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Bad Beyond Belief
Steve Rushin
May 25, 1992
Thirty years ago, the newborn New York Mets made baseball history of the most dubious kind
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May 25, 1992

Bad Beyond Belief

Thirty years ago, the newborn New York Mets made baseball history of the most dubious kind

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National League

Thursday, Oct; 4, 1962

YESTERDAY'S PLAYOFF

San Francisco 6, Los Angeles 4.

Final Standing of Clubs

W.

L.

Pc.

GB.

San Fran

103

62

.624

Los Ang

102

63

.618

1

Cincinnati

98

64

.605

3 1/2

Pittsburgh

93

68

.578

8

Milwaukee

86

76

.531

15 1/2

St. Louis

84

78

.519

17 1/2

Philadelphia

81

80

.503

20

Houston

64

96

.400

36 1/2

Chicago

59

103

.364

42 1/2

New York

40

120

.250

60 1/2

Q: What is there to say about a man who couldn't make the worst baseball team of this century?

A: That he didn't want to play badly enough.

Evans Killeen was cut from the 1962 New York Mets. The pitcher sliced open his thumb while shaving on the morning of a scheduled spring training start. The Mets cut the righthander when he couldn't satisfactorily explain why, exactly, he was shaving his thumb.

Steve Dillon did not make the 1962 Mets. But manager Casey Stengel saw something in the lefthander that nobody else did, and he promoted him the following season. "Dillon probably shouldn't have been up there," recalls Craig Anderson, who pitched for the Mets from 1962 to 1964. "But Stengel was real big on him. Dillon was Stengel's middle name, you know."

Craig Anderson, of course, did make the 1962 Mets. Pitching in relief, Anderson won both halves of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Braves on May 12 of that season to run his record to 3-1. Anderson never won another game in his career, which ended with 19 consecutive losses spread over parts of three seasons. Pardon my italics, but such factoids as these fairly demand the Ripley's Believe It or Not treatment.

Three decades have done nothing to diminish how bad the Mets were in 1962, the franchise's first season. Those Mets were bad like God is good: Their badness will endure forever. "I get three to five letters every day," says Marvin Eugene Throneberry, the Mets first baseman whose monogram and misadventures afield made him a mascot for the '62 season. "I throw 'em all in a box. When it rains, I answer 'em. No, I never thought it would carry on this long."

To understand why a 58-year-old salesman for the Active Bolt & Screw Company is up to his knees in S.A.S.E.'s at his home in Collierville, Tenn., one must understand those expansion Mets embodied by Marvelous Marv. And frankly, that summer of '62 is as difficult to fathom as a Stengel soliloquy. So if this backward glance at that season jumps ahead of itself occasionally or doubles back in spots or tends to ramble here and there, well, it could be no other way.

Stengel-like, the story often makes no sense whatsoever. Nine games into the 1962 season, for instance, the Mets were nine-and-a-half games out of first. Is that possible? In 15 tries, the Mets never once won on a Thursday. Bad? The team was mathematically eliminated from the pennant race on Aug. 7.

This is true—cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye: The '62 Mets continued to lose ground in the National League standings after the season had ended. Is that possible? As we shall discover, it was possible for the Mets, whose record of 40-120 left them 60½ games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

Thus, being cut from the '62 Mets was to low self-esteem what the Buick Roadmaster was to low gas mileage. A snub from that club was like having a Hare Krishna on your threshold say that no, really, he couldn't possibly come in for coffee.

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