New York Mets fans owe a debt of gratitude to the late Whitey Herzog

Whitey Herzog
Whitey Herzog / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Whitey Herzog played an important role in the history of the New York Mets. A lot of Mets fans will remember Whitey as a nemesis. And during the 1980’s, when the Mets and St. Louis Cardinals maintained a steadfast and competitive rivalry, it was, in fact, Herzog who was the Cardinals’ skipper, so that impression would be only natural.

What most Mets fans, at least the younger ones, might not know is that while Gil Hodges was the on- field leader during the successful teams of the late 60’s and early 70’s, it was Herzog who was the architect behind it all.

Much like Buck Showalter built the Yankees organization into what would become a dynasty before being forced to give way to Joe Torre, Herzog was the guy pulling the strings behind the scenes. He was the Director of Player Development from 1967 through 1972.

Herzog watched over the drafts and the development of such young players as Gary Gentry and Jon Matlack, Amos Otis and Ken Singleton, Wayne Garrett and John Milner. He had a keen eye for talent, an insistence on fundamentals, and a strong desire to win.

Most Mets insiders will tell you that the Mets would not have won the World Series in 1969 or could have made it to the Series in ’73, if not for the brilliant mind of Whitey Herzog.

But he bolted from the organization when he was passed over by M. Donald Grant for the manager position when Hodges passed away, in favor of Yogi Berra. Regardless if you are fan of Yogi, losing Herzog was a huge blow to the organization.

And, of course, they may not have won the 1986 World Series if not for Herzog, as his feud with Keith Hernandez enabled the building of yet another Mets championship team.

All in all, the Mets organization, and the fans, should be forever grateful for the late Whitey Herzog.