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The Marvelous One

Trace the lineage of Mets cult heroes and you must begin with the man whose initials were M-E-T: Marvin Eugene Throneberry.

If you're a regular reader of this site, you probably know of the legend of the man known as "Marvelous Marv," who according to multiple sources, looked like Mickey Mantle. They failed to mention that he hit like Mickey Klutts.

The last word of the previous sentence was a good way to describe Throneberry, whose foibles as a member of the 1962 Mets were legendary. The stories have been sourced in many places before, so I don't object too much to repeating them.

Throneberry once was called out after an apparent triple. In his haste to race around the basepaths, he failed to touch first base. When manager Casey Stengel came out to argue, he was told not to bother. Throneberry had missed second as well.

Throneberry made Mo Vaughn look like a Gold Glove at first base. In 97 games, he made 17 errors. Frank Thomas told a story on "The Miracle Mets" record album of how one day he threw a couple of balls well over Throneberry's head, into the stands. Thomas's next throw was high and wild, but it was close enough to where Throneberry was able to leap up and catch it. The crowd booed. When the two got to the dugout, Throneberry asked Thomas: "What are you trying to do, take all my fans away from me?"

Throneberry was the most popular among the group that made up the inept Mets (players like Gil Hodges were popular because of their previous stints in the city). Jimmy Breslin's book "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" tells how fans used to show up with "Vram" t-shirts (Marv spelled backwards) and formed The Marvin Throneberry Fan Club to show their support. Throneberry shrugged at the support, noting that most of his miscues happened because he was trying to play "good, earnest baseball."

Marvelous Marv had 16 home runs for the 1962 Mets and two of them were of the walk-off variety. They certainly helped cement his legend in this city.

New York Times sportswriter Robert Teague referred to Throneberry in this manner: "His derelictions afield and at bat in recent exercises had made him the comic symbol of all that is wrong with the forlorn Mets..." but in that same game story, he told of Throneberry's first walk-off home run. In the opener of a doubleheader with the Cardinals, Throneberry cracked a two-run pinch-hit home run off Ernie Broglio (the man later traded for Lou Brock) with one out in the ninth inning, giving the Mets a 5-4 victory.

The second came on August 21, 1962 in a 5-4 win against the Pirates, capping a four-run rally that snapped a 13-game losing streak (and gave the Mets a split of a doubleheader). Throneberry had been put to work coaching first base after coach Solly Hemus was ejected, but then came off the bench when called for pinch-hitting duty in the ninth inning. With two on and two outs, and the Mets trailing, 4-2, Throneberry clubbed an Elroy Face pitch over the right field fence for a rather glorious win (as glorious as could be for a team that went 40-120).

It would seem rather appropriate, since the name flows right off the tongue, to bestow the "Marvelous" nickname upon the Flushing 9's latest cult hero, Mike Jacobs ("The Natural" has been taken by Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur and one suggestion of "The Hebrew Hammer" doesn't fit since Jacobs isn't Jewish, as was originally thought). However, we do not think that Mets fans would appreciate the jinxing of a potential legend. Throneberry's Mets career (and his time in the big leagues) ended quickly in his second season, after a dispute over money and a 14 at-bat stint in which he mustered only two base hits.

True Metberrys know...Two players who had walk-off hits for the Mets wore the same #27 that Mike Jacobs currently sports, but only one, Tom O'Malley has had a walk-off hit while wearing #27. Jim Hickman (two Mets walk-off hits) wore #27 as well, but only during the 1966 season, in which he did not have a walk-off hit. Thanks to "Mets by the Numbers" for the uniform information.


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