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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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SNY Prepares to Do Right By Us

As trophies and t-shirts were being passed around Wednesday night on five different channels, I flipped to SNY out of curiosity. Would they be taking their New York sports mandate seriously and covering the grim doings at Yankee Stadium? Would they have something special on to cheer up the rest of us? Would there be racing from the Meadowlands?

They were airing a repeat of The Best of Mets Weekly which, at that moment, featured Dave Howard giving Julie Alexandria a tour of a Citi Field luxury suite. I can’t say it made me feel any better.

But this does, courtesy of Neil Best’s Watchdog blog on the now restricted newsday.com (which I can still access thanks to being spun inside Cablevision’s customer web):

Call it offseason filler if you must, but SNY’s new “Mets Yearbook,” debuting Thursday night after its “Hot Stove” show, is off-the-charts cool for sports and TV nostalgia buffs.

The series features 27 season highlight films from 1962 through ’88 that had been languishing in the Mets’ archives for years.

The ones from the early years were made for promotional purposes and shown mostly to community groups; they were not designed for television and in some cases never have been seen on TV before.

Gary Morgenstern, SNY’s VP of programming, said the hodgepodge of films followed various formats and were of varying lengths but have been turned into half-hour shows for “Mets Yearbook.”

The first five — 1971, ’84, ’75, ’68 and ’63 — will be shown on Thursdays in 2009, with about 10 more in ’10 and the rest sometime the following year.

So far I have watched ’71, ’68 and ’63.

The ’71 show includes footage of an old-timers’ game in which Satchel Paige is seen pitching, and in which Bobby Thomson pitched to Ralph Branca. (You read that right.)

In the ’68 show, Gil Hodges is seen going over scouting reports in the locker room with his young pitching staff, including Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.

The ’63 highlights were most interesting of all, because they included extensive, full color, rarely seen footage of the Mets playing at the Polo Grounds.

That includes the final major league game played there, after which Casey Stengel is shown walking off through centerfield in a scene similar to the one featuring Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza at Shea 45 years later.

We’ve all rolled our eyes incessantly at SNY’s lack of imagination and dismal deployment when it comes to the Mets archives. But this is a great and encouraging sign. This is what we’ve been asking for since 2006. MSG does this sort of thing relentlessly and beautifully with MSG’s Vault. Show us old Mets stuff. Show us old games (we’ve seen 42 by my count, some of them 42 times apiece, it seems) but also show us footage and clips and highlights and oddities. Show us these films…and that’s what they’re doing.

Kudos to SNY. It’s nice to receive a little good Mets news on a day like this.

19 comments to SNY Prepares to Do Right By Us

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. I'll definitely have to remember to check these out.
    I think SNY has done a pretty good job, if slowly. I don't know what sorts of red tape and processing and such goes into getting some of this old footage. But didn't this entire season (or was it '08? or spring?) show old clips before and after after commercial break? Also good stuff.

  • Anonymous

    They've done a dollop here and a dollop there. The spring training usage was good stuff. They work it into Mets Weekly in small doses, too (though with unnecessary “pop-up video” treatment which I find distracting). So they've had it and they've given us peeks. They've just waited to do more. I don't know why they waited, but I'm glad the wait is over.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah. I just recorded it on the DVR to remember to watch hit. I don't know why they waiting either, but at least they must be thinking about this stuff, even if they're slow coming through. I don't actively seek out SNY when they're not playing so I've missed the Mets Weekly stuff.

  • Anonymous

    THANK YOU, SNY. And thank you Greg–and Neil Best–for being the ones to give us the news. If SNY can dig up the '69 and '73 World Series highlight films I was raised on, it just might become my favorite channel.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for alerting us to that great news. Am sure I would have otherwise passed over “Met Yearbook”, not realizing it was the promo films.
    Have the DVR set to record next Thursday's 1971 film. This is the first airing of the series, right? I'd be really upset if I missed some of them already.
    BTW – using hightlights from the prior season means seeing clips of the 1970 Old Timers game of which I was part of the sell-out crowd, sitting in loge section 32, front row reserved.
    We also showed the 1965 promo film in assembly following a play put on by our JHS Math Club – of which I had the main role!
    Two girls were arguing who was better, Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. They began tossing a rubber ball, one saying “I'm Mantle”, the other saying “I'm Mays”. As Willie's fan misses the catch, I'm behind her and said “I'm hit”. We then demonstrated how to figure out batting averages and e.r.a's. Mind you, even though this was 8th grade for us it was advanced math!
    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. I missed the last rehearsal and was replaced by somebody else. Well, that's show biz.

  • Anonymous

    Those are both available on DVD.

  • Anonymous

    One of the main problems with SNY is that besides actual Mets game telecasts they're cheap, cheap, cheap. It does take time to transfer old film to modern media, some payments have to be made to the heirs of who narrated the old films, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing this, but if it's a cheap imitation of the MSG Vault series I'm like Kiner's home run call – going, going, gone, goodbye!

  • Anonymous

    As a regular contributor to MSG Vault would say, “YESSSSSS!”

  • Anonymous

    Best news in what, about 8 months!

  • Anonymous

    Greg — I'm actually in the 1983 film, which had the theme (and song) “Getting Better All the Time.” It has a section about the Mets' exciting new players, Hubie Brooks and Mookie Wilson, and after footage of a shoestring catch by Mookie, I — at 16 — appear in the stands holding a banner I made, “Wilson for Mookie of the Year.” I know all this because my family's huge, clunky VHS recorder was running during a 1984 rainout when WOR showed this 1983 “film,” so I have it on tape. (Tape!) I've never found, in any Internet search, any recognition that these annual “films” exist, or any context for why they were made and how they were aired. Now I know!

  • Anonymous

    If you are interested, some of those early promotion films are available on DVD through http://www.baseballdirect.com.

  • Anonymous

    If they can edit cleverly and not drown them in Finally Fast Dot Com! ads, we should be OK.

  • Anonymous

    At the risk of quoting Dick Young, Dick Young asked of that particular title whether it was dreamt up by Pravda or Izvestia.

  • Anonymous

    Now if only SNY had a tape of that!

  • Anonymous

    What I really wish SNY had was a copy of a broadcast “The Impossible Dream” put together by WOR right after the Mets won it all in 1969. It was a full hour consisting only of game action, not like those made today which are composed more of interviews and reflections and very little actual history (except for the Red Sox DVD of their own 1967 “impossible dream” with the same title).
    It was a great one-hour.

  • Anonymous

    I remember another highlight film from that era, “To Mets With Love”. Lindsey Nelson said, years later, WOR was clearing out its warehouse and sent it to him. Would love to think another copy exists somewhere.

  • Anonymous

    Best news except for one thing. Of all the nights to put this on, they pick the single most competitive night of television when all the networks roll out their most attractive programming? I mean, I'm watching/taping Bones, Flash Forward, the NBC sitcoms and CSI. Other people doubtlessly (and curiously) watch Survivor, and I think Grey's Anatomy?
    Whatev, hopefully they'll run them a couople times each week.

  • Anonymous

    Airtime 7:30 PM. Won't get in the way of prime time (though I'm willing to redefine prime time to take into account any time 1971 highlight films are aired is prime).

  • […] The much-anticipated SNY program Mets Yearbook debuts tonight, Thursday, at 7:30, with the 1971 highlight film in the […]