Mets Merized Online » Shea Stadium http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:57:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Hey David, Can I Have Your Autograph? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/hey-david-can-i-have-your-autograph.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/hey-david-can-i-have-your-autograph.html/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 16:00:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217812 curtis granderson

Everyone has different memories of attending their first baseball game, whether it be as a young child with a parent, going with friends, family, etc. These are memories that we hold near and dear to us, and are special because of the people we went with, the game we watched, and just being in pure awe of these cathedral like stadiums we had just entered into.

One such moment of being young and getting accustomed to baseball for many of us was autograph collecting. I still have vivid memories of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, vying to obtain signatures from my favorite ballplayers as a kid. Going to Shea Stadium nice and early and waiting for the players to arrive and walk through the gate was always fun, or sprinting to the Mets’ dugout once the stadium opened up, and securing a good spot to try and get a ball signed by David Wright or Jose Reyes were memories I’ll always keep.

I thought it would be fun to reminisce and talk about some of our favorite autograph moments or pieces of memorabilia we own. Or talk about a time where you met one of your favorite Mets, and the experience you shared with them. I’m always curious to hear about different fans experiences with players, who was nice and who was a jerk, who took the extra time to wave and say hello to the fans, or a really cool piece of memorabilia that you own and holds special meaning.

One such example for me would be back in 2005, which was Wright’s second year with the club. My dad and I had seats in the field level, I believe it was near right field. It was a day game, and the Mets were losing handily, to which team I couldn’t tell you. However, since it was a day game and the Mets were down several runs by the sixth, Shea Stadium started to become a ghost town, so my dad and I were able to finagle our way down to behind the Mets’ dugout, about ten rows back.

david wright auto

Slowly we inched closer and closer to the front row, as we watched as fans left the game to get an early start on the commute home. By the eighth inning, my father and I had secured front row seats behind the dugout, close to the first base side of the dugout where the players would enter and exit from.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets wrapping up a loss on that muggy sun-soaked day, Wright was on first base with two outs. The ensuing batter made out, and Wright was walking back to the dugout to collect his gear and make his way back into the clubhouse to meet with the media. I saw Wright take off his black Nike batting gloves, and I politely asked if I could have one of his gloves. He pulled the fingers off one by one, looked up at me as I made my request, and tossed one glove my way, and another to the section to the left of me.

I looked down at my shaking hands, in disbelief that I had caught one of Wright’s game used batting gloves. The biggest grin spread across my face, as I turned to show my dad what I had gotten. He smiled back at me and gave me a thumbs up, repeatedly saying “nicely done, nicely done”. Wright was and continues to be my favorite Met of all time, and made a young fan’s day by doing a small act of kindness. In ensuing times I met Wright, he was nothing but gracious with his time, and would routinely sign autographs down the first base line about ten minutes before the game was about to start.

I still have that batting glove to this day, as I await to get that framed along with my 8×10 signed photo I have of Wright. I was a huge memorabilia collector growing up, and like most, fazed out of it by the time I reached my late teens. I’ll still occasionally purchase a signed baseball or photo, as my lovely girlfriend recently bought me a Noah Syndergaard signed MLB baseball with “Thor” inscribed on the sweet spot for our anniversary. Needless to say, I was ecstatic, and also extremely proud that I was able to turn her into a savvy Mets fan who now knows the entire 25-man roster, and keeps score during the games we attend.

But beyond owning a prized piece of memorabilia and adding it to one’s man cave or hanging it proudly in an office or home, the memories that come with it are equally if not more important. The day Wright threw me his batting glove was awesome, but I remember it also being a day I went with my dad to the game, and what a nice time we both shared together that afternoon. That’s the beauty of sports, and certainly baseball, where we look for an escape from our lives and sit back and enjoy a game for a few hours with friends and family.

So please, leave your comments below for your favorite piece of sports memorabilia, or a time you met one of your favorite stars and had a cool interaction. Looking forward to reading your responses!

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A Father’s Day Tale: Heroes Don’t Always Hit Home Runs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/a-fathers-day-tale-heroes-dont-always-hit-home-runs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/a-fathers-day-tale-heroes-dont-always-hit-home-runs.html/#comments Sun, 19 Jun 2016 13:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215222 johnny bench tom seaver

It was my first baseball game. And it was almost my last.

In the summer of 1972 I was pushing Tonka trucks around the floor in a one bedroom apartment in The Bronx. I noted the wide range of emotions my Dad went through watching a 2 ½ hour baseball game. Happiness, frustration, cheering, despair. I’d casually glance up at the Zenith B&W. Slowly my toys became secondary and I found myself sitting on the sofa next to my father.

There were the multi-colored sport jackets of Lindsey Nelson, the malapropisms of Ralph Kiner and the velvety cadences of gray-haired red-faced Bob Murphy, who my dad said was, “As smooth as a duck’s tuchus.” That made me laugh.

But my dad was the one who taught me baseball. He explained the game to me, the game within the game, the intricacies. And I got hooked. I watched, I listened, I learned

The following season, with some apprehension, he decided to take me to my first game. Watching on TV was one thing, but would this seven year old become distracted and grow restless and impatient? After handing over some change to park our Plymouth Scamp, we got out of the car.

My chin hit the asphalt. I was blown away. The stadium was huge, enormous. It was like the Roman Coliseum and it was right here in Flushing.

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Clusters of people–older, younger, boys my age and icky girls–were all walking toward something in unison, moving together as one cohesive unit. For the first time in my life I became a part of something bigger, something that extended far beyond my bedroom and my classmates. I was now one of tens of millions of baseball fans.

With Dad’s hand on my shoulder, he guided me between the throngs of fellow Mets fans, passing blue and orange panels hanging from cables on Shea’s exterior. Dad handed over our tickets to an usher wearing an orange jacket and blue slacks.

“Enjoy the game, son.”

I was too busy gazing around in awe when dad nudged me. “What do you say to the man?”

“Uh…Let’s Go Mets.”

Dad laughed. “Anything else?”

“Oh, yea, thank you.”

Seconds later I was bequeathed something in a wrapper. Whoa, cool! A real authentic plastic Mets helmet. Did they give these out every day? Or maybe just to me since it was my first game. Christmas in April. Little did I realize it was Helmet Day. I tore open the packaging, placed the item on my head…and my lips quivered. It was too big. Dad adjusted the interior settings and now it fit perfectly.

He saved the day.

Before heading to our seats, we walked through the passageway in the Loge level. My eyes bulged out of my head, my heart leapt in my chest. Watching on WOR didn’t do it justice. I couldn’t grasp how gigantic the field was. It went on forever. The scoreboard was colossal. I’d never seen grass so green. The grounds crew watered down the infield, causing brown dirt to contrast strikingly with pristine white bases.

Thwack.

Thwack.

Baseballs, like little round missiles, were rocketing all over the place as players took batting practice. Yeah.., I could get used to this.

“Daddy, daddy!” I shouted, jumping in place nearly wrenching his arm out of his socket. “There’s Rusty!!!”

rusty staub square

Rusty Staub was my favorite Met. I don’t know why I took to him. I had yet to grasp the significance of confusing stats and complicated numbers. I didn’t quite comprehend batting average or Earned Run Average and didn’t know if Rusty was good or not. Maybe it was his unique hair color, or his strange batting stance which was upright and stiff with his backside sticking out. Maybe it was the fact he and I shared the same initials or perhaps it was simply due to his cool nickname, Le Grande Orange.

Yea, I definitely could get used to this.

We watched BP for a while before heading to our seats. We went inside the stadium and took the escalator up. And up. And up again. And up some more.

I don’t know what happened, don’t know if the guy who sold dad the tickets gave us the wrong seats. But we were sitting in the very last row in the grandstands, the upper deck. The grating was against our backs. Miles beyond my shoulder was the NYC skyline with the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers that had just opened two weeks earlier. It felt like I was closer to the cement sidewalk four levels below than to the field. Planes landing at LaGuardia were practically on eye level. The players were tiny. I couldn’t tell who was who. Which one is Rusty?

The seats in the stratosphere, however, was secondary. The date was April 21, 1973. It was cloudy, overcast, there was a crisp bite in the air, the wind whipped around with gale force ferocity. Baseball was played in the summer but winter seemed reluctant to release its grip. My hands were shoved deep in my pockets, my feet growing numb, my teeth chattered. I knew the words to the song but right now I didn’t want anyone to buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I just wanted a hot chocolate.

Dad lit up a cigarette. (Hey, it was 1973) “You okay?”

“Ss-ss-sure, da-da-daddy, this is gr-gr-great.” I may have been fighting frostbite but I didn’t care. I was at my first ballgame.

Moments later, he tapped my shoulder. “C’mon.” He took my hand and led me down the steep steps. On the walkway he approached an usher. My dad was a salesman and went into selling mode. “Look,” he began pleasantly, “This is my son’s first game. And if I bring him home with pneumonia, my wife will kill me. She’ll never let me take him to another game and you’ll lose a fan for life. You gotta get us into better seats.”

The usher pointed to a different usher a few sections over. That guy told us to speak to someone else. The third guy directed us to someone in an office. We went inside the concourse and hurried to this other guy. My little legs had difficulty keeping up with my dad’s long loping strides.

This new guy informed us we’d need to discuss it with someone different.

Organ music emanated from massive speakers as Jane Jarvis began the opening notes to Meet the Mets.

Along another concourse we went. My dad now jogging, me running alongside.

Shea Stadium 1969

The voice of the PA announcer boomed across Flushing like the voice of God. “Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls. Welcome to Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets.”

A roar went up. Fans cheered. But my dad and I were running around like Matt Damon would be forty years later in the final twenty minutes of “The Adjustment Bureau.”

Dad picked up the pace. “C’mon, Rob!”

We went into another office. This guy in a white shirt and tie directed us to an office on the second level.

We took off again.

“We ask you to remove your hats and please rise for the singing of…”

“Daddy!” I shouted.

“What?!” he clipped, understandably frustrated.

“It’s the National Anthem.”

He gave me a look, then couldn’t help but laugh

Oh, Canada, Glorious and Free….

“What’s that?” I asked, scrunching my face.

“We’re playing Montreal. That’s the Canadian National Anthem,” he explained.

“They have a different one than us?”

Moments later, the more familiar, Oh, say, can you see…

I stood motionless, respectfully removing my brand new helmet, patriotically placed my hand over my heart and sung.

And the home of the brave.

And off we went again.

“Here are today’s starting lineups and batting orders. First, the visiting Montreal Expos.”

Boo!

“Daddy, the game’s starting!” I cried out, gasping for air. My short legs ached, I had sticking pain in my side from running so hard and so fast. I liked running. I was one of the faster boys in my second grade class. But even this was getting excessive.

There was no one around, everyone already in their seats. We bulleted around a corner and were dashing down a wide ramp full speed.

My side was stabbing but not from running so hard. Instead it was cause of my Dad. He was really old, the ripe old age of thirty and I’d never seen him run before. I tried to keep up but was giggling so hard, I pulled up short and angled forward, laughing uncontrollably.

The hilarity of the moment quickly turned to tears when my helmet slipped off my head, hit the concrete and fractured.

Twenty yards ahead, Dad turned, came back and took a knee by my side. He sympathetically lifted my splintered helmet and embraced me. “I’ll get you another one,” he whispered while hugging away the tears.

