The highlight of April happened when New York Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson, the “daredevil” of all the Mets broadcasters according to the New York Times, and executive producer Joel Nixon became the first (and only) baseball announcers to broadcast from a gondola, dangling 208 feet above second base, the equivalent of 18 stories, the highest point of the Astrodome.
“There I was, swinging back and forth like a monkey in a cage,” Nelson described in the opening chapter of the 1966 book Backstage at the Mets. “The ballplayers looked like animated pushbuttons. At the moment I didn’t have foggiest notion what they were doing, where they were going, or why. It was the perfect spot for a New York Met announcer.”
The gondola cables jerked Nelson and Nixon back and began its ascent over the next four minutes. When they reached their destination, Nelson peered over the edge, “hanging on for dear life.” He later described the scene saying, “At first I couldn’t see anything except a lot of tiny figures. Everybody looked the same height, everybody looked short. You couldn’t tell a line drive from a pop fly.”
In May, Yogi Berra came out of retirement and signed with the New York Mets as player–coach. He would only play four games, and on May 9, 1965, he appeared in his final game as a player striking out four times in a loss to the Atlanta Braves. It was three days shy of his 40th birthday. He served as coach the rest of the way and proved to be a valuable asset to the team, especially with young talent like Jerry Grote coming up.
Ron Swoboda was off to a hot start and looked like the first great homegrown talent. After a two-homer, four RBI performance in early May, Swoboda was hitting .320 with seven homers. Unfortunately, the team had a six-game losing streak from late April to early May and another six-game slide late in the month.
Following the 1964 season, the Milwaukee Braves sold pitcher Warren Spahn to the Mets.
Braves manager Bobby Bragan predicted, “Spahnie won’t win six games with the Mets.” Spahn took on the dual role of pitcher and pitching coach in New York but won only four and lost twelve. Spahn was put on waivers on July 15, 1965, and released on July 22, 1965. He immediately signed with the San Francisco Giants, with whom he finished the season.
Wes Westrum had joined the Mets as a coach in 1964 and became pitching coach in July 1965 after Spahn’s release.
When Casey Stengel was injured on August 30, 1965, and stepped down as skipper, Westrum became manager.
The season recap published above (in bold) is written and contributed 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.