New York Mets team ownership history

This article was written by Leslie Heaphy

This article was published in the Team Ownership History Project

Citi Field

Citi Field has been home of the New York Mets since 2009. (COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK METS)


As part of the expansion of the National League in 1962 a franchise was given to New York City. From 1962 to the current day, the Metropolitans’ ownership has been fairly stable. Joan Payson and her family maintained control of the club until they sold it team in 1980. Beginning in 1980, the Mets fell under the primary control of Doubleday and Co., which did not relinquish its control until 1986. Even then the ownership stayed with Nelson Doubleday and his partner Fred Wilpon. In 2002, Wilpon and Sterling Equities bought out Doubleday and as of 2017 have remained the primary owners. The relative stability in ownership for the Mets has not prevented them from experiencing incredible highs and lows during franchise history. Two World Series brought the Mets to the highest honor in baseball while they began with the worst record in ML history in 1962.

Birth of the Metropolitans

In 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants left New York to go to the West Coast, New York fans were left reeling and looking for a replacement. A number of groups stepped in and talks developed about who might move in to take over the market.

Late in 1957, New York Mayor Robert Wagner Jr. appointed a committee to bring National League baseball back to the city. While luminaries such as former Attorney General James Farley, department-store mogul Bernard Gimbel and real-estate impresario Clinton Blume sat on the panel, the real power was attorney William Shea. Shea hoped to lure one of the league’s weaker members to New York, but talks with the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Philadelphia Phillies all failed, so he decided to propose the creation of a third league, to be called the Continental League.

The league would have eight teams, including a New York entry, and would be led by Branch Rickey. After nearly half a century as a major-league player, manager, and executive, Rickey knew any challenger would need strong ownership to provide the money to develop a front office, sign players, and, perhaps, build a ballpark. In New York, the Continental League found its potential owners in the city’s old money.

Joan PaysonThe group was led by Joan Whitney Payson and her husband, Charles Shipman Payson. Her minority partners included George Herbert Walker Jr., an executive with merchant banker Brown Brothers Harriman (and uncle of 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush) and Dwight F. Davis Jr., son of the founder of tennis’s Davis Cup. Another was her stockbroker, M. Donald Grant.1

After two years of resisting the Continental League, the National and American Leagues finally came around to the idea of expansion in late 1960. Each would add two teams and the National League would take its ownership groups (New York and Houston) from the Continental League groups. National League play was to begin in 1962.

The decision gave Payson the distinction of being the first female baseball franchise owner in four decades and the first who did not own the team because her husband had died. She had first gotten involved in baseball by buying one share of stock in the New York Giants in 1950 and gradually increased her involvement to a 10 percent share by the mid-1950s. Before the Giants moved there was some thought that she might invest more heavily to keep the Giants in New York, but she sold her shares when the Giants followed the Dodgers to the West coast. Payson’s interest in baseball came from her mother but it was not her only sporting interest. She also invested heavily in horse racing, owning a stable with her brother Jock.2

Joan Whitney was born in New York in February 1903 to a family with an impressive lineage. Her father, Payne Whitney came from a family line that included a Democratic senator from Ohio in the 1880s. His own father, William C. Whitney, served as secretary of the Navy during the administration of Grover Cleveland and owned a streetcar line. His uncle, Col. Oliver Payne, left his fortune to his nephew when he died in 1917. Her mother, Helen Hay Whitney (from Cleveland) was the daughter of John Hay, who began his career as assistant private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. He went on to serve as secretary of state to both Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. Joan inherited her father’s fortune with her brother upon their father’s death. Payne Whitney had not only inherited money but added to his fortune with investments in banking, tobacco, railroads, mining, oil, and Greentree Stables.