I’m not sure how he did it but somehow he made sure everything worked out.

lindsey nelson ralph kiner bob murphy

With mere seconds to spare before the first pitch we ended up in our own private press box Reporters from local newspapers and TV stations close by. Three booths to our right were the Mets play-by-play announcers. Lindsey’s jackets were even brighter in person. “There’s Ralph,” Dad pointed reverentially, even at thirty somewhat awed by the presence of Kiner’s greatness.

I learned a lot that day.

During the middle innings, Expos manager Gene Mauch got ejected for arguing a call. Dad wasted no time in pointing out, “See what happens when you don’t respect authority.”

The Mets had a pitcher named Tom Seaver who was supposedly pretty good. Dad had stated repeatedly, “He’s gonna wind up in Cooperstown one day.” I guess if you’re good you go to Cooperstown, whatever that means. But Seaver didn’t pitch that day. Neither did Jerry Koosman who was on the mound when the Mets won their only championship four long years ago in 1969. It wasn’t even the lanky fella named Jon Matlack. Toeing the rubber this day was spot-starter Harry Parker.

But that didn’t matter.

My guy, Rusty, didn’t get any hits, but walked three times and scored twice.

But that didn’t really matter.

willie mays

I got to see some guy wearing number 24. He was supposedly pretty good, too, probably also going to that Cooperstown place. He used to play here in NY with a team called the Giants a long time ago and made some catch in a World Series. Willie Mays went 0-for-3.

But that didn’t really matter either

I got to see my first Home Run, a two run blast in the 8th off the bat of John Milner, The Hammer. The Mets defeated Montreal 5-0. Harry Parker pitched 7 shut-out innings before Tug McGraw recorded the final 6 outs

But no, that didn’t matter either.

What did matter was not the specifics–who won, who lost.

Over the next several decades I was privileged enough to see first-hand many great players. Some like Seaver, Mays, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza wore a Mets jersey. Others I saw like Mike Schmidt, Don Sutton, Willie Stargell and Pete Rose did not.

I saw Seaver and Rusty go away, only to return years later. And I saw Tug McGraw and Gary Carter go away, never to return.

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I went as a 7-year old with my dad. I’d go with my uncle, with friends from school, with buddies from college, with girlfriends and with wives. I saw one of Mookie Wilson’s first games and one of Jesse Orosco’s last. I went from eating chocolate and vanilla ice cream in little cups with wooden spoons to drinking beer. I saw Shea go from a ‘state-of-the-art’ modern sports venue to an archaic outdated relic. I saw rallies in the bottom of the 9th, bench clearing brawls, grand slam home runs, walk-off home runs, inside the park home runs, championships won, a no-hitter and I even caught a foul ball. I got to see Hank Aaron hit two of his 755 Home Runs.

But honestly, none of that mattered either.

What did matter is that this was my first Major League Baseball game. And despite seats up in the ether freezing my tuchus off, fighting frostbite, and my very first article of Mets attire breaking after only thirty minutes, my dad made it something memorable, something I’ll never forget, something I’ll always cherish. My dad saved the day and made everything better.

Sometimes heroes are not the guys who hit 700 Home Runs or get 4,000 hits.

Footnote:

I still have that same helmet forty three years later. It’s in a box, alongside yearbooks, scorecards, programs, old Mets caps that are frayed and tattered with age, my old glove, a signed Baseball by Davey Johnson—all stored away with memories of my childhood. Despite my dad’s offer to get me a new helmet, I refused. I wouldn’t change a thing from that blustery April day and if I could, I’d go back in time and relive it all over again, relive that very first baseball game I went to with my father.

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MMO Hall of Fame: Tug McGraw Believed When No One Else Did http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-hall-of-fame-tug-mcgraw-believed-when-no-one-else-did.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-hall-of-fame-tug-mcgraw-believed-when-no-one-else-did.html/#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2016 13:00:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208026 Tug-McGraw1

Someone once said “A baseball team is a living breathing thing.” If that’s true, Tom Seaver is our heart, Gil Hodges our brain, Gary Carter our lungs (he breathed life into the Mets in Game 6), Bob Murphy our voice, Keith Hernandez our eyes. And Tug McGraw? Tug would be our spirit.

America has changed dramatically since Tug last pitched for the Mets. In 1974, a new car cost $3,750, a gallon of gas .55 cents. The biggest hit that year was Barbra Streisand’s ‘The Way We Were,’ the top grossing film was ‘Blazing Saddles’ and the highest rated TV show was ‘All in The Family.’ The nation was reeling from a president resigning in disgrace and tiring of troops in Vietnam.

Yet, despite the passage of four plus decades, we still feel Tug’s presence.

Ya-Gotta-Believe

Those of us who were lucky enough to see Tug pitch are getting older. And perhaps, as it often does, memory embellishes things. But watching Tug perform his craft was a sight to behold, a privilege. It didn’t matter if the Pirates were down by a run with the bases loaded with Willie Stargell windmilling his bat. It didn’t matter if the Reds had the tying run in scoring position with no outs and due up was Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench.

When you saw number 45 bounding out from the little bullpen cart and taking the mound, you knew—you just KNEW—everything would turn out okay. And three outs later, with Shea erupting in cheers, Jerry Grote walking to the mound shaking Tug’s hand and Tug shouting victoriously while slamming his glove against his leg, our thoughts were confirmed. Our fears alleviated. Tug made us feel better. Tug made us feel larger than life. Tug made us feel alive.

But his ascension to this level did not come overnight. It was a long arduous trek.

Frank Edwin McGraw was born in Martinez, CA on August 30, 1944. His mother nicknamed ‘Tug’ due to his “aggressive nature when he was breast-fed.” Immediately after graduating St. Vincent Ferrer High School in Vallejo, he was signed by the Mets on June 12, 1962. He was 17.

He spent one year in the minors, being used as both a starter and reliever and went 6-4 with a 1.64 ERA. The following year he made the Mets roster out of Spring Training, bypassing AA and AAA.

Tug was 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA in relief when on July 28 he made his first Major League start. The team was the Cubs, the location was Wrigley Field and the wind was blowing out. He lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up 3 ER before being hooked. The Mets lost 9-0.

Ya Gotta Believe!  ~  Tug McGraw

Ya Gotta Believe! ~ Tug McGraw

During that summer, the Mets were in Houston. America and Baseball was changing. For the first time ever the national pastime was played indoors in a stadium that resembled a UFO on the Texas prairie. Grass couldn’t grow inside so the game was played on a specially designed synthetic material called Astro-Turf. When a reporter asked Tug if he preferred grass or Astro-Turf, he replied, “I don’t know, I never smoked Astro-Turf.”

His second start was a complete game victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea. It was his first win in the big leagues. His 3rd start had him facing Sandy Koufax. Tug defeated Koufax, 5-2. It was the first time the Mets ever defeated the Dodger legend.

Tug finished 1965, both starting and relieving, with a record of 2-7 and a 3.32 ERA. He tossed 97 2/3 innings, whiffing 57 but walking 48. Decent numbers for a rookie on a team that went 50-112 and finished 47 GB.

That September, with war in Southeast Asia escalating, Tug, a US Marine, reported to Parris Island. He became a rifleman, adept at firing the M14 and M60. He later reported to Camp Lejeune where he became, as he humorously said, “a trained killer.”

tug-mcgraw

In 1966 he couldn’t regain his mediocre form. Still being used both as a spot-starter and in relief, Tug went 2-9 with a 5.52 ERA.

In 1967, he made 4 starts, going 0-3 with an embarrassing 7.79. Despite the Mets being an awful club and well on their way to another 100-loss season, even Tug couldn’t find a spot on the staff. He spent much of ’67 and all of 1968 in the minors. His career was on life support, his dream of being a big league pitcher hanging by a thread.

Early in 1969, Jerry Koosman got hurt. Manager Gil Hodges gave Tug a chance and put him in Kooz’s spot. This was Tug’s big opportunity. He could now prove to himself, a doubtful fan base and his manager that he deserved to be here.

Tug failed. He went 1-1 but his ERA was well over 5.00.

When Koosman returned from the DL, Tug was banished to the pen. He found his home.

Tug pitched exceptionally well, going 9-3, posted a career best to that point 2.24 ERA and fanned 92 batters in 100 IP.

However, he was erratic, streaky. And when the Amazins’ found themselves in the post-season for the first time ever, Hodges knew what was at stake. McGraw was too inconsistent to be trusted. He pitched just once, a game 2 slugfest, where he went 3 innings, allowing just 1 hit and 0 ER. He did not pitch again that October.

Tug would later say that 1969 was the turning point in his career. Although he had no impact on the post-season, he felt motivated by what the team did. “We were Goddamned Amazin!”

Quicker than a Nolan Ryan fastball and mastering his signature pitch, the Screwball, Tug became one of the premier closers in the league. He was respected by opponents, valued by teammates and adored by fans. He became arguably the most loved player ever to wear a Mets jersey. Tom Seaver was ‘The Franchise,’ the guy you’d enjoy sitting down and discussing Baseball with. But Tug was the guy you’d want to hang out with.

When he pitched in a game, Tug threw left-handed. However, when he loosened up in the bullpen prior to the game or played catch in the outfield with teammates, he threw right-handed. Fans frequently wondered who was that guy wearing Tug’s jersey.

The game was different back then. Closers didn’t come in to face just one batter. They earned the save. They stayed on the mound. No one cared about pitch counts. In 1970, Tug appeared in 57 games while tossing 90+ innings. He went 4-6 with a 3.28.

The following year, he went 11-4 with a 1.70 ERA, threw 111 innings in 51 games and recorded 109 K’s. Tug continued his dominance in 1972. He went 8-6, again posted a 1.70 ERA and set a team record of 27 saves, a mark that would stand until Jesse Orosco broke it in 1984. ’72 saw Tug picked for his first All-Star Game. In 2 innings of work he fanned 4 batters—Reggie Jackson, Norm Cash, Bobby Grich and Carlton Fisk—and picked up the win.

Tug McGraw had merited his spot amongst the greats of the day. And now, it was 1973.

Shockingly, once again, the Mets closer was erratic, unreliable and inconsistent. He found himself reduced to co-closer with Harry Parker.

On August 30, Tom Seaver suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in 10 innings to STL. The Mets fell into last place and were 61-71. And although they were just 6 ½ GB, they’d need to leapfrog 5 other clubs.

M. Donald Grant held a closed door meeting with the players.

He endeavored to motivate the team that’d been playing run-of-the-mill ball most of the year. Not much heart. He said they needed to believe in themselves, believe in each other and believe in their abilities.

Of all people to echo Grant’s generic speech Tug seemed the least likely. After all, he was 1-6 with an ERA north of 5. If anyone should sit there and keep his mouth shut, it was McGraw.

But not Tug. He began jumping around exuberantly, shouting and screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe! Ya Gotta Believe!” Some teammates chuckled, others rolled their eyes. Grant was offended and felt McGraw was mocking him. It was Tug being Tug.

Most likely no one really did believe. Perhaps Tug didn’t either.

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The very next day, August 31, the Mets won a thriller over STL in extra innings and rose out of the cellar. Winning pitcher? Tug McGraw.

It was one of those strange pennant races that seemingly no one wanted to win. As the Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs and Expos beat up on each other, the Mets beat up on everyone. Slowly but surely, the players started to believe. Fans started to believe. The Mets went 19-8 in September, Tug went 3-0 with a 0.57 ERA and recorded 10 saves in a month.

Number 45 took us on one hell of a ride.

Tug’s dominance continued into October. In the LCS he tossed 5 innings, scattering just 4 hits and allowing no runs. In the World Series against the A’s, he pitched in 5 of the 7 games, fanning 14 in 13 2/3 IP. It was Tug who picked up the win in crucial Game 2, a 12-inning affair that brought the Series back to NY deadlocked 1-1.

