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This Date In Mets History: September 2 — Stengel's Number Retired, No Birthday Cake for Marvelous Marv

Birthday boy "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry
Birthday boy "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry

On September 2, 1965, the Mets retired Casey Stengel's number in a short pre-game ceremony before an unceremonious, yet typical 4-3 loss to the Astros. The only man to wear a #37 jersey for the team, Stengel managed the Mets from their inception until mid-1965, when a long convalescence from a broken hip caused the Old Perfesser to hobble away from the game for good. Personally, Stengel preferred that his number remain in circulation, telling the New York Times, "I hope they give it to some fine young player so it will do good for the Mets for a long time." The team's brass ignored Stengel's request and today a #37 decal hangs on the left field wall at Citi Field. One could argue that the way Jason Bay and Lucas Duda futilely try to cover ground below it is an homage to Casey's Mets legacy, too.

"Marvelous" Marv Throneberry (1962-63) would have been 79 today. Jimmy Breslin quipped that having Marv play for your team was "like having Willie Sutton work for your bank." The numbers support that assertion, too. The 1962 Mets won a mere 25% of their games. When Marv was in the starting lineup, that winning percentage dropped to 21%. Despite Throneberry's myriad shortcomings–one AP report described him as a "poor fielder, but a weak hitter" and "pretty sad in the clutch, too"–fans embraced the gangly first baseman in all his base-missing, cake-dropping glory. Marv later cashed in on his notoriety by starring in series of beer commercials, warning Miller Lite that if he did for them what he did for baseball, their sales would go down.

Though he passed away in 1994, Throneberry's influence can still be found in pop culture. As the grandfather of filmmaker Craig Brewer, director of Hustle & Flow, Marvelous Marv is indirectly responsible for bringing the phrase "it's hard out here for a pimp" into the public consciousness.

Game of Note
The Mets trailed the Astros 8-0 heading into the top of the eighth at the Astrodome on September 2, 1972, but a Ken Boswell homer and RBI hits from Cleon Jones and Wayne Garrett trimmed the deficit to 8-7 by the end of the inning. Two errors by the Astros in the ninth helped the Mets tie the game and tack on a pair of insurance runs for an 11-8 victory. To date, it's the largest comeback in Mets history.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
While addressing a crowd at the Minnesota State Fair on this date in 1901, then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt used the phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick" for the first time. A Google News search reveals Teddy's famed expression has been used to describe several Mets, most notably Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin McReynolds, and Eddie Murray.