Flushing, NY: This columnist was 7-years old in the Bronx, the Arthur Avenue Boy and one of a very few Mets fans that had to take abuse from the borough favorite Yankees fans. So it is obvious there was a lot of abuse and name calling.
But then the time came. The abuse of name calling, school books thrown on a supermarket roof, and challenges of being a Mets fan in the Bronx all led to respect.
October of 1969, when the World Series was played during the day and televised on NBC Sports, the Amazing New York Mets from Flushing, Queens became World Series champions. A remarkable accomplishment considering they were the laughing stock of New York sports after losing 120 games in their expansion year of 1962.
And it was that week, yours truly found a way to get out of class. Junior High School 45 was nearby. The call to home was, “Your son Richard is complaining about a stomach ache.” Well, it worked.
And it worked that way for games 4 & 5 at Shea Stadium. Funny thing is, Dad was at work and called to see if the game was on. He discovered and later convinced Mom that it was okay to be out of school.
Dad, a Yankees fan, but always loved to be at Shea Stadium with his son. He knew that was my team and the choice was mine.
So here it was, Game 5 of a World Series. The improbable Mets a win away from defeating the mighty Orioles of Baltimore. And in that lineup for the Mets, Ed Kranepool, the Bronx born and raised ballplayer who was an all-star at James Monroe High School on Boynton Avenue.
Cleon James caught the fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson and that was the clincher. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Al Weis, the rest of those amazing ’69 Mets, and the manager Gil Hodges.
“It was a team that was not forgot by the fans,” Kranepool said prior to the 50th year ceremony at Citi Field Saturday before the Mets-Braves continued their four game series.
“Gil was a great leader,” he said. “It worked. We believed in Gil. We knew going into the World Series we were the team to be reckoned with.”
Kranepool was reminiscing about Monroe and how the school was instrumental for getting him to the Major League level. He was the recent recipient of a kidney transplant and is thankful for everything that has transpired and that is more than the 1969 miracle.
“When you win in New York, nobody forgets,” he said. And who will ever forget that amazing team of New York Mets of 1969. This may have been the last time many of the surviving members will celebrate together.
And to think, 50 years ago this was improbable. This writer a young fan then, and all these years still covering baseball and reliving those moments of those Miracle Mets of 1969.
OH THERE WAS A GAME: Of course the Mets could not make this a perfect day as they lost their season high seventh straight games to the Braves 5-4.
The Mets bullpen again was attributed for the loss. Seth Lugo gave up two home runs in the 8th inning and got the loss.
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