The New York Mets drew only 704,244 fans in 1981, a year which experienced fewer games due to the Player’s Strike midseason. In their inaugural 1962 season, playing all of their home games at The Polo Grounds, the team fell short of one-million fans with 922,530 souls passing through the turnstiles. In 2020, the team didn’t have anyone in the stands other than a few who paid to have a cardboard avatar.
The 1981 season is the lowest of any in terms of any year at all where fans were allowed to attend, but not for a full season. That dishonor goes to the 1979 Mets who drew only 788,905 fans all year in a season featuring 163 games total games.
Where was everyone?
The lowest NY Mets attendance for a season was in 1979
The Mets were 63-99-1 in 1979. A May 25 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates ended in a tie with the game knotted up 3-3 after following a triple by Joel Youngblood to lead off the inning. Fog was to blame.
How many of the 6,611 in attendance at Shea Stadium actually stick around? This was a time of turmoil for the Mets. Almost two full years had passed since the Midnight Massacre. Fans were fed up with ownership. Attendance already dropped from 1.4 million in 1976 to less than 1.1 million in the following two seasons. A miserable team on the field was only a part of the reason why fans didn’t show up. So were the loss of even more fan favorites.
Jerry Koosman was now gone, sent to the Minnesota Twins in a trade we didn’t realize at the time was bringing future Mets closer Jesse Orosco to the ball club. Ed Kranepool wrapped up his career in 1979, too. Relics of the success from the earlier part of the decade were now all gone. Replacing them were a combination of the four pieces the club received in exchange for Tom Seaver plus several others who were never embraced by those who were around to watch or ignore the ball club.
As Alan Karmin profiled in his piece about this mostly forgotten year, there wasn’t much to celebrate with the players. What the Mets had in 1979 was a team of cast-offs and a local kid named Lee Mazzilli headlining the roster. This wasn’t a club built on pitching like it was for much of the 1970s. They didn’t have the hitters to carry them either. The club lacked star power and talent. Still unhappy with what transpired with Seaver in 1977, the fans had apparently seen enough and didn’t bother to venture out to see the last time Joe McDonald built.
In their last home game of the year on Sunday September 23, the Mets drew over 27,000. The Sunday finale was a much larger crowd than the 4,973 that showed up the previous Wednesday for a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos.
As bad as so many other Mets teams have been, the turmoil of the economy has gotten, or the championship droughts have lasted, no team had fewer eyes on them at home than the 1979 squad.