Losing Less, The 1962 New York Mets Way

February 26, 2009 at 9:32 am (Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, New York Mets) ()

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These days part of my “Fantasy Baseball trip” is recreating past seasons on my computer baseball game [Baseball Mogul 2007].

I’m managing the Mets of ‘62, the pride of the Polo Grounds. Through July 19th, I’m doing better then the Originals. 35-54 isn’t all that great, but if the “wheels don’t fall off” I’ll continue to compete with the Cubs, Phils, and Colt 45’s for seventh place or, at the very least, avoiding the moniker of “Basement Bertha.”

My favorite story about that year is the one the late Leonard Koppett, the two-sport [baseball and basketball] Hall of Fame writer, loved telling. The phone rang in the newsroom at the NY Post at two in the in morning. “I understand the Mets scored 16 runs last night,” the caller said. “Did they win?”

Here’s hard luck [an understatement, to say the very least] pitcher Roger “The Dodger” Craig.

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Original Met Clem Labine was a former Dodger pitcher.

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Former Brave pitcher Ken MacKenzie.

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Chris Cannizzaro ended up doing most of the catching.

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[Hot] Rod Kanehl was special. A Jack of all trades, master of none. The late Leonard Shecter wrote about him [and Casey] in his great book, “Jocks”.

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Utility man Rick Herrscher.

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Pitcher Dave Hillman, a one time Cub.

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Joe Christopher’s intangible attributes on a baseball field take away from any positive statistics you can get from him…

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.. and the same can be said for Jim Hickman.

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Pitcher Galen Cisco, from Ohio State, was one of the few who pitched effectively enough to stay in the organization long enough to make it to Shea. Mert and I shared a car on the 7 line with the former Buckeye on the way to opening day in 1964.

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Willard “Bill” Hunter came over from the Dodgers and, as I recall, wasn’t the piece needed to turn things around.

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Red Ruffing made the Hall Of Fame as a pitcher. Certainly not as the pitching coach of the 1962 Mets. I question the wisdom of entrusting one’s pitching staff to a man who cut off his toes with a lawnmower…. but, what do I know?

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Northwestern’s Jay Hook, reputed to be one very smart cookie, was one of many Met pitchers who started games without finishing them and relieved games without offering relief… In short, it was a dismal staff.

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Vinegar Bend Mizell, veteran NL pitcher, added to th Mets futility.

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Ed Kraneppol made is debut in the majors in 1962.

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Gil Hodges may or may not be the best baseball player who is not in the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean he deserves to be in it. He most certainly doesn’t. When I think of Gil, I’m reminded of his wife Joan. She’d get in the spirit of things by dyeing her hair “Met Orange.”

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Jim Rufus Marshall filled in at first base for the gimpy kneed Gil Hodges in the first game they ever played. He later went on to manage the Cubs and join an inordinately long list of big league managers [including the aforementioned # 14] who at one time or another played for Leo ”The Lip/Lion” Durocher. [A future blog about these men looms large.]

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Elio Chacon was the regular shortstop. Made for a long year.

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Craig Anderson was known as an “inning eater.” Given his earned run average, this was a backhanded compliment.

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Cliff Cook was acquired for…

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… Don Zimmer. A dog for a cat.

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Harry Chiti was the catcher the Mets acquired for a player to be named later… That player turned out to be Harry Chiti.

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“… Little Alvin Jackson was born on Christmas Day, one of twelve children from Waco, Texas…” , the late Bob Murphy [original Mets announcer] would babble, every inning of every game he pitched. Jackson was also the fastest runner on the 162 New York Mets.

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Hard to dislike Choo Choo, who was the fastest runner the Mets ever have had catch for them. That’s Clarence, to you.

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Casey brought in former Yankee outfielder Gene Woodling. Gornisht helphen.

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Former Dodger and future bullpen coach Joe Pignatano did some catching for the ’62 Mets.

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Myron “Joe” Ginsberg, one of the few Jewish ballplayers in Mets history, also did some catching in 1962.

Bob Moorhead [A surname that, after all these years, still evokes a smile.] was a gas can, waiting to explode.

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Johnny DeMerit was a highly regarded prospect for the Braves and a lowly regarded bust for the Mets.

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The original Frank “Mule” Thomas was a super hitter in the National League for a decade before the Mets were born and the heart of their offense [such as it was] in 1962.

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A lot more was expected of this former Brave. I remember Felix Millan as the “Cat,” and Felix Mantilla as the “Sail Cat.”

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Bob “Righty” Miller [the Mets also had a southpaw Bob Miller in ’62 with far less talent] was an effective pitcher for many years, before, during and after his stint in New York. Trading him for Tim Harkness and Larry Burright seemed like a good idea at the time, but set them back.

Pictured below is the right handed throwing Bob Miller…

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.. and Bob “Lefty” Miller.

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By all accounts, the Hall O’ Fame 2nd baseman was a removed, uncommunicative coach.

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby

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“There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had a few.” That’s my favorite Casey Stengel quote.

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Sammy’s brother was Solly Drake, not…

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…Mets coach Solly Hemus.

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Charlie Neal was a terrific ballplayer for the Dodgers… for the Mets, another story.

