1883 METROPOLITANS

By Clifford Blau

The Metropolitans' first season in the American Association began in the fall of 1882 when the league decided to expand from six to eight teams. As an independent team in 1882, they had been 5-1 against AA teams, and 101-58-3 overall. From that team, they re-signed pitcher Jack Lynch, catcher Charles Reipschlager, and fielders Steve Brady, Jack Nelson, and Ed Kennedy. Before the league's annual meeting in December, they had also signed pitcher Tim Keefe, catcher Bill Holbert, and outfielder James Roseman from the disbanded Troy team and Dude Esterbrook from Cleveland. They then added Sam Crane to play second base. He had not played for several years, and it would become apparent during the season that his skills had deteriorated. The final member of the team was John O'Rourke, who would play centerfield.

The Mets lost the first game of the season, as would be their habit, but they played fairly well for the first few weeks. A six game losing streak in mid-June dropped them below .500, though and, coupled with their inability to beat Philadelphia and St. Louis, ended their hopes of a pennant. However, they played very good ball for the next two months before leveling off for the last month or so, and finished in fourth place at 54-42.

Their defense was the team's strength, as they allowed the fewest runs in the league. The key was the pitchers, especially Keefe. Both he and Lynch completed all of their starts during the season, and Keefe was among the league leaders in most of the pitching statistics. Some top performances included Keefe winning both ends of a July 4 doubleheader over Columbus, 9-1 and 3-0, and on May 21, Keefe pitched a two-hitter, not allowing a runner past first base, while Lynch followed the next day with another shutout.

Tim Keefe

The only personnel change made during the year was the addition of first baseman Dave Orr. He played with the team on and off throughout the season, generally filling in when someone was injured. He quickly showed he was the best hitter on the team. His peak performance came on September 22 and 23, when he led the Mets to victories of 7-1 and 13-5 with six hits, including two homers and two triples. Between these games, the Mets announced their reserve list for 1883, and Orr was on it in place of O'Rourke.

One of the most exciting games of the season came on August 4 at the Polo Grounds. The Mets were leading the Alleghenies 3-1 after seven. Pittsburgh scored three in the 8th to take a 4-3 lead. Controversy erupted in the ninth when a loudmouthed fan accused umpire Walsh of being on the take, and the Mets failed to eject the boorish fellow as required by league rules. Following this, the Mets tied the game. In the 14th, Pittsburgh scored two runs but the Mets came back with three of their own to win it.

Despite a fairly successful season, the Mets were threatened with expulsion from the AA unless they secured separate playing grounds for 1884. Happily, this was accomplished, and the stage was set for even greater accomplishments.

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