Mets legend and World Series Champion Jerry Grote passes away at 81

Jerry Grote
Jerry Grote / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

While most people point to the arrival of Tom Seaver as the beginning of the building of a World Championship for the New York Mets, in reality, it began a season earlier with the acquisition of catcher Jerry Grote.

Grote was the tough, rugged, smart guy behind the plate that was like having a manager right there out on the field. He commanded respect and the Mets pitchers loved to throw to him.

Seaver had the privilege of pitching to two of the best backstops in Major League history…Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. And while Seaver loved the two of them as teammates, he always put Grote at the top, his favorite battery mate.

Bench, himself, said, “If Jerry Grote was on my team, I’d be playing third base.”

Hall of Famer Lou Brock, the one-time stolen base king, said that Grote was “the toughest catcher in the league to run on.”

Jerry Grote was the starting catcher on the New York Mets 1969 and 1973 World Series teams.

He was the Mets' number one catcher for 11 seasons and caught over 100 games in eight of those campaigns. Injuries took their toll, and he would miss a lot of time with various broken bones, often playing through some of the nagging injuries. Getting Grote back started the team's amazing comeback on their way to the 1973 World Series.

In an organization that can boast two Hall of Fame catchers – Gary Carter and Mike Piazza – as Mets alumni, Grote remains a favorite of Mets pitchers, Mets fans, and Mets beat reporters.

Grote had a tough demeanor that was often misunderstood. He just simply hated to lose.

Losing Grote is another blow to the Mets family. You can't talk about the history of the position, the team, or their championship appearances without him being in the center of it.