The 1962 edition is the most collectable and valuable year for Mets yearbooks, and rightly so. This was the first Mets season in the Major Leagues as one of the National Leagues first two expansion teams. They played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan (the former home of the New York Giants, who moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season), and relatively few people purchased the first official yearbook. Today the editions from 1962 command the most money, and finding them in better condition can fall between $200- $500.
There were five editions of Mets yearbooks issued in 1962, and collecting all can be quite expensive, since one of these is considered one of the rarest pieces of sports memorabilia is history. Making things more difficult is that none of these variations have any markings on the cover indicating their differences.
The cover of the 1962 yearbook was designed by Willard Mullins, one of most famous cartoonist of his time. Mr. Mullins designed many yearbooks of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants along with providing his drawings for the New York Daily News. The cover of the yearbook features “baby met” wearing nothing but a diaper, cleats, and a Mets cap. It is said “baby met” is was a caricature of Mullins grandson Ted Rhodes. The back cover is adorned by Kathy Kersh, also known as Miss Rheingold. The Rheingold beer ad is one of only two advertisements in the entire yearbook ( along with a local hotel). A far cry from today’s phone book yearbooks which is mostly advertisements.
The yearbook contains spread features on new manager Casey Stengel, his coaches, and players, along with a huge spread on the new home of the Mets then named Flushing Meadow Stadium later named Shea Stadium. The “new beautiful” ballpark was to be ready for the 1963 season, but unforeseen costs and a bad winter pushed the opening to 1964.
The first two issues of the 1962 yearbook have rosters dated April 8. The difference between them is the back cover. One of them is in black and white the other in color. The black and white is less difficult to find. The color version dated April 8 is one of the rarest pieces of all baseball collectables. It is considered the “holy grail” of both Mets collectors and baseball collectors in general.
The third issue has a roster dated April 13, which is the date of the first ever Mets home game at the Polo Grounds. The fourth and fifth issues of has a roster dated June 25, which has features of former Brooklyn Dodgers Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider and former New York Giant star Willie Mays. When the Giants and Dodgers came to town to play the Mets the crowds at the Polo Grounds doubled or even tripled. The National league fans of New York loved their new team but also missed their Dodgers and Giants.
If you’re a Mets collector always be on the lookout for these rare yearbooks. They’ll make a wonderful addition to any Orange and Blue collection.