DID WHAT????

My first favorite game that I wrote about the other day was the September 11, 1966 debut of fireballer Nolan Ryan.

My next favorite game was 3 years and 2 days later, on September 13, 1969. The Mets had won 9 straight and had surged from what to everyone appeared to be an insurmountable fade into early August that left them 9 ½ games out.  No wild card.  Win or go home. 

As a Met fan, you still felt great – the team had a winning record, something they’d never gotten remotely close to in 1962-68, when they were a combined 343 games below .500!  

But then the miracle surge started.  The sense of a miracle in the making was truly in the air by early September, as the Mets increasingly surged and the Cubs staggered.

The Mets reached first place on September 10.  I tend to be a Doubting Thomas, so I was wondering how this absolute dream unfolding might go sour.  After all, these WERE the Mets!  Something had to go wrong!

On September 13, the Mets had a slim and tenuous hold on first place, but trailed the Bucceroos in cavernous Forbes field late in the game.  Would this be the game where the wheels started to come off?   The Mets were tied in the 8th, and Rocky Swoboda and his awe-inspiring 6 homers stepped to the plate with the bags full.  I was hoping for a hit, knowing that it was incredibly hard to hit homers in Forbes, with its deep dimensions and 12 foot high fences. 

SO… when he ripped a fly ball in the direction of the 440 mark in left center, I groaned – death valley – groaned, that is, until I saw the outfielders slow up and watch a ball that easily cleared that far-off barrier, as what had to be the longest ball Swoboda ever hit easily cleared the fence.  Probably a 500 footer.  It was THEN that I felt the Mets would be unstoppable in 1969.

Because surely I had just seen a miracle place.

This blast, with Seaver going the full 9, put them up by 3.5 games.  11 days later, they clinched the pennant, blowing away all of New York. 

But not before Swoboda once again stepped out of the realm of the natural into the supernatural in a game that took place just a few days later.  Which I will cover in my next edition of “These are a Few of My Favorite Games!”

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