The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Memories of Shea
Taking the 7 train to Shea Stadium for the first time in a new season isn't quite the source of excitement that it used to be for me.
When I was young, just getting on the red 7 line was a thrill. My anticipation grew as the train traveled above ground through Queens, until finally, the euphoric first sighting of Shea - first from a distance - would appear. I'd hurry through the subway exits into the Shea complex and toward the gate, and then rush to my seats to catch an early glimpse of the field. Then I'd wait for 'Meet The Mets' to be played and for the game to start.
Last night was a very pleasant, breezy evening, except at Shea, where the howling winds made it uncomfortably chilly. 'Meet The Mets' was officially replaced last night by a terrible thuggish-sounding song (if it can be called a song) called 'Our Team, Our Time.' I know now that Shea is outdated and not particularly fan friendly, and that soon enough it will be gone forever.
And yet, as I watched Pedro Martinez's 200th win over the Braves in an exciting and close game among a relatively large and loud April crowd, I couldn't help but think about all of the times I've been to Shea Stadium. I've lost count, but have almost certainly been to well over 100 Mets games there.
I remember my first game, Jacket Day, on June 15, 1980. We sat a few rows from the field right by third base, in expensive $6 seats. The Mets were shut out. The most exciting moment came when the opposing team (I think it was the Giants) hit a home run, but I was buying a soda when that happened. Interesting that in those days, a seven year old boy could go by himself to buy a soda.
Then there was my first Jets game, on October 16, 1981. It was chol hamoed succos, against the Bills. The Jets dominated. My enduring memories of that game are a long touchdown catch and run by Bobby Jones, and my father meeting, during halftime, an African American man sitting in our section who had been his student at Hunter College.
Six Sundays later, my father walked into my fourth grade class and told the rebbi that he was taking me to a football game. We watched the Jets crush the then hapless Colts.
Later, there was Strawberry Sunday in April 1984, when the Mets honored their rising star by giving out free Carvel strawberry sundaes. There was Dwight Gooden in '85, and Labor Day in '86 when the Mets unveiled their rather bad 'Lets Go Mets' video and Sid Fernandez had something like 12 strikeouts.
I can't help but remember all those Sundays in the late 80's, when instead of going to yeshiva, I'd meet a friend and go to Shea. We were there even before batting practice. Funny thing is that the Mets lost every one of those games.
There was the division clincher in '88, Mike Piazza's second game as a Met in '98, and Piazza's ninth inning game-winning homer off Trevor Hoffman in 1999.
Though I now live nearby, I'm not able to make it to Shea as often as I used to. Perhaps I'll be there another ten or fifteen times before its demolition. When it ends what will be its 45 year run as the home of the Mets, many memories will endure.