My Day At Shea

I love Mets Merized Online. I especially enjoy the many different types of writers the site employs. From beat writers to number crunchers, we got them all. I find myself more prone to writing about personal experience and getting to the root of the love of what I consider the greatest game on earth.

For me, baseball, and especially the Mets are a matter of the heart. Manny Ramirez seems to be the hot topic here lately, and it seems that as the winter drags along, Manny has managed to dredge up quite a bit of support from Mets fans. I’ve said it before, give him the same offer the Dodgers have on the table, throw in a tinfoil lined hat that will help him “Keep his thoughts in”, and he might take the deal. 

Recently, our colleague Rob wrote a wonderful piece about my favorite player of all time, Darryl Strawberry. I once had the opportunity to meet him and I was taken back by the kind of guy he was. It may be because he had just come back to baseball with the Giants, but I found him to be engaging and polite, nothing like his history would have suggested. It was July 23, 1994, there was impending labor strife on the horizon and Matt Williams of the Giants and Tony Gwynn of the Padres were both chasing single season records in homeruns and average. I was given an opportunity to tour Shea stadium and go on the field for batting practice to meet some of the players.

I was originally slated to meet Doc Gooden, but he got suspended, then Kevin McReynolds then he got hurt, but I met my share of legends that day. Buddy Harrelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy were three of the kindest and humble people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Barry and Bobby Bonds were also very gracious too, even letting us interrupt their discussion at the batting cage to give us an autograph. Bobby Bonilla, still looked at as “The Man” at the time, was great. Jeromy Burnitz and Ryan Thompson were very cool too.

Fernando Vina was in a bit of a mood due to people hollering some unkind things from the stands, but he gave us an autograph anyway.. I still have the picture of him with a sour puss face on handing the ball back. None of them held a candle to meeting “The Straw That Stirred the Mets Drink” though. Even seeing Dallas Green standing at second base with a look that gave the impression he had better things to do couldn’t ruin this day. Darryl Strawberry knew my name and I was on Cloud 9.

Although the game itself  didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, the Giants ended up beating the Mets 4-2 after resuming the game after a MLB record 3 ½ hour rain delay, it was a day that I’ll never forget. Sadly, the season ended with a strike less than a month later and we were left holding our foam fingers asking ,”Why?”

I couldn’t believe there was no World Series that year. It was almost like the 1994 season never happened. Here’s to hoping that never happens again. Chances are, there will be no more Mark McGwire/ Sammy Sosa to bring baseball back again. Although, that’s a whole other “can of worms” for another day.

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