It was not to be. Despite falling short of another miracle, 1973 remains a true testament to the Mets will, drive and to believing.

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The following year, the defending NL Champion Mets struggled all season. They hobbled across the finish line going 71-91. Tug also struggled, going 6-11 with a 4.16 ERA.

If you were a fan in the 70’s, you remember–vividly and painfully–the tortuously slow disassembling of the club piece by piece. Seaver, Koosman, Jon Matlack, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones, Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Grote, John Milner. All sent away.

But it was number 45 who was the first to go.

On December 3, 1974, Tug, along with outfielders Don Hahn and Dave Schneck, were traded to division rival Philadelphia in exchange for Del Unser, John Stearns and Mac Scarce. However, the trade was nearly voided.

The Phillies accused the Mets of sending ‘damaged goods.’ New York had been tightlipped about McGraw’s shoulder problems during the ‘74 season. The Phillies quickly discovered the arm issue was a due to a simple cyst. The cyst was removed and the trade went through. The Mets believed that at 30 years-old McGraw’s career was probably over.

He’d pitch another ten years.

Stats show that Tug actually put up better numbers in Philly than NY. They, too, grew to love their new closer and for the last half of the decade, as the Phillies appeared in numerous post-seasons while the Mets floundered and flirted with 100-losses annually, Tug established himself as one of the best of his era.

In 1980, Tug saved 20 games and cemented the Phillies first Championship in history. Before a sold-out Veterans Stadium, he whiffed Willie Wilson for the final out of Game 6, did a quick dance on the mound like Rocky and was hugged by teammates like a conquering hero returning home.

Tug turned 40 in 1982 and although putting up respectable numbers, found himself in a set-up role for closers Ron Reed and Ed Farmer. It was time for Tug to step aside and let the national pastime move on without him.

Tug remained in Philadelphia as a sports reporter for WPVI through much of the 1980’s and ’90’s. In addition to sharing his knowledge with young prospects and penning several books during his career, he wrote a syndicated comic strip entitled “Scroogie.” Scroogie was a screwball pitcher who pitched for a team named The Pets. The Pets star pitcher was a refined guy named Royce Rawls (a clear-cut tribute to Tug’s former teammate Tom Seaver,) The Pets broadcaster, Herb, wore loud multi-colored sports jackets, a homage to Lindsey Nelson.

It was while working as a special instructor to the Phillies during Spring Training in 2003 when Tug realized something wasn’t right. He’d been getting headaches, forgetting names of players he worked with daily. Occasionally he’d arrive at the ballpark at the wrong time. Sometimes he showed up and the stadium was empty, having forgotten the Phillies were across the state playing elsewhere. A trip to a doctor, then an oncologist and a battery of tests revealed that Frank Edwin McGraw had a brain tumor.

He was operated on and the outcome was labeled a “success.” Chances of full recovery were “excellent” and Tug, we were told, should “live a long time.”

However, the tumor was not excised completely. It metastasized and returned to a part of the brain that was inoperable.

Tug McGraw was dying.

His final public appearance came on September 28, 2003. It was the last game ever played at Veteran’s Stadium and before a sold-out crowd, Tug stood on the mound and recreated fanning Willie Wilson for the final out of the 1980 World Series.

A little over three months later, January 5, 2004, Tug McGraw passed away. He was 59.

tug-mcgraw-8

“Tug was one of the greatest characters in the game,” former teammate, friend and roommate Tom Seaver said. “But what people overlook was what kind of competitor he was on the mound. No one competed with more intensity than he did.”

Mike Schmidt said, “His passing is hard to take because his presence meant so much to people around him.”

Battery mate and close friend, Bob Boone, the first man to embrace Tug after that strikeout in 1980, stated, “He got more living out of his 59 years than anybody.”

Tug left behind 4 children and 2 step-sons. In 1966, he had, according to him, “a one night stand” with a woman named Betty D’Agostino. A son, Tim, arrived. But Tug didn’t accept the child as his own until Tim turned 17. Tug McGraw died in the Nashville home of his son. Both Tim and his wife, Faith Hill, were with him at the end.

Almost five years later, 2008, with Veterans Stadium gone, Tim McGraw walked to the pitching rubber at Citizens Bank Park prior to Game 3 of the World Series. He knelt down and spread some of his father’s ashes across the mound. Two days later, the Phillies won their second Championship.

Congratulations to Tug McGraw who joins Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, Cleon Jones and David Wright in our Metsmerized Hall of Fame.

MMO HOF BANNER

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Nationals Sign Daniel Murphy To 3-Year Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/nationals-sign-daniel-murphy-to-3-year-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/nationals-sign-daniel-murphy-to-3-year-deal.html/#comments Thu, 24 Dec 2015 23:11:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203127 daniel murphy

According to multiple sources, but first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN, Daniel Murphy has signed a 3-year deal with the Washington Nationals worth  $37.5 million dollars . The deal is pending a physical.

The Nationals will forfeit their first round pick in next year’s draft, while the Mets pick up a compensation pick between the first and second rounds.

Murphy is a career .288/.331/.424 hitter with 62 regular season home runs and 402 RBIs. Of course, we all know about his home runs in 6 consecutive postseason games a few months ago, setting a major league record.

Either he or Anthony Rendon will presumably play third base, with the other playing at second base.

David Wright is now left as the only Met to have played a home game at Shea Stadium.

Good luck to Murph in Washington, but of course, not when he’s playing us.

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Everything’s Coming Up Mets! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/everythings-coming-up-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/everythings-coming-up-mets.html/#comments Sat, 24 Oct 2015 16:17:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197814 Shead isplay

Shea Stadium Memorabilia from The Rashbaum Collection

On view from October 8 to November 29, 2015 The objects and images in this front-room display at The City Reliquary offer a tangible history of the New York Mets and of Shea Stadium, the team’s former home from 1964 until its demolition in 2008.

Shea Stadium was the site of the Mets’ World Series wins in 1969 and 1986, but the fragments displayed here radiate the energy of every past victory and defeat that unfolded under the eyes of loyal fans. Items such as the home bullpen bench or a base from the last season played at Shea—still showing dust from the field—serve as relics and repositories of memory for this bygone location. They are especially poignant at this moment in Mets history, as the team makes its way to the 2015 World Series.

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Now this one gave me a little chuckle. It was taken by a New York Islanders staffer a few days ago with the caption: “The Empire State Building lights up for the New York Islanders!” Umm… I don’t think so.

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Speaking of the Islanders, several Mets were on hand last night at the game. Although word has it that Matt Harvey was asked to remove his NY Rangers cap before entering. Okay. I just made that last part up.

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I loved this graphic by the New York Mets which they posted last night on Twitter. I’m so happy for this guy because I feel as though he really suffered and endured like the rest of us over these last several seasons.

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David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Wilmer Flores all joined Jimmy Kimmel on Friday night in Brooklyn for a special edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. During his opening Kimmel joked that the Mets are so hot right now, that the only people who can afford to go to but tickets to see them in the World Series are Derek Jeter and A-Rod.

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A “Perfect” Father’s Day At Shea http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/a-perfect-fathers-day-at-shea-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/a-perfect-fathers-day-at-shea-2.html/#comments Sun, 21 Jun 2015 11:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185064 bunning

On June 20, 1964 Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jim Bunning threw a perfect game against the New York Mets in the first game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. With his wife and children in the stands, here’s what happened …

By the eighth inning 32,904 Mets fans were cheering for the Philadelphia Phillies, for pitcher Jim Bunning. On Father’s Day 1964, the Phillies pitcher was just a handful of outs away from a perfect game.

Met fans rooting for the Phillies? This would never, under any circumstances, happen today.

But these were simpler days for Met fans. The Mets were already firmly planted in last place (20-45) in the National League, 21 games behind in the National League East. Winning a division title was nowhere in sight – nor did it matter. Mets fans celebrated wins, and losses, and the first year in their new Flushing home, Shea Stadium. Life was good. National League baseball was back in New York.

“Nobody realized it was a perfect game until the fourth or fifth inning,” former Phillies pitch Dennis Bennett told Bill Ryczek, author of The Amazin’ Mets. “You know that it’s taboo to talk about it, but Jim was talking about it.”

Bunning was reportedly very vocal about what was developing. According to catcher Gus Triandos, he’d never seen Bunning acting so animated. “He was jabbering like a magpie,” he said.

Only one other time over the first 10 years of his career did Bunning feel the same command and control of his slider. It was six years earlier (1958), as a member of the Detroit Tigers when he tossed his first career no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox.

Galen Cisco, who was playing for the Mets, said Bunning “just wasn’t missing. Everytime he tried to keep the ball away, it was away. When he got two strikes, he was throwing the ball off the plate, and we were swinging. We just weren’t very patient.”

Perfection was in jeopardy in the fifth inning when Jesse Gonder hit at line drive toward right field. Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor dove to his left, knocking down the ball and threw out Gonder at first base.

Former Met Hawk Taylor said Bunning had “won over the umpire, who was starting to widen the strike zone for him … not that he needed a lot of help, but I remember the strike zone was substantially enlarged.”

Joe Christopher added, “When you’re making good pitches and the umpire is in your corner, it’s two against one.”

Bunning had retired 24 consecutive batters when Charlie Smith stepped in to lead off the ninth inning. Smith made No. 25 easy, hitting a foul pop up to third base that was squeezed by Cookie Rojas.

Mets manager Casey Stengel pinch hit George Altman, who felt he had the advantage against Bunning, who threw side-armed. “Lefthanders got a good look at him,” Altman told Ryczek. “He’s the kind of pitcher you love to hit off. To me, it was a lot better than facing Koufax or someone like that … of course he wound up handling all of us.” Altman hit a long foul ball into the seats then promptly struck out.

Mets pitchers Tracy Stallard and Bill Wakefield, members of the fraternity, were emotionally split. Stallard wanted to see the Mets break up the perfect game, while Wakefield privately changed allegiances.

“You always want to be professional, you always want to root for your team, but it wasn’t a situation that was going to cost us the pennant, or even a position in the standings.”

Stengel sent another pinch hitter to the plate, Johnny Stephenson. The Mets rookie was 2-for-27 in his major league career. Bunning fidgeted nervously on the mound as Stephenson came to the plate.

His first two pitches to Stephenson were strikes, the first swinging, the second a called strike. Bunning missed with the next two pitches. Stephenson watched a 2-2 pitch drop into the strike zone. Bunning was perfect, throwing 86 pitches (69 strikes).

“He threw me all sliders, which were hard to pick up, the way he fell off the mound,” remembered Stephenson.

Surrounded by teammates, Bunning disappeared into the visitor’s dugout at Shea Stadium. After a few minutes of standing ovation fans launched into a chant of “We want Bunning! We want Bunning!”

When the Phillies pitcher stepped back on to the field for a post-game interview with Ralph Kiner, Mets fans exploded in cheers. Moments later, Bunning’s wife, Mary, and his eldest daughter—he has seven children—came out of the stands to kiss and hug Dad.

Ryczek wrote, “… through mid-1966, Bunning made seven starts in Shea Stadium. He had seven wins, seven complete games and four shutouts. Bu early 1967, he had allowed just three runs to the Mets in 72 innings.”

Bunning became the first pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in both the American (July 20, 1958 vs. Boston) and National leagues.

