Jerry Grote, catcher on champion Amazin’ 1969 Mets, dies

Gerald “Jerry” Wayne Grote, the starting catcher on the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets and longtime staple at Shea Stadium, died Sunday. He was 81.

During the Miracle Mets run to their first World Series title, appeared in 113 games and anchored the pitching staff that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and Tug McGraw, catching every pitch during Gil Hodges‘ squad’s postseason run. He was also a member of the 1973 pennant-winning team.

During his time in Queens, Grote developed a tough-nosed reputation where respect was hard-earned. He was regarded as one of the best defenders at his position throughout his career, including a .991 fielding percentage and 56.3 caught stealing percentage in 1969.

“The perfect catcher for that wonderful pitching staff,” Mets radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose described Grote Sunday night. “All you need to know about Grote is that Johnny Bench said that if he and Jerry had been teammates, Bench would have had to play third base.”

The Texan was also a two-time All-Star during his Mets tenure, in 1968 and 1974. He remains the Mets all-time leader in games played at catcher (1,235). He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1992.

He finished his career with a .252 batting average, 1092 hits and 15 WAR in 16 seasons, 12 with the Mets, before retiring in 1981. He also played for the Houston Colt .45s, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals.