This Date In Mets History: July 18 — Two events set the stage for the birth of a new New York franchise

Leon Halip

We also salute former Mets player and manager Joe Torre on his 73rd birthday.

Two events on this date, three years apart, helped bring into being our favorite team. In 1957, New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham stated that, "This is our last year in the Polo Grounds," indicating that a new stadium In the Baychester area of the Bronx or joint occupancy with Yankees at their ballpark might persuade him to keep his team in the Big Apple, although the prevailing wisdom was that the Giants would be playing in San Francisco or Minneapolis in 1958. Stoneham rejected the idea of relocating to a proposed stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

On July 18, 1960, the National League voted to expand from eight teams to 10, provided the embryonic Continental League, some of whose teams would play in the same cities as existing MLB franchises, disband. One of the new NL clubs would be placed in New York, which was probably the outcome that William Shea and Branch Rickey, the brains behind the proposed third major league, had in mind all along.

Birthdays
Razor Shines, turning 57 today, was hired to coach third base for the 2009 season and quickly became notorious for his reckless, rally-killing style. Many a Met waved around third by Shines were thrown out at the plate by several feet. It was too much even for his longtime pal, manager Jerry Manuel, so Shines was moved to the first base coaching lines in 2010. He and Manuel were both dismissed at the end of that season.

Happy 73rd birthday to Joe Torre, who joined the Mets at age 34 in 1975, four years removed from his monster MVP season in 1971. In just under 800 plate appearances over two-plus seasons he hit 12 home runs, drove in 75, and posted a slash line of .267/.327/.374. Among the "highlights" of his career in New York was tying a major league record by grounding into four double plays in one game; he jokingly blamed it on Felix Millan for getting on base four times in front of him. When the Mets stumbled to a 15-30 start in 1977, Torre was named to succeed Joe Frazier as manager. The team went on a 11-5 tear under their new skipper...and then Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman were sent packing. Torre lasted through the 1981 season, piloting some of the worst Mets personnel since the early days of the franchise to three last place and two next-to-last-place finishes. In 1982, he led a more talented Braves team to their first division title since 1969 and, after stints as Cardinals manager and Angels broadcaster, had phenomenal success managing the Yankees. It was Torre, we're sorry to say, who, as executive VP of baseball operations, enforced the MLB policy of not allowing the Mets to wear their first-responder caps during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1897, Cap Anson became the first player in major league baseball history to collect 3,000 hits. Three players with relatively brief stays with the Mets — Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, and Rickey Henderson — are among the 28 who have achieved that milestone. David Wright, who should pass the 1,600 mark this season, has a shot at joining this elite group. Based on his career average of roughly 180 hits per season, and assuming he stays healthy, he would collect his 3,000th hit during the 2021 season, at age 38, one year after his current Mets contract expires. Likewise Jose Reyes, six months younger than Wright, could also achieve that goal if (and it's a big if) he can stay off the disabled list. Coincidentally, on July 18, 1927, Ty Cobb reached 4,000 hits. Good luck with reaching that milestone, guys.

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