Casey Stengel – New York Mets Manager 1962-1965

Casey StengelThe New York Mets knew that they were not going to win many games when they joined the National League in 1962 and therefore they also knew that they needed someone who would help them attract fans to the ballpark. That was the main reason they tabbed Casey Stengel to be their first manager. Casey Stengel had managed the New York Yankees form 1949-1960, winning seven World Series titles and ten American League Pennants. However, he was unceremoniously let go after losing the 1960 World Series. Even though he was 71 years old, he still knew the game and was still a very popular figure in New York having also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. Casey was known for his funny comments or ‘Stengelese”as the reporters called them and was always good for a quote which also helped divert attention from the inept play on the field.

During the Mets first Spring Training in 1962 Casey Stengel was looking to draw support for the team and was quoted as saying, “Come see my Amazin Mets.” The phrase stuck and the Mets would be forever known as the “Amazin Mets.” However, the only thing that was truly amazing about the Mets first year in the National League was their amazing ability to find new ways to lose games. They set a record for futility losing 120 games while winning just 40. Over the next two seasons, the Mets improved but still managed to lose over 100 games each season. However, with Casey leading the way, the fans still packed the ballpark as the Mets came to be known as “Lovable Losers.” However, in 1965 Stengel broke his hip and was forced to step aside as manager on August 30th.

Despite posting a dismal 175 and 404 record Stengel is still a beloved figure in Mets history as evidenced by the fact that the organization not only retired his number 37 but also inducted him into the Mets Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1981. In 1966, he was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Some of Casey’s most memorable Stengelisms while with the Mets

“Been in this game one-hundred years, but I see new ways to lose ’em I never knew existed before.”

“You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.”

“You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?’”

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Gary Carter – His New York Mets Career 1985-1989

Gary CarterA seven-time All-Star catcher with the Montreal Expos, Gary Carter was acquired by the Mets prior to the 1985 season in exchange for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Floyd Youmans and Herm Winningham. He was considered to be the final piece to the puzzle as the Mets pursued their first World Series title since 1969.

Carter made an immediate impact when he hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning on Opening Day 1985. He would go on to lead the team with 32 home runs and 100 RBI’s. On September 3rd he became the 5th player in franchise history to hit 3 home runs in a game. The next day he hit another 2 home runs to become the first player in Mets history to hit 5 home runs over the span of 2 games. He was selected to be the starting catcher in the All-Star game but was unable to play due to injury. During the month of September, he hit .320 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs and was named the National League Player of the Month.

In 1986 Carter continued his strong hitting and tied Rusty Staub’s franchise record for most RBI’s in a season with 105. He also hit 24 home runs as the Mets cruised to their first postseason appearance since 1973. He once again was selected to start for the National League in the All-Star game. He also finished 3rd in the National League MVP voting, 

During the postseason Carter initially struggled going 1 for 21 in the NLCS against the Houston Astros before knocking in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning of game 5. The Mets would win the series in 6 games. During the World Series Carter hit 2 home runs during game 4 and drove in the tying run in game 7. But his most famous at-bat came during game 6. In the bottom of the 10th inning with the Mets trailing by 2 runs and down to their last out and on the verge of losing the series, Carter singled to start the Mets 3 run rally. In one of the most amazing comebacks in World Series history the Mets won the game and would go on to win the series in 7 games to capture their 2nd World Series title.

Carter returned in 1987 but his numbers began to dip as he hit just .235 with 20 home runs and 83 RBIs. In 1988 he hit just 11 home runs with 46 RBIs, but he did manage to hit the 300th home run of his career. The Mets returned to the postseason in 1988 and Carter hit .222 with 4 RBIs in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 2 run double in the 9th inning of game 1 drove in both the tying and winning runs, but the Mets would lose the series in 7 games.

In 1989 Carter suffered through an injury plagued season. He hit just .183 with 2 home runs and 15 RBIs in 50 games. It would be his last season with the Mets as the Mets decided that his best days were behind him and chose not to offer him a new contract.

In five seasons with the Mets Carter hit .249 with 89 home runs and 349 RBIs. He would play another three years before retiring following the 1992 season.

