This Date in Mets History: May 8—New York’s new National League franchise gets its name

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

We also celebrate John Maine’s birthday and his greatest game.

The Mets became the Mets, officially, in a ceremony at the Savoy Hilton on May 8, 1961. The name was chosen from 10 finalists, the other nine being Avengers, Bees, Burros, Continentals, Jets, NYBs, Rebels, Skyliners and Skyscrapers. Those monikers were culled from a list of well over 600 based on nearly 10,000 fan submissions. In what could be considered an omen of things to come, owner Joan Payson’s attempts to "christen" the new NL franchise were foiled by an uncooperative champagne bottle that refused to break. Maybe Mrs. Payson’s heart wasn’t in it, as her first choice for the team’s nickname, Meadowlarks, had been rejected. That name, if shortened to Larks, would have been appropriate, given one definition of lark as "a source of or quest for amusement or adventure."

Birthdays

In the wake of Matt Harvey’s near-perfect, 12-strikeout game last night, it’s appropriate that we salute John Maine on this, his 32nd birthday. The apex of Maine’s roller-coaster Mets career was his dominant performance against the Marlins on Sept. 29, 2007. With the Mets facing elimination, he had a no-hitter through 7.2 innings, but his bid was spoiled, like Harvey’s game last night, by an infield hit—in this case, a 30-foot swinging-bunt single by back-up catcher Paul Hoover. Staked to an 8-0 lead after three innings, Maine could have coasted, but, perhaps recalling the four-run lead he had squandered two starts earlier, he pitched like a man possessed, walking only two and racking up 14 Ks along the way, including one stretch of seven straight. Coincidentally, Maine, like Harvey, wore uniform number 33.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection

Today marks the 57th birthday, of sorts, of Alfred E. Neuman. The iconic gap-toothed redhead made his first appearance on the cover of Mad magazine on this date in 1956. Neuman’s cohorts at Mad have taken their share of potshots at the Mets over the years, some of which can be found on the magazine’s web site. These include an Al Jaffe "fold-in" from 1965 and more recent jabs at the team’s fiscal woes and the minority ownership of Bill Maher. Alfred E. Neuman’s signature line, of course, is "What, Me Worry?" If only we could be so blasé on those all-too-frequent occasions when the Amazins drive us…mad.

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