Jul 31, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1973) Mets Battle Cry "You Gotta Believe" is Born

The 1973 New York Mets struggled through injuries to most of its key position players most of the season.

By the middle of "The Summer of '73" the Mets were below .500, in last place eleven games out.

By August, Mets reliever, Tug McGraw’s record had slipped to 0-6 with an ERA over five. At one point he said he felt like "he had no idea how to throw a baseball anymore". This was another reason for the Mets poor play since Tug had been one of the games top relievers.

And then one afternoon, it all seemed to make sense. After a bad road trip McGraw came back to New York & called up a friend on Long Island.

McGraw met a gentleman named; Joe Badamano for lunch, an old friend of former Mets Manager Gil Hodges from the Brooklyn Dodger days. Badamano was an insurance salesman & motivational speaker. In the days before the team had psychiatrist around to hear personal issues, Badamano & McGraw would just talk in the player's lounge after games. Badamano would bring up sales points & McGraw would combine it to baseball & the both had a motivational talk at best.  

Badamano told Tug “you got to believe in yourself". He was told to stop worrying, think positive, if he didn't believe in himself, he would never do it.

"That’s it!" Tug said to himself, as quoted from his own book “You Gotta Believe”.

McGraw said " Sitting there that day, I knew I didn't have a hell of a lot of choice. I was out of tricks. Okay I believe, because You Gotta Believe!!". It was certainly was a catchy phrase & he kept repeating it to himself on the drive to the ballpark.

As Tug got to Shea Stadium, he met some fans & signed a few autographs. When they asked what's wrong with the Mets this year, he replied don't worry "you gotta believe".

As he got into the clubhouse, he was all fired up shouting the phrase to his team mates over & over. Then in a famous closed door team meeting with chairman of the board; M. Donald Grant and his Board of Directors, the rally cry was born.

Earlier, rumors were swirling in the press about who was to be fired in the Mets organization. The newspapers actually had a poll asking the public who the Mets should let go; the manager, Yogi Berra? the General Manager Bob Scheffing? Or the Chairman M. Donald Grant?

Since Berra was the most popular guy, he was voted the most to stay. Management took notice & decided to speak with the team.

M. Donald Grant who was much older than the players walked into the club house for this infamous meeting. He spoke to the team & went on with a long speech that should of lasted just a few minutes. He gave the team a pep talk, telling them the front office was behind them and still believed in them or they wouldn't be here.

Then it happened; McGraw couldn't contain himself anymore, he jumped up and shouted, “You gotta believe! You gotta believe!” right in the middle of the Grants speech.

The stuffy Grant wasn’t sure if he was being mocked or supported by the wild relief pitcher known to be a character. He stormed out of the room with his brass of upper management behind him. Some of his teammates laughed, thinking Tug was actually mocking the chairman of the board.

Ed Kranepool went over to Tug, telling him that Grant was pissed off & he should straighten things out with Grant to cool him off. McGraw was niave & didn't feel he did anything wrong. He took Kranepool's advice & went over to talk with Grant in his office. Sure enough the hardnosed old man was upset. In McGraws words Grant told him, the only thing that will keep him here is if he starts winning some games.

It took a couple of weeks, but things began to turn around for the best as the team got healthy. Whichever way Tug McGraw meant his “You gotta believe” outburst to be, it became legendary.

Every time another win was notched, the term "You Gotta Believe" was heard or written. The press, the fans, the players, even a group of Catholic Nuns jumped on board with the phrase, appearing on signs at the ball park too. During the World Series, New York Mayor John Lindsay himself, held up a sign made by the Mets "sign man" reading You Gotta Believe!

For Mets fans it will never be forgotten & always be associated with the team. It was also to be one of baseball’s greatest battle cries ever as well.

The Mets they went 20-8 in September, winning nine of their last eight games & won the N.L. Eastern Title on the last day of the regular season. “You Gotta Believe” led the Mets from last place all the way to the NLCS, where they upset the mighty Bid Red Machine from Cincinnati.

Then it was onto California for the World Series, where they fell one game short of a Championship, losing to the Dynasty, three time champion; Oakland A's.

Personally, McGraw turned his season around by September, he had a spectacular pennant drive, winning five games (5-0) and earning ten saves in the final month of the regular season. He posted a 0.88 ERA striking out 38 batters in 41 innings, allowing just two earned runs all month long.

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