This Date in Mets History: March 14 — George Weiss Becomes The Team’s First President

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Former Yankees GM wheels and deals through the Amazins’ early years.

On March 14, 1961, the Mets officially named George Weiss as its first team president. For all intents and purposes he is the team’s general manager, but is prohibited from assuming that title by the terms of his retirement deal with the Yankees. His first major move is to hire Casey Stengel as manager, ostensibly for his baseball acumen, but also recognizing the Ol’ Perfessor’s public relations value as well.

Weiss was criticized through the early years for his penchant for acquiring ageing "name" players—former stars on the down side of their careers who might still have some drawing power, such as Duke Snider, Jimmy Piersall, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Dick Stuart, and Ken Boyer. However, on Weiss’ watch the Mets also developed a lot of young talent that would be part of the team’s miracle championship season in 1969, including Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, Ken Boswell, Ron Swoboda, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Tug McGraw.

You could add Tom Seaver to that list, although it took some arm twisting by new GM Bing Devine to get Weiss to pony up the $50,000 to participate in Commissioner Spike Eckert’s lottery for the man who would become The Franchise. On the other hand, it was Weiss who overcame Devine’s objection about going after another team’s manager—the Senators’ Gil Hodges—and exploited the Yankee connection between Mets VP Johnny Murphy and Washington GM George Selkirk to get their man.

Birthdays

Rainy Lara is celebrating his 22nd birthday today. In 12 starts with the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones last season, the tall, lanky, Dominican right-hander posted an 8-3 record with a 2.91 ERA, 1.59 BB/9, and averaged just over 10 strikeouts per nine innings. So far the forecast is sunny for Rainy, rated the Mets #34 prospect by Amazin’ Avenue.

Right-hander Josh Stinson, who turns 25 today, had a long cup of coffe with the Mets in Spetember 2011, earning a save and three holds in his first five games before things fell apart for him. He did a lot better last September for Milwaukee and is off to a good start for them this spring.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection

On March 14, 1900, Congress ratified the Gold Standard Act. And that’s as good a reason as any for us to salute those Mets players who set the gold standard for fielding. In chronological order the club’s Gold Glove winners are:

The one position not represented is catcher, so we’ll award an honorary retroactive Gold Glove to Jerry Grote. After all, Johnny Bench, the man who blocked him year after year and took the award as his own ,said, back in the day, "If I was on Jerry Grote’s team I would’ve been a third baseman."

Perhaps Travis d’Arnaud will be the first Mets receiver to earn one officially, along with other potential future Mets Gold Glovers Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, and Matt den Dekker.

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