Lou Niss

Photo courtesy of the New York Mets

Metsellaneous: Joey Wahler On The Mets -- Ultimate Mets Website Ranges From Tom Seaver To Lou Niss

May 09, 2019 - 2:05 pm
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By Joey Wahler

A Met fan from Long Island created a website in 1999, compiling data from throughout the team’s history, with no expectation for its eventual popularity and longevity.

Still going strong 20 years later, The Ultimate Mets Data Base has an extensive, fun collection of information, from major to minutia. The site is the brainchild of a man who prefers remaining anonymous, so we’ll call him Webmaster.

“Basically, I never thought that anyone would actually visit the site,” said Webmaster, who’s 55 and lives near Philadelphia. “I was just using it to kind of work on my own professional development. I’m a computer programmer, a software developer. And it kind of grew into something a little bit more than I imagined it would. I was surprised when I started hearing from people, that people were actually visiting the site.”

Naming just some, the site’s features include the team’s all-time roster, each player’s Met statistics, team transactions listed chronologically, club leaders all-time, annually and each decade, and uniform numbers worn. Among the unique wrinkles are the evolution of the team’s uniform look, all Met walkoff wins and losses, a list of deceased ex-Mets, and details from every Mayor’s Trophy Game, the in-season exhibition played between the Mets and Yankees from 1963-’83.

Each day, Ultimate Mets lists This Date In Mets History and Mets born on that date, while each visit generates a Randomly Selected Met Player. Our latest look, that player was Jay Kleven, who caught two games for the Mets in 1976. A site highlight is its Fan Memories section, where people can anonymously write comments about any Met player ever.

Aside from occasional contributors and some integration with another site, Mets By The Numbers, Webmaster says he oversees the site himself. He says it used to generate moderate income until online advertising methods changed. Webmaster says he pays little attention to the site’s traffic figures, often skewed by random hits from search engine web crawlers.

“It’s nice every once in a while to connect with fans, like minded fans,” said Webmaster, adding he has heard from former Met manager, Bobby Valentine and ex-Met outfielder, Jay Payton, reacting to the site’s content.

The site’s Fan Memories outlet is the ultimate place, pun intended, to share recollections of Met players, managers, coaches, executives and broadcasters from the organization’s 57-plus seasons, each with their own comments section. Webmaster says it’s where fans can provide stories detailing Tom Seaver’s greatness, David Wright’s classiness, or attending a game with their grandfather for the first time.

Those memories, Webmaster says, range from random to poignant, such as “I remember the traffic jam outside the stadium,” he said. “Or remember getting popcorn. It’s just so many different aspects of what people remember.

“It is the thing that really sets us apart from other sites, like Retrosheet or Baseball Reference. You get to see some of the personalities, both of the fans and of the players. I had a friend when I was a kid who despised Ken Boswell. Absolutely hated Ken Boswell. I was like, ‘Why do you hate Ken Boswell?’ He says, ‘Well I was at a game, he struck out with runners on base.’ That was all it took,” Webmaster said, laughing.

“But now it’s nuts,” he added, saying there’s even a comments section to sound off on Met owners. “There’s Jeff Wilpon. Even more obscure people, (former Mets) traveling secretary Lou Niss,” Webmaster said of the bald, bespectacled man, pictured in the team’s annual yearbook during the 1960s and ‘70s. “People remember Lou Niss. They don’t know anything about him. It’s just that face was always there.”

An ex-Met making news typically drives traffic to their site page, Webmaster says.

“Notoriety does tend to do that, Tom Seaver’s news certainly did,” Webmaster said of the Baseball Hall of Famer’s recent announcement that he’ll no longer appear publicly due to dementia. “I know if somebody dies they always get a spike. If someone gets arrested they often get a spike too,” Webmaster added, citing ex-Met reliever Jeff Reardon’s 2005 armed robbery charge.

The Ultimate Mets Data Base tracks each month’s Most Popular Lookups, or tries to. Again, Webmaster says search crawlers affect those results.

“Tug McGraw gets so many hits,” he said. “Month, after month, after month he’s the leading hit getter. I have no idea why and I don’t think it’s human beings doing it. I see so many hits from South Korea. And I don’t think there are a lot of people in South Korea who are interested in Bruce Boisclair,” Webmaster joked of the backup Mets outfielder in the 1970s. “I have to think it’s just some automated thing running off the rails somewhere.”

Sharing their passion, Webmaster says he wishes some Met fans didn’t always expect the worst. “If rooting for the Mets makes you miserable, you shouldn’t do it,” he said. “I mean, what’s the point?”

Fans have suggested that Ultimate Mets add Fan Memory pages for mascot Mr. Met, ill-fated Met mascot Mettle the mule, and fictional Mets Chico Esquela and Sid Finch, once popularized respectively by Saturday Night Live and Sports Illustrated.

“I don’t think I’d be able to get Mr. Met’s accurate height and weight,” Webmaster joked.