One fine day in Florida in 1962, Casey Stengel lined up five prospective starters. Sometimes when he released a player, he said he had to do it because the Mets expected to be contenders.
At one point the Mets were 12-19. Then they lost 17 straight.
These five pitchers were professionals, good people, a pleasure to be around.
Roger Craig was the ace with a 10-24 record.
Jay Hook was 8-19.
Robert L. Miller was 1-12. (The Mets later acquired a left-hander named Robert G. Miller. Casey solved it by calling the righty “Nelson.”)
Craig Anderson won both ends of a doubleheader in May. His record was 3-1. He finished with a 3-17 record that year, and lost three more decisions over the next two years. This is what I wrote about Anderson in 1993:
Alvin Jackson finished with an 8-20 record. He kept the ball low and Casey loved him. He was impossible to cover in autumn touch football games on Long Island. He still works for the Mets.
The Mets finished with a 40-120 record.
These hopeful faces invoke instant spring.
(The Mets’ records for 1962)
1/30/2014 01:19:51 am
Hi George. To be a Mets fan is to cherish hope. Ya Gotta Believe.
1/30/2014 02:21:35 am
Dear Mendel: Thanks, that is what I am trying to do, conjure up some warmth from the images and the memories.
1/30/2014 01:29:30 am
Hi George this is Craig Anderson's son and I would like to hear more stories about the 62 Mets. That was a great story. Thanks
1/30/2014 02:24:53 am
Mike, regards to your family.
1/30/2014 02:48:11 am
"Anderson threw three-quarters style, which induced a lot of ground balls. That was a problem on the 1962 Mets, but then again, so were fly balls."
1/30/2014 04:04:57 am
Ed, thanks for noticing. Even then, there was no point in taking the Mets too seriously, although surely Casey did most of the time, despite his act. The players had pride, did the best they could. Richie Ashburn ran into walls, raged against umpires. Roger Craig was as nice as could be, but hated to lose. Rod Kanehl got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, made $50 -- Casey's standing offer; Hot Rod was so happy. GV
1/30/2014 03:07:18 am
1/30/2014 03:52:15 am
This entry brought a smile to my face. It is very cold here; hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will report soon. I was an eleven-year old in 1962. I was a Yankees fan, but I would occasionally watch the Mets on WOR. I am sorry I cannot remember the names of the announcers. (Was Lindsay Nelson one?) I do recall that there was a camera directly behind home plate, and so I could get a good look at the hitter.
1/30/2014 04:00:23 am
Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy.
1/30/2014 05:27:36 am
Look Vecsey this is Superbowl Week and you are writing about baseball. We have intimidated MLB into silence in January and February and you will be next. WE OWN NYC, and have already arranged for prostitutes to be arrested and Weiner and Spitzer to be under house arrest until after the game. We want to present a good image. If you dont cooperate we will send a certain Staten Island Congressman after you to throw you into Manhasset Bay. This is your last warning.
1/30/2014 07:57:33 am
1/30/2014 10:52:38 am
Dear NFL: I think Grimm played FB as a kid and therefore is suffering from mood swings and premature aging, like so many of the players you assured could not get hurt from helmet collisions.
1/30/2014 10:55:56 am
Alan, I'm afraid my prognosis for weather got turned on Atlanta, where I have two sisters and a niece. My bad. I was there during the Atlanta Super Bowl, and watched the cars skidding all over the 75/85 corridor in downtown. I think this is payback for the Braves' move out to the boondocks, leaving the downtown area. GV
1/30/2014 10:06:46 pm
My father, a Mets diehard, comments: "As the son of a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, we waited anxiously for a National League team. We were raised to hate the Yankees - it was terribly difficult attending games in the Bronx though we had no other way of watching live baseball. Roger Craig was our ace and we believed he would win every start, just like all other aces."
1/31/2014 12:46:31 am
Mendel: Craig believed it, too. He also switched from No. 38 to No. 13 during a long losing streak. Eventually it worked. Jim Hickman hit a Polo Grounds homer -- a grand slam -- to end Craig's streak at 18.
1/31/2014 01:45:55 am
Friday night against the Cubs? We were happy when he was better with the Giants.
2/2/2014 08:26:04 am
Great piece, and great link. The story is that one day, Casey called the bullpen and told Joe Pignatano, "Get Nelson up." Piggy was fine with that until he realized that he didn't have anyone named Nelson. So he put the ball on the rubber and yelled, "Nelson," and the appropriate Bob Miller got up.
2/3/2014 03:41:23 am
Thanks. The righty (in the picture) could pitch...had a good career after leaving the Mets. The lefty joined the team in the summer. Didn't pitch for 3-4 days. Finally got in at Milwaukee, and first pitch to Del Crandall, boom, over a building (as Casey used to say.) I was there., GV Box score:
2/4/2014 01:37:08 pm
Thanks, Mr. Vecsey! I thought of a story Lindsey Nelson told, that one time Stengel said to him, "We gotta work on the little finesses." He talked about needing to bunt, hit behind the runner, etc. That day, the Mets lost something like 19-1. Lindsey saw him after the game and Stengel smiled a little and said, "The little finesses ain't gonna be the problem."
2/5/2014 03:53:14 am
Great. After a truly dreadful game, Casey was known to say:
2/5/2014 12:27:04 pm
Fun, but I don't think you did justice to the trauma suffered from the 0-9 start. And then the first home win. I prayed more fervantly to their expected HR hitter, Jim Hickman, than I ever had to Jesus Christ (may God, and Jim, forgive me for my blasphemy to both).
2/6/2014 12:56:01 am
Brian, Hickman would have been the first to tell you your priorities were off. Nice guy, and had a good career. He was the last original Met.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.