An Open Letter To Brooklyn Dodger Lover Fred Wilpon
Dear Mr. Wilpon,
I was recently at the Mets Team Store on the Field Level at Citi Field looking for some Mets T-shirts. After being pleasantly surprised to finally see R.A. Dickey and Angel Pagan number shirts for sale, my jaw dropped when I saw yet another piece of Brooklyn Dodgers merchandise.
This wasn’t yet another tribute to Jackie Robinson or Ebbets Field. This was something else entirely. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you photo documentation of the latest shirt for sale at the Mets Team Store.
Sandy Koufax had a great career in the major leagues. He finished his career with a .655 winning percentage (165 wins, 87 losses), pitched four no-hitters (a record at the time), struck out 382 batters in a single season (also a record at the time), won three Cy Young Awards and was the National League MVP in 1963. He also was a member of four pennant winners and three World Series champions. As a result of his outstanding career, Koufax was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, his first year of eligibility.
That’s a lot of accomplishments for a pitcher whose career was cut short because of arthritis. But that’s not what stands out most for me on his Hall of Fame plaque. Let’s focus on Sandy himself, or rather, let’s focus on the cap he’s wearing in the plaque. What’s that on his cap? Oh, yeah…
It’s a LOS ANGELES DODGERS cap!
Now why is he wearing an LA on his cap rather than a “B” for Brooklyn? That’s because Koufax did very little in Brooklyn as a Dodger.
From 1955-1957, the last three seasons the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field, Sandy Koufax’s record was 9-10, or the same record compiled by Jonathon Niese in 2010. He was also very wild, walking 108 batters in 204.2 innings and posted a 4.00 ERA. Once the Dodgers packed their bags and left Brooklyn for LA, Koufax blossomed into one of the all-time greats in baseball.
So why on Earth is Citi Field selling Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers shirts when he did practically nothing as one of Dem Bums? It surely can’t be because the Mets appreciate pitchers who go 9-10 while pitching in one of the outer boroughs. If that were the case, then the store would also have a full stock of Jonathon Niese T-shirts (which they don’t; what’s up with that?).
No, Mr. Wilpon. You know the reason as well as I do. Sandy Koufax was a childhood friend of yours. The two of you went to Lafayette High School in Brooklyn together. Sandy comes to spring training as a favor to you to talk to your pitchers.
We get it. You’re BFFs. Fine.
But please. Sandy Koufax wasn’t a Met. He was barely a Brooklyn Dodger. Stop trying to make it seem like he was. The Mets don’t play at Ebbets Field. They don’t have a “B” on their hats. Therefore, if you could, we’d like you to stop trying to shove the Brooklyn Dodgers down our throats. We know this is probably hard for you to do, so perhaps we can reach a compromise.
Do you remember which two players led the major leagues in home runs and RBI during the 1950s? Maybe the photos below will help.
The man in the photo on the left is Duke Snider, who played in Brooklyn for 11 seasons (1947-1957). The man on the right is Gil Hodges, who came up to the Brooklyn Dodgers for good in 1947 after playing in one game for the team in 1943.
Both men played the majority of their major league careers as Brooklyn Dodgers, winning six pennants and one World Series in Brooklyn. They also have one other thing in common. Let’s roll out the photo album one more time to assist you.
Your eyes are not deceiving you, Mr. Wilpon. They were indeed both members of your New York Mets.
Duke Snider played one season for the Mets, making the All-Star team in 1963. Gil Hodges played parts of two seasons for the Mets (1962-63), hitting the first home run in franchise history on April 11, 1962. He also did something on a grander scale seven years later. It may or may not have involved winning a championship. I’ll have to look that up.
Do you see what I’m getting at, Mr. Wilpon? Why are you selling Sandy Koufax merchandise when you can sell Duke Snider or Gil Hodges gear? They were both Brooklyn Dodgers far longer than Koufax was and contributed to more success in Brooklyn than your boyhood buddy did. Plus, they have the added appeal to Mets fans because they both donned the orange and blue at some point.
As of right now, there is nothing for Duke Snider at Citi Field and only a first base entrance named after Gil Hodges. I know I’m not the only fan who’s appalled that you’re trying to sell Sandy Koufax as a Brooklyn Dodger to Mets fans. In fact, my wife (you may know her as “The Coop”) also has an opinion on the lovefest between you and the Brooklyn Dodgers, which she will share with you now:
Speaking of both teams for whom to pay homage, you also discredit the origins of the “orange” from the term “orange and blue” in your child-like fascination with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and that’s the New York Giants.
While the Dodgers were quick to embrace their new identity on the west coast with winning a championship in two years, the now-San Francisco Giants had to do nothing BUT embrace their New York roots. And why was that? Because prior to 2010, they had not won a championship in their 50 year old home and a lot of their rich history was based in New York. Even when the team won, they visited the old site of the Polo Grounds (where both the New York Giants and…oh some other team…oh yes, the New York Mets once upon a time played) with the Commissioner’s Trophy to pay homage to where their history originated. I don’t believe that the Dodgers visited the old site of Ebbets Field after winning a championship so quickly after switching coasts. The Giants embrace New York and the Mets need to embrace the Giants history as well.
It’s not so much the Koufax jersey or this blatant “to the victor go the spoils” attitude at Citi Field that is troublesome — there is also no mention of New York Giants history. You’d like to be fair, then how about this? In addition to selling Brooklyn memorabilia, why not include the Giants as well in a nostalgia store? Not to mention, one of the most storied baseball players in history, Willie Mays, played for both New York and San Francisco Giants AND ended his career with the Mets. Wouldn’t it be great to not only acknowledge those teams but to also have an actual connection to the Mets? There’s no limitation to having Giants or Dodgers jerseys either in the nostalgia store – you can sell old Mets jerseys as well and even other items such as collectible yearbooks and souvenir cups.
My wife and I are just two people, Mr. Wilpon. But we’re not the only ones who feel that you have overdone it with your homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers at Citi Field.
You’re the owner of the New York Mets. You also love the Brooklyn Dodgers. If you absolutely must share that Dodger love with the fans who pay their way into your homage to Ebbets Field to see the Mets play, at least share it with players who have ties to both teams. Is that so hard to do, Mr. Wilpon?
About the Author: Ed Leyro
Ed Leyro was hatched in the Bronx, but spent most of his youth in Queens at Shea Stadium. Apparently, all that time spent at Mets games paid off as Ed met his wife (The Coop) for the first time at Citi Field during its inaugural season. Guess the 2009 season was good for something after all. In addition to his work at Mets Merized Online, Ed also owns, operates and is head janitor at Studious Metsimus, where he shares blogging duties with Joey Beartran. For those not in the know, Joey is a teddy bear dressed in a Mets hoodie. Clearly, Studious Metsimus is not your typical Mets blog.
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Last updated: 05/17/2013
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