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Subway Series vs The Mayor’s Trophy

by Ed Botti

July 26, 2022


Photo WFUV

Well, it’s that time of the summer again; Subway Series via interleague play. To be completely honest, I have never really been a huge fan of it. It’s always the same. The team with the most to lose is always the Yankees. Regardless of records at the time of the games, it is the Yankees that have to win, and when they do it’s just another ball game.

But, when they lose a game or two, it’s huge news throughout Gotham.

Every Met fan gets to stick their chest out a bit further then they did the day before. Talk radio is filled with all of the normal bravado from Mets fans who will insist that the “tide has turned”, and maybe they are right.

The point is the Yankees always enter these series in a no win situation.

This all goes back in 1997 at Yankee Stadium. On that day, Mets Manager Bobby Valentine handed the ball to journeyman righty Dave Mlicki. To his credit, Mlicki went on to throw a complete game shutout, probably the best start of his career, and the Mets won that game 6-0.

The Yankees took the next two games to win the series. But, most remember only the results of that meaningless June 16, 1997 game.

Like I said, it’s a no win situation for the Yankees. They win the series and 25 years later all that is remembered is the loss in game 1.

In game 2 David Wells threw 8 innings of 6 hit ball, and Derek Jeter had 3 hits.

In game 3 David Cone threw 8 innings of 2 hit ball, Derek Jeter had 2 more hits, and Cecil Fielder hit a long home run.

No one remembers any of that.

The Yankees enter today’s game against the Mets holding a 75-52 record in head to head play, including the post season.

I may be in the minority, but I can remember when the Yankees and Mets would simply play an enjoyable mid-season game that had no bearing on the record books, and I liked it. We used to call that the Mayor’s Trophy Game. It was all just for fun and raising money for charities.

I believe it was either 1989 or 1990, but I went to the game at Yankee Stadium. It was a pre-season game, and it was not actually called the Mayor’s Trophy Game. I believe it was simply termed “The Battle for Bragging Rights”.

I can remember Gregg Jeffries hitting 2 doubles, and I am pretty sure Strawberry went deep. It was a lot of fun, and when it was over, both teams went on to start the regular season. The Mets won that game.

Photo via Twitter

The Mayor’s Trophy Game was played from 1963-1979. There would be no games during the 1980 and 1981 seasons due to what was termed “differences between the two teams”. However, both teams did still provide donations to the Amateur Baseball Federation. The games were brought back in 1982 and 1983.

These games were exciting and of course they did have a little drama and humor to go along with the actual games themselves.

In the 1978 game held on April 27 at Yankee Stadium, Fran Healy’s squeeze bunt scored Jim Spencer with the game-winning run in the 13th inning for 4-3 Yankee win.

It had been alleged by Sparkly Lyle in the book “The Bronx Zoo” that Graig Nettles attempted to throw the meaningless game.

Met Ron Hodges lead off 11th inning with a grounder to third, which Nettles air mailed 15 feet over the head of Chris Chambliss at first - a very unusual play for the gold glove third baseman.

However, the Mets could not bring Hodges in from second, and the game continued.

The 1978 Yankees were happy to raise the money for charity, and wanted to get on with defending their World Series title, as we know they would do so in glorious fashion, but the game dragged on 13 innings.

Year’s later his teammates would look back on it and joking state that the game might not have gone that long if Brian Doyle (in his first game at Yankee Stadium) hadn't made two diving stops with the bases loaded that turned into inning-ending double plays.

To this day Nettles denies he tried to throw the game, But he and Sparky know the truth. The only person that cared about the results was the Boss.

The very first Mayor’s Trophy game had an oddity to it.

It did not come on an off day for the Yankees.

The original date of June 3, 1963, had been rained out, so June 20 was selected because the Mets were off and the Yankees were home for an afternoon game against the Senators.

Imagine doing that today. The MLBPA would have a few things to say about rest, injuries and game management for individual players. Not back then. The players played. That was what they were all about.

The Yankees beat the Senators during the day game 5-4, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth. They then grabbed a quick meal, and put on clean uniforms for a second game and opponent.

Meanwhile, at the Polo Grounds, the Mets dressed and prepared to take a short bus ride from Manhattan to the Bronx for an evening game.

On that evening they would beat the Yankees, 6-2, before more than 50,000 fans.

The defending World Series champion Yankees, perchance, were less interested in the game than were the Mets, who were in their second season and managed by former Yankees manager Casey Stengel.

But, the new Mets put their first notch in their belts, and beat the mighty 1963 Yankees.

When these games were over, one team got to raise the Mayor’s Trophy. But there were more winners; the kids who benefited from the money raised for the little leagues and the sandlots.

Through the early 1970s, crowds in excess of 40,000 and often times 50,000 were commonplace at the Mayor’s Trophy games.

The first game in new Shea Stadium, on Aug. 24, 1964, drew 55,396 fans.

The Yankees won that game 6-4 even though their manager, Yogi Berra, pinch-hit into a double play in the seventh inning.

Yes, Yogi took an at bat as the Manger.

After the game in a typical Yogism he stated that he had batted twice that season and made four outs.

He also hit into a double play on Old-Timers’ Day!

The 1964 Yankees would go on to win 99 games and lose in the World Series to the Cardinals in 7.

The 1964 Mets would go on to lose 109 games.

But they had bragging rights for a day!

Now we have the regularly scheduled and packaged 4 games a year “Subway Series”. To me, it is just another game on the schedule to watch. In the early years, I did enjoy it, as it was new and a novelty.

But lately, not so much. It is just 1 of 162.

As I said, the only team with something to lose is always the Yankees.

If you’re going to Citi Field tonight, have a great time. Jordan Montgomery takes the mound against Taijuan Walker. Should be a good game.

But to be completely honest, the last real Subway Series was in 2000.

That turned out pretty good, if my memory serves!

Photo by Hy Peskin / Sports Illustrated

Congratulations goes to the Family of the legendary Brooklyn Dodger’s first baseman and the World Series-winning manager of the 69’ Mets. Gil Hodges has finally made it into the Hall of fame!

His family has waited more than 50 years for this day since his death at 47 in 1972.

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