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The New York Mets are a professional baseball team based in Flushing, Queens, in New York City, New York. The Mets are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From to the present, the Mets have played in Shea Stadium. In 2009, they will move into their new home, Citi Field.
The "Mets" name originates from the New York Metropolitans, an 1880s baseball club. They are nicknamed the "Amazin' Mets," or simply the "Amazins."
An expansion franchise, the club was founded in Manhattan in . Then based in the historic Polo Grounds, the Mets shared the venue with the New York Jets for two years, until Shea was completed.
During their history, the Mets have won two World Series titles (1969, 1986) and four National League pennants (1969, 1973, 1986, 2000).
Franchise historyIn 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. He tried to get several existing clubs to move, including the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Cincinnati Reds, but no National League club was interested.
One of the Continental League's five charter members was a team in New York City. Charles Shipman Payson and his wife, Joan Whitney Payson, former minority owners of the Giants, were the principal owners, along with George Herbert Walker, Jr. (uncle of future President George H. W. Bush), who served as vice president and treasurer until 1977. Former Giants director M. Donald Grant became chairman of the board. Grant and Joan Payson had been the only members of the Giants' board to oppose the team's move west.
The existing leagues, which had considerably more autonomy at the time, responded with plans to add four new teams, two in each league. One of the new National League teams was to be in New York. The NL offered this new franchise to the CL's New York group, provided that they commit to building a new park. Shea told New York Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. that he had to personally cable every National League owner and guarantee that the city would build a new facility.
The new team required a new name and many were suggested. Among the finalists were "Bees," "Burros," "Continentals," "Skyscrapers" and "Jets," as well as the eventual runner-up, the "Skyliners." Although Payson had admitted a preference for "Meadowlarks," the owners ultimately selected "Mets," because it was closely related to the club's already-existing corporate name, "New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.," it hearkened back to "Metropolitans," a name used by an earlier New York team in the American Association from 1880 to 1887, and because its brevity would naturally fit in newspaper headlines. The name was received with broad approval among fans and the press.
From the first, the Mets sought to appeal to the large contingent of former Giants and Dodgers fans, as well as those New Yorkers who disliked the New York Yankees. The Mets' team colors reflect this--orange for the Giants and blue for the Dodgers, although not precisely the same shade of those colors as used by the two former resident teams.
1962-1968: Lovable LosersIn October, 1961, the National League held an expansion draft to stock the rosters of the Mets and the Houston Colt .45s with players from other clubs. 22 players were selected by the Mets, including some with notable previous success such as Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Frank Thomas and Richie Ashburn. But rather than select talented young players with future potential, Mets management preferred to sign faded stars of the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees to appeal to fans' nostalgia. Legendary Yankees manager Casey Stengel was hired out of retirement to lead the team, but his managerial acumen wasn't enough to overcome the severe deficiency of talent among the players.
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 major league team since the beginning of the 20th Century, and the fourth-worst in baseball history. Throughout major league history only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134) lost more games in a single season than the 1962 Mets. It wasn't until 2003 that the record would be threatened by the Detroit Tigers, who finished the season at 43-119. The ineptitude of the Mets during their first year is chronicled in colorful fashion in the 1963 book Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?, written by New York columnist Jimmy Breslin.
Beloved by New York fans despite their losing ways — or perhaps 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. 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." Even the Mets proved to have standards, however. In 1962, Cleveland Indians catcher Harry Chiti was purchased by the Mets for a player to be named later in the season. That "player to be named later" ended up being Harry Chiti. Chiti was the first player ever to be sent back to his original team in a trade in Major League history.
The 1963 Mets featured a pitcher, Carlton Willey, who was having a great year, pitching four shut-outs, when he incurred an injury and finished with a 9-14 won-loss record.
In 1964, the Mets, who played their first two seasons in the old Polo Grounds, the former home of the Giants, moved to the newly constructed Shea Stadium, a 55,300-seat multipurpose facility built in the Flushing neighborhood of the Borough of Queens, adjacent to the site of the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs. One high point of Shea Stadium's first season 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. Another high point was Shea Stadium's hosting of the 1964 All-Star Game. Unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight in the final hectic weekend of the 1964 season, the Mets relished the role of spoiler, beating the Cardinals in St. Louis on Friday and Saturday (keeping alive the hopes of the Phillies, Giants, and Reds) before succumbing to the eventual National League champions on Sunday.
The Mets' image as lovable losers was wearing a little thin as the decade progressed, but things began to change slowly in the late '60s. The Mets acquired top pitching prospect Tom Seaver in a lottery and he became the league's Rookie of the Year in 1967. Even though the Mets remained in last place, Tom Seaver was a sign of good fortune to come. He was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in February 1966 out of the University of Southern California, but his contract was voided by Commissioner William D. Eckert on the basis that the USC season had already started when Seaver signed. In order to resolve this issue, the Mets, Indians, and Phillies were all placed in a hat since they were the only teams willing to match the Braves offer, and the Mets were fortunate enough to win the drawing. In addition to Seaver, two other young players were catcher Jerry Grote and shortstop Bud Harrelson. This trio of youth formed a new, determined clubhouse nucleus that had no interest in losing, lovably or otherwise. By the 1968 season, Wes Westrum would be replaced as manager by Gil Hodges. Pitcher Jerry Koosman joined the staff and had a spectacular rookie season in 1968, winning 19 games. Left fielder Cleon Jones developed as a batter and exciting center fielder Tommie Agee came over in a trade. But although much improved, the 1968 team still finished the season in 9th place.
