One day after the Mets played their first ever game in St. Louis, the team returned to New York on this date in 1962 and were greeted with a ticker tape parade homecoming. An estimated 40,000 fans braved a steady drizzle to line Broadway in hopes of catching a glimpse of old Brooklyn Dodgers stars like Gil Hodges and Clem Labine dressed in the orange and blue of the city's new National League franchise.
At City Hall, the parade's terminus, the Mets were greeted by Mayor Robert Wagner, who introduced Casey Stengel to the crowd and referred to the infant franchise as "our very own team." Stengel handled player introductions, then lead his team back uptown for an off-day workout at the Polo Grounds. The practice session, like the season opener, had do be delayed due to rain, as well as for the very '62 Metsian reason that someone forgot to have the team's cleats delivered from the airport to the ball park.
- D.J. Carrasco turns 37. Carrasco is one of only two free agents to pry a multi-year deal out of Sandy Alderson, and considering Frank Francisco is the other, maybe Sandy should stick to the one-ups. Coincidentally, Carrasco is represented by former Mets reliever Terry Bross, who also counts Bronson Arroyo and Dan Uggla as clients and has been known to resort to some age-old professional tricks when recruiting new signees.
- Daniel Garcia, the first member of the Brooklyn Cyclones to make it to the majors, is 33. Garcia hit .321/.387/.411 during the Coney Island-based affiliate's inaugural season back in 200 and that earned him a promotion to Single-A Capital City after just 15 games. He made his Shea debut two years later, posting an OPS+ of 86 in 237 plate appearances between September 2003 and October 2004.
- Finally, Paul Lo Duca celebrates his birthday today. Born in Brooklyn 41 years ago today, Lo Duca returned to his city of birth prior to the 2006 season when GM Omar Minaya acquired him from the Marlins for a pair of minor leaguers. Brought in to replace Mike Piazza, Lo Duca did a decent job replacing a legend, posting 2.7 bWAR (his best year since 2002) and becoming the fifth catcher to represent the Mets at the All-Star Game. It must have been a nice reversal of fortune for the late-blooming backstop. Originally drafted by the Dodgers, Lo Duca didn't reach Los Angeles until he was already 26 years old because some guy named Mike Piazza was blocking the plate.
The 1995 Mets bolstered their rotation on this date by acquired Pete Harnisch from the Astros for two players who were later named Todd Beckerman and Juan Castillo. You can read what Eric had to say about the deal in this post from 365 days ago.
Game of Note
The Mets might have thought they were getting a break on Opening Day 1965, played at Shea 48 years ago today, when the Dodgers decided to skip Sandy Koufax, author of four shutouts, a no-hitter, and perfect 9-0 record against New York to that point in his career, and start Don Drysdale instead. Not a big break, mind you, since Big D was a Cooperstown-caliber pitcher in his own right who fattened his stat line with a 13-1 lifetime mark versus the Mets through 1964, but hey, at least they beat him that one time!
Casey Stengel's crew would have to wait another day to saddle Drysdale with another L, though, as the tall Californian barely needed any help from his teammates in sending the Mets to their fourth consecutive Opening Day defeat. Drysdale went the distance, striking out nine and allowing just one run on four hits. He also personally outproduced the entire Mets offensive by taking lefty Al Jackson deep for a two-run homer in the fourth. Final score: Dodgers 6, Mets 1.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
James Tyng, catcher for the Harvard Crimson baseball team, took the field wearing a modified fencing mask on this date in 1877. It's believed that this is the first instance of a catcher's mask being used in organized baseball. These days, getting behind the plate without any sort of facial protection would be insane. It was insane back then, too, but social mores being what they were meant that Tyng was ridiculed for his lack of GRISSION. According to the book Catcher by Peter Morris, fans shouted "muzzle him" at Tyng whenever he was on the field and opposing players treated him with "good natured though somewhat derisive pity."
Anyway, the Mets have only employed one Crimson alum: pitcher Jeff Musselman. If he encountered any fan abuse during his time in Flushing, it likely would have been performance-based. In 58 innings, Musselman ran up a 4.47 ERA and struck out as many batters as he walked.