The 1968 New York Mets are a team on the rise. Gil Hodges, in his first year with the club, has them playing hard and, though not yet a winning team, fighting day in and day out. Their pitching is fantastic…they just can’t hit. With their ace facing the Astros best arm on June 30, 1968, in Houston, all the Mets need to do is squeak a run out, and the game’s in the bag.
In that grand, cavernous, loud domed building, Mike Cuellar, the 6’0” Southpaw, takes the mound surrounded by the turf. He is to face Tommie Agee, Phil Linz and Cleon Jones, but none of them stand a chance. Ground out, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging. Tom Seaver, the 6’1” Rookie of the Year right hander, hands the Astros a similar outcome: Strikeout swinging, strikeout looking and groundout. The game continues in similar fashion, with some singles sprinkled in throughout the affair.
Then, without warning in the top of the 5th, after Ed Charles strikes out, Ron Swoboda takes a walk. He arrives at 3rd on a single by Jerry Grote. The 1st baseman, Greg Goossen, grounds one to the 2nd baseman who tosses it to the shortstop for the force-out. He tries to turn the double play but is taken out by Grote. Swoboda scores and the Mets lead, 1-0.
It was all Seaver’s from there. after many strike outs, fly outs and ground outs, The Franchise enters the 9th inning looking for the same to lock down the win. And he does just that: Strikeout looking, strikeout swinging, groundout to 2nd. Mets win 1-0.
Seaver’s line reads 9 innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs and 8 strikeouts. He exits the day with a 1.91 ERA.
In the year of the pitcher, Mike Cuellar takes the hard-luck loss: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 1 run, 9 strikeouts. He exits the day with a 1.68 ERA.
The Metropolitans finish in 9th place, ahead of the Astros, with a 73-89 record, the best record yet of any Mets team. The feeling around Queens is that this adolescent team is about to blossom into a fine young adult, and the fans are more than happy to come along for the ride.
The 1968 New York Mets.
Thanks for reading! You can read Sam Maxwell’s personal Mets Blog here.