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M. Donald Grant didn't "know beans about baseball" according to some. Others weren't so quite on the uptake.
Mets fans should have noticed a few rays of sun poking through the gloom on this date in 1978, as the team announced that M. Donald Grant, the embattled board chairman whose public feud with Tom Seaver drove the best player in Mets history out of town one season before, would step down at the end of the year. For Grant, the dismissal seemingly offered some relief. As he told the New York Times before the fateful board meeting that sealed his demise:
"There's no secret to the fact that I haven't enjoyed the last few years. It's no fun reading every day that I'm doing a bad job."
Not to pile on, but Grant was doing a particularly bad job at the time. Under his leadership, the Mets chose to trade Seaver, as well as Dave Kingman and Rusty Staub, rather than re-sign them through free agency, leaving the team bereft of top-flight talent. One could argue, in theory, that taking offers on all three players was the right decision, as Seaver and Staub were on the wrong side of 30 and Kingman was a one-tool player who'd never posted an OBP higher than .302 to that point in his career, but Grant's imperious nature led to deals that were hastily cobbled together and hardly offered the Mets fair value in return. Meanwhile in the Bronx, George Steinbrenner lovingly embraced baseball's free market, assembling an entertaining team that poached many of New York's casual fans and made the city a Yankees town for the first time in a decade.
No Mets players have been born on November 9, though two Hall of Fame talents tangentially related to the team were brought into the world on this date.
- Bob Gibson, listed as Pack Robert on his birth certificate, is 77 today. In 1981, six years after retiring and just months before his election to Cooperstown, Hoot joined the staff of Mets' manager Joe Torre as an "attitude coach". By season's end, the team decided an attitude shift was in order and fired Torre and all his lieutenants.
- Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog, pictured above, turns 81. Better known as Whitey, Herzog is in the Hall for what he did as manager of New York's chief rival during the 1980s, the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to joining the Redbirds, though, the White Rat built a solid resume as a Mets coach and front office figure. From 1967 to 1972, he served as the team's director of player development, overseeing a minor league system that graduated Jon Matlack, John Milner, and Ken Singleton to the majors. A candidate to helm the Mets in the wake of Gil Hodges's death, Herzog was passed over in favor of Yogi Berra by M. Donald Grant, leading Whitey to say the chairman "doesn't know beans about baseball."
The Mets made a savvy pickup on this date in 1967, sending infielder Bob Johnson to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Art Shamsky. The power-hitting lefty, who once hit homers in four consecutive plate appearances (and racked up the highest WPA ever in the process) for his old team, socked 42 as a part-time player over the course of four seasons in Flushing.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On November 9, 1935, the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO), the was founded under the guidance labor leader John L. Lewis. Thirty years later, outfielder John J. Lewis hit 15 home runs for the 1965 Mets in a season blissfully free of any labor strife.