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When Will Citi Field Be Home? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-will-citi-field-be-home.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/when-will-citi-field-be-home.html/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 13:00:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177291 citi field

One thing that you can always count on is the New York Mets. It does not matter what happens in life, a death in the family, a break-up with someone you have dated for years or a fight with your parents. Those lovable losers will still play a game most nights from March through September, and hopefully well into October.

mmo feature original footerThe Mets are headed into their 7th season playing at Citi Field and yet it still does not feel like their stadium. Yes they do play 81 games there but it is not home.

Citi Field is a great place to take in a ball game, the visual experience is first class and the concessions are amongst the best in the league, at least the Mets are good at something. All of that is great but it still is not like Shea Stadium. When you drive into Citi Field the parking sign has the price for playoffs. My friend and I always joke because the Mets have never played a meaningful game there in August let alone October!

Fans, or if you want to call them that, go to the games sit on their cellphones, take selfies to upload to Instagram and leave before the 6th inning is over, not to mention the stadium is half empty on a good night. You could never say that about Shea Stadium.

Growing up Shea Stadium was never a dump to me; it was the greatest cathedral a young boy could ever witness. Back in those days you could not see the field from everywhere you stood in the stadium so when you walked out to see the field for the first time it was special. It was the greatest feeling to walk to your seats and see the field plush with the greenest of grass and the best ball players alive, it always sent chills throughout my body that first glimpse. My idol Mike Piazza would kick the dirt behind home plate and we were all ready to go. Life was simple.

They tore down Shea Stadium when I was away at college my freshmen year. I cried in the dining hall watching construction crews dismantle it, of course the Mets having an epic collapse did not help my emotions either. Shea was never a just a stadium, it was where I learned to love the game of baseball and so much more.

Our close family friend who I considered an uncle had season tickets to the Mets. Me, him and my dad would go to a lot of games, the fun was never ending and the good times rolled whenever the Mets won. We used to go to Firework Night every year and sit in the parking lot. As a kid this was pure bliss and the most fun you could possibly have at a baseball game, the smiles and laughter were never ending. My uncle passed away on September 11th, 2001. I can still picture him smoking cigarettes and drinking beer cheering on the team he loved.

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One of my greatest memories of Shea Stadium was a sizzling mid-summer day. My whole group of friends went to a day game and got absolutely torched by the sun. The best part was that we had an entire section in the upper deck of the outfield to ourselves. Somehow the Shea staff left a Gatorade cooler filled with water unguarded, typical Mets, right outside our section, it was awesome! Then my friend punched me in the face on the LIRR platform after the game, which in a sick way I still find hilarious and made the day better.

From Endy Chavez to John “bleeping” Franco to Todd Hundley to Cliff Floyd to Turk Wendell, those guys were what Shea was all about. Always booing whomever wore a Braves jersey, especially John Rocker he was and still is the worst. The roar that stadium made can never be duplicated, at times it got so loud I thought my eardrums would burst.

That is what I want Citi Field to be like, and sooner rather than later. A place filled with tradition and a sense of pride calling the Mets your favorite baseball team.

I compare the Mets fanbase to that of the New York Islanders. You will never find two sets of fans that will get loud and appreciate a team like them. When the product on the playing surface is good Mets fans will show up, and not the ones who got free tickets from work. You want to see an area get loud watch the Islanders in the playoffs next month, just what I would expect at a Mets game in October. The real Mets fans are the people who get there before the national anthem and are planted in their seat until the final out has been recorded. Cheering, screaming, acting like a bunch of lunatics. That’s how a home stadium for the Mets should be.

The Mets will always be 2nd fiddle in New York to the Yankees no matter what anyone says but there is no comparison with the fans. A couple years ago the Yankees had a hard time selling out a home playoff game. I laughed at that because that would never happen with the Mets. Yankees fans will say “we always win, make the playoffs then we can talk” and they are right but that’s what the best part about being a Mets fan is. You know how much it sucks to lose and suffer through gut wrenching loss year-in and year-out, that is why we love our winners so much.

I ask one thing to the entire New York Mets organization this year and that is to play with pride, guts and never quit. Play like you need to win, that every game could be your last. Make us sell out Citi Field in September, not just for the Subway Series but because the Mets are in the thick of a playoff battle. Make it feel like Shea Stadium where the only thing that matters to anyone at the game is the game.

I hope Citi Field turns into a place that is capable of creating memories no one will ever forget, just like Shea Stadium.

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Remembering 9/11: Never Forget http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/remembering-911-never-forget.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/remembering-911-never-forget.html/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:51:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165462 coffin soldier

Time does not heal all wounds.

The pain of what happened on September 11th, 2001 has not subsided. We can put the tragedy of what took place on that day in the back of our minds, but we can never put it out of our hearts.

Lets take some time to remember those victims and honor them. Let’s also take a few minutes to remember and honor those who still put their lives on the line every single waking hour, so that we here at home can go on living our lives and rebuilding the dreams that perished on that fateful day.

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It took 10 days for baseball games to resume after 9/11, and then-New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani would say, “It’s how much baseball means to people and what it can do for a community, what it can do for a country.”

The first game back was at Shea Stadium. The Mets/Braves game on September 21, 2001 was the first sporting event that would ever be held in NY in a Post 9-11 America. Piazza said it was impossible to describe what he felt when he hit the two-run homer in the eighth inning that lifted the Mets to a 3-2 win.

“Every time I get back to New York, anywhere I go, even here just walking on the street,  people do say that moment helped them try to turn the page a little bit and give them a little bit of a positive in an otherwise dark week,” he says now. “To be remembered for one home run, if that’s the home run, it’s definitely an honor .”

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The best way to honor the fallen is to go on living our lives and cherishing the freedom for which they died defending.

The best way to honor the heroes who still fight to preserve our way of life, is to live our lives in a manner that is worth defending, and to reflect the values and the virtues of being an American, every single day.

Freedom and liberty can mean a million different things to a million different people, but there is one common truth that our differences cannot dissuade. Freedom is as fragile or as strong as the will of those who are willing to defend it.

Support Our Troops, Remember September 11th, and Be Proud to be an American.

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Remembering Shea: An Amazin’ Icon Passes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/remembering-shea-an-amazin-icon-passes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/remembering-shea-an-amazin-icon-passes.html/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:48:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=71539

For the next three days, we’re going back and picking out some of our favorite posts that celebrate the great memories of Shea Stadium. We begin with this post, originally written by me on February 10, 2008.

From the very first day that Shea Stadium opened its gates and embraced their new team, the New York Mets, Karl Ehrhardt became a fixture at almost every game from 1964 through 1981.

We all knew Karl by his more famous nickname, the “Sign Man”.

He had become famous for holding up the most perfect signs throughout key moments of each game. Sometimes the signs displayed his frustration, but mostly they shared our exuberance and excitement. Whatever the situation was, you can bet that the Sign Man always had the perfect words.

It is so sad that he will not be able to say a final goodbye to Shea Stadium as it too gets ready for an appointment with destiny.

Karl was 83 years old and died at his home in the Glen Oaks section of Queens. He had been recovering from vascular surgery. The German born immigrant came to the United States when he was only six years old and during World War II, he served our country and was a translator for U.S. forces overseas.

He helped popularize many of the motto’s and phrases now associated with the Mets including Amazin’ Mets, Ya Gotta Believe, Miracle Mets, Tom Terrific, etc. You name them, he had them, in fact, he had over 1,200 different signs in his arsenal.

Some of you may even remember that special night when the Mets won the 1969 World Series and left him speechless. The sign he raised high above his head during the celebration on the field read, “There Are No Words.”

“I just called them the way I saw them,” Ehrhardt told The New York Times in 2006.

“Before I went to the ballpark, I would try to crystal-ball what might happen that particular day,” he said. “I would read all the newspapers to learn who was hot and who was in a slump, stuff like that, and create my signs accordingly.”

I hope the Wilpon’s choose to honor the Sign Man with a fitting tribute and a lasting memorial to him at the new Citi Field. He helped define the New York Mets back in the early days while they were searching for their own identity. Millions of adoring fans will always remember him for his unbridled enthusiasm and never-ending dedication to the team. Karl Ehrhardt was an icon. He was one of the first Met fans to bleed orange and blue.

I would love to see a life sized poster of him adorning one of the corridors at the field level at Shea Stadium this, our final season. As we say our goodbyes to Shea Stadium this season, seeing a poster of the Sign Man holding up a sign that says “Always Amazin”, would be so fitting.

Farewell Sign Man, we will never forget you.

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Karl Ehrhardt – The Sign Man

November 26, 1924 – February 5, 2008

I cant believe it’s been six years already since Karl’s passing. What a great fan he was and I’ll always remember trying to spot his signs whenever me and my dad went to Shea.

Here are some of Sign Man’s most memorable signs:

  • AMAZIN’! – Based on the team’s nickname which was first coined by Casey Stengel, the franchise’s original manager.
  • MET POWER! – Displayed after Tommie Agee hit his leadoff home run in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series
  • BACK TO YOUR NEST, BIRD! – Appeared during the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. This sign is seen in the highlight film during Game 5.
  • CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? – After many a Mets comeback win.
  • CURSES! FOILED AGAIN – We saw that one plenty!
  • AAUGHH! – Inspired by the Peanuts cartoon strip; it was used for whenever the Mets lost a game.
  • LOOK MA, NO HANDS – Was shown when a slow grounder defied the grip of Mets’ shortstop Frank Taveras at a summer Mets game in 1979.
  • JOSE, CAN YOU SEE? – Presented when Cleveland Indians’ outfielder José Cardenal struck out at a 1968-1969 Mets game.
  • IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE! – For weak hitters who rarely reached base. A head shot of Frankenstein’s monster was to the left of the letters on the sign.
  • SIT DOWN, YA BUM! – Whenever a Dodger struck out, or argued, or just for fun.
  • LEAVE IT TO SEAVER – Inspired by famous sitcom show, Leave It to Beaver; the sign was used for whenever Tom Seaver was on the mound.
  • BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? – Flashed during the decisive Game 5 of the 1969 World Series.
  • BYE, BYE, BIRDIES! – Flashed during the same game.
  • THERE ARE NO WORDS – The sign that Ehrhardt held up when the Mets’ left fielder Cleon Jones caught the final out to clinch the team’s first World Series Championship. This was his most famous creation, seen in the Series highlight film.
  • THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE – Held high from a convertible, as Ehrhardt rode with the Mets’ victory parade in the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan.
  • NAILED BY THE (picture of a hammer) – Held up after a home run was hit by slugging first baseman John Milner, whose nickname was “The Hammer”.
  • KONG! – For Dave Kingman’s first regular season home run at home as a Met, helping to tag Kingman with the nickname King Kong.
  • THE KING OF SWING – Another tribute to Kingman, drawing on the nickname given jazz legend Benny Goodman.
  • THE SIGNMAN LIVES! – Used on his return to Shea Stadium at a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, 2002 to help celebrate the Mets’ 40th anniversary.

Presented By Diehards

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Mets To Celebrate Shea Anniversary With $3.50 Tickets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mets-to-celebrate-shea-anniversary-with-3-50-tickets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mets-to-celebrate-shea-anniversary-with-3-50-tickets.html/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 14:34:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153216 shea stadium

CELEBRATE SHEA STADIUM’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

WITH $3.50 TICKETS 

The New York Mets today announced the club will celebrate Shea Stadium’s 50th Anniversary by rolling back tickets for games this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 18-20) against the Atlanta Braves to the 1964 box seat price of $3.50. Shea Stadium officially opened on April 17, 1964 when the Mets hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A limited number of rollback tickets in select non-season ticket areas of Promenade Outfield and Promenade Reserved sections are available at Mets.com/1964 and (718) 507-TIXX.  Fans will also have the option to purchase select Baseline Box seats for $19.64.  There is an eight ticket maximum per order. Tickets must be purchased in advance online or over the phone; the offer will not be available at team stores, Citi Field ticket windows, or on day of game.

