1964



The yearbook for the New York Mets’ third season, and their first year playing their home games at Shea Stadium (the first game played at the new stadium was April 17, 1964).

No longer portrayed as the New York National League Baseball Club, but rather the New York Mets, the cover of Shea Stadium’s first “year book” features the second Mets cover drawn by legendary sports cartoonist Willard Mullin. Mullin is probably most notable for creating the Brooklyn Dodger “Bum” in the 1930’s, as well as two decades of Dodgers’ yearbook covers.

Mullin’s drawing on the cover of the Mets’ 1964 yearbook depicts caricatures of Casey Stengel and the Mets toddler getting ready to mischievously pull out the Welcome mat from under a uniformed National League player as he strolls into Shea, all on a white background. In the lower right corner is the official insignia (copyright 1961) of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, amidst which the new Shea Stadium was built and first opened.

All ’64 Mets yearbooks feature color back cover advertisements for Rheingold beer. Inside, apart from the two cover ads for the Travelers’ Hotel–Motel and Coca-Cola, there are now three ads: for King Korn food stamps, Rambler automobile dealers, and the Long Island Rail Road.

Still costing 50 cents and composed of the usual 48 standard-stock paper pages, there were five issues of the Mets 1964 yearbook. Each of the four subsequent issues is distinguished by colored revision markings.

Collecting Mets yearbooks from 1964 (and 1965) can be a head-scratching pursuit. Not because any of the issues is more scarce than the others, but more because the roster pages possess no dates. The first and last editions are easy to figure, but putting the three revisions in between into their proper sequence of release can be somewhat confusing. ...That is, unless you’re reading this. I’ve eliminated the confusion for those who wish to collect them all and archive them in their rightful sequence.

1. The year’s first issue cover is the unfettered original of the season.

Manager Casey Stengel’s 1964 Spring Mets included new coaches Mel Harder, Wes Westrum, Sheriff Robinson, and Don Heffner. Players featured Duke Snider (who was sold to the Giants on Opening Day, thus rendering this issue the only ’64 Mets annual to include the future Hall of Famer), as well as Frank Thomas, Al Jackson, Ron Hunt, Ed Kranepool, Jim Hickman, Joe Christopher, Jack Fisher, George Altman, Tracy Stallard, Carl Willey, Larry Bearnarth, Rod Kanehl, Galen Cisco, Jay Hook, Jesse Gonder, Al Moran, Chris Cannizzaro, Tim Harkness, and many others. “Met Stars On The Horizon” feature Derrel [Bud] Harrelson, Ron Swoboda, Cleon Jones, Dick Selma, and others.

There are several pages focusing on Casey Stengel, and a page on those “Covering the Mets on the Air and in Print.” Among many others, the photos include Willard Mullin, Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and of course, Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy, and Lindsey Nelson. There’s also a special page of “Stars of Other Teams,” including photos of Ernie Banks, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Roberto “Bob” Clemente, Willie Mays, Maury Wills, Warren Spahn, Dick Groat, Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson, and others, as well as a photo of old-timer Hank Greenberg with Ed Kranepool (both attended the same high school).

Additionally, there’s an interesting section featuring the contruction of Shea Stadium, as well as aerial photos offering a rare glimpse of every other ballpark in 1964’s National League (Forbes Field, Pittsburgh; Crosley Field, Cincinnati; Colt Stadium, Houston; Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles; County Stadium, Milwaukee; Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia; Wrigley Field, Chicago; Busch Stadium, St. Louis; Candlestick Park, San Francisco).


2. The cover of the second issue of the season possesses in the upper right corner a “Revised” marking, which is colored green (sometimes printed so dark it can appear black at first glance). The back cover also has a tiny colored printer’s mark located at the lower right, near the corner of the Rheingold logo. All revisions have this back cover mark, the same color as the cover revision.

There are only minor changes to this issue. None are worthy of notable mention other than the fact that Tim Harkness has replaced Duke Snider on page 20. All changes to the team are reflected on the roster page.


3. The cover of the third issue of the season possesses in the upper right corner a “Revised” marking, which is colored maroon. Depending on the printing ink used at press, the color can sometimes appear close to purple, or even virtually red. However, collectors still refer to it as the maroon revision. The printer’s mark on the reverse is the same color.

Again, minor changes. The team photo and the schedule page remain unchanged. The most notable changes to this third issue is that Tim Harkness has been moved from his own feature on page 20 and moved to page 30, where he shares a page with Bill Wakefield and Ed Kranepool. In his place on page 20 is pitcher Frank Lary, who the Mets purchased during the Memorial Day weekend. Also new to the team is Roy McMillan, who is featured on page 28 with Rod Kanehl. All changes to the team are reflected on the roster page.


4. The cover of the fourth issue of the season possesses in the upper right corner a “Revised” marking, which is colored orange. Depending on the printing ink used at press, the color can sometimes appear to lean more toward red than orange. However, collectors still refer to it as the orange revision. The printer’s mark on the reverse is the same color.

Again, the schedule remains full, and the team photo is from the Spring. Roster changes in this issue are extremely minimal. The notable changes to the book are primarily cosmetic. For instance, McMillan and Kanehl have been split up, to be given their own pages featuring action photos from the ’64 season. As well, added to the book are photos from Opening Day, various celebrities who had visited the new stadium during the season, and the 35th All-Star Game, the only time that event would take place at Shea. Posing for the camera together are Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Harmon Killebrew.


5. The cover of the fifth and final issue of the season possesses in the upper right corner a “Final” marking, which is colored blue (sometimes printed so dark it can appear black at first glance). The printer’s mark on the reverse is the same color.

The schedule is still full, but the most noticeable alterations of the year are part of this edition. Frank Thomas, who had been with the team since Day One and was featured prominently on page 9 throughout this season’s issues, has been replaced by a brand new team photo. Tim Harkness is gone, and so is Frank Lary (although Lary would return the following Spring). Lary’s page 20 has been replaced with photos and stats of Gary Kroll (picked up in the August Frank Thomas deal with the Phillies), Dennis Ribant (swapped from the Braves in August for Lary), and Bobby Klaus (picked up in late July as part of a deal that sent Harkness to the Reds). Also new to this issue are photos of the Mets at home, and the fans at play at Shea (including the first ever Banner Day).


The 1964 New York Mets were not much better at playing baseball than in their first two seasons, losing 109 games, but they were quite happy losing those games in their brand new home.


1964 Checklist:
10. No cover marking.
11. “Revised” marking, colored green (or dark green).
12. “Revised” marking, colored maroon (or purple/dark red).
13. “Revised” marking, colored orange (or red).
14. “Final” marking, colored blue (or dark blue).