Baltimore Native Ron Swoboda Recalls Famous World Series Catch Vs. Orioles
When the Orioles lost to the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series, Baltimore fans had their hearts ripped out by their own native son, Ron Swoboda. For Swoboda, the World Series was extra special given that he was playing against his hometown team. The outfielder out of Sparrows Point High School had lots of family in attendance when the series was played in Baltimore.
“I know they were rooting for me to do good,” Swoboda said on Glenn Clark Radio June 12, “but the Orioles to win.” For Swoboda, a .242 career hitter with 73 home runs and 344 RBIs, the 1969 World Series cemented his legacy. With the Mets ahead, 1-0, during the ninth inning of Game 4, he made a spectacular diving catch on a Brooks Robinson line drive into right field. The Orioles still scored on the play to tie the game at 1-1, but Swoboda’s catch prevented more damage. The Mets would go on to win the game, 2-1, in the 10th inning, giving them a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Swodoba knows how important that game and that catch were to his career. “When I see Brooks I always thank him for not hitting it right to me,” Swodoba said. “Somebody asked me, ‘How long are you going to keep trying to make a living off of that one catch?’ I said, ‘As long as they let me.’”
Going into the series, the Orioles were heavy favorites to beat the “Miracle Mets.” Baltimore was led by Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Earl Weaver. The Orioles went an MLB-best 109-53 that season. The team had won the World Series a few years earlier in 1966 and then won it all again in 1970 following the crushing defeat in 1969.
The Mets, on the other hand, were not as star-studded, though they had Tom Seaver, who won his first Cy Young Award in 1969. During the World Series, the Mets’ offense was powered by first baseman Donn Clendenon, who won the World Series MVP and hit three home runs in the series. The Mets also had legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan on the roster, but he only made one appearance in the series, recording a save in Game 3.
The Mets were dubbed the “Miracle Mets” in large part to the 1969 season is the first time the team had ever finished above second to last in the National League standings since coming into the league in 1962. “We were such dominant underdogs. Conventional wisdom had to say to you, this is going to be a blowout,” said Swoboda. “I think we snuck up on the Orioles, who were player by player a much more dominant team.”
1969 was a tough year for Baltimore sports, especially against New York teams. Earlier that year, Joe Namath and the New York Jets pulled off one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, defeating the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. To add insult to injury, the New York Knicks defeated the Baltimore Bullets in the playoffs that year en route to their first championship.
Swoboda has a new book out called “Here’s the Catch: A Memoir of the Miracle Mets and More.” In the book, he talks about the 1969 “Miracle Mets” season and everyday life as a professional ballplayer. Swoboda loves the city of Baltimore and has a great appreciation for having grown up in the Charm City, though he said that his family has forgiven him for what happened in that 1969 World Series.
Ex-Met Ron Swoboda doesn’t like comparing Pete Alonso to himself
Pete Alonso reminds iconic 1969 Met Ron Swoboda of … nothing like himself. In 1965, Ron Swoboda hit 15 home runs before the All-Star break. Say goodbye to that Mets rookie record. Alonso has 17 after homering Friday night against the Tigers at Citi Field — and the All-Star break is six weeks away.
Swoboda’s red-hot start to his career quickly cooled as he finished with 19 homers, his single-season high. He hit 73 in a nine-year career. “This is one of those records until somebody broke it nobody knew existed,’’ Swoboda said Wednesday from his home in New Orleans. “Good for him. I’m tickled pink for Pete Alonso, he’s a pretty terrific young guy. I got a chance to meet him in the spring. I admired his approach.
He kind of levels through the ball, left-center, right-center, with a lot of pop and seemed like a well-grounded guy. He had a great spring and he’s really gone out and done it for them this season. He doesn’t let a couple of bad at-bats send him spiraling into darkness.’’ Swoboda, who will turn 75 next month, said he had no idea why he hit so many homers early or why his power left. Four of his first-year homers came against future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Gaylord Perry, and Phil Niekro.
“I didn’t know where any of that came from,’’ he said. “I didn’t know anything about my swing and I really didn’t know much about hitting. I just looked for the ball and took a hack at it. Out of ignorance, I got 15 home runs for [manager] Casey Stengel. I never hit 15 home runs for anybody in any full season again, so obviously I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I started losing a feel for my swing. It got long and I didn’t even know what long was. And I wasn’t catching up with fastballs as I used to and they threw me a lot of sliders and I wasn’t handling that very well, either. I was never that same kind of fastball hitter. I didn’t know what I was doing to get to those fastballs and I couldn’t get back to that.’’
First baseman Alonso also had the reputation of being a subpar fielder, a label Swoboda had to contend with as an outfielder. “Now they don’t have room for Dominic Smith,’’ Swoboda said of the Mets’ other first baseman.
Swoboda is staying away from predictions and comparisons for Alonso. Regarding his own experience, Swoboda said, “They started projecting, saying ‘how many home runs did Mickey Mantle hit as a rookie, how many did Joe DiMaggio hit ?’ I’m going, ‘I’m not sure I like these comparisons to Hall of Fame careers. I’m just starting.’ ’’
Swoboda did have one piece of advice for Alonso, who has said he would like to represent the Mets in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in July. Mindful that it has thrown off the swings of other players in the past, Swoboda said, “That would probably be an event he should avoid.’’
Ron Swoboda Biography
Ron Swoboda (born June 30, 1944) is an American former professional baseball player. He played as an outfielder in Major League Baseball, most notably as a member of the 1969 “Miracle Mets”.
Ron Swoboda Age
Swoboda was born on June 30, 1944, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is 74 years old as of 2018.
Ron Swoboda Birthday
Swoboda’s birthday will be on this coming Sunday. June 30.
Ron Swoboda Education
Swoboda graduated from Sparrows Point High School, one season at the University of Maryland.
Ron Swoboda Relationship | Marriage | Children
He married a woman named Cecilia in 1965. They have children named Brian and Ron.
Ron Swoboda Career
After graduating from Sparrows Point High School, one season at the University of Maryland, and a stellar showing in the AAABA tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Swoboda was offered a $35,000 contract to sign with the New York Mets and scout Pete Gebrian on September 5, 1963.
He spent only one season in the Mets’ farm system in AA with the Williamsport Mets before making the Major League team in spring training, 1965. He made his major league debut as a pinch hitter in the season opener and lined out in his only at-bat.
He pinches hit, again, in the second game of the season, this time hitting an 11th-inning home run (the Mets still lost, as the Houston Astros had scored four runs in the top of the inning). He homered again in his first at-bat on April 18, giving him two home runs in his first four Major League at-bats.
He had 15 home runs by the All-Star break, the most ever by a Mets rookie in the first half as of 2010, ahead of Benny Agbayani (11 in 1999) and Ike Davis (11 in 2010). After he commented during a TV interview that he loved hitting fastballs, he began seeing a lot more breaking balls and hit only four more on the season.
Still, his 19 home runs stood as a Mets rookie record until Darryl Strawberry’s 26 in 1983. His rookie fielding percentage was a below-league-average .947, however, he had nine outfield assists. For his efforts, he was selected to 1965 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
His 1966 Topps baseball card was imprinted with a gold trophy symbol. In the 1966 movie Penelope, Natalie Wood as the title character, opens a pack of 1966 Topps baseball cards, sees Swoboda’s rookie card, and asks police lieutenant Horatio Bixbee (Peter Falk) “Who’s Ron Swoboda?”
Swoboda wore number 14 as a rookie in 1965. When the Mets acquired third baseman Ken Boyer from the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the start of the 1966season, they granted him number 14, as he’d worn it in St. Louis.
Swoboda wore number 17 briefly during spring training in 1966, then switched to number 4. His home run drought continued through the 1966 season when he hit only eight home runs and batted .222, with fifty runs batted in.
During his early years with the Mets, he acquired the nickname “Rocky” as a result of his less-than-reliable fielding. Although he possessed a strong, accurate throwing arm, a fly ball hit in his direction was, by no means, a sure out.
After having spent most of his time in the left field his first two seasons, Swoboda was shifted to the first baseman in 1967 to make room for newly acquired Tommy Davis in left. Swoboda’s fielding at first was no better, and he was soon shifted to right field.
Offensively, he had perhaps his best season, hitting .281 with thirteen home runs and 53 RBIs. He led the Mets with six triples and a career-high 59 RBIs in 1968, and also had a career-high fourteen outfield assists.
By May 21, 1969, the Mets won their third game in a row for a .500 winning percentage 36 games into the season for the first time in franchise history. This was followed by a five-game losing streak that saw the team fall into fourth place in the newly aligned National League East.
The Mets then went on an eleven-game winning streak that brought them back into second place, seven games behind the Chicago Cubs. On September 10 the Mets swept a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos.
Coupled with a loss by the Cubs, the Mets found themselves in first place for the first time in franchise history. On September 13, Swoboda hit a grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates to propel the Mets to a 5–2 victory.
Two days later, as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Steve Carlton struck out a record nineteen Mets batters in a losing effort, the Mets defeated the Cards 4–3 at Busch Stadium on a pair of two-run home runs by Swoboda.
On September 24, facing Carlton and the Cardinals again, this time at Shea Stadium, the Mets clinched the NL East as Donn Clendenon hit two home runs in a 6–0 Mets victory. The Mets won 38 of their last 50 games and finished the season with 100 wins against 62 losses, eight games ahead of the second-place Cubs.
