If you're a collector of Mets yearbooks, odds are you wish to obtain a single representative copy of each year (or even each cover design). This is nothing to be ashamed of, and puts you with the majority of collectors. If you're in this group, this guide and checklist may not be for you. If you read on, you'll most assuredly learn things about Mets yearbooks you never knew before, but it's really not all that difficult to deduce that there are 52 years from 1962 through 2013.

On the other hand, if you wish to be a completist and obtain a copy of each and every official yearbook edition ever sanctioned and issued by the modern New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, this guide is for you. The Mets have issued more than 52 yearbooks. In fact, if all revisions and variations are taken into consideration, the tally through 2013 becomes a grand total of 131 !

Surprised? I'm not surprised if you are. After all, not many of even the most hardcore collectors know that number. This guide will not detail each and every page alteration nor player addition/removal to each revision (with few exceptions), but it will indeed help you have a clear checklist of all Mets yearbooks there are to be collected. So, if you’re interested in having a complete checklist of New York Mets yearbooks, then read on. And feel free to contact me with further questions, corrections, or comments.

Happy collecting!


1962



The yearbook for the New York Mets’ first season.

The most collectible year for Mets annuals, and rightly so. This was the Mets' first season in the Major Leagues as one of the National League’s two first expansion teams. They played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan (where the Giants played before they left for San Francisco), and relatively few people purchased their first official "year book." Today, the editions from 1962 command the most money, and finding them in Excellent (7) or better condition can be a daunting task (not to mention can put a dent in the pocketbook, with normal values running anywhere from $150 to $500 upwards).

An important thing to beware of when it comes to collecting 1962 Mets yearbooks is reproductions and reprints. Realizing the profits that can be had by selling these highly desirable commodities, many unscrupulous people will try to sell counterfeits.

More than that, though, even many legitimate sellers have the books professionally reprinted and sell them at a considerable discount. These replicas usually come with a coil-bound spine, so most are easy to recognize. Some sellers even professionally reproduce and sell only the cover! There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does go to show just how desirable the 1962 Mets yearbook can be. All this for something that originally cost 50 cents.

There were five editions of the “New York National League Baseball Club” yearbook issued in 1962, and collecting them all can be relatively pricey, especially since one of them is one of the rarest pieces of sports memorabilia in history. Making things even more difficult is that none of the variations have any markings on the cover indicating their differences.


The cover of the 1962 Mets yearbook features what could possibly be considered legendary New York World-Telegram sports cartoonist Willard Mullin’s most famous drawing (the first of several Mets yearbook covers created by Mullin after quite a few seasons of creating them for the Brooklyn Dodgers).

The white background is adorned with the new “baby Met” wearing nothing but a diaper, baseball cleats, and a Mets baseball cap. Let’s not forget the bold introduction of the official Mets emblem, still familiar almost fifty years later (the only alteration being the elimination of the little “NY” in 2000).

It is said that “baby Met” was a caricature of Mullin’s grandson Ted Rhodes.

The back cover is adorned by Kathy Kersh, also known in those days as Miss Rheingold. The Rheingold beer ad on the back cover is the only advertisement in the entire yearbook (not counting the ad for the Meadow Brook National Bank inside the front cover). Things, of course, would change soon enough in the coming years.

Manager Casey Stengel’s inaugural Mets included coaches Cookie Lavagetto, Rogers Hornsby, Solly Hemus, Red Kress, and Red Ruffing. Featured first-season players included Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, Frank Thomas, Gene Woodling, Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Marv Throneberry, Joe Christopher, Jay Hook, Charlie Neal, Elio Chacon, Chris Cannizzaro, Jim Hickman, Rod Kanehl, Felix Mantilla, Ken MacKenzie, Bob Miller, and many others.

There are several pages about Stengel and the history of both the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field, as well as the future home of the Mets, at this time tentatively called Flushing Meadows Stadium and touted as being ready for 1963. Under a different name, however, Shea Stadium would not be ready until 1964.

It also contains special pages featuring the Mets management and how the Mets were formed, given a franchise immediately following the close of the 1960 season. Also featured is a page on the new and now-legendary broadcasting trio of Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy.


The first two issues of the 1962 New York Mets yearbook both have rosters dated April 8. The difference between them is the back cover. One of them is monochrome (black and white), and one of them is in color.

1. The April 8 issue with the black and white back cover, as collectible as it is, is less difficult to find than is the issue with the color back. If one comes across a 1962 Mets yearbook with a roster dated April 8, odds are it will have a back cover ad in black and white.

2. The color version dated April 8 is one of the rarest pieces of all baseball collectibles. Considered the “Holy Grail” of Mets yearbooks, I personally can count on one hand the amount of times I've seen one outside of my collection. Depending on condition, it can be valued in the five-digit vacinity. If you happen to come across someone unaware of its value and is selling it, I suggest leaping on it, no matter what the price.


3. The third issue in 1962 has a roster dated April 13, which was the date of the Mets' first home game at New York's Polo Grounds. Its date, being so quick to be issued, rendered even more scarce those dated five days earlier. All April 13 editions have a color back cover.

The first three issues of this year contain some back pages -- the total pages of these early yearbooks usually amounted to 48 on stock paper -- that are not found in the two subsequent issues. Of special mention are the pages featuring photos of the Mets first Spring Training in Florida.


The fourth and fifth issues of 1962 were released to the buying public with a roster dated June 25 and color back covers. There are a few pages found only in these revised editions, such as photo poses at games earlier in the season by Dodgers Sandy Koufax, Leo Durocher, and Duke Snider, as well as Giant Willie Mays.

4. The first of the two June 25 issues possesses a schedule page (inside the back cover) displaying the months of June, July, August, and September.


5. The fifth and final issue also contains the June 25 roster. However, the schedule page displays only the months of August and September.


The best seats at upper Manhattan’s Polo Grounds cost $3.50 in 1962, and Bleacher Seats cost $0.75. Night games were unheard of on either Saturdays or Sundays, and doubleheaders were a way of life (a total of 30 were on the schedule at season's start).


The 1962 New York Mets lost more games in a single season (120) than any other team in modern Major League Baseball history (the 1899 Cleveland Spiders lost more games [134], and several other 19th Century teams had worse win/loss percentages). It makes their “miracle” season of 1969 all the more appreciable.


1962 Checklist:
1. April 8 roster w/monochrome back cover.
2. April 8 roster w/color back cover.
3. April 13 roster.
4. June 25 roster w/June through September schedule page.
5. June 25 roster w/August through September schedule page.