The Mets Have always
The first run they ever scored came on a balk. They lost the first
nine games they ever played. Rumor has it they picked the name of the best
pitcher (Tom Seaver) in their history out of a hat on April Fools' Day.
They were supposed to be the replacement for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. They could have been the New York Continentals,
Burros, Skyliners, Skyscrapers, Bees, Rebels, NYB's, Avengers or even Jets (all
runner-up names in a contest to tab the National League team that began playing
baseball in 1962).
But as the press release dated May 8, 1961, announced, the name was
"METS...just plain Mets." They have never been anything to their fans but
amazing - the Amazin' New York Mets.
In 1960 Casey Stengel managed the New York Yankees to a first-place finish as the team recorded a .630 percentage winning 97 games and losing 57.
By 1962, Stengel was in place as the skipper of the New York Mets. They finished 10th in a 10-team league. They finished 60 1/2 games out of first
place, losing more games (120) than any other team in the 20th century.
Richie Ashburn batted .306 for the Mets that season and then retired. He remembered those days.
"It was the only time I went to a ballpark in the major leagues and nobody
expected you to win."
Once they were losing a game12-1, and there were two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. A fan held up a sign that said "PRAY!" There was a
walk. And ever hopeful thousands of fans started shouting at the Polo Grounds
(where they played while Shea Stadium was being built) "Let's Go Mets!!"
A bumbling collection of castoffs, not quite-ready-for prime-time major league
players, paycheck collectors and callow youth, the Mets underwhelmed the
opposition. But Casey loved the young players on the team who he called "the
youth of America."
They had pitcher Jay Hook who could talk for hours about why a curve ball curved (he had a Masters degree in engineering), but couldn't throw
They had "Choo-Choo" Coleman, an excellent low-ball catcher. The only problem was that the Mets had very few low-ball pitchers.
They had "Marvelous Marv" Throneberry, a Mickey Mantle look-alike in the batter's box, and that's where the resemblance ended.
Day after day Casey Stengel would watch the Mets and be amazed at how they could find newer and more original ways to beat themselves. In desperation
- some swore it was on the day he witnessed Al Jackson go 15 innings yielding
but three hits only to lose the game on two errors committed by Marvelous Marv
- Casey bellowed out his plaintive query, "Can't anybody here play this game?"
They were 100-1 underdogs to win the pennant in 1969, and incredibly came on to finish the year as World Champions.
There are many who think it will happen again soon.
Time will tell the tale.
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
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