Nineteen sixty-two, the inaugural season of the New York Mets, marked the return of National League baseball in New York for the first time since 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved some 3,000 miles west to California.
On April 11, 1962, the Mets dropped their first regular season game, 11–4, to the St. Louis Cardinals — and went on to lose its first nine in a row. The team would go on to put together losing streaks of 17 straight (May 20-June 15), 11 straight (July 15-July 26) and 13 straight (August 9-August 21).
You can listen to the entire radio broadcast of the New York Mets first game below:
Led by manager Casey Stengel, the Mets played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds, the former home of the New York Giants. The Mets 1962 season was marked by record futility. On record as one of the worst teams in baseball history, the Mets couldn’t hit (last in batting average), couldn’t field (last in team fielding percentage) and couldn’t pitch (last in team ERA).
But New York baseball fans didn’t care, in fact, they were giddy to have National League baseball back in city and showed it by recording a season attendance of 922,530 (6th best in the National League).
Sherman Jones was expected to start the first game in franchise history, however, Jones was injured in a freak accident when he attempted to light a match the flint struck him in the eye. Sidelined, Roger Craig received the first start.
Gus Bell recorded the first hit in franchise history, a second inning single off Larry Jackson. The Mets tied the game in the third but Craig quickly gave up three runs. Hodges homered in the fourth and Charlie Neal hit one in the fifth to make it 5-4 but the Cardinals pulled away for an 11-4 win.
Two nights later, the Mets lost their first home game at the Polo Grounds. Jones gave up two runs in five innings in the 4-3 loss to the Pirates though Thomas hit a homer in the sixth. The Mets would lose the first nine games, even dropping an 11-inning game to Houston. The Colt .45s actually won their first three games, sweeping the Cubs. Bill Mazeroski’s RBI triple beat the Mets to send New York to 0-9, with Jones losing three games.
On April 24, Jay Hook took the mound against the 10-0 Pirates and pitched a complete game, giving up one run on five hits. The Mets hit Tom Sturdivant and Diomedes Olivo early, taking a 6-0 lead in the second and came away with a 9-1 win. Three more losses followed and then the team won consecutive games for the first time, scoring eight runs two straight days against the Phillies. The Phillies avoided a sweep, hammering Jones to end the month.
The Dodgers and Giants returned to New York and swept the Mets. In the first Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds, the Mets hit Sandy Koufax for six runs and 13 hits only to lose 13-6. On June 8, the Mets beat the Cubs 4-3 with Craig Anderson retiring Ron Santo with two on and two outs in the ninth for the first win since May 20.
On June 17, Chicago’s Lou Brock homered to center at the Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the first, Throneberry drove in two runs with a triple. Ernie Banks called for the ball and stepped on first as Throneberry was called out for not touching the bag. When Stengel came out to argue, first base coach Cookie Lavagetto said, “Forget it, Casey. He missed second too.” With the bases empty, Neal followed with a home run. The Mets would lose by one. In the second game of the doubleheader, Throneberry made an error on the first play of the game and the Mets lost on Santo’s homer in the ninth. New York kept losing and the month ended with Koufax pitching a no-hitter against the Mets. He struck out the side on nine pitches in the first and fanned 13 in the game.
The Mets went 6-23 in July, falling 50 games under .500. The pitching staff gave up at least 10 runs seven times in the month. The team was eliminated in the first week of August. The Mets lost 13 straight during the month. The 100th loss of the season came in Philadelphia on August 29.
On September 20, the Mets blew a ninth inning lead to Houston and lost in 12 innings for the 115th loss, tying the 1935 Braves for the NL record. Six days later, the Mets set the record for losses in a season as a 6-3 defeat to the Braves marked No. 118. Even Bob Uecker had an RBI single for Milwaukee in the eighth.
The season mercifully came to an end on September 30 when the Mets dropped a 5-1 decision to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, recording 120 losses (last place, 60.5 games behind the N.L. champion San Francisco Giants). The Mets’ 120 losses are the most by any MLB team in one season since the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20–134, .130).
The 1962 campaign was chronicled in Jimmy Breslin’s humorous best-selling book Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? The title came from a remark made by manager Casey Stengel expressing his frustration over the team’s poor play.
The season recap published above is written by David Russell and published in his book, Fabulous to Futile in Flushing: A Year-by-Year History of the Mets. Do you love Mets history? Pick up this book online at your favorite bookseller and enjoy season-by-season historical recaps, Mets highlights and challenging trivia that will send you on a fun journey through the Mets rich franchise history.