Tuesday, April 20, 2010
#65) JERRY GROTE
Jerry Grote began his journey with the New York Mets when he was traded from the Houston Astros in exchange for Tom Parsons on October 19, 1965. "I was glad to come over to the Mets from Houston," Grote once said. "I knew that team would never win. They had too many old players, and they had no defense. It was different with the Mets. You could tell they had talent."
Jerry was a fine defensive catcher, and became quite important in the development of the young pitching staff that would become such a big part of the Mets' success. Winning that would come much faster than most would have ever expected. Although he knew in 1969. "In spring training, Jerry Grote knew," Tom Seaver would remember. "He said we were going to win it. We thought he was crazy, nuts. But it made sense. He was the one who had caught us all the year before, and he was catching us now in spring training. He just knew. " Jerry was correct and became a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets when the team won it's improbable World Series Championship that year.
"It's no miracle," Grote said of the 1969 team. "Now, '73 that was a miracle."
The 1973 Mets team would beat the "Big Red Machine" of Cincinnati in the National League Championship Series, but fall to the Oakland A's in seven games during the World Series. Once again the All-Star catcher (he represented the Mets in 1968 and 1974) was directing a talented pitching staff along the way.
When Joe Torre joined the Mets in 1975 he observed, "Most people don't understand catchers. For example, Jerry Grote is a catcher who hits. Johnny Bench is a hitter who catches. There is a big difference." The Hall of Famer, Bench agreed when he said, "If Jerry Grote were on my team. I would be playing third base."
Grote ended an era when he was traded by the New York Mets to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Dan Smith and Randy Rogers on August 31, 1977. Using his World Series check, he bought a ranch near Austin, Texas and raised prized longhorn cattle there.
Jerry was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1992. He was part of the group of players that were honored at Citi Field for the 40th Anniversary of the Miracle Mets on August 22, 2009.
Jerry Grote signed his card in the set, for my good friend Jessie, at the Long Island Card Show in Farmingville, New York on April 10, 2010.