Mr. Met has been as an important part of the New York Mets, as players on the team, at times. The lovable mascot of New York's National League franchise has been entertaining fans at Shea Stadium and then Citi Field each game since 1964. Unfortunately, the man that was the original Mr. Met for the first four seasons has passed away at the age of 83.

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Dan Reilly of Manhattan, NY passed away on December 30th. According to an article by Anthony Rieber of Newsday, "Dan Reilly was a natural showman. So it seemed like a good idea in 1964 when the Mets ticket office employee was asked to put on an oversized baseball head as part of a costume to become the first live incarnation of the team’s iconic mascot.On May 31, 1964, during a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium, Mr. Met was born. Reilly donned the costume for four seasons."

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"You think of what’s happened with this whole mascot thing," said former Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda, who once lived in the same house as Reilly in Whitestone, Queens. "He was at the inception of the idea. If you didn’t have a Dan Reilly, it probably wouldn’t have worked." Can you imagine the Mets franchise without Mr. Met?

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Until Reilly put on the costume head, Mr. Met had only been a cartoon. Reilly made him come to life. "You needed a live one," Reilly said in the documentary. "I was selling tickets down in Grand Central [Terminal]. They decided that they would audition me for Mr. Met. So we came up with the papier-mache [head] and Mr. Met was born ... They gave me the ball and let me run with it. It just became a marriage right away."

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Reilly wrote a book called 'The Original Mr. Met Remembers - When the Miracle Began.' You can find it on Amazon. I will always be thankful to Dan Reilly, especially if Ron Swaboda is right. I come from a family of Mets fans and Mr. Met has always been part of our household. Rest in peace Dan Reilly and thanks for everything you did for generations of Mets fans.

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