The Fred Wilpon Legacy

An article by posted on March 4, 2009


“There is a strange charm in the hope of a good legacy that wonderfully reduces the sorrow people otherwise may feel for the death of their relatives and friends” - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
                      

Legacy. Each one of us will leave one behind when we leave this world, whether it be good or bad. For some it may be philanthropy or achievement in sports, politics or journalism. For a great many people their most important legacy will be their children.

When I sat down to research the subject of this blog, Fred Wilpon, I wanted to look beyond the man that many refer to as “Freddy Coupon”. How can his legacy be measured? Is it defined simply by the Mets’ on field success?

If that were the case, his legacy is well documented in the two pennants and one World Series championship the Mets have captured since he became part owner of the team in 1980. I think a man’s legacy is deeper than that. What kind of man was he behind the scenes? What drove him to be who he was in his heart of hearts?

Frankly, I’m a little surprised with how little personal information I could find about him other than the usual. Many owners are more visible and vocal, ala George Steinbrenner, and are not happy unless they are the center of attention. Fred Wilpon seems to be the anti- Steinbrenner.

These are your basic Fred Wilpon facts: Born in 1936. Was a teammate of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax during their days at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn. Earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1958.  Chairman of Sterling Equities etc…

Since he purchased the remaining 50% of the Mets from Nelson Doubleday in 2002 there hasn’t been great success for the franchise. Many of us will probably remember Fred Wilpon as one of the guys who was swindled by Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.

I suppose we could say that as of now Fred Wilpon was a man who always tried to mold the Mets into a contender year after year. I know it’s easy for us to sit at our computers and critique, but during the seasons things didn’t turn out so well we might never know if he took it like a knife to the chest as many of us fans do. I think if he didn’t we would never have seen the likes of Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran or Johan Santana in orange and blue. I certainly couldn’t imagine spending millions of dollars on something I didn’t care deeply about.

He could have just been another owner content with mediocrity and gladly bathed in the ocean of revenue the Mets generate. For me, to have an owner who is so emotionally invested that the radio call of Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” to beat the Dodgers in 1951 startled him so much that he sliced off a little piece of his pinkie finger while he was making a sandwich, is encouraging.

I believe that Fred Wilpon’s legacy isn’t cemented just yet and he will hoist yet another Commissioners’ Trophy in the near future.

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