Mets Break Ground on a New Home in Queens

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F. Scott Fitzgerald called Flushing Meadows an ash heap. Since 1964, the Mets have called that ash heap home.

On October 28, 1961, Mets' front office figures George Weiss and M. Donald Grant joined Mayor Robert Wagner and National League president Warren Giles in Flushing Meadows Park for the groundbreaking of a $18M stadium designed to house New York's newest baseball team. Originally slated to open in time for the start of the 1963 season, cost overruns added another year and an additional $10M to the project. On the plus side, the municipal stadium, christened Shea prior to hosting the first Mets game on April 17, 1964, more than made up for any budget busting by far outliving its peers among coliseum-style ballparks.

Birthdays

  • Tim Bogar is 46. The utility infielder spent four seasons with the Mets from 1993 to '96. In his rookie year, Bogar got the lion's share of playing time at short, putting together a .244/.300/.351 line in 78 games. On August 14 of that year, Bogar cracked a pair of homers, including an inside the park job, against the Phillies to help Bobby Jones get his first MLB win. Unfortunately, he also damaged ligaments in his hand during the game, bringing his season to a premature end. Throughout the rest of his Mets tenure, Bogar never hit more than two home runs in a single year.
  • Pinch hitter extraordinaire Lenny Harris turns 48. On the last day of the 2001 season, the rotund Harris, batting for Rey Ordonez, pulled a ball through the right side of infield to break Manny Mota's all-time record for most career pinch hits. While the Baseball Hall of Fame asked for the ball, Harris opted to keep it for his personal collection, telling the New York Times, "I don't think I can catch a cab all the way up to Cooperstown to see it."
  • Former Mets closer Braden Looper is 38. The right-handed reliever pitched well in his first season with the team, saving 29 games and posting a 2.70 ERA thanks to a career-best 3.75 K/BB ratio. Given ninth inning duties again in 2005, Looper faltered on Opening Day, allowing two homers in the span of nine pitches to ruin Pedro Martinez's Mets debut. "Blooper" would go on to blow seven more saves that year, most of which came in similarly excruciating fashions.
  • Gary Rajsich, a Quad-A slugger who pounded 24 homers for Tidewater in just 74 games in 1981, is 58. Given a shot with the big league team the following year, Rajsich's prodigious power failed to make the trip from Virginia's coastal plains. After slugging just .404 in 222 plate appearances, the Mets sold Rajsich to the St. Louis Cardinals before the start of the 1984 season.
  • Finally, a happy birthday to Josh Thole. Having recently qualified for Super Two status, Josh will probably get the belated gift of a hefty pay hike. Unfortunately for the Mets, at age 26, Thole isn't likely to develop much further, so chances are the team won't get commensurate bang for their bucks. That said, if Josh can post league average offensive numbers like he did from 2009 to 2011, he can still be a useful roster piece as the left-handed side of a catching platoon.

Transactions
New York parted ways with two Miracle Mets on this date. In 1969, the team released Ed Charles, though that was just a formality, as the Glider had announced his intention to retire after the World Series. Exactly two years later, series MVP Donn Clendenon got his walking papers after an age-35 campaign that saw his slash line dip to .302/.411/.713.

The Mets also made a managerial move on October 28, agreeing to a four-year deal with Art Howe in 2002. Seeing as the team only won 42 percent of their games under his leadership, Howe wound up only completing 50 percent of his contract.

Game of Note
Seeing as the Mets haven't played a game after October 27 in their 50+ year history, we're putting this feature out to pasture for the offseason. See ya in late March, Game of Note.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty, leading a ticker tape procession down Broadway. Just over one hundred years later, the World Champion New York Mets would get the same treatment from the city. If, like Tracy Jordan, you happen to find yourself in the Cash Cab needing to know when Lady Liberty's centennial was, just remember those two events are roughly ten decades apart.

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