This Date in Mets History: March 10 - The '62 Mets Make Their Spring Training Debut

Chris McShane

Naturally, the Mets lost the first game they ever played.

The New York Mets played their first game of any sort on this date in 1962, squaring off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the team's inaugural Grapefruit League opener. For manager Casey Stengel and the host of players vying to make the club, the 8-0 blanking should have been a sign of things to come. Pitchers Jay Hook, Clem Labine, and Craig Anderson conspired to allow all eight runs on a dozen hits, including two long balls off the bats of Minnie Minoso and Gene Oliver. Mets batters, meanwhile, could muster just four safeties off Cardinals pitching. While its foolish to read too much into spring training results, the '62 Mets would wind up allowing the most runs in the NL and scoring the second fewest. Clearly, both those deficiencies were on display in the franchise's first game.

Birthdays

  • Mike Birkbeck is 52. Birkbeck made one start for the Mets in 1992, then four more in 1995 before getting sold to the Yokohama BayStars of Japan's Nippon League. He also has the distinction of being, along with former Met Jack DiLauro, one of two University of Akron alums to make the majors. Go Fightin' Zips!
  • Outfielder John Cangelosi turns 50. The Brooklyn native spent the strike-shortened 1994 season with the Mets and led the club in stolen bases. With five. That's easily the lowest team-leading mark in franchise history, though perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising, given that the Mets finished dead last in the NL in OBP that year.
  • Original Met Ken MacKenzie is 78. One of Casey Stengel's more frequently-used relievers, MacKenzie got into 42 games and struck out a bullpen-best 5.7 batters per nine innings. A graduate of Yale, Stengel quipped that MacKenzie's signing with the Mets made him "the lowest paid member of the class of '56."
  • Finally, Wayne Twitchell would have been 65 today. An All-Star with the Phillies in 1973, Twitchell joined the Mets six years later, but couldn't recapture his past form. Never a pitcher with great control, Twitchell walked 55 in 63-plus innings while only striking out 44.

Transactions
The Mets and Duaner Sanchez parted ways on this date in 2009. Citing a lack of progress in returning from a fractured shoulder, one likely suffered in the car accident that ended his 2006 season, the Mets chose to cut Sanchez early enough in spring training that he could hook on with another team. Signed by the Padres, Sanchez enacted a measure of revenge by helping to spoil the first regular season game played at Citi Field. The bespectacled reliever set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the eighth inning of the 2009 home opener, then turned the ball over to Heath Bell, who closed the door on a 6-5 San Diego win.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On March 10, 1804, a ceremony was held in St. Louis to officially transfer ownership of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States. The Mets would formally come into existence in the Gateway City, too, as just one month after playing the Cards in their spring training opener, the Mets would again face St. Louis in the season opener at Sportsman's Park on the evening of April 11, 1962.

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