New York Mets
“You gotta believe,” was the cry made famous by the 1969 New York Mets when they astonished the baseball world by winning the pennant and World Series faster than any expansion team in baseball history. In only eight years the “Amazing Mets,” became an inspiration to all other expansion teams that would follow.
In the 53 years the Mets have been in existence, they have been one of the most exciting and emotional of all teams. This book has recorded every season and career record ever created by a Met player in chronological order beginning in 1962, their first year of play to the present. This is very different than typical record books which only post existing records and eliminate old records when new ones are created. Thus what is being presented is a complete history of Mets records rather than just a set of existing marks. The author’s goal is the preservation of records so that the players and their outstanding achievements will never be forgotten. Did you know that Babe Ruth established more than 200 records yet very few fans can remember more than a handful? This is because each time one of his records was broken; his name was eliminated from the record book. Now, for the first time; we have a record book which never eliminates a record but simply adds each new mark to the existing chronological listings. In this way, no player or their achievement will ever be forgotten.
As a result of this unique chronological listing, player’s records for the very first time can be counted so that we will now learn which Met has established the most records in batting, pitching and fielding. Prior to our research, this informa-tion was unknown.
Each chapter ends with the counting of all records which are placed on a “Record Holders,” list. This list reveals the player with the most records and ends with the players who have only one record.
More important than the number of records are the quality of records. This can easily be seen as the listings show the date each record was set and when it was broken. Now, not only are we able to see every record created by a Met but we also learn how many years each mark lasted before broken, and of course all those which remain unbroken. There is no denying that great players establish records which stand the test of time. You will now learn which Met players have the longest standing records.
Another never before seen feature are the creation of individual players “Record Profiles.” Not only can each player’s records be counted but they can also be placed in individual profiles so that all player records may be seen on one page.
This is also done in chronological order showing how long each record lasted and who were the following players to break each record.
Another first that Met fans will enjoy are the chronological listings of Mets Rookie records. We now learn who have been the Mets most successful Rookies and the number of records they have produced.
Finally, there are season and career records established by Mets managers. Do you know which Mets manager has established the most managerial records?
EXPLANATION OF CHRONOLOGY LISTING
SEASON HOME RUN RECORDS
|MOST HOME RUNS|
The chronology list above shows that Frank Thomas was the Mets first home run champion hitting 34 round trippers.
His record lasted 13 years before broken by Dave Kingman. Kingman broke his own record in 1982 only to have his mark bettered by Darryl Strawberry in 1987 when this sweet swinging lefty blasted 39 balls into the far seats. “Straw” became the second Met to hold the home run record twice when he tied his own mark in 1988. Strawberry’s fine achievements lasted 8 years before hard hitting Todd Hundley established a new record in 1996 with 41 homers. This outstanding record has been tied by Carlos Beltran in 2006.
How many Met fans remember that Frank Thomas was the Mets first home run king and that Dave Kingman was the first to hold two home run titles? Do we remember that Darryl Strawberry had consecutive 39 home run seasons in 1987 and 1988? Is it fresh in our minds that Todd Hundley’s record still stands? Even though record setting is one of the most exciting events in baseball, we can see how easy it is to forget the great achievements and players of the past. Now they will never be forgotten.
NEW YORK METS HISTORY
When the Giants and Dodgers left New York in 1957 it marked the first time in 81 years that the National League did not have a team in New York. This became unthinkable and in the fall of 1957, Mayor Robert F. Wagner established a committee of four prominent New Yorkers to explore the possibility of bringing New York City back to the league it had been a part of since 1876, the first year of National League play.
One of these men was William Shea who was quietly active in politics and had a lot of clout. He first tried to entice other teams into moving to New York. When this failed, he came up with the idea of expanding the league from eight teams to ten. Major league baseball had eight teams in each league since the turn of the century. This was before radio, television, the automobile and the airplane. Shea’s idea made sense but owners did not like the idea and turned him down. Shea saw only one other course, to create a third Major league. For this he enlisted the services of Branch Rickey who was one of the most powerful men in baseball. The new league was to be called the “Continental League.”
With Rickey as president he had no problem in lining up eight cities that were interested in the new league. The target date for starting was April of 1961. This resulted in the National League club owners calling a special meeting on October 16, 1960. They voted to accept Shea’s original proposal of expansion. The idea of the Continental League proved to be Shea’s wedge to pry apart the sealed doors and force expansion. It was a clever ploy on his part.
