Worst in Sports Baseball Part 1

About the worsts in the sport of baseball including the worst team in a season and history.

THE VERY WORST IN SPORTS

BASEBALL (MAJOR LEAGUES)

Worst Team (one season): The 1962 New York Mets. "Can't anyone here play this game?" 72-year-old manager Casey Stengel asked his Mets midway through that first year of their existence in the National League. The answer for the most part was no. The Mets, who lost 120 games (a modern major league record) were so bad they transcended sports and became a symbol for losers everywhere. "This is a team for the cab driver who gets held up in traffic and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn't maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough...losers, just like nearly everybody else in life," wrote Jimmy Breslin.

The Mets had two starting pitchers who were 20-game losers, a relief pitcher who lost 16 straight, an outfield that fathered 19 children (believed to be a record), two men named Bob Miller (one of whom Stengel called "Nelson"), and Chris Cannizzaro, whom Stengel described as a "defensive catcher who can't catch the ball." Once Stengel waved to the bull pen for a relief pitcher to replace his shell-shocked starter, and no one would come out. "They're afraid," one newsman said.

The player who symbolized the Mets was Marvelous Marv Throneberry, a first baseman who admitted, "Things just sort of keep on happening to me." Things like chasing a runner toward second base while the winning run scored from third. Or hitting a triple and being called out because he forgot to touch first. After that would-be triple, the next batter, Charlie Neal, hit a home run. Stengel made Neal run around the bases twice just to make sure he touched them all. Throneberry received 100 fan letters a week, and fans wore T-shirts that said "VRAM" ("MARV" spelled backwards). A party was held in his honor at an Italian restaurant, and so many people attended that Throneberry, who arrived late, couldn't find a seat. So he ate across the street at a diner.

The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies deserve a footnote here. It looked like the long-suffering Phillie fans were finally going to see their team win a pennant. The Phils were out in front by 6 1/2 games with only 12 left to play. But as if in defense of their reputation as perennial losers, they lost 10 straight and ended the season tied for second place with Cincinnati.

Worst Team (all-time): This dubious distinction rests with the city of Philadelphia, whose major league teams have finished in last place 42 times. The A's did it 18 times before moving to Kansas City (where they did it 5 more times in a row); the Phils have done it 24 times.

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