Fans taking advantage of the Shea Stadium 50th anniversary offer will also partake in special promotions for the weekend:

All fans at the Friday, April 18 game at 7:10 p.m. will receive a Free Shirt Friday t-shirt courtesy of Caesars.

The first 20,000 fans at the Saturday, April 19 game at 7:10 p.m. will receive a Shea Stadium 50th Anniversary Canvas Print presented by New Era.

The first 15,000 fans at the Sunday, April 20 game at 1:10 p.m. will bring home a Recyclable Tote Bag thanks to MLB Network.

Purchase Tickets at Mets.com/1964 and (718) 507-TIXX

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2014 Mets Promotion Days and Special Offers! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/2014-mets-promotion-days-and-special-offers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/2014-mets-promotion-days-and-special-offers.html/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:18:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=151902 button metsb

The New York Mets announced that Free Shirt Friday and Family Sunday will lead the lineup of special offers and new attractions throughout the season at Citi Field. The Mets will host the third year of post-game concerts and added a third Fireworks Night to the schedule.

2014 Promo Days

Free Shirt Fridays

Every fan in attendance on 12 Friday home dates will receive a uniquely designed Mets t-shirt. For a complete listing including photos of all t-shirts, visit mets.com/FreeShirtFridays.

Saturday Post-Game Concerts

Saturdays will feature the 2014 Mets Concert Series presented by Duane Reade with best-selling performer and Queens native 50 Cent (June 14), rock-n-rollers Huey Lewis and the News (July 12), R&B legends Boyz II Men (August 16) and pop-sensation Austin Mahone (September 27).

Family Sundays

Every Sunday will feature family-themed giveaways to the first 15,000 fans, and the Mr. Met Dash, where kids 12 and under can run the bases after the game. Kids inflatables, face painters and balloon artists, courtesy of Send in the Clowns, will be on Mets Plaza before the game to entertain families.

Fireworks Nights

There will be three Fireworks Nights at Citi Field in 2014. On July 4, there will be a special Independence Day celebration Fireworks Night presented by Citi. Fireworks will also light the sky above Citi Field Saturday, August 2 and Saturday, September 13 on Fireworks Night presented by Duane Reade.

Bobbleheads

There will also be three special bobblehead giveaways in 2014, each for the first 20,000 fans in attendance on each date. The first is Saturday, May 10 featuring a 1969 Commemorative Nolan Ryan bobblehead courtesy of Delta Air Lines, next is Saturday, August 30 which will be a Curtis Granderson bobblehead presented by Gold’s, and the final one will be on Sunday, September 28 featuring Casey Stengel courtesy of SNY & WOR.

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Special Offers

Birthdays

As a happy birthday present from the Mets, fans can receive a complimentary ticket to that day’s game to celebrate their birthday at Citi Field. Fans must show a valid form of identification (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc.) at the Citi Field Ticket Windows on their birthday to receive a ticket, subject to availability. The offer does not apply for games on Opening Day, March 31 or the Subway Series May 14-15. The offer ends September 28. For those celebrating birthdays when the Mets are on the road, on an off-day, in the off-season or on non-eligible games, a complimentary ticket can be redeemed for games on April 2-3, 21-24 and September 8-10.

Family Pack

For $24, fans can enjoy a ticket to a game in the Left Field Landing and a choice of a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog, Two Boots pizza slice, burger or veggie burger, to go along with Nathan’s Famous French Fries and a large sized 21 oz. Pepsi-branded soda. Fans can upgrade their seating location to the Baseline Box on the Field Level for $39 per ticket. For more information, visit Mets.com/FamilyPacks.

Military Mondays

U.S. Military personnel with active or retired military identification will receive complimentary tickets to Monday night games for themselves and up to three guests on the following Mondays: April 21, July 7, July 28, September 8 and September 15. The tickets will be available (night-of-game only) in the Ticket Office lobby in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, subject to availability.

Military Go Free

For the games outside of Military Mondays, the Mets will continue to provide active military personnel with complimentary tickets (day-of-game only) in the Ticket Office lobby in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, subject to availability. Accompanying non-military persons must purchase tickets, subject to availability.

Mr. Met’s Kids Club

The Kids Club has been re-launched with two membership levels. Blue memberships are free and come with one free Sunday ticket voucher and a Kids Club lanyard and rewards card. Orange memberships cost $29 and comes with four free Sunday ticket vouchers, a Kids Club t-shirt, a front-of-the-line pass for Sunday Mr. Met Dashes and a Kids Club lanyard and rewards card. Members are encouraged to check in every Sunday at the Kids Club Kiosk at Good Humor Fan Fest to qualify for special rewards.

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Mets Hall of Fame & Museum

“Kiner’s Korner” will be dedicated to celebrating the life of Hall of Famer and original Mets broadcaster, Ralph Kiner. The display will feature one of his Emmy Awards, his 1986 World Series Championship ring, an index card of hand-written notes and the sign from his iconic show, Kiner’s Korner.

Fifty years have passed since the opening of Shea Stadium, and the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum will feature a special display highlighting some of the most significant moments from the Mets’ home from 1964-2008 including:

  • 1961 Shea Stadium groundbreaking ceremony program
  • 1969 team signed bat
  • Willie Mays’s 1973 game-used batting helmet
  • Mike Piazza home jersey from the 2000 World Series
  • Mike Piazza’s jersey and catching helmet from the first game after the 9/11 attacks
  • Endy Chavez’s jersey from “The Catch” in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS
  • Last pitching rubber used at Shea Stadium

The Jersey Wall will return this year and display the uniforms of the four Mets captains in franchise history: Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, John Franco and David Wright.

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Mets Final Game Starting Pitchers: The 1960s http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-final-game-starting-pitchers-the-1960s.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-final-game-starting-pitchers-the-1960s.html/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:00:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139421 A lot is made about who the Opening Day starting pitcher is going to be each new season. But who can guess or remember the names of the pitchers who have started the final game each season? Who are those Rodney Dangerfields of pitchers who get oftentimes get tabbed to pitch in what ends up being another meaningless game? See if you can remember some of these Mets players as we take a decade by decade look at which pitchers started the final games of each season.

1962Willard Hunter. He was the losing pitcher on September 30, 1962 and lost the Mets 120th game of the season. He did it in 1962 Mets fashion. He walked the Cubs Ken Huggs in the first batter he faced at Wrigley Field that day. Then he got Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ernie Banks to ground into force plays at second base to get out of the inning. He didn’t fare too well in his second inning. George Altman led off the inning with a single. He then proceeded to walk Nelson Mathews, Andre Rodgers, and Cuno Barragan on twelve straight pitches. After 8 batters, Willard was out of the game. He would appear in 41 more games in his major league career, but would never start another one. He finished that season with a 1-6 record.

1963Larry Bearnarth. Larry also lost on September 29, 1963 at Colt stadium against the Houston Colt 45s, facing a starting lineup that featured Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub. That loss dropped his record to 3-8 and he lasted just 3 innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 3 and allowing 7 runs – all earned.

galen cisco1964Galen Cisco. On October 4, 1964, Galen lost his 19th game of the season and finished with a record of 6-19. On the other side of the ledger, the St. Louis Cardinals Bob Gibson won his 19th game of the season while coming out of the bullpen that same day. Galen only lasted 4 innings, allowing 5 runs – all earned. In a bit of irony, Willard Hunter, who made his final MLB start as the final day pitcher in 1962 also pitched that day, this time making his final major league appearance after allowing 3 runs in 1 inning.

1965Jack Fisher. The final game of the season was the 2nd game of a doubleheader on October 3, 1965. Jack Fisher lost that game for his league leading 24th game of the season and finished 1965 with an 8-24 record. Jack’s outing was longer than any of the prior final game starters combined. In fact, he put in a 13 inning complete game outing to finish the season. That’s right – 13 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. September call up and future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins got the win in the game. Jack’s stat line that day in the 3-1 loss – 13 innings pitched, 8 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and 1 HR allowed. Jack allowed only one run through 12 innings before he allowed a leadoff home run to Billy Sorrell to lead of the 13th inning.

1966Bob Shaw. For the second season in a row, the Mets finished the season with a doubleheader. Bob Shaw started the final game of the season at Shea Stadium against the Houston Astros on October 2, 1966. Once again, the Mets dropped the final game of the season and the loss dropped Bob’s record to 12-14 for the year. Bob lasted only 2.1 innings that day, allowing 5 runs before giving way to Tug McGraw. The Mets eventually lost the game 5-1.

1967Danny Frisella. The Mets dropped their season finale for the 7th straight season, this time it was Danny Frisella who absorbed the loss on October 1, 1967 at Dodger Stadium. Danny was the hard-luck loser in the 2-1 loss as he went 7.2 innings and did not allow an earned run. The only two Dodger runs scored on a Ken Boswell error in the bottom of the 8th.

1968Tom Seaver. Once again, the Mets lost the season finale. This time, the Franchise pitched the final game on September 29, 1968 against the Phillies at Shea Stadium. The loss dropped Tom’s record to 16-12 for the year, and in the outing he went 7 innings in the 10-3 loss. Tom’s pitching line that day was 7 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, and 2 HR allowed.

1969Gary Gentry. The Mets continued to lose in the final game of the regular season, this time losing 5-3 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 2, 1969. Gary picked up a no-decision that day, going 4 innings with Don Cardwell eventually taking the loss.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Flashback: A Death In The Mets Family http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-death-in-the-mets-family-jane-jarvis-passes-away.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-death-in-the-mets-family-jane-jarvis-passes-away.html/#comments Sat, 25 Jan 2014 13:39:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=20139 An MMO Flashback remembering the passing of beloved and iconic Mets organist, Jane Jarvis, who passed away on this day in 2010. Enjoy…

When one thinks back to the Mets of the 1960’s and 70’s, certain images come to mind: Casey Stengel, Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw pounding his glove on his leg, black cats, Miracles, fans ripping up the field and so forth.

Off the field, however, there were others who were just as much a part of Shea Stadium folklore. One such Mets icon was organist Jane Jarvis. Miss Jarvis died on January 25, 2010 in Englewood, NJ. She was 94.

Just as the performing of The National Anthem or singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ is a deep seeded Baseball tradition, so was Jane playing ‘Meet The Mets’ on her organ for us Mets fans. As those first few notes filled the air in Flushing and the Mets took the field we all knew it was time to ‘Play Ball.’

At just 5 years old Jane was considered a piano prodigy. Her family relocated to Gary, Indiana and at 12 she was playing the piano at radio station WKJS. However, just one year later, she was orphaned when both her parents were killed when their car was struck by a train.

In 1954 Jane was given her own TV show in Milwaukee entitled ‘Jivin’ With Jarvis’ where she was allowed to create and pursue her first love: Jazz Music. It was at this time when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. They were looking for an organist and hired Jane. She was reluctant to take the position due to the fact that she knew absolutely nothing about sports, especially Baseball. During her interview she asked the Braves executive, ‘When do I get to play?’ The Braves employee replied, ‘Whenever a team gets three outs.’ Jane looked at the man with a quizzical expression and asked, ‘When is that?’

