This afternoon Pat, the boys and I are heading into NY to see the Mets play. It will likely be the last game I attend at Shea Stadium before they tear it down in favor of the almost-finished new Citi Field.
Thanks to the influence of my grandfather, a NY Giants turned NY Mets fan, I never considered rooting for the other NY team. The Mets of the mid-1970s were my team, Tug McGraw my favorite player. I saw my first major league game at Shea, against the Atlanta Braves and new homerun king Hank Aaron. The stadium had such a mid-century modern feel to it, with those blue and orange rectangles decorating it’s exterior.
As the team dove down into the bottom of the standings in the late 1970s, I remained a fan. I was a young teenager and to be honest it wasn’t so much about the game (although I did still love the sport) but more about the cute players. My friend Anne and I would get our dads to take us to a few games each year. We’d arrive for batting practice and flirt with the players as they came over to sign autographs. We stalked the player parking lot hoping for a glimpse, guessing which car belonged to which player. While our Yankee fan friends watched their team power its way to world domination, Anne & I covered our bedroom walls with newspaper photos of Lee Mazzilli and John Stearns. I spent the entire summer of 1978 keeping a journal of the team’s (lack of) progress. We brought my grandfather to a game, which would turn out to be his last. The funky stadium exterior was replaced by giant neon players that appeared to be more skilled than the real ones inside the park. But we had fun.
The following year I started dating Pat, also a Met fan. No wonder we fell in love! Over the years we’ve been to games together, driving in or making transfer after transfer to arrive via the #7 subway train. One summer we saw the Police in concert at Shea, only to have to leave early and end up running to catch the last train to Ramsey out of Hoboken. 1986 was a fantastic year for two reasons: one, we were married, two, the Mets won the World Series.
As our kids have grown they’ve been coming along to games (even the one who was unduly influenced in his formative years and became a Yankee fan appreciates the sport and will root for the Mets.) Recently I haven’t been to many games, the hassle of getting to Flushing from NJ got to me I guess, but Pat & the boys have attended a few games each year. Pat goes to at least one game each summer with his dad.
The last time I visited Shea was five years ago, to see Bruce Springsteen (follow link for my review of that night). We had great seats on the field, and entered the park through the Mets’ bullpen. That was fun, but also sad. The disrepair of the place was obvious from that behind the scenes angle.
Today I’ll have a look at the beautiful new stadium in the Shea parking lot, and I look forward to seeing games and events there, but old Shea will be missed. I might even shed a tear when they break it down to make way for parking for Citi Field.