In his effort to begin the Continental League, Shea found some very willing backers for a New York team. One such backer was Mrs. Charles Shipman Payson. She quickly bought out her partners and became 80 per- cent owner of the club that would become known as the New York Mets.
Payson’s first move was to appoint M. Donald Grant, a Wall Street financier as head of the board of directors.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, the Yankees fired manager Casey Stengel and also gave General Manager George Weiss his walking papers. The Mets management took advantage of this and gobbled up both of them and now the new born club had many years of experience in the front office and on the field. It was Weiss who hired Stengel who had become itchy after being away from the game in 1961 for the first time since 1909.
The Mets would play their first season in the old Polo Grounds which had been abandoned by the Giants. They quickly made plans to build a new stadium in Flushing, Queens.
On October 10, 1961, the expansion draft took place and the Mets drafted a pitching staff of Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Craig Anderson, Ray Daviault, Jay Hook, Bob Miller and Sherman Jones.
The infield consisted of: Don Zimmer, Gil Hodges, Ed Bouchee, Elio Chacon, Felix Mantilla and Sammy Drake. They had an outfield of: Lee Walls, Gus Bell, Joe Christopher, Bobby Gene Smith and Johnny Demerit.
After the draft was over, Weiss traded Lee Walls for second baseman Charlie Neal and added slugger Frank Thomas and Richie Ashburn.
WOR-TV Channel 9 obtained the rights to broadcast the games. Hired to announce the games were three outstanding men: Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Pittsburgh Pirates great, Ralph Kiner.
The Mets did not lose their opening game…it was rained out! Gus Bell got their first hit and Gil Hodges their first home run but the Mets lost to the Cardinals in St. Louis 11-4. The next day they returned to New York and were given a ticker-tape parade even though their lifetime record was 0-1.
The “New Breed,” as they were soon called, lost their first nine games before Jay Hook got their first win on April 23rd.
But as expected, the Mets would end up in last place losing a record 120 games.
On April 17, 1964 the Mets played their first game in their new stadium. It was appropriately named Shea Stadium.
Casey Stengel broke his hip on July 25, 1965 at which time he stepped down from his beloved “Amazin Mets” which so many times he called them. His successor was Wes Westrum.
The Mets have the Atlanta Braves to thank for the beginning of their rise in the National League. They had signed a pitcher by the name of George Thomas Seaver after the commencement of his USC season. This was against the rules and Seaver was declared a free agent. The Indians, Phillies and Mets were interested in Seaver and their names were put in a hat. The Mets won the luck of the draw and it marked the beginning of many great years the Mets would enjoy.
George Weiss would retire after the 1966 season and was replaced by Bing Devine. Devine had been Weiss’s assistant
Manager Wes Westrum resigned with 11 games remaining in 1967 and coach Salty Parker ran the club to the end of the season. Gil Hodges, who had left the Mets in 1963 to manage the Washington Senators, was given a three year contract beginning in 1968.
Bing Devine resigned on December 5, 1967 and was replaced by former Yankee great relief pitcher Johnny Murphy.
Murf had been in the Mets front office since their inception.
The Mets had finished last from 1962 through 1965, next to last in 1966, last in 1967 and next to last in 1968. The miracle happened in 1969 when they went from last to first to win their first title. At that time they had a pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Don Cardwell, Jim McAndrew, Tug McGraw, Nolan Ryan, Cal Coonce and Ron Taylor.
Their starting line up consisted of: Ed Kranepool-1B, Ken Boswell-2B, Bud Harrelson-SS, Wayne Garrett-3B, Ron Swoboda-RF, Tommie Agee-CF, and Jerry Grote-C.
They defeated the Atlanta Braves in the Championship Series three games to none and won the World Series surprising the Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1. It marked the fastest rise and success of an expansion team in baseball history.When General Manager Johnny Murphy died of a heart attack on Jan. 14, 1970, he was replaced by director of player personnel, Bob Scheffing.
On April 2, 1972, Manager Gil Hodges died from a heart attack and the Mets had lost yet another of their great leaders. For the Mets it was a time of terrible sadness. Their grief was sincere and deep, but a new season was approaching and they needed a new manager. On April 6, the new skipper was announced. It was none other than the great Yogi Berra, former catcher for the New York Yankees.
On May 11, 1972, the Mets acquired the great Willie Mays from the Giants and Willie did the best he could in helping the Mets to a third place finish.
The Mets won their second division title in 1973, defeated Cincinnati in the Championship Series but lost to the Oakland A’s in 7 games in the World Series.
