The New York Mets are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of Queens. The Mets compete in Major League Baseball as a member of the National League East division. They are one of two major league clubs based in New York City, the other being the American League’s New York Yankees. One of baseball’s first expansion teams, the Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York’s departed NL teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. The team’s colors evoke the blue of the Dodgers and the orange of the Giants. Since 2009, the Mets have played their home games at Citi Field next to the site where Shea Stadium once stood.
In their inaugural season, the Mets posted a record of 40–120, the worst regular-season record since Major League Baseball went to a 162-game schedule. The team never finished better than second-to-last in the 1960s until the “Miracle Mets” beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series, considered one of the biggest upsets in World Series history despite the Mets having won 100 games that season. The Mets have qualified for the postseason ten times, winning the World Series twice and winning five National League pennants, and six National League East division titles.
Since 2020, the Mets have been owned by billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, who purchased the team for $2.4 billion. As of 2022, Forbes ranked the Mets as the sixth valuable Major League Baseball team, valued at $2.650 billion.
As of the end of the 2022 regular season, the team’s overall win–loss record is 4,652–4,988.
1960s: Founding and first World Series
After the 1957 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated from New York to California to become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, leaving the largest city in the United States with no National League franchise and only one major league team, the New York Yankees of the American League. With the threat of a New York team joining a new third league, the National League expanded by adding the New York Mets following a proposal from William Shea. In a symbolic reference to New York’s earlier National League teams, the new team took as its primary colors the blue of the Dodgers and the orange of the Giants, both of which are colors also featured on the Flag of New York City. The nickname “Mets” was adopted: being a natural shorthand to the club’s corporate name, the “New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.”, which hearkened back to the “Metropolitans”,
The 1962 Mets posted a 40–120 record, a major league record for the most losses in a season since 1899. During the 1963 season the team featured a pitcher, Carlton Willey, who was having a great year, pitching four shut-outs, when he incurred an injury and finished with a 9–14 win–loss record. The ’63 squad also had Duke Snider, who hit his 2,000th hit and later his 400th home run and earned a berth to the 1963 All-Star Game. In 1964, the Mets hired Yogi Berra as a coach under Casey Stengel’s coaching staff.
In 1966, the Mets famously bypassed future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in the amateur draft, instead selecting Steve Chilcott, who never played in the majors. But the following year, they acquired future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in a lottery. Seaver helped the 1969 “Miracle Mets” win the new National League East division title, then defeat the Atlanta Braves to win the National League pennant and the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles to win the 1969 World Series.
1970s: Second pennant and the “Midnight Massacre”
In 1973, the Mets rallied from 5th place to win the division, despite a record of only 82–79. They shocked the heavily favored Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” in the NLCS and pushed the defending World Series champion Oakland Athletics to a seventh game, but lost the series. Notably, 1973 was the only NL East title between 1970 and 1980 that was not won by either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Star pitcher Tom Seaver was traded in 1977, on a day remembered as “the Midnight Massacre”, and the Mets fell into last place for several years.
1980s: Success, Wilpon takes over and second World Series championship
In January 1980, the Payson heirs sold the Mets franchise to the Doubleday publishing company for $21.1 million, a record amount at that time. Nelson Doubleday, Jr. was named chairman of the board while minority shareholder Fred Wilpon took the role of club president. In February, Wilpon hired longtime Baltimore Orioles executive Frank Cashen as general manager who began the process of rebuilding the Mets much in the same way he developed the Orioles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The franchise turned around in the mid-1980s. During this time the Mets drafted slugger Darryl Strawberry and 1985 Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden. Former National League MVP and perennial Gold Glove winner Keith Hernandez was obtained by the Mets in 1983. After finishing their first three campaigns of the 1980s decade in either 5th or 6th place, in 1984, new manager Davey Johnson was promoted from the helm of the AAA Tidewater Tides. He led the Mets to a second-place, 90–72 record, their first winning season since 1976.
