What Shall We Name Them?

What’s in a name? asked Shakespeare.

Names are our identity. Names distinguish between people, places and things. Names trigger emotion; they sometimes make our heart race; our voice elevate; our brow furrow; our breath shallow.

In late January 1961, franchise owner Mrs. Joan Payson invited the organization’s brass and a handful of New York baseball sports reporters to her home. The subject: Name the team.

During the months leading up to the franchise name being announced the media reported that 9,613 letters were submitted to the offices on 680 Fifth Avenue of the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. that included 644 different teams names.

The Top 10 finalists were:

  • Avengers
  • Bees
  • Burros (for the five boroughs)
  • Continentals
  • Jets
  • Metropolitans
  • NYBs (pronounced Nibbies)
  • Rebels
  • Skyliners
  • Skyscrapers

The Mets’ name was judged by club owner Joan Payson as the one that best met five basic criteria:

1) It met public and press acceptance;
2) It was closely related to the team’s corporate name (Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc);
3) It was descriptive of the metropolitan area;
4) It had a brevity that delighted copy readers everywhere;
5) It had historical background referring to the Metropolitans of the 19th century American Association.

New York baseball fans voted: The Mets garnered 61 votes, followed by the Empires (47), Islanders (45). Finally, on May 8, 1961, the team name was announced: New York Mets.

New York Times sports columnist Arthur Daley quoted one writer:

“The Mets leaves me cold. The nickname rings no bells, throws off no sparks. There’s no way of dramatizing ‘Mets.’ It would even defy the talent of Willard Mullin, the cartoonist.”

Ironically, the 1962 New York Mets yearbook was illustrated by Mullin.

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Mets Rewind
National League baseball in New York was redefined on March 6, 1961 when the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. formally received a certificate of membership from leave president Warren Giles. Of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs today, the case could be made that no other team has a more compelling franchise history than the New York Mets. From Casey Stengel to Yogi Berra, Marv Throneberry to Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Tug McGraw, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Valentine, Pedro Martinez and Matt Harvey, the Mets are loaded with character(s). Then there are the Amazin’ seasons — 1962, 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2006-2008 and 2015 — full of miracles, joy, hope and heartbreak. Mets Rewind is designed for that purpose: To share team history in a distinct and entertaining format. We hope you — the baseball fan — enjoy the content. We encourage you to share your memories.
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