Through The New York Times, Time Machine archives on Twitter, I’m recreating the Yankees 1961 season. Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs, and Roger Maris hit 61, breaking Babe Ruth’s record 60. Also lost to time, the Detroit Tigers (101-61) incredible run and pressure they put on the Yankees (109-53) into early September.
But on this day, April 22, 1961, New York State approved the building of Shea Stadium in Flushing Queens, NY. Reading the articles reminded me of grandma.
My grandmother loved the Dodgers, as did dad. In 1962 grandma pours her heart and soul into the Mets. She went to church every day, but when the Mets lost, and they lost a lot back then. I would talk baseball with her all the time, and when the subject hit the Mets, and they lost that day or evening, with a cigarette in hand or lip, “those dirty bastards lost again” would pierce through the smoke. Grandma went to church every day until she couldn’t; baseball can really grip one’s soul.
Late yesterday the Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes for three years with an Opt-Out clause after one year. This made think of Charles Oscar Finley maverick owner of the A’s who passed away twenty years ago. In March 1960, he purchased the Kansas City A’s and for the next 20 years, would be a thorn in the side of two Baseball Commissioners and the other owners.
As an owner, he was behind baseball playing World Series games at night, and the Designated Hitter. Now after 42-years it appears in 2017, the National League will finally adopt the DH. Other ideas, like using an orange baseball for night games were considered silly.
But, Charles Finley’s biggest contribution to baseball and all sports, is Free Agency. Through his failure during 1974, baseball season to meet certain obligations in Catfish Hunters contract, an arbitrator declaring Hunter, a free agent and his subsequence signing of a five-year contract with the Yankees. Following the 1975 season, a grievance was filed by Andy Messerschmitt of the Dodgers and Dave McNally of Expos, arbitrator, Peter Seitz ruled for the players declaring them free agents. This verdict ended the Reserve Clause that tied players to teams forever. Charles Finley then said what may be his boldest idea “Make Them All Free Agents Every Year”. Marvin Millet opposed this knowing it would it would keep player salaries low and the owners were afraid of the concept.
What was once scared owners and maybe the players is now taking hold in a unique concept, the opt-out after one to three years now being part of bigger contract signings.
It is early in the game, but as the opt-out becomes more attractive in contract negotiations, it will make for some exciting times in player and team moves.
I am a New York Yankees fan and have been for 60 years, and I’m rooting for the Mets, to win the World Series.
I grew up in Bronx section known as Highbridge between the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.
My father and grandmother were big Dodger fans. Except for my uncle taking me to Yankee games, (my first was Old Timers Day 1952) the Dodgers were the team on our television.
Sixty years ago on October 4, 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Yankees 2-0 to win their only Championship.
I remember it clearly I came home from school and watched the end of the game I was both happy and sad. October 4, 1955, was also my 9th birthday. That night my father and grandmother were very excited and my birthday took a back seat.
After the Dodgers had moved to Los Angles, my father and grandmother lost interest in baseball.
Then 1962 along came the Mets.
Those early years were rough, but my grandmother and I would talk baseball and about the Mets. She loved the Mets would watch or listen to every game on the radio. When they played, on the west coast she would stay up until the game was over. My grandmother went to mass every day, and the only thing that would cause her to swear was when the Mets lost a close game. Something they did a lot in 1960’s. She lived to be 92 and passed away in 1980 just before the start of the baseball season
So of course I will be rooting for the Mets tonight. Every year we go to Queens and see a few games. We have been to Citi Field more than many Mets I know.
The Yankees will always be my main team, but I will also continue to root for the Mets.
Some say the Baseball season is too long, no way. Look at the current changes that have taken place in the Standings from first place to the wildcard. It just doesn’t happen in the NFL or the NBA.
For me, it is the fun days, and not the dog days of August. It is scoreboard watching at its best.