1969 World Series
Swoboda did not appear in the Mets’ 1969 National League Championship Series three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves to reach the World Series. The Mets were heavy underdogs heading into the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
In Game 4, Swoboda, not known for his fielding, made a spectacular catch of a ball hit by Brooks Robinson in the ninth inning to stop an Orioles rally. The Mets won the game 2–1 in ten innings, and subsequently, the World Series. For the World Series, Swoboda batted .400. His only RBI was the game-winner of the fifth and final game.
A photograph of Swoboda, stretched almost horizontally, just inches off the ground, became an iconic image for Mets fans. The Right Field entrance gate of Citi Field, the current home of the Mets, features a metal silhouette of a baseball player making a diving catch similar to the one Swoboda made during the 1969 Series.
In March 1971, Swoboda and minor-leaguer Rich Hacker were traded to the Montreal Expos in exchange for young outfielder Don Hahn.
Three months later, the Expos traded Swoboda to the New York Yankees in exchange for outfielder Ron Woods. He was released by the Yankees at the end of 1973 and signed with the Atlanta
Ron Swoboda Net Worth
Swoboda Net Worth 2018. Baseball player salaries can range widely. In Major League Baseball, the median pay is near $3 million annually.
Ron Swoboda Dead or Alive?
Famous Baseball Player Ron Swoboda is still alive (as per Wikipedia)
Ron Swoboda Photo
Ron Swoboda Stats
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Ron Swoboda The Catch
The catch Ron Swoboda made in the 1969 World Series is still magical
“The Catch” is 40 years old Thursday.
If you happen to be a fan of the New York Mets, never has a birthday celebration come at a more opportune moment. “Hello, New Orleans,” said Ron Swoboda, laughing loudly, speaking from New York. “We just won the ’69 World Series again. Don’t ask me how many times. I lost count.”
Swoboda is in Manhattan, making a round of personal appearances having to do with the seminal moment of perhaps the biggest upset in Series history.
We’re talking about that magical October stretch 40 years ago in which the madcap Mets lost Game 1 to the overwhelmingly favored Baltimore Orioles, then won four in a row to become a band of Amazin’ Mets parading down Broadway into everlasting ticker-tape fame.
“The Catch” belongs to Swoboda. He made it in Game 4, a diving, game-saving grab in right-center by someone more famous for the defense that turned singles into triples. The Amazins won Game 4 in 10 innings, then ended the Series in Game 5 when, would you believe, Swoboda’s eighth-inning double brought in the winning run.
A 40th anniversary homage to the first expansion team to win a world championship, a franchise that became the laughing stock of baseball, comes after a season in which the Yankees led everyone in victories (103), in which the Mets, decimated by injuries, finished 70-92, 23 games behind the Phillies in the National League East.
“I’d prefer remembering how it was in ’69,” said Swoboda, going back to a season the Mets finished 100-62, the Yankees 80-81-1, more than 28 games behind the 109-53 Orioles. That year signs appeared in Shea Stadium: “God is a Mets fan.” “We finished ninth in ’68,” Swoboda said. “In mid-August of ’69, we trailed the Cubs by 9$?1/2 games in our division, which is when we went on a tear, winning 75 percent of our games in the final six weeks to finish ahead of the Cubs by eight games.
“After we swept Atlanta to get to the Series, you couldn’t find many people who gave us a shot against the Orioles. And I don’t blame ’em. Even after we won Games 2 and 3, the feeling was the same. The Orioles would come back.” That was the feeling in the top of the ninth in Game 4, with the Orioles trailing 1-0, with one out, but with runners on first and third, and future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson at bat.
There was Swoboda, 25, in right field, and there came a line drive off Robinson’s bat, curving into Swoboda’s territory. “If that shot had been hit straight at me,” Ron likes to say, “it might still be rolling. For me, it was one of those do-or-die plays. There’s one chance in a thousand I’m going to catch it, but I had to go for it. Chalk it up to a blind squirrel finding an acorn.” Frozen in time, for all time, there is Swoboda diving, spread out, parallel to the playing field, making a backhanded stab, the ball in the webbing of his glove.
The runner on third scored to tie the score, but the Mets won 2-1 in the 10th inning. “If the ball gets by Ron,” said Robinson, “two runs score, we win 2-1, and the Series is tied 2-2. I’ll always feel that way. That play was a killer.” Forty years later, a framed photo of the catch by the New York Daily News, signed by Swoboda and Robinson, is being sold. Proceeds will go to the New York Mets Foundation, whose funds promote a variety of educational, social and athletic programs.
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