September 24, 1969: Mets Clinch NL East

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Date: September 24, 1969
Mets starter: Gary Gentry
Mets: 6
Cardinals: 0
Winning pitcher: Gary Gentry
Key player(s): Gary Gentry, Donn Clendenon, Ed Charles
Key play: Clendenon's and Charles' home runs, Torre's double play

The Mets played the Cardinals on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium. After solidifying a tie for the National League East Division title one night earlier, the Mets aimed for the clincher if front of 54,928 fans on hand. Gary Gentry pitched a four-hit shutout in a 6-0 Mets win over St. Louis that gave the team its first championship.

Gentry retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the first inning. Bud Harrelson singled off St. Louis starter Steve Carlton to begin the bottom half. Tommie Agee drew a walk and Cleon Jones went down on strikes. A home run by Donn Clendenon staked the Mets to a three-run lead. Ron Swoboda drew a walk and Ed Charles homered to increase the New York advantage to 5-0. Jerry Grote doubled off Redbirds’ reliever Dave Giusti. Al Weis flied out to left fielder Lou Brock. Giusti then struck out Gentry to end the inning.

Gentry and Giusti each pitched scoreless ball in the second and third innings. In the top of the fourth, Brock led off with a single for the Cardinals’ first hit of the game. Vic Davalillo flied out to right fielder Swoboda and a ground ball by Vada Pinson was deflected by Gentry to second baseman Weis. Al threw to shortstop Harrelson to begin an inning-ending double play. Giusti set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom half. Gentry then held St. Louis to a single by Mike Shannon in a scoreless top of the fifth.

Jones grounded out to second baseman Julian Javier to begin the bottom of the fifth inning. Clendenon followed with his second homer for the Mets’ sixth run. Swoboda fouled out to first baseman Joe Torre and a fly ball by Charles was caught by right fielder Pinson for the third out. Pinch-hitter Bill White drew a walk to open the top of the sixth. As a pinch-hitter for Giusti, Joe Hague flied out to Swoboda. Gentry retired Brock and Davalillo on consecutive fly balls to left fielder Jones to close out the inning. St. Louis reliever Sal Campisi then hurled a scoreless bottom half.

Gentry and Campisi each set down the side in order in the seventh. Gary surrendered only a walk to Jerry DaVanon in the top of the eighth. Charles singled off Cards’ reliever Mudcat Grant to start the bottom of the inning. Grote grounded out to shortstop DaVanon, advancing Charles to second base. Weis hit a grounder to Javier for the second out. Grant then threw a called third strike past Gentry to end the inning.

Brock and Davalillo opened the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles to center field. Pinson went down on strikes. Gentry then got Torre to hit a ground ball to Harrelson. Bud threw to Weis at second base for an out on Davalillo. Al then threw to first baseman Clendenon to complete a game-ending double play. The Mets were N. L. East Division Champions and the celebration was on in New York.

Notes

  • This title-clinching game was played exactly one year after manager Gil Hodges suffered a heart attack.
  • A photo of the field and scoreboard just after this game was shown on the sleeve of the record album The Amazing Mets.
  • White's pinch-hit walk in the sixth inning was his last appearance as a major league player. Bill would go on to become a Yankees' broadcaster and, eventually, president of the National League.