The 1963 New York Mets are an…uh…improved team? New York has certainly taken this new National League presence to their bosom, with top 5 attendance in a 10-team league in their last year at the Polo Grounds. The fans are extremely happy to have baseball they can root for back in our town, and Casey Stengel’s Metropolitans treat them to a 7-game win increase going into double header action on Friday, August 2, against the Braves at Milwaukee County Stadium, in front of only 5,341 fans.
On the hill for the Braves is Bob Hendley, the 24-year-old, 6’2″ right-hander from Lanier High School in Macon GA. He will 1st face Mets’ leadoff hitter, center fielder Rod Kanehl. Hendley readies, sets and we are underway with a foul pop out to the 1st baseman. That is pretty much how it goes for these Mets in the 1st game, as Hendley shuts them down over 9 innings, giving up only 4 hits.
On the mound for the Metsies is Al Jackson, the 27-year-old, 5’10” southpaw from Wiley College in Marshall, TX. He is having a mediocre season, coming into the game having lost his last 6 decisions, with a 6-13 record and a 4.41 ERA. He will 1st face Braves leadoff hitter, shortstop Denis Menke. He singles to left, which is pretty much how the day goes for Jackson. He gives up a Hank Aaron RBI single in the 1st, a Frank Bolling RBI double in the 2nd, an Eddie Mathews 2-run jack and a Joe Torre solo shot in the 3rd, and a Henry Aaron 3-run bomb in the 5th. He is removed in that inning with 1 out, having given up 8 runs on 10 hits and 3 walks. Grover Powell and Jay Hook keep it steady the rest of the way, but it’s too little too late as the Mets fall in the 1st game, 0-8. Jackson’s losing streak extends to 7.
Starting the 2nd game for Milwaukee is Bob Sadowski, the 25-year-old, 6’2″ right-hander from Pittsburgh, PA. Leading off this evening for the Mets is 3rd baseman Jim Hickman. He fares no better than any of the Orange and Blue in the 1st bill, popping up to 1st base in foul territory. 2nd baseman Ron Hunt grounds out to his position, and right fielder Duke Snider flies to center to end the inning.
On the mound for the Mets is Galen Cisco, the 27-year-old, 6’0″ right-hander from Memorial HS in St. Mary’s, OH. He will face left fielder Lee Maye. Galen locks in and gets Lee to ground out to 2nd. While Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron both collect singles, Torre lines into a double play and the Braves are done in the inning.
That’s pretty much how this one goes, as both pitchers lock in to go 10 innings. The Mets get their only run in the 4th on catcher Jesse Gonder’s RBI single. The Braves get their only run in the 7th on center fielder Ty Cline’s sacrifice fly, plating Menke to tie the game.
Sadowski gives up 1 run on 5 hits, 4 walk 4 K’s.
Cisco gives up 1 run on 7 hits, 1 walk and 1 K.
Reliever Bob Shaw heads to the mound in the top of the 11th, looking to keep the game tied for Milwaukee. The Duke has other plans, as he single to center with 1 out. Joe Christopher pinch-runs for Snider. Gonder then doubles to right field, but Christopher is held up for some reason. This gives the Braves an opportunity to put the force play at every base by intentionally walking power-hitting left fielder Frank Thomas to get to light-hitting center fielder Joe Hicks. The move backfires, however, as Hicks single home Christopher, and the Mets lead 2-1. The bases are once again loaded for 1st baseman Duke Carmel, who hits a sacrifice fly to center. Shortstop Al Moran flies to right, but the Mets now have a 3-1 lead.
They hand the ball off to reliever Ken MacKenzie. After Mathews flies out to left, Hank singles to right. But Frank Thomas makes an unbelievable play in left-center, laying out to make the catch and nailing the runner at 1st who went too far around 2nd. And with that, the Mets win their 34th game of the year, 3-1.
Al Jackson’s luck turns a little bit and he finishes the year with a 13-17 record and a 3.96 ERA. The Mets increase their win total by 11 games to 51, but unfortunately lose the last baseball game ever at the Polo Grounds to the Phillies, 1-5. Still, the future is right around the corner, and the Mets fan is thrilled at the prospect of a new ballpark as they watch their young team turn into a Major League franchise.
The 1963 New York Mets.
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