It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years this past Friday since Davey Johnson’s fly ball went softly into Cleon Jones’s glove in left field.
And a lot has changed. Shea Stadium is now gone and the Mets welcomed in Citi Field by playing like the teams that opened the Polo Grounds and the 1964 version of their erstwhile ballpark.
But 1969 will always be there and the memories will always remain. As will those of the 1969 Jets and 1969-70 Knicks, both of which won their respective championships, as well.
Over the years, plenty of books have been published on each team, especially the Mets, and they all pretty much tell the same story. But Art Shamsky’s The Magnificent Seasons towers above other historical accounts, not only because it’s by a participant, but also because it covers all three teams during that period.
Starting with the Jets, Shamsky – who played right field for the Mets in 1969 and then later worked as a sports television reporter for 10 years on WNEW Channel 5 – goes from the early days of the club to the magical 1969 season. He interviews all the major players on each club to paint the word picture accurately.
Although the Mets are heavily covered, the Jets and Knicks sections are very interesting in their own right, because of the lack of coverage those teams received over the years compared to the Miracle Mets. As someone who was born right after the 69 championships happened, the book provides a excellent reference for a person who didn’t live through the era.
Shamsky doesn’t just interview the players, he also speaks with various famous fans, including Ray Romano, since Shamsky has a relationship with the television star from his time on Everyone Loves Raymond.
Because he was a player, Shamsky is able to get the reader into the clubhouse and delve into areas only a former athlete would know. Yet, he was a journalist as well and due to this, the work is researched very accurately and presented in an intelligent way.
That’s why The Magnificent Seasons works so well. First published back in 2005, the book is still very timely and a good read for not just fans of those three teams, but everyone who is interested in New York sports.
Visit ArtShamsky.com to order your autographed copy.