She stayed with the Braves for eight years before moving to New York in 1962 where she took a position with the Muzak corporation as a staff composer and arranger. She would quickly ascend the corporate ladder and become Vice President.

As the Mets prepared to debut their new home in 1964, they decided to draw on yet another tradition of NY’s baseball past. The Dodgers organist, Gladys Gooding, developed a fan following and became a huge part of Ebbets Field history. The Mets wanted to do the same and brought Jane on board.

Although she remained working at Muzak until 1978 during her stint as Mets organist, she became an integral and unforgettable part of our club. She was as much a part of the Shea Experience as the Sign Man Karl Ehrhardt and even Mr. Met himself. She worked for us almost as long as our original broadcast team of Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner.

On June 13th, 1977, during the 6th inning of a game against the Cubs, the city was besieged by a massive blackout. Shea was suddenly thrust into darkness. Total blackness stretched as far as one could see in all directions. However, as strange as it was, Jane’s vintage Thomas’ Organ was not affected. Sitting in total darkness, blinded by blackness, Jane began playing upbeat tunes in a attempt to calm the nerves of frightened fans.

Jane came full circle with the Mets. In 1964, we were in last place. She was there for the Miracle in ’69 and the pennant in ’73. But by 1979 the Mets were once again in the cellar. Nelson Doubleday bought the Mets in 1980 and GM Frank Cashen was determined to make serious changes to the team. One such change was to start playing pre-recorded music rather than sticking with the traditional organ playing. After 16 seasons Jane was uneventfully let go. Organ music would never again be heard at Shea.

She remained in the city performing Jazz at various nightclubs. She is credited with having written or co-written over 300 compositions as well as recording several albums. Her final jazz album was entitled ‘Atlantic/Pacific’ which was released in 2000. She was 85 years old at the time.

In 2003, now living in Cocoa Beach, FL, she was given a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the Space Coast Jazz Society. But she missed the culture and excitement of The Big Apple. She decided to forego the warm Florida weather and moved back. In 2008, however, Jane was forced to vacate her home on E 50th St when a construction crane collapsed and damaged her apt. She spent the last months of her life residing at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She passed away on January 25th,  2010 at 94 years old. She leaves behind 1 son, 1 daughter, several grandchildren and great grandchildren. And also memories to millions of fans who can still hearken back to the days of their youth and hear Miss Jarvis playing ‘Meet The Mets.’

“I cant even bear to think about it,” stated Jane in 2008 as sadness came over her. Her voice cracked. Her eyes watered up. Her beloved Shea would soon be torn down. She hoped that perhaps the Wilpons would welcome her back to Shea for one final visit. Mets management spent much of that season bringing back historical figures from our past. But the phone call never came. However, she harbored no hard feelings towards the Wilpons since she never really worked for them. “I’m 93 years old,” she stated and then added with a smile, “And no matter what, I’ve had an amazin’ life.”

Rest in Peace, Jane. And Thanks for the Memories.

Presented By Diehards

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Remembering David Wright’s Debut As He Turns 31 Today http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/remembering-david-wrights-debut-as-he-turns-31-today.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/remembering-david-wrights-debut-as-he-turns-31-today.html/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 13:15:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135888 EXPOS METS

In this photo by Julie Jacobson, a starstruck David Wright takes in the grandeur of an empty Shea Stadium before taking his first batting practice, after the New York Mets called up their top prospect on July 21, 2004.

Two hours later, the 21-year old Wright would see his lifelong dream fulfilled when he would make his Major League debut against the Montreal Expos. He took the field wearing the uniform of the team he had rooted for ever since that first catch he had with his dad back home in Chesapeake, Virginia,

“When I was a kid, I would have loved the chance to come to Shea and see the players I grew up watching in Norfolk.” And here he was.

“I didn’t get much sleep,” said Wright, after receiving a call the night before that he’d be flying to New York to join the team first thing in the morning. “It’s an incredible feeling. This has been my dream.”

At the time of his promotion, Wright was batting .298 with eight home runs in 31 games at Triple-A Norfolk after starting the season at Double-A Binghamton where he hit .363 with 10 home runs.

“It’s a big surprise, a shock you don’t expect,” he said. “I expect to do my part to help the team win if I can play up to expectations. My expectations are higher on myself.”

Wright batted seventh and went 0-for-4 in his debut, but as you all know, the best was yet to come. The rookie third baseman got off to a slow start and was batting .240 after his first two weeks with the team.

But on August 5th everything would change as Wright would finally have his coming out party and showed the baseball world why the Mets selected him with their first round pick in 2001. 

Wright delivered his first three-hit game, driving two opposite field doubles into the gap and also blasting his fourth home run of the season – a three-run shot – as the Mets beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 . In what was also Victor Zambrano‘s Mets debut, Wright would drive in six runs that night while scoring two.

“Some guys go a career without six RBIs,” Mets manager Art Howe would say. “He was Johnny on the spot.”

Wright’s major league career was well underway, and he would go onto providing us with so many more thrilling highlights and memories as a Met. Today, the Mets Captain turns 31. All of us at MMO wish David a Very Happy Birthday!

button WRIGHT

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Remembering the Mets’ One-Hit Wonders http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/remembering-the-mets-one-hit-wonders.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/remembering-the-mets-one-hit-wonders.html/#comments Mon, 09 Dec 2013 17:48:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134843 fordyce

As a kid, many of us dreamed of getting to the big leagues. Chances are, if you’re reading this – you didn’t make it, either. Most of the players who ever were drafted never make it through the ranks of the minors. Of the fortunate few who make to the Majors, even fewer go onto long, successful careers. Many only have cups of coffee with a few brief moments in the sun of a Big League Diamond.

In 52 seasons, the Mets have had 26 different non-pitchers who have been One-Hit Wonders in a Mets uniform. Four of these men had MLB careers with over 200 base hits:

Emil Brown – 581 hits over 10 years with 5 teams with his final hit with the Mets

Brook Fordyce – 467 hits over 10 years with 5 teams – his first with the Mets

Gary Bennett – 408 hits over 13 years with 8 teams – #72 with the Mets

Craig Shipley – 364 hits over 11 years with 5 teams, #13 with the Mets

But there were eight different men that were truly One-Hit Wonders. There were eight Mets non-pitchers that recorded only one base hit in their major league careers. While their careers were but brief, they will always be Mets – and they should be remembered.

jelic

  • Chris Jelic - Chris played in four major league games in 1990 and recorded his lone MLB hit on October 3rd in the final game of the season at Three Rivers Stadium agains the Pittsburgh Pirates. Frank Viola would win his 20th game that day and Chris was starting in left field, batting 6th in the lineup. In the top of the 8th, Chris was leading off the inning facing Doug Bair with the Mets leading 4-3. On a 3-1 count, he hit a home run to left-center to put the Mets up 5-3 before being replaced for defense for the ninth. After crossing home plate, Chris would never play on a Major League field again.
  • Frank Estrada – Frank collected his lone hit in his single game in the Majors on September 14, 1971 – the first game of a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. The Mets were getting blown out 12-0 when he entered the game in the top of the 6th, replacing Jerry Grote behind the plate, catching Charlie Williams. Frank came to the plate for his first MLB at bat in the bottom of the 7th with the Mets still trailing 12-0. With two out and nobody on, he hit a single to left field off Bill Stoneman, where he was stranded after the next batter, Ted Martinez, fouled out to third. Frank had only one other major league plate appearance when he grounded out back to Bill Stoneman for the final out in the Mets 12-1 loss.
  • Greg Harts – Greg appeared in three MLB games in 1973, recording his only career hit in first big league at bat on September 15th in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium against the Chicago Cubs. He entered the game in the bottom of the 5th as a pinch hitter for pitcher Buzz Capra with the Mets trailing 5-0 in a game they would eventually lose 7-0. He stepped in against Rick Reuschel with two out and the bases empty and stroked a single to center.
  • Jay Kleven – Jay played in two major league games in 1976, but collected his lone major league hit at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on June 27, 1976. Jay entered the game in the top of the 6th inning with the Mets up 11-0 as a pinch hitter for Jerry Grote. He stepped into the batters box against rookie pitcher and future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter (who at the time was pitching in his 19th big league game with just 2 saves under his belt). With one out and two on, Jay singled to left field driving in Del Under and Wayne Garrett to put the Mets up 13-0. He took his place behind the plate in the bottom of the inning where he finished the game, catching Craig Swan followed by Skip Lockwood.
  • Mike Bishop – Mike appeared in three MLB games in 1983, and achieved his one base hit on April 20, 1983 in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 4,041 fans. Mike started that game behind the plate, batting 6th in a lineup that featured Mookie Wilson, Ron Gardenhire, Dave Kingman, Rusty Staub, and Wally Backman. The Mets won that game 7-5 and Mike caught starting pitcher Mike Torrez, winning pitcher Carlos Diaz, and Neil Allen earned the save. Mike came to bat in the bottom of the 2nd off the Pirates Lee Tunnell with one on and one out and the Mets trailing 0-2. He stroked a double to left, sending Danny Heep to third base and scored when Wally Backman drove him in as the next batter.
  • Dave Liddell – David appeared in one Major League game. The Mets lost on June 3, 1990, a Sunday afternoon at Veterans Stadium to the Phillies 8-3 and while Sid Fernandez got beat up, lasting only 3 1/3 innings, it was Dave’s day to shine. He entered the game to lead off the top of the 8th with the Mets down 8-1, pinch hitting for Mackey Sasser. He stepped into the batters box against Pat Combs and on the first and only big league pitch he would ever see, he hit a ground ball single up the middle and into center field and found himself standing on first base. He reached second on a Kevin Elster walk. He advanced to third on a fly ball by Mark Carreon. He completed his ride around the bases on a 1-0 wild pitch and scored his only major league run. He remained in the game to catch the bottom of the 8th to catch Julio Machado. He is in the record books with a career 1.000 batting average.
  • Tito Navarro – Tito played in 12 games with the Mets in 1993, but only collected 1 hit and has a career batting average of .059. His lone hit came on September 18th at Fulton County Stadium against the Atlanta Braves when he entered the game in the top of the 10th inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jeff Innis. The game was tied 2-2 and Tito was facing Steve Bedrosian with two on and two out. He lined a single to right field to drive in Darrin Jackson from second base for the eventual game winning run.
  • Mike Glavine – the most recent member of our One-Hit Wonder club has a very famous brother. Mike is the younger brother of 305 game winner Tom Glavine and Mike achieved his only MLB hit in 2003, which was also Tom’s first year with the team. Mike played in 6 MLB games and in his final MLB at bat on September 28th, he got his lone hit. The Mets were playing the Florida Marlins on the next to last day of the season at Pro Player stadium and were trailing 4-0 when Mike entered the game in the top of the 6th inning as a pinch hitter for First Baseman (and current Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association) Tony Clark. He struck out swinging in his first at bat against Rick Helling, but when he stepped to the plate in the top of the 9th with two out and nobody on to face Braden Looper, he singled to center field.

Presented By Diehards

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Quantum Physics, Mets Fans, And Winning http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/quantum-physics-the-new-york-mets-fans-and-winning.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/quantum-physics-the-new-york-mets-fans-and-winning.html/#comments Sat, 05 Oct 2013 21:03:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130727 einstein-1

Quantum physics states that everything is made up of energy—simply stated, all physical reality is energy which is in constant motion. The chair you are sitting on and the cup you are drinking out of can be broken down to it’s simplest form—energy. Our thoughts are no different. They also give off energy. Scientists are actually able to measure the frequency of our thoughts and have found that positive thoughts give off more energy than negative thoughts.

