Apr 13

Today In Mets History: NL Baseball Returns To New York

On this date in 1962, National League baseball returned to New York after a four-year absence in a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh in their home opener in the Polo Grounds.

Surprisingly, only 12,447 showed up for the first National League game in the city since the Dodgers and Giants bolted for California for the start of the 1958 season.

Pitcher Sherman Jones took the loss for the Mets and Frank Thomas homered.

Thomas hit 34 homers with 94 RBI in 1962. He hit 52 homers in three homers for the Mets. Sherman was 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in eight games for the Mets in 1962, his only season with the team and his last year in the major leagues.

BOX SCORE

 

Feb 17

Today In Mets History: Roger Craig Born

One of original Mets, pitcher Roger Craig, was born in Durham, N.C., on this date in 1930.

CRAIG: Happy Birthday to an original Met.

CRAIG: Happy Birthday to an original Met.

Craig was signed by Brooklyn in 1950 and broke in with the Dodgers five years later. He accompanied the team to Los Angeles and spent four years there before being selected in the expansion draft by the Mets prior to the 1962 season and pitched two years in the Polo Grounds and compiled a 15-46 record with a 4.14 ERA.

He became the answer to a trivia question when he started and lost the first game in Mets’ history.

Craig left the Mets following the 1963 season and went on to pitch with St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia and retired after 1966 with a 74-98 record, .430 ERA and 1.334 WHIP.

After he retired, Craig went on to manage San Francisco from 1986-1990, however his real niche was as a pitching coach where he taught the split-finger fastball.

Box Score: Craig’s first game as a Met.

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.

 

Feb 01

A blast from the past for Mets this summer.

One of the mainstays of a Mets’ summer will be returning this year, the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

BANNER DAY: Back again,

Banner Day will return May 27 to give you an opportunity to express your affection to your favorite players and memories, and yes, also a chance to editorialize on the direction of the team. Undoubtedly, there will be some censorship involved.

With the way things have been going, how can there not be?

However, I like the premise. Beginning at the Polo Grounds in 1963, and from 1964-96 at Shea Stadium, Banner Day was a Mets’ staple. So too, was Old Timers’ Day,

Maybe, the thinking is to do something for a day to spike the attendance, but it is a great day. It was an event cherished by the fans and the players got a kick out of it, also. The idea is for this year, but let’s hope it takes off.

 

Jun 07

Today in Mets History: Remembering the Duke.

It’s always interesting to look back at some of the old Mets. Some great players made a cameo in New York at the end of their careers.

SNIDER; One last moment in the Polo Grounds.

For example, Duke Snider, who hit a three-run homer on this date in 1962 off Diomedes Olivio in the ninth inning to give the Mets a 3-2 victory over St. Louis in the Polo Grounds. It wasn’t quite the Dodgers and Giants in the 1950’s, but for one day there was a Golden Age flashback in New York.

Interesting story about when Snider first joined the Mets.  Charlie Neal had No. 4, but wouldn’t give it up to Snider. Snider eventually got the number when Neal was traded.

Snider was popular with Mets’ fans who still held an emotional connection to the Dodgers – no doubt, Fred Wilpon fell into this category. Of course, what makes the Mets unique is their roots are found in two other teams, which has caused the franchise to constantly seek its own identity.

That hasn’t always been easy, and the team took considerable heat in the opening of Citi Field, which featured the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and had little acknowledgement of the Mets’ own history.

The following season, in what really was an ironic and sad turn, Snider was traded to the Giants and retired after that year.

SNIDER’S CAREER NUMBERS