With the arrival of Opening Day, Mets fans can look forward to a new season, a new schedule, new storylines, and—usually, though not so much this year—some new players. Something else that Opening Day brings is a new team yearbook. Here, we go decade-by-decade to show you every yearbook cover in Mets history. Hat tip to Newsday, which compiled the team’s yearbook covers online.
A few things stand out about the earliest Mets yearbooks. The most obvious is their price, which, at 50 cents each, had grown 2,900% to $15 last year. The second is a trend that would continue in subsequent decades: When the team didn’t have marquee players to promote, the yearbook cover would feature a cartoon or some generic Mets-related image. It wasn’t until 1969 that a yearbook cover depicted actual Mets players—those players being Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, and Tom Seaver. The most creative yearbook cover of the decade was the 1967 edition, which used a man walking up a flight of stairs to symbolize a Mets franchise rising from perennial laughingstock to championship contender.
The early-seventies yearbook covers featured prominent Mets players, with repeat appearances by Seaver. The best cover was arguably that of the 1970 edition, which displayed the Mets’ top players in filmstrip. As the decade wore on, however, the Mets had little on-field talent to promote in their yearbooks. From 1976 to 1979, the only person with real face time on a Mets yearbook cover was player-manager Joe Torre in 1977.
The cartoon-themed yearbook covers made a big comeback in the 1980s after falling out of favor in the previous decade. The 1981 edition was the most original of the group, and featured Torre cooking up “a recipe for Mets magic” (that ultimately produced just a 41-62 record in that strike-shortened season). Another great cover was the one on the 1987 yearbook, which featured highlights from the previous year’s Fall Classic. Most of the other eighties-era Mets yearbooks highlighted the team’s biggest stars, particularly Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Keith Hernandez.
The nineties picked up where the eighties left off, with yearbook covers featuring collages of the Mets’ core players. Unfortunately, the team didn’t have many great players to celebrate in the mid-nineties and, as a result, simply used generic yearbook covers during those years. As the Mets improved in the latter half of the decade, so did their yearbooks. The best was probably the 1997 version, which contained a hologram of catcher Todd Hundley hitting his record-breaking 41st home run of the 1996 season.
The aughts was the probably the least creative decade of Mets yearbooking. Each yearbook cover followed basically the same pattern, which was to highlight a group of popular players on that year’s roster. Some of the better covers included the ones in 2001, featuring hometown hero John Franco celebrating the Mets’ NLCS win the year before; 2007, whose title was depicted in the form of a ticket stub; and 2008, which celebrated Shea Stadium’s final season with a split-screen sketch of the ballpark—half being the original Shea and the other half being the Shea that we all came to know after it was renovated in eighties.
For the most part, this decade’s yearbook covers included contemporary Mets players or generic shots of Citi Field. The 2012 and 2013 editions, however, broke the mold. In 2012, the Mets celebrated their 50-year anniversary with a yearbook cover depicting every previous yearbook cover in team history. The following year, in celebration of the All-Star festivities held at Citi Field, the yearbook cover included a collage of every Met to have been named to an All-Star team. Keep your eye out for the 2017 edition, and let us know which of the previous 55 is your favorite!