Joan Whitney married Charles Shipman Payson when she was 21. Their 1924 marriage at Christ Church was a huge social event uniting two oldtime wealthy families. During the course of their marriage they had five children, three girls and two boys, but she continued to oversee and invest her own money in horses, art, and the New York Mets.3

After paying $1 million for her primary investment, Payson moved quickly to organize and name her new ballclub. In March 1961, the first major management decision was made: to hire George Weiss as president and general manager. Weiss had been with the New York Yankees from 1932 to 1960 and been incredibly successful, as his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 proved. Weiss insisted on bringing Casey Stengel on board as the new manager. Then, in May 1961 Payson hosted a gathering at her Manhattan home to name the new club. According to some of those present, Payson’s personal favorite was the Meadowlarks but the New York Metropolitans was chosen. Payson herself announced the name at the Savoy on May 8, 1961, indicating that the team would be known by the nickname Mets. A new logo was commissioned from sports cartoonist Ray Gotto and unveiled in November 1961.

M. Donald Grant first met Joan Payson at a club in Florida in the 1940s. Over a game of cards the conversation shifted to what each of them would buy with their money, and Payson and Grant both wanted to buy the New York Giants. From there a lifelong friendship and working relationship began. Grant was born in Montreal, the son of Michael Grant, a professional hockey player. He eventually found his way to New York City to make his fortune. He started as a night clerk and worked his way up to being a managing partner in Fahnestock and Company while also serving on the board of the Mets.4 While Grant was a minority owner, Payson claimed that her investment was about 85 percent of the team.5 Grant served as the chairman of the board until he resigned in 1978.

One of the biggest concerns for Payson and the other ML owners was where the Mets would play. Plans were immediately underway to construct what was to be known as Flushing Meadows Stadium, but it would never be ready for the first season. One proposal was to share Yankee Stadium, but the Yankees ownership was not interested in anything less than a long-term rental agreement. The team then turned to the Polo Grounds, the former home of the Giants. The Mets played their inaugural game on April 11, 1962, a game they lost 11-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets went on to have the worst record (40-120) of any major-league team in the twentieth century, and attendance for the season was only 922,530.

When Shea Stadium finally opened for the Mets to play their home opener on April 17, 1964, it was supposed to be the state-of-the-art in ballparks. Sadly, the reality was different, though the outcome of that first game was as expected. The Mets lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3. When Shea Stadium was first proposed, it was planned to be part of urban planner Robert Moses’ vision for all of Flushing Meadows Park. Moses originally used the idea to try to entice Walter O’Malley to move the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Queens.

Shea and Moses had to find a way around a New York state law that prohibited the city from borrowing money to build a stadium. The only way around the law was to prove that the stadium could pay for itself from rent and event revenue. If the new team paid a substantial annual rent, then 30-year bonds could be paid off and no money would need to be borrowed. All Shea and Moses had to do was convince others that the idea could become a reality. With the endorsement of the New York Times and other dignitaries, the deal was made and stadium construction began. Sadly, the Mets were never able to live up to that monetary commitment and that would cause difficulties when Fred Wilpon wanted a new stadium three decades later. The Mets were also granted exclusive rights to Shea during the course of the baseball season by Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris. One of the other features of Shea Stadium was the fact that the ballpark was built for multiple tenants, a trend for municipal stadium development in the 1960s. Due to his efforts in bringing National League baseball back to New York, Shea became the logical person to name the new stadium after.6

Shea Stadium was dedicated the day before the home opener with Shea, Mayor Wagner, Robert Moses, manager Casey Stengel, Joan Payson, and many dignitaries in attendance. Shea christened the new field with water from the Harlem River and the Gowanus Canal. The Polo Grounds had stood on the banks of the Harlem, and its water represented the lost Giants, while the canal ran through Brooklyn near an early field of the Dodgers.

