Dan Reilly, the Original Mr. Met, Is Dead at 83
Although Mr. Met was the first costumed mascot to achieve prominence in Major League Baseball, Mr. Raymond said, he was not the first: He was preceded in the 1950s by the little-remembered Mr. Oriole, a costumed bird who worked for the Baltimore Orioles.
Mr. Met (not Mr. Reilly) was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind., in 2007.
Daniel Joseph Reilly was born on Jan. 28, 1938, in Richmond Hill, Queens, to Anna and Robert Reilly. After graduating from high school, he attended broadcasting school, served in the Marines in Guam and became a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines.
After about a decade with the Mets, he worked in promotions for the New York (now Brooklyn) Nets and Colonie Hill Golf Club (now the Wind Watch Golf & Country Club), in Hauppauge, on Long Island; as a bartender; and as a public address announcer for New York Waterways. On one of his routes he offered his Mr. Met memories to fans traveling from ports in New Jersey and Manhattan to the World’s Fair Marina, from which they walked to Shea Stadium.
He married Gloria Westerweller on the afternoon of Oct. 11, 1969, the day of Game 1 of the World Series between the Mets and the Baltimore Orioles. It was a road game, which prevented his closest friends on the Mets, the outfielder Ron Swoboda and the pitcher Tug McGraw, from attending; the arrangements had been made long before the Mets were expected to be postseason contenders.
That marriage ended in divorce. His second marriage ended with his wife’s death.
In 2007, Mr. Reilly wrote a book, “The Original Mr. Met Remembers: When the Miracle Began,” in which he reminisced about his time under the big giant head and reflected on his legacy.
“Today, baseball fans know about the Phillie Phanatic and the San Diego Chicken,” he wrote. “The Kansas City Royals have their Sluggerrr and the Cardinals have their Fredbird. All of them are descended from the original Mr. Met.”
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