Jerry Grote, Mets’ 1969 World Series Hero, Passes Away at 81

Jerry Grote, Mets' 1969 World Series Hero, Passes Away at 81

Jerry Grote, Mets’ 1969 World Series Hero, Passes Away at 81

Jerry Grote, a pivotal figure in transforming the New York Mets from an enduring underdog to the champions of the 1969 World Series, passed away on Sunday at the age of 81.

Struggling with heart issues, Grote’s life came to an end at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. According to Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz, Grote was in the hospital for a scheduled procedure but succumbed to respiratory failure during it.

Jerry Grote, Mets' 1969 World Series Hero, Passes Away at 81

Over 16 seasons in the major leagues, Grote, who made two All-Star appearances, compiled a .252 batting average, hit 39 home runs, and drove in 404 runs.

Mets owner Steve Cohen and his wife, Alix, hailed Grote as the “Backbone of a young Mets team who captured the heart of New York City.”

Grote’s major league journey saw a significant turn when the Mets traded for him in October 1965 from the Houston Colt .45s, exchanging him for pitcher Tom Parsons. This move came during the nascent stages of the Mets, a team established in 1962 as New York’s response to the departure of the Giants and Dodgers, which had languished at the bottom of the standings in its early years.

By 1969, Grote played a central role in a historic Mets season. “We were not supposed to do anything,” he remarked during the 50th anniversary of that victory in 2019. “And we did it all.”

Guiding a youthful pitching lineup that featured Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Gary Gentry, Grote was instrumental in the Mets’ ascension to first place on September 10, culminating in a 100-62 record to clinch the NL East. The Mets then went on to conquer the Atlanta Braves in the inaugural NL Championship Series before defeating the favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.

His performance in 1969 was notable, batting .252 with six home runs and 40 RBIs, and being an indispensable presence behind the plate throughout the postseason. His crucial hits and game-winning moves in the World Series underscored his importance to the team’s success.

Grote served as the Mets’ main catcher until the early ’70s before transitioning to share duties with Duffy Dyer. He was celebrated for his defensive skills, earning him another All-Star selection in 1974.

“Without Jerry, we don’t win in 1969. It’s as simple as that,” stated Mets outfielder and first baseman Art Shamsky.

Later in his career, Grote played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and had a brief stint with Kansas City and the Dodgers again in 1981, marking a memorable comeback with a grand slam that led to a career-high seven RBIs in a single game.

Grote’s legacy is marked not only by his contributions on the field but by his role in elevating the Mets to their iconic 1969 World Series victory, leaving an indelible mark on the team and its fans.

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Pooja Chauhan

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