The New York Yankees made the official announcement on March 20, 1961, that put the kibosh on any ideas the newly minted National League expansion team may have had about playing its home games at Yankee Stadium. That meant the Mets would have to hastily refurbish the run-down Polo Grounds, the only other workable alternative.
The Yankees did the Mets, or at least us fans, a favor, although that was hardly their intention. While it made sense to play in a stadium that was already in use and had the requisite infrastructure for baseball, it would have robbed the Amazins of some of their emerging identity. As it was, manager Casey Stengel and team president (and de facto GM) George Weiss were only a year removed from a long-time association with the Yankee juggernaut. To play in the Bronx, as tenants of the Bombers no less, would be unthinkable, at least in hindsight. And if you were a Rheingold Beer executive you might think twice about sponsoring games where rival Ballantine’s outfield sign was sure to be on camera several times a game.
Infielder Manny Alexander turns 42 today. As a Met in 1997 he made 161 plate appearances and mustered a more-than-respectable .389 slugging percentage. He also went 11-for–11 in the stolen base department, but didn’t reach base enough (.294 on-base percentage) to make his speed really useful, a failing that would relegate him to utility infielder status for most of his career.
Happy 47th birthday to Blas Minor, an admirable middle reliever for the 1995–1996 Mets: WHIP under 1.2, K/BB of 3.32. They traded him for a third baseman who never hit his way out of ‘A’ ball. Go figure.
Outfielder Rick Parker, 50 today, was a journeyman who looked lost at the plate in his brief stay with the Mets in May of 1994. His lone hit in 16 at-bats didn’t even leave the infield.
Left-hander Steve Dillon is 70 today. The Mets should have been suspicious when the Yankees didn’t protect him in the so-called First-Year Player Draft in November 1962. His career lasted a mercifully short 4.2 innings. In that same draft, the Mets lost Paul Blair to the Orioles.
Happy big 8–0 to George Altman, left fielder for the 1964 Mets. An All-Star with the Cubs in 1961 and 1962, he produced identical numbers of home runs (nine) and RBI (47) for the Mets as he had for the Cardinals the year before, but his OPS dipped almost 180 points and he was traded to the Cubs that winter.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an advocate of nuclear disarmament, was born on this date in 1911. Now, we’re peace-loving at heart, and we applaud Robles’s efforts, but we hope, on the other hand, that pitching prospect Hansel Robles explodes on the baseball scene as a Met and goes nuclear on opposing batters.