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Ron Swoboda, Amazin' Met May 6, 1968

Ron Swoboda has a knack for being in the right place at the
right time. He showcased that trait most indelibly during Game 4
of the 1969 World Series when he gained baseball celebrity with
a sprawling catch in right center on a sinking liner off the bat
of Brooks Robinson that helped propel the Amazin' Mets past the
heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in five games. "Because it
happened in the World Series, it's kind of attached to me--the
Catch," says Swoboda, a slow-footed, clumsy-fielding .242 career
hitter. "I was a pretty average ballplayer with one shining

Swoboda's moments these days may not be as dramatic, but he
finds them just as satisfying. He has taken a shine to his
adopted hometown of New Orleans, where--apart from a three-year
stint in Phoenix in the mid-1980s--he and his wife of 34 years,
Cecilia, have lived since 1981. The Baltimore-born Swoboda, now
a 55-year-old father of two sons and grandfather of five, is a
sales rep for a company that markets asbestos and lead paint
management products; does color commentary for the New Orleans
Zephyrs, the Triple A affiliate of the Houston Astros; and
writes "Swoboda at Large," a monthly column in New Orleans
Magazine. In that space the man who was nicknamed Rocky during
his playing days (purportedly a description of the contents of
his head) holds forth on the music, art, literature and history
of his favorite city. "I've never been in a place that intrigued
me from so many angles," Swoboda says. "I really dig the city,
and I've tried to love it and appreciate it."

Rocky's path to the Crescent City was strewn with its share of
stones. Signed by the Mets after just one year at Maryland,
Swoboda found himself in spring training with New York in 1964
without ever having played pro ball; he was a regular for the
hapless Mets a year later. Swoboda believes his swift rise to
the big leagues may have hurt his development, and he never
matched the 19 home runs he hit as a rookie. After he finished
his career in '73 at 29, his lingering celebrity as an Amazin'
helped him land a sports anchor position at WCBS-TV in New York
City, kicking off, he says, "six or seven years of growing
pains" in the television business. (It was a sportscasting gig
that brought him to New Orleans.) Swoboda looks back gratefully
on what he gained from his years in New York: an interest in art
and jazz. Those two passions have made New Orleans a perfect
fit. "If I hadn't spent all that time chasing baseballs, none of
this would have happened the way it did," Swoboda says, "and I
would be much the poorer."

--Pete McEntegart



Swoboda now writes a column about the music, art and history of
the city he loves: New Orleans.