In 2001 Carter was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame and in 2003 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While with the Mets Carter wore number 8,

Gary Carter also played for the following teams:
Montreal Expos – 1974-1984, 1992
San Francisco Giants – 1990
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1991

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Rickey Henderson – His New York Mets Career 1999-2000

Rickey HendersonRickey Henderson was approaching 40 years of age when the Mets signed him as a free agent on December 16, 1998. With his combination of speed and power he was considered by many to be the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history, but he also had a reputation of being a “hot dog” with a penchant for wearing out his welcome for each team he played for, evidenced by the fact that he switched teams eight times in twenty seasons. Needless to say, Met fans had some trepidation about Rickey Henderson.

But their fears were quickly assuaged after Henderson got off to a fast start. He hit .313 over the first ten games of the season, including a 4 for 4 performance in which he hit two home runs on April 7th. With Henderson as their leadoff hitter the Mets jumped out to 7-3 record. Henderson would go on to play in 121 games for the Mets in 1999, 114 as their leadoff hitter and leftfielder. He led the team in hitting with a .315 average while hitting 12 home runs with 42 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. His .423 on base percentage was also the second highest on the team to John Olerud’s .427, not bad for a 40-year-old player.

The Mets finished the 1999 season tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card, meaning the two teams would have to play a one game playoff for the final National League postseason spot. Henderson led off the game with a single and scored on Edgardo Alfonzo’s two run homer. After two batters the Mets had a lead they would not relinquish. Henderson would hit a home run in the top of the 5th inning to extend the lead, as the Mets went on to win 5-0 to reach the postseason for the first time since 1988. Henderson continued his strong season in the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit .400, including a 3 for 5 performance in game three, with six stolen bases and a .500 on base percentage, as the Mets won the series in four games to advance to the National League Championship Series. His six stolen bases set a record for most in a NLDS series.

But in the NLCS Henderson struggled, as did most of the Mets hitters. He hit just .174 (4 for 23) in six games, as the Mets lost the series. But it was his alleged actions in game six which left a bitter taste in the mouths of Met fans. Trailing the series 3 games to 2 and needing to win game six to extend their season, the Mets fell behind 5-0 in the first inning and eventually fell behind 7-3. But they battled back to eventually tie the game in the 7th inning with help from Henderson who doubled home a run and scored on a single by John Olerud. Henderson was taken out of the game in the 8th inning as part of a double switch. After the Mets lost the game in eleven innings on a bases loaded walk, it was reported in all the tabloids the next day that Henderson and Bobby Bonilla were playing cards in the locker room instead of supporting their team by staying on the bench. It was a bitter pill for most Met fans to swallow and when he got off to a slow start in 2000, hitting just .219 after 31 games, they let him know it. With the boos getting louder at Shea Stadium it was obvious that Henderson had once again worn out his welcome and the Mets decided to part ways by releasing him on May 13th. Henderson’s final numbers with the Mets were a .298 average, 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 42 stolen bases.

Henderson would play out the 2000 season with the Seattle Mariners, and would play three more years before retiring after the 2003 season. Though according to Henderson, he didn’t actually retire he just was not given another chance to play. In 2009, his first year of eligibility, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame becoming the tenth former Met player to be so honored.

Rickey Henderson did serve as the Mets first base coach in 2007, joining the staff when Jerry Manual took over as manager in June. He finished out the season but was not asked to return in 2008.

While with the Mets Henderson wore number 24.

Rickey Henderson also played for the following teams:
Oakland A’s – 1979-1984, 1989-1995, 1998
New York Yankees – 1985-1989
Toronto Blue Jays – 1993
San Diego Padres – 1996,1997,2001
Anaheim Angels – 1997
Seattle Mariners – 2000
Boston Red Sox – 2002
Los Angeles Dodgers – 2003

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Warren Spahn – His New York Mets Career 1965

Warren SpahnWarren Spahn, the winningest left-handed pitcher in baseball history, was sold to the New York Mets by the Milwaukee Braves prior to the 1965 season.  Though his best days were clearly behind him the Mets were hoping to squeeze a few wins out of him while he mentored some of their young pitchers by serving as a player-coach.  In his Mets debut on April 14th against the Houston Astros, Spahn pitched eight strong innings but suffered a no decision in a game the Mets would lose 7-6 in extra innings.  He would win his next two starts and it appeared that Spahn still had some gas left in the tank.  But it suddenly became apparent that wasn’t the case, as he lost five of his next eight starts.  With his record at 4 and 12 and an ERA of 4.36 the Mets released Spahn on July 22nd.  He was picked up by the San Francisco Giants where he finished out the season.  He retired following the season.   