In 1985, they acquired Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos and won 98 games, but narrowly missed the playoffs. In 1986, they won the division with a record of 108–54, one of the best in National League history. They then won a dramatic NLCS in six games over the Houston Astros.
The sixth game of the series lasted sixteen innings, the longest playoff game in history until 2005. The Mets came within one strike of losing the World Series against the Boston Red Sox before a series of hits and defensive miscues ultimately led to an error by Boston’s Bill Buckner which gave the Mets a Game 6 victory. The Mets won their second World Series title in seven games.
In 1987 the Mets declined to re-sign World Series MVP Ray Knight, who then signed with the Baltimore Orioles and also traded away the flexible Kevin Mitchell to the Padres for long-ball threat Kevin McReynolds. Weeks later Mets’ ace Dwight Gooden was admitted to a drug clinic after testing positive for cocaine. Despite Gooden struggling in the first few months of the 1987 season, “Dr. K” rebounded, as did the team. It was during the tough times that the Mets made a great long-term deal, trading Ed Hearn to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher David Cone.
They surged to battle St. Louis for the division title. They suffered two painful losses to the Cardinals. The first came on Seat Cushion Night where Tom Herr hit a walk-off grand slam. A greater loss came on September 11 in a game against St. Louis, 3rd baseman Terry Pendleton hit a homer to give the Cardinals a lead, and eventually the NL East title. One highlight of the year was Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson becoming the first teammates’ ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. After posting a 100–60 overall record, the Mets won the division in 1988, but lost in the NLCS that year and declined into the 1990s.
1990s: Struggles and return to the postseason
The Mets struggled for much of the 1990s, finishing with a losing record for six consecutive seasons between 1991 and 1996. The Mets would not return to the postseason until 1999 after a one-game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds. Despite victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1999 National League Division Series, the Mets were defeated by their NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves, in the 1999 National League Championship Series in six games.
2000s: The Subway World Series and new ballpark
In 2000, the Mets finished the season with a 94–68 record and clinched a wild card spot in the playoffs. In the NLDS, the Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 3–1 in the series and the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. After winning the National League pennant, the Mets earned a trip to the 2000 World Series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees, for a “Subway Series”. The Mets were defeated by the Yankees in five games. The most memorable moment of the 2000 World Series occurred during the first inning of Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. Piazza fouled off a pitch which shattered his bat, sending a piece of the barrel toward the pitcher’s mound. Pitcher Roger Clemens seized the piece and hurled it in the direction of Piazza as the catcher trotted to first base, benches briefly cleared before the game was resumed with no ejections.
During the 2001 season, the Mets finished with a record of 82–80 finishing third in the division. After the September 11 terrorist attacks Shea Stadium was used as a relief center and then saw the first sporting event in New York City since the attacks, in a game vs. the Atlanta Braves on September 21. In the bottom of the 8th inning the Mets were trailing 2–1 when Mike Piazza came to bat with a runner on first. Piazza dramatically sent Shea into a frenzy by crushing a home run to give the Mets a 3–2 lead and the eventual win. The game is considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of the franchise.
In 2002, despite the off-season signings of Tom Glavine, Mo Vaughn, and Roberto Alomar, the Mets finished the 2002 season with a 75-86 overall record and last in the NL East. During that same season the Mets dealt with off field distractions when co-owners Wilpon and Doubleday were in a legal battle which was later settled with Wilpon becoming the sole owner on August 23 that year.
The Mets nearly missed the playoffs in 2001 and struggled from 2002 to 2004. In the aftermath of the 2004 season, the Mets hired a new general manager, Omar Minaya, who immediately turned the franchise around by signing pitcher Pedro Martínez and hiring a new manager, Willie Randolph. The Mets finished 2005 four games over.500, and the franchise’s resurgence was complete by 2006 as they won 97 games and the NL East title behind new acquisitions Carlos Beltrán and Carlos Delgado, as well as young superstars…
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