The New York Mets and the New York Jets shared the same stadium from their inceptions until 1983. From the Polo Grounds to Shea Stadium, both teams called the same place home. This partnership came to fruition in 1969 when both teams would win their respective world championships. While these two teams would arrive with this same result, their induvial roads to glory would take two different paths.
Those lovable losers, the miracle, amazing New York Mets
Since their humble beginnings in 1962, the New York Mets had a reputation as the lovable losers. Their record in the early years seemed to give validity to this perception. By 1968, things had begun to change. Gil Hodges was brought back to New York to manage the team. Being the lovable losers was no longer an acceptable option. The team would only post a record of 73–89, but it was still their best season up to that point.
Lead by a young pitching staff that included names like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw, the 1969 Mets would win the National League East Division, the National League pennant by sweeping the Atlanta Braves, and finally defeating the American League Baltimore Orioles on their way to becoming World Champions. The 1969 Mets are often described as the “Miracle Mets” or the “Amazing Mets” due to their previous reputation, but nothing could be further from the truth. This team was not there on a pass. They won 100 games and were 7-1 in the post season. They even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. What more could you ask for?
The real Amazing Mets were their 1973 edition, when a team with a record of 82-79 would defeat the Cincinnati Big Red Machine and take the Oakland Athletics to a game seven of a World Series before running out of miracles.
Always the second class citizens, the New York Jets
The New York Jets path to their championship was quite different. For most of their tenure at Shea Stadium, the Jets had to deal with secondary tenant lease terms imposed by the primary tenant, the Mets. Their lease stated that they could not play their first home football game until the Mets' season was completed. This would often make for an unbalanced schedule. The 1969 defending Super Bowl champion Jets opened their season with five consecutive road games, followed by all seven home games in consecutive weeks before closing the season with the final two games on the road.
Jets co-owner Sonny Werblin, a veteran promoter of Broadway shows, tried to promote his star quarterback Joe Namath like a movie star, always letting photographers know where he would be dining and with whom. The old guard in the NFL couldn’t wait to put him in his place, but they were sadly mistaken as the Namath led Jets beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III
There was room enough at Shea Stadium for locker rooms and meeting spaces for both teams. When it was time to practice, The Mets as the primary lease holder would take the field while the Jets would board a bus and head for Randall’s Island, home of the New York City Correctional Facility. Once there, they would have to be locked in so there could be no comingling with the prisoners. Even when the Jets played at home, a portion of their parking and concessions revenue would go to the Mets.
Believe it or not!
Things would go on this way until Jets owner Leon Hess decided to move the team to the New Jersey Meadowlands, owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. This coincided with the same NJSEA purchasing the losing Monmouth Racetrack from its owner, the same Leon Hess. All parties involved in this transaction deny any "quid pro quo" or connection between these two things and it's nothing more than a coincidence.
There is also a rumor that a young teenager (who may or may not have been me) sat in front of his seventeen inch black and white portable Admiral television set and said this little prayer, “Lord, if you could just let us win this one Super Bowl, we don’t have to win another one ever again.” Thunder cracked, lightning flashed, and the rest as they say, is history.
While this people involved continue to claim plausible deniability to these rumors, feel free to draw your own conclusions.