After the 1957 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants relocated from New York to California to become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, leaving the largest city in the United States with no National League franchise and only one major league team, the New York Yankees of the American League (AL). With the threat of a New York team joining a new third league, the National League expanded by adding the New York Mets following a proposal from William Shea. In a symbolic reference to New York's earlier National League teams, the new team took as its primary colors the blue of the Dodgers and the orange of the Giants, both of which are colors also featured on the Flag of New York City. The nickname "Mets" was adopted: it was a natural shorthand to the club's corporate name, "The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc.", hearkened back to the "Metropolitans" (a former New York team in the American Association from 1880 to 1887), and its brevity was advantageous for newspaper headlines.
For the first two years of its existence, the team played its home games at the historic Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan. In 1964, they moved into newly constructed Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, where the Mets played until the 2008 season. In 2009, the club moved into Citi Field, adjacent to the former Shea Stadium site.
During their history, the Mets have won two World Series titles (1969 and 1986), five National League pennants (1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2015) and six National League East titles (1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2006, 2015). The Mets also qualified for the postseason as the National League wild card team in 1999, 2000, and 2016. The Mets have appeared in five World Series, more than any other expansion team in MLB history. Their two championships are the most titles among expansion teams, equal to the tallies of the Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, and Kansas City Royals.
The Mets held the New York baseball single-season attendance record for 29 years. They broke the Yankees' 1948 record by drawing nearly 2.7 million spectators in 1970. The Mets broke their own record five times before the record was regained by the Yankees in 1999.
The 1962 Mets posted a 40–120 record, a record for the most losses in a season since 1899. In 1966, the Mets famously bypassed future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in the amateur draft, instead selecting Steve Chilcott, who never played in the majors. But the following year, they acquired future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in a lottery. Seaver helped the 1969 "Miracle Mets" win the new National League East division title, then defeat the Atlanta Braves to win the National League pennant and the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles to win the 1969 World Series.
In 1973, the Mets rallied from 5th place to win the division, despite a record of only 82–79. They shocked the heavily favored Cincinnati Reds "Big Red Machine" in the NLCS and pushed the defending World Series champion Oakland Athletics to a seventh game, but lost the series. Notably, 1973 was the only NL East title between 1970 and 1980 that wasn't won by either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Star pitcher Tom Seaver was traded in 1977, on a day remembered as "the Midnight Massacre", and the Mets fell into last place for several years. The franchise turned around in the mid-1980s. During this time the Mets also drafted slugger Darryl Strawberry (#1 in 1980) and 1985 Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden (#5 in 1982). In addition, former National League MVP and perennial Gold Glove winner Keith Hernandez was obtained by the Mets in 1983.
In 1985, they acquired Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos and won 98 games, but narrowly missed the playoffs. In 1986, they won the division with a record of 108–54, one of the best in National League history. They won a dramatic NLCS in six games over the Houston Astros. The sixth game of the series went sixteen innings, the longest playoff game in history until 2005. They came within one strike of losing the World Series against the Boston Red Sox before a series of hits and defensive miscues ultimately led to an error by Boston's Bill Buckner which gave the Mets a game 6 victory. They then won Game 7 to win their second World Series title.
The Mets continued playing well after 1986 and won the division in 1988, but lost in the NLCS that year and declined into the 1990s. They were out of contention until the 1997 season when they were in wild card contention until the final week of the season. In 1998, the Mets acquired catcher Mike Piazza in a blockbuster trade and missed the postseason by only one game. In 1999, they made the playoffs after a one-game playoff, but lost the 1999 National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves. In 2000, they easily clinched a wild card spot in the playoffs, and earned a trip to the 2000 World Series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees for a "Subway Series". The Mets were defeated by the Yankees in five games.
The Mets had a near playoff miss in 2001 and struggled from 2002 to 2004. In the aftermath of the 2004 season, the Mets hired a new general manager, Omar Minaya, who immediately turned the franchise around by signing pitcher Pedro Martínez and hiring a new manager, Willie Randolph. The Mets finished 2005 four games over .500, and the franchise's resurgence was complete by 2006 as they won 97 games and the NL East title behind new acquisitions Carlos Beltrán and Carlos Delgado, as well as young superstars José Reyes and David Wright. The Mets advanced to game seven of the 2006 NLCS but lost after Yadier Molina's game-winning two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Adam Wainwright struck out Beltran looking with a devastating curveball.
In 2007, the Mets entered the final 17 games in the season with a seven-game lead in the division. But the team went on an ill-timed losing streak, losing 11 of the next 15 games and needing to win their final two games to make the playoffs. The Mets won their penultimate game, but on the final day of the season, Tom Glavine gave up seven runs in the first inning en route to an 8–1 loss that eliminated the team from contention. The Philadelphia Phillies won the division by one game after a win on the season's last day.
was the most recent Mets captain before retiring in 2018.
The Mets held a more modest 3.5-game lead after 145 games of the 2008 season, their final season at Shea Stadium. While their 7–10 mark down the stretch was better than the previous season's 5–12, it still allowed the Phillies to pass them once again for the division crown, which they lost by three games. The Mets opened Citi Field in 2009, but were not a factor due to a rash of injuries to numerous key players including Reyes, Carlos Beltrán, Carlos Delgado, Óliver Pérez and Liván Hernández. The effect of the injuries plummeted the Mets to a 70–92 record. The Mets improved to a 79–83 in 2010, but still finished in fourth place, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
After the 2010 season, the Mets fired Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel. Former Oakland Athletics G.M. and MLB executive Sandy Alderson was hired to run the team, who hired Terry Collins as manager.
In 2012, Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz settled a lawsuit brought against them on behalf of the victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme for $162 million. As a result of this agreement the liquidator, Irving Picard, agreed to drop the charges that Wilpon and Katz blindly went along with the scheme for their personal benefit. Picard had originally sought to recover $1 billion from the Wilpon family and Katz, but settled for $162 million along with the admission that neither the Wilpons nor Katz had any knowledge of the Ponzi scheme. In 2011–2012, Mets ownership sold twelve minority 4% shares (48%) of the franchise at $20 million apiece to provide a cash infusion of $240 million for the team.
Despite yet another losing season, the Mets made history in 2011 when closer Jason Isringhausen converted his 300th save with the team, the third player in franchise history to reach the milestone while with the organization (after John Franco and Billy Wagner). Also, Reyes became the first Met in franchise history to win a National League batting title, posting a .337 batting average. In 2012, as the Mets tried to bounce back from three consecutive losing seasons, they lost star shortstop Reyes to free agency, when he signed with the Miami Marlins. The team started out strong, getting a career-year performance from the league's only knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, and strong production from Wright. But they faltered midseason and ended with a 74–88 record, again finishing fourth in the division.
Prior to the 2012 season the Mets had yet to throw a no-hitter, and the franchise's hurlers had gone 8,019 games without pitching one – longer than any other major-league franchise. They were one of only two major-league teams to never have a pitcher throw a no-hitter (the other being the San Diego Padres). However, on June 1, 2012 Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. Averting the spotlight from Carlos Beltrán's return to Citi Field, Santana turned a routine game into a memorable moment in Mets history. Santana risked being removed from the game after he went over his limit of 110 pitches, placed by the team because of his shoulder surgery. Still Santana stayed in the game and threw 134 total pitches that evening in an 8–0 Mets victory, helped by a few great defensive plays as well as a controversial foul-ball call (coincidentally on Beltran), to pull off the first no-hitter in Mets history. That was the high point of 2012 along with pitcher R.A. Dickey winning the National League Cy Young Award. This would be Dickey's final season with the Mets, though, as he along with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas were traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Wuilmer Becerra, and veteran catcher John Buck. The 2013 season brought another 74–88 finish but they were able to finish in 3rd place. The highlight of the season was sweeping the season series between their cross town rivals Yankees, a first since interleague play started in 1997.
Prior to the start of the 2014 season the Mets made a big splash in the free agent market by signing former New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson to a 4-year $60 million contract. They also signed former Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colón to a 2-year deal to help offset losing ace pitcher Matt Harvey for the year after he required Tommy John surgery. They would improve to 79–83 and finish the season tied for 2nd place with Atlanta but it was their 6th consecutive season where they finished under .500. Pitcher Jacob deGrom would win the National League Rookie of the Year.
On April 23, 2015 the Mets tied a franchise season record of eleven straight wins. For the first time in its history the Mets won ten straight homestand games, becoming the 7th team since 1900 to win at least 10 straight homestand games. On September 26, 2015, the Mets clinched the NL East division title, and thus their first postseason berth since 2006, by defeating the Cincinnati Reds 10–2. They defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, three games to two, and swept the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for their first pennant in 15 years. In the 2015 World Series, they were defeated by the Kansas City Royals in five games. After the season ended, pitcher Matt Harvey won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. Outfielder Yoenis Céspedes won the NL Gold Glove award as a left fielder.