was the passing of Met legend Bob Mandt.
Bob Mandt was a living monument to the history of the Mets and Shea Stadium. He experienced it all during his tenure in the team ticket office and served as a folklorist and institutional memory for a team and times most people prefer to forget.
little oral history of the Mets' early days. Mandt generously offers up his recollection of how he set up the first Mets ticket office in the basement of the Hotel Martinique in 1961.
The Mets lost again on Monday; Bob Mandt died. His passing made a
dark, dank day at Citi Field sad and uncomfortable. What follows is a
slightly updated version of the story I wrote for this website,
advancing the club's honoring Bob and recognizing his many contributions
to life at Shea Stadium. I liked him. I miss him. -- Marty Noble
NEW YORK -- It was merely an agenda, a schedule of all that was to
happen and at what times on the afternoon of Aug. 1, when the Mets would
open the doors of their Hall of Fame to new members for the first time
since 2002. When it arrived via e-mail, I began to skim through it. My
scrolling ended abruptly when the name Bob Mandt appeared. Names of
friends jump off the screen as if presented in upper case, boldface
The day's events would focus on the induction of four men who helped
make Shea Stadium the place to be for the better part of seven
successive and successful summers -- Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Dwight
Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Before any of that, though, the Mets
would recognize a man who made Shea a good place to be for far longer,
most of its 45 years, the man who made Shea work as Cashen and Johnson
made the Mets win.
Mandt would be recognized by the Mets but, in another way, he probably
wouldn't be recognized at all by most of the folks who populated Citi
Field that day. Throughout his tenure with the club, 1961-2004, he was a
man behind the scenes, a man with an office in the bowels of the
ballpark and a knowledge of everything from the floor of the basement
corridors to the flight patterns of LaGuardia's jets.
Shea didn't breathe, sneeze, open or close without Mandt knowing about
it. He knew all its nooks and crannies, leaks and secrets, and
everyone's extensions. He could have been an often-hit website --
Bob knew the umps and the cops; the opposing players, coaches and
managers; Mrs. Payson and Mr. Met; the secretaries and the grounds crew;
M. Donald Grant and the guys from Harry M. Stevens; Casey, Gil and
Yogi; the doctors and the trainers; the plumbers and the electricians;
the writers, the bullpen catchers and the mayors; Stearns, Staub,
Staiger and all the rest.
He had an original poster from The Beatles at Shea and bobble-head dolls
from everything, even the Titans. Pins, trinkets and caps, and stories
about most of them. And he had a picture of himself with Mick Jagger.
His office was the unofficial Mets Hall of Fame.
If you had business at Shea, you had business with Bob. If you had a
problem, he had a solution. If you had an anecdote, he had two dozen. If
he had a cold, Shea had the sniffles.
Robert L. Mandt was going to be the inaugural recipient of the Mets Hall
of Fame Achievement Award. It could have been appropriately named after
him and no one would have quarreled with that. Listing his
achievements, duties, responsibilities, good deeds and friends would
require that cyberspace build an addition.
He began his time in the club's employ before Roger Craig threw the
franchise's first pitch, before Casey said "Amazin'" for the first time
and well before Marv missed first and second. He sold tickets in the
basement of the Hotel Martinique in Manhattan and at Grand Central in
That his title upon retirement was vice president, that he had been the
head of stadium operations and that the ballpark had operated smoothly
on his watch was to be expected.
Now, at 74, he is a consultant. Bob Mandt remains the sharpest tool in
the shed, the brightest crayon in the box. When Tom Seaver couldn't
finish The New York Times crossword puzzle -- even the Saturday one --
he could turn to Mandt. When a writer needed a word, he could draw on
Mandt's vocabulary. When a Payson, de Roulet, Doubleday or Wilpon needed
something done, Bob knew the number to call whether it was at Gracie
Mansion, a Broadway theater, Yankee Stadium, Julius La Rosa's home or
He is a member of Mensa, a bonafide smart aleck.
When Mets home night games still began at 7:40 p.m. ET, Bob (St.
John's), Dave Howard (Dartmouth), Mark Bingham (Harvard), Ed Lynch
(Miami Law School) and I (Newsday) often would watch "Jeopardy" in the
The four of us were no match for Mandt, regardless of category. "Operas
for $2,000, Alex" would prompt a silent beep and an accurate "question"
from Mandt. On two occasions when the program had gone to commercial,
Bob suggested that a contestant's response had unfairly been ruled
incorrect. The response was approved when the program resumed.
He has always been the one who knew, or he knew how to find out. His
phone book is "War and Peace" thick. When a man with a remarkable Mets
memory identified a date other than Sept. 24 as the day the team
clinched its first championship in 1969, Bob quietly put the man in his
"I should remember what day they clinched. It was my birthday," Mandt
Mandt has other skills. For years, he provided the Plan of the Day, an
agenda that told everyone in the building what was going to happen, what
time it would happen and who would be involved. Proud to say I made the
Plan of the Day once -- to my knowledge -- when Johnny Maestro and the
Brooklyn Bridge were to sing the national anthem.
The Plan usually included something unexpected: a Mandt sketch of
Cashen's successor, Al Harazin, wearing a bow tie, Cashen's signature,
the day he replaced his mentor. Nice touch.
Mandt is good for a surprise, a story or a laugh on a regular basis --
an anecdote long forgotten, a celebrity he had never mentioned
previously, a photo from one of his many travels. A man with a
collection that Cooperstown envies has one special photo that tells of
his sense of humor. It's not just that it's Bob with Jagger; what makes
it cool is that they are shoulder to shoulder, Jagger is almost without
expression and Bob's tongue is out.