A nicely handled update on the then-young men who gave long-suffering fans of New York's Mets their first championship season. Now a columnist for USA Today, Allen (Jackie Robinson, 1987, etc.) was then a beat reporter covering the expansion club for The New York Post. He provides a hurry-up history of the lovable losers who (under the leadership of the late Gil Hodges) ended seven years of futility by winning the National League pennant and then upsetting the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series. His focus, though, is on what became of the players and surviving front-office personnel who contributed to the odds-against triumph. A few members of the Cinderella team—notably, Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw, Nolan Ryan, and Tom Seaver—went on to further diamond glories, while a couple (including Ron Taylor, M.D.) achieved success outside the national pastime. F. Scott Fitzgerald, however, would get little argument from most '69 Mets on the score of his contention that there are no second acts in American lives. Typical have been the experiences of lesser lights like Ed Charles, Jack DiLauro, Rod Gaspar, Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew, and Ron Swoboda, whose diamond careers were cut short by injury, age, or circumstance. Nor, Allen learned from his extensive interviewing, have more durable stars such as Donn Clendenon, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones fared all that well in the workaday world: along with many teammates, they have drifted in and out of marriages, humdrum jobs, and trouble. By contrast, some of the older journeymen—e.g., Don Cardwell, Ed Kranepool, Al Weis, et al.—have achieved significant measures of satisfaction since their baseball days ended. The same apparently holds true for the owner's principal deputy, M. Donald Grant; now 85, the sometime securities broker is comfortably retired in Florida. A fine bittersweet remembrance of things past. Allen's evocative text has 16 pages of photographs (not seen).
Read full book review >