The Mets and Yankees are preparing to battle this weekend in what is always billed as a “subway series,” which is technically possible because you can take the train the game. However, in the true sense of the historic notion of a subway series (first involving the Yankees and either the Dodgers or Giants), it should really be a playoff game that comes after the regular season. In keeping with that tradition, the last real subway series happened in 2000 between the Mets and Yankees.
I have never really understood the reason for interleague play. It started out as something new and was a bit exciting, but I think it has become something more than it should be (at least here in New York). I went to some Mets-Yankees games at old Shea since interleague play started in 1997, and the fans on both sides became increasingly obnoxious over the years to the point of the game no longer being a pleasure to watch. Though I had a chance for tickets this weekend at Citi Field, I passed them up. I found myself longing for a simpler time, a time when games between the Mets and Yankees didn’t count but were a lot more fun.
The thing I wistfully recall was called the Mayor’s Trophy Game. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Mayor's Trophy Game originally took place between the Yankees and the Giants. Eventually, the Yankees also played the Dodgers in these exhibition games. Besides playing for bragging rights, “The games were played primarily to benefit sandlot baseball in New York City, with proceeds going to the city's Amateur Baseball Federation.”
In my lifetime the Mayor's Trophy Game was played between the Yankees and the Mets (1963-1979). The games were not played during 1980-1981 seasons because of some differences between the two organizations, but both teams didn’t let that stop them from donating money to the Amateur Baseball Federation. The games came back in 1982 and 1983, but after that they were suspended because of dwindling attendance, and I suspect there were other reasons never made public.
I can remember these games as exciting ones because, since they were played once a year, the competition was real but the outcome was not. Believe it or not, the Mets held their own over the years, with the Yankees winning ten times, the Mets winning eight times, and there was one tie in 1979 (game called because of rain).