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Every Game Counts

Regardless of whether it's spring training, a Mayor's Trophy exhibition, a regular season interleague game, or a Subway Series matchup, every game against the Yankees is significant. The proof of that comes from page 470 of this year's media guide, which lists the Flushing 9's all-time record against the Bronx Bombers as 63-92-1 (the tie came in a Mayor's Trophy match) and offers a thorough breakdown of the win-loss mark.

The first meeting was significant enough that it warranted nine lines of mention in "The Complete Year-by-Year N.Y. Mets Fan's Almanac" from which we learned it deserves mention on this site.

It was March 22, 1962 that New York's rivals first met in an exhibition game at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, where more than 6,000 came to watch. The Mets treated this contest more seriously than the Yankees, as both the almanac and newspaper stories indicate how manager Casey Stengel and president George Weiss was angry at their former employers. Their was bitterness on both sides. Roger Maris refused to pose for a photo with Mets hitting coach Rogers Hornsby because of remarks Hornsby made during Maris' home run chase the year before.

The defending champion Yankees entered 10-1 in Grapefruit play and had a 2-0 lead after four innings with Mets moundsman Roger Craig battling gamely against Yankees hurler Bill Stafford (who according to the papers had not allowed a hit all spring). Craig singled in a run in the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1 and then Don Zimmer (referred to in the New York Times as a "Mets standout") brought home two in the sixth with a go-ahead single after Yankees shortstop Phil Linz made an error to negate a likely double play.

Stengel used starter Al Jackson as his closing choice for this game with Craig finished after six quality innings. Jackson got through the seventh and eighth unscathed and was one out away from escaping a two on jam in the ninth before Bobby Richardson tied the score with a single. Stengel replaced Jackson with Howie Nunn and Nunn got Johnny Blanchard out with the bases loaded to escape with a tie.

Had Yankees manager Ralph Houk taken this game as super-seriously as Stengel perhaps he would have chosen his next pitcher differently. His pick was Gary Blaylock and the Mets worked quickly to end this game. Joe Christopher tripled and with one out, pinch-hitter Richie Ashburn singled cleanly, bringing home the winning run.

It's interesting to note that Nunn was the winning pitcher in this game. Purchased by the Mets from the Reds in December, he was returned to Cincinnati at the end of spring training. For lack of a better term, he's a "NeverMet" i.e. someone who was with the team in name, but never in game (regular-season, anyway).

Anyway, the humor in this contest came completely from Stengel's remarks post-game, the best of which was 38 years premature.

"When we meet each other in the World Series next fall, it will matter," Stengel said to reporters regarding his anger with the Yankees.

The Times aptly noted "The last statement was followed by a wink."

True Metkee haters know... By my count, 20 players have played for both the Yankees and Mets, and had a walk-off RBI for the Mets.

They are

Daryl Boston
Miguel Cairo
Alberto Castillo
Tony Clark
Kevin Elster
Tim Foli (also had one for Yankees)
Jesse Gonder
Lance Johnson
Dave Kingman
Elliott Maddox (also had one for Yankees)
Lee Mazzilli
John Olerud
Lenny Randle
Charley Smith (also had two for Yankees)
Shane Spencer
Darryl Strawberry (also had one for Yankees)
Ron Swoboda (also had two for Yankees)
Marv Throneberry
Robin Ventura (also had one for Yankees)
Jose Vizcaino (also had one for Yankees)

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