1969: The "Miracle' Mets"The Mets played a major role in the National League's move to divisional play for 1969. Faced with the prospect of losing lucrative home dates with the Dodgers and Giants, they threatened to scuttle the whole plan unless they were compensated with more dates against the Cardinals, the reigning power in the league at the time. The Cubs then demanded to be placed in the newly formed National League East as well in order to continue their historic rivalry with the Cardinals. The result was that the Braves and Reds - in defiance of all geographic reality - were placed in the National League West.
The Mets began the 1969 season in a mediocre way; an opening day loss of 11-10 to the expansion Expos was followed by a record of 21-23 through the end of May. By mid-August, the favored Chicago Cubs seemed safely on their way to winning the first ever National League East Division title (and their first postseason appearance of any kind since 1945). The Mets sat in third place, ten games behind; but Chicago went 8-17 in September, while the Mets, with outstanding pitching from their young staff, piled up victory after victory, winning 38 of their last 49 games. They took first place for good on September 9, and finished in first place with a 100-62 record for the season, their first winning year ever, a full eight games over the Cubs. The Mets finished with a team ERA of 2.99, and a league leading 28 shutouts thrown. Tom Seaver led the way with a 25-7 record, with lefty Jerry Koosman behind him at 17-9 record, while Cleon Jones finished with a .340 batting average. Seaver's best game occurred on July 9, at Shea Stadium, where he came within two outs of a perfect game, but gave up a one-out, ninth-inning single to the Cubs' Jimmy Qualls for the only hit in the Mets' 4-0 victory.
The "Miracle' Mets" or "Amazin Mets," as they became known by the press, went on to win a three-game sweep of the strong Atlanta Braves, led by legend Henry "Hank" Aaron, in the very first National League Championship Series. The Mets were still considered underdogs in this series despite the fact that they had a better record than the Braves.
The Mets were given very little chance in the 1969 World Series, facing a powerful Baltimore Orioles team that had gone 109-53 in the regular season and included future Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, and Jim Palmer as well as future Mets manager Davey Johnson, who ironically would make the final out of the Series. Before the series began, pundits predicted Tom Seaver might win the opening game, but that the Mets would have trouble winning again in the World Series. As it turned out, just the opposite occurred; Seaver was roughed up, allowing four runs in the opener, which he lost - but the Mets' pitching shut down the Orioles after that, holding them to just five runs over the next four games, to win the World Series 4 games to 1. Seaver got his revenge in game four, pitching all 10 innings of a 2-1 victory.
For longtime Mets announcer Ralph Kiner and many fans, the turning point in the team's season, came in the third inning of the second game of a July 30 doubleheader against the Houston Astros. When left fielder Cleon Jones failed to hustle after a ball hit to the outfield, Mets manager Gil Hodges removed him from the game - but rather than simply signal from the dugout for Jones to come out, or delegate the job to one of his coaches, Hodges left the dugout and slowly, deliberately, walked all the way out to left field to remove Jones, and walk him back to the bench. For the rest of that season, Jones never failed to hustle.
This rags-to-riches story is regarded as one of baseball history's great turnarounds, giving hope to underdogs, also-rans, and lost causes everywhere.
1970-1979: "You Gotta Believe!" and the Midnight MassacreThe Miracle Mets magic wore off as the 1970s began. In subsequent years, Mets pitchers generally excelled but received lackluster support from the hitters with mediocre finishes the result. Efforts to improve the offense backfired with blunders such as trading Amos Otis for troubled infielder Joe Foy after the 1969 season as well as young pitcher Nolan Ryan for infielder Jim Fregosi after the 1971 season. Once out of the glaring New York spotlight, Ryan became one of the best pitchers in history, spending 22 more years in the majors and entering the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. Fregosi battled injuries and played just 146 games for the Mets over a season and a half. Meanwhile Otis became a star with the Kansas City Royals while Foy lasted only one season in New York.
The team was thrown into confusion and shock prior to the 1972 season, when Manager Gil Hodges, who had led the team to the World Series victory in 1969, suffered a sudden heart attack at the end of spring training and died. Coach Yogi Berra succeeded Hodges.
Berra's Mets found themselves in last place with a 61-71 record at the end of August, 1973 but they recovered behind relief pitcher Tug McGraw and his "Ya gotta believe!" rallying cry (the team has since trademarked the phrase), winning 21 of their last 29 games. Berra also coined his most famous Yogiism that year: "It ain't over till it's over!" In a peculiar circumstance, their final record of only 82-79 was good enough to win the division while five better teams in the Majors missed the postseason. Despite the worst winning percentage ever by a division winner (until the 2005 San Diego Padres), the Mets then shocked the heavily-favored Cincinnati Reds "Big Red Machine" in the NLCS. Their record remains the worst of any pennant-winning team but they managed to push the A.L. champion Oakland Athletics to a seventh game. Their near-miracle season ended with a loss to Ken Holtzman in the final contest.
As the 1975 season ended, owner Joan Payson died. Her husband Charles delegated ownership authority to his daughters, who in turn left the baseball side to M. Donald Grant. Payson had been the driving force behind the Mets, but her survivors did not share her enthusiasm for investing in the future of the team. Contract disputes with star pitcher Tom Seaver and slugger Dave Kingman erupted in 1977. Both players were traded on June 15, the trading deadline, in what New York tabloids dubbed "The Midnight Massacre". The Mets received six players in the two deals, but none had any lasting impact. Attendance fell, to the point where Shea Stadium was nicknamed "Grant's Tomb". Coincidentally, the Yankees began their resurgence at roughly the same time, further eroding the Mets' fan base.
The team finished in last place yet again in . By this time, it was obvious that Grant had mismanaged the team. Charles Payson himself fired Grant at the end of the season. The Mets continued to struggle, and did not become a competitive team again until the mid-1980s, marking the first time that both New York teams were competitive at the same time, both on the field and at the box office.
1980-1985: Cashen rebuildsIn January, 1980 the Payson heirs sold the Mets franchise to the Doubleday publishing company for $21.1 million. Nelson Doubleday, Jr. was named chairman of the board while minority shareholder Fred Wilpon took the role of club president. Wilpon quickly hired longtime Baltimore Orioles executive Frank Cashen as general manager to begin the process of rebuilding the Mets.
Cashen's positive impact on the organization took some time to be felt at the major league level. He began by selecting slugging high school phenomenon Darryl Strawberry as the number one overall pick in the 1980 amateur draft. Two years later, hard-throwing hurler Dwight Gooden was taken as the fifth overall selection in the 1982 draft. The pair rose quickly through the minors, winning successive Rookie of the Year awards (Strawberry in 1983, Gooden in 1984). Cashen's mid-season 1983 trade for former MVP Keith Hernandez helped spark the Mets' return to competitive contention. In 1984, new manager Davey Johnson was promoted from the helm of the AAA Tidewater Tides and led the Mets to a 90-72 record, their first winning season since 1976. In 1985 the Mets acquired future Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos and won 98 games, but lost the division title to the St. Louis Cardinals in the final days of the season in a memorable series. (The Mets began the series three games behind St. Louis and won the first two, but faltered in the third game, allowing St. Louis to remain in first place).
1986-1990: World Series Champions and what could have beenUnlike the league champion Mets of 1969 or 1973, the 1986 Mets broke away from the rest of the division early and dominated throughout the year. They won 20 of their first 24 games, clinched the East Division title on September 17, and finished the year 108-54, which tied with the 1975 Cincinnati Reds for the third most wins in National League history, behind the 1906 Chicago Cubs (116) and the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (110). The relative lack of excitement during the regular season was more than compensated for by the spectacularly suspenseful and dramatic post-season series.
In the National League Championship Series, the Mets faced their fellow 1962 expansion team, the Houston Astros. Unlike the Mets, the Astros had yet to win a pennant, but had former Mets fireballer Nolan Ryan leading their pitching staff. The Mets took a two-games-to-one lead with a come-from-behind walk-off home run by Lenny Dykstra. In Game 6, the Mets turned a 3-0 ninth-inning deficit into a sixteen-inning marathon victory to clinch the National League pennant and earn their third World Series appearance. The Astros would have to wait until 2005 to finally win their first pennant.
In the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, the Mets faced elimination leading into Game 6. The Red Sox scored two runs in the tenth inning and twice came within one strike of winning their first World Series since 1918. But the Mets rallied and would come back in typical Amazin' Mets fashion.
With two outs and down two runs, three consecutive singles brought the Mets within 90 feet of knotting the score. Hitter Mookie Wilson ran the count to 2-1, then fouled off 3 consecutive pitches. With the count 2-2, pitcher Bob Stanley threw a wild pitch that Wilson had to leap out of the way of. Boston catcher Rich Gedman made a wild stab for the ball but it went to the backstop. Pinch hitter Kevin Mitchell scored from third base, tying the game.
Now facing a full count, Wilson fouled off two more pitches. It was then that Wilson hit a weak ground ball down the first base line. What should have been a routine out instead rolled under the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner and into the annals of baseball history as third baseman Ray Knight ran home all the way from second base to score the winning run.
The Mets went on to win their second World Series title by taking Game 7, also in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 3 run deficit while scoring a total of 8 runs during the final 3 innings. They remain the only team to come within one strike of losing a World Series before recovering to become World Champions.
While the team around the 1986 championship was strong, they also became infamous for off-the-field controversy. Both Strawberry and Gooden were youngsters who wound up burning out long before their time because of various substance abuse and personal problems. Both of their problems started before age 25 and have continued. Hernandez's cocaine abuse was the subject of persistent rumors even before he joined the Mets, but he publicly acknowledged his addiction in 1985 and made a successful recovery. Lenny Dykstra's reputation was recently tainted by allegations of steroid use and gambling problems. Instead of putting together a winning dynasty, the problems caused the Mets to soon fall apart. Despite Darryl Strawberry's numerous off-the-field mishaps, he remains the Mets' all-time leader in home runs and runs batted in.
After winning the World Series in 1986, World Series MVP Ray Knight signed with the Orioles. Also, they traded the flexible Kevin Mitchell to the Padres for long-ball threat Kevin McReynolds. But the biggest shock since the Midnight Massacre of 1977 was when Mets' ace Dwight Gooden was admitted to a drug clinic after testing positive for cocaine. But after struggling in the first few months of the 1987 season, "Dr. K" would come back, and so would the Mets. They would surge to battle St. Louis for the division title. But on September 11 in a game against St. Louis, 3rd baseman and future MVP Terry Pendleton hit a homer to give the Cardinals a lead, and eventually the NL East title. One highlight of the year was Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson becoming the first teammates ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season.
After missing the playoffs in 1987, the 1988 Mets again won the division. Thanks to some stellar pitching from Gooden, Ron Darling, and David Cone as well as offense from McReynolds, Strawberry, and Howard Johnson, the Mets won 100 games for the 2nd time in 3 campaigns. However, the clubhouse was distracted by the presence of a young Gregg Jefferies who was just called up. The veteran players took a disliking to Jefferies, who had a habit of excessive bragging, prompting his teammates to saw his bats in half as a form of hazing. The Mets played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 National League Championship Series in a season where they beat them 10 out of 11 times but, led by Orel Hershiser, the Dodgers continued their Cinderella story season by beating the Mets in seven games.
The Mets (as well as the Montreal Expos) would battle the Cubs for the division title in 1989, but Chicago would prevail, despite a career year by Howard Johnson and a deadline trade with Minnesota for 1988 AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola. Those high points were tempered by injuries to Gooden, Hernandez and Carter as well as an ill-fated trade that sent Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia in exchange for Juan Samuel. After the season, Samuel, who hit .235 that season, would be traded to the Dodgers for Mike Marshall, who would hit .239 in 53 games for the Mets before being traded to Boston. Dykstra, however, would become an All-Star in Philadelphia and help lead his team to a pennant in 1993.
That offseason, the Mets had a mix of triumph and tragedy. They would receive All-Star closer and native New Yorker John Franco in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, and Strawberry, in legal trouble as well, would check into an alcohol rehabilitation center and miss the start of the season. The next season, the Mets would surge again to battle the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Pittsburgh's "B-B Guns" (which included National League MVP Barry Bonds, future Mets Bobby Bonilla and Jay Bell and former Met Wally Backman) led the Pirates to their first NLCS since 1979. In that campaign, general manager Frank Cashen fired Johnson from his managerial job and replaced him with former shortstop Bud Harrelson. Although he led them to a good finish in 1990 (Strawberry's last with the Mets, as he went on to sign with the Dodgers in the offseason), the Mets fell to 5th place in 1991. Before the 1991 season the Mets signed Vince Coleman to a fat $2 million contract after failing to sign defending batting champion Willie McGee. This was the first of what would lead to many bad free agent signings and trades that would doom the Mets during the mid 1990s.
1991-1995: "Hardball Is Back" and The Worst Team Money Could BuyDuring the 1991 season, the Mets were actually in contention for most of the first half of the season, closing to within 2.5 games of the front-running Pirates at one point. However, during the second half, the bottom completely fell out and Harrelson was fired with a week left to go in the season, replaced by third base coach Mike Cubbage for the final games. Jefferies was once again a distraction as he released a controversial statement to be read on WFAN radio:
''"When a pitcher is having trouble getting players out, when a hitter is having trouble hitting, or when a player makes an error, I try to support them in whatever way I can. I don't run to the media to belittle them or to draw more attention to their difficult times. I can only hope that one day those teammates who have found it convenient to criticize me will realize that we are all in this together. If only we can concentrate more on the games than complaining and bickering and pointing fingers, we would all be better off."''
This was seen as the end for Jefferies in New York as he would be traded to the Kansas City Royals in the offseason. The season ended on a high note, however, as David Cone pitched a one-hit shutout against the Phillies at Veterans Stadium, in which he struck out 19 batters, tying the National League regulation game record (first set by former Met Tom Seaver, and later broken by then Red Sox starter Roger Clemens)
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, future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for over $3 million, the younger but troubled Pittsburgh Pirates free agent slugger Bobby Bonilla for over $6 million. They also traded McReynolds and Jeffries for one-time World Series hero Bret Saberhagen and his $3 million contract, along with signing veteran free agent pitcher Frank Tanana for $1.5 million. The rebuilding was supported by the slogan, "Hardball Is Back".
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, and Bonilla exhibited unprofessional behavior towards members of the press, once threatening a reporter by saying, "I'll show you The Bronx" http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/readers/signings.html. At the beginning of the 1991 season, Coleman, Gooden and outfielder Daryl Boston were named in an alleged sexual abuse incident against a woman near the Mets' spring training facility; charges were later dropped. Meanwhile, popular pitcher David Cone was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 1992 season for Ryan Thompson and Jeff Kent. While the move was widely criticized by fans of both teams, the Jays went on to win the 1992 World Series.
The lowest point of the experiment was the 1993 season when the Mets lost 103 games. In April of that year, 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 that effectively ended 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 since 1965. Their descent was chronicled by the book The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse Of The New York Mets (ISBN 0-8032-7822-5) by Mets beat writers Bob Klapisch and John Harper. In addition, two of the three remaining links to the '86 team, Howard Johnson and Sid Fernandez, departed after the season via free agency.
The following season was filled with some bright spots, but there was still trouble for the franchise, and for the team's franchise player. Gooden, who had a 3-4 record with a 6.31 ERA in the final year of his contract with the team, shocked not only New York sports fans, but baseball fans around the country by testing positive for cocaine and was suspended by Major League Baseball for 60 days. Shortly after he began serving his suspension for the positive drug test, it was announced that he had again tested positive for cocaine and was now being suspended by Major League Baseball for one year, thus ending his Mets career and nearly his life. The day after receiving the second suspension, Gooden's then-wife, Monica, found him in his bedroom with a loaded gun to his head.
Still, the 1994 season saw some promise for the troubled Mets, as first baseman Rico Brogna and second baseman Jeff Kent became fan favorites with their solid glove work and potential 20-25 home run power, Bonilla started to become the player the Mets expected, and a healthy Saberhagen, along with promising young starter Bobby Jones and Franco, helped the Mets pitching staff along. In the strike-shortened 1994 season the Mets were in 3rd place behind first-place Montreal and Atlanta when the season ended on August 12. When the strike finally ended in 1995, the Mets finally showed some promise again, finishing in 2nd place (but still 6 games under .500) behind eventual World Series champion Atlanta.
1996-2004: Piazza, Bobby V, John Rocker, Who Let the Mets Out, and the Subway SeriesThe Mets did not play well in 1996, but the season was highlighted by the play of three young stars. Switch hitting catcher Todd Hundley broke the Major League Baseball single season record for home runs hit by catcher with 41. Center fielder Lance Johnson set single-season franchise records in hits (227), triples (21), at-bats (682), runs scored (117), & total bases (327). And, Left fielder Bernard Gilkey set franchise single-season records in doubles (44), and RBI (117). But things started looking up in 1997, as they missed the playoffs by only four games, and improved by 17 games over 1996. One highlight happened June 16, when the Mets beat the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the first ever regular-season game played between the crosstown rivals 6-0. Mets starter Dave Milicki pitched a complete game/shutout to pick up the win. At the end of the game there were mostly Mets fans in the stands at Yankee Stadium cheering as the Mets players walked off the field victorious. In 1997 Hundley was also having another great season, but he went down with a devastating elbow injury and needed Tommy John surgery midway through the season. For a time, it looked like the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to be shopping their superstar catcher, Mike Piazza, in a trade rather than pay the exorbitant salary that 1997s MVP runner-up was going to demand at the end of the 1998 season. In a puzzling move, on May 14, 1998, the Dodgers sent Piazza to the Florida Marlins, who were purging themselves of high salaries to alleviate their claimed financial problems. The Marlins' move made more sense when, just a week later, they re-traded Piazza to the Mets for Preston Wilson and two prospects. The Dodgers had no free agency problem, the Marlins had young players with small salaries and the Mets had their new lineup-anchoring catcher. When Hundley returned from his injury later in the 1998 season the Mets experimented with playing him in left field. The experiment was short lived, Hundley was in a Dodgers uniform in the 1999 season.
After the 1998 trade, the Mets played well, but missed the 1998 postseason by only one game. With only five games left in the 1998 season, the Mets could not win a single game against both the Montreal Expos at home and the Atlanta Braves on the road, the Mets could have forced a three-way wild card tie by winning their last game. Although it seemed like a terrible ending to a good season, Met fans felt confident that the team was moving in the right direction. After signing Mike Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million contract, the Mets traded Todd Hundley and minor league P Arnold Gooch to the Los Angeles Dodgers for C Charles Johnson and OF Roger Cedeno. They then sent Johnson to the Baltimore Orioles for P Armando Benitez. #REDIRECT http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Roger_Cedeno_1974&page=chronology The Mets then signed Robin Ventura, Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla to fill out the needs for the start of the 1999 season. John Olerud anchored the heart of the Mets' order.
The Mets started the 1999 season well, going 17-9, but after an eight-game losing streak, including the last two to the New York Yankees, on June 6 the Mets fired their entire coaching staff except for manager Bobby Valentine. On that day, the Mets, in front of a national audience on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, beat the New York Yankees 7-2 and they never looked back. Both Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura started to have MVP-type seasons and Benny Agbayani began to have an important role on the team. Also this was the breakout year for Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, as he had 108 RBI, and Roger Cedeño, who broke the single season steals record for the Mets. After the regular season ended, the Mets played a one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds to see which team would advance to the playoffs. In that game, Mets ace Al Leiter pitched the best game of his Met career as he hurled a two hit complete game shutout, a 5-0 victory to advance to the playoffs. In the NLDS, the Mets defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 3 games to 1, their series-clinching victory coming on an unlikely home run hit by backup catcher Todd Pratt, playing due to a thumb injury to Piazza. The Mets would advance to the 1999 National League Championship Series, their first NLCS since 1988. The Mets would lose however to their archrivals, the Atlanta Braves, in six exciting games which included the famous grand slam single by Robin Ventura to win game 5 for the Mets. The Mets were at one point down 3-0 in the series but cut the deficit to 3-2, but lost a back and fourth Game 6. For Mets fan the ending to Game 6 was quite depressing and mets pitcher Kenny Rogers drew all the ire. Rogers entered in relief in the bottom of the 11th of Game 6, with the Mets down 3 games to 2. After surrendering a double and the baserunner advancing to 3rd on a sacrifice fly and two subsequent intentional walks issued to Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan, Rogers ended New York's magical season by walking Andruw Jones on five pitches with the bases loaded. In the offseason, the Mets traded Roger Cedeño and Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros for Derek Bell and Mike Hampton. Todd Zeile was signed to play first base, replacing departing free agent Olerud. The Mets were heading to the 2000 season as a powerhouse in the National League.
Off the field in the offseason Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker made derogatory comments about the City of New York to Sports Illustrated that angered Mets fans and players:
''"It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing.''"
On June 29, 2000, Rocker appeared in front of 46,987 fans at Shea Stadium for the first time since making the remarks. Over 700 police officers were summoned for the game (usually 60 are summoned) and 300 press passes were given out. A limit on beer sales was imposed, and fans had to pass through metal detectors when entering Shea, as many expected Rocker to be greeted by a shower of batteries. A special protective cover was erected over the Braves' bullpen in left field. During batting practice, fans were barred from sitting in the first four rows behind the Braves' dugout. A videotaped apology from Rocker was shown on Shea Stadium's 26-foot-tall screen in left-center field before the start of the game between the Mets and the Braves. The video was loudly booed and hostile signs could be seen throughout the stadium.
In the eighth inning, Rocker came in to replace Jason Marquis. He was loudly booed, many fans showed their opinions through their fingers and some objects were thrown and a chant of "Asshole, Asshole" began. Rocker struck out Robin Ventura, retired Todd Zeile on a grounder to short, and got Jay Payton to ground out to third. The Braves went on to win, 6-4. Rocker left the stadium a half-hour after the rest of the team in a black van trailed by three security vehicles.
However, 2000 began well for the Mets as Derek Bell became the best hitter on the team for the first month. The Mets enjoyed good play the whole year. The highlight of the season came on June 30 (the night after Rocker's return), when the Mets beat the rival Atlanta Braves in a memorable game at Shea Stadium on Fireworks Night. With the Mets losing 8-1 to begin the bottom of the eighth, they rallied back with two outs to tie the game, capping the 10-run inning with Mike Piazza's three run home run to put the Mets up 11-8, giving them the lead and eventually the win. The Mets easily made the playoffs winning the National League wild card. In the playoffs, the Mets beat the San Francisco Giants in the first round and the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2000 National League Championship Series to win their fourth NL pennant. Mike Hampton was named the NLCS MVP for his two scoreless starts in the series as the Mets headed to the 2000 World Series to face their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were defeated in the much-hyped "Subway Series". Even though they lost 4 games to 1, each game was close, as they scored only three fewer total runs than the Yankees. This was the first all-New York World Series since 1956, when the Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The most memorable moment of the 2000 World Series occurred during the first inning of Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. Piazza fouled off a pitch which shattered his bat, sending a piece of the barrel toward the pitcher's mound. Pitcher Roger Clemens seized the piece and hurled it in the direction of Piazza as the catcher trotted to first base. A brief melee ensued with no punches thrown and Clemens remaining in the game. In July of 2000, Clemens had knocked Piazza unconscious with a fastball to the catcher's head. A month earlier to being beaned, Piazza hit a grandslam off of Clemens at Yankee Stadium
In 2001 the Mets had trouble duplicating their 2000 World Series run, finishing with a record of 82-80, however towards the end of the season the Mets helped New York City heal after the September 11th terrorist attacks by using Shea Stadium as a relief center and then participating in the first sporting event in New York City since the attacks, in a game vs. the Atlanta Braves on September 21st. Before the game the FDNY, EMT, NYPD, and all rescue workers were honored, Diana Ross sang God Bless America, the two teams shook hands to show that they were united in the face of tragedy, and Liza Minnelli sang "New York, New York" during the 7th inning stretch. In the bottom of the 8th inning the Mets were trailing 2-1 when Mike Piazza came up with a runner on first. Piazza dramatically sent Shea into a frenzy by crushing a pitch over the center field wall off of Steve Karsay to give the Mets a 3-2 lead and a win by the same score. The game is considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of the franchise.
In the seasons following the 2000 World Series, the Mets struggled mightily as the result of several poor player acquisitions, including Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Roger Cedeño (again) and Jeromy Burnitz. These acquisitions were made by then-general manager Steve Phillips, who was fired during the 2003 season. 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 did have a few bright spots in 2002. Al Leiter became the first major league pitcher to defeat all thirty major league teams with a victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. David Weathers had a career year with a 2.91 era coming out of the bullpen, making him one of the better middle relievers of that season in the league. The Mets though posted a 75-86 record, last in the NL East, in 2002. The Mets' record in 2003 (66-95) was the fourth worst in baseball, and Piazza had missed two-thirds of the season with a torn groin muscle. His steady decline around that time mirrored the Mets' fortunes for the first half of the decade.
In 2004, the Mets made more player additions that turned out to be poor. They signed Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui, who never lived up to his potential in two-and-a-half years with the Mets, and Mike Cameron to play center field. General manager Jim Duquette acquired pitcher Kris Benson for third baseman Ty Wigginton at the trade deadline just before sending highly-touted pitching prospect Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the disappointing Victor Zambrano. However, the Mets brought up two young infielders with bright futures, David Wright and José Reyes, and they have become the best products from the farm system since Strawberry and Gooden. The Mets finished 71-91 in 2004.
2005-present: "The New Mets"; "The Team. The Time."; "The Collapse"; and "The Last Season at Shea"After the 2004 season, Mets ownership made significant changes to their management strategy. With their television contract with the MSG Network expiring by the end of 2005, they announced plans to establish their own cable network to broadcast Mets games, rivaling the Yankee-owned YES Network. This investment in what became known as SportsNet New York was coupled with an aggressive plan to upgrade the performance of the team on the field. Jim Duquette was replaced as general manager by former Expos GM Omar Minaya. Minaya, an ex-Mets assistant GM, achieved notable success in Montreal by making bold player moves on a limited budget. With the Mets, Minaya was given substantial financial resources to develop a winning team by the time the new network launched in 2006.
Minaya began by hiring Yankee bench coach Willie Randolph as manager, then signed two of that year's most sought-after free agents — Pedro Martínez and Carlos Beltrán — to large multi-year deals. Though Beltrán underperformed, Martínez and a rejuvenated Tom Glavine led the pitching staff, while Cliff Floyd's power, José Reyes's speed and David Wright's hitting sparked the offense. Despite an 0-5 start to the season, the team finished 83-79, finishing above the .500 mark for the first time since 2001.
After 2005, the departure of Mike Piazza gave Minaya enough financial flexibility to take full advantage of a payroll-reduction effort by the Florida Marlins. All-star first baseman Carlos Delgado and all-star catcher Paul Lo Duca were acquired from Florida in exchange for five prospects. Minaya also improved the bullpen by signing star free agent closer Billy Wagner.
Minaya's offseason moves and organization of the team during the season paid off in 2006, as the team, led by a franchise record six All-Stars (Beltran, Lo Duca, Reyes, Wright, Glavine, and Martínez), won the division title, their first in 18 years. In a runaway similar to 1986, the Mets led the division from April 6 on, and only spent one day out of first the whole season. They built a lead as high as 16 1/2 games before clinching the division on September 18, becoming the first team in the major leagues to clinch a playoff berth. The Mets finished the season 12 games ahead of the Phillies, and with the best record in the National League. The Mets achieved this success despite a slew of injuries which included losing Martínez for a month, and using fifteen different starting pitchers. The turning point for the season was a 9-1 June road trip through Los Angeles, Arizona, and Philadelphia.
The Mets 2006 division title ended the Atlanta Braves' streak of 14 straight division titles, and they became the first team besides Atlanta to win the National League East title since the 1994 division realignment. The 2006 season was also the first time that the Mets and Yankees each won their respective divisions in the same year. Both New York teams had the best records in their respective leagues, 97 wins and 65 losses.
Despite losing Pedro Martínez and Orlando Hernández from their starting rotation due to injury just before the start of the post-season, the Mets swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2006 National League Division Series, relying on their bullpen (which had the lowest regular season ERA in the National League) and potent offense. However, in the 2006 National League Championship Series, the Mets lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals, the eventual 2006 World Series champions, with the decisive blow coming on a ninth-inning home run by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina off Mets reliever Aaron Heilman.
In the 2006 offseason, the Mets signed veteran outfielder Moises Alou to replace Cliff Floyd in left field and provide a right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup.
After their success in 2006, there were high expectations for the Mets in 2007, and they started the season strong, compiling a 34-18 record through May 31. And although they played .500 ball over the rest of the season, the Mets still had a seven-game lead in September, with 17 games to go. The Mets, however, would lose 11 of their next 16, allowing the Philadelphia Phillies to tie them with three games left. The Mets lost to the Marlins 8-1 in the final game of the season, while the Phillies went on to win their final game, 6-1, against the Nationals and clinch the NL East by one game. The Mets became first team in baseball history to blow a lead of seven or more games with only 17 games to play., and, by one analysis, it was the 2nd worst collapse overall in regular season baseball history. Despite the season ending debacle, Minaya announced that Randolph would remain as manager for the 2008 season.
On January 29, 2008, the Mets agreed to trade four minor league prospects, including outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Philip Humber to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Johan Santana. Santana agreed to a six-year contract extension on February 1 worth $150.75 million, the highest amount ever for a pitcher on a long-term contract. The trade was finalized on February 2 when Santana passed his physical.
Citi FieldOn June 12, 2005 a plan was announced for a new Mets ballpark to be built adjacent to Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens. Construction of the new stadium is being paid by the Mets, while "infrastructure improvement" costs at the site are to be paid by the city. The stadium was originally dubbed Mets Ballpark, before a corporate sponsor was found. Many fans had hoped the park would be named in honor of Jackie Robinson. The naming rights of the stadium were sold to Citigroup and the name Citi Field was officially announced at the November groundbreaking. Citigroup reportedly agreed to pay $20 million a year for the rights, which would be the most lucrative naming rights deal ever in terms of revenue per year.The final mix of private and public funding has not been settled. As of 2008, Shea Stadium is the fifth oldest stadium among the 30 ballparks in major league baseball. Shea Stadium is nearly as old as Ebbets Field was when the Dodgers abandoned it. The current site of Shea Stadium is to be a parking lot for Citi Field. Citi Field will be a retropark, featuring the name Citi from Citi bank, which is directly owned by Citi Bank, following current architectural trends in stadium design. It will follow the brick and steel-truss trend begun by the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992. The exterior facade will resemble Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The new stadium will be an open-air design, designed to give the fans a more personal experience. The stadium will only hold 45,000 fans, which is less than the current capacity of Shea Stadium. According to design notes the lesser capacity creates better sightlines and a more contoured seating configuration, allowing seating closer to the field.
The field, however, will not have a dome or retractable roof installed, as had been discussed for Shea Stadium in the late 1970s, and had been originally planned. This will not negate one of the main complaints with Shea Stadium; that the consistent jet noise from LaGuardia Airport makes it hard to hear well.
Construction of the new stadium began in 2006. Most of the current parking lot was closed off to begin preparing for the installation of the main support columns during the 2006 season, but the official groundbreaking did not take place until November 13, just beyond the left field bleachers of Shea Stadium. The stadium is scheduled to open for the 2009 season.
- The Mets held the New York baseball attendance record for 29 years. They broke the Yankees' 1948 record by drawing nearly 2.7 million in 1970. The Mets broke their own record five times before the Yankees took it back in 1999.http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYM/attend.shtmlhttp://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/attend.shtml
- When a Mets player hits a home run at Shea Stadium, a big red apple emerges from a giant top hat behind center right field sometimes accompanied by a small fireworks display. The apple will reportedly live on at Citi Field, but it is unclear whether the original apple will be moved or a new apple constructed.
- The Mets' first scheduled game was postponed due to rain on April 10, 1962 at St. Louis.
- No Met pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter, and the Mets have gone longer than any other major league franchise without pitching a no-hitter — more than seven thousand games. Ironically, a number of pitchers -- Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Doc Gooden, Hideo Nomo, Al Leiter, and David Cone, just to name a few -- have thrown no-hitters either before joining the Mets or after leaving the team. David Cone pitched a perfect game for crosstown rivals New York Yankees. Three potential no-hitters for Mets pitchers have been broken up by late-game infield hits. Pedro Martinez, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine all lost their no hitter in the 7th or 8th inning.
- The Mets have appeared in more World Series — four —than any other expansion team in Major League Baseball history. They have won two championships, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins for the most titles among expansion teams.
- The first major sporting event to take place in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks was played at Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001, when the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves. The Mets came from behind to win, 3-2, on an eighth inning home run by Mike Piazza. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lifelong fan of the rival Yankees, attended the game and was cheered by the crowd for his leadership in the preceding ten days.
