Rob DiMartino, Fan Post:
This week’s post will include both 1983 & 1984 Mets Hall of Fame inductees. The list includes a man named Shea, another tie-in to the 1969 Miracle Mets and a broadcasting trio that rival Gary, Keith and Ron.
William Shea – Shea Stadium, Shea Bridge, Chipper’s son Shea Jones. The name is synonymous with the New York Mets. I’m surprised the Shake Shack wasn’t actually named the Shea-k Shack. But, who was this Shea guy and why is he so important that they named a stadium after him?
William Shea was a prominent lawyer in New York with many political ties. So much so, that he was asked to lead a committee to bring in a new National League baseball team after the departure of the Dodgers and Giants. Attempts at luring teams from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cincinnati to New York failed, along with trying to convince Major League Baseball to expand. This prompted Mr. Shea to “create” a new league he called the Continental League, which consisted of teams from Atlanta, Houston and New York among others. Under the threat of William Shea’s new League coming to fruition, Major League Baseball decided to expand and allow four new teams in the league, including one from New York. This franchise would come to be known as the New York Metropolitans. The Mayor of New York City at the time, Robert F. Wagner was quoted as saying “If it hadn’t been for Bill (William Shea) there would be no stadium”
Every opening day until his death in 1991, William Shea could be seen presenting the Mets manager with a horseshoe of flowers. He was also known for his charitable contributions, including free Mets tickets for children of New York. For a person who never played an inning of professional baseball in his life, he sure has left a lasting impression among Mets fans, even if it is mainly in name.
Johnny Murphy (Mets Front Office 1961-1970) – Brought in along with George Weiss in 1961, Mr. Murphy quickly rose to VP and then GM in 1968. His relationship with the Washington Senators front office help the Mets obtain Gil Hodges in 1967. Murphy served as General Manager of the Mets during an important era as they brought up many of their young pitching stars. Some of the notable acquisitions of Mr. Murphy’s tenure were Tommie Agee, at the recommendation of Gil Hodges in 1968, and Don Clendenon in 1969. Both proved to be valuable pieces of the 1969 Miracle Mets team. Sadly, his successful tenure as GM was cut short in 1970 when he died suddenly of a heart attack. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame for his role in building the Mets franchise and bringing a World Series Championship to New York.
Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner & Lindsey Nelson (Mets Broadcasting Trio 1962-1978) – Although Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner went on to broadcast for years after, they, along with Lindsey Nelson were the “Voices of the Mets” from the beginning. They were inducted into The Mets Hall of Fame as a broadcasting team in 1984.
Many of us remember Bob Murphy on the radio and Ralph Kiner on TV, and we are lucky enough to get to see and hear Ralph still make cameo appearances along with Gary, Keith and Ron during broadcasts throughout the year. There are some Mets fans that had the pleasure of listening to “The Original Three” of Nelson, Murphy and Kiner on a daily basis.
Those fans usually recall fond memories of their favorite broadcaster, similar to how we feel about our broadcasting teams today. You can still watch some of the old Mets broadcasts on SNY and find video clips online where you will see Lindsey Nelson sporting his over-the-top blazers, hear Bob Murphy painting a beautiful picture in your mind about the details of the game, and experience Ralph Kiner’s colorful commentary and unforgettable one-liners, my personal favorites being “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, the other third by Garry Maddox” and “All of his saves have come in relief appearances”