Former Major Leaguer to Visit Southeast

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 5, 2005 — Ron Swoboda, a former major league baseball player who was one of the 1969 Miracle Mets, will visit the Southeast Missouri State University campus Oct. 17-19.

At 7 p.m. on Monday evening, Oct. 17,  in Dempster Hall Glenn Auditorium, Swoboda will present his recollections and anecdotes of the game in a talk entitled “Why Bob Gibson Should Have Been Outlawed from Baseball.”  Admission is free, and the public is invited. 

Swoboda also will meet with a number of classes and student groups during his visit to Southeast.

One of the stars of the 1969 World Series, in which the New York Mets defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles, Swoboda made a miraculous diving catch to save game four and then drove in the winning run as the Mets claimed the championship in game five.  He batted .400 in the Series, leading all players with six base hits.

Swoboda played in the majors for nine seasons, six of those with the Mets.  In 1971, he was traded to Montreal, but after playing only 39 games with the Expos, he was traded to the New York Yankees, with whom he ended his playing career in 1973.

While Swoboda’s career statistics were not overly impressive, he displayed a surprising knack for the big game.  His legendary catch in the ’69 World Series, now known simply as “The Catch,” is ranked by Baseball Weekly as one of the “10 Most Amazing Plays of All Time.”

And he hit a pair of two-run homers off Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals on the night when Carlton struck out a record-setting 19 batters. 

Swoboda is also remembered for some prodigious home runs.  In 1965, in only his second major league at bat, he hit a towering pinch-hit homer over the back wall of the bullpen in the Mets’ Shea Stadium. 

“The longest home run I ever hit,” Swoboda still recalls.

In 1966, he celebrated the Fourth of July by hitting a ball onto the left field roof in Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

His picture appears on the May 6, 1968, cover of “Sports Illustrated,” accompanied by the caption, “Slugger Ron Swoboda.”

In his rookie season, Swoboda played for the legendary manager Casey Stengel.  After watching Swoboda hit a game-winning home run one day and then misplay a fly ball the next to cost the Mets a victory, Stengel told reporters, “The kid will be great, super, wonderful.  Now if he can only learn to catch a fly ball.”

After his playing career ended, Swoboda became a radio and television sports reporter and announcer, working in New York, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and, since 1981, New Orleans.   He currently provides the play-by-play analysis for the broadcasts of the games of the New Orleans Zephyrs, a AAA team.  “I enjoy watching and working with the young players,” Swoboda says.  “They have such enthusiasm for the game, and they remind me of my own struggles to break into the game as a young player.”

Swoboda also writes feature columns for the “New Orleans Magazine” and other publications.  In addition to baseball, among his favorite topics to write about are impressionist art and New Orleans history.

Swoboda’s visit to Southeast is being sponsored by the School of University Studies, the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of English, the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, and KRCU Radio.