Unfortunately, the new stadium would be plagued by financial issues and water concerns throughout its life. Being built on marsh land meant the new stadium had constant drainage issues. Those issues were not helped when the outfield fences were moved in and the drainage pipes were then outside the fences. The planned 80,000-seat expansion and dome did not happen due to financial shortfalls. The financial woes would continue to plague the Mets for their entire history. Shea Stadium’s financial overruns affected how the city later dealt with the desire by the both Mets and Yankees for new stadiums.7

Part of the blame for the terrible start can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the aging and increasingly disengaged Casey Stengel. But the 1961 expansion draft was the primary trouble. Each National League team had to make available players for the Houston and New York teams to draft. The draft was scheduled for the period before major-league teams had to add blue-chip prospects to their 40-man rosters and thus eligible for selection. The Mets’ selections came primarily from players at the end of their careers or players with no big-league experience. Coupled with the declining skills of Stengel, who was the oldest manager in the major leagues at the time, the Mets got off to a dismal start.

Joan PaysonPayson and her fellow board members did not lose heart, bolstered by attendance success that was unexpected given the team’s on-field performance. The team drew over a million fans to the Polo Grounds in its second year, despite another dismal performance, and then shot to 1.7 million, second in the league, the year Shea Stadium opened. The success continued for much of the next two decades.

This helped the owners keep their faith in George Weiss, who was trying to build a farm system. But Weiss turned 72 during the 1966 season and Grant looked for a younger man. In 1967 Bing Devine took over as general manager for one season before being replaced by Johnny Murphy for two years. Murphy guided the Mets to their improbable World Series win in 1969. When Murphy suffered a heart attack in December 1969 he was replaced by special-assignment scout Bob Scheffing and farm director Joe McDonald. There was no assistant GM at the time and Grant, as chairman of the board, made the assignment based on who was on hand. Scheffing, who had never held such a responsibility, remained in charge, guiding the Mets back to the playoffs in 1973. Joe McDonald was the last GM that Payson hired in 1975, before her death in October of that year. Until 1968, Payson was one of five vice presidents but with Devine’s resignation she added president to her résumé. The other VPs were G. Herbert Walker Jr., James K. Thomson, John J. Murphy, and Casey Stengel.8

While Payson was owner, she did not get involved in many of the day-to-day decisions of the ballclub. She preferred to remain in the background and be the team’s number-one fan. She attended games regularly, took care of the players, and even decorated part of her house in Mets colors. One of the few personnel decisions she weighed in on was bringing Willie Mays to the Mets, as he had been her favorite player with the Giants. Much of the operational work was done by the GMs, front-office staff and M. Donald Grant, though Grant indicated in an interview that he was credited with more input in decisions than he ever gave. He claimed he never interfered in the choices made by the GMs but just offered advice and counsel.9

After Joan Payson

After Joan Payson died in 1975, her shares were bought by her husband Charles Payson, making him the majority stockholder with nearly 90 shares. Mr. Payson was not really much of a baseball fan, preferring instead to remain involved in his own businesses and occasionally going out bird hunting at their home on the Florida Gulf Coast. Payson’s other athletic interests were boxing and rowing. (He’d participated in the latter when he attended Yale.) He later attended Harvard Law School. He also took a keen interest in their horse farm in Kentucky. Given Charles’s lack of interest, the family involvement fell to Payson’s daughter Lorinda de Roulet, who became president and then chairwoman of the board after Grant resigned in 1978.10 Payson gave about 33 percent of his shares to his four children, including de Roulet, making him still the majority stockholder, with about a 52 percent interest. The other stock was held by Fred Trask, who had been Mrs. Payson’s financial adviser.11 Grant was asked to step down by de Roulet and the rest of the board, primarily due to his refusal to spend money on free agents. His frugality was given as the primary reason for the Mets’ decline into the cellar from 1973 to 1978. The trade of the popular Tom Seaver may have been the final straw for de Roulet.12

De Roulet had attended Wellesley College and married Vincent de Roulet, later President Nixon’s ambassador to Jamaica. He died young, leaving her as a widow with three children and a ballclub to run. She relied on GM Joe McDonald for most decisions but did not expect to be a silent owner. As chairwoman, de Roulet needed to learn the business to work with VP for business James K. Thomson and William Murray, treasurer and controller.13

