As we continue to wait out the Sandy Alderson era for a return to former Mets glory, here’s a little something about another Mets GM who helped engineer the first championship in franchise history in 1969. I’m talking, of course, about the great Bing Devine.
Devine’s tenure as General Manager of the Mets spanned the years 1965 to 1967 in between stints with the St. Louis Cardinals where he engineered some of the greatest teams in Cards history.
I would hardly call his work with the Mets perfect, especially since he had the final call on drafting Steve Chilcott over Reggie Jackson, but he was certainly an aggressive executive who while building up the farm system was also always looking to improve the team with trades and waiver pickups
In his 2004 book, Memoirs of Bing Devine, he states that in 1967 alone, the Mets made 54 deals.
While many of the players acquired did little or nothing to help the Mets, seven of those players, Tommie Agee , Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce, Art Shamsky, J.C. Martin, Al Weis and Ed Charles were later instrumental in helping the 1969 Mets win a World Championship.
Earlier in Devine’s tenure, he had also dealt for Jerry Grote and Don Cardwell. Grote, of course, was a significant part of the Mets turnaround, both with his stellar defense and also for being charged with helping to develop a cadre of young and inexperienced pitchers who would eventually become the pride of the franchise. None of these players carried a high price tag or cost the Mets any promising young talent.
Add to Devine’s accomplishments that it was completely upon his recommendation that George Weiss agreed to put their name in the hat for the Tom Seaver lottery.
“The Franchise” would become the only Mets player ever enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
Devine recollected that Weiss was reluctant to spend the $50,000 the Mets would have to pay Seaver if they won a drawing for him in April 1966.
“George Weiss was against it,” Devine told famed author Peter Golenbock. “He didn’t know anything about him. I made a big case, and I recall it was only hours before we had to make a decision and agree to that, and George Weiss finally shook his head, I’m sure not wanting to do it, and said, ‘If you people make such a big case of it, go ahead.’”
Devine’s time with the Mets was relatively short, but he certainly accomplished a great deal in that time. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2007 at the age of 90 at his home in St. Louis.
Devine once said that success required more than a sharp baseball intellect. “You have to be lucky,” he told The Evansville Courier in 2003. “And you’re never going to get lucky if you’re afraid to make a deal.”
Did You Know?
It was a trade engineered by Bing Devine that had the greatest impact on Major League Baseball and changed the game forever.
Flood refused to go to Philadelphia, ultimately challenging baseball’s reserve system that bound players to one team. His suit against baseball set the stage for free agency, and was undeniably one of the most pivotal events in the game’s history.