Quantum physics is beginning to teach us that our thoughts are very powerful and actually can affect what happens to us in the future. The power of the mind truly is great. It has been proven that with focused and concentrated thought, you can direct yourself to a desired outcome. It’s what leads to the sayings that “anything is possible” or “the body can achieve what the mind perceives.”

The problem is, most people don’t grasp these concepts—either that, or they don’t want to believe them. The concept is quite simple—our thoughts transform into words, our words put a stamp of approval on our thoughts advising the universe this is what we want, and everything gets set in motion. The stronger your belief, the more likely it is to happen. In other words, thoughts become things.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right. -Henry Ford

So what does this have to do with the New York Mets, it’s fan base, and winning?

Isn’t it obvious?

The New York Mets fan base doesn’t want to believe this, but according to quantum physics, the current team situation (losing) has all been brought on by ourselves.

A person who sets his or her mind on the dark side of life, who lives over and over the misfortunes and disappointments of the past, prays for similar misfortunes and disappointments in the future. If you will see nothing but ill luck in the future, you are praying for such ill luck and will surely get it. -Prentice Mulford

The fans have to tip the scales back into the positive mind-set when it comes to the Mets. We give twice as much energy to the negative aspects of any given player, game, or season, as we give to the positive aspects.

We point our fingers at the ownership, at the General Manager, the coaches, and the players—but as fans we are abandoning this team. There were nights at Citi Field where I swear there were more fans sitting in Shea Stadium on the day I played in the 1999 Knickerbocker Conference Championship game—that’s sad. Viewership of Mets games is at an all-time low. The fans have to take some ownership of the problem, and stop pointing fingers.

If we stop going to games and stop viewing on television where is the team going to get the money to bring in quality players? Unless the Wilpons have a money tree in their back yard, we are only contributing to the problems.

The fan base has come to expect this team to lose, so it loses. Science has proven that this mindset will ultimately lead to it playing out this way since thoughts have frequencies. It explains why teams with miserable and negative fan bases tend to turn out teams with terrible records every year. In other words, if 51% of the fan base can believe this team can win, they will.

When you focus on lack and scarcity and what you don’t have, you fuss about it with your family, you discuss it with your friends, you tell your children that you don’t have enough – We don’t have enough for that, we can’t afford that – then you’ll never be able to afford it, because you begin to attract more of what you don’t have. If you want abundance, if you want prosperity, then focus on abundance. Focus on prosperity. -Lisa Nichols

Let’s stop talking to each other about what the Mets don’t have and start focusing on what they do have. Let’s not talk about all the lows and start focusing on the highs. As fans, let’s start with a new positive attitude this offseason and focus on winning. It’s not always about who is on your roster as the Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels proved this year.

It’s time to tip the scales. It’s time to bring winning back to Queens. It all starts with us…the fans.

ya gotta believe button

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Mike Piazza’s Most Memorable Mets Moments http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazzas-most-memorable-mets-moments.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazzas-most-memorable-mets-moments.html/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 13:21:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130237 piazza hof mmo

Below are several memorable moments during Mike Piazza’s Mets tenure.

May 22, 1998 – Acquired by the Mets from the Florida Marlins in exchange for minor leaguers Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.

May 23, 1998 – Makes his Mets debut at Shea Stadium, going 1-4 with an RBI double in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee.

June 1, 1998 – Belts his first home run in a Mets uniform at Pittsburgh off Jason Schmidt.

September 14, 1998 – Hit what is believed to be the longest home run in Astrodome history, an estimated 480-foot blast off Houston’s Jose Lima.

April 28, 1999 – Hits his first walk-off home run as a member of the Mets taking San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman deep, a two-run shot, in a 4-3 win.

October 2, 1999 – Blasted his 40th home run of the season off Pittsburgh’s Mike Williams.

October 19, 1999 – Crushed a two-run home run in the seventh inning off John Smoltz in Game Six of the NLCS at Atlanta to tie the game, 7-7.

June 14-July 2, 2000 – Had an RBI in 15 consecutive games to set a franchise record…It was the second-longest streak in major league history …Ray Grimes of the 1922 Chicago Cubs had an RBI in 17 straight games.

June 30, 2000 – Hit a laser line drive home run to left, a three-run shot, capping a 10-run inning in an 11-8 comeback win over Atlanta.

September 21, 2001 – Hit an eighth-inning home run off Atlanta’s Steve Karsay in the first New York City sporting event since the 9-11 attacks as an emotional Shea Stadium erupted…The Mets would go on to beat the Braves 3-2.

May 17, 2002 – Reached the 1,000 career RBI plateau when he launched a grand slam off San Diego’s Jason Boyd in a 13-4 win…He became the ninth player in ML history whose primary position was catcher to collect 1,000 RBI.

May 5, 2004 – Hit a 3-1 pitch off San Francisco’s Jerome Williams in the first inning for his 352nd home run as a catcher to become the all-time leader, passing Carlton Fisk.

June 18, 2004 – The four living Hall of Fame catchers: Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Johnny Bench are on hand at Shea Stadium on “Mike Piazza Night.”

September 29, 2005 – Hits a solo home run at Shea Stadium, his final blast as a Met, and his 220th in a Mets uniform, in an 11-0 win over Colorado.

Mike Piazza hit 220 of his 427 career home runs with the Mets, ranking third in franchise history.

He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBI (655).

Piazza was a seven-time All-Star with Mets and set a team-record with 124 RBI and hit 40 home runs in 1999 and then finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs in 2000.

Piazza’s 396 home runs as a catcher are the most in baseball history.

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9/11 Home Run from the Other Side http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/911-home-run-from-the-other-side.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/911-home-run-from-the-other-side.html/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 13:25:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129017 Here is a story I wrote for The Tablet newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.

We will always remember Mike Piazza‘s “Healing Power of a Swing,” but it turns out the Braves’ pitcher that surrendered the home run, Steve Karsay, grew up just 15 minutes from Shea Stadium.

Here’s what Karsay had to say about that whole experience.

Originally published in The Tablet newspaper.

No one will soon forget how our nation was devastated in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

It’s amazing to think that 12 years have passed since that day, but to so many people, it still feels like yesterday.

We’ll never forget how the nation united in the days and weeks after the attacks. And while it was minor in the grand scheme of things, sports fans will never forget the impact of New York Mets’ catcher and Brooklyn diocesan hero Mike Piazza’s healing home run.

On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves in the first professional sports game back in New York after the attacks. The city needed some sort of distraction, and Piazza provided just that with a clutch two-run homer in the eighth inning, which propelled the Mets to victory.

Mike  Piazza’s home run in the first game back in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks lifted a city in need. (Photo courtesy New York Mets)

Mike Piazza’s home run in the first game back in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks lifted a city in need. (Photo courtesy New York Mets)

Piazza has been asked countless times about the significance of that home run – which has been called the “Healing Power of a Swing” – and he always responds that he prayed to God to give him the strength to do his best in that moment.

But what about the perspective of the Braves that fateful night? It must have been tough to be in that situation. Atlanta held a 5.5-game lead in the standings over the Mets heading into that game, so the Braves had to make sure the Mets would not catch them for the division title.

And what about the pitcher who gave up Piazza’s home run? If anyone were going to be the hero in that moment, it fittingly would have been Piazza – the Mets’ perennial All-Star.

It turns out that the pitcher was Braves’ right-handed reliever Steve Karsay, who grew up in College Point, just 15 minutes from Shea Stadium – the site of the Sept. 21 game.

Karsay pitched at Christ the King R.H.S. from 1986 to 1990. The Royals won the 1988 city championship with a pitching staff of Karsay and lefty Allen Watson, who pitched eight seasons in the big leagues.

As a native New Yorker, Karsay said the whole experience of playing at Shea Stadium after the terrorist attacks was very emotional, especially during the pre-game ceremony. Normally hated rivals, the Mets and Braves embraced on the field right after the National Anthem, which featured bagpipes to honor the fallen heroes.

“We (the Braves) felt a little bit different at the time knowing the significance of that game,” Karsay said. “Having the crowd be into a baseball game at that time seemed kind of strange to me.”

However, once the first pitch was thrown, Karsay said the Braves were focused solely on winning the game. The two teams were locked in a pennant race after all.

As the game progressed though, Karsay again started feeling the emotions of the situation, especially seeing all the police officers, firefighters and emergency service personnel in the crowd.

“You see the atmosphere, and you get chills,” he said. “That’s what you felt like in the game.”

Christ the King R.H.S. graduate Steve  Karsay gave up Piazza’s home run. (Photo courtesy The Topps Company)

Christ the King R.H.S. graduate Steve Karsay gave up Piazza’s home run. (Photo courtesy The Topps Company)

The Braves broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning when right fielder Brian Jordan delivered an RBI double to left center field. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox then phoned to the bullpen for Karsay to pitch the bottom of the eighth.

Karsay retired Mets’ right fielder Matt Lawton to start the inning, but he then walked second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo on a full-count pitch. He said he was mad at himself for allowing the tying run to reach base with the dangerous Piazza stepping to the plate.

Karsay started the at-bat off to the Mets’ slugger by painting the outside corner with a 97 mph fastball for strike one. He figured he could try to sneak another fastball by Piazza in the same spot, thus setting up a breaking pitch to try to get an out.

But Piazza had different plans. He crushed Karsay’s offering off the stadium’s camera tower in center field. He gave the Mets the lead, but more importantly, Piazza’s homer turned the attention away from Ground Zero – even if just for a short time.

“After he hit it, for me looking back, it was the kind of emotion that rivals the loudest cheers I’ve ever heard on a baseball field,” Karsay said. “To have that moment uneased the crowd. During the game, it was tense. You can just feel what that home run meant for the healing of New York City.”

No pitcher goes into any at-bat wanting to give up a home run. But seeing what that home run meant to so many people looking for an escape from reality, the native New Yorker Karsay embraced Piazza’s “Healing Power of a Swing.”

“If there was any time to give up a home run, though I obviously didn’t want to,” Karsay said. “That was the time.”

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Featured Post: Harvey’s Good, But Not Good(en) or Terrific — Yet http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/featured-post-harveys-good-but-not-gooden-or-terrific-yet.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/featured-post-harveys-good-but-not-gooden-or-terrific-yet.html/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 23:38:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124072 Where there's smoke, there's Matt Harvey's fire.

Where there’s smoke, there’s Matt Harvey’s fire.

By the time I arrived at Shea Stadium in mid-June, a Dwight Gooden start had become a New York event. I had been watching Gooden baffle opponents on television over the first two months of the 1985 season. The first month he shut out the Philadelphia Phillies twice and the Cincinnati Reds. From May and early June he pitched into the seventh inning in all seven of his starts. He was four days younger than I was for goodness sakes. It was time to see this with my own eyes, in person.

Traffic was bumper-to-bumper (like I said, a Gooden start had become an event). More than 51,000 packed Shea Stadium on this Wednesday night. The mild evening was near perfect for baseball as Bob Murphy, the soundtrack of summer, piped through the car stereo. “Not a cloud in the sky. It’s a perfect night for baseball,” his voice echoed from car-to-car as the Mets prepared to face then National League East rival Chicago Cubs. The first official day of summer was still two days away but you could already feel it in the warm air as we listened to the first inning on the radio, smell it in the breezeway and up the ramp to our seats in the upper deck behind home plate and throughout a stadium bracing for greatness.

