Whatever Happened To ... ?


August 09, 2008|By Jacques Kelly

Former New York Mets right fielder Ron Swoboda will be visiting Baltimore this weekend to spend some time with his father at the family home on Lakeview Avenue in Sparrows Point.

Swoboda, 64, is now a television color commentator for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the New York Mets triple-A farm club. He retired from professional baseball in 1973 and was a television sportscaster in New York before moving to New Orleans, where he also did 20 years of local TV sports.

"I try to relieve myself of overt Baltimorese, but it comes out after a couple of beers," he said of the local accent.

He's been married to the former Cecilia Hanna of Bel Air for nearly 43 years and has a son, Brian, who lives in Stewartstown, Pa. Another son, Ron Jr., lives in Metairie, La.

Swoboda, a graduate of Sparrows Point High School, started playing baseball as a 9-year-old in the Edgemere Little League. He advanced to Sterling "Sheriff" Fowble's teams in Patterson, Herring Run and Clifton parks. At age 18, Swoboda played on the Dolphin Club. At 19, he played on Leone's Boys' Club at Swann Park in South Baltimore, where his coach was Walter Youse, an Orioles scout.

In 1963, the summer after his first year at the University of Maryland, he played in a Johnstown, Pa., tournament and was offered a New York Mets contract. He signed as a right fielder and had a role in the Mets' defeat of the Orioles in the exciting 1969 World Series when he made a ninth-inning, Game Four catch - he was almost horizontal to the ground - on a hit from Brooks Robinson.

"I got to play in Memorial Stadium in front of my family," he said. "And Brooks was always one of my personal heroes and my idol."

"Swoboda is the personification of the Mets - exciting, unpolished, unpredictable, a little brash and young," a 1965 Sun profile said. Legendary Mets manager Casey Stengel added to the image by referring to him as "Suhboda" and saying he "wouldn't sell Suhboda for half a million dollars."

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