We are getting down to the end of our Kindle Fire HDX giveaway. We’ve already posted our two Honorable Mentions and we now present to you our Three Finalists. From these three a winner will emerge. It was tough narrowing down 109 different entries – all of them fantastic – to these three, but we believe we made the right choices. After we post all three of our finalists, we will randomly choose the winning entry, as we will place the final choice in the hands of fate. So without further adieu, here is the first of our Final Three.
Why I Love The Mets – Finalist No. 1
By John Cardillo
Let’s start with why I became a Mets fan: A strong desire to connect with a distant father.
I was 7-years old and playing with Matchboxes in the hallway, lost in an imaginary race of epic proportions – one no doubt featuring Speed Racer. I had a clear line of sight to the back door off the kitchen and was startled when my father burst through it.
Dad wore a smile as wide as one I’d ever seen on his face and he twitched like someone who badly needed to use the bathroom as he struggled to remove his shoes. He was frantically waving a white pennant on a stick. It featured blue and orange lettering and stapled to its widest portion was a team photo of the 1969 Mets.
“They did it! They won, they won, they won!! They actually won!!,” giggled the man that I knew only as serious, stern and sometimes sullen. He couldn’t be drunk; he was not a drinker. Who was this clown masquerading as my father?
At that moment, I didn’t care. To see my father so happy was a wonderful gift and I wanted to share his joy with him. I jumped to my feet and bounced around the hallway as only a boy could.“Yes! Yes! I knew they’d do it,” I screamed, my arms raised skyward. It was a joyous feeling I’ll never forget.
And that, my friends, is the day I pledged my allegiance to the New York Metropolitans for life.
I’d by lying if I said that was also the day my father and I bonded as I had hoped. He died of cancer less than 10 years from what may have been the happiest day of his life, without us ever achieving the classic father-son relationship I craved, but I remain a die hard Mets fan to this day,
Ironically, the reason I remain a Mets fan probably has more to do with my mother than my father. Mom was a war bride, born and raised in Paris, France, and a survivor of the German occupation of her homeland during World War II. Likely because of her childhood experiences, she was defiant, stubborn and a bit of a contrarian — all traits I inherited.
All the other kids on my street in the small bedroom community of Sparkill, N.Y., were Yankees fans. The more they ridiculed me for my allegiance to the Mets, the stronger my commitment to them grew. From someone who craved acceptance, it did not make much sense to hang onto Mets fandom, but as I said, I inherited my mother’s traits. To this day I much prefer to root for the underdog than jump on the bandwagon of a winning or popular team. It’s who I am.
Even my childhood best friend and next-door-neighbor Jay Oliva, who’s father would later become the president of NYU, was a Yankees fan. He didn’t ridicule me, though; he accepted my decision to love the Mets and defended my ability to do so. That’s a true friend.
The other kids in the neighborhood pretended to be the Yankees of that era: Bobby Murcer, Roy White and Thurman Munson when hitting; Lindy McDaniel, Mel Stottlemyre or Fritz Peterson when pitching. Not me. When hitting or fielding I was Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, Wayne Garrett or even Bruce Boisclair. When pitching, I was Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman or Tug McGraw.
I wasn’t afraid to be different and that made me a stronger person throughout life. People become Mets fans for many different reasons, but those that stay Mets fans have the intestinal fortitude to withstand the ridicule they’re sure to receive.
So why have I stuck with the Mets all these years? Many reasons. Loyalty. Defiance. Faith. Commitment. An underdog mentality. A belief in a miracles. The desire to again feel the euphoria experienced in 1969 and 1986. The list is endless.
I simply can’t imagine rooting for another team. I’m committed to them through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health. I want to be there for the next miracle season.
Most of all, I want my grandchildren to see me so happy they think I’m loaded — and for that to be a memory of me they will never forget.