Success came, but not easily or early for Jerry Grote. After hitting .181 in 100
games for the 1964 Colt .45s (later the Astros), he returned to the minors. The Mets
purchased his contract, but in his first two years in New York Grote hit poorly,
was mediocre behind the plate, and blamed it on the umpires, manager, and teammates.
Manager Wes Westrum
said, "If he ever learns to control himself, he might become
the best catcher in baseball." Grote learned, becoming a key ingredient on Met teams
for a dozen years. Lou Brock
once said that Grote was the toughest catcher in the
league to steal against. Grote was behind the plate on his birthday when the Mets
won their first pennant in 1969. He caught every inning of the 1969 and 1973 LCS
and WS, setting three WS fielding records in 1973. Though he played only 61 games
with the Dodgers, he appeared with them in the 1977 and 1978 WS. The Royals, short
of catching, lured him out of retirement in 1981.