Saturday, July 09, 2005

July 9th, 1969

Cubs Play at Mets

In case you've not noticed, I have a fondness (or less kindly, an obession) for near-perfect games. I've done Harvey Haddix's, Walter Johnson's, a bit on Kevin Brown's, and now Tom Seaver's. "Tom Terrific" was pitching aganist the team that would become the Mets' primary rival for the NL East, the Cubs, at Shea Stadium. Coming into the game the Cubs were four and a half games up on the Mets, but just two on the loss side. A Shea record crowd of 59,083 came out to see the Mets take on the Cubs. From the start of the game Seaver was dominant and he took his perfect game into the ninth.

The first hitter was Randy Hundley (whose son Todd's follies in LF would haunt Met fans in the future), Hundley grounded out back to Seaver, leaving him just two outs from a perfect game. The next hitter was Jimmy Qualls, a Cubs rookie making just his seventy fifth Major League at-bat, and who would go on to bat just one hundred thirty-nine times, hitting a mere .223. On this night however, Qualls dunked a clean base hit in left-centerfield, ruining both Seaver's perfect game and potential no-hitter. Seaver recovered, however, and got pinch-hitter Willie Smith to pop out and Don Kessinger to fly out to left field. The victory brought the Mets within one game of the Cubs on the loss side, but kept alive a streak that has haunted the Mets from their birth to this very day, that of never having thrown a no-hitter or perfect game.

As for Seaver, while he probably wasn't fond of losing the perfect-o, you wouldn't know from his pitching in 1969, as he went 25-7, 2.21 with more than two hundred seventy-five innings pitched. For good measure, Seaver also won two games in the playoffs as the "Miracle Mets" would pass the Cubs, and go on to defeat Atlanta and Baltimore for the franchise's first World Series.

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