Apr 11

Mets No Longer Lovable Losers

Well, you didn’t expect perfection, did you?

POLO GROUNDS: Where it began for the Mets.

The Mets gained the reputation as “Lovable Losers” in their infancy, which began 50 years ago today with a decisive loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night was also decisive, but there was nothing lovable about it as the Mets started the night with news their often-injured third baseman, David Wright, had a fractured right pinkie and is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

Then, I suppose in a page taken from the original Mets, Dillon Gee gave up a game-opening home run to Ian Desmond. We knew the Mets would eventually lose, but defeat was certain and ugly, containing butchered plays by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, two defensive liabilities to begin with, but not with the Marvelous Marv flair.

Gee was roughed up and the offense disappeared and their first defeat of the season was in the books. There will be others, but defeat in 2012 will be different than defeat in 1962.

Back then, New York was happy to have National League baseball back in the city and embraced the rag-tag group of veteran rejects managed by circus barker Casey Stengel. Defeat was often and came in various forms and with the Stengel proclamation: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Well, at one time, they did. At one time, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and Richie Ashburn could really play. However, 50 years ago, they represented memories in flannels.

Today’s Mets, while undermanned, have a core of young and talented players, with more on the way up. Had the original Mets taken to start with youth before veterans, who knows how the history of the franchise would have changed?

Perhaps, we might have had the Miracle Mets before 1969. Then again, the karma would have been altered. Like much about baseball, there’s fun and beauty in speculation.

The Mets celebrate 50 years this season, and we all have our memories and special moments. Mine is different than yours, but they are all special. I don’t know how this year will wind up, but it will be special in its own right because it will contain a new set of memories.

It began with a sprint out of the gate with four exciting and well-played victories, but sputtered last night with bad pitching, spotty defense and no hitting, just like it was 50 years ago.

But, it’s not 1962 anymore. The Mets have a new stadium and aren’t playing in the rundown Polo Grounds. Those Mets weren’t expected to be good, or even compete. Today’s Mets must compete, and in New York, that means winning.

 

Jun 17

Today in Mets History: Marvelous Marv.

Maybe it isn’t so odd this occurred the day after the Mets lost on a balk in the tenth inning, a disappointing end to what was a good road trip that dropped them below .500 once again.

MARVELOUS MARV

 

On this date in 1962 – the year when the Mets seemed to have invented the word `amazing,’ – it was all about Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who personified those early teams.

Throneberry appeared to hit a two-run triple against the Cubs in the Polo Grounds, but was called out for failing to touch second base. When manager Casey Stengel raced out of the dugout to argue the call, first base coach Cookie Lavagetto stopped him and said, “Don’t argue, Case. He missed first base, too.’’

How can that not make you chuckle?

There were a lot of great stories about the 1962 Mets, several of them involving Throneberry.

Throneberry played for the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Orioles before playing the first two seasons in Mets’ history.

He was demoted to the minor leagues in 1963 and replaced by Ed Kranepool. He retired after that season as a .237 hitter with 53 homers and 170 RBI.

THRONEBERRY CAREER NUMBERS

There was a gentleness about Throneberry, who maintained a sense of humor. Many years after retiring, Throneberry appeared in the Miller Lite ads that featured sporting legends.

THRONEBERRY COMMERCIAL

WARNING: If you click on to this you might spend an hour watching the other links to commercials.

Throneberry passed away at age 60 in 1994.