Do you remember when you became a Mets fan? Was it because the Brooklyn Dodgers up and left town, leaving you with no option other than to root for the hated Yankees? Was it that miracle run in 1969? Was it the power house Mets teams of the 1980s? Maybe it was something else. Whatever it was that drew you to the blue and orange, everyone has their own special reason to attribute their fandom to. Something keeps us rooting, even during the times when it seems as if there is no hope left in the season.
For me, it was my grandparents that passed on the love of the Mets. I grew up in the Bronx where half of my family (on my mother’s side), were die hard Yankees fans. The other half of my family (father’s side), represented the blue and orange. One day I would be at Yankee Stadium, and a few days later I might be taking in a game at Shea Stadium.
It was a confusing time for me as a child, with the two factions pulling and tugging for my loyalty to their favorite teams. It was like a game of tennis, and I was the tennis ball. One year the back of my little league baseball card read that Don Mattingly was my favorite player, and the next year it read Gary Carter. Each faction represented the case for their team very well, and the back and forth gave me a healthy respect for both teams, but it was the Mets that ultimately won over my loyalty.
I can see my grandmother now, sitting at the kitchen table of her apartment, the smell of Winston cigarettes and Folgers instant coffee in the air, as she watched her “Metties” on her little twelve inch, black and white television. It seemed like she never got up out of that chair. My grandfather would pick me up on hot summer afternoons, and take me out to Shea on the orange bus (we called the bus that took you out of the Bronx the orange bus because it was orange).
I remember going to those games like it was yesterday, even though I was just a young boy. One of the proudest memories I will ever have is getting to repay my grandfather for all those games he took me to in my youth, by playing one of my college conference championship games at Shea Stadium, and getting him the chance to stand on the field after the game. My grandmother wasn’t around to see that, but I’m sure that opportunity would have definitely gotten her out of her favorite chair.
People wonder why fans stay loyal when their favorite teams aren’t doing great. Why do we put ourselves through all the strife? Well, I’m sure many fans have stories similar to mine, which always keep us connected to certain teams whether they are doing well or not. It’s really easy to root for a team when they are doing well, but let’s see what happens when a team starts to spiral downward. That separates the true fan from the “fair-weather” fan.
It’s said that we all have to experience failure, or disappointment, in order to truly appreciate success. Mets fans will agree that it’s not always easy being a Mets fan due to all the disappointment that comes with the territory. It may be easier to jump ship, especially when the team across town is the Yankees, but we stand strong knowing that the all the pain we experience as fans will just make winning feel that much better. Losing to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series stung a bit, but we’ll get another crack at it again one day.
So is being a Mets fan a gift or a curse? People looking from the outside in, and at the current state of the Mets, would say it’s a curse. But for me, it is definitely a gift. A gift that was passed down to me that I will always remember – a gift that I will continue to pass down to my children, and my children’s children.
Let’s Go Mets!