The early to mid-nineties were not good years for the Mets, as they suffered six losing seasons in a row, including, in 1993, the loss of more than 100 games for the first time since the sixties. The decade would end much better than it began for the team, but it would take a lot of work to get there.
After the great comeback World Series win of 1986, the Mets stayed a strong team for years and broke new attendance records, but a dynasty was not to be. Injuries were to blame in 1987 — sound familiar? As the eighties turned into the nineties, some of the team’s biggest stars were traded, and Manager Davey Johnson, who couldn’t get them into the Big Show again, was fired.
After the miracle of 1969, the Mets stayed strong but were knocked out of playoff contention by untimely slumps in 1970 and ’71, and injuries in 1972. The next year they roared back into the World Series, but lost in seven games to the Oakland A’s.
Jose Reyes’ much ballyhooed return to Citi Field as the Miami Marlins’ new shortstop was a dud all the way around. Reyes went a paltry 1 for 12 with no stolen bases as the Mets swept his new team in three straight.
What was really surprising about Jose’s first visit to Citi Field since leaving the Amazin’s was that it was far more a media event than a fan attraction. An announced crowd of barely more than 20,000 came out for his first game back on a fairly pleasant April evening.
April is shaping up to be a big month for Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, and not just because he won his first two starts of the season. Dickey is one of the subjects of the baseball documentary “Knuckleball,” which will make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this Saturday evening. R.A. will speak to the audience after the screening.
This Sunday at 6 p.m. he will be signing copies of his autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” (Blue Rider Press), at the Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows. The Mets are partnering with Dickey as well, as they are offering a package on Wednesday, April 25 in which, for $100, one can take part in a pre-game Q&A with him, get an autographed copy of his book, and watch the Mets take on Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins in the Champions Club, where one can enjoy food and soft drinks.
Mets greats Darryl Strawberry, left, Kevin Mitchell and Bud Harrelson outside StrawberryÕs restaurant in Douglaston. Money raised will go to help children with autism.
Former New York Met Bud Harrelson was recalling on Friday a tour he took with the USO during the Vietnam War following the Miracle Mets victory in the 1969 World Series.
“I went with [Major League] pitchers Sam McDowell and Jim Rooker to the Philippines, Guam and Japan,” Harrelson said. “We walked into hospital wards with guys who had lost limbs. We walked into burn wards. We were there to cheer them up, and they wound up cheering us up.”
The Mets may not be doing so well this year in their new home, Citi Field, but there was cause for celebration Saturday as the 1969 World Series team was honored.
Although he never played the game, Arthur Richman, who died last Wednesday at the age of 83, was one of baseball’s all-time greats. He spent nearly 60 years around the game, starting as a sports reporter for the old New York Mirror. When that paper folded, Arthur went to the Mets, where he stayed for 25 years, working in promotions, travel and public relations. He then performed most of those functions for the Yankees for the next 15 years.
“We never ever do anything nice and easy,” Ike and Tina Turner sang in the opening stanza of their 1971 hit version of “Proud Mary.” The same can be said of the Mets, who once again came up a dollar short and a day late, missing the playoffs on the last day of the season for the second straight year.
Last Friday night the Mets honored the late Gil Hodges on his induction into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame. Hodges is the man most responsible for changing the image of the Mets from lovable losers to that of a solid major league team. When he was hired in 1968 Hodges guaranteed that the Mets would win 70 games that year. While that figure now seems to be a fairly modest goal for a baseball team to strive for, it was a huge milestone at the time. Hodges had many doubters but the Mets ended up winning 73 games in ’68 and became World Series champions the following year.
There’s nothing like a sports team to bring people together, and through good years and bad, the Mets have done just that. When you root for the home team here, there’s no question that it’s the Mets.
I arrived early for a Yankees game a couple of weeks ago in order to watch the Bronx Bombers take batting practice. While the hitters were limbering up, a Yankees highlight film was being shown on the scoreboard. What caught my attention was a feature on former Yankees catcher Rick Cerrone who is now the owner of the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League. The Yankees were quite gracious in promoting Cerrone’s new venture considering that the Atlantic League has no affiliation with Major League Baseball.