The Black Cat Game

On September 9, 1969 the famous Mets black cat game happened. The Mets were just one and a half games behind the first-place Cubs for the division lead. A black cat runs onto the field at Shea Stadium. It circles the Cubs on-deck batter, Ron Santo, and slowly slinks in front of the Cubs dugout, hissing at their manager Leo Durocher before disappearing under the stands.

Let’s go back to August 13th: the Mets are 10 games out of first place. The Cubs have a team of veteran stars while the Mets average age is only 25. By the time of the black cat game, their lead over the Mets is only 1 ½ games.

Ace Tom Seaver starts the game for the Mets. While Fergie Jenkins gets the nod for the Cubs. Jenkins is starting on only two days rest. It was Ken Holtzman‘s day to start, but he’s skipping a start for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, on his regular turn Saturday, September 13.

The Mets hit Jenkins hard, taking a 4-0 lead after three innings. In the top of fourth, the Cubs Glenn Beckert hits a double to center field. Billy Williams digs into the batter’s box, and Ron Santo stands in the on-deck circle. When suddenly a black cat emerges onto the field.

The Mets win the game 7-1. It is their 82nd win of the year, guaranteeing their first winning season in franchise history. Their young pitching staff combined with Gil Hodges frequent use of platoons sends them on a run of 19 wins in their remaining 24 games.

Related: The 1969 World Series shoe polish incident.

Meanwhile the Cubs, with Manager Leo Durocher playing the same regulars every day, would win only 8 more times that season. They would finish 8 back of the Mets in the division.