New York Mets

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Template:MLB infobox Mets

The New York Mets are a Major League Baseball team based in Flushing, Queens, New York. They are in the Eastern Division of the National League.

Franchise history

In 1957 the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants abandoned New York for California, leaving the largest city in the United States without a National League franchise. Two years later, on July 27, 1959 attorney William Shea announced the formation of a third major baseball league, the Continental League. After a contentious year, in 1960, Shea and the other Continental League organizers reached a deal with the established major leagues. In exchange for abandoning the new league, four new expansion franchises would be created — two in each league. New York City would receive one of the National League teams with Joan Whitney Payson and her husband Charles Shipman Payson the principal owners.

The new team required a new name and many were suggested. Among the finalists were "Bees", "Burros", "Continentals", "Skyscrapers", "Jets", as well as the eventual runner-up, "Skyliners". The owners ultimately selected "Metropolitans", a historically significant name used by an earlier New York team in the American Association from 1883 to 1887. This name was also easily shortened to "Mets" and enjoyed broad approval among fans and press.

The Mets began their on-field play in 1962, losing their first nine games en route to a 40-120 record. Their .250 winning percentage was the third worst by any team since the beginning of the 20th Century. Their futility was exceeded only by the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117, .235) and the 1935 Boston Braves (38-115, .248). Throughout major league history only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134) lost more games in a single season than the 1962 Mets.

Beloved by New York fans despite their losing ways — or even because of them — the Mets of the early 1960s became famous for their ineptitude. Journeyman players like the ironically nicknamed "Marvelous Marv" Throneberry became icons of athletic incompetence. Washed-up former stars of the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees were offered Mets contracts as a way to appeal to fans' nostalgia. Ex-Dodger and Giant pitcher Billy Loes, who was selected by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft, was credited with this ungrammatical quotation: "The Mets is a good thing. They give everybody jobs. Just like the WPA."

In 1964 the Mets, who played their first two seasons in the old Polo Grounds, the former home of the Giants, moved to new Shea Stadium, a 55,300-seat multipurpose facility built in the Flushing area of the borough of Queens, adjacent to the site of the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs. Earlier, New York City official Robert Moses tried to interest Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley in this site as the location for a new Dodger stadium, but O'Malley refused, claiming that if the Dodgers played anywhere but Brooklyn, they would cease to be the Brooklyn Dodgers. (He was right.)

Shea Stadium, which featured lower decks on railroad tracks that could be moved to accommodate football, was also home to the New York Jets football team from 1964 to 1982 and also hosted historic concerts by The Beatles and other musical groups, as well as the 1964 All-Star Game and a 1979 mass by Pope John Paul II. The high point of the first season probably came on Father's Day, when Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning threw a perfect game against the Mets, the first in the National League since 1880. For perhaps the only time in the stadium's history, the Shea faithful found themselves rooting for the visitors, caught up in the rare achievement, and roaring for Bunning on every pitch in the ninth inning. His strikeout of John Stephenson capped the performance.

The Mets ended their first decade on a high note of their own, though, as the 1969 team, dubbed the "Amazin' Mets" or "Miracle Mets", posted not only their first winning season, but their first NL pennant and World Series championship, upsetting the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1. Managed by baseball legend Gil Hodges, they were also helped by a Cy Young Award-winning season by 25-game-winner Tom Seaver, the franchise's most successful player. This rags-to-riches story was regarded as one of baseball history's great turnarounds, giving hope to underdogs and also-rans everywhere. In the movie Oh God!, God (George Burns) tells John Denver, "I don't do miracles. They're too flashy. The last miracle I performed was the 1969 Mets. Before that, I think you'd have to go back to the Red Sea!"

The subsequent history of the franchise has been very checkered, with brief periods of success alternating with longer periods of struggle and mediocrity. In 1973, the Mets won an extremely weak NL East, finishing only three games above .500. Despite this, they beat the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS to become the team with the worst regular-season winning percentage ever to play in the World Series. The Mets managed to push the eventual champion Oakland A's to 7 games, but lost in the final contest with Wayne Garrett's infield pop fly.Despite having losing seasons in 4 of the next 6 seasons to wrap up the 1970's, the team nevertheless had some shining stars like hitters Rusty Staub, Mike Vail who had a 23-game hitting streak in 1975, Dave Kingman who hit 36 in 1975 and 37 in 1976, catcher John Stearns who won the Gold Glove in 1980, pitcher Craig Swan and 1979 phenom Lee Mazzilli.

