Baseball games played midway through September before 1969 didn’t mean too much to the New York Mets, as the club had always been long eliminated from playoff contention by that time.
That wasn’t the case on Sept. 15, 1969. The Mets were 88-58 with a 3 1/2 game lead on the Chicago Cubs in the newly formed National League East division and were trying to reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Standing in the way was Cardinals’ ace Steve Carlton, who that night would become the first pitcher in Major League history to strike out 19 batters. One of Carlton’s victims was Mets’ outfielder Ron Swoboda, who struck out in the first and sixth innings. But in the fourth and eighth innings, Swoboda hit two-run homers to lead the Mets to a 4-3 victory and increase the Mets’ N.L. East lead to 4 1/2 games.
Since I’m going to tonight’s game versus Washington at Nationals Park, I decided to check Retrosheet to see if this Sept. 15 date had any other good mojo.
The Mets have a 9-32 record on the date during their 46-plus year history, and before Swoboda’s big 1969 game against Carlton, the Amazins had an 0-7 record in Sept. 15 games, losing every year except 1967 when they didn’t play.
It didn’t get much better in the 1970s as the Mets posted a 3-10 record, but after taking that day off 1981 and 1982 to reevaluate such calendar issues, they finally broke the .500 barrier in the 1980s with a 5-3 record.
The Mets played 11 Sept. 15th games in the 1990s despite missing a chance to play in 1994 due to the baseball strike. Their 6-5 record included doubleheader splits in 1997 and 1998.
Terrible. 0-7 this decade, playing every Sept. 15 except 2001 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks put baseball on hold until Sept. 17.
Carlos Zambrano showed us a no-hitter can happen any time, any where (even in a neutral ballpark), so maybe the Mets can break both their 7,468-game no no-no streak and their 0-7 Sept. 15 streak.
Some information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at www.retrosheet.org.