April 11, 1962, was the day the New York Mets debuted. The 11-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was something the team would have to get used to. Losses were plentiful for this team.
One thing the Mets did achieve early on in 1962 was securing the first home run in franchise history. The guy who hit it would go on to have an important role in the franchise’s history.
Gil Hodges hit the first Mets home run on April 11, 1962
In his second at-bat of the game, the legendary Gil Hodges took Cardinals starter Larry Jackson deep. The Mets were trailing 5-2 at the time, inching a little closer with the round-tripper from the future Hall of Famer and World Series-winning manager.
Of course, things fell apart for the Mets throughout the rest of the game. They’d have to wait a while before finally winning a game. Hodges delivered the first of 9 home runs he would hit for the team that season. The 38-year-old veteran was actually able to top his totals from the previous two seasons; 8 each.
Home runs were much more abundant for the 1962 Mets than they would be in other parts of the decade. We can thank home games at the Polo Grounds for this. Pull the ball hard enough or poke it down the line the other way a few hundred feet and you have yourself a jog around the bases.
Outfielder Frank Thomas famously led the team with 34 home runs that year. It was a record which would stand for more than a decade. None of his teammates came close to matching the number with Hodges’ first base counterpart Marv Throneberry finishing in second with 16.
Among all of those players on the 1962 Mets, if you had to pick one to hit the first home run, you’d probably want to pick Hodges. A New York sports legend already at the time thanks to his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers, we’re fortunate to have the hindsight to know what he’d mean for the club years later as the manager.