About Ron.

© 2008 Ron Swoboda

Ron Swoboda
1969 Miracle METS
Swoboda was pictured on the May 6, 1968 cover of Sports Illustrated with the caption "Slugger Ron Swoboda." Indeed he was. So many of his 73 career home runs were memorable. As a rookie in 1965, in only his second major league at bat, the right-handed hitting slugger hit a long, pinch-hit home run over the back wall of the bullpen at Shea Stadium. The pitcher was Turk Farrell of the Houston Astros. ("The longest ball I ever hit," says Swoboda.)  He hit four home runs in his first sixteen at-bats and ten in his first ninety at-bats. Swoboda hit a career-high 19 home runs that year, which led the Mets, and was the most home runs hit by a Mets rookie until Daryl Strawberry hit 26 in 1983.

Ron's rookie home run record was actually victimized by an umpiring error. On April 30, 1965, at a game in Cincinnati, he came to bat in the first inning with the bases loaded and one out against right-handed pitcher John Tsitouris. Crosley Field had a concrete outfield wall with a bright yellow line at the top. However, above that home run line and set back about four inches from the concrete wall in center field was a plywood wall installed to prevent the batters from looking into the headlights of the cars on the nearby elevated highway. Swoboda hit a grand slam home run off the plywood wall--except second base umpire Frank Secory never signaled that the ball left the playing field. When center fielder Vada Pinson threw the ball back to the infield, one run scored but the other runners held, and all Swoboda got was a long single.  Mets' coach Yogi Berra was ejected from the game for arguing the call. Ron recalls Yogi's famous quote: "Anybody who couldn't hear that ball hit the wood is blind."  Swoboda hit two grand slams in his career.  And then there was this one that got away.

On July 4, 1966, he hit a ball onto the leftfield roof in Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. On August 4th that season, he hit a three-run, pinch-hit, walk-off home run to beat the Giants 8-6 at Shea Stadium. The pitcher was Bill Henry. (Swoboda remembers, "Every time he threw it, I hit it hard somewhere.") He hit home runs in four consecutive games for the Mets in April 1968. Later that month, on April 30th, he homered off Philadelphia's Chris Short to give the Mets a 1-0 victory. On September 13, 1969, with the Miracle Mets on their way to their first championship season, Swoboda hit a grand slam home run, his first, in the eighth inning to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2.
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