Street Named In Syosset After Former Mets Star

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Ron Swoboda (right) holds his brand-new “Swoboda Dr.” sign.
(Photo courtesy of Mary Petersen of the Community Church of Syosset)

As the New York Mets continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s first World Series title, one special event just occurred in Syosset.

Ron Swoboda, an outfielder on the 1969 championship-winning Mets, was given a special honor for a day. Morris Court in Syosset, where he once lived, was renamed Swoboda Drive for a day.

“Ron was a player who reminded me of Whitey Ford and Roy Campenella (who lived in Glen Cove),” Rich Marschean, who still lives in Syosset, said. “He was approachable and didn’t disappear behind the gates of his driveway.”

Swoboda resided in Syosset for quite some time with his wife Cecilia and sons Brian and Ron Jr. While the street sign might not be permanent, it is still a special honor for the former major leaguer, who spent six seasons with the Mets and three with the New York Yankees.

Swoboda, now 75, discussed the 1969 World Series with Anton Media Group’s Long Island Weekly earlier this year.

“I think we felt like, if we were being completely rational, we felt like we would be better,” Swoboda said. “We had won 73 games the year before so that didn’t presage a World Series or division win. Major League Baseball had expanded the leagues in 1969 and now there were divisions—east and west—in both leagues. Gil Hodges said to us during spring training, ‘I think this team can win 85 games,’ and I think we looked around at each other and went, ‘Us?’ We thought we would be better, but I don’t think anybody envisioned a run towards 100 wins in any way, shape or form.”

Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan joined local residents in recognizing Swoboda’s contributions to not just the Mets, but to the Syosset community. At one point, the Syosset Little League invited Swoboda to attend the annual awards dinner.

Swoboda, as generous as he always was, attended the dinner pro bono, according to Bill and Doug Petersen. The brothers said Swoboda, throughout the dinner, took the time to sign autographs for each person, whether it was a child or an adult.

Throughout Swoboda’s nine-year career as a major leaguer, he hit 73 home runs with a .242 batting average. Overall, he played in 928 games.

In the late 1960s, he was known as one of the best defensive outfielders in the majors, with 17 assists in 1967, along with 14 a year later.

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  1. As a postscript to this story, I offer a flashback to 1969, the year of the Amazin’ Mets, when Syosset FIRST dedicated a piece of property to Ron Swoboda. He filled in the missing pieces of this story for me a couple of years ago and gave me permission to use it in a future book or article, so here goes.

    After the Mets’ “Miracle” season, with his $34,000 salary presumed intact for a while, Swoboda purchased a home at 3 Morris Court, just off Cherry Lane, in Syosset. The Syosset Little League, determined not to miss a grand opportunity, wasted no time in organizing a parade and a field dedication to Syosset’s new hero. With assistance from the Town of Oyster Bay, they declared October 30, 1969 to be “Ron Swoboda Day” in Syosset and made arrangements for a parade to pass through town and culminate with a ceremony at “Syosset Park,” a very small town parklet at the foot of Edna Drive, whose ballfield would be adorned with a sign dedicating it in Mr. Swoboda’s name.

    Four hundred Little Leaguers participated in the parade, as did the 50-piece Syosset High School Marching Band and scores of Syosset volunteer firefighters. When the event reached the cul de sac at the foot of Edna Drive, the main entrance to Syosset Park, a massive crowd gathered to cheer their hero and to hear him speak. True to his playful personality, Swoboda thanked the crowd for coming and then ordered them all to “Get off his lawn!”

    The very next day, the proud Mets outfielder invited some of his family out to Syosset to show them his new field. Embarrassingly for Swoboda, nobody had told him that the field would only be named in his honor for one day, that being the day of the parade. When he showed up at the park with his family, there were no remnants left of Ron Swoboda Day. All the signs had come down and the park had reverted back to its existing name. Today, Mr. Swoboda laughs when he recalls this humiliating moment, but it must have been quite mortifying at the time. He subsequently acquired the signs bearing his name that had been installed at the field for the parade and still has them in his home in New Orleans, LA.

    I am glad to see that the Minuccis, the Marscheans, and the Petersens have seen to it that Ron finally got his honor!

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