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:
- Burros (for the five boroughs)
- NYBs (pronounced Nibbies)
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.