Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys of Summer Sizzled; Future Members of the 1969 'Miracle Mets' Honed Their Skills as 1967 Suns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys of Summer Sizzled; Future Members of the 1969 'Miracle Mets' Honed Their Skills as 1967 Suns

Article excerpt


The 1967 Jacksonville Suns didn't win the International League pennant -- in fact, they didn't even come close -- but 40 years later, they're still worth celebrating.

At every Saturday home game, current Suns players and coaches wear jerseys honoring a team that, despite finishing fifth with a 66-73 record, produced major-league talent such as Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Tug McGraw and Amos Otis. Those players and many others on the 1967 Suns squad laid the foundation for New York's "Miracle Mets" team that stunned the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series.

Koosman, who went 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA in 1969, won both of his World Series starts that year, including the decisive Game 5. Ryan was a part-time starter who finished the season 6-3 in 89 innings over 25 games, and McGraw developed into one of baseball's best closers, going 9-3 with 12 saves in 100 innings over 42 games.

"I thought there was major-league potential on that '67 team at the time," then-Suns manager Bill Virdon said in a recent telephone interview. "They were young, but you just knew they had the talent to have major-league careers. We didn't have a lot of experienced players on that club, but by the end of the season, I remember that no team liked to face us because of our pitching."

Four other players from that Suns team -- infielders Ken Boswell and Kevin Collins, pitcher Danny Frisella and outfielder Otis -- also spent time with the "Miracle Mets." However, only Boswell contributed much to the National League pennant winners, hitting .279 in 102 games as their regular second baseman. Otis did go on to enjoy a 17-year major-league career, mostly with the Kansas City Royals.

Members of the 1967 Suns team expressed a closeness among the players back then, but admitted that they have lost touch with their old teammates.

"Once in a while, we'll run into each other, maybe at a card-signing show or some type of reunion," Boswell said. "And I do see Nolan as we're both in Texas, and I go to Houston on occasion and will see him at an Astros game."

Ryan, who didn't reply to several requests for comment about the 1967 Suns team, currently owns the Round Rock Express, the Astros' Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

Ryan spent less than a month in Jacksonville, and most of that came while the team was on the road, thus limiting the opportunities for Suns fans to see the future Hall of Famer pitch.

Billy Wynne also was a Sun that year and got more out of it than just pitching experience. He met his future wife that season, and once Wynne retired from baseball in 1971 after five seasons in the majors, he returned to Jacksonville, where he helped raised a family. Wynne, who's now divorced, still lives in the Arlington area.

The Mets' affiliation with Jacksonville didn't last long after that 1967 season. …

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