Remember back in 2008 when the Mets, facing criticism for blatantly ripping off the Red Sox's eighth inning "Sweet Caroline" sing-a-long, asked fans to pick a replacement tune? The choices ranged from pop tunes from the '60s ("Brown Eyed Girl", "I'm a Believer") to pop tunes from the '70s ("Movin' Out", "I Love Rock N' Roll") to pop tunes from the '80s ("Livin' on a Prayer").
The in-game music options at Shea used to be more...well, diverse is a polite way of putting it. That was the doing of Jane Jarvis, the jazz pianist who tickled the ivories of the old stadium's giant Thomas organ from 1964 until her retirement in 1979. In that 15 year span, Mets fans saw some pretty awful baseball, but got to hear a virtuoso at work between breaks in the terrible action, as Jarvis pounded out everything from Charlie Parker's "Scrapple from the Apple" to Felix the Cat's theme song (in honor of second baseman Felix Millan and his quick, feline reflexes). Said Howie Rose of Jarvis:
She had a different lilt to everything she played, including the Star-Spangled Banner. There were certain things unique to that ballpark, and she was one of them.
That passage was taken from Newsday's obituary for Jane. She passed away three years ago today at the age of 94. Though Jarvis, Shea Stadium, and presumably her Thomas organ are gone, one of the wonderful touches that the team has implemented at its new home is having the players take the field to her rendition of "Meet the Mets". It's a nice way of honoring the legacy of a woman who told Newsday her time with the franchise was "too wonderful for words."
Former pitching coach Vern Ruhle would have been 62 today. Ruhle lasted just one year on the job, ultimately getting reassigned at the end of the 2003 season. That shouldn't be construed as a slight against the man or his skills, as anyone saddled with turning the likes of Jason Roach and Pat Strange into big league contributors probably would have wound up considering a career change.
Omar Minaya made the Mets a little spending cash on this date in 2006 by selling Angel Pagan to the Cubs. The outfielder became the fourth player from the inaugural 2001 Brooklyn Cyclones team to make the majors by breaking camp with the Cubs and going 2-for-3 with an RBI on Opening Day. Of course, he'd wind up making his Queens debut two years later.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Those who appreciate the work of Scotland's favorite son will be tucking into plates of haggis this e'en as it's Burns Night, the annual dinner celebration dedicated to poet Robert Burns on the occasion of his birth. Many a person of Scotch extraction have played America's pastime, though none to more acclaim than the Flying Scotsman himself, Bobby Thomson. He's best known for rocketing the Shot Heard 'Round the World over the Polo Grounds wall to help the New York Giants win the pennant over the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. The season-ending walk-off homer came at the expense of Bobby Valentine's future father-in-law, pitcher Ralph Branca.