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Then Brooklyn Dodger Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto in his last ML at bat broke up Bill Beven’s no hitter against the Yankees in the 1947 Woild Serious. After coaching the Mets for a while, he was traded for SF Giant coach Wes Westrum, who later replaced Casey as manager.

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Going in to the season Gus Bell was worth a lot… “on paper.” The Mets, and fans like me, play the game on grass. :-)

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The first Met drafted was Hobie Landrith, whom they traded for…

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… Faye’s brother, Marv Throneberry, who was once a prospect with the Yankees.

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Former Cardinal outfielder Bobby Gene Smith played some for the ’62 Mets.

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Sammy Taylor came over from the Cubs and did nothing but add to the Mets catching woes.

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In a spring training battle, Sherman “Roadblock” Jones [pictured bellow] beat out Bob “Butterball” Botz, who shared a nickname with my rather large brother, for a spot on the original roster.

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Richie “Whitey” Ashburn nicknamed Marv Throneberry,”Marvelous.” What a team. 40 wins, 40 nicknames.

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I’d love to have bigger pictures of coach Ralph “Red” Kress, who died shortly after the season…kress

… and pitchers Larry Foss…

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…Ray Daviault…

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…and Herb Moford.

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Mr. Met, mascot extraordinaire.

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Original Mets Annoncers

Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner

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8 Comments

  1. Lorrin Bird said,

    GREAT PAGE!.

    As a 12 year old living in Queens, the Mets were my life during 1962. Pretty much sums up a bum year.

    I’ve played many baseball simulations (games), Stratomatic mostly, and really poor teams never do as bad. Once played a complete season of 162 games with just the 1961 Phillies and Dodgers. The Phillies did much better than in real life. I used to watch the Phillies games late at night in Queens on a Philly TV station, and listen to the Orioles on a Baltimore radio station. Don’t know how the stations made it to Queens.

    My thought on baseball games is that the mental boo-boo’s don’t make it in the ratings. The 62 Mets made so many questionable plays, like Choo Choo trying to score from second on a passed ball. Yeah, it was exciting, and he almost did it, but maybe not the best move at the time (but considering who was at bat, maybe it was a good move) Some positive qualities don’t show up in player ratings, so the 69 Cubs always beat out the 69 Mets.

    Thanks for a great and funny trip down memory lane. What I would give to still have my 1962 Mets yearbook, with Horace McMahon’s autograph on the cover (my father saw him in the next section of the Polo Grounds while we were watching the Dodgers shallack the Mets 16-3, and got his autograph. I had all Mets yearbooks from 1962 thru 1968, and during 1969 I became a Cubs fan and sharded their frustrations.

    Regarding righty Bob Miller, he became an important part of the winning Dodger teams from the sixties. And Roger Craig helped the Cards win in 64 (George Altman did much less than expected in 64) . Little Al Jackson, who spoke at my little league dinner in the winter of 62-63, had bad luck. Just missed being on the 69 Mets. I don’t remember if Jackson made it to the 67-68 World Series with the Cards, but he may have missed out there too.

    Is it true that the Giants wanted Daviault so badly during 62 that they were willing to offer McCovey, but the Mets hesitated?

    Thanks.
    LB

  2. Ralph Zig Tyko said,

    The Mets wanted the Giants to throw in Davenport, but the Giants turned ’em down, LB. :-)
    Glad you enjoyed!!
    RZT

  3. Glen Pierce said,

    How about a list and pictures of “almost Mets”. In 1962 Spring training, I recall that the Mets had some guys that almost made the club. P-Evan Killeen, P-Bob Botz, OF- Neil Chrisley, 2b – Ted Lepcio. I am not sure if Billy Loes or Johnny Antonelli were in spring training.

    • Ralph Zig Tyko said,

      Your post is accurate, Glen… pics coming soon. “Butterball” Botz :-)

  4. Gregg Gibbons said,

    I would like more information and photos on Neil Chrisley…he is my mother’s first cousin from Calhoun Falls, SC. He was part of the first Spring Training of the original Mets. Thanks!

  5. Ralph Zig Tyko said,

    A post on “almoxt an Original Met” is coming soon… Promise.

  6. Jim Considine said,

    Love your site. Two stories comes to mind. The first is the “yo lo tengo” story as told by Jon Miller during many a rain delay. The second is the Mets announcer (who wore the loud sports jackets) relaying Casey telling the press about his starting lineup …. Gus “ding dong” Bell, Don Zimmer (who has a metal plate in his head) …

  7. Dave Miller said,

    I’m an original member of the New Breed.
    Favorite all time Met is # 23, Joe Christopher. Please explain the comment about him and Jim Hickman.

    I do have in my possession the last bat ever used in the Polo Grounds. It’s an Al Moran but Ted Schreiber used it. The bat was tossed to me by equipment manager Herb Norman. He was standing on the landing of the clubhouse steps, facing 8th Avenue. There was small crowd of fans hanging around and he was giving away baseballs. I asked for a souvenier. He went inside the clubhouse, brought out the bat, told me its history and tossed it.

    I now live in Louisville, Kentucky and have offered it to the Louisville Slugger Museum. I have no authentication except my word. My price is $50,000.00

    Reember, through it all “The fans are true to the orange and blue so hurry up and come on down, ’cause we’ve got ourselves a ballclub, the Mets from New York town.”

    LET’S GO METS

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