Have I got a book for you. Four of them, actually — one now, three later. And make no mistake: they’re all for you, my fellow Mets fan who likes to read. They’re for us.
I’m proud to introduce to you the Banner Day Press book series The Happiest Recap: 50 Years of the New York Mets as Told in 500 Amazin’ Wins, written by Greg Prince (that’s me), beautifully designed by Jim Haines and informed by the spirit of Bob Murphy, whose signature phrase and inextricable optimism we celebrate in the title and concept. The books are based on the string of blog posts I offered here in 2011 under the same name. The project has evolved since then, but my underlying goal of exploring Mets history through the prism of the greatest games the franchise has ever won remains its heart.
The initial volume of The Happiest Recap — First Base (1962-1973) — is available on Amazon right now in paperback; it covers 127 Mets wins, runs 224 pages and sells for $16.95. We’ll have information regarding Kindle and other eBook availability shortly. The three succeeding volumes — Second Base (1974-1986); Third Base (1987-1999) and Home (2000 & Beyond) — are planned to follow in 2013.
I’m preternaturally reluctant to promote myself personally, but I have no such compunction against promoting my work if I believe in it, so I’ll tell you right now, at the risk of unnecessary self-aggrandizement, that you’ll never enjoy reading about your favorite baseball team’s first half-century more than you will when you read The Happiest Recap. I’ve never seen a team’s history captured quite this way. I’ve certainly never read the Mets’ history in this type of format. Taken one at a time, the games I’ve chosen to chronicle serve almost as 500 bedtime stories for Mets fans. Taken across the sweep of four volumes and five decades, it coalesces into nothing less than an American sporting saga.
(OK, so maybe I’m not that reluctant to self-promote.)
We usually get our histories presented to us via familiar narratives or consensus storylines or through the “Great Man” theory. Yet when it comes to baseball, we have this rich source material known as baseball games that tend to be utterly underappreciated in the long view. But The Game’s the thing…y’know? The Game’s what we look forward to all day and that game’s what we talk about the next day while waiting for the next game. While it’s still fresh, The Game is the biggest thing to which we fans devote our conscious thoughts.
We love our games when they’re good. We love our games when they’re bad but something good happens in them. Statistics can be fascinating, trade speculation can be intriguing (if occasionally unnerving) and biography can be compelling, but when you get right down to it, we want to watch or listen to or go to The Game, and we inevitably dwell on The Game — until we have to make an unconscious decision that we can only keep so many games where we dwell.
The problem, if we can call it that, is that when baseball is in season, games come at us in a relentless bounty: more or less one a day, six or seven per week, approximately 27 every month, 162 every year, a couple of handfuls more in October if we’re really fortunate. Call it a blessing overload. As a result, some games we frame as classics and hang prominently above the fireplace forever, but too many games we loved in the moment can’t help but slip behind the dressers and between the sofa cushions of our minds.
The Happiest Recap aims to reach deep into those shadowy spaces, dust off the heretofore “neato!” stuff you’d all but forgotten about, or perhaps never knew was back there, and arrange it not just chronologically but contextually in the family album. To what end? When The Happiest Recap concludes, you will have the richest, most textured accounting available of what it was like to live as a Mets fan during the first fifty years there were Mets — what those 500 wins were about: not just what happened in them, but what they represented; who came to light; who faded away; what was transpiring around them. If I’m doing my job as Mets fan and Mets author, then you will be living games you haven’t seen in years, hopefully feeling games you never knew existed.
And let me reiterate: Every game lovingly lingered over in The Happiest Recap, even when extracted from years when the team loss total reached triple-digits, is a WIN. Where else ya gonna get the Mets to go 500-0 for ya?
I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this subject plenty as I find my self-promotion comfort zone, but for now, I’ll remind you the first volume of the Happiest Recap series is available on Amazon, it makes a seriously great gift for the Mets fan in your life and an equally great read for you. If you’re on Facebook, please swing by The Happiest Recap page and give us a Like if you like.
Also, if you’re in the New York Metropolitan Area on Saturday afternoon, December 15, there’ll be a graciously organized (by Friend of FAFIF Sharon Chapman) Happiest Recap launch party at Foley’s, 18 W. 33rd St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues — two blocks east of Penn Station — from 1 to 4 PM. Copies will be for sale that day, a drink special will be in effect and the author will be happy to sign books and talk about anything Mets-related, which doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a few hours in the middle of December. Hope you can join us.
Thanks to all who entered the Fifty Sheas of Krane contest. The winning entry, along with the answers, will be announced Tuesday.