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MLB – 1969 – Baseballs Greatest Hits – Highlights – World Series Game 5 – Orioles Vs Mets – The Mets Shine

Orioles P Dave McNally shut out the Mets through five innings….and helped himself with a two-run homer in the third inning….then teammate Frank Robinson homered in the inning as well….and the Orioles looked to be cruising with a 3–0 lead.

The Mets, however, benefited from two questionable umpire’s calls…..with one In the top of the sixth inning….when Mets starting pitcher Jerry Koosman appeared to have hit Frank Robinson with a pitch…. but plate umpire Lou DiMuro ruled that the pitch hit his bat before hitting him….and denied him first base. Replays showed, however, that Robinson was indeed hit first….when the ball struck him on the hip….then bounced up and hit his bat.

Then In the bottom of the sixth, McNally bounced a pitch that appeared to have hit Mets left fielder Cleon Jones on the foot…..and then bounced into the Mets’ dugout…..when McNally and the Orioles claimed the ball hit the dirt and not Jones….but Mets manager Gil Hodges showed the ball to DiMuro….who found a spot of shoe polish on the ball….and awarded Jones first base. McNally then gave up Series MVP Donn Clendenon’s third homer of the series….which was a record for a five-game World Series, that was tied by the Phillies’ Ryan Howard in the 2008 Classic….and by Boston’s Steve Pearce in the 2018 Series….which cut the lead to 3–2.

However, the renowned “shoe polish” incident may not be such a simple, straightforward matter….cuz on August 22, 2009….at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Mets’ 1969 Championship….Jerry Koosman stated in several media interviews that, in actuality, Hodges had instructed him to rub the ball on his shoe, which he did, and after that Hodges showed the ball to the umpire. Koosman’s claim doesn’t necessarily mean that the ball didn’t strike Jones on the foot….nor does it even mean that the polish on the ball seen by the umpire was put there by Koosman….but it’s certainly conceivable that there was already a genuine spot of polish on the ball….which easily could have escaped Koosman’s notice as he hastily created the fraudulent one. In any case, Koosman’s allegation at the very least adds an intriguing layer of uncertainty and possible chicanery to an already legendary event…..plus, it should be noted that Koosman was known for his sense of humor….and his love of practical jokes when he was an active player. Therefore, his claim of having scuffed the ball against his own shoe could be a ruse. 

The Mets then tied the score in the seventh on a home run by the unheralded and light-hitting Al Weis….who hit only seven home runs in his big league career….as this was the only home run he ever hit at Shea Stadium….but it must be noted that Weis led all batters in the series with a .455 average.

The Mets’ winning runs scored in the eighth as OF Ron Swoboda doubled in Jones with the go-ahead run….and Swoboda then scored when Jerry Grote’s grounder was mishandled by first baseman Boog Powell….whose throw to first was then dropped by pitcher Eddie Watt in an unusual double error.  Jerry Koosman got the win, his second of the series. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Koosman faced Orioles second baseman Davey Johnson….who, coincidentally, later managed the Mets to their second World Series championship in 1986….when after taking a pitch of two balls and one strike, Johnson hit a fly-ball out to left field which was caught by Cleon Jones.  After a shaky third inning, Koosman settled down to retire 19 of the next 21 batters he faced, giving up a single and a walk.

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