On March 25, local sports fans got the chance to meet some of the stars of one of New York City’s most iconic baseball teams, as members of the 1969 New York Mets made an appearance at Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their ‘miracle’ season and help raise money for Alzheimer’s research.
Ron Swoboda, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Art Shamsky, Jim McAndrew and Duffy Dyer met with fans and autograph seekers at the Yonkers supermarket—which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The event drew fans from all over the Westchester area and beyond, as fans who witnessed the Mets’ first-ever title that season, still feel a significant connection with the team.
Andy DiSanto, 59, made the nearly two-hour drive that morning from Hillsborough Township, New Jersey and was the first fan on line to meet some of his childhood heroes.
The 1969 Mets went 100-62 during the regular season and defeated the Baltimore Orioles to win the first-ever World Series title for the organization, which came into existence in 1962. Prior to the team’s championship season, the Mets were considered bottom-dwellers, having lost more than 100 games five times in the team’s first seven seasons.
According to DiSanto, the team’s championship run was one of his earliest memories of the sport.
“I was a big Met fan, but I was only nine years old in 1969, so what I don’t remember, my older brother has had to fill me in on,” DiSanto told the Review. “But they were great; they were a miracle.”
DiSanto was one of hundreds of fans who showed up on Monday morning to get the chance to share some of their fond recollections with the ballplayers and have their jerseys, bats and other memorabilia signed.
“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of the guys from the ’69 team,” DiSanto said. “And getting the chance to meet six members in one day, that’s a big deal.”
Stew Leonard’s hosted a similar meet-and-greet at the store’s East Meadow location on Sunday and held another one on Monday afternoon in Nowalk, Connecticut. Proceeds from the events and the Stew Leonard’ Wishing Well were donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, who was the ace of that 1969 Mets team recently retired from public life after his family announced the right-hander was suffering from dementia. Bud Harrelson, the Miracle Mets’ second baseman, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.
“I’m just lucky that I’ve gotten to meet guys like Seaver,” DiSanto said. “Obviously it’s important to raise awareness about the disease.”