Things did not go well for the Mets in the next decade. On October 13, 1974, Joe McDonald replaced Bob Scheffing as General Manager and on August 6th Yogi Berra was replaced by Roy McMillan. On September 29, Casey Stengel died of cancer at the age of 85. A few days later, popular owner Joan Payson died at the age of 72.
On October 3, 1975 the Mets hired Joe Frazier as manager and he did well in bringing the team in third place in 1976 but after a 15-30 start in 1977 he was replaced by Joe Torre. As successful as Joe Torre was managing the Yankees, he had a terrible time with the Mets. He finished last in his division from 1977 to 1979 and next to last in 1980 and 1981.
He was replaced by George Bamberger in 1982 who also finished last, and he was replaced by Frank Howard in 1983 who finished last.
Things got a lot better in 1984 when Davey Johnson took over. Johnson brought the team up to second in 1984 and 1985 and won the pennant and World Series in 1986.
The Mets finished second in 1987 and Johnson led them to a division title in 1988 but lost to the Dodgers in the Championship game. The club also finished second in 1989 and after 44 games Johnson was replaced by Bud Harrelson in 1990. In that year the Mets finished second again and fifth under Harrelson in 1991. Mike Cubbage managed the last 7 games that year. In 1992 and 1993 Jeff Torborg was at the helm and had a fifth place finish in 1992 and was gone after 38 games in 1993. Dallas Green was the new leader but the team dropped into last place. But Green did a fine job during the next three years elevating the Mets to 3rd, 2nd and 4th. He was replaced with 31 games remaining in the 1996 season by Bobby Valentine.
Valentine was a strong manager and finished third in 1997 and then had three consecutive second place finishes into the year 2000. He had the unenviable task of trying to dethrone the unbeatable Atlanta Braves who won 12 consecutive division titles. When Valentine finished third in 2001 and fifth in 2002, Art Howe was brought in to manage the 2003 season.
On December 6, 1975, Mrs. Lorinda de Roulet, daughter of the late Joan Payson was named president of the Mets.
This decision was made by chairmen of the board Donald Grant and General Manager Joe McDonald.
One of the saddest days in Mets history took place on June 15, 1977 when they traded Tom Seaver to the Reds. “Tom Terrific,” was the fans pride and joy and this move hurt them deeply.
On January 24, 1980, ownership of the team changed hands. The group that bought the Mets for an estimated $22 million (the largest amount ever paid for a club at that time), was headed by Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon. They vowed to spend money and restore the Mets to their glory days.
Hired as architect of this rebuilding plan was Frank Cashen who had learned his trade in the front office of the Baltimore Orioles. He also worked as an administrator for commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
One of Cashen’s first moves was selecting Darryl Strawberry in the 1980 draft. Immediately the Mets’s future became brighter. In 1982, things looked even better when Dwight Gooden was taken from the draft. In 1983, they reacquired Tom Seaver from the Reds and continued the rebuilding process. On June 15, 1983, Cashen made a spectacular trade getting Keith Hernandez from the Cardinals. Hernandez was a former batting champion and co-MVP and he gave the Mets a dramatic infusion of high- style talent.
With a fine array of young players and veterans, new manager Davey Johnson made the Mets serious contenders coming in second in 1984 and 1985 before winning the pennant and World Series in 1986. The baseball Gods were in favor of the Mets in that now famous game six when Bill Buckner could not believe how such a slow hit ground ball could take such a bad hop under his glove. This would have been the third out giving the Red Sox their first World Series win since 1918. Instead it allowed game seven which the Mets won and the “Curse Of The Bambino” continued.
Perhaps the most exciting time in Mets history came about in the year 2000 when the Mets came in second but won a wildcard berth. They defeated both the Giants and Cardinals in championship games and met their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees in what had been dubbed the “Subway Series.”
In game one, the Mets scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 lead but the Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and won it in the l2th 4-3.
In game two, the Mets were held scoreless and losing 6-0 going into the ninth inning. They rallied for 5 runs but came up short losing 6-5.
In game three, with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 8th, the Mets scored 2 runs and defeated the Yankees 4-2.
In game four, the Yankees scored single runs in the first three innings and the Mets came back with two. Tough Yankee relief pitching held them scoreless the rest of the way and the Mets lost another heartbreaking one run game.
In game five, the Mets took a 2-1 lead in the second inning, allowed the Yankees to tie the game in the sixth inning and when the Yankees scored two runs in the top of the ninth, the Mets were stopped by Mariano Rivera, one of the best closers in baseball history.
So the Mets gave the mighty Yankee a run for their money and made it extremely difficult to defeat this proud band of Mets.