The American League expanded from eight to 10 teams in 1961 when the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators were created. A year later, the National League added the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets.

In 1962, the Mets were a joke. In 1969, they were the World Champions.

George Weiss was the Mets’ first general manager, and Casey Stengel was their first manager. Weiss had built the Yankees’ dynasty after World War II, while Stengel managed them to seven World Championships, including the all-time record of five in a row from 1949-1953.

Stengel’s last World Series was in 1960 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose war cry was “Beat ’em Bucs,” and that is just what the Bucs did.

The Yankees unceremoniously relieved Weiss and Stengel of their duties after that Series, which was one of the most one-sided of all time.

The Yankees dominated the Pirates in almost every offensive and pitching category, but statistics can lie, mislead, and create a false sense of superiority. The reality is that baseball is played one game at a time by humans, and statistics are merely numbers.

The Yankees won three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0, but they lost four close games, and the Pirates were World Champions. Goodbye George and Casey.

Weiss and Stengel did not have to look far for a new employer. They were hired to do for the expansion New York Mets what they had done for the Yankees.

Despite early appearances and results, they succeeded.

Weiss decided to go with name players. Gil Hodges, Frank Thomas, Richie Ashburn, Charlie Neal, Gus Bell, Gene Woodling, and pitchers Roger Craig, Al Jackson, and Vinegar Bend Mizell all were Mets in 1962. The problem was that most of them had seen better days.

The 1962 Mets lost a record 120 games while the Yankees, who rebounded from the bitter 1960 World Series loss with one of their greatest seasons in 1961. They won their second consecutive World Series in 1962.

1963 was a different story for the Yankees. They ran into Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and old nemesis Johnny Podres in the World Series and suffered their first World Series sweep.

Meanwhile, George Weiss was building a Mets’ farm system that emphasized young, hard-throwing pitchers, while Stengel was keeping the Mets in the news by being Casey Stengel.

In 1964 Yogi Berra managed the Yankees so that Ralph Houk could become general manager because Roy Hamey, who had succeeded Weiss, lacked the baseball acumen necessary to replace the players the team needed for the Yankees to continue to dominate.

The Yankees trailed the White Sox most of the second half of the season, but with a late September rush (partially due to the impetus Phil Linz’ harmonica), they won their fifth straight pennant, a record that is rarely referred to when discussing consecutive league titles because winning the pennant is incomplete without winning the World Series.

The Mets remained what many considered to be a joke for the next few years, but in 1967 they brought up a young pitcher named George Thomas Seaver, who took umbrage at the Mets accepting losing.

Seaver was Rookie of the Year in 1967, winning 16 games.

The next season, Jerry Koosman was brought up to stay and won 19 games, but he was beaten out for Rookie of the Year by Johnny Bench.

In 1969, the Mets won it all.

From the late 1960s until the late 1970s and again from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the Mets owned New York.

In 1973, the Mets won their second pennant, but they were beaten in the World Series by Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson’s Oakland A’s.

The Yankees were now owned by George Steinbrenner, who decided that adding Hunter and Jackson to the Yankees was the right thing to do. It was. Then in 1977 and 1978, the Yankees were once again World Champions.

Following the two championships, the Yankees again fell on hard times.

The Mets were sold to owners who wanted to win and were becoming a dangerous team.

Darryl Strawberry was Rookie of the Year in 1983. Dwight Gooden was Rookie of the Year in 1984. Keith Hernandez came over from the Cardinals. Gary Carter left the Expos, and Lee Mazzilli was sent to Texas for Ron Darling and Walt Terrell.

And then it happened. Yankees fans were faced with the unthinkable and the insoluble problem. The nightmare came true.

In 1986, the Mets were going to play the Boston Red Sox in the World Series and one of them had to win.

Root for the Mets? Never. But that meant rooting for the Red Sox.

Root for the Red Sox? Never. But that meant rooting for the Mets.

But for some Yankees fans, the solution was easy, despite being distasteful.

Jim Kaat told the story of Jackie Robinson entering the victorious New York Giants clubhouse immediately after Bobby Thomson hit the most important home run in National League history to give the Giants the pennant over the hated Dodgers.

Upon entering the Giants clubhouse, Robinson kept shouting to the victorious Giants that his Dodgers were better, much better than they were.

Then he told the Giants to knock the crap out of the American League team in the World Series.

Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger, but he was a National Leaguer.

One of the greatest, if not the greatest competitor of all time, a Brooklyn Dodger rooted for the Giants because in those days, before interleague play and free agency, one rooted for one’s league.

That is why Yankees fans had to root for the Red Sox when they played the Mets. Most didn’t.

The Yankees rule New York in the 21st century, but New York fans must never forget what happened a long time ago. You never know what can happen with baseball in New York.

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