The 1964 Mets went 53-109. Casey Stengel managed the team. That team had a little bit of talent: Ron Hunt was the starting second baseman, Ed Kranepool was the starting first baseman, and Jim Hickman was the center fielder. Charley Smith hit 20 HRs as a third baseman. Joe Christopher hit for a .300 BA as their right fielder.
Jack Fisher and Tracy Stallard each won 10 games; Al Jackson won 11 games (of course, they each lost more than they lost). The pitching staff established the team record of ten shutouts thrown that season.
None of these players were “past-their-prime” stars. These were all players who had not even hit age 30 yet. In fact, Kranepool was only 19 during the 1964 season.
The team played at a brand new venue (called Shea Stadium) which was directly across from the World’s Fair. Tim Harkness was the first Met batter to ever get a hit at Shea. Karl Ehrhardt, aka: the “Mets Sign Guy” made his first appearance in the park. The team attracted the second highest attendance in the National League (1,732,597 paid admissions). The team partook in a perfect game (they were, however, on the receiving end of it thanks to Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies).
Over the years, we’ve lost some of these heroes. Casey Stengel, of course, passed away in 1975 at the age of 85. How about the rest?
Roy McMillan passed away in 1997.
Charlie Smith passed away in in 1994.
Rod Kanehl passed away in 2004.
Hawk Taylor passed away in 2012.
Larry Bearnarth passed away in 1999.
Carl Willey passed away in 2009.
Tom Sturdivant passed away in 2009.
So, as we move deeper into Autumn and turn our attention towards the 2014 baseball season, lets all take a moment to remember where the team was fifty years ago and celebrate those players who earned their place in the team’s history.