Under de Roulet’s guidance, the Mets continued to struggle on and off the field. Their lowest attendance in franchise history came in 1979 with only 788,905 fans attending home games. These struggles led to speculation that Payson was trying to find a buyer for the team. The press had fun speculating on potential new owners but none materialized and de Roulet assured fans that her family was not leaving. Joe Torre, who managed the Mets manager under de Roulet, commented, “Her heart was certainly in the right place and she tried to make the club reasonable.”14 That promise remained true until January 1980, when the Mets franchise changed hands for the first time in club history. Payson invited bids for his club and 21 groups responded. New York Islanders chief operating officer John Pickett helped bring together Doubleday and Wilpon to win the lottery for the Mets.15

A New Day: Doubleday and Co.

On January 24, 1980, the Payson family sold their controlling interest in the Mets to Doubleday and Company and to Fred Wilpon, chairman of the board of Sterling Equities Inc., for a reported $21.1 million. Nelson Doubleday Jr. negotiated the deal on behalf of his family’s publishing company, giving them 80 percent controlling interest. Fred Wilpon bought the remaining stock through his two companies, Sterling Investments and City Investment Corporation. Wilpon remained a minor partner until 1986, when he and Doubleday bought out the publishing company’s interests after Doubleday and Co. was sold to a German company, Bertelsmann AG. At that point he moved from a 5 percent owner to 50 percent.16

Like the Paysons before him, Nelson Doubleday had an extensive pedigree. Born in Oyster Bay, Long Island, on July 20, 1933, Doubleday attended private academies before enrolling in Princeton University, where he played football, baseball, and hockey. Armed with a degree in economics Doubleday worked his way up through his grandfather’s company, eventually taking full control in 1973. After taking over as president and CEO in 1978 Doubleday had the power to buy the Mets in 1980. Doubleday and his wife, Sandra, had four daughters, none of whom took any interest in the baseball franchise.17 Doubleday was described by those who worked with him as patient, quiet, classy, and charming but also a hard-headed businessman.18

Fred Wilpon was born on November 22, 1936, in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. At Lafayette High School he played baseball with Sandy Koufax. Koufax played first base while Wilpon pitched. Wilpon attended the University of Michigan on a partial scholarship but blew out his arm before the start of his sophomore season. He graduated in 1958 and continued to be supportive of the university financially. Wilpon and his wife, Judy, had one son, Jeff, and Judy worked in baseball for a time as well. She was hired in 1959 by Branch Rickey as a secretary. Unlike the Doubleday children, Jeff Wilpon took a big interest in the team and eventually became the chief operating officer.19

Wilpon made his money in real estate, working with his partner Saul Katz. Katz was a CPA who graduated from Brooklyn College and was the brother of Wilpon’s wife, Judy. Wilpon spent five years at Hanover Equities before branching out with Katz. In 1972 they founded Sterling Equities and their first project involved townhouses in Tarrytown, New York, up the Hudson River from Manhattan. Wilpon and Katz worked well together from the start as opposites in character. Those who knew them well described Wilpon as hands-on but calm while Katz was more aggressive and streetwise.20

One of the first moves Doubleday and Wilpon had to make was hiring a new GM after Joe McDonald left. Frank Cashen joined the team from Baltimore and would remain as general manager through 1991. Doubleday, as the principal owner, was not a meddler and left the day-to-day decisions to Cashen. He told reporters he would prefer that nobody knew who he was. Doubleday gave all the credit for the Mets’ success to Cashen, telling a New York Times reporter, “The reason the Mets are a success is Frank Cashen — no ifs, ands or buts.”21 It would take a few years but gradually the new owners and Cashen were able to turn the Mets’ fortunes around, on and off the field. The highlight of the partnership came when the Mets won the World Series in 1986 though they would not return again until 2000 in the Subway Series when they lost to the New York Yankees, their crosstown rivals.

