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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.

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Mets Yearbook: 1977

The debut of Mets Yearbook: 1977 somehow eluded me last week, but luckily I noticed it was coming on after Sunday’s game and learned it will be repeated Tuesday afternoon at 1:30, so consider this your DVR alert.

Sadly, the 1977 season itself did not elude me, and even less fortunately, it was repeated in spirit throughout 1978 and 1979, so be warned that if you watch this particular edition of the best show on television, you will (especially if you lived sentiently through 1977 as a Mets fan) require the latest the pharmaceutical industry has to offer in the way of antidepressant medication.

Ohmigod, Wes Westrum might have muttered had he been paying attention to his old posting, wasn’t 1977 awful? I’ll assume you, as a FAFIF reader and therefore de facto intermediate student of Mets history, understand why. Yet you’ll want to watch Mets Yearbook: 1977 anyway. You will want to see propaganda take off in new and unpredictable directions. You’ll want to hear new manager Joe Torre explain (from a horse farm in an undisclosed location) how he’s stopped thinking of the atrocity that was committed on June 15 of that year as the Tom Seaver trade and has begun to think of it as the Steve Henderson trade.

Kudos to anyone who can think of it at all and look forward to coming to work the following year, but Torre is upbeat about his “new look pitching staff”. Ed Kranepool (whose reams of service time is featured early, a dead giveaway as regards how few actual highlights a particular highlight film encompasses) visits his old high school ballfield in the Bronx and is as upbeat as Ed Kranepool can possibly be, which is to say reassuringly grim. We also meet Lee Mazzilli and Steve Henderson, even if neither of them can enunciate worth a damn (and these were my favorite post-Seaver players). We are treated to a festival of leather jackets and out-of-control coiffure and a general late-1970s vibe of Shea despair.

Elliott Maddox is coming! Willie Montañez is coming! Tim Foli is coming back! Jerry Koosman isn’t going anywhere (yet)! And, in a moment of genuinely inspirational reportage, Jackson Todd survives a cancer scare. Plus there’s the great blackout of ’77; Doug Flynn complaining about the high cost of Big Apple living; the four great center fielders of New York lore alighting for Old Timers Day and inspiring Terry Cashman to write a song about three of them; Met wives playing softball; Jon Matlack’s kid running in circles before Dad is traded to Texas; Lenny Randle solving the third base problem (somebody’s always solving the third base problem on Mets Yearbook); and a parade of banners that the miserable management of this miserable team still had the good grace to permit on the field, making us wonder yet again why a beloved tradition that survived arguably the worst year in Mets history isn’t immediately revived by the club’s current cup-happy marketers. (Afraid the fans’ feet will ruin the grass for soccer?)

Mets Yearbook: 1977 is, either in spite of or because of its content, a triumph of the highlight film genre. You’ll never want to live through a 1977-style season again, but you won’t want to miss evidence that it actually occurred.

Image courtesy of “Mario Mendoza…HOF lock” at Baseball-Fever.

9 comments to Mets Yearbook: 1977

  • The only thing worse than the clothes or the music or the citywide unrest of ’77 was the Mets. All the tell-tale storyline indicators that the team is really, really bad are also evident in the 1982 “highlight” film. Ohmigod wasn’t that awful.

  • Dave

    I want to be reminded of the 77 season about as much as I want to relive junior high or have my impacted wisdom teeth taken out again. But at least you used to be able to show up, buy a general admission ticket for a few bucks, then by the 3rd inning invest about another dollar or two into an usher’s hand and sit anywhere you wanted.

  • The highlight of the year was the “blackout” game.

  • Will in Central NJ

    I kept a Mets scrapbook from age 10 to 14 (1973-77). I still remember on the morning June 16th,1977, riding my banana-seat bike to Mike’s Candy Store to buy the Star-Ledger and Daily News, the latter of which blared, “Seaver to Reds; Kingman to SD” in banner headlines. I quit the scrapbooking after the August defeat at the hands of Seaver and the Reds at Shea.

  • Lenny65

    1977 was a harsh, harsh year to be an 11 year old Mets fan. Little did I know how bad it was going to get over the next five seasons, the clouds of misery didn’t lift until Keith arrived in ’83. The Seaver/Kingman trades, Grant’s Tomb, Sergio Ferrer, an era that truly scarred me for life. It did make ’84 and beyond all the more sweet, though. Hausman, Falcone, Norman, the names still resonate like some long-repressed trauma.

    Although attending games at Shea back then WAS a blast at that age. You basically had free run of the place, there wasn’t a single spot in that park we didn’t explore. Plus you could pretty much sit wherever you liked, it wasn’t like anyone was there to complain.

  • Lenny65

    Re: Eddie K, he seemed so ancient, almost mythical. “The Last Original Met”. Then many years later I read that he retired at age 34. Totally blew my mind. Is there any sort of Kranepool tribute or acknowledgment at Citi Field? There oughta be.

  • Saw the ’77 Mets “highlight” film today–thanks, Greg. Joe Torre comparing Steve Henderson to Willie Mays? With Joe standing next to his OK Corral (complete in western duds) I wished a horse would just unload on him…so full of crap. I loved the “Monday Night Football” music as they showed a parade of Mets who, for every other fan in the world, had to be the baseball card equivalent of me getting a Tony Muser or Pepe Frias card in every pack. And they showed the Lenny Randle dive into first in live action, the ball got away and he went all the way to third. http://mbtn.net/caught-act

  • InsidePitcher

    This is much better to watch after a Mets win over the Braves :)