Some lazy mid-afternoon history

Not a lot going on this afternoon, so how about a little history? First, Frank Fitzpatrick at the Philly Inquirer remembers the summer of ’69:

This is a remarkably rich anniversary summer. Even now, from the distance of 40 years, 1969’s seems a little unreal. There was simply too much jaw-dropping news to digest: Man on the moon, Woodstock, the Manson murders, Chappaquiddick, disclosure of the My Lai massacre, secret Vietnam peace talks, Hurricane Camille.

He forgot to mention how Jimmy quit and Jody got married. Should have known we’d never get far. Anyway:

But this was the summer of Dick Allen. Allen wanted out, a yearning he occasionally scrawled in the dirt near first base and one that would be granted at season’s end. He was acting out, downing a few beers before arriving at the ballpark, or showing up late for workouts and sometimes games. Fans booed him mercilessly. Some threw garbage on his lawn. Not surprisingly, in the NL East’s inaugural season, the Phils finished fifth, 36 games under .500, 37 games behind the seven-year-old Miracle Mets. Only 519,914 witnessed the misery at Connie Mack Stadium.

Much happier memories of 1969 (and 1959, 1979, 1989 and 1999) are to be had on the opposite coast, as the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea catches up with Willie McCovey. Good stuff here:

It’s really been a love affair here with me and the fans. I don’t know why they adopted me so much, but they did. I guess because I started my career here and I stayed here and made it my home. Most ballplayers would leave and go different places in the offseason. I stayed out here and would attend all the events, and I think San Francisco people really like that. Heck, I would go the opening night of the symphony, and I didn’t know anything about the symphony.”

The only thing that happened relevant to my life in 1969 was that my folks moved back to Michigan after spending a couple of years living in Alaska for some strange 1960s kind of reason. I’ve wondered sometimes what my life would have been like if they had stayed and had me up there instead of down in the lower 48. I’m guessing you couldn’t get many ballgames on the radio up there circa 1978 — and certainly not Ernie Harwell — so it’s quite possible that I never would have become a baseball fan. If that had come to pass, instead of ShysterBall, you’d be reading ShysterSled or ShysterSalmon or something.

Or maybe not.

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  1. YankeesfanLen said...

    First time I’ve heard Alaska mentioned without a Sarah Palin reference.

  2. APBA Guy said...

    OMG, Bryan Adams reference. Definitely subtracting hipster points in SF, but nice recovery with the Willie McCovey blurb.

    Note also escalation in anti-war demonstration size occured in Fall of ‘69, forgotten now because they were dwarfed after Kent State in 1970.

    But ‘69 will be forever seared into my brain, sitting in the TV room of my UVA dorm with about 10 other die hard baseball fans in October, watching in horror as my then beloved Orioles missed by inches of winning the WS against the Mets, who seeemed to make every shoe-string catch. To this day I cannot hear or read about Tommy Agee without a sick feeling, and the sight of Mets agony today brings me great joy, almost giddiness.

    Still, it is not enough. No amount of current, past or future Mets humiiation can erase the hollow disappointment that even 40 years of time’s passing has not dimmed. The sight of my hero, Brooks Robinson, walking dejectedly off the field will never be forgotten. And even the triumph of 1970, glorious as it was, did not completely make up for the disaster in 1969.

  3. Gerry said...

    After the Mets lost the 1st game of the ‘69 Series, I boasted that they would win the next four. My roommate offered me 150-to-1 odds against. If I had had the courage of my convictions, I’d be a rich man today, but I only wagered a penny. Still, I was happy when he paid up the buck-fifty a few days later.

    But I’m really here to vent a pet peeve. It says, “the Phils finished fifth, 36 games under .500, 37 games behind the seven-year-old Miracle Mets.” Logically, that should mean the Mets finished only one game over .500, but in fact they were 100-62 (the Phils were 63-99). The Phils were 36 *wins* under .500, but to be consistent I wish people would say they were 18 *games* under .500.

  4. mike in brooklyn said...

    I was only 6 during the 69 series, and don’t remember much of anything—not even sure if I was really a baseball fan yet.  (Remember the ‘73 series much better).  However, you know how fans bring signs to the park?  Ad the lucky ones hwo sit in the front row of an upper deck and get to hang them down off the railing?  I seem to remember 2 or 3 houses on my block having bedsheets hanging out windows during the 69 series—with things like “Let’s Go Mets” or whatever on them.  I can picture one of those signs so clearly in my head.

    But the grown-up me thinks that is nonsense and I must be mis-remembering things.  I wonder if people really did stuff like that back then.  Wouldn’t it be cool if they did?

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