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Catcher For First-Ever World Series-Winning Mets Team Dead At 81

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Jerry Grote, the catcher for the first-ever World Series-winning Mets team in 1969, passed away from respiratory failure following a heart procedure this week at the age of 81.

Jerry’s wife, Cheryl, released a statement on Facebook following his tragic passing.

“It’s with great sorrow that I make this post to all of Jerry’s fans. Today, April 7, 2024 at 4:29 p.m., I lost our beloved catcher,” she wrote, in part. “He gave a hard fight to the very end as we all expected he would. He is now home with Jesus. Thank you for all the memories and support.”

New York Post

The Mets also released a statement following the passing of their former player.

“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.”

Mets Insider Blog

Grote was born in October 1942 and was raised in San Antonio, Texas. Jerry played baseball for his high school, Douglas MacArthur High School, where he pitched, caught, and also played third base. After graduating from high school, Grote attended Trinity University in 1962, where he played college baseball for the Trinity Tigers. During the 1962 season, he led the team in batting average (.413), home runs (5), RBIs (19), runs scored (29), and hits (31).

After spending just one season with the Trinity Tigers, Grote was signed as a mature free agent by the Houston Colt .45s in 1962 and was assigned to play for their minor league affiliate, the San Antonio Bullets.

Jerry made his major league debut at the age of twenty with the Colt .45s in September 1963 when he was substituted in as a late-game defensive player for John Bateman. During his debut performance, Grote hit a sacrifice fly to score a run inhis only at-bat. Grote only appeared in three games that season and continued to battle for the starting catcher position for the newly renamed Houston Astros.

At the end of the 1965 season, Grote was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Tom Parsons. In 1966, Grote received the starting catcher job for the New York Mets. Despite a non-stellar performance from the Mets in 1966, Grote’s defensive expertise helped the team’s young pitchers improve throughout the season.

In 1968, Grote was hitting over .300 at mid-season and was selected as the starting catcher for the 1968 MLB All-Star Game, becoming only the second player in Mets history to receive a starting position on the All-Star roster. Jerry ended the season batting .282 with three home runs and 31 RBIs.

In 1969, the Mets closed a nine-game gap in the standings to the Chicago Cubs, who had held first place since the beginning of the season, clinching the team’s first-ever first-place finish in history. Next, the Mets swept the Atlanta Braves in the 1969 National League Championship Series. However, they were still considered heavy underdogs in the World Series when facing the Baltimore Orioles.

The Mets lost the first game of the series but quickly bounced back, winning the next four games straight, and capturing their first World Championship. Grote not only caught every inning during the team’s postseason run but also kept the team’s hope of turning the series around by extending a ninth-inning rally with a single that set up the walk-off hit.

Rest in peace!

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