After a disappointing 1973 World Series loss to the Oakland A’s, despite holding a three games to two lead with two games to play, the 70’s New York Mets quickly fell from grace in the National League East. Back then the East was filled with good strong clubs like the Phillies Pirates, Cardinals, and the not so good Cubs and Expos.
In 1977, Mets general manager M Donald Grant traded the Franchise who was better known as Tom Seaver for little more than a bag of baseballs and the free-fall was now really on. The DeRoullet family who owned the Mets saw attendance slip below a million fans in cavernous Shea Stadium which held 55,000, and they saw no light at the end of the tunnel so they put the Mets up for sale.
Only once in a generation or two does a New York Baseball Franchise become available and this was a rare golden opportunity for someone to step up and become royalty. A long line of prospective owners stepped to the plate and were turned away until renowned multi-millionaire book publisher Nelson Doubleday and his friend Real Estate Mogul Fred Wilpon began to hammer out an agreement in principle to buy the Mets. Late in 1979 the deal was finally struck and the Mets would now have new ownership going into the 1980 season.
The total cost was $21 million dollars with Mr. Doubleday putting up $20 million and Mr. Wilpon struggling to put in one million for a minor partnership. With an enormous rebuilding challenge ahead the two men set out to find a competent baseball man to put a contender in Queens.
Mr. Wilpon had one small term placed in the purchase agreement which 23 years later would become the key factor in him gaining and leveraging control of the Mets – right of first refusal. it basically stated that if Mr. Doubleday were to look to sell the team he would have to offer it to the Wilpons before taking bids out on the open market. This would prove to be the best thing for the Wilpons and the worst thing for the fans of the Mets.
The Wilpons initially put up nothing to buy the team and didn’t put up anything to wrestle control of it from the majority partner which they did on the strength of some loans. With all the reported years of a contentious relationship between the two men – they hated each other – the Wilpons were now in total control.
Despite having had some success, is it really a surprise to anyone that the Wilpons were involved in Ponzi schemes and numerous shady business dealings just like in the seventies? This Mets team is in the same deplorable state as that team in 1979 because some things never change.
This Fan Shot was submitted by MMO reader, Adam Venutti, a long suffering Mets fan. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 12 thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask about being a regular contributor, and share your opinions with an engaging community that loves to debate