Prolific sports author Golenbock (Wrigleyville, 1996, etc.) crafts a mosaic of anecdotes, interviews, and photographs to retell the New York Mets’ colorful history.
Having earned a following for the choice blend of baseball folklore, ballplayer interviews, and reliable facts in his fast-paced accounts of the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and other major-league teams, Golenbock sticks with this formula to reconstruct the brief but memorable history of the wildly inconsistent Mets. After the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants left the Big Apple for the West Coast, he argues, New York baseball fans longed for a National League team on a par with the American League’s powerful Yankees. Among those fans was Bill Shea, whose tireless efforts eventually placed legendary manager Casey “The Perfessor” Stengel at the helm of a hapless and bumbling 1962 Mets squad. According to Golenbock, colorful postgame press conferences quickly transformed Stengel into a New York folk hero and the Mets into the most lovable losers the city had ever seen. The author traces how unexpected, overwhelming fan support allowed the team to quickly acquire new talent and build a pitching staff that included hurling legends Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. His account of the 1969 season focuses on how these Hall of Fame pitchers led the team to its first World Series championship and established the Mets as consistent pennant contenders in the National League. While the team has won the World Series only once since then, Golenbock’s intimate portraits of great players from Gary Carter to Keith Hernandez to Mike Piazza compellingly demonstrate that the Mets’ story is in many ways the story of late 20th-century America.
Not just for die-hard Mets fans, this will appeal to all readers who want to better understand the game and business of major-league baseball. (b&w photos throughout)