1980s

During the mid to late 1980s, the Mets fielded one of the strongest teams in baseball featuring fireballing right-handed pitcher Dwight Gooden, lanky power-hitting rightfielder Darryl Strawberry, Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, and slick-fielding first baseman Keith Hernandez. Some predicted a new baseball dynasty in the making. That Mets team managed to capture one world championship (1986), defeating the Boston Red Sox in a seven-game World Series that featured one of the most remarkable comebacks in baseball history. With two outs in the tenth inning of game 6, the Mets came back from two runs down to defeat Boston 6-5. Their last run was scored on the infamous ground ball off the bat of Mookie Wilson that trickled through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. Despite the promise of that 1986 team, the rest of the 1980s would see mixed success.

While the teams around the 1986 championship were strong, they were also infamous for off-the-field controversy. Both Strawberry and Gooden were young kids who both wound up burning out long before observers figured because of various substance abuse and personal problems. Both of their off-the-field problems started before age 25 and have continued through the present (2005). Hernandez' wild living had become legendary even before he joined the Mets. Lenny Dykstra's playing intensity was recently tainted by allegations of steroid and gambling problems. [1] Instead of putting together a dynasty, the Mets soon fell apart. [2]

Despite Darryl Strawberry's numerous off-the-field mishaps, he remains the Mets' all-time leader in home runs and runs batted in. In fact, unless Mike Piazza's expected departure is delayed by several years, Strawberry is likely to hold those team marks for at least the next decade.

1993

With all of the personal problems swirling around the Mets after the 1986 championship, the Mets tried to rebuild using experienced superstars. They picked up the aging eventual Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for over $3 million, the younger but troubled Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Bobby Bonilla for over $6 million, one-time record-setting base stealer Vince Coleman for over $2 million, one-time World Series hero Bret Saberhagen for $3 million and veteran pitcher Frank Tanana for $1.5 million. The experiment of building a team via free agency quickly flopped as Saberhagen and Coleman were soon injured and spent more time on the disabled list than on the field. The lowest point of the experiment was the 1993 season when the Mets lost 103 games. In April of that year, Gooden was injured when Coleman accidentally hit Gooden's shoulder with a golf club while practicing his swing. In July, Saberhagen threw a firecracker under a table near reporters. Their young pitching prospect Anthony Young started the '93 season at 0-13 and his overall streak of 27 straight losses over two years set a new record. After Young's record-setting loss, Coleman threw a firecracker out of the team bus window and injured three people resulting in felony charges and the effective end of his Mets career. Only a few days later, Saberhagen was in trouble again, this time for spraying bleach at three reporters. The meltdown season resulted in the worst record for a Mets team in the last 40 years (since 1965).

2000s

Since 1986, the Mets have made the playoffs three times, in 1988, 1999 and again in 2000 when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win their fourth ever NL Championship. In the 2000 World Series they were defeated in the much-hyped "Subway Series" by their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. Even though they lost 4 games to 1, they scored only three fewer runs than the Yankees. This was the first Subway Series since 1956, when the Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in what would be the Dodgers' last appearance before moving to Los Angeles.

Since the 2000 World Series the Mets have struggled mightily as the result of several poor player acquisitions, including Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Roger Cedeño and Jeromy Burnitz. These acquisitions were made by then General Manager Steve Phillips, who was fired during the 2003 season. Mr. Phillips was credited with building the 2000 World Series team, but also blamed for the demise of the Mets' farm system and the poor play of the acquired players. The Mets' record in 2003 (66-95) was among the worst in baseball.

After the 2004 season, the Mets named former front office man Omar Minaya as their general manager. Since then, he has helped the Mets recruit stars such as Carlos Beltrán and Pedro Martínez. Minaya also hired former Mets and Yankees player and former Yankee third base coach Willie Randolph as the new manager, making him the first black MLB manager in Mets (and New York) history.

Stadium plans

On June 12, 2005 a plan for a New Mets Stadium in Willets Point, Queens in the parking lot of Shea Stadium was announced. Construction of the new stadium is expected to be paid by the Mets, while "infrastructure improvement" costs at the site are to be paid by the city. The final mix of private and public funding has not been settled. As of 2005, Shea Stadium is the sixth oldest stadium among the 30 facilities in major league baseball. It is nearly as old as Ebbets Field was when the Dodgers abandoned it.

