Rod Gaspar’s finest moments in baseball came in the 1969 World Series with the Miracle Mets. That was the year the Mets, a team who had never enjoyed a winning season, defied everyone's expectations.
Coming into the series against the Baltimore Orioles which fielded Hall of Famers like Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer, Gaspar boldly declared the Mets would win the series in four straight games.
His statement infuriated the Baltimore Orioles, including Frank Robinson, who responded, “Who the hell is Rod Gaspar?”
Gaspar, a Mets outfielder, made sure the Orioles would remember him.
In game 4 of the World Series, with the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the tenth, Gaspar pinch-ran for catcher Jerry Grote on second base.
The next batter was walked. Then pinch-hitter J.C. Martin laid down a bunt to advance the runners. Gaspar bolted to third, but during the play, the opposing pitcher threw the ball and hit Martin’s hand.
Gaspar took advantage of the blunder and scored the game-winning run
Gaspar’s prediction came true. The Mets won game 5 after winning four straight games to take the series.
A New Life
It’s been 36 years since Gaspar stepped up to the batter's box. He settled in Mission Viejo with his wife, Sheridan, in the late fall of 1976 after he retired from Major League Baseball. The city was new then, and it was a new start on life.
Gaspar now has four children, two sons, two daughters and nine grandchildren.
He’s a consultant at his own insurance company known as World Series Associates and every day at work he wears his 1969 World Series ring on his right hand. Coworker Guy Baker convinced him to wear the ring to work to give people who never saw a World Series ring a chance to see it in person.
Since he started the company, Gaspar has filled his days taking teasing jabs at his friend and co-worker Baker, having Bible studies with his fellow co-workers on Monday mornings, and helping clients manage their finances.
Although he is 36 years removed from baseball, Gaspar’s competitive nature still runs through his life through a different game, handball.
“At my age, I love it. I love seeing people come at me on the handball court,” he said. “It comes from the competitive nature of being an athlete."
He says he's more competitive now than he was 40 years ago.
Mission Viejo is a great place to raise a family, Gaspar says. But he's thought about leaving California.
“People ask where I want to go. I don’t know. My youngest daughter is in Austin, Texas,” he said. “But you know what? I don’t know. For the rest of my life I might still be here.”