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In an era before naming rights, the city did the right thing by naming the Mets' home field for the man who made the franchise possible.
Back in 1958, New York mayor Robert Wagner asked lawyer William Shea to chair a committee dedicated to bringing National League baseball back to the five boroughs. It took three solid years of cajoling, but in 1961, Shea finally convinced the NL to grant the Big Apple a new franchise, pending the construction of a new baseball facility in Queens. On February 4, 1963, Mayor Wagner rewarded Shea for all his hard work by signing a bill that officially changed the named of the contractually obligated, half-built Flushing Meadow Stadium to William A. Shea Municipal Stadium.
It'd be over another year before Shea could enjoy a game at his namesake ballpark, however. Originally slated to open in time for Opening Day 1963, the ribbon cutting ceremony was postponed by a year so engineers could shore up the structure and keep it from sinking into the marshy parkland. Still, Shea Stadium did better than its tenants. It wouldn't be until 1966 that the Mets climbed out of the NL's basement.
Jeff Gardner is 49. The infielder spent six years climbing the ranks of the Mets' minor league system, finally earning a September call up in 1991. Gardner picked up exactly one hit in each of his first five MLB games, but could only muster a lone single in his last 25 plate appearances.
The Mets cornered the market on Glavines on this date in 2003, inking Tom's brother Mike to a minor league deal. Manager Art Howe gave the 30-year old first baseman a single start in September of that season, slotting him into the lineup one spot in front of his older sibling. The two combined to go oh-for-two with a walk (drawn by Tom).
On February 4, 2000, the Mets came to terms with Dennis Springer, who prior to R.A. Dickey, was the last knuckleballer to start a game for the team. Springer earned little praise during his tenure, taking two turns in the rotation and going 0-1 with a 8.74 ERA.
Game of Note
Generation ¿Qué? Bill Pulsipher came out of semi-retirement on this date in 2010 to take the hill for the Los Indios de Mayagüez in the Caribbean Series. The 36-year-old lefty helped the Puerto Rican team win its first game of the tourney, limiting Venezuela's Leones del Caracas to just two runs in his start. Pulsipher, who was the Mets Minor League Player of the Year in 1994, earned the win thanks to a game-breaking, two-run double off the bat of Buffalo Bison Michel Abreu.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The Electoral College unanimously voted for George Washington on this date in 1789, making him the first president of the United States. He'd take the oath of office twelve weeks later at Federal Hall in lower Manhattan. Today, there's a bronze statue of the general on the steps of that building to commemorate the historic inauguration. During the ticker tape parade thrown for the Miracle Mets in 1969, that statue proudly held an orange and blue pennant in its right hand.