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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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Mets Yearbook: 1966

The seventh installment of the critically acclaimed (by us, anyway) Mets Yearbook series debuts Thursday night (2/11) at 7:30 on SNY. The year in the spotlight is 1966, the first season in Mets history that was merely bad and not horrific. Of course, everything is relative. A 66-95 ninth-place finish sounds garden variety wretched, but consider this was the first time the Mets didn’t lose at least 109 games and didn’t finish last. A 16½-game turnaround is nothing to sneeze at in any league…even its second division.

The propaganda value of improving from 50-112 to 66-95 should prove outstanding. And it’s gotta beat shoveling snow. As a bonus, SNY follows up this world premiere with reruns of Mets Yearbook from 1975, 1976, 1968 and 1984.

Image courtesy of kcmets.com.

Please join Frank Messina and me on Tuesday, February 16, 6:00 PM, at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village for a night of Mets Poetry & Prose. Details here, directions here.

10 comments to Mets Yearbook: 1966

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Opening Day and us new breeders felt estatic about our club now with the bats of Ken Boyer and Dick Stuart added to the lineup. Little did we realize that, in the long run, we were going backwards (even though 1965′s Youth of America had its growing pains). Suddenly Roy McMillan and Chuck Hiller weren’t the only major components close to retirement age – besides Boyer and Stuart we also added Bob Shaw, Bob Friend and Ed Bressoud. And with Stuart at first, for a while it seemed that Ed Kranepool, at 21, was out of a job.

    So the team, led by this group of veterans (minus Stuart), mustered up enough strength to give us a good first two-thirds of the season. -Through the end of July we were just nine games below .500 and at 47-55 (.420 and only three wins away from matching our entire total for the previous year) it seemed a lock that we would actually meet Wes Westrum’s spring training prediction of 70 wins – after all, we only needed to go 23-37 (.383)the rest of the way.

    But age caught up with us and we went 19-41 the rest of the way. The club’s most productive hitter was Ken Boyer but at age 35 his prowess continued to rapidly decline. At 33, Bob Shaw put in his last decent season but still had an ERA close to four. Ed Bressoud, at 34, replaced the injured Roy McMillan at short until Bud Harrelson was called up in late August.

    And even with that dismal ending, Wes Westrum predicted at least 80 wins for 1967 because we added Tommy Davis, Don Cardwell and a young hopeful Don Bosh despite giving up our best pitcher (Ribant), a dependable outfielder (Hickman) and an all-star second baseman (Hunt, who was to be replaced by a platoon combination of Bressoud and Hiller).

    • Joe, thanks as ever for the eyewitness report. Hard to think of Wes Westrum as the avatar of optimism, but those must have been giddy times after the first four years. Your juggling of statistical possibilities — if only we can go 23-27 the rest of the way — makes what the ascent meant to “longtime” Mets fans feel that much more real. It’s those small-ish goals that keep us going in leaner times.

      I wonder why people (not just Wes) predict a team winning 80 games when that would still be a losing record. Why not go nuts and predict 81 or 82?

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    As fanatic as we were, even the most optomstic new breeder wasn’t naive enough to hope to go 23-27 — 23 and “37″ was a more realistic goal. In 1966 if we went 23-27 to raise our record to 70 and 82 (and eventually finishing around 74 and 88) there would have been earlier parades down the canyon of heros and appearances on Ed Sullivan! Trust me on that.

    As far as 80 wins the following season, you are right. There was no reason why Wes couldn’t put himself out on a limb like Rex Ryan did after making the playoffs.

  • Inside Pitcher

    OMG – the Mr. Met back then was positively nightmare-inducing!

  • Joe D.

    I knew they would show that game winning pinch hit home run by Ron Swoboda off Bill Henry. Every new breeder from the time remembers it.

    The Giants had taken the first three games of the series and heading into the seventh were leading 6-1 with Dennis Ribant breaking up Juan Marichal’s attempt at a perfect game with a clean single up the middle the inning before.

    That night I listened on my shortwave as the U.S. Armed Forces Radio replayed the game. It was the Giants broadcast and when Swoboda hit the shot I remember Russ Hodges screaming “and the Amazing Mets do it again!”

    It was also great seeing Sandy Koufax knocked out, Bob Shaw mowing the Dodgers down and Lou Johnson being called out on a nifty fielding play. Unfortunately, I was also at a game that year when Koufax struck out eleven and Shaw gave up a first inning three run homer to Johnson after two were down.

    Of course, as Greg suspected it would, the film made it seem as if the Mets had turned into world beaters instead of finishing ninth and losing 96 games. But who cared? We climbed out of the cellar and the Yankees finished last instead.

    One aspect not exagerating at all was the fun of going to a Met game back then. Even the mid-eighties and 2000 and 2006 seasons couldn’t match those days of pure innocence when nobody needed prompting to let loose with a “Lets Go Mets”.

  • barry newman

    I remember the game that the Mets came back and won against Marichal and the Giants. SF lost the NL pennant by 1 and 1/2 games that season, and had pulled all their regulars out of that game to get them some rest. I also saw the 1-0 shutout when Chris Short defeated Bob Shaw, on “Saboda’s” birthday. He made the final out of that game, hitting a fly ball that was caught on the warning track.
    Thanks for the memories of 1966, the first year they did not finish last.

  • Scott

    is there any way to purchase these?? I am watching 1984 right now during the rain delay, and its great!

    • Thus far, no home purchase option BUT set your DVR for 4:30 PM through 9:30 PM Monday, when SNY runs every Mets Yearbook produced to date. That includes 1988, which debuts tomorrow night at 7.