By Barry Duchan
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on May 3, 2007. - M.S.
On yesterday's SNY broadcast of the Mets-Marlins games, as an extension to a trivia question, Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen discussed how the long history of the Mets should be celebrated at the new CitiField. Keith said how he'd like to see pictures of Bobby Klaus (who, it was pointed out, had the longest hitless streak at Shea Stadium) and Choo Choo Coleman (who was just legendary for no apparent reason) as well as many of the other Mets who were there and played a part in the early Mets' history. I was happy to hear Keith mention names like Joe Christopher and Jerry Buchek.
For those of you who visit [Barry's Metscentric blog] frequently, you can see why I was so glad to hear those comments. I have tried to paint a picture of the early pre-'69 Mets always struggling to build a team by promoting players who had a big year in the minor leagues, always trying to trade for young players who could develop into stars, mostly without success, and just generally taking chances on players who had failed elsewhere in the hope that by giving enough players the chance to succeed, the cream would rise to the top and eventually the Mets would develop into contenders.
It didn't quite work out that way of course, as the Mets went from ninth place to a World Championship in one year, 1969, a year that would change the course of Mets' history forever.
We have heard how CitiField will memorialize and pay tribute to Jackie Robinson and how parts of its structure pay homage to Ebbets Field, probably because Fred Wilpon was a Dodger fan as a kid. But this is not the new Dodger Stadium, it is not a multi-purpose structure for all New York teams, it will be the new home of the Mets, and I would hope that an area can be devoted to celebrating the history of the Mets, which doesn't jump directly from Casey Stengel to Tom Seaver. I'm sure I'm not the only life-long Mets fan who didn't care a bit about the Brooklyn Dodgers, especially considering the first Mets teams were led by ex-Yankees Weiss and Stengel, the team's roots were hardly sprung from the Dodgers. I have no nostalgia for Brooklyn, but plenty for Queens.
Sometimes when I write about players like Dennis Musgraves, Darell Sutherland, Danny Napoleon or Greg Goossen, I wonder if anyone really cares. But they were an important part of Mets' history. They were among the great prospects that were going to lead this team to glory, and in their day, they were among the reasons to believe that this downtrodden team would begin a road to success. I am just trying to keep their memories alive, but it would be so much more impressive if Mets' ownership would make an attempt to do the same, with a gallery devoted to every year in Mets' history on display when CitiField opens its doors.
Yes, do not forget Bill Shea and Casey Stengel. But why not consider installing video display terminals that would let fans view pictures and statistics of EVERY Met player, manager, and coach by season, or alphabetically, with more elaborate video entries for 100 or so of the most prominent ones, including not only latter-day stars like Hernandez, Piazza, and Strawberry, but early ones like Thomas, Hunt, and Jackson ? That would make CitiField worth the trip for me.