He never played a game, but Bob Mandt was an original Met who went from ticket seller to vice president of stadium operations in a 50-year association with the team. Mandt also helped club executives who eagerly sought out his advice and ideas.
``He was incredibly smart,’’ former general manager Frank Cashen said of Mandt, who died Sunday at 74 after battling emphysema. ``He was a member of MENSA, that’s like the top five percent intellects in the country. I was always overwhelmed by his brain power, though he was quiet and never promoted himself.’’
Mandt, a 1959 graduate of St. John's with a degree in English, first sold Mets tickets in the basement of the Hotel Martinique in Manhattan and at Grand Central Terminal in 1961. He then took over the team’s mail department at the Polo Grounds in 1962.
Mandt had numerous titles during his tenure--ticket manager, vice president of operations, vice president of purchasing and special projects--but he was a valued resource on many issues related to the Mets and professional baseball in general.
``I had a lot of questions to ask when I came here [in 1980] and he was a great, great teacher,’’ Cashen said. ``I very seldom made a major decision without talking to Bob first or bringing him into the conversation. I’d ask, if you trade for player X, how is he going to fit into New York City?’’
Cashen’s favorite story involved Mandt's mastery over the Sunday crossword puzzle. ``He’d do it in about seven or eight minutes,’’ Cashen said. Then-co-owner Nelson Doubleday, who tried the puzzle with his wife each week, learned of Mandt’s skill. `` Nelson would have him buy the early edition, ‘’ Cashen said, ``do the crossword it and then Nelson would call him [for the tougher answers]. Nelson enjoyed the heck out of that.’’
Mandt was honored at Citi Field this summer as the first recipient of the Mets Hall of Fame Achievement Award. He is survived by his wife, Norma and two children, Lawrence and Carolyn. The funeral will be Friday at 9:45 a.m. at St. Luke’s Church in Whetstone.