Major League Baseball added the New York Mets to the National League in 1962, making them one of its first expansion teams.
They replaced the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, who moved to California following the 1957 season to become the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. The Mets’ inaugural uniform combined Dodger blue and Giants orange.
The Mets have had their share of ups and downs in their 58 seasons. The downs include a stretch of seven miserable seasons in the early years of the franchise. The ups include World Championships in 1969 and 1986.
They are about to embark on a new chapter, with Steven A. Cohen taking over as owner for Fred Wilpon, who has owned the team since 1986.
Looming ownership change
The Mets announced in September that the Wilpon family, along with club president Saul Katz, have agreed to sell the franchise to Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager. The deal, which reportedly is for approximately $2.5 billion, needs to be approved by Major League Baseball before it can be official.
Wilpon’s and Katz’s exits mean there are questions surrounding the future of key team staff. That includes general manager and executive vice president Brodie Van Wagenen and Luis Rojas, who just finished his first season as manager.
The Mets had a curveball thrown at them more than two months before the season was supposed to begin. They had hired Carlos Beltran to be their manager in November 2019, but when he was implicated in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, they promptly parted ways on January 16, 2020. The Mets hired Luis Rojas as his replacement eight days later.
Before that, they had beefed up their pitching staff by signing starters Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, in addition to elite reliever Dellin Betances. Those signings were going to be a nice way to add depth to the pitching staff, but No. 2 starter Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery before the season began and No. 3 starter Marcus Stroman opted out of the season for coronavirus concerns.
That loss of talent played a big role in the Mets having problems with their starting rotation all season. They won three of their first five games, but followed that with a five-game losing streak. They had a sub-.500 record for the rest of the season.
The Mets finished the shortened regular season with a 26-34 record, which was tied with the Washington Nationals for the worst record in the National League East.
They’ll try to regroup for the 2021 season with a core of SP Jacob DeGrom, IF Pete Alonso, OF Michael Conforto and OF Jeff McNeil.
The “Amazin’ Mets”
New York had never finished better than second-to-last place in the National League until 1969, when they turned in a performance likely never to be forgotten.
The Mets had lost at least 100 games in five of their first seven seasons but erupted for 100 wins in 1969. Their 100-62 record earned them the NL East title and a berth in the National League Championship Series, where they swept the Atlanta Braves in three games.
That set up a World Series match against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles beat 25-game winner and Cy Young Award recipient Tom Seaver in the first game, but the Mets won the next four games to claim their first world championship.
Seaver led a dominant pitching staff that led MLB with 28 shutouts. Jerry Koosman also featured as a regular starter, and future Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan appeared in 25 games during his third season in the majors.
The Mets’ batting lineup was led by outfielder Cleon Jones, who hit .340 with 75 RBIs, and outfielder Tommie Agee, who socked 26 home runs and 76 RBIs.
Seaver tops the list of the best players in franchise history. Nicknamed “Tom Terrific” and “The Franchise,” Seaver won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1967 and won the NL Cy Young three times. He amassed 311 career wins to rank No. 1 in Mets history and had a career ERA of 2.86.
Gary Carter and Mike Piazza give the Mets one of the best 1-2 punches for all-time catchers.
Piazza played in MLB from 1992-2007 and was with the Mets from 1998-2005. He is known as one of the best hitting catchers of all-time thanks to his .308 career batting average and 427 home runs.
Carter debuted with the Montreal Expos but was traded to the Mets in 1985. Carter was a critical piece on the Mets’ 1986 World Series-winning season. The Hall-of-Famer and 11-time All-Star hit 324 home runs in his career, and was known for his excellent defense and leadership behind the plate.
First baseman Keith Hernandez also played a central role for the Mets in 1986. Known as a contact hitter throughout his career, Hernandez shared the NL MVP in 1979 and won 11 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. In terms of more recent players, third baseman and fan favourite David Wright played his whole career with the Mets, making 7 all star teams and hitting .296 over his 14 years.