An MMO Fan Shot by Jason (7ReyesForLife7)
I’ve been a fan of the New York Metropolitans since 1986. You might wonder if I was a frontrunner. In retrospect, I was without even knowing it, having been a “fan” of the New York Yankees. I owned this slick white, satin Yankees jacket because I thought it looked good. I was all of 9 years old. The Yankees were the only baseball team I knew during my early childhood, having watched them on TV from time to time. To me, that was baseball. Listening to Phil Rizzuto saying “Holy Cow” and boasting that he was the only person on the planet that could pronounce those Italian names, like Mike Pagliarulo. What in the world was I thinking?
Fast forward a bit. My mom met my stepfather in the summer of 1986. That was my introduction to that other New York team, the New York Mets. Who were these guys? I remember my stepfather, who I now refer to as “Dad” being a young, passionate guy when it came to his baseball team. He taught me everything about baseball back then. He made the game enticing to me, teaching me about pitches, swinging a bat, running the bases, and fielding grounders and fly balls.
I was a sponge back then, absorbing everything while wanting more. I wanted more stories, more knowledge, and more baseball. It was addictive. I would be at school during the day, daydreaming of baseball , hoping to get in an hour of whiffle ball with my dad. I also hoped that my mom and dad would allow me to stay up late enough to watch the Mets play at night.
Thirty plus years later, my memory is not as sharp, but I can still remember how back in 1986 the Mets were such a a captivating team. Lenny Dykstra and Wally Backman stuck out as the young bucks that always seemed to get their jerseys dirty before anyone else. It was like they intentionally did it because it wasn’t a game if they weren’t covered in dirt. You had Keith Hernandez, the field general that kept everyone sharp and on point