After the World Series win in 1986 expectations were high for the Mets to continue to be at the top of the game, but that did not happen. Many of the stars of that championship team found themselves in trouble with drugs and alcohol. Pitcher Dwight Gooden ended up in drug rehab in April 1987. During the 1986 season the Mets were known around the league as boozers, womanizers, and brawlers. Ron Darling and Tim Teufel, for example, got into a scuffle with Houston police after a long night of partying. Doug Sisk, Jesse Orosco and Danny Heep were often referred to as “The Scum Bunch.”22

While the Mets of the 1980s enjoyed seven good seasons, 1990 was the last winning season. After a tough start, Cashen, fired manager Davey Johnson on May 29, replacing him with third-base coach Bud Harrelson. Harrelson managed to turn things around and the Mets ended the season with 91 wins, in second place behind the Pirates. But the 1991 season ended with Harrelson gone, Cashen resigning and the Mets in fifth place. From 1991 to 1996 the Mets had losing seasons again.23

The club’s troubles continued, leading Wilpon to make a strong statement about the need for change in 1993. “Our club is in last place, and we have been plagued all season by a series of embarrassing off-the-field incidents that have indirectly subjected us to local and national criticism. But that will change.”24 One of those incidents involved Vince Coleman lighting a firecracker and throwing it into a group of fans. Three fans got hurt and Coleman ended up having to complete 200 hours of community service. Bret Saberhagen apologized to Mets fans and donated a day’s salary to charity after he shot a water gun full of bleach into a room full of reporters.25 The change Wilpon was talking about was replacing GM Al Harazin, who had taken over after Cashen resigned at the end of 1991. Harazin was replaced by Joe McIlvaine who served as GM from 1994 to 1997. The 1990s ended with Cashen returning as interim GM and Steve Phillips returning the Mets to the World Series in 2000, while serving as GM from 1998 to 2003.


Shea Stadium

Shea Stadium in the mid-1990s. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)


The Wilpon Era

In 2002 Wilpon finally bought out Doubleday for $135 million and became the single principal owner of the Mets, a position he has maintained as of 2017. Wilpon initially hoped to find partners but they all backed out after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Wilpon and Doubleday had not agreed on how to run the ballclub for many years leading up to the split. Their disagreements forced even the members of the board to have to choose sides. Saul Katz and Marvin Tepper supported Wilpon while Dick Cummins supported Doubleday Jr. They disagreed on how involved to be, how much money to spend, and even on whether or not to build a new ballpark. Doubleday wanted to renovate Shea and Wilpon always wanted to build a new ballpark.26

The sale of the Mets did not happen smoothly and required the help of outside arbitrators and Major League baseball to make the sale happen. Part of the issue was the value of the team determined by the assessor, Robert Starkey. In 1986 the Mets were valued at approximately $100 million but by 2002 that value had grown to $391 million. Due to previous agreements Doubleday had to sell to Wilpon and could not put the team out for bids on the open market. Wilpon wanted to be the principal owner in order to build a new ballpark. Doubleday thought Starkey and other appraisers had put the value of the team too low and he wanted to sue. He even accused Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball of conspiring to keep team values low to lessen the amount that had to be borrowed.27

By becoming the majority owner of the Mets, Wilpon was able to make good on his desire to replace the aging Shea Stadium. It was a struggle. Shea had been a financial boondoggle for the city. In addition, when the Yankees wanted to rebuild Yankee Stadium in the early 1970s, they argued that the $28 million the city had spend building Shea for the Mets should mean an equivalent amount for their project. They were convincing, but escalating costs pushed the Yankees project well over $100 million at a time when New York City was having severe financial problems. City taxpayers clearly were opposed to spending municipal dollars on new stadiums, and the Yankees were looking for a new ballpark as well.

