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The Mets unveiled their official team song on this date in 1963. Hint: It's not Let's Go Mets Go.
There is little in the score of interest to a mid-20th century audience. The harmony is traditional; no influences of atonality or polytonality can be found.
That's Times sport writer Leonard Koppett playfully giving his two cents on "Meet the Mets", which made its public debut on this date 50 years ago. The ditty, written by Ruth Roberts (music) and Bill Katz (lyrics), dates back to 1961, but it wasn't until March 9, 1963 that team president George Weiss and a panel of ad execs from J. Walter Thompson named that tune as the official song of the New York Mets.
While "Meet the Mets" is ubiquitous today, it almost wasn't the case. One of the reasons it took so long to pick a song was that the Mets received of 18 other entries. Not mention the host of other Mets-themed novelty songs that hit airwaves around the same time, the most charming of which is probably this calypso number by the Duke of Iron entitled, appropriately, "New York Mets." While the other entries may have had enthusiasm (and, for that matter, syncopation), composers Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz had experience. Prior to writing "Meet the Mets", the duo collaborated on a string of sports songs, such as "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame," an ode to Mickey Mantle called "I Love Mickey," and best of all, "Mr. Touchdown, U.S.A."
Still, it's hard to argue Weiss et al. made the wrong choice. With the exception of a since-rescinded 1984 rewrite of the lyrics (the less said about the team's musical choices in that decade the better), fans have been able to hear "Meet the Mets" in its original form during broadcasts or at Shea/Citi Field for half a century now. That said, if for some reason the rendition recored by Glen Osser and his orchestra doesn't do it for you, there's always this one. Maybe in another 50 years, we'll be able to get "Moby Octopad" (Huskey makes the turn and heads for home!) played on the stadium loudspeaker.
C.J. Nitkowski turns 40. The St. John's alum made five appearances for the Mets in 2001, though there was talk of a reunion between the two sides this past season. The Mets inked Nitkowski to a minor league deal in July, but he struggled at Triple-A Buffalo and failed to get a September call-up. That led the southpaw to hang up the spikes for good this offseason, though he's still making a living with his left hand. Since retiring, he's penned pieces for Baseball Prospectus and ESPN (subs. req.). You'll also be able to catch him in a fictional ballpark this summer, as he's portraying knuckleballer Dutch Leonard in the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic 42.
Game of Note
Tommie Agee's first season as a Met was ruined before it even got a chance to get going. Batting leadoff for the Grapefruit League opener on March 9, 1968, Agee dug in against Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals. Hoot's first pitch nailed the newly-acquired center fielder behind the left ear. Said Ed Charles to the Times, "You could hear it all over the ball park. Thank God it hit him flush in the helmet." While Agee made it back in time for Opening Day, '68 proved to be the worst season of his career. His slash line plummeted to .217/.255/.307 and not even his normally solid defense could prevent him from being a sub-replacement level player.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Mattel introduced the Barbie doll at the American International Toy Fair on this date in 1959. Forty some odd years later, she made her first appearance at Citi Field, as her likeness was emblazoned on a backpack that Mets relievers made rookie Pedro Beato wear during his hazing process.