New York Mets Information

In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants abandoned New York for California, leaving the largest city in the United States without a National League franchise. Two years later, on July 27, 1959, attorney William Shea announced the formation of a third major baseball league, the Continental League. After a contentious year, in 1960, Shea and the other Continental League organizers reached a deal with the established major leagues. In exchange for abandoning the new league, four new expansion franchises would be created — two in each league. New York City would receive one of the National League teams with Joan Whitney Payson and her husband Charles Shipman Payson, former minority owners of the Giants, as the principal owners. Former Giants director M. Donald Grant, the only member of the board to oppose the Giants' move West, became chairman of the board.

The new team required a new name and many were suggested. Among the finalists were "Bees", "Burros", "Continentals", "Skyscrapers", "Jets", as well as the eventual runner-up, "Skyliners". Although Payson had admitted a preference for "Meadowlarks," the owners ultimately selected "Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York," or Mets in part because it was closely related to the club's already-existing corporate name "New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.", in part because it harkened back to "Metropolitans", a historically significant name used by an earlier New York team in the American Association from 1883 to 1887, and in part because its brevity would naturally fit in newspaper headlines. The name was met with broad approval among fans and press.

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The Mets' image as lovable losers was wearing thin as the decade progressed, but things began to change in the late '60s. The Mets acquired top pitching prospect Tom Seaver in a lottery and he became the league's Rookie of the Year in 1967, even though the team finished last again. He and two other young players, catcher Jerry Grote and shortstop Bud Harrelson, formed a new clubhouse nucleus that had no interest in losing, lovably or otherwise. Pitcher Jerry Koosman joined the staff and had a spectacular rookie season in 1968, winning 19 games. Leftfielder Cleon Jones developed as a batter and exciting centerfielder Tommy Agee came over in a trade. But although much improved, the 1968 team still finished the season in 9th place.

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The Mets went on to have losing seasons in 4 of the next 6 seasons to wrap up the 1970s. Owner Joan Payson died in 1975. Charles Payson delegated his authority to his daughters, who in turn left the baseball side to board chairman Grant. Grant failed to effectively navigate the changes that the game was going through. A low point during this stretch was the trading away of franchise leader Tom Seaver in the middle of the 1977 season due to a contract dispute. Just when the two sides had a deal hammered out, New York Daily News columnist Dick Young, who had taken Grant's side throughout the dispute, wrote a column attacking Seaver and his wife. An enraged Seaver called the deal off and demanded a trade, and Grant sent him to the Cincinnati Reds.

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While the 1990s started horribly for the Mets, things started looking up in 1997. While they missed the playoffs by only four games, they improved by 17 games over 1996. Their switch hitting catcher, Todd Hundley, who had broken several records the year before, was having another great season. However, he went down late in 1997 with a devastating elbow injury and needed Tommy John surgery. For a time, it looked like the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to be shopping their superstar catcher, Mike Piazza, in a trade rather than pay the exorbitant salary that 1997's MVP runner-up was going to demand at the end of the 1998 season. In a puzzling move, on May 14, 1998, the Dodgers sent Piazza to the Florida Marlins who were purging themselves of every high salary they could to alleviate their claimed financial problems. The Marlins' move made more sense when, just a week later, they re-traded Piazza to the Mets for Preston Wilson and two prospects. The Dodgers had no free agency problem, the Marlins had young players with small salaries and the Mets had their new lineup-anchoring catcher.

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1999 started well for the Mets but Bobby Bonilla turned out not to be the player the Mets had hoped he would be and the Mets played well to begin the season. When June came around, the Mets started to fall. On June 6, after losing two games to the New York Yankees, the Mets started taking action by firing their coaching staff except for their manager, Bobby Valentine. On that day, the Mets, in front of a national audience on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, beat New York Yankees 7-2 and they never looked back. Both Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura started to have MVP type seasons and Benny Agbayani began to have an important role on the team. Also this was the breakout year for Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, as he had 100 rbi's, and Roger Cedeño, who broke the single season steals record for the Mets.

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In 2004, the Mets signed Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui. General Manager Jim Duquette brought in Kris Benson for Ty Wigginton at the trade deadline just before sending highly-touted pitching prospect Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the disappointing Victor Zambrano. The Mets also developed two young infielders with bright futures; David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets finished 71-91 in 2004, and would let Mike Piazza's contract expire following the conclusion of the 2005 season. His contributions to the team as a hitter were unparalleled by anyone in the history of the Mets, and his talent and flair for the dramatic would often will the Mets to victory.

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After the 2004 season, the Mets named their former assistant general manager Omar Minaya as their general manager. Minaya had become a hot commodity after he brought the Montreal Expos to respectability prior to their move to Washington DC. Manager Art Howe was fired and replaced with New York Yankees bench coach Willie Randolph. Also during the off-season, the Mets signed pitcher Pedro Martinez and slugger Carlos Beltran.

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The Beltran and Martinez signings helped the Mets in pitching and offense, but the bullpen blew many games that led to losses. The bullpen's closer was Braden Looper, who blew eight saves and had a 3.94 ERA in the National League. The bullpen also had young and inexperienced pitchers. Barring this fact, The Mets showed improvement in 2005, but it was widely expected that at the conclusion of the 2005 season, the team would try to upgrade at catcher, first base, second base, and the bullpen. Minaya took advantage of the Florida Marlins payroll-reduction effort, making two separate trades with the team.

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On June 12, 2005 a plan for a New Mets Stadium in Willets Point, Queens in the parking lot of Shea Stadium was announced. Construction of the new stadium is expected to be paid by the Mets, while "infrastructure improvement" costs at the site are to be paid by the city. The final mix of private and public funding has not been settled. As of 2005, Shea Stadium is the sixth oldest stadium among the 30 facilities in major league baseball. It is nearly as old as Ebbets Field was when the Dodgers abandoned it.

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