For the Mets, Wilpon solved the problem with a lot of persuasion and a dose of private funding. While taxpayers provided the majority of the money, a new operating arm called New York City Economic Development Corporation for Queens Ballpark LLC was created to oversee the funding and ongoing financial concerns related to the park. The 42,000-seat Citi Field opened in 2009 with much of the funding coming from over $613 million in Citi Field bonds. Installment payments, lease revenue, and another $82 million in insured debt financed the rest of the construction. Unfortunately for many of the bond holders between 2009 and 2014, the Mets attendance fell below projections by as much as 30 percent, meaning little revenue was gained. Their World Series run in 2015 helped to raise revenue by nearly $25 million, allowing the Mets ownership to pay down some of their debt.28

After Wilpon became the sole majority owner, the Mets seemed to settle in to mediocrity. One reporter called the signing of manager Art Howe before the 2003 season as “desperately chintzy.”29 Howe was not a risk-taker and seemed to settle for not shaking anything up. Wilpon did not want to spend any money and even indicated he would walk away before having to spend too much. The one exception seemed to be the signing of Tom Glavine for $35 million. By 2004 his attitude seemed to be changing as a member of his staff stated, “Fred believes in accountability. He’s not going to sit by and allow things to just get worse.”30

Jeff Wilpon also became increasingly involved in the club. He had always loved baseball and wanted a bigger role. He played in high school and caught batting practice for the Mets. He worked for a time with the Montreal Expos before coming back home. By 2004 he was running the minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones and serving as vice president for Sterling Equities. As he became the CEO for the Mets some blamed him for the club’s poor performances. He was described by some as a “hot-tempered know-it-all and meddler.”31 Other staff disagreed and said that unlike his father, Jeff was willing to spend money and he was not overbearing or abrasive. Jeff found himself the center of a lawsuit of his own in 2014 over the firing of a pregnant female employee. Leigh Castergine was the senior vice president for ticket sales when she was fired. Her suit charged that she was fired because she was pregnant and unmarried while Jeff Wilpon argued that Castergine was let go because she did not meet sales goals.32

The biggest scandal in Mets history came with the revelation in 2008 of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The financial issues coincided with the Mets’ best attendance, just over 4 million fans and the recent opening of their new ballpark. The future looked rosy and then the bottom fell out financially. The troubles caused by the Madoff scandal would affect the Mets for nearly a decade.

As a result of all the financial losses associated with the Madoff scheme ending their investment returns and his own real-estate decline Wilpon needed to find an influx of cash. To cover basic expenses, they tried to sell some Mets shares in 2011 to David Einhorn. When that deal fell through, Wilpon had to look elsewhere. Einhorn wanted to become the majority owner with a $200 million investment, but Wilpon was not willing to relinquish his role as majority owner.

In 2012 the Mets sold 12 minority shares to stabilize the financial situation. Four shares were bought by SportsNet NY (SNY) while Steve Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors bought a single 4 percent share along with Bill Maher, a lifelong Mets fan. Bob Pittman from Clear Channel and venture capitalist Kenneth Lever bought one share together. Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz also bought one share apiece. Sterling Equities, the investment company of Wilpon and Katz, owns nearly 65 percent of SNY, keeping those minority shares somewhat in the family. What the Mets ownership was really doing was transferring some of their debt from the team to the sports network. Another investor was James F. McCann, an executive of 1-800-Flowers. At the time McCann bought a share for his company it was under investigation itself for defrauding customers. McCann said he bought the share because he was a family friend of Fred Wilpon and a lifelong Mets fan. The influx of money from the minority sales helped to pay off bank debt and a loan from MLB. The new owners also worked out a deal under which they could sell back their shares in 2018 for their original cost plus 3 percent interest each year.33

In addition to the sale of the team, Wilpon and Katz cut salaries by over $50 million and shrank their workforce by 10 percent. They also eliminated a minor-league team and cut ticket prices to help boost falling attendance. To make up for the cut in prices, attendance would need to increase by over 500,000 to allow the owners to pay off what is owed on Citi field and interest on other debt. All of these measures were a one-time fix that would not correct long-term revenue issues. The key for the Wilpons was to improve the roster of the ballclub with no extra money.34