The Mets manufactured a fourth-inning run and that was it. My stained scorebook says Gooden struck out Thad Bosley to end the game. A complete game, 1-0, six-hit shutout; Gooden was as good as advertised. I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that it was the first time I’d ever been to Shea Stadium when it was close to sold out (on a Wednesday night!), maybe it was the fact that the Mets were actually in contention, but seeing Gooden pitch – live – in 1985 was like no other experience I’d ever had at a major league ballpark.

He would go on to win 14 consecutive decisions, including No. 20 against the San Diego Padres (which I still have the WOR feed recorded on VHS) and 18 of his final 19 decisions of the season, including two shutouts and a complete game over the final three weeks of the season. Gooden finished 1985 with this line: 35 starts, 24-4, 1.53 ERA, 276 IP, 268 K, 16 complete games, 8 shutouts.

dwight gooden game faceI have never personally experienced a pitcher more dominant than Dwight Gooden was in 1985. That’s not to suggest a pitcher, even a New York Mets pitcher, hasn’t flirted with the same level of excellence.

Case in point: George Thomas Seaver, “The Franchise,” 1971. You could argue he had better years statistically, but it would be hard to challenge his performance that season. Seaver finished 20-10 in 36 starts with a 1.76 ERA. He pitched 286 innings, recording 289 strikeouts, including 21 complete games and four shutouts.

Take a closer look at the games Seaver lost; they are deceiving. In the 10 games he was tagged with a loss it was by a total of 16 runs combined – 3-1, 5-4, 3-2, 2-0, 6-4, 5-3, 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 and 3-0. The Mets scored a total of 17 runs in Seaver’s 10 losses (which included a loss in a relief appearance in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds). In half of the games the Mets scored one or no runs, including three shutout losses.

The win column is equally deceiving. Seaver pitched two complete game shutouts (technically) and didn’t get a decision in either game. He pitched nine shutout innings against the Reds and left the game with a no-decision. On August 11 Seaver pitched one of the finest games of his career: 10 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 14 K, 2 BB and a no-decision. The Mets eventually lost the game 1-0 in 12 innings on a throwing error by Jerry Grote.

Seaver finished second to Ferguson Jenkins in the 1971 Cy Young Award vote. Why? I am not sure. Seaver was better – much better – on paper. Jenkins won 24 of his 39 starts and pitched 325 innings that season, but he also had an ERA of 2.77, one full run/game higher than Seaver. He also gave up 304 hits and allowed almost twice as many runs as Seaver (100, Jenkins/56 Seaver). Still, Jenkins received 97 votes to Seaver’s 61. But I digress.

Tom Seaver 1This scenario began germinating in my head last week after a co-worker asked me this question: If the Mets were playing in Game 7 of the World Series and you could pick any pitcher in team history to start the game (assuming they were at the peak of their pitching career), who would you pick? Tom Seaver? Dwight Gooden? Matt Harvey?

Did you say Matt Harvey? I nearly spit out my $5 Starbucks Caramel Macchiato coffee.

What’s so funny?

The idea that anyone would put Harvey in the same conversation, the same sentence, the same question with Gooden and Seaver – that’s what’s so funny.

Before I write one more word let me be perfectly clear: one day, not too far from now, barring injury, I believe, Matt Harvey will have earned the right to share in this hypothetical discussion, but not right now.

Harvey has the talent, the “makeup” and he is quickly earning the respect of hitters from all corners of the Major League Baseball map. But, my goodness, Matt Harvey has won 10 major league games. To put that in context he only needs to record 301 more to match Seaver and a mere 184 more wins to equal Gooden. Seaver won four Cy Young Awards and Gooden one. Let’s get Harvey through his first All-Star Game, in his first full season, in the majors.

Success leads to fame and fame leads to expectation, and when it happens this quickly (in this case, three months) it’s scary, and to some degree unfair, to heap that much pressure on a young man (in New York, no less). Can Harvey do it — what his predecessors, Seaver and Gooden, did in New York? There is every indication by his performance and maturity that he will, but it will require time — seasons — before we will be able to drop Harvey’s name in the same conversation with Seaver and Gooden.

(Photo Credits: USA Today, Sports Illustrated)

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A Perfect Father’s Day At Shea http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/a-perfect-fathers-day-at-shea.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/a-perfect-fathers-day-at-shea.html/#comments Sun, 16 Jun 2013 12:00:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121993 bunning

In celebration of Father’s Day, Metsmerized Online takes a look at the most memorable Mets-related Father’s Day games in team history. On June 20, 1964 Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jim Bunning threw a perfect game against the New York Mets in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium. With his wife and children in the stands, here’s what happened …

By the eighth inning 32,904 Mets fans were cheering for the Philadelphia Phillies, for pitcher Jim Bunning. On Father’s Day 1964, the Phillies pitcher was just a handful of outs away from a perfect game.

Met fans rooting for the Phillies? This would never, under any circumstances, happen today.

But these were simpler days for Met fans. By the Sunday doubleheader at Shea Stadium in June 1964, the Mets were already firmly planted in last place (20-45) in the National League, 21 games back.

Winning a division title was nowhere in sight – nor did it matter – in 1964. Mets fans celebrated wins, and losses, and the first year in their new Flushing home, Shea Stadium. Life was good. National League baseball was back in New York.

“Nobody realized it was a perfect game until the fourth or fifth inning,” former Phillies pitch Dennis Bennett told Bill Ryczek, author of The Amazin’ Mets. “You know that it’s taboo to talk about it, but Jim was talking about it.”

Bunning was reportedly very vocal about what was developing. According to catcher Gus Triandos, he’d never seen Bunning acting so animated. “He was jabbering like a magpie,” he said.

Only one other time over the first 10 years of his career did Bunning feel the same command and control of his slider. It was six years earlier (1958), as a member of the Detroit Tigers when he tossed his first career no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox.

Galen Cisco, who was playing for the Mets, said Bunning “just wasn’t missing. Everytime he tried to keep the ball away, it was away. When he got two strikes, he was throwing the ball off the plate, and we were swinging. We just weren’t very patient.”

Perfection was in jeopardy in the fifth inning when Jesse Gonder hit at line drive toward right field. Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor dove to his left, knocking down the ball and threw out Gonder at first base.

Former Met Hawk Taylor said Bunning had “won over the umpire, who was starting to widen the strike zone for him … not that he needed a lot of help, but I remember the strike zone was substantially enlarged.”

Joe Christopher added, “When you’re making good pitches and the umpire is in your corner, it’s two against one.”

Bunning had retired 24 consecutive batters when Charlie Smith stepped in to lead off the ninth inning. Smith made No. 25 easy, hitting a foul pop up to third base that was squeezed by Cookie Rojas.

Mets manager Casey Stengel pinch hit George Altman, who felt he had the advantage against Bunning, who threw side-armed. “Lefthanders got a good look at him,”

Altman told Ryczek, “He’s the kind of pitcher you love to hit off. To me, it was a lot better than facing Koufax or someone like that … of course he wound up handling all of us.” Altman hit a long foul ball into the seats then promptly struck out.

Mets pitchers Tracy Stallard and Bill Wakefield, members of the fraternity, were emotionally split. Stallard wanted to see the Mets break up the perfect game, while Wakefield privately changed allegiances. “You always want to be professional, you always want to root for your team, but it wasn’t a situation that was going to cost us the pennant, or even a position in the standings.”

Stengel sent another pinch hitter to the plate, Johnny Stephenson. The Mets rookie was 2-for-27 in his major league career. Bunning fidgeted nervously on the mound as Stephenson came to the plate.

His first two pitches to Stephenson were strikes, the first swinging, the second a called strike. Bunning missed with the next two pitches. Stephenson watched a 2-2 pitch drop into the strike zone. Bunning was perfect, throwing 86 pitches (69 strikes).

“He threw me all sliders, which were hard to pick up, the way he fell off the mound,” remembered Stephenson.

Surrounded by teammates, Bunning disappeared into the visitor’s dugout at Shea Stadium. After a few minutes of standing ovation fans launched into a chant of “We want Bunning! We want Bunning!”

When the Phillies pitcher stepped back on to the field for a post-game interview with Ralph Kiner, Mets fans exploded in cheers. Moments later, Bunning’s wife, Mary, and his eldest daughter—he has seven children—came out of the stands to kiss and hug Dad.

Ryczek wrote, “… through mid-1966, Bunning made seven starts in Shea Stadium. He had seven wins, seven complete games and four shutouts. Bu early 1967, he had allowed just three runs to the Mets in 72 innings.”

Bunning became the first pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in both the American (July 20, 1958 vs. Boston) and National leagues.

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A Memorable Night at Citi Field with a Special Lady, My Mother http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/a-memorable-night-at-citi-field-with-a-special-lady-my-mother.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/a-memorable-night-at-citi-field-with-a-special-lady-my-mother.html/#comments Sun, 12 May 2013 12:40:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=118273 With Mother’s Day upon us I started to reminisce about so many times that my mother has made a huge impact in my life.  She has always been my biggest supporter and when it came to the Mets she knew how important it was to instill the love of this team in our lives.  She made sure that we were at almost every home weekend game in the early 1980’s. Shea Stadium was kind of our safe haven.  Things at home weren’t that good, but by my mother felt that Shea offered us an escape from the norm and a time to just have fun and smile again.

I wanted to post a story that was published in the February 2011 issue of the MLB Insider Magazine, who allowed me to share my memory of a great night at Citi Field with another huge Mets fan, my mother. This is my story:

alg-beltran-double-jpgIn September 2009, my wife, son and I traveled from our home in Florida to visit family in Brooklyn, NY. When we arrived my stepfather Joe surprised us with six tickets to a Mets game.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a Mets fan. It started with my mother buying me my first Mets hat at the age of two and then taking my sister Vanessa and I to games at Shea Stadium. We went to games when the Mets were really bad in the early 80’s, but it didn’t matter because we were all together.  Shea Stadium was our place of refuge, a place where we could build memories together.

When the Mets won the World Series in 1986, my mother made sure we were up bright and early so we could be at the ticker-tape parade.  Joe even suggested that we get there around 7:00 am, a good three hours before anyone arrived. Good thing we went early, though, because we had a front row spot for the parade.

But, on this wonderful night in September 2009, it marked two milestones: the first game that I attended with my mom since the Mets lost a playoff game at Shea Stadium to the Dodgers in 1988 (the game when Mike Scioscia hit his famous home run off of Dwight Gooden), and also my first Mets game with my 3-year old son, Christopher. Additionally, it was also our first visit to the club’s beautiful new home, Citi Field.

mothers dayIt was a great night of reminiscing, talking with my mom about our memories and making new ones with my son.

Writing this story brought back so many memories with my mother and how baseball was just a huge part of our lives.  She always made it a point to be at my little league games, I could see her behind the plate excited to see me playing the game I love.  My mother knew what we needed when times just seemed so hard and instilling the love of a team in our lives was just what the doctor ordered.

Being able to visit Citi Field for the first time and having my mother there with me made the night extra special.  I can’t remember if the Mets won that night, but in my mind, it didn’t matter because the night was a huge hit and a victory in our family.

I thank my mother for introducing me to the Mets, and for taking the time to take us to games even when they didn’t count.  But in her mind each game was important because she watched her children grow and survive one of the hardest years of our lives while rooting for our favorite team.

I want to wish my mother a Happy Mother’s Day and thank her for always supporting my life decisions.  I am who I am because of how she raised me and I will continue the tradition with my children that my mother started with us.  The Mets mean more to my family than just being a baseball team.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mother’s that sacrifice their lives to raise their children. You are all extremely appreciated.

mom

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