Interesting Facts

  • Every time a Met player hits a home run at Shea Stadium, a big red lighted apple comes up behind center right field.
  • The 1969 Mets recorded an album featuring them singing a variety of songs, including "You Got to Have Heart" from Damn Yankees.
  • Only one home run has been hit to the Upper Level of Shea Stadium so far. Tommie Agee's blast there on April 10th, 1969, has been marked with a sign.
  • Nolan Ryan started his career with the Mets, helping them to win the 1969 World Series, against the Baltimore Orioles, albeit in a reliever's role.
  • In 1966, the Mets had the first pick in the draft and chose catcher Steve Chilcott. Chilcott became the only #1 pick ever to retire without ever playing in the Major Leagues. To add insult to injury, the #2 pick behind Chilcott turned out to be Hall of Famer and Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. Jackson went on to lead the Oakland Athletics to three straight championships - including one over the Mets in 1973 - and then won two more with the New York Yankees.
  • The Mets are the oldest Major League franchise without a no-hitter. (Several notable Mets players did pitch no-hitters with other teams, including Nolan Ryan (7 career no-hitters), Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Al Leiter, and David Cone (a perfect game). On July 9, 1969 at Shea Stadium, Seaver came within two outs of a perfect game, but gave up a one-out, ninth-inning single to the Chicago Cubs' Jimmy Qualls for the only hit in the Mets' 4-0 victory. The latest "near-no-hitter" occurred on August 14, 2005, when Pedro Martinez was within five outs of pitching a hitless game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He ultimately gave up a triple and a home run in the eighth inning, however, and wound up losing the game, 2-1.
  • The Mets are also tied with the Houston Astros as the oldest franchises without an individual batting title. In 1998, first baseman John Olerud posted the best single-season batting average in Mets history but finished second in the league, 11 points behind the Colorado Rockies' Larry Walker. Another first baseman, Dave Magadan, finished just seven points off the pace in 1990.
  • On June 16, 1997, during the first year of interleague play, the Mets defeated the New York Yankees, 6-0, in the first ever regular-season game played between the crosstown rivals, thanks to a masterful performance from pitcher Dave Mlicki. However, the Yankees won the next two games, including the finale in ten innings to "win" the series. The following year, the first interleague series at Shea Stadium took place, with the Yankees winning the first two games before the Mets won the last. The two teams have played three games in each team's park every year since.
  • The first major sports event to take place in New York City after the events of September 11 was played in Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001 when the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves. It was made even more memorable courtesy of a home run in the eighth inning by Mike Piazza, to put the Mets ahead in the game. The game was attended by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a devout fan of the rival New York Yankees. In spite of this, he was cheered by the crowd for his leadership in the preceding ten days.
  • George Herbert Walker, Jr., uncle of President George H. W. Bush, was a member of the original ownership group when the franchise was created. He served as vice president and treasurer until 1977. [3]
  • The "Amazin' Mets" and the 1969 World Series were featured in the movie Frequency starring Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel.

Fan base

Since the team is based in Queens, the Mets have a strong fan base there as well as in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island. These parts of the metro area had traditionally rooted for the Dodgers (and to a lesser degree the Giants) over the Yankees. Yankee fans tend to be more concentrated in the rest of the city and the remaining parts of the metropolitan area (such as northern New Jersey, Westchester County, and southwest Connecticut), though fans of both clubs are scattered throughout the tri-state area. Despite Brooklyn once having been the home base of the Dodgers, the Borough is usually now divided between the Mets and Yankees.

Notable Mets fans include celebrities Ray Romano (as well as his fictional character, sportswriter Ray Barone), Jerry Seinfeld (both in real life and on his TV show), Jon Stewart, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen, Paul Auster, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Vartan, Joe Quesada, Peter David, Bob Wiltfong and Kevin James (as well as his fictional character, Doug Heffernan). The late singer-actresses Pearl Bailey and Nell Carter were also Mets fans. Husband-and-wife actors Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker have often been seen together at interleague games between the Mets and Yankees, Broderick rooting for the Mets and Parker for the Yankees. Although actor Billy Crystal is a Yankee fan, in the film City Slickers, his baseball-obsessed character Mitch Robbins wore a Mets cap. Journalist Joe Klein claims that he and a friend hung the first Met-fan banner at the Polo Grounds in 1962.

Quick facts

Current uniform colors: Blue, Orange, and Black (the orange chosen to represent the New York Giants, the blue chosen to represent the Brooklyn Dodgers). Blue and orange are also the colors of the flag of New York City.
Current logo design: Intertwined 'N' and 'Y' in orange, on blue field (the NY logo is identical to that of the New York Giants, the blue field chosen because that was the color of the caps worn by the Brooklyn Dodgers). The Mets skyline logo was designed by cartoonist Ray Gatto. The shape of the insignia, with its orange stitching, represents a baseball, and the bridge in the foreground symbolizes that the Mets, in bringing back the National League to New York, represent all five boroughs.
Team theme song: "Meet the Mets" (1963), by Bill Katz and Ruth Roberts
Current mascot: Mr. Met

Baseball Hall of Famers

Current roster

New York Mets roster

Minor league affiliations

See also


External links


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