Citi Field became a concern during the Madoff revelations as bond owners asked what would happen to the ballpark if the Mets went under. To help reassure wary buyers, the Mets bought bond insurance from Ambac Assurance Corporation, which would be required to pay if the Mets could not. What seemed like a workable solution got more complicated when Ambac filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010. Ambac emerged from bankruptcy in 2013 and the Wilpon group was able to weather the financial storm and hold on to the team.35

The situation for the Mets finally improved with the settlement of some litigation and the 2012 influx of cash. Wilpon was able to right the ship and begin spending again. David Wright was given the biggest contract in Mets history at $138 million for 10 years. At the same time the Mets were also still paying off Johan Santana’s $137.5 million contract through 2014. With the increase in salaries and a new GM, Sandy Alderson (who took over in 2010 from Omar Minaya), the Mets began a climb that resulted in their return to the 2015 World Series, which they lost to the Kansas City Royals. The team pushed their 2016 season to a wild-card game that they lost. At the end of the 2016 season Alderson was able to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes for $110 million for three years, indicating willingness on Wilpon’s part to commit some big funds for the future.36

With Fred and Jeff Wilpon still at the helm, the Mets continue to enjoy stability in ownership which has provided them with ups and downs over the years. Saul Katz continues to serve as team president.

Last updated: November 28, 2017

LESLIE HEAPHY was elected to the SABR Board of Directors in 2010. She has been a member of SABR since 1989 and chair of the Women in Baseball Committee since 1995. Leslie is an Associate Professor of History at Kent State University at Stark and publishes in the area of the Negro Leagues and women’s baseball. In 2008, she became the founding editor of the journal “Black Ball,” published by McFarland. She lives in Kent, Ohio. She was the 2014 winner of the Bob Davids Award, SABR’s highest honor.





1 Dick Young, “The Mets are Born: NL Votes to Return to NY in 1962,” New York Daily News , October 18, 1960; Peter Bendix, “The History of the American and National League, Part I,” , November 18, 2008; Mike Barry, “Payson’s Legacy,”, May 18, 2012.

2 Joseph Durso, “Joan Whitney Payson, 72, Mets Owner, Dies,” New York Times , October 5, 1975.

3 “Payne Whitney Dies Suddenly at Home,” New York Times , May 26, 1927.

4 Murray Chass, “M. Donald Grant, 94, Dies,” in Donald Grant File, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Library, Cooperstown, New York. (Hereafter Grant File).

5 Durso, “Joan Whitney Payson, 72, Mets Owner, Dies.”

6 Chris Strohmaier, “Shea Stadium, Robert Moses, and an Era of Ballparks,” October 3, 2014; Jack Lang, “Yanks in Shea Stadium? Idea Enrages Mets,” September 18, 1971 in Grant file.

7 Eric Barrow, “Shea Stadium: Mets First Miracle,” New York Daily News , October 23, 2008.

8 Joseph Durso, “Mrs. Payson Gets New Mets Role,” New York Times , February 7, 1968; Jack Lang, “Mets Put Scheffing in Murphy’s Seat,” January 17, 1970, in Grant File.

9 Dick Young, “Don Grant: I took Blame for Things I Didn’t Do,” Daily News , November 25, 1978, in Grant File.

10 Virginia Kraft, “At Payson’s Place He’s Just Charlie,” Sports Illustrated , April 18, 1977.

11 “Mets Rule Out Plan for Sale in Near Future,” New York Times , October 17, 1979.

12 Jack Lang, “’The Time Had Come’ as Mets Ease Out Grant,” November 28, 1975 in Grant File.

13 Joseph Durso, “1st Lady of the Mets Takes a Cram Course,” New York Times , November 13, 1978; Joseph Durso, “Lady Linda Takes a Tight Grip on Mets Reins,” The Sporting News , March 17, 1979.

