September 1969. The Mets are for real.
At 8:43 the next evening the Mets, by virtue of having won a 12-inning game from the Montreal Expos in the first half of a twi-night doubleheader, moved into first place on percentage points. Joan Payson, the Mets' owner, stepped down from her box next to the team's dugout and walked toward home plate wiping tears from her eyes. When New York won the second game while Chicago was losing in Philadelphia, the Mets were on top and not going to be very easy to catch.
Professional baseball had endured for 92 years before the New York Mets first got their hands on it back in the spring of 1962. While they couldn't quite kill the game, they certainly brought it to one knee. Doing things that had never even been imagined before, they drove their fans into one of the oddest diversions ever developed: writing on bed-sheets. While it was long believed that the simple act of putting on a Yankee uniform caused players to perform better, a Met uniform suddenly turned some previously gifted players into clowns. In their first seven years of existence the Mets finished a total of 288ï¿½ games out of first place and built their all-important loss column to 737.
But in the spring of 1967 Tom Seaver joined the team and the franchise had a young player of outstanding quality. The Mets had thought enough of Seaver in his first year of baseball to have him pitch for their Triple A farm team at Jacksonville, and he led the league in games started while splitting 24 decisions. Then Seaver was advanced to the majors, and he was amazed at what he found out about the Mets. "There was an aura of defeatism," he said last week, "and I refused to accept it. Maybe some of the others started to feel how I felt because I noticed that the team seemed to play better behind me than it did for any other pitcher."
'Met Brutality' a placard read in Pittsburgh, and the - 09.22.69 - SI Vault
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Thursday, February 25, 2010
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