The more things change…
My friend Greg spent a good part of the fall helping to build my collection of New York Mets yearbooks and programs. And inside one of the early 60s programs he found for me, I discovered this letter from an unidentified “Met Fan” that I wanted to share.
It’s easy for those of us who only heard tales of the “lovable losers” of the Mets’ early days to believe that baseball fans responded differently to their team in a different era. But this letter certainly suggests that there was at least a segment of Mets fans in early 1965 that weren’t too different from us now.
Some of the complaints in 1965:
- “Do the Mets represent professional baseball or ‘successful’ public relations?”
- “Do we, as ticket buying fans, want good baseball or a good show?”
- “Why does Mrs. Millionairess [Joan] Payson allow her money to be spent for show business when she owns a major league ballclub?”
- “Does [original Mets manager Casey] Stengel truly represent the interests of the BEST possible MET baseball or does he bow to the simpler demands of young fans?”
- “Why does [Mets GM] George Weiss insist on trading and spending for old-time, over-the-hill, ‘name’ ballplayers — even after three seasons, and refuse to draft good potential, strong young men?”
Our Met fan concluded with this verdict:
CASEY MUST GO!!!! WEISS MUST GO!!!! THE METS WILL GO!!!! [shortstop Roy] McMillan is through — he starts; Yogi [Berra] is through — he’s active. FANS: We have been stooges for losers!
Casey Stengel did not finish the 1965 season, forced out of the dugout after breaking his hip. Weiss remained as the Mets’ president and general manager for one more year… long enough to pass on future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in favor of catcher Steve Chilcott in the 1966 amateur draft. Roy McMillan had his best year with the Mets in 1965, but a .242 batting average likely did little to appease critics. And while I’m unclear on exactly how long Yogi Berra was on the Mets’ active roster, his final MLB game appearance was on May 9, 1965.