NY Mets This Day in History: Clinching the NL East in 1969
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets are going to the playoffs! For the first time in franchise history, the newest team in the Big Apple clinched a playoff berth. It all took place on September 24, 1969, in a game that probably shouldn’t have gone down the way it did.
But this was the 1969 Mets. On paper, they weren’t the best team in the league. When they showed up to the field, they proved otherwise.
The Mets clinched their first playoff berth by beating up on a future Hall of Famer
The pitching matchup favored the Mets opponent in this one, the St. Louis Cardinals. Steve Carlton was wrapping up an incredible season with his final appearance of the year. He was 17-10 with a 1.98 ERA entering the day.
However, things would change quickly. After Mets starter Gary Gentry put down the Cardinals in order during the top half of the first, the Mets bats got to work.
Bud Harrelson led off with a single. Tommie Agee followed with a walk. Carlton managed to strike out Cleon Jones but that would be the only out he would record in front of the Shea Stadium crowd.
Future postseason hero Donn Clendenon was the cleanup batter in this match. He lived up to the nickname for the number four hitter. A home run from his bat cleaned up the bases, put the orange and blue ahead 3-0, and started the postseason process.
Ron Swoboda then drew a walk but Ed Charles wanted to do some further damage. He, too, took Carlton deep. That would be it for “Lefty.” Dave Giusti was summoned from the bullpen with New York ahead 5-0 and only one out on the scoreboard.
The Mets would score only one more run, winning 6-0 behind a gem tossed by Gentry. His final line included all 9 innings, 4 hits which were all singles, a pair of walks, and 5 strikeouts.
Following up this win, the Mets swept the Philadelphia Phillies then split two games with the Chicago Cubs—the team that was chasing them.
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What would turn into the happiest of endings for this young franchise was secured, in a way, on this day in Mets history. That early lead versus one of the game’s best pitchers and an ace-like outing from their rookie number three starter showed they had the fortitude to go as far as they did.