"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

1962 New York Mets worthy of a poem

The New York Mets seem as well-established as any major league team today. People my age - the boomers - remember when the Mets were a metaphor in American life. They were a metaphor for "hanging in there" and plunging forward in spite of always-mounting losses.
I was seven years old in 1962. That's the year the Mets were born as an expansion team. I don't know if big league ball was seeking to punish New York City for some reason, but the deck was quite stacked against the National League newcomer. The early Mets developed into a symbol of futility. At the same time, a certain charm came to be attached to them. Remember?
They had the eccentric (but smarter than he seemed, of course) Casey Stengel as manager, he of the quips and malaprops. "We have a kid here named Goossen, 20 years old, and in ten years he has a chance to be 30."
My parents bought me a plastic New York Mets helmet when we were out East attending the New York World's Fair in 1964. I remember we were at a subway station when a kid close to my age passed close to me and shouted "the Mets stink!" He was smiling.
There is within all of us a certain affinity with those on the treadmill of below-average performance. Maybe we consider it a starting point. Maybe we just realize that losers are inevitable in life.
I wrote an extensive essay on the 1962 New York Mets on my companion website, "Morris of Course." You'll find the link below, and thanks for reading. At present I have a poem to share about the early New York Mets. I invite you to read and to feel some nostalgia. Remember that by 1969, the Mets shed their image of mediocrity. They won the world championship with Jerry Koosman, West Central Minnesota native, playing a key role. My poem starts out with a reference to the Yankees as New York City's only team when the '60s began. The Giants and Dodgers had left for the West Coast.
The Mets' creation allowed fans in Gotham to finally see the National League again! I invite you to read my retrospective essay:
You'll enjoy listening to the song "Meet the Mets" which was written at the time the team began. Here's the YouTube link:
And now, the highlight of today's post - drum roll, please - my poem about those lovable early Mets.
New York had just one ball team
When the '60s came to be
JFK with his big smile
Rock n' roll with its new style
Giants, Dodgers gone for good
To that West Coast neighborhood
They had been so tried and true
In that Gotham City brew
How could two teams pull up stakes
With such loyal fans in place?
Bobby Thomson's bat was loud
With one swing he moved the crowd
Sun did shine on Ebbets Field
Humphrey Bogart came and cheered
Dodgers had their loyal flock
They were tied up at that dock
Time moved on and we realized
Baseball was commercialized
Bats and balls were just the tools
Of the rich guys and their moves
Ebbets Field and Polo Grounds
Lost their pleasant springtime sounds
So the Yankees stood alone
While their brethren went and roamed
Dodgers went the L.A. way
While the Giants found the Bay
Meanwhile back in NYC
Fans just had to wait and see
Would the N.L. come on back
Bringing all their balls and bats?
Surely fans would scurry fast
To a place to see all that
Willie Mays could play once more
Where we hear the subways roar
Where the skyline is so vast
Baseball ought to thrive and last
JFK was still alive
When a new team did arrive
We could watch our TV sets
Cheering for the New York Mets
Somehow baseball made it hard
For that team to get too far
Mets had some familiar names
But they struggled in their game
40 wins was all there was
For the fans to feel some buzz
Placing tenth among ten teams
Left us only with our dreams
Still we watched as if the flow
Could adjust to make us crow
Nothing much could push the pace
For that team to find its grace
Still we had a hopeful gleam
As we watched our bumbling team
Rags to riches is the way
We lift up the USA
Anyone with goals can find
Ways to prosper, ways to climb
New York Mets were on their way
As their fans knelt down and prayed
It was 1969
Prayers were answered oh so fine
Rising from the ashes true
Mets would bury all those boos
Now the team was upper crust
Finding boom instead of bust
We were walking on the moon
Beat the Russkies none too soon
JFK had said we would
Zoom through space so very good
It was part of that Cold War
In those dismal days of yore
Nothing much that we could do
To erase those Cold War blues
So we went to watch our team
Belt out cheers, blow off steam
Polo Grounds the Mets did grace
Where they first showed us their face
Meanwhile hard at work in Queens
Crews put up our park of dreams
We would fall in love with Shea
Beatles played there in their day
But the Mets were our first love
Even when they lost so much
They exalted all we had
As a nation, feeling glad
Russkies couldn't make us bleed
Not with Casey Stengel's creed
He would hold that maiden torch
Making quips and holding forth
Though he sometimes seemed a clown
He was someone of renown
He put players on the field
Best he had, like Charlie Neal
Still the errors took a toll
Making Casey grow more old
On the mound was Roger Craig
For those wins he had to beg
On and on he got those starts
Losing games but winning hearts
He went 10 and 24
Making pitching seem a chore
He once wore the Brooklyn blue
Now he had to pay some dues
Richie Ashburn had a past
Full of a productive bat
Then he went on that scrap heap
Still his hitting stroke was neat
Richie batted .306
Like the star who gets those hits
'62 was his last year
He departed getting cheers
Mets were 60 games behind
Giants and their wunderkind
Willie Mays brought oohs and aahs
As his Giants won applause
Mets were seven years away
From the time they'd make that hay
They would win the toasts of all
With the way they played baseball
Seaver, Koosman, all the gang
Passed the Cubbies with a bang
Then the Braves succumbed to them
As they shone just like a gem
Finally in the fall showcase
They had fuel left in that race
So they slayed the Orioles
In five games they felt their oats
Koosman on the mound so sure
Found the strike zone with his curve
He came from the great Midwest
In New York he passed the test
He was sterling in Game 5
With his left arm Koosman thrived
He would pitch for all nine frames
Making sure to win that game
Through the years the legend grew
Of those Mets and what they proved
Seven years had drifted by
How they changed and climbed so high
JFK would show a gleam
Had he lived to see that team
He would join in that big swoon
As his space men reached the moon
© Copyright 2016 Brian R. Williams

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