The New York Mets have a much less illustrious history than many fellow MLB teams, but even the Amazins have made a few World Series appearances in their time. In total, the Mets have gone to the World Series five times in their history, in 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, and 2015. This figure seems sparse compared to teams like the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, both of whom have many more Fall Classic appearances to their name.
Though only two of those appearances resulted in the Mets hoisting the championship trophy, all five were memorable in their own ways.
If a team wins the World Series, the final out of the decisive game is etched into the minds of the fans forever. If it loses, most fans would rather never be reminded of the moment that their wildest hopes and dreams were officially dashed until the following April. Let’s take a look back at all five final outs in Mets World Series history, beginning with the moment that sealed the Amazins’ first title back when Joan Payson still owned the team.
1969: Cleon Jones catches a fly ball in left field hit by future Mets manager Davey Johnson
By the time the Mets got to Game 5 of the 1969 World Series against the mighty (and heavily favored) Baltimore Orioles, they had already defied the odds many times over. Backed by a lockdown pitching staff and enough clutch hitting to tide them over, the Mets arrived at Game 5 with Jerry Koosman, one of their main workhorses, on the mound. He had a splendid season in 1969, going 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.058 WHIP, 241 innings pitched, and 180 strikeouts and receiving MVP votes.
Koosman was on his way to going the distance in the clinching game of that World Series, entering the ninth having allowed three runs on five hits over the prior eight frames. The Mets had a slim 5-3 lead, and Koosman was up against two future Hall of Famers and another intimidating slugger in that ninth inning, set to face Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson.
Koosman made things interesting, walking Frank Robinson to start the inning and bringing the tying run up in front of the hollering Shea faithful. From there, he bore down and finished the job. Powell followed by grounding into a forceout, and Brooks Robinson flied out to Ron Swoboda in right field after that. With two outs, Dave Johnson stepped up to the plate.
Johnson had enjoyed a fantastic as the Orioles’ primary second baseman in 1969, finishing the regular season with his second of four All-Star selections and his first of three straight Gold Gloves. However, with the O’s down to their final out and needing a home run to tie the game, Johnson perhaps wasn’t the man they wanted up — he only hit seven home runs in the regular season, and none in that year’s postseason.
Alas, the trend continued, and Johnson lofted a fly ball to Cleon Jones in left field. Jones wandered back towards the warning track, tapped his glove in preparation, and secured the final out in his glove, nearly dropping to a knee as pandemonium broke out around him. Of course, Johnson later managed the Mets to their second World Series title in 1986 (more on that later), but back in 1969, he was the final punctuation that cemented their glorious fate.