14 Anthony Rieber, “Déjà vu All Over Again for Owners of Mets,” , February 19, 2011; “Mets Rule Out Plan for Sale in Near Future,” New York Times , October 17, 1979.

15 Joseph Durso, “Anatomy of a Mets Baseball Sale,” New York Times , February 16, 1980.

16 Newsday, June 26, 2002, article in Nelson Doubleday File, National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Hereafter Doubleday File).

17 William Grimes, “Nelson Doubleday Jr., Publisher Who Owned the Mets, Dies at 81,” New York Times , June 17, 2015.

18 Dave Klein, “Meet Mets New Boss,” The Sporting News , March 29, 1980, 35; Doubleday File.

19 Fred Wilpon File, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York.

20 Alix M. Freedman, “Mets Owner a Big-League Builder,” New York Times , November 8, 1981.

21 Richard Goldstein, “Frank Cashen, Who Turned Lowly Mets into Swaggering Champions, Dies at 88,” New York Times , June 30, 2014.

22 Robert Silverman, “The Hell-Raising, Cocaine-Snorting ’86 Mets: Craziest Team in Major League Baseball History,” November 1, 2015,; Mark Armour, “Frank Cashen,”

23 Steven Jacobetz, “End of an Era,” July 13, 2015,

24 Tim Rohan, “With Mets in World Series Wilpons are Owning the Moment,” New York Times, October 26, 2015.

25 Tom Friend, “Baseball; A tossed Firecracker, a Cloud on Coleman,” New York Times, July 23, 1993; Malcolm Moran, “On Rainy Day, Saberhagen Pitches a Fit,” New York Times , August 7, 1993.

26 William Grimes, Nelson Doubleday Jr., Publisher Who Owned the Mets, Dies at 81,” New York Times , June 17, 2015; Wilpon File.

27 Richard Sandomir, “Baseball; Owner of Mets Makes a Deal,” New York Times , August 14, 2002; Mike Lupica, “If Owners Split, It’s Break for Franchise,” New York Daily News , June 22, 2001; “If There Is a Wilpon There May Be a Way,” New York Post , December 2, 2001, 28.

28 “Mets World Series Appearance Gives Citi Field Bondholders Something to Cheer About,” Bloomberg News, October 22, 2015; Mike Ozanian, “Citi Field Documents Show New York Mets Got Much Richer Last Season,” Forbes, March 10, 2017.

29 Jon Heyman, “Mets’ Mediocrity Starts with Wilpon,”, October 25, 2002; Wilpon File.

30 Unidentified article dated April 2, 2004, in Wilpon File.

31 Joel Sherman, “Jeff: Amazin’s Don’t Have Son Poisoning,” New York Post , September 19, 2004.

32 Sherman; article in Jeff Wilpon File, New York Daily News , dated September 10, 2014.

33 Richard Sandomir, “Mets Seeking Banks’ Help With Heavy Debt,” New York Times , October 5, 2012; Brian Costa, “Meet the Mets (Minority Owners): Bob Pittman and Kenneth Lever,” Wall Street Journal , March 20, 2012; Mike Ozanian, “Mets Prove Bill Maher and Steve Cohen Are Better Investors Than David Einhorn,”, October 10, 2015; Adam Rubin, “Bill Maher Owns Stake in Mets,”, June 4, 2012; Richard Sandomir, “Deal to Sell Piece of Mets to Einhorn Falls Apart,” New York Times , September 1, 2011; Howard Megdal, “The Wilpon Group Buys Some Relief, but Not for the Mets or Their Fans,”, March 20, 2012; Steve Eder, Richard Sandomir, and Alison Leigh Cowan, “A Mets Owner and Claims of Consumer Fraud,” New York Times, December 2, 2012.

34 Megdal, “The Wilpon Group Buys Some Relief, but Not for the Mets or Their Fans.”

35 Neil Demause, “If Mets Go Under, Who Pays for Citi Field?” Village Voice , February 14, 2011.

36 “Richest Contracts in Mets History,”, November 29, 2016.