— Days Without Shea —

Kingman is on vacation the next two weeks but we left behind some “Beach Reading” in Loge13. Here is another entry from site friend Bob, who has an excellent archive of Met memorabilia:

Bobster_loge_081507Loge prices have gone up a bit in price, haven't they?

This was Helmet Day .... the Mets provided the kiddies with cheap plastic batting helmets.  Today the lawyers would force them to give a disclaimer: "Not for protection from pitched balls."

The Mets beat the Dodgers 5-4, with Cleon Jones belting a 3-run homer.  Cleon was one of the top 10 hitters in average that year.

Everybody remembers the '69 Mets, but I became a die-hard Mets fan in 1968, when the team first became a serious threat.  Seaver was coming off his rookie-of-the-year season, and a rookie lefthander named Jerry Koosman had just joined the staff.  A very wild young pitcher named Nolan Ryan was already showing flashes of brilliance.  And Gil Hodges had just become manager, and let it be known that he didn't find the "Lovable Losers" tag very amusing.

The Mets finished 9th that year, but don't be deceived.  They had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and made almost every game close.  Jerry Grote was probably the best defensive catcher in the league, and was voted onto the All Star team as a starter (voted by the players, that is.  The fans didn't begin voting until the following season).

Savvy baseball watchers could see that something was happening to the Mets in 1968.  The next year, the Mets stunned the baseball world.

Those old helmets were great. And pretty durable too. I still have one or two kicking around.

Nolan Ryan got the win against the Dodgers that helmet day, and Ron Taylor earned his 5th save. Here’s the details of the box score.

56,738 fans in attendance. Wow! The win put the Mets one game under .500.

Thanks Bob!

[August 17, 2007 5:59 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Bob Bobster said

Interesting you should mention that this win put the Mets just one game under .500...that was the holy grail that season. The Mets had never been .500 in their history (okay, perhaps they once went 1-1 at the start of some season) but they got close a few times in 1968. Never managed to pull it off, though. They finished the year 73-89, which was their best record up to that time.

The following year, when the Mets finally did make it to the .500 mark, the attitude of the team was "so what?" Mediocrity was no longer something to be celebrated. The team had a whole new attitude. That's what made the miracle of 1969 possible. They roared past .500 and sprinted all the way to the World Series.

[September 25, 2007 5:10 PM]  |  link  |  reply
pete said

wow! that was the first game i ever saw at the big shea! we sat in the upper deck and got fried. i seem to remember we missed the first few innings because of traffic.

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