Friday, June 23, 2006

Part of One down; 161 to go ...

I received a neat father's day present: a recording of the radio broadcast of the Mets' first baseball game in their very first season. It's a great trip down memory lane. Their opponents, the 1962 St. Louis Cardinals, appeared to have a murderous lineup but finished sixth that year. They had so many players I admired or really liked that it's hard to root against them: Stan Musial, Minnie Minoso, Ken Boyer, Bill White and so on.
The broadcast begins with some horribly retro ads for beer and cigarettes. These are "High quality" cigs; and by the way the announcer says you should start drinking beer when the game begins. The Mets' announcer is Bob Murphy, the voice of the Mets for more than thirty subsequent years. (I always felt he was a terrible announcer, but most other baseball announcers I've heard are even worse.)

The game begins with Roger Craig pitching very well but giving up two runs in what should have been a "four up, three down" inning. You can tell, even though this is strictly audio, that three defensive lapses led to those Cardinal runs. This episode sets the tone for the Mets' first season, where a porous defense gave pitchers no where to hide. I think the Mets would have done better to build a "noname, good defense" club even if they couldn't hit. They would have lost fewer games, and their pitchers might have developed. But the prevailing view at the time was that home run hitters and aging stars were needed to fill the stands, and those were the guys not making the plays.
Early in the game an outfielder crashes into an infielder catching a fly. But they are Cardinals, and the infielder holds on for the out.

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