jerry koosman

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? 1969 World Champions: JERRY KOOSMAN

by Brette Trost

The Miracle Mets of 1969 shocked Major League Baseball and the world by giving the young Mets franchise its first World Championship. Each week we’ll take a look at what the members of the ’69 team are doing 46 years later, while reliving some of their best moments as members of the Mets. Check back weekly to learn what your favorite Amazin’ is up to now.

In Wisconsin, a 72-year-old farmer’s son spends time in his yard, taking care of his house, as he plays with his border collie, Buddy. Long removed from the booming Shea Stadium, this former pitcher now occupies his days playing golf and enjoying the company of his three grandchildren.

Though he is living a seemingly normal life now, this former player was once a pitching phenom. A lefty with a moving fastball and dynamic curve, Jerry Koosman was an important piece of the ironclad pitching staff of the 1969 Mets.

Koosman’s career opened with inauspicious beginnings, muddling through a difficult first year in the minors, where he went 5-11 with a 4.71 ERA. However, in 1966 he found his footing – and his slider – earning his way to the majors in 1967, when he debuted as a Met.

But it was in his 1968 rookie season that the 6-foot-2 pitcher proved he was something special, setting a Mets rookie record with a 2.08 ERA. He made the All-Star team that year, earning the save in the National League’s 1-0 win by striking out Carl Yastrzemksi. 

Shutting out opponents became Koosman’s signature, tying a National League rookie record with seven shutouts and becoming the first Met to record shutouts in consecutive starts. Koosman is tied with Jon Matlack for the second-most shutouts by a Met, notching 26 over his 12 years with the Amazin’s, behind Tom Seaver.

His success continued in 1969, as he helped the Mets to the postseason, and continued his dominance throughout October. He posted a 2-0 record in the World Series, boasting a 2.04 ERA while allowing seven hits through 17.2 innings.

It was Koosman who received the game ball in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, after throwing a complete game to bring the Mets their unlikely championship.

Koosman also played a pivotal role in the 1973 postseason, notching wins in Game 3 of the NLCS and Game 5 of the World Series.

Reflecting on his time with the 1969 Mets, Koosman spoke fondly of pitchers Ray Sadecki and Ron Taylor, his closest friends on the team. He remembers Sadecki as the biggest practical joker on the Mets that year.

Following his major league career, Koosman kept baseball and the Mets close, working as a minor league coach in the Mets farm system in Pittsfield and Columbia. The two-time All-Star was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1989.

The Minnesota-born pitcher still keeps many of his old loyalties, especially to the Minnesotan sports teams. He also stays in touch with several of his Mets teammates, talking politics over email with former Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda, and often taking time to catch up with his teammate from 1973 and 1974, George Theodore.

Though Koosman is now miles away from New York City, he has enough stories from his years with the Mets to share with his grandchildren to fill a lifetime.