Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Jerry Grote, member of 1969 Miracle Mets, dies at 81: ‘Backbone of a young Mets team’

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Jerry Grote, a two-time All-Star and member of the 1969 Miracle New York Mets, died Sunday afternoon at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute in Austin, Texas, the team announced. He was 81. Grote is a member of the Mets Hall of Fame.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of Jerry Grote,” Mets owner Steve Cohen and his wife, Alex, said in a statement. “The Mets Hall of Famer was the backbone of a young Mets team who captured the heart of New York City in 1969. Known as the best defensive catcher in franchise history, he was a two-time All-Star who played 12 seasons in Flushing. We are grateful that Jerry was able to reunite with his teammates one last time during the 1969 World Series reunion at Citi Field in 2019. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cheryl, family and friends.”

Born and raised in San Antonio, Grote began his playing career with the Houston Astros. He made his MLB debut in 1963 and played 103 games with the Astros from 1963-64 before being traded to the Mets following the 1965 season. Grote played 12 seasons with the Mets from 1966-77 and was selected to the All-Star Game in 1968 and 1974.

Primarily a defensive specialist behind the plate, Grote authored a .263/.330/.340 batting line with 28 home runs during his nine-year peak from 1968-76. He went 4 for 19 with two doubles in the 1969 World Series, helping the Mets upset the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in five games. His 1,127 games at catcher are the most in Mets history, far ahead of second place Mike Piazza (818).

“He was the reason for my success,” longtime Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman said in a statement. “I have the photo in my home of me jumping into his arms after we won in 1969. I am heartbroken. No one was better behind the plate. He really controlled the game.”

Grote had short stints with the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of his career. He retired following the 1981 season with 1,092 hits and 39 home runs in 1,402 career games, plus the two All-Star Game selections and one World Series ring. Grote managed in the minors and did some broadcasting work once he was done playing.

The Mets inducted Grote into their Hall of Fame in 1992. He is also a member of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.

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