Monday, April 8, 2024

Mets Hall Of Famer Jerry Grote, Catcher On '69 Champs, Passed Away



On Sunday night, the Mets announced the sad news that Jerry Grote, the catcher of the 1969 World Championship team and a member of the team's Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 81 in the Texas Cardiac Arrythmia Institute in Austin, Texas.

Grote played for the Mets from 1966 to 1977, and he was a two-time All-Star, in 1968 and '74, catching a starting rotation that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Jon Matlack. 

In addition to being the backstop on the '69 Amazin Mets, he was a key part of their 1973 "Ya Gotta Believe" National League championship team.

The San Antonio, Texas, native, began his career with the Houston Astros, when he was just 20 years old, in 1963. After playing 100 games for Houston in 1964, he was traded to the Mets in 1965. After he spent 12 seasons with the Mets, he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he played in 1977, '78, and in 1981, he spent time with the Dodgers and Kansas City Royals.

The Mets released the following statements upon the news of his passing:

Mets Owners Steve and Alex Cohen: "We are incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of Jerry Grote. 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."

Jerry Grote's Teammates:

Jerry Koosman: "He was the reason for my success. 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.

Cleon Jones: "Jerry was a bulldog. He caught one of the greatest pitching staffs in the history of baseball. He was the glue that kept the staff together."

Ed Kranepool: "He was the best defensive catcher in the NL when he played. Johnny Bench once told me 'if he was on the Reds, I would be playing third base."

Ron Swoboda: "When someone stole a base on him, he took it personally. He was a superb catcher."

Jon Matlack: "He was the best catcher I ever threw to. I don't think I ever shook him off once. I had the pleasure of being his roommate on the road for a few years. It's a sad day."

Art Shamsky: "Without Jerry, we don't win in 1969. It's as simple as that. He was the best."

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