By Dan De Neve
The year 1969 was a magical time for sports in New York City. The New York Knicks and New York Jets were highly successful, with the Knicks winning NBA titles in 1970 and 1973 and the Jets winning the Super Bowl in 1969.
However, it was the New York Mets that overcame 100-1 odds and a 9½-game deficit in mid-August to advance to the playoffs and, ultimately, win the 1969 World Series.
Wayne Coffey recounts this memorable team and its season in his book, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done: The ’69 Mets, New York City, and the Most Astounding Season in Baseball History.
For baseball fans, this is a great recounting of that year in which men first landed on the moon and hundreds of thousands flocked to a dairy farm in upstate New York for Woodstock.
The Miracle Mets were managed by former Brooklyn Dodger Gil Hodges. Tom Seaver, aptly nicknamed, and still considered, “The Franchise,” was the leader of the team and anchored the pitching staff.
Coffey, however, reminds us that a cast of unlikely heroes named Donn Clendenon, Ron Swoboda, J.C. Martin, and Al Weis, as well as several others, also played pivotal and very timely roles in the Mets’ first championship.
It would be 17 years before the second title. To win that first title, Coffey reminds us that the Mets had to overcome the Chicago Cubs, who were having their own great season, to win the National League East title.
We are reminded that the Mets won a phenomenal 38 of their final 49 games, a .776 winning percentage, to outlast the Cubs. The Mets then defeated future home run king Hank Aaron and the Atlanta Braves in three games in the best-of-5 NL Championship Series to win the National League pennant.
Finally, after losing the first game, the Mets won four straight to upend the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles and win the World Series. It was an even sweeter win, as the Mets won the deciding game at home at Shea Stadium.
Coffey does an outstanding job of weaving together the day-to-day events of the baseball season, the players’ stories, colorful and hilarious anecdotes that Mets fans can truly appreciate, and the major events of the year.
His writing is easy and takes the reader back to that final year of the 1960s. Rather than getting bogged down with stats, Coffey gives the reader just enough to add to the story. For baseball fans, especially Mets fans, this is a great read.
As a Mets fan myself, I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
For those who remember that year, you won’t regret reading this book. For the rest of us, it will take us back in time to a magical year. This book is one of the best available about the Mets’ 1969 season.
They Said it Couldn’t Be Done is available at the library to check out.
The Dana Point Library hosts two book groups each month. Books for each group are available for check-out at the library. For more information, please call 949.496.5517.
Dan De Neve is a longtime employee of the Orange County Public Library. He currently works at the Dana Point Library as the Adult Services Librarian. He is an avid reader of history, biographies and sports.