The New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles met for the 1969 World Series, and everyone was expecting the Orioles would prove to be the stronger team. Not only were they one of the teams that was expected to compete in the World Series from early in the season, but the Mets were not even expected to get this far! It was remarkable they had made the World Series, and now they were expected to lose out to a vastly superior team. However, the likes of Donn Clendenon and coach Yogi Berra had other ideas.
Why was this such an amazing triumph? If we are going to talk about the 1969 World Series in isolation, you may be wondering that fact. The Mets won four out of the five games. There have been a ton of World Series events that were closer than this matchup. The Mets proved they were the superior team, and they got their first World Series as a franchise. On that record, you would think it was a run of the mill win. Then why does everyone refer to that season as a Cinderella story? Why are the Mets often regarded as one of the greatest upset teams in baseball history?
To understand these characterizations, we have to look at the Mets history. This is a team that was still new to the baseball world. This was a team that had never achieved a winning season before 1969. That is right – every season for the Mets before 1969 was a losing season. They had some promising rosters in the past, but they would always lose more games than they would win. All of that changed in 1969, and it changed in the most dramatic way possible. Not only did the Mets finally have a winning season, but they went on to win everything.
The Mets were an expansion team in the league. They still hold the record as the first expansion team to ever win a World Series. They had only existed for eight years after that season concluded. The previous seven were losing seasons, as they were still getting to grips with Major League Baseball. There were a host of teams in a better position to win the World Series. And if anyone expected a New York win, it was the Yankees they fancied, not the Mets. But that would be the Mets’ year!
It was a remarkable season for the Mets, where they finished with 100 wins and 62 losses. Even leading up to the World Series, they had lost more games than the Orioles. They were the underdogs, the team that was just meant to enjoy the occasion and let the more seasoned competition get the win. But their players knew it was a special roster, that Mets team. They knew their camaraderie, team spirit and tactics were good enough to win. And that is precisely what they did. They showed us their best qualities, and they emerged as World Series winners in their eighth year of being a baseball team!