The year was 1969, a landmark year, perhaps the most incredible year of the 20th Century. Rob Kirkpatrick wrote all about in in 1969: The Year Everything Changed.
Here’s a Top 10 list of accomplishments, events, trends and happenings of 1969:
1. Man on the Moon
3. Amazin’ Mets
4. Nixon and Vietnam turmoil
5. Movies – Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
6. Rock and Roll – Beatles last concert, Led Zeppelin, Altamont and the Rolling Stones
7. Joe Namath and the guarantee
8. Student demonstration time
10. Charles Manson and the Zodiac Killer
Over the years, New York athletes have worn some of the most famous numbers in all of sports. Icons like Babe Ruth (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4) and Joe DiMaggio (#5) sit atop a long and storied list of Yankees, who will have retired all single digit numbers as soon as they get around to Derek Jeter (#2). Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson wore #42, which has now been retired by major league baseball. Willie Mays wore #24 when he roamed center field for the New York Giants.
And there are so many more. Legends such as Lawrence Taylor (#56) with the New York Football Giants, Joe Namath (#12) with the Jets, Walt Frazier (#10) with the Knicks and Wayne Gretzky (#99) with the Rangers, just to name a few.
As you might expect, since there are more players per team and higher numbers in football, the Giants top our list of top New York athletes by number with 36. Every team is represented, even the Giants and Dodgers, who left New York for California in 1958. There are 21 Yankees, 16 Jets, 7 Mets, 6 Knicks, 5 Rangers, 3 Dodgers and Nets, 2 Devils and an Islander and baseball Giant on the list. If you’re counting with me that adds up to 101, with Casey Stengel (#37) getting the nod as both Yankee and Met manager.
Here are the top New York players by number from 0-99, with other candidates also listed. Competition was tough in some spots, most notably #10, where Walt Frazier edged out Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto and Fran Tarkenton, and #42, where Mariano Rivera and Charlie Conerly failed to make the cut.
The New York numbers list:
0 – Orlando Woolridge (Nets)
1 – Pee Wee Reese (Dodgers)
Eddie Giacomin, Billy Martin, Earle Combs
2 – Derek Jeter (Yankees)
3 – Babe Ruth (Yankees)
Bill Terry, Harry Howell, Ken Daneyko
4 – Lou Gehrig (Yankees)
Mel Ott, Duke Snider, Tuffy Leemans, Scott Stevens
5 – Joe DiMaggio (Yankees)
Denis Potvin, David Wright
6 – Joe Torre (Yankees)
Tony Lazzeri, Carl Furillo
7 – Mickey Mantle (Yankees)
Mel Hein, Rod Gilbert, Ken O’Brien, Carmelo Anthony
8 – Yogi Berra (Yankees)
Bill Dickey, Walt Bellamy, Gary Carter
9 – Richie Guerin (Knicks)
Roger Maris, Graig Nettles, Andy Bathgate, Adam Graves, Clark Gillies, Hank Bauer, Charlie Keller
10 – Walt Frazier (Knicks)
Pele, Eli Manning, Phil Rizzuto, Fran Tarkenton, Brad van Pelt
11 – Mark Messier (Rangers)
Carl Hubbell, Lefty Gomez, Phil Simms
12 – Joe Namath (Jets)
13 – Don Maynard (Jets)
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Jackson, Odell Beckham, Dave Jennings
14 – Gil Hodges (Dodgers)
YA Tittle, Bill Skowron
15 – Thurman Munson (Yankees)
Red Ruffing, Earl Monroe, Dick Mcguire, Jeff Hostetler, John McLean
16 – Frank Gifford (Giants)
Whitey Ford, Dwight Gooden
17 – Keith Hernandez (Mets)
18 – Darryl Strawberry (Mets)
Don Larsen, Phil Jackson
19 – Willis Reed (Knicks)
Bryan Trottier, Dave Righetti, Jean Ratelle
20 –Allan Houston (Knicks)
Jorge Posada, Monte Irvin, Jimmy Patton, Joe Morris
21 – Paul O’Neill (Yankees)
22 – Mike Bossy (Islanders)
Dave DeBusschere, Allie Reynolds, Dick Lynch
23 – Don Mattingly (Yankees)
24 – Willie Mays (Giants)
