The Cardinals played a significant role in the birth of the Mets as a National League franchise.
St. Louis was the opponent for the 1962 expansion Mets in both their first spring training exhibition game and in their first regular-season game. The Cardinals won both.
The 1962 Mets joined the Cardinals in making St. Petersburg, Fla., their spring training home. Two former Cardinals player-managers, Rogers Hornsby and Solly Hemus, were on manager Casey Stengel’s coaching staff. Former Cardinals on the Mets roster included catchers Hobie Landrith and Chris Cannizzaro, outfielder Bobby Gene Smith and pitchers Bob Miller, Craig Anderson and Herb Moford.
On March 10, 1962, before an Al Lang Field crowd of 6,872, including baseball commissioner Ford Frick, the Cardinals beat the Mets, 8-0, in their spring training opener, the first game played by the expansion team.
Right fielder Minnie Minoso and catcher Gene Oliver each homered for the Cardinals, who collected 12 hits. St. Louis reached starter Jay Hook for five runs in four innings. Center fielder Curt Flood was the first batter to face the Mets. Left fielder Stan Musial had a sacrifice fly.
Three Cardinals pitchers, Lindy McDaniel, Ray Washburn and Curt Simmons, combined to limit the Mets to four hits. One of the four was a triple by third baseman Don Zimmer.
The Mets earned their first victory the next afternoon, March 11, beating the Cardinals, 4-3, before 2,574 at St. Petersburg.
Larry Jackson and Paul Toth had combined to hold the Mets scoreless on one hit through seven innings as St. Louis built a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals had shut out the Mets for the first 16 innings of their existence.
In the eighth, pinch-hitter Choo Choo Coleman ripped a two-run home run to right off Johnny Kucks for the first runs ever scored by the Mets. Shortstop Elio Chacon, second baseman Rod Kanehl and right fielder Gus Bell followed with consecutive singles, tying the score.
The Mets won in the ninth against Ed Bauta when, with two out and none on, center fielder Richie Ashburn doubled and Chacon followed with a single through the left side.
Bob Botz, a right-hander who had pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, earned the first win in Mets history. (Botz never appeared in a regular-season game for the Mets. On April 2, 1962, he was traded to the Braves. The Cardinals acquired him from the Angels in April 1963 and assigned him to Class AAA Atlanta. He pitched in four games for the Cardinals’ farm club.)
The Mets and Cardinals were scheduled to open their regular season on April 10 in St. Louis, but the game was postponed because of rain. It was the first time a Cardinals home opener had been scratched in more than 25 years.
They finally played for real on April 11. Right fielder Stan Musial was 3-for-3 with two RBI, a walk and a run, first baseman Bill White drove in three runs, and second baseman Julian Javier contributed four hits and three runs as the Cardinals, with 16 hits, beat the Mets, 11-4, before 16,147 at St. Louis. Boxscore
Musial, 41, had made his big-league debut 21 years earlier against the Braves, then managed by Stengel.
“He’s the only player left from my last time in the National League,” Stengel, 71, said to the Associated Press after the game. “No wonder they keep him around.”
Ashburn was the first batter in Mets regular-season history. He flied out to center. Bell got the first Mets hit, a single to center in the second. Gil Hodges, the first baseman, hit the first Mets home run, with none on in the fourth.
Larry Jackson pitched a complete game for St. Louis. Mets starter Roger Craig lasted three innings and took the loss, his first of 24 that season.
A week later, April 18, the Cardinals played their first game against the Mets at New York _ and it was another romp. Third baseman Ken Boyer hit two home runs and scored four times, Musial was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run, and St. Louis rapped 18 hits against four Mets pitchers, winning, 15-5, before 4,725 on a Wednesday afternoon at the Polo Grounds. Boxscore
The win improved St. Louis’ record to 5-0; the Mets dropped to 0-6 on their way to a 40-120 season.
Overall, St. Louis won 13 of 18 against the ’62 Mets. Musial hit .468 (22-for-47) with four homers, 15 RBI and 11 walks in 17 games against New York. Other Cardinals who excelled against the Mets that season: White (.360 batting average, 19 RBI), Boyer (.329, 23 RBI), Flood (.392, 13 RBI), Washburn (4-0 record), Jackson (3-0) and McDaniel (1-0, four saves).
The 1962 Cardinals batted .311 against the Mets, with 30 home runs, 117 RBI, 203 hits, 129 runs, a .370 on-base percentage and a .508 slugging percentage. Each was a season-high total for St. Louis