Spahn won 363 games during his career and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. He was the second player inducted into the Hall who had played for the Mets, the first was Yogi Berra.

While with the Mets Spahn wore number 21. 

Warren Spahn also played for the following teams:
Boston Braves – 1942,1946-1952
Milwaukee Braves – 1953-1964
San Francisco Giants – 1965

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Pedro Martinez – His New York Mets Career 2005-2008

Pedro MartinezAfter three straight losing seasons the New York Mets were desperate to turn things around in 2005.  New General Manager Omar Minaya decided that in order to fill the increasing number of empty seats at Shea Stadium that the Mets needed to be aggressive in the free agent market.  One of the items on his wish list was a dominating starting pitcher and it just so happened that a four-time Cy Young Award winner by the name of Pedro Martinez was available.  Martinez was coming off a 16-9 season in which he played an integral part in helping the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years, but there were also whispers around the league that his best days were behind him.  While many teams were interested in his services they were all weary of offering him what he wanted, a four-year contract.  In order to entice Martinez to come to New York Minaya knew he had to offer Pedro exactly that.  Determined to get his man Omar Minaya offered Pedro a four year 53-million-dollar contract and just like that the Mets had their number one starter.

Pedro Martinez took the hill on Opening Day 2005 with electric stuff striking out twelve batters in six innings. He left the game with a 6-3 lead but unfortunately the bullpen could not hold it, which was an all too familiar occurrence in 2005, and the Mets lost 7-6.  But it was his second start of the season where he proved to be the ace the Mets were looking for when they signed him.  The Mets were standing at 0-5 on the season and were in desperate need of a win.  Pedro took the mound and proceeded to pitch a complete game two hitter striking out nine as the Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-1 to record their first win of the season.  From that point on Martinez pitched like his old Cy Young self and proved to be worth every penny the Mets were paying him. Not only was he winning games but there was electricity in the air and increased attendance each time he took the mound at Shea Stadium.  It was never more evident than on June 7 against the Houston Astros when he flirted with throwing the first no hitter in franchise history, he settled for a two hitter with twelve strikeouts.  Martinez would finish the season 15 -8 and helped the Mets to their first winning season since 2001.  He led the Mets pitching staff in wins, innings pitched (217), ERA (2.82), strikeouts (208) and complete games (4).

Martinez got off to a blistering start in 2006 winning his first five starts of the season, including the 200th victory of his career on April 17.  But he began to struggle and finished the first half of the season with a 7-4 record.  Despite his struggles he was still named to his second straight National League All-Star team.  In the middle of the season a calf injury sidelined him for a month. When he returned he continued to struggle and after losing four straight games in September where he posted an ERA over 15, the Mets shut him down for the year when it was determined he had a torn rotator cuff.  Pedro finished the season with a 9-8 record and because of his injury did not make the Mets postseason roster.

After off-season rotator cuff surgery Pedro Martinez missed the majority of the 2007 season.  He returned to the rotation on September 3 and won his first game in over a year.  Martinez would pitch in five games for the Mets in September and seemed to be his old self posting a 3-1 record with a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings.  But despite his efforts the Mets suffered through the worst collapse in baseball history, blowing a 7-game lead with 17 games to go in the season and missed the postseason.

Based on his strong finish to the 2007 season expectations were high for Martinez entering 2008.  With the off-season acquisition of Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner with the Minnesota Twins, Pedro was now the Mets number two starter. But it was not meant to be, in his first start of the season Pedro pulled his hamstring and was lost for the next two months.  When he returned he was not the same pitcher as he struggled through the remainder of the season posting a disappointing 5-6 record with a 5.61 ERA. 

The Mets decided to part ways with Pedro following the season by not offering him a new contract even though he expressed interest in returning.  In his four years with the Mets Martinez won 32 while losing 23 with a 3.88 ERA.  Even though his Met career didn’t turn out exactly the way both sides had planned, New York fans showed their appreciation for Martinez by giving him a standing ovation as he left the mound in his final game at Shea Stadium on September 25.

\While with the Mets Martinez wore number 45.

