The Reggie! Project: 1969 Mets Opening Day

Seaver, Reggie and the Mets Land in First Place in NL East After Spoiling Montreal Expos’ Franchise Debut

OPENING DAY – April 8, 1969

NEW YORK, NY – Tom Seaver allowed only 2 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings and Reggie Jackson homered in his first plate appearance of the season as the New York Mets toppled the expansion Expos of Montreal in the first game of the 1969 baseball season.

For the New York Mets, this marks the first time in franchise history the team has won on Opening Day. Consequently, with a record on the season of 1-0, this also marks the first time in franchise history the team has ever held a share of first place.

“The Mets are in first place. Let it never be said that miracles don’t happen,” said manager Gil Hodges.Mets first place quote

Les Expos, as Major League Baseball’s first Canadian franchise is known to its Quebecois fans, began their own franchise history inauspiciously when the first batter of the season, former NL MVP shortstop Maury Wills, struck out against the 24-year-old fireballer from Fresno, Tom Seaver. Their fortune quickly turned however, when second basemen Gary Sutherland reached on an Ed Kranepool error. After Rusty Staub singled and Mack Jones popped up behind home plate the Expos were staked to a 3-0 lead when Seaver hung a breaking ball to Montreal first baseman Bob Bailey who promptly deposited it over the Shea Stadium centerfield wall.

Not to be outdone, in the bottom of the first Cleon Jones singled to start the Mets’ half of the inning. Jones was erased on a 6-4 fielder’s choice, but with Tommie Agee on first base and Reggie Jackson at the plate Mudcat Grant grooved a fastball that Reggie’s powerful left-handed swing didn’t miss. The resultant home run was measured at 465 feet, one of the longest Shea stadium has ever seen.

The Expos held the Mets to a 3-2 score until the bottom of the 4th. That’s when the Mets plated three more runs on a series of walks and base hits that sent Grant to the showers. Seaver helped his own cause with a single that added two more runs in the bottom of the 5th against Expos reliever Dan McGinn.

A seventh inning rally brought Montreal within two, but Cal Koonce and Ron Taylor shut the door on Les Expos. Reggie Jackson narrowly missed a second home run of the night when he hit a long fly ball in the 8th inning that would have cleared the fences in most other stadiums.

“It was a good day for Reggie,” said Jackson. “And when it’s a good day for Reggie, it’s a good day for the fans.”

This game was played with Strat-O-Matic Advanced rules and charts, including clutch, weather and ballpark effects.

Click to see scorecard at full size.

Click to see scorecard at full size.

1969 Mets What If C&D Replay: The Reggie Project!

THE REGGIE! PROJECT: 1969

Prologue:

The Reggie! Project is my multi-season project, wherein I’m playing full season (single-team) replays from different stages of Reggie Jackson’s career. I’ve completed Reggie’s 1977 Yankees season and his 1982 California Angels season. In the coming months I’ll be posting results of Reggie’s 1969 season. Though the ’77 and ’82 seasons were recreated using mostly as-played lineups for all teams, the 1969 season will be different. In this season, Reggie will be the starting right fielder for the 1969 New York “Miracle” Mets.

 

PART 1: THE DRAFT

The New York Mets had a choice to make early in the morning on June 7, 1966. In anticipation of the first overall pick in baseball’s amateur draft, the Mets had reviewed the thousands of eligible ballplayers in America and whittled the candidates down to two.

Steve Chilcott of Antelope Valley HS inLancaster, CA.

Steve Chilcott of Antelope Valley HS in Lancaster, CA.

On the one hand, there was a 17-year-old catcher with a smooth left-handed swing from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California. Steve Chilcott had been scouted by the Ol’ Perfesser himself, Casey Stengel, and had won the legend’s endorsement in the Mets front office. Chilcott was young and raw, but his athletic talent was unquestionable. Besides being an all-American ballplayer behind the dish, he had quarterbacked his school to a league championship, too. With an easy demeanor and a strong work ethic to boot, Chilcott was as sure a thing as a 17-year-old catching prospect could be.

Reggie ArizonaHis competition for that number 1 overall pick was a centerfielder from Arizona State University, Reginald Martinez Jackson. Reggie, as he was known, was also a two-sport star. An All-American Halfback and Outfielder, he swung his bat with tremendous power, threw with a plus-arm, and walked with the kind of swagger, charisma, and confidence in athletic competition that simply can’t be taught. But while Reggie had everything on the field going for him, the Mets had concerns about off-the-field issues with Reggie.

 

Reggie had already announced in the press that his signing demands would be, “sky high – up there where the air is rare.” This might conceivably make the Mets balk, but as they had already prepared a $75,000 contract should they choose Chilcott, Reggie’s requested $85,000 bonus wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibility.

No, it wasn’t his contract demands or his talent on the field that the Mets front office couldn’t deal with, it was something far more pedestrian and far more sinister. According to Reggie, Arizona State head coach Bobby Winkles told him that the New York Mets didn’t like that the flamboyant and charismatic young man of Puerto Rican and Afro-American descent was dating a white girl.

To be fair, Winkles later denied making this statement, so it’s his word versus Reggie’s. Reggie’s claim isn’t far-fetched, however, when you consider that NY Mets President at the time was George Weiss, a noted racist who while running the New York Yankees in the 1950’s once proclaimed that “no black man would ever wear the Yankee pinstripes.”

reggie asu

Reggie Jackson had big-time power and a big-time persona, even as an undergrad at Arizona State University

So who would it be, come decision time? Would the Mets take the safe, easy, All-American boy from Southern California? Or would they go against their personal bias and take the budding superstar with out-of-this-world talent from Arizona State?

Continue reading

First Look: Spring 2016 Print Edition (Back Cover)

Complete as-played scoresheets for the 1982 World Series will be included in the upcoming Jumbo-Sized Spring 2016 Print Edition of OneForFive.com Magazine

Complete as-played scoresheets for the 1982 World Series will be included in the upcoming Jumbo-Sized Spring 2016 Print Edition of OneForFive.com Magazine

Now just days away from completion, you’re looking at the BACK cover of the Spring 2016 Print Edition of OneForFive.com Magazine. It’s time to get excited, my friends.

Custom Scorebooks – Updated Availability

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Here are a few comments from recent customers:

I contacted Paul about making a replay guide for me as I look to do a career replay of Tom Seaver’s career. Paul was excellent in giving me suggestions to improve upon what I was looking for and was very quick in his responses. I ordered 4 books based on the size of the replay and the first one arrived today. I am very exited on how it turned out and I would give a tremendous recommendation to anyone who is thinking about ordering a book. This will go a long way to increasing my enjoyment for this project.” – Bob C., Naples, FL

This is stunningly good. Better than I even hoped.” – Bart E., Fairway, KS

BEAUTIFUL! If I can get my hands on an older Replay set I’ll be placing another order before the year is out!” – Jim W., Farmington, MI

Limited edition cover by JC Leyendecker. Now on sale for just $24.65!

Limited edition cover by JC Leyendecker. Now on sale for just $24.65!

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LIMITED EDITION SCOREBOOK (Jan 2016 edition; JC Leyendecker cover w/Blank scoresheets)

2015 Single-Team Replay Scorebooks with As-Played Lineups
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1982 MILWAUKEE BREWERS
1951 NEW YORK GIANTS
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1969 ATLANTA BRAVES
1969 KANSAS CITY ROYALS
1970 WASHINGTON SENATORS
1974 KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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1988 CINCINNATI REDS (NO as-played lineups)
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