1969 National League Championship Series
|Dates:||October 4 – 6|
|Umpires:||Al Barlick, Augie Donatelli, Ed Sudol, Ed Vargo, Chris Pelekoudas, Mel Steiner|
|1969 World Series|
The 1969 National League Championship Series was a best-of-five match-up between the East Division champion New York Mets and the West Division champion Atlanta Braves. The Mets defeated the Braves three games to none, becoming the first team ever to sweep a best-of-five postseason series in baseball. They did not sweep a playoff series again until 2006 as they swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series in three games.
At that time, the New York Mets became the fastest expansion team to win a National League Pennant with only seven years of existence. 28 years later in 1997, the Florida Marlins would break that record at reaching the World Series with only five years of existence. Four years after the Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks would break that by reaching the World Series in just their fourth year.
Nolan Ryan played for the Mets at the time, but he did not play until Game 3, which was the first playoff victory of his career.
This was the first year of the two-division format in Major League Baseball, after 99 consecutive years of straight non-divisional play.
This was the year of the "Miracle" Mets. The team had finished only one game better than last the year before, had never finished better than ninth in their seven-year history, were generally picked for third or fourth in the new six-team National League East Division, and were a 100-to-1 longshot to win the World Series. In third place and 8 1⁄2 games behind the division-leading Cubs on August 2, the Mets rallied to win the East Division title by eight games, winning exactly 100 games.
The Braves, led by Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and Phil Niekro, won a tough five-team race in the West Division, and were favored over the Mets as the playoff began, even though the Mets had a better record than the Braves. In what was expected to be a pitching-rich series, the teams combined for 42 runs, batted .292, hit eleven home runs, and posted a combined 5.94 ERA in the three games. Hank Aaron hit three home runs for the Braves, while Tommy Agee and Ken Boswell hit two each for the Mets.
It was the first of four NL pennants for the Mets. The first two came in the NLCS series that did not feature either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates (the other being 1973, the only one in the 1970s that didn't feature either team.) The Braves would not reach the NLCS again until 1982.
New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves
New York won the series, 3–0.
|1||October 4||New York Mets – 9, Atlanta Braves – 5||Atlanta Stadium||2:37||50,122|
|2||October 5||New York Mets – 11, Atlanta Braves – 6||Atlanta Stadium||3:10||50,270
The Mets struck first in the second off Phil Niekro when Jerry Grote singled in a run and Ken Boswell scored on a passed ball by Braves catcher Bob Didier. The Braves cut the lead in half in their half on a sacrifice fly by Clete Boyer.
The Braves took a 3–2 lead in the third, scoring twice on three consecutive one-out doubles by Felix Millán, Tony González, and Hank Aaron. The Mets immediately re-took the lead in the fourth on a two-out, two-run triple by Bud Harrelson.
Gonzalez then tied the game at 4––in the fifth with the first home run ever in NLCS play. Aaron gave the Braves the lead with a solo homer in the seventh.
In the eighth, however, things fell apart for the Braves. Wayne Garrett led off with a double and was singled home by Cleon Jones. Art Shamsky singled and Jones stole third. Ken Boswell then grounded to third, but Braves third baseman Boyer threw wildly home in an attempt to retire Jones. Boswell reached first and Al Weis, running for Shamsky, went to second. Ed Kranepool forced Weis at third, and Grote grounded out to first, putting runners on second and third. Harrelson was walked intentionally to load the bases. Then, J.C. Martin, batting for Tom Seaver, drove in two runs with a single to right center. Harrelson came around to score from first when González misplayed the hit. Martin reached second, but was cut down in a rundown.
Sunday, October 5, 1969 at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
The Mets scored early and often in this one, pounding six Braves pitchers for thirteen hits and eleven runs. Cleon Jones had three RBIs, including a two-run homer. Tommie Agee and Ken Boswell also had two-run homers in the rout. Mets reliever Ron Taylor was credited with the win, as starter Jerry Koosman started off well, but had trouble holding back the Braves in the fifth, in which Hank Aaron belted a three-run homer and Clete Boyer knocked in two with a single.
The Braves' failure in this series certainly wasn't the fault of Hank Aaron. In what would be his last-ever post-season appearance, Aaron put the Braves up 2–0 in the first with a two-run homer, his third of the series.
Once again, the downfall of the Braves was their inability to stave off the hot Met hitters. Tommie Agee homered in the third, and Ken Boswell hit a two-run homer in the fourth to put the Mets on top 3–2.
Orlando Cepeda gave Braves fans a glimmer of hope by hitting a two-run home run off Nolan Ryan in the fifth to put the Braves back on top, 4–3. But, in the bottom of the inning Ryan singled with one out and Wayne Garrett then homered to give the Mets a 5–4 lead, which they would not lose. Boswell added an RBI single in the same inning, and Agee singled home the final Mets run in the sixth.
- Von Benko, George (July 7, 2005). "Notes: Phils–Pirates rivalry fading". Phillies.MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
- "Pirates perform rare three-peat feat 4–2". USA Today. September 28, 1992. p. 5C.
- "1969 NLCS Game 1 – New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1969 NLCS Game 2 – New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1969 NLCS Game 3 – Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- Baseball-Reference.com – 1969 NLCS