It’s been two decades since Sports Illustrated published Jeff Pearlman’s...
The New York Mets played their first regular season game on April 11, 1962, an 11-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The losses piled up quickly through the first campaign eventually giving way to a historic mark of futility, as the team finished 40-120 under manager Casey Stengel.
The Mets would loss 100+ games in five of their first six seasons (1962-1965, 1967). But in those early days fans didn’t seem to mind losing. Most baseball fans were just excited to have a National League franchise back in New York.
The Mets third season offered another burst of excitement as the team opened their new ballpark in Queens, originally called “Flushing Meadow Park Municipal Stadium.” The stadium was eventually named Shea Stadium in honor of William A. Shea, the New York attorney who brought National League baseball back to New York.
The Mets began to show signs of improvement in 1967 when future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Danny Frisella made their major league debuts. In 1968, the Mets hired a new manager: Gilbert Raymond Hodges. They also added Nolan Ryan (injured the entire 1967 season) and Jim McAndrew and began shoring up their offense with addition of Tommie Agee. The team finished the 1968 season 73-89, their best single season record in the team’s short history.
One year later, in their eighth year of existence, the New York Mets flipped the script going from worst in 1962 to first by the end of the decade. The team won 100 games, clinching the National League Eastern Division title in the games first year of divisional play. The Mets rolled over the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series.
Explore each season throughout the decade below as we rewind from to the first game in franchise history to the last pitch of a World Series championship in 1969.