- After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Mets, as well as other teams in the league, wore Red Cross, FDNY, and NYPD hats. Unlike the other teams, the Mets wore these for the rest of the year, despite threats of fines by Major League Baseball.
- In 1998, the Independent Budget Office of the city of New York published a study on the economic impact of the city's two Major League Baseball teams. The study included an analysis of where fans of both the Mets and the Yankees resided. The study found that 39% of Mets fans lived in one of the five boroughs of New York, 49% in the tri-state area outside the city and 12% elsewhere. Mets fans were more likely to be found in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk, whereas Manhattan, the Bronx, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the counties of Westchester and Rockland leaned more towards the Yankees.
- On April 5, 1993, the Mets played the first game in the history of the Colorado Rockies. Then on April 19, 1995, they played the first game in the history of Coors Field (the Rockies' new home).
- On October 3, 2004, the Mets played against the Montreal Expos in their last game before they became the Washington Nationals. The last out of that game was recorded by then-Expo and former Met farmhand Endy Chavez, who subsequently came back to the Mets in 2006. Coincidentally, the Mets also played against the Expos in the franchise's inaugural game. Both games were contested at Shea Stadium.
- The 2006 Mets were the first team in MLB history to win eight consecutive road games after scoring in the first inning of each game.
- On July 16, 2006, the Mets set a franchise record by scoring 11 runs in one inning. It took place in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs. There were three home runs in the inning; a two-run homer by David Wright, and grand slams from both Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltrán. The Mets sent 16 batters to the plate in the inning, which took 41 minutes to complete and started with a pop out by Chris Woodward.
- In July 2006, the Mets became the third team to hit six grand slams in a month, joining the Cleveland Indians of May 1999 and the Montreal Expos in April 1996. Carlos Beltrán tied the Major League record for slams in a month with three, José Valentín hit two and Cliff Floyd hit one.
- Gil Hodges hit the first home run in New York Mets history on April 11, 1962 at St. Louis.
- On April 10, 1969 Tommie Agee became the only player ever to hit a home run to the small area of fair territory in the upper level of Shea Stadium. A painted sign on the stands nearby commemorates the spot.
- In 1966, the Mets chose catcher Steve Chilcott as the first overall selection in the amateur draft. He became the first number one draft pick to retire without reaching the major leagues. The second pick that year was Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
- The two pitchers who recorded the final outs of the Mets' two World Series titles were traded for one another. Jerry Koosman of the 1969 team was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in 1978 for Jesse Orosco of the 1986 team.
- Harry Chiti was acquired from the Cleveland Indians on April 25,1962 for a player to be named later. The player to be named later... was Chiti. He was traded for himself.
- On May 19, 2007, David Wright hit a 460 foot, 2-run home run off New York Yankees reliever Mike Myers. The home run went over Shea's bleachers into the Citi Field construction site. Radio analyst Howie Rose joked that it was the first home run in Citi Field history.
Uniform and logo symbolism
Uniform color and designThe Mets' colors are blue, orange, and white, symbolic of the return of National League baseball to New York after the Brooklyn Dodgers (blue) and New York Giants (orange) moved to California. Blue, orange and white are also the colors of the New York City flag. The NBA's New York Knicks were the first New York City-area team to use blue and orange as their team colors, and have been followed by the Mets and the NHL's New York Islanders.
Currently the Mets wear an assortment of uniforms. One variation includes solid gray road jerseys with blue piping on the sleeves, the jersey front, and down the side of the pant legs. "NEW YORK" is printed across the front of road jerseys in old English style font. Another uniform combination includes a white home jersey with blue pinstripes and "Mets" written across the front in script. Prior to the 1997 season the Mets introduced "snow white" home jerseys as an alternate home jersey. Like the road uniforms, they feature blue piping but are completely white, devoid of pinstripes, and features the cursive "Mets" written across the front. The standard cap is blue with an orange "NY" logo, which is currently only worn with the two white home jerseys. Before the 1998 season black was added as an official Mets color. Black drop-shadows were added to the blue and orange lettering on the white and gray jerseys. Solid black alternate home and road jerseys with blue piping and blue lettering trimmed in orange and white were introduced. Two alternate caps were also introdced - a black cap with a blue brim and a blue "NY" logo trimmed in orange (worn with the white and gray jerseys) and an all black cap with a blue "NY" logo trimmed in orange and white (worn with the black jerseys).
The Mets wear three styles of Coolflo batting helmets, depending what cap they are wearing that day. If they are wearing their black cap with blue brim, the batting helmets have a blue brim and fade to black in the back with a black "NY" outlined in white. If they are wearing their all-black caps, the batting helmets are all black with a blue "NY" outlined in white then orange, and if they are wearing their all-blue caps, the batting helmets are all-blue with an orange "NY" with no outlines.
LogoThe cap logo is identical to the logo used by the New York Giants in their final years, and is on a blue cap reminiscent of the caps worn by the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the primary logo, designed by sports cartoonist Ray Gatto, each part of the skyline has special meaning — at the left is a church spire, symbolic of Brooklyn, the borough of churches; the second building from the left is the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the tallest building in Brooklyn; next is the Woolworth Building; after a general skyline view of midtown comes the Empire State Building; at the far right is the United Nations Building. The bridge in the center symbolizes that the Mets, in bringing back the National League to New York, represent all five boroughs.http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/nym/history/timeline1.jsp
- The National League Division Series was added in 1995
- Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
- Names in Bold - Inducted as Met
- * Carter asked that his Hall of Fame plaque either be depicted as split between the Mets and Montreal Expos, or just as a Met. The Hall of Fame denied both of Carter's requests and he was inducted as an Expo.