Pedro Martinez also played for the following teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1992,1993
Montreal Expos – 1994-1997
Boston Red Sox – 1998-2004
Philadelphia Phillies – 2009

Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015

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Tom Glavine – His New York Mets Career 2003-2007

Tom GlavineAfter years of tormenting them as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Tom Glavine took his talented left arm to New York and signed as a free agent with the Mets prior to the 2003 season.   Most Met fans had mixed emotions over the signing.  True they were getting a two-time Cy Young award winner and future Hall of Famer but they were also getting someone they grew to hate over the years as a member of their hated rival. 

Glavine didn’t exactly endear himself to Met fans early on as he was shellacked in his first game as Met.  On Opening Day 2003 he lasted just 3 2/3 innings while giving up 8 hits and 5 runs.  Things didn’t exactly pick up from that point as he struggled for most of the season, finishing with a 9 and 14 record and 4.52 ERA.  It was the first time since 1988 that Glavine posted a losing record and failed to win 10 games. The highlight of his first season in New York came in September when his brother Mike was brought up from the minors and they became the first brothers to play for the Mets.

In 2004, Glavine started the season pitching like his old self.  He started out with a 7-3 record with a 2.03 ERA and was named to the National League All – Star team.  Included in his fast start was a one hit shutout against the Montreal Expos on May 23rd.  However, he struggled during the second half of the season and once again finished with a losing record, this time 11-14.  It did not help matters that he was involved in a car accident while riding in a taxi and lost his front teeth.

His third season in New York turned out to be the opposite of his second.  In 2005, he started with a 5 and 7 record with a 4.93 ERA.  However, he managed to turn his season around in the second half and finished with a 13 and 13 record while lowering his ERA by nearly a run and a half. 

2006 turned out to be his best season with the Mets not only personally but for the team as well.  The Mets ran away and won the National League Eastern Division while Glavine led the team with 15 wins.  During the months of May and June, he was 8 and 0 and with his record at 11-2 was selected to his second National League All-Star team while with the Mets.  During the postseason, he won his only start in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching six shutout innings.  In the NLCS against the St Louis Cardinals, he won the opening game of the series once again pitching shutout baseball, this time for seven innings.  But he lost the critical game five, which would have given the Mets a 3-2 series lead.  The Mets would lose the series in seven games.

Tom Glavine’s original contract with the Mets was up following the 2006 season, but sensing the Mets had unfinished business after failing to achieve their goal of a World Series title in 2006, Glavine resigned with the Mets for another year.  But by the end of the season Mets fans had wished that Tom Glavine had never worn a Met uniform.  Things were initially going well for the Mets and Glavine.  They were cruising to their second straight division title and Glavine was enjoying another solid season.  Along the way Glavine became the 23rd pitcher and just the 6th lefthander to win 300 games.  He accomplished the feat on August 5th against the Chicago Cubs.  But then it happened, with the Mets in the midst of the worst September collapse in baseball history Glavine pitched two of the worst games of his career.  First on September 25th he allowed six runs over five innings as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 10-9.  Than on the last day of the season with the Mets needing a victory to either win the division or force a one game playoff against the Philadelphia Phillies Glavine completely imploded.  He lasted just 1/3 of an inning allowing 5 hits, 2 walks and 7 earned runs.  The game was over before it started and the Mets season was lost. 

At that point Met fans were willing to drive Glavine to the airport as he left town.  Glavine returned to Atlanta where he pitched a half season before an arm injury ended his career,

In five seasons with the Mets Tom Glavine finished with a 61-56 record and 3.97 ERA.

While with the Mets Glavine wore number 47.

Tom Glavine also played for the Atlanta Braves from 1987-2002 and 2008. 

Tom Glavine was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Richie Ashburn – His New York Mets Career 1962

Richie AshburnRichie Ashburn, a former All-Star with the Phillies, has the distinction of being the first hitter in New York Mets history, he flew out to centerfield against Larry Jackson of the St Louis Cardinals on April 11, 1962.  He would later score the first run in franchise history when Charlie Neal singled him home in the third inning of the same game.

In the Mets inaugural season, a season in which they set the record for futility by losing 120 games, Ashburn was one of the few bright spots.  In 135 games as the Mets primary leadoff hitter, he hit .306 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs and was selected to be the team’s first All-Star. 

Unfortunately for the Mets Ashburn was at the end of his career and 1962 would be his only season with the Mets, as he retired from playing following the season. 

He would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

While with the Mets Ashburn wore number 1.

