5 games to accomplish one of the greatest upsets in Series history, as that particular Orioles squad was (and still is by some baseball pundits) considered to be one of the finest ever. The World Series win earned the team the sobriquet "Miracle Mets."
The New York Mets, who had never finished higher than ninth place (next-to-last) nor won more than 73 games in a season since joining the National League in 1962, were not highly regarded before the 1969 season started. In fact, the best that could be said for them was that because the National League was being split into two divisions that year, the Mets were guaranteed to finish no lower than sixth place. With three weeks to go in the season, the underdog Mets stormed past the Chicago Cubs, who had led the Eastern Division for most of the season, winning 100 games and capturing the first National League Eastern Division crown. Third-year pitcher Tom Seaver won a major-league-leading 25 games en route to his first Cy Young Award; the other two top Mets starting pitchers, Jerry Koosman and rookie Gary Gentry, combined to win 30 more games. Outfielder Cleon Jones hit a (then) club-record .340 and finished third in the National League batting race, while his lifelong friend and outfield mate Tommie Agee hit 26 home runs and drove in 76 runs to lead the club; they were the only players on the team who garnered more than 400 at bats. Manager Gil Hodges employed a skillful platoon system not unlike the Yankees of the Casey Stengel era, in which Ron Swoboda and Art Shamsky became a switch-hitting right fielder who hit 23 home runs and drove in 100 runs, and Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon added up to a switch-hitting first baseman who hit 23 more homers and knocked in another 95 runs. Everyone on the bench knew what their role was in the platoon - nobody felt that they'd ever lost their jobs. Almost to a man, the 1969 Mets were united in their praise of their manager's skill. In the first League Championship Series, the light-hitting Mets, once again considered underdogs (even though the Mets actually had a better record than the Braves), put on an uncharacteristic power display by scoring 27 runs in sweeping the favored Atlanta Braves in three games.
The Baltimore Orioles, by contrast, were practically flawless and featured stars at almost every position. They breezed through the 1969 season, winning 109 games (until 1998 the most games won since the advent of divisional play) and brushing aside the Minnesota Twins in three games in the ALCS to win their second pennant in four years. The Orioles were led by star sluggers Frank Robinson and Boog Powell, who each hit over 30 home runs and drove in over 100 runs; third baseman Brooks Robinson, perhaps the best-fielding hot-corner player in baseball history; and pitchers Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Jim Palmer, who combined for 63 victories. It was felt that in the face of such statistical comparisons, only the most reckless gambler would put any money on the Mets.
Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball in game 2. He was bidding to match Don Larsen's World Series no-hit feat. Koosman won 2 games in the Series.
Game 3 marked the only World Series appearance in Nolan Ryan's 27-year career.
Mets outfielder Tommie Agee almost single-handedly won game 3 for his team. He led off the bottom of the first inning by hitting a home run, then made two great catches at crucial points in the game to save at least 5 Baltimore runs. Coincidentally, both Wayne Garrett and Lenny Dykstra (in 1973 and 1986 respectively) would lead off game 3 of their World Series with Met home runs.
Long-time Mets fan favorite Ron Swoboda, not known for his fielding prowess, upstaged Agee's heroics in the 9th inning of game 4, making a diving, tumbling catch of Brooks Robinson's sinking line drive and preventing the Orioles from scoring more than one run. Some rank Swoboda's catch as the greatest in Series history. Swoboda also drove in the Series-winning run in game 5.
Game 4 was mired in controversy. Tom Seaver's photograph was used on some anti-war Moratorium Day literature being distributed outside Shea Stadium before the game, although the pitcher claimed that his picture was used without his knowledge or approval. Orioles skipper Earl Weaver argued some ball-strike calls too strenuously with umpire Shag Crawford and became the first manager in 34 years to be ejected from a World Series game. In the 10th inning, with pinch-runner Rod Gaspar on second, Mets pinch-hitter J. C. Martin bunted to the mound and was hit by Pete Richert's throw while running to first base, which allowed Gaspar to score the winning run. Photographs later showed that Martin was running inside the baseline, which could have resulted in his being called out for interference. The umpires said that they didn't make the call because they felt that Martin didn't intentionally interfere with the play.
Controversy also marred game 5. In the 5th inning, the Orioles argued that Frank Robinson had been hit by a pitch and should be awarded first base. The umpire ruled that the ball had hit Robinson's bat, then hit him, thus denying the Orioles' appeal. Replays of the incident later showed that Robinson had indeed been hit by the pitch. In the 6th, the Orioles argued again, this time claiming that Mets outfielder Cleon Jones had not been hit by a pitch, which they claimed had bounced first. Mets manager Gil Hodges showed umpire Lou DiMuro a shoe-polish smudge on the ball, which had skipped into the Mets' dugout, and this convinced the umpire that Jones had indeed been hit and awarded him first base. Moments later Donn Clendenon hit a two-run home run that brought the Mets within a run of the Orioles. Films of the Jones incident are inconclusive.
Light-hitting Mets second baseman Al Weis, who hit only seven home runs in his big-league career, hit his first Shea Stadium home run to tie game 5. He hit .455 to lead both teams in batting. Weis won 1 of the 2 World Series MVP Awards, winning the Babe Ruth Award, awarded by the New York chapter of the BBWAA.
Mets first baseman Donn Clendenon, the Series MVP, established the record for most home runs hit in a five-game World Series, with three. The record was tied by Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. (Al Weis given Babe Ruth Award (Series MVP) by New York BBWAA
In an ironic twist, Oriole second baseman Davey Johnson, who would later manage the Mets to their second World Series win in 1986, flied out to Cleon Jones for the last out of the 1969 World Series.
There's a fly ball out to left. (Cleon) Jones is waiting...the Mets are the World Champions! Jerry Koosman is being mobbed! Look at this scene! -- Curt Gowdy, announcing that the Mets had just won their first World Series.
The 1969 World Series served as a backdrop in the movie Frequency.
Actor Tim Robbins, a big Mets fan stated that on 10/16 his mother bought him a ticket to the Game 5 of the World Series for his birthday.
The Mets became the first expansion team to win a pennant and the World Series, winning in their eighth year of existence. The Florida Marlins would break the Mets' record, winning the 1997 World Series in their fifth year (also becoming the first wild card team to win a World Series); the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series in their fourth year of play.