On March 24, 1961, the New York State Senate approved $ 55 million in funding for the construction of a new ballpark in Queens to house the National League expansion club to be named. The New York Metropolitan, later abbreviated to “The Mets”, began playing in 1962.
Their new home, which opened in 1964, would be called Shea Stadium, after William Shea who brokered the deal for the National League expansion. We know the Mets played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds, the former home of the New York Giants.
The original plan was for the Mets to play at Yankee Stadium until their ballpark was ready. The Yankees denied the Mets permission to play in the Bronx in 1961. Many say the reason is in retaliation for the Mets’ hiring of former Yankees general manager George Weiss.
Not only was Shea Stadium the home of the Jets during the 1983 football season, it was also the home of the Yankees in 1974 and 1975 while Yankee Stadium was under renovation. In addition, in 1975 the Giants hosted all four teams that year.
The Mets called Shea Stadium their home from 1964 to 2008. There were many great moments at the concrete horseshoe in Flushing. While we will all have our opinions, here are my top five memories of what many Mets fans have called “a dump but our dump”.
5. Mets Win 1973 NLCS, October 10, 1973
The Mets’ unlikely run from last place on August 31st would culminate in an NLCS series win over the heavily favored Cincinnati Reds. Tom Seaver threw New York to victory and their second pennant in four years. Seaver wasn’t at his best in game five (five walks) but was good enough to support a rare offensive breakout. He threw 8 1/3 innings to lead the Mets to a 7-2 victory.
This series showed that Bud Harrelson/.Pete Rose Brawl in game three and a home run in additional innings from Rose to give the Reds a win in game four and force a crucial fifth game. Fans stormed the field as the game ended and the Mets headed for their second World Series.
4th Mike PiazzaHome Run, September 21, 2001
Baseball took a week off after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC. The Mets played in Pittsburgh again and returned home on September 21 for the first New York sporting event since that fateful day.
There was unease in the stadium with a heavy police presence and noticeable nervousness among the fans.
The game seemed to assign symbolism to the fact that it was played as a sign of progress. As was so often the case during this period, the Braves were ahead of the Mets in the eighth inning. The Mets, to take advantage of a 2019 term, were a fringe playoff team and needed every win they could get. Piazza went to the plate and offered the crowd, and perhaps New York City, a moment of joy and a touch of healing. The goosebumps never go away.
3rd Mets Win 1986 World Series, October 27, 1986
The Mets completed what seemed inevitable for six months and unlikely for three weeks when they defeated the Boston Red Sox for their second championship. The team had dominated the regular season but ran into trouble in both postseason series and more than survived the win.
They’ve been on the sidelines a few times, and even been in the middle innings of Game Seven of the World Series, but found a way to prevail.
I remember the feelings when Jesse Orosco threw his glove in the air. They were partly cheering and partly relief. The thought “imagine if they lost after the season” quickly popped into my head. They were so close to losing that the “what if” moments lasted into the off-season. But when all was said and done, the Mets were world champions, and that was what happened on their home turf.
2nd Mets Win 1969 World Series, October 16, 1969
This comes before 1986 because it legitimized the franchise. The Mets had been lovable losers from 1962 to 1968, though in 1968 the potential for a dominant pitching stick was taking shape. The Mets won the championship in their eighth season, shocking the world. They used a combination of pitching, timely hitting, and a bit of luck to bring the trophy to Queens.
The Mets became the more popular team in New York and fan interest skyrocketed in the early 1970s. When Cleon Jones took the knee in the left box after catching Davey JohnsonFlyball, the Mets had arrived. They were no longer a joke; They were the talk of the sports world. Heck, they even got to go on the Ed Sullivan Show.
1. It is published by Buckner on October 25, 1986
In my opinion, there was no more exciting moment than this at Shea Stadium. We all know the context. The Mets were supposed to dampen the Astros (they didn’t) and sweep the Red Sox (at least in our minds). Not only did the Mets fail to sweep the Red Sox, they were on the base with no one until their last out, two runs down. The probability of winning had to be less than one percent.
Somehow the Mets found a way. Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Ray Knight put together good bats and all individually. The season continued to rest Mookie WilsonShoulders. The man on strike found a way to get the ball into play. Whether Mookie’s speed intimidated Buckner or a cosmic force was at work, I have never felt or heard Shea Stadium as loud as I did right now.
Feelings of euphoria and relief permeated the October night. Even Mets fans anticipating the worst (I am among them) felt that there was no way they would lose Game Seven afterwards. They almost made it, but the Buckner Ball had magic that survived a rain the next night and a tough series endgame two nights later.
Thank you New York State Senate for approving Shea Stadium funding sixty years ago today.