Richie Ashburn also played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1952 to 1969 and the Chicago Cubs in 1960 and 1961.

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Eddie Murray – His New York Mets Career 1992-1993

eddie-murrayEddie Murray was at the tail end of his career when he joined the Mets as a free agent in 1992.  In his two seasons in New York Murray lived up to his nickname “Steady Eddie” and put up solid numbers while playing for some bad Met teams.   In 1992 he hit just .261 but managed to drive in 93 runs to lead the team.  In 1992 he also reached two significant milestones.  On May 3rd, he hit his 400th career home run and on June 6th he knocked in two runs to push him past Mickey Mantle for the most RBIs by a switch hitter in baseball history.

Murray continued his steady run production in 1993 leading the Mets in RBIs (100) and average (.285) while hitting 27 home runs.  But 1993 would be his last season in New York for the first baseman, With the Mets coming off two dreadful seasons a youth moment was taking shape in New York and Murray was allowed to leave as a free agent.  He signed with the Cleveland Indians and would play another four seasons eventually reaching 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.  In his two season in New York Eddie Murray hit .274 with 43 home runs and 193 RBIs.   

In 2003 Eddie Murray was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with another former Met Gary Carter.

While with the Mets Murray wore number 33.

Eddie Murray also played for the following teams:
Baltimore Orioles – 1977-1988, 1996
Los Angeles Dodgers – 1989-1991, 1997
Cleveland Indians – 1994-199
Anaheim Angels – 1997

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Yogi Berra – His New York Mets Playing Career 1965

yogi-berraDespite leading the Yankees to the 1964 American League Pennant, Yogi Berra was unceremoniously let go as manager after the season.  Following his dismissal, he joined the Mets coaching staff for the 1965 season.  Considered by many to be the greatest catcher to ever play the game, Berra was activated by the Mets at the end of April.  He made his Mets playing debut on May 1 as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jim Bethke.  Berra would appear in a total of 4 games for the Mets, 2 as starter, before being released in the middle of May.  In his 4 appearances Berra batted .222 (2 for 9).  Both his hits came in the same game on May 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies

Following his release Berra returned to the Mets coaching staff and stayed with the organization until 1975.  During that span, he also served as manager from 1972 to 1975.

Yogi Berra was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

While playing for the Mets Berra wore number 8.

Yogi Berra also played for the New York Yankees from 1946-1963.

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Roberto Alomar – His New York Mets Career 2002-2003

roberto-alomarThe Mets thought they had gotten an early Christmas present when they acquired Roberto Alomar from the Cleveland Indians along with Mike Bacsik and Danny Peoples on December 11, 2001 in exchange for Jerrod Riggan, Alex Escobar, Matt Lawton, Billy Traber and Earl Snyder.  After all, Alomar was not only a lifetime .300 hitter he was also one of the best fielding 2nd baseman in the game having won 10 gold glove awards. Unfortunately, what they got was a 2nd baseman on the downside.  Beware of the Cleveland Indians when they are looking to trade 2nd baseman – see Carlos Baerga.

Alomar went 1 for 5 with 2 RBI’s in his Met debut on April 1, 2002 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  But his first season in New York was a big disappointment. Alomar hit a just.266 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs and quickly became a target of the boo birds at Shea Stadium as it often appeared that he was not giving a 100%.  Things didn’t get much better for him in 2003 and with his batting average still hovering around .260 and the boos growing louder the Mets finally had seen enough and shipped him to the Chicago White Sox on July 1st in exchange for pitchers Edwin Almonte and Royce Ring.

Despite his disappointing stint in New York, in 222 games over a season and a half Alomar hit .265 with just 13 home runs and 75 RBIs, he found his way to Cooperstown.  In his second year of eligibility he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. He became the 11th player to wear a Met uniform to be so honored.

Roberto Alomar does hold the distinction of being the first Met player to be the son of a former Met, his father Sandy Alomar Sr played for the Mets in 1967.  His brother Sandy Alomar Jr also played briefly for the Mets in 2008.

While with the Mets Roberto Alomar wore number 12.

Roberto Alomar also played for the following teams:

San Diego Padres – 1988-1990
Toronto Blue Jays – 1991-1995
Baltimore Orioles – 1996-1998
Cleveland Indians – 1999-2001
Chicago White Sox – 2003,2004
Arizona Diamondbacks – 2004

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