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M. Donald Grant, Chairman of the Board

Barry DuchanSunday, April 6, 2008
By Barry Duchan


The person most responsible for the Mets' worst years was probably M. Donald Grant. He is best known for sending Tom Seaver away, but his influence in the organization was a detriment toward building a competitive team, or keeping one, and things didn't get better until he was out of the picture when the Mets were sold to Wilpon and Doubleday.

Grant, a stockbroker, was Mrs. Payson's close personal advisor when she became the original owner of the Mets. He probably had very little influence in player movement for the first several years, and in the days before free agency, no one could say that the Mets were particularly cheap. But unlike, say a George Steinbrenner who took full advantage of baseball's free agent system from the start, Grant did not believe that a ballplayer deserved to be making as much money as a stockbroker or real estate magnate, and probably didn't think they belonged at the same parties or meetings, either.

Grant's meddling, no doubt, played a part in driving Mets' GM Bing Devine, who was doing a nice job of trying to build a winner, back to St. Louis. It was probably after Mets' GM Johnny Murphy passed away in 1970 that Grant's influence began to increase. Whitey Herzog was Mets' player development director and heir to the GM job, but Grant passed him by because he knew he wouldn't stand for any interference from someone who in Whitey's words "knew nothing about baseball". The next two Mets' GM's, Bob Scheffing and Joe McDonald, probably had their hands tied by Grant, his frugality, and his belief that ballplayers should be quiet, sign their contracts, and just play ball. When a player became outspoken about salary issues such as Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman did, it was only a matter of time before they would be sent away. When Gil Hodges died just before the 1972 season began, Grant again chose to bypass the outspoken Herzog, driving him out of the organization, in favor of Yogi Berra.

Probably the best example of how out of touch M. Donald Grant was with the average fan was when he tried to explain the Tom Seaver negotiations and subsquent trade in terms of bluffing and playing tricks in a hand of bridge. How many Mets' fans have any idea how to even play bridge?

The above are my thoughts and recollections of Grant. To read more, go here:
http://ultimatemets.com/profile.php?PlayerCode=6624

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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Comments (3)

It's funny looking back at how Mrs. Payson, who moved in the same exclusive social strata as Grant, was so loved by Mets fans. Mrs. Payson certainly came across as a warmer person, but ultimately went along with Grant's racist, elitist and disastrous leadership of the Mets.

Actually, quite a few Mets fans knew how to play Bridge back in the 70s. It was still the most popular card game in America, so it was unlikely that no one got the references.

But otherwise, you're right about Grant. He did a horrible job with the team and never really understood baseball.

Forgive me, but I'm going to recall an exchange from several years ago, at another place; I liked it so well the first time.

Someone at a Mets message board mentioned an M. Donald quote along the lines of: when I am in my grave, there should be a line carved on my tombstone of how free agency ruined baseball.

..and my response was: if I was standing over M. Donald Grants open grave, I just might have a moment's reflection on free agency in baseball. After zipping up, of course.

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