Opening Day 1970: The first-ever Opening Day win for the Mets
It is certainly uncommon in MLB history for a team to win a World Series title before they win an Opening Day game, but that is exactly what happened to the Mets. Even in their championship-winning season in 1969, they still couldn’t eke out a victory on Opening Day.
But when the calendar turned to a brand-new decade in 1970, the Mets had a World Series title and a Cy Young winner to their name for the first time in team history, and they were finally ready to win on Opening Day. On April 7, 1970, Tom Seaver started his third Opening Day for the Mets and faced off against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in the stadium’s 61st and final Opening Day.
Seaver went eight strong innings, giving up three runs on nine hits, but ended up with the no-decision. The opposing Pirates lineup was several Hall of Famers deep, featuring the talents of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the Mets in their first-ever win on Opening Day.
That afternoon, the offensive hero for the Mets was Donn Clendenon, the previous year’s World Series MVP. In the top of the 11th inning with the score tied 3-3, he smacked a two-run single to drive in Mike Jorgenson and Ron Swoboda as the go-ahead runs. Tug McGraw locked down the victory in the bottom of the inning with a 1-2-3-4 scoreless frame.
1970 turned out to be a largely forgettable year for the Mets. Though Seaver had another outstanding season and finished 7th in the NL Cy Young voting, the Mets as a team went 83-79 and missed the playoffs. Three years later though, an 82-79 record was good enough for first place in the National League and helped carry them to their second World Series appearance.
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All three of these Opening Day wins featured a noteworthy performance from a franchise icon. Whether it was Tom Seaver in the 1970s, Tom Seaver in the 1980s, or Gary Carter on the cusp of the team’s second World Championship, these Opening Days had no shortage of memorable Mets moments.