The Mets reached a higher level for themselves in 1966. After four consecutive cellar-dwelling finishes, the team moved up to ninth place in the National League standings. The team also had its first season of less than 100 losses with a 66-95 record in Wes Westrum’s first full year as manager.
The Mets started the ’66 season with five wins and six losses in April. They opened with a three-game series at Shea Stadium against the Braves. The Mets came out with 3-1 and 5-4 wins over the newly-relocated Atlanta team on April 16 and April 17, respectively, to put them over the .500 mark (2-1) for the first time in their history. The team lost its next five games before a 4-3 triumph over the Braves in the second game of a doubleheader in Atlanta on April 24. Two days later, they came away with a 14-11 triumph over the Cubs at Chicago. The Mets also had a 5-2 win in 11 innings at Pittsburgh on April 29.
In May, the Mets won 10 of their 26 games played. The team found itself in ninth place, 10 and one-half games behind the front-running Giants at the end of the month. On May 4, the Mets played their last game ever at St. Louis’s original Busch Stadium. They defeated the Cardinals, 8-0, as Jack Hamilton pitched a one-hit shutout. At Shea two days later, Rob Gardner got his first major league win in a 2-1 Mets victory over the Cubs. After losing 6 of 9 games on a western road trip, the Mets split a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Phillies on May 30 at Shea. They concluded the month with a 6-4 defeat to the Phils.
The Mets’ first 16 games of June were played at Shea Stadium. During this long period at home, the team won six times while losing ten. In between sweeps by the Pirates and Braves, the Mets split a four-game set with the Dodgers. On June 10, rookie Dick Rusteck pitched a four-hit shutout in his major league debut for a 5-0 win over the Reds. The Mets ended up winning three of four games from Cincinnati before losing two of three to the Cardinals to end the home stand. The team then went on a road trip in which they won eight and lost six. They concluded the month with three straight losses to the Phillies at Shea.
In July, the Mets had a winning month for the first time ever. The team posted a won-lost record of 18-14 for a .563 percentage. After splitting a four-game series with the Pirates at Shea, the Mets swept a July 4 doubleheader, 9-6 and 8-1, at Philadelphia. The team hit seven doubles in a 7-5 win over the Phils two days later. After a seven-game losing streak that went through the All-Star Break, the Mets won their next seven with a pair of doubleheader sweeps against the Astros at Shea, two victories at San Francisco and a 3-0 triumph over the Dodgers at Los Angeles. They also won all three games of a series at Houston from July 25 to July 27. The Mets concluded the month with two wins over the Cubs that put them at a 47-55 seasonal record.
The Mets fell back to their old ways in August. The team won 11 games and lost 21 for the month. At Shea on August 4, the Mets prevented a four-game series sweep with a dramatic 8-6 win over the Giants. They again avoided a four-game sweep with a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea on August 7. After losing six of their next eight games, the Mets came back from a six-run deficit to pull out an 8-7 win over the Pirates on August 17 at Shea. They defeated the Bucs again, 9-5, one day later and swept a doubleheader, 6-5 and 5-1, at Philadelphia on August 21. The Mets beat Sandy Koufax for only the second time ever with a 10-4 victory over the Dodgers at Shea on August 30. At the end of the month, the team was 20 and one-half games behind the co-leading Pirates and Giants. Still in ninth place, they stood 11 games ahead of the cellar-dwelling Chicago Cubs.
It was a difficult September for the Mets. The team won only eight of its 28 games for the month. At Shea on September 6, the Mets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Reds. They lost their next six before a come-from-behind 5-4 victory at San Francisco on September 16. At Houston on September 19 and September 20, the Mets recorded a pair of shutout victories, 1-0 (in 10 innings) and 3-0, over the Astros. The team had an 8-4 triumph at Cincinnati on September 25 that solidified its first ever non-last-place finish for a season. On September 30, the Mets closed the month with a 1-0 victory over the Astros at Shea.
The Mets closed out the ’66 season with a doubleheader at Shea. On October 2, they suffered 6-1 and 8-2 losses to the Astros. The season concluded with the Mets 28 and one-half games behind the pennant-winning Dodgers.