Success came, but not easily or early for Jerry Grote. After hitting .181 in 100 games for the 1964 Colt .45s (later the Astros), he returned to the minors. The Mets purchased his contract, but in his first two years in New York Grote hit poorly, was mediocre behind the plate, and blamed it on the umpires, manager, and teammates. Manager Wes Westrum said, “If he ever learns to control himself, he might become the best catcher in baseball.” Grote learned, becoming a key ingredient on Met teams for a dozen years. Lou Brock once said that Grote was the toughest catcher in the league to steal against. Grote was behind the plate on his birthday when the Mets won their first pennant in 1969. He caught every inning of the 1969 and 1973 LCS and WS, setting three WS fielding records in 1973. Though he played only 61 games with the Dodgers, he appeared with them in the 1977 and 1978 WS. The Royals, short of catching, lured him out of retirement in 1981.