Ya Still Gotta Believe…
September 18, 2020
This is Peter, one of the Adult Reference Librarians at the Library. As a diehard Met fan of over 50 years, I remember the first game I attended at Shea Stadium with my family. It was a 4-3 “come from behind” victory over the Chicago Cubs on July 8, 1969, won by what we now call a “walk-off” RBI single by my hero Ed Kranepool off of future Hall-of-Famer Ferguson Jenkins, which drove in Cleon Jones with the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning. Sitting in the last row of the upper deck in a capacity crowd, I still recall feeling the floor vibrate as the crowd jumped and stomped and the deafening sound of their cheering. The following night, Tom Seaver pitched his famous “almost perfect” game, which brought the Miracle Mets to within three games of the division-leading Cubs. The first time I saw Seaver pitch in person was the last game of the 1971 Season, Fan Appreciation Night (I still have my souvenir ski-cap) which sadly turned out to be the last game managed by Gil Hodges, who passed away the following April. Oddly enough, I also attended the last Mets game managed by his successor Yogi Berra in 1975, when he was fired between games of a miserable double header loss to the Montreal Expos in which they failed to score a run (they replaced Berra with Roy McMillan.) It was also that season’s “Banner Day” at Shea, and we marched with our homemade placards in the parade between games. And so on and on, from “Ya Gotta Believe” in ’73, through Seaver’s first game back at Shea pitching for the Reds after his 1977 trade (he beat Jerry Koosman,) the crazy 80s and mostly awful 90s, the resurgence of the 2000s, their loss of a heart-wrenching last game at Shea that took them out of the playoffs in 2008 (although the post-game ceremony was unforgettable,) right up to Jacob deGrom’s Cy Young award-clinching win and last appearance to date, last September at Citifield. Lots of games, lots of memories good and bad, and I have the filled-out score cards for each and every one.
Feeling the loss of a baseball season so far, I thought fellow Mets fans might appreciate having their attention drawn to the many excellent recent books on our favorite team that are available through the Library’s website on the digital service Live-brary OverDrive which may be accessed by clicking here: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/
Here are a few choice selections that cover the team’s entire history to date and which are either brand new or newly available on ebook and/or eaudiobook from OverDrive. Clicking on each link will bring you directly to the download page for the title which, if not immediately available, may be reserved:
Tales from the 1962 Mets Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Stories from the Mets’ Inaugural Season, by Janet Paskin; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/search?query=tales+from+the+1962
I was too young to follow the Mets from their beginning, so I didn’t appreciate how bad they were for so long until winning it all in ’69, but my much older brother was there for a number of games from the outset at the old Polo Grounds and the first years at Shea and told me some of these stories of Casey Stengel’s “Amazin’s.”
They Said it Couldn’t be Done: The ’69 Mets, New York City, and the Most Astounding Season in Baseball History, by Wayne Coffey; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/4317646 eaudiobook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/4156120
The greatest baseball story ever told. I couldn’t watch most of the World Series that year, because the games were shorter than now, played in the early afternoon and were over by the time I came home from school.
The author of the greatest World Series catch of all time as well as of this terrific memoir. The right-fielder came into his own at the same time the Mets traded for a 2nd baseman named Jerry Buchek in 1967 and the two made a respectable middle-of-the-order power combo. My brother told me the fans would chant “Boo-chek, Swo-bo-dah” when their turn in the batting order came up. On such things are baseball memories made. By ’69, Buchek had lost his 2nd base job to Kenny Boswell.
Ironically, this second memoir of the Miracle Mets is authored by the player who shared the right-field platoon with Ron Swoboda, starting against right-handed pitchers. Shamsky describes the lasting friendships that endure among his surviving teammates to this day.
Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer, by Skip Lockwood; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/3366524
When Skip Lockwood replaced Bob (or “Robert” as Bob Murphy used to call him) Apodaca as the Mets closer in 1976, the Mets were about to embark on the worst stretch in their history since their early years. Many times my younger brother and I were the only occupants of an entire upper deck general admission section ($1.50!) He was pretty good, though, and actually got a degree from MIT after he retired from baseball.
Doc, Donnie, the Kid and Billy Brawl: How the 1985 Mets and Yankees Fought for New York’s Baseball Soul, by Chris Donnelly; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/search?query=doc+donnie
The Mets and Yankees were actually both in contention for the playoffs until late in the season for the first time. Dreams of a subway World Series were never so close to coming true, which was great considering all we had up to that time were the annual Mayor’s Trophy exhibition games. Both teams had lots of stars and lots of drama. This book captures the charged atmosphere of the ’85 season perfectly.
108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game, by Ron Darling; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/3994757
One of the bright lights of the mid-80’s Mets pitching staff was one of their current broadcasters Ron Darling, and in this book he gives plenty of good anecdotes about his most unforgettable teammates, coaches and colleagues from throughout his career. Darling’s career has been interwoven with many of the game’s greats, like the 108 stitches on a baseball.
Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, by Greg W. Prince; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/1643873
Prince is a couple of years younger than me and has also been a Mets fan since 1969. He is co-author of a highly regarded, and personally recommended, blog of the same name as the book and here provides the definitive account of what it means to root for and live through the machinations of an endlessly fascinating if often frustrating baseball team.
When Shea was Home: The Story of the 1975 Mets, Yankees, Giants and Jets, by Brett Topel; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/2570988
For one year, the remodeling of Yankee Stadium forced all four teams to share the same space, although the Mets and Yanks shared Shea Stadium during the 1974 season as well. This book serves as a remembrance of that time as well as of late lamented concrete shell beloved of so many and longtime home away from home for my younger brother and myself.
So You Think You’re a New York Mets Fan?: Stars, Stats, Records and Memories for True Diehards, by Brett Topel; ebook: https://livebrary.overdrive.com/media/3042542
The ultimate trivia book for the ultimate fan, this book tests and expands your knowledge of Mets baseball. Rather than merely posing questions and providing answers, the author gives you the details behind each and provides stories that bring to life the players, coaches, games and seasons from throughout the history of the team.
So here’s hoping the above titles bring some relief as we all wait for a baseball season that may yet be. Enjoy!
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