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Mets Christen Shea Stadium with Loss to Pirates

Apr. 17, 1964 - You take a shabby, downtrodden bunch of Mets, and you wrap them in a spanking new ballpark that cost somebody $25 million bucks, and what have you got? A shabby, downtrodden bunch of Mets, still losing, this time 4-3 to Pittsburgh, and thereby christening Shea Stadium with tears of defeat.

For a time today, the 48,736 howlers wallowing in the freshness of the luxurious ballpark believed their beggars had become princes. But a 3-1 lead was eventually blown, a run at a time, as Willie Stargell, a four-hit man, carried the winning run across in the ninth.

And who knocked him in with a hit off reliever Ed Bauta? Bill Mazeroski (left, with Willie Stargell and Bob Friend), an old friend of Casey Stengel. There was a day, in 1960, when the Old Man managed the Yankees for the last time. Maz hit one over the fence that day to beat him in the World Series. This time, only a single was needed.

Stargell, who bats cleanup for the Bucs, began his glory day with the first home run to be stroked in big Shea. He drove Jack Fisher’s first serve in the second inning over the wall of beige brick in right and sent fans scrambling down the walkway for the souvenir.

Roberto Clemente and Donn Clendenon accounted for three each of the Pirates’ 16 hits, while Pittsburgh’s Bob Friend, an old Met enemy, limited the Mets to seven, four of those coming in the fourth, when all the New York scoring was accomplished.

The Mets, when they were born in 1962, went nine games before winning. Last year, they were 0-8. Now, they are only 0-3. There is plenty of time.

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