Marv Throneberry has a significant role in New York Mets history. He represented the inaugural 1962 Mets well in terms of miscues and other mistakes on the field. What’s not discussed often is how he ended up with the Mets in the first place.
It was on May 9, 1962 when the Mets acquired Throneberry from the Baltimore Orioles for cash and a player to be named later. On June 7, 1962, they finalized the deal.
Hobie Landrith, a 32-year-old catcher, was the second pick of the draft between the Mets and Houston Colt .45s. A curious pick that we might only understand if we were there at the time, Landrith was quickly erased from the Mets with the trade to Baltimore.
The Mets and Colt .45s both had a bad time at the expansion draft
The Landrith pick is only significant because it was the first by the team. The Mets did manage to find some much more productive players as the draft went on, reeling in some notable pieces like Roger Craig, Jim Hickman, and even Gil Hodges.
As many expansion teams will in the first year, the Mets struggled. The 1962 team remains one of the worst in MLB history. The poor choices in the expansion draft had something to do with it.
MLB wasn’t anticipating for the Mets and Colt .45s to struggle as mightily as they did in those early years. In 1963, there was another draft. This one was much shorter and only included three total players getting picked. The Mets took Bill Haas and Jack Fisher. Haas dominated with power in the lower minor leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He never made it to the big leagues. Fisher was probably the closest thing to the pitcher version of Throneberry. He led the league in earned runs in 1964, 1965, and 1967 as a member of the Mets.
Expansion drafts rarely help a brand new team get off on the right path. David Nied and Nigel Wilson were the first two taken in 1992 by the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins. In 1997, Tony Saunders and Brian Anderson were taken by the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Picks have gotten better in MLB as the availability to choose from both leagues has been enabled. Back in 1961, the Mets only had the National League to choose from.
And with that first pick in the draft, they took a catcher who they then turned into one of the more colorful early characters in team history.