"Marvelous" Marv Throneberry: One of the First Mets Popular/ Folk Hero Players (1962-1963)

Marvin Eugene Throneberry was born on September 2, 1933, in Collierville, Tennessee, thirty miles outside of Memphis.

Marv is the younger brother of MLB outfielder; Faye Throneberry. The family grew up on a farm in Fishersville, with three brothers & one sister. Marv would live in this town his entire life.

The six foot one, Left-handed Marv Throneberry, turned down an offer from his brother's team, the Boston Red Sox. In 1952, he signed with the AL New York club for an amazing $50,000 bonus. 

He played in the minor leagues at Denver where the thin air helped him lead the league in HRs & RBIs for three straight seasons. In 1956 he was named the league's MVP. The next year he was voted the third best prospect to make the majors by the Sporting News.

MLB Debut: Throneberry was first brought up to the majors for one game on September 25th
1955, he went 2-2 with a two run double & a sac fly against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Throneberry spent the next two seasons back in the minors before returning to the majors for good in 1958. He never matched his minor league numbers at the plate. He had problems with his fielding as well. 

He was touted as the replacement for Joe Collins at first base, but he never lived up to his hype & Moose Skowron took over the position. In 1958 Throneberry hit just .227 but had 7 HRs with 19 RBIs in 150 at bats over 60 games.

1958 World Series:
He got one World Series at bat in 1958, striking out against the Milwaukee Braves Lew Burdette. 

In 1959 he was action in 80 games, batting .240 with 8 HRs & 22 RBIs, he struck out often 51 times in 192 at bats. On December 11, 1959, he was traded along with Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Norm Siebern to the Kansas City Athletics for Roger Maris, Joe DeMaestri & Kent Hadley.

A's Career: In Kansas City he hit .250 with 11 HRs & 41 RBIs in 236 at bats, but struck out 60 times, a ratio of every four at bats. 

On September 25th he hit a pinch-hit grand slam HR to beat the Tigers. The next year he hit a three run HR & drove in all four runs in a 4-3 win to beat the Minnesota Twins expansion team. In early June 1961 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Gene Stephens. Overall, with both teams that year, he batted .226 with 11 HRs & 35 RBIs.

Mets Career: In May of 1962 after just nine games played, he was sent to the expansion New York Mets for cash & a player to be named later which turned out to be Hobie Landrith. It was his old manager with the AL New York team, Casey Stengle that helped bring Throneberry to the Mets.

With the Mets he finally got to be an everyday player and had his best season. Marv was certainly not an All-star, but he became one of the early Mets first popular players & folk heroes, becoming known as Marvelous Marv. 

Mets Holk Hero: Original Met, Jay Hook, who was the first pitcher to earn a Met victory, was also studying engineering at the time. He remembers Throneberry asking him, if he could draft him up a sign reading "Marvelous" that he would hang on his locker. 

When he hung it above his locker, the writers became curious in what it was all about. The legend of "Marvelous Marv" was born. The fans eventually started the “Marvelous Marv” fan club which at one point held 5000 members. 

At The Polo Grounds, the first Mets fans would hang banners draped from the upper deck in his honor. One of the all-time classics read “Cranberry, Strawberry, We Love Throneberry”

They would come to the ballpark with the letters VRAM painted on the backs of their shirts, that meant Marv spelled backwards. Throneberry himself, did anything he could to play into his image, he even pointed out that his initials spelled out M.E.T.- making him a true Met!

Defensively, Throneberry was known to be a liability, he committed 17 errors posting a .981 fielding %. It would be the worst fielding percentage of any first baseman until 1979. 

On Casey Stengel’s birthday the team threw their manager a party, everyone got a piece of cake except Marv. Stengel told him, we were afraid to give you a piece, because you may have dropped that too.

On a classic June 17th game, he hit what looked like a triple but was called out for not touching second base. When Stengel came out to argue, Mets first base coach Cookie Lavagetto (or the umpire) told Stengel to forget it saying "he missed first base too". Of course, the Mets lost the game by one run 4-3. 

It was legendary stories like this that made the legend of Marvelous Marv grow even bigger. 
 
Quotes-Casey Stengel: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

In his first Mets game on May 11th, 1962, he batted sixth & played at first base. He got a hit plus a walk that day against Bob Shaw in an 8-5 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. Marv struggled at first not getting over the .200 mark until June 10th. From June 17th through June 23rd, he drove in runs & hit safely in six of eight games. He also finished the month with four multiple RBI games.

Marv did have a few heroic moments which helped him get even more members in his fan club. 

Walk Off HR: In the first game of a July 7th double header at the Polo Grounds against the St. Louis Cardinals, he came to bat as a pinch hitter, in the bottom of the 9th, with one on & one out, with the Mets down by a run. Marv hit an exciting walk off HR off pitcher, Ernie Broglio. In the second game of that twin bill, Marv hit another HR, this one-off pitcher Ray Washburn although the Mets lost the game 3-2. 

Later in the summer he hit safely in 15 of 16 games, to start out the month of August raising his average to a season high .255.

On August 2nd he hit a pair of solo HRs in a 9-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Walk Off HR: Later in the month, on August 21st, in a game against the Pirates at the Polo Grounds he started the 9th inning coaching at first base.  The crowd started chanting "we want Marv- we want Marv". Manager Casey Stengel, always the showman & crowd pleaser, sent up Marv to pinch hit. 

The Mets were behind 4-2, with two men on & Pirates pitcher Roy Face on the mound. Face was one of the top relief pitchers in the NL. But Throneberry came through, he was the hero of the day, as he hit the game winning walk off, three run HR to an ecstatic Polo Grounds crowd of under 5,000.

The next day he drove in two runs against Jack Sanford & the San Francisco Giants to an almost sold-out Polo Grounds in a 5-4 Mets win. He would also drive in a run in two games of the series with the L.A. Dodgers on that same home stand. 

In mid-September he had back-to-back HR games coming against the Cincinnati Reds at the Polo Grounds. 

In the Mets inaugural season, Throneberry was second on the team in HRs (16) he hit 12 of those in the Polo Grounds. He batted .244 with 11 doubles, 3 triples, a .306 on base % & 49 RBIs in 116 games played. He struck out 83 times as well.

1963: In the off season, he did not get the money he wanted from GM George Weiss & held out of Spring Training. The Mets got Tim Harkness who could play at first base & were paving the way for a 17-year-old Ed Kranepool, fresh out of Bronx high school. 

After just 14 games, Throneberry was batting .143 going 2-14, with five strikeouts. He was sent down to AAA Buffalo, never returning to the majors again. After just games at Buffalo he retired at age 29.

Even after he was gone “Bring Back Marv” banners would appear at the Polo Grounds. 

Career Stats: In a seven-season career he was a .237 hitter with 281 hits 53 HRs 37 doubles 8 triples and 170 RBIs in 480 games. He struck out 295 times in 1186 at bats posting a .311 on base %. At first base he committed 32 errors in 307 games played at the position. He also played 45 games in the outfield, making just two errors.


Retirement- Lite Beer Commercials: In the early 1980’s, Marv enjoyed a new success starring in some of the classic Lite Beer from Miller commercials. His famous lines were: “I still don’t know why they asked me to do this commercial” as he was surrounded by a bunch of better & more famous athletes.

Another said:  "If I do for Lite what I did for baseball, I'm afraid their sales will go down." Columnist Jimmy Breslin then said, "Having Marv Throneberry play for your team is like having Willie Sutton work for your bank."

When asked why he did the ads he said "going to work just two times a month & making a great living. I can fish four or five days a week. I've got five boats & five motors. I don't have to worry about things I use to worry about. I wouldn't trade this for anything".


Family: Marv married his wife Dixie when they were still in high school. Together they had two sons & three daughters

Passing: Marv passed away from cancer in Fishersville, Tennessee, at age 60 in 1993. He was survived by his wife, Dixie; three daughters, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

___________________________________

Maynard Faye Throneberry is Marv Throneberry's older brother. The five-foot eleven outfielder was born June 22nd, 1931, in Fishersville, Tennessee. 
At age twenty he debuted for with the Boston Red Sox playing in 98 games alongside Dom DiMaggio & Hoot Evers in the Sox outfield. He had a fine start to his career stealing 15 bases (5th best in the NL) hitting .258 with 5 HRs & 23 RBIs in 310 at bats. 

He would go off to serve two years military service in the Korean War & returned in 1955. He played as a reserve outfielder the next two seasons getting traded to the Washington Senators in 1957.
His 1960 Topps baseball card had him wearing glasses & he looked more like a scholar than a ball player.

Faye spent four years in the nation's capital, seeing the most action in 1959 (117 games) when he hit .251 with a career high ten HRs & 42 RBIs. That year he led all right fielders in errors (7).  In 1960 he was selected in the expansion draft & played his final MLB season with the Los Angeles Angels batting .194 in just 24 games.
In an eight-year career he nit .236 with 307 hits, 48 doubles 29 HRs & 137 RBIs in 521 games.
Retirement: After baseball he became a successful pro trainer of bird dogs, winning a 1973 National Bird Dog Championship with Millers Miss Knight. He passed away at age 67 in 1999.

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