Bill Bradley, Derrell Revis, Robinson Cano, Ottis Anderson
25 – Bill Mclchionni (Nets)
Dick Nolan, Jason Giambi, Joe Pepitone, Bill Cartwright, Mark Collins
26 – Patrik Elias (Devils)
Wade Boggs, Orlando Hernandez
27 – Rodney Hampton (Giants)
Scott Niedermayer, Alexi Kovalev
28 – Curtis Martin (Jets)
29 – Catfish Hunter (Yankees)
30 – Martin Brodeur (Devils)
Bernard King, Henrik Lundqvist, Dave Meggett, Eddie Lopat, John Davidson
31 – Dave Winfield (Yankees)
John Franco, Mike Piazza, Billy Smith
32 – Julius Erving (Nets)
Elston Howard, Sandy Koufax, Al Blozis
33 – Patrick Ewing (Knicks)
34 – Charles Oakley (Knicks)
John Vanbiesbrouck, Don Chandler
35—Mike Richter (Rangers)
36 – David Cone (Yankees)
37 – Casey Stengel (Yankees/Mets)
38 – Bob Tucker (Giants)
39 – Roy Campanella (Dodgers)
40 – Joe Morrison
Lindy McDaniel, Mark Pavelich
41 – Tom Seaver (Mets)
42 –Jackie Robinson (Dodgers)
Mariano Rivera, Charlie Conerly
43 – Spider Lockhart (Giants)
44 – Reggie Jackson (Yankees)
John Riggins, Ahmad Bradshaw
45 – Emlen Tunnell (Giants)
Tug McGraw, John Franco
46 – Andy Pettitte (Yankees)
47 – Luis Arroyo (Yankees)
48 – Jacob deGrom (Mets)
Andy Pafko, Kenny Hill, Bobby Humphrey
49 – Ron Guidry (Yankees)
50 – Ken Strong (Giants)
51 – Bernie Williams (Yankees)
52– Buck Williams (Nets)
Jon Schmitt, CC Sabathia
53 – Harry Carson (Giants)
54 – Goose Gossage (Yankees)
55—Hideki Matsui (Yankees)
56 –Lawrence Taylor (Giants)
57 – Johan Santana (Mets)
John Wetteland, Mo Lewis
58 – Carl Banks (Giants)
59 – Kyle Clifton (Giants)
60 – Larry Grantham (Jets)
D’Brickeshaw Ferguson, Brad Benson
61 – Rick Nash (Rangers)
62 – Al Atkinson (Jets)
Joba Chamberlain, Carl Hagelin
63 – Karl Nelson (Giants)
64 – Jim Burt (Giants)
65 – Joe Fields (Jets)
66 – Jack Stroud (Giants)
David Diehl, Randy Rasmussen
67 – Dave Herman (Jets)
Bill Ard, Kareem McKenzie
68 – Kevin Mawae (Jets)
Jaromir Jagr,Dellin Betances
69 – Rich Seubert (Giants)
70 – Sam Huff (Giants)
71 – Dave Tollefson (Giants)
72 – Ose Umenyiora (Giants)
73 – Joe Klecko (Jets)
74 – Nick Mangold (Jets)
75 – George Martin (Giants)
Jim Katcavage, Winston Hill
76 – Rosey Grier (Giants)
Jumbo Elliott, Chris Snee
77 – Phil Esposito (Rangers)
78 – Jerome Salley (Giants)
79 – Roosevelt Brown (Giants)
80 – Victor Cruz (Giants)
John Elliott, Wayne Chrebet, Jeremy Shockey
81 – Andy Robustelli (Giants)
Amani Toomer, Gerry Philbin
82 – Mario Manningham (Giants)
83 – George Sauer (Jets)
84 – Harland Svare (Giants)
85 – Del Shofner (Giants)
86 – Verlon Bigggs (Jets)
87 – Howard Cross (Giants)
Pete Lammons, Domenik Hixon
88 – Al Toon (Jets)
Pat Summerall, Eric Lindros
89 – Mark Bavaro (Giants)
90 – Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants)
91 – Justin Tuck (Giants)
92 – Michael Strahan (Giants)
93 – Marty Lyons (Jets)
94 – John Abraham (Jets)
95 – Frank Ferrera (Giants)
96 – Barry Cofield (Giants)
97 – Mathias Kiwanuka (Giants)
98 – Jesse Armstead (Giants)
99 – Wayne Gretzky (Rangers)
Mark Gastineau, Steve DeOssie
Joe Namath and the SportsLifer going over the game plan prior to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa. Here’s 10 observations while wading through the interminable hype and waiting for the kickoff.
1. Giant break: The Patriots are just happy they’re not facing the Giants. Admit it, New England fans.
2. Who let the air out? Here’s my theory on Deflategate. The Patriots have been doing this for years, they finally got caught. Somebody, probably from the Colts, tipped off the league and they measured the balls. The ball boy will take a fall, but if a high-level individual like Belichick or Brady can’t be fingered, the team will pay a price. To paraphrase a recent Yogi Berra tweet, if you’re gonna cheat, you better not get caught.
3. Crusader investigator: Ted Wells, who is leading the Deflategate investigation, attended the College of the Holy Cross and graduated a year ahead of me. We’re hearing his name an awful lot these days.
4. If the Seahawks win, they will be first two to repeat since the Patriots in 2004-05. It’s happened eight times. The Steelers have done it twice (1975-76 and 1979-80), and the Packers (1967-68) in the first two Super Bowls, Dolphins (1973-74), 49ers (1989-90), Cowboys (1993-94) and the Broncos (1998-99). There has never been a Super Bowl three-peat.
5. If the Patriots win, they will join the Packers and Giants with four Super Bowl rings. Only the Steelers with six and the Cowboys and 49ers with five have more. This is New England’s eighth appearance in the Super Bowl, matching the Steelers and Cowboys.
6. What happened to the old highlights? Not big on the avalanche of pre-game hype. Years ago. someone aired those classic half-hour highlights of each Super Bowl, game by game. May have been ESPN Classic, but can’t find anything out there now. If anyone knows, let me know.
7. Broadway Joe: Pete Hamill once wrote: “Joe Namath legitimized his team and his league, the old AFL, and more than any other player, he transformed the Super Bowl into a national event instead of a post-season payday.” Now that sounds about right.
8. Silent treatment: Does anybody really care what Marshawn Lynch has to say? He’s getting my silent treatment. And there’s no fine.
9. Attitude: Roger Goodell once more shows his arrogant side responding to a question from CNN reporter Rachel Nichols.
10. Rick’s pick: Going with my pool numbers, picking Seattle 21-19 in a low-scoring. New England scores late, but is denied on a two-point conversion.
Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is evoking memories of Joe Namath.
On a cold Sunday morning more than 40 years ago, a teenager went to the local deli in suburban New York to pick up the Sunday papers and a dozen rolls.
Taped to the class counter in the deli was a paper bag, with these words:
Jets 17, Colts 7.
Of course, we all know the ending, how Broadway Joe Namath and the Miracle Jets shocked the world and the Baltimore Colts, winning Super Bowl III 16-7 and giving the American Football League the stamp of legitimacy.
Sure the deli guy was off by a point, but you have to admit it took guts to predict an 18-point underdog would not only cover the spread but win outright.
Now, more than two score years later, after beating the San Diego Chargers 17-14, the Jets are in position to finally win another Super Bowl.
The Jets haven’t been this close since losing to the Broncos 23-10 in the wind of Denver in 1999 and the Dolphins 14-0 in the mud and rain of Miami in 1983.
Now the Jets travel to Indianapolis Sunday to try and defeat the same Colts they beat in Super Bowl III…and return to the promised land.
Casey Stengel always said the Mets would win when they put a man on the Moon. Both miracles happened in 1969.
The whole world didn’t stop on July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. It just seemed that way.
For even as astronaut Neil Armstrong was landing on the powdery surface of the Moon that day, uttering 11 of history’s most famous words — “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” — the sports world carried on.
That famous Sunday featured a full schedule of baseball games, with many teams playing doubleheaders as was the norm in those days.
In Montreal, Bobby Pfeil’s bunt single in the 11th inning scored Ron Swoboda and gave the Mets a 4-3 win over the Expos and a split of their doubleheader. Montreal won the opener, 3-2.
The Mets, who would go on to miracles of their own that October, fell five games behind the Cubs in the National League East. Chicago’s Ferguson Jenkins and Dick Selma both pitched complete games as the Cubbies beat the Phillies, 1-0 and 6-1, at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.
In Atlanta, Pat Jarvis pitched a six-hit shutout as the Braves maintained their one-game lead over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West.
Orioles Rule AL East
Meanwhile, Syd O’Brien’s two-run triple in the eighth inning led the Red Sox to a 6-5 win over the Orioles. Despite the loss, Baltimore still led Boston by 11 names in the AL East.
And a shutout by Jim Perry, Gaylord’s brother, helped the AL West leading Twins to a 4-0 win over the Seattle Pilots and a four-game lead over Oakland.
The same day that Eagle landed on the Moon, Oakland left-hander Vida Blue, who went on to win the AL MVP and Cy Young award in 1971, was the losing pitcher in his major league debut. The A’s and Angels split a doubleheader that day.
In the Bronx, Gene Michael’s single drove in Roy White with the winning run as the Yankees beat the Washington Senators, 3-2, in 11 innings. Walk-off win was not yet part of the baseball vernacular.
This was the first year of divisional play in the majors. Four new teams — the Seattle Pilots and Kansas City Royals in the AL and San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos in the NL — joined baseball in 1969.
On that Sunday, July 20, Rod Carew of the Twins at .364 and Matty Alou of the Pirates at .354 and were the batting leaders. Oakland’s Reggie Jackson led the AL with 37 home runs; San Francisco’s Willie McCovey was tops in the AL with 30. Atlanta’s Phil Niekro led the majors with 15 wins.
Jacklin Celebrates British Open Win
In other sports, Tony Jacklin was still celebrating his win in the British Open the week before, first by an Englishman in 18 years.
And in football, Joe Namath and the rest of the Super Bowl champion New York Jets were gearing up for training camp at Hofstra University.
That same weekend, a car, shown above, driven by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., plunged off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy managed to escape the submerged vehicle, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. (Kennedy subsequently pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.)
In 1969, the average family income in the United States was $8,389.00, and the price of gasoline ranged between 29 and 35 cents a gallon. A six pack of Coca Cola was selling for 59 cents and Hershey bar was .10 cents. The cost for a new Ford Mustang was a whopping $2,832.00 for a standard model.
Richard M. Nixon was President of the United States, Woodstock was on the horizon and man was on the Moon.
Standin on your mamas porch
You told me it would last forever
Oh the way you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life
Bryan Adams — “Back in the Summer of 69”
When I finally find the time to write my book, I’m going to frequent the wireless cabana aside the beach sunny day after sunny day and muse about 1969.
What a year! 1969. The crowning point of the Sixties, of peace, love and happiness….and war, riots and assassinations.
On May, 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood before a joint session of Congress and put out a bold challenge to the American public.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”
A little more than eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, mission commander of Apollo 11, became the first man to set foot on the moon. The images of the lunar landing flickered across American television screens from coast to coast that hot summer Sunday.
“That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind ” Armstrong proclaimed as he stepped off the landing module and onto the lunar surface
It happened. In 1969. Man on the moon.
Early on a Saturday morning that same weekend, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, the youngest of nine in the Kennedy family, was driving a car with Mary Jo Kopechne when he drove off a bridge near Chappaquiddick Island off Martha’s Vineyard. The Senator swam to safety, but Kopechne died in the car.
It happened. In 1969. Chappaquiddick On the same weekend that Armstrong set foot on the moon.
Ted Kennedy’s brother, President Kennedy, a man of vision, was assassinated in 1963, five years before his brother, Robert Kennedy met a similar fate.
Certainly, those were turbulent times. Malcolm X was killed in 1965; and then, in 1968, Martin Luther King was shot to death.
It was a time of racial disharmony, with riots in New York and Detroit and Los Angeles and hundreds of cities and towns across America.
In the third week of April, 1969, militant black students at Cornell University used force to take over a school building demanding a black studies program.
And later that year, in October, the Weathermen, a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, orchestrated the “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago.
Also in October, college students across the country marched as part of a protest against the Vietnam War. Some met with resistance.
It happened. In 1969. Radical times. Racial unrest. Riots. Peace marches.
And in New York that same October, the Mets completed their miracle season by beating the heavily-favored Orioles to win the World Series. After years of futility, baseball’s worst team throughout the Sixties was a totally unexpected champion.
It happened. In 1969. The Miracle Mets.
Earlier in the Sixties, February of 1964 to be exact, the Beatles arrived. The four young mopheads from England made their first American appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The British invasion had begun.
The next year, the Beatles toured the USA and played Shea Stadium.
Some five years later, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their famous Bed-in in Montreal.
And in the summer of 69, a tiny little town in upstate New York named Bethel hosted the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. Or just Woodstock. Three days of fun and music, and nothing but fun and music. A defining moment for rock and roll and the counter culture.
It happened. In 1969. Rock and roll. The counter culture. Woodstock.
In 1960, the American Football League kicked off it inaugural season, an alternative to the established NFL. Ridiculed at first, the AFL soon posed a financial challenge to the NFL, and the leagues eventually merged.
The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, and the Green Bay Packers throttled the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won again the next season, and the Baltimore Colts were huge favorites over the New York Jets in Super Bowl III in Miami.
Yet the Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, upset the Colts and took one giant step for the AFL.
It happened. In 1969. Joe Namath. Woodstock. The Miracle Mets. The Weathermen. Chappaquiddick. Man on the moon.
Richard Nixon. Charles Manson. The My Lai massacre.
And so much more…..in 1969.