A Year in Mudville 
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About the Original Mets

The New York Mets began play in 1962 with a collection of over-the-hill veterans and unproven youngsters.  They finished the season with a record of 40 wins and 120 losses, a record for futility unequaled in the National League before or since.  The Mets finished 60 1/2 games out of first place and 18 games behind the next-worst team.  They surrended 331 runs more than they scored, and they were eliminated from playoff contention on August 7.  Four Met pitchers lost at least seventeen games, and two lost at least twenty.

However, the 1962 Mets were so much more than just a bad baseball team.  There are a number of factors which have made the Original Mets, as they've come to be known, special.  First, they represented the return of National League baseball to New York following the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants in 1957.  They quickly won the hearts and minds of New York fans ready for a National League team regardless of the quality.  Second, it wasn't just that they lost so many games -- it was the way in which those games were lost.  All bad teams make errors; the Original Mets had the flair for making particularly dramatic ones.  Third, the team was certainly colorfui, managed as it was by the legendary Casey Stengel and containing memorable characters such as Marvelous Marv Throneberry, Hot Rod Kanehl and Choo Choo Coleman. 

The Original Mets had players and other personnel who were known for what they had accomplished before they got to the Mets.  Stengel is the best example, having won ten pennants and seven World Series championships in twelve years as manager of the New York Yankees.  Centerfielder Richie Ashburn, ultimately a Hall of Famer, had a stellar career with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Former Brooklyn Dodgers Gil Hodges, Charlie Neal and Roger Craig were the heroes of World Series-winning teams.  Several Mets, though, became famous for what they did in 1962.  Throneberry, a journeyman first baseman, hit 16 home runs, but he made such dramatic mistakes in the field and on the bases that he became the symbol of lovable baseball incompetence.  Kanehl, a 28-year-old rookie who had spent eight years in the minors, showed that determination and hustle could sometimes make up for a lack of talent. 
For more information about this fascinating team, check out A Year in Mudville: An Oral History of Casey Stengel and the Original Mets, the first comprehensive literary work devoted to the 1962 New York Mets. 

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