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Ron Swoboda
Born: June 30, 1944 (1944-06-30) (age 65)
Baltimore, Maryland
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 12, 1965 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1973 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average     .242
Home Runs     73
RBI     344
Career highlights and awards

Ronald Alan Swoboda (born June 30, 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder best remembered as a member of the Amazin' Mets.


MLB debut

After one season at the University of Maryland, and a stellar showing in the AAABA tournament in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Swoboda was offered a $35,000 contract to sign with the New York Mets and scout Pete Gebrian on September 5, 1963.

He spent only one season in the Mets' farm system before making the team out of Spring training, 1965. He made his major league debut as a pinch hitter in the 1965 season opener, and lined out in his only at-bat.[1] He pinch hit, again, in the second game of the season, this time, hitting an 11th inning home run (the Mets still lost, as the Houston Astros scored four runs in the top of the inning).[2] He homered again, in his first at-bat on April 18, giving him two home runs in his first four Major League at bats. He had fifteen home runs by the All-Star break, and commented during a TV interview that he loved hitting fastballs. From that point forward, he began seeing a lot more breaking balls, and only hit four more for the rest of the season. Still, his nineteen home runs stood as a Mets rookie record until Darryl Strawberry hit 26 in 1983. His fielding percentage his rookie year was a below-league-average .947, however, he had nine outfield assists.


Swoboda wore number 14 as a rookie in 1965. When the Mets acquired third baseman Ken Boyer from the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the start of the 1966 season, they granted him number 14, as he'd worn it in St. Louis. Swoboda wore number 17 briefly during Spring training in 1966, then switched to number 4. His home run drought continued through the 1966 season, when he hit only eight home runs and batted .222, with fifty runs batted in.

During his early years with the Mets, he acquired the nickname "Rocky" as a result of his less-than-reliable fielding. Although he possessed a strong, accurate throwing arm, a fly ball hit in his direction was, by no means, a sure out. After having spent most of his time in left field his first two seasons with the Mets, Swoboda was shifted to first baseman in 1967 to make room for newly acquired Tommy Davis in left. Swoboda's fielding at first was no better, and he was soon shifted to right field. Offensively, he had perhaps his best season, hitting .281 with thirteen home runs and 53 RBIs. He led the Mets with six triples and a career high 59 RBIs in 1968, and also had a career high fourteen outfield assists.

Amazin' Mets

By May 21, 1969, the Mets won their third game in a row for a .500 winning percentage 36 games into the season for the first time in franchise history. This was followed by a five game losing streak that saw the Mets fall into fourth place in the newly aligned National League East.

The Mets then went on an eleven game winning streak that brought them back into second place, seven games back of the Chicago Cubs. On September 10 the Mets swept a double header against the Montreal Expos. Coupled with a loss by the Cubs, the Mets jump into first place for the first time in franchise history. On September 13, Swoboda hit a grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates to propel the Mets to a 5-2 victory.[3] Two days later, the St. Louis Cardinals' Steve Carlton struck out a record nineteen Mets batters in a losing effort, as the Mets defeat the Cards 4-3 at Busch Stadium on a pair of two run home runs by Swoboda.[4] On September 24, facing Carlton and the Cardinals, again- only this time at Shea Stadium, the New York Mets clinch the NL East as Donn Clendenon hit two home runs in a 6-0 Mets victory.[5] The Mets won 39 of their last 50 games, and finished the season with 100 wins against 62 losses, eight games over the second place Cubs.


1969 World Series

Swoboda did not appear in the Mets' 1969 National League Championship Series three game sweep of the Atlanta Braves to reach the World Series. The Mets were heavy underdogs heading into the World Series against the mighty Baltimore Orioles, and following a 4-1 loss in the series opener with Cy Young award winning pitcher Tom Seaver on the mound,[6] it seemed as if the Mets had little chance against the Orioles.

This was not the case, as the Mets won the second game of the series in Baltimore.[7] The 1969 World Series featured brilliant plays by third baseman Ed Charles, shortstop Bud Harrelson and two by center fielder Tommie Agee in game three.

Not to be outdone, Swoboda, not known for his fielding, made a spectacular rally-snuffing catch of a ball hit by the Brooks Robinson in the ninth inning of Game Four at Shea Stadium. The Mets won the game 2-1 in ten innings, and subsequently, the World Series. For the World Series, Swoboda batted .400. His only RBI was the game winner of the fifth and final game.[8]

A photograph of Swoboda, stretched almost horizontally, just inches off the ground, became an iconic image for Mets fans. The Right Field entrance gate of Citi Field, the current ballpark of the Mets, features a metal silhouette of a baseball player making a diving catch similar to the one Swoboda made during the 1969 Series.[9]

Montreal Expos

In 1971, Swoboda and minor leaguer Rich Hacker were traded to the Montreal Expos in exchange for young outfielder Don Hahn; later that year, the Expos traded Swoboda to the New York Yankees. He was released by the Yankees in 1973, and signed with the Atlanta Braves during Spring training of 1974. The Braves, however, released him on March 25, 1974, after which Swoboda retired from baseball. He attempted an unsuccessful comeback with the Mets during spring training in 1976.

After his retirement from the baseball, Swoboda worked as a television sportscaster in New York City on WCBS-TV and for many years at WVUE in New Orleans. He also worked at Cox Sports Television. Ron is currently the color commentator for telecasts of games played by the New Orleans Zephyrs, the AAA farm club of the Florida Marlins. He was also a recipient of the Thurman Munson Award, in February 2009.

However, Swoboda is mostly remembered for his theatrical defensive gem during the 1969 World Series. In a guest column for the New York Daily News, Swoboda wrote, "I'm kidded, occasionally, by folks who wonder: 'How long are you going to keep living off of one catch?' My answer: 'How long have I got left?'"[10]


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