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Ron Swoboda Still Shines

June 21, 2012

Recently a nice baseball signing event was held at Empire Racetrack and Casino in Yonkers, New York. I saw Ralph Branca, Ed Kranepool, and waited on a long line to get a chance to tell Darryl Strawberry how big a factor he was in the Mets winning their last World Series in 1986. He really liked my recalling his stolen base in the historic Game 6 victory. Also attending was Ron Swoboda, who proved to be an amiable, considerate gentleman and who of course made one of the greatest and most important catches in World Series history.

It was game 4 of the 1969 World Series and the Mets, leading 2 games to 1 in the Series had a (1-0) lead. Eventual World Series MVP Donn Clendenon (he and Willie Stargell were on the same baseball card, “Bucco Belters” and when I think of that it makes me smile) had homered giving Tom Seaver a lead which he took to the top of the 9th inning at Shea Stadium. However, both John “Boog” Powell and the great Frank Robinson had reached base. The Orioles, who won 109 games that year, (remember the Mets were no slouches with 100 wins) had runners on the corners with just one out. Brooks Robinson hit a low line drive toward right center when out of nowhere Ron Swoboda dove and made an incredible catch. Frank Robinson tagged up and scored but there were now 2 outs and a runner on first. At the event Swoboda talked of the nightmare that would have manifested had he not caught the ball.

He did catch it and the Mets went on to win both games 4 and 5. This completed one of the most remarkable seasons in sport’s history. Today, Swoboda looks great, and is interested in musical talent in the New Orleans area. The entire event brought back some nice memories. Some numbers stick and I do recall he hit 19 home runs as a rookie.

At the event Swoboda warmly greeted Kranepool–the two teammates will always share that remarkable season. That heartfelt feeling went through me as I recalled a tremendous team that was a big part of an incredible time.

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