Only a matter of hours after posing the question MBTN readers came through with the definitive proof: Willie Montañez went tilde-less during 1979, as shown in this screen capture sent in by on-the-spot reader Paul C. Interestingly, this cap came from the same ’79 opening-day footage that Paul provided earlier to solve the Jesse Orosco 61 controversy: It’s also first day the Mets (except for young Orosco) ever wore their names above their numbers. That font by the way looks a lot chunkier than that which we’ve become accustomed to, and we needen’t get into the icky use of a separate nameplate. That’s a lot of mileage from a single game.
Greg (you should read his blog) in the meantime confirmed Rory’s earlier contention that Alex Treviño in 1980 was the first Met to sport a tilde. Others, according to Rory: Roger Cedeño, Rey Ordoñez, Alejandro Peña, Edwin Nuñez and Fernando Viña.
If the above interests you then by all means you should be reading the Uni Watch Blog, where recent discussion involves nameplates bearing the æ and ø characters.
Thanks also to Stephen (and Steve) for the updates to the Uni-Controversies list: Both guys wrote recently to remind that Rusty Staub waited patiently (three years!) for the Mets to finally trade Duffy Dyer and assume the No. 10 jersey he wore. Stephen also recounts that Jeff Reardon requested No. 41 when he arrived as a Met and couldn’t understand that if it hadn’t been retired yet why equipment manager Herb Norman wouldn’t issue it to him. “So he settled for 45. Apparently, Norman didn’t feel the same way about Tug McGraw.”
Final Update: Reports this morning say Mike Pelfrey 34 was in fact not recalled but is attending to a sore back in St. Lucie.