Met history is something that has always interested me, but was always too inaccessible for me to delve into. My baseball consciousness began in the 90s so my team knowledge consisted of those years plus the various mythologies handed down about the 1962, 1969 and 1986 squadrons. But, there are 47 other years of team play that I knew shamefully little about. A previous attempt to remedy the situation led to a tag sale purchase of Peter Golenbeck's 550-word tome on the Amazin's that I have yet to crack. Meanwhile, I'm constantly reminded of the glorious histories of the team's World Series by the 80% of the SNY broadcast team who played on those teams. But, where is the love for the Craig Swans of this world?
Fortunately, Matthew Silverman knew my pain and wrote a really good book to help relieve it. His new book, New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History is exactly as the title describes. It's a comprehensive and accessible look back at Met history from the glory days of 1969 to the doldrums of 1977. I know I might be a bit strange for wanting to know more about the team's many forgettable seasons, but Silverman does an excellent job of relaying the absurdities that have characterized this franchise throughout the years, many of which that occurred during these times in the wilderness and have since been tragically forgotten. For example, I had no idea that the Mets had Mettle, a mule given to original Met owner Joan Payson that lived under the stands behind home plate at Shea. I mean, does that really surprise anyone about this team?
The book, while great in many regards, will frustrate many Amazin' Avenue community members with its constant use of the more basic statistics, particularly Silverman's emphasis on pitcher wins. But, there is more than enough good stuff in here to make up for that. Even when you're done reading it, you'll enjoy coming back to it as a coffee table book with the nice hardcover and assorted photographs inside.
Did I mention that it has pictures?