NEW YORK -- Ed Charles, the third baseman known as "The Glider" who helped lead the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series title with his veteran guidance and poetry, has died. He was 84.
Charles died Thursday in New York, the J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home said.
Born Edwin Charles on April 29, 1933, in Daytona Beach, Florida, he was inspired to become a professional baseball player when he saw Jackie Robinson, then a minor leaguer in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system, on a train at spring training in 1946. A year later, Robinson broke the big league color barrier.
Charles was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1952 and spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues before he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics after the 1961 season. He made his big league debut with the A's that April at age 29 but is best-known for his time with the Mets, who acquired him May 10, 1967, for outfielder Larry Elliot and $50,000.
Charles hit just .207 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 169 at-bats in 1969, which turned out to be his final season, but he inspired his young teammates with his poetry and came up with the occasional big hit.
He singled off Baltimore's Dave McNally in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series and scored the go-ahead run on Al Weis' sacrifice fly as the Mets won 2-1 for a 2-0 series lead en route to the Mets' first title. Charles provided leadership to an expansion team that had established itself as lovable losers in its initial seasons. Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy was fond of saying: "Never hang a slider to the Glider."
Released by the Mets after the World Series, Charles never played again. He finished with a .263 career batting average, 86 homers and 421 RBIs.
The Mets dubbed him their poet laureate. He wrote rhyming verse about Robinson and other sports-related subjects and would sometimes send poems to fans who requested autographs, the Daily News reported.
The team said he is survived by longtime companion Lavonnie Brinkley, sons Edwin and Eric, sister Virginia Charles and brother Elder.
A viewing is scheduled for Monday at the J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home.