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The Mets Still Break Your Heart

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New York Mets first baseman Jeremy Vazquez (89) scores on a double by shortstop Amed Rosario in the second inning of a spring training game against the Miami Marlins at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla., February 27, 2019. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports) They’ve put together one of the worst stretches of baseball ever by a franchise whose bad stretches are the stuff of legend.

I’ve occasionally shared with readers over the years my fondest, most enduring sports memory. It was an October day, when I was ten years old. My dad let us skip school in the afternoon. We went to his dad’s house to watch what turned out to be the Miracle Mets’ glorious victory in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series.

A couple of years earlier, my father and grandfather had taken us to Shea Stadium, the first time I watched a live pro baseball game — between the Mets and the Cardinals. Over a half century later, the sight is still vivid: walking up the tunnel ramp and laying wide eyes on the gorgeous green of the diamond.

The Mets’ pitcher for Game 5 was the great Jerry Koosman. The year before, for my ninth birthday, my dad took us to Opening Day at Shea. Kooz was the rookie starter then. By the end of the season, he should have been named Rookie of the Year, but he was nosed out for the honor by some catcher named Johnny Bench. Anyway, in the Opening Day game, Kooz was instantly dazzling: loading the bases in the first inning with nobody out before proceeding to strike out the next three Giants, including Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

The Mets won the opener in a Koosman shutout, on a home run by Cleon Jones . . . who would later catch the fly ball that would be the last out in Game 5. This being sheer magic, that fly ball was, of course, hit by the Orioles’ Davey Johnson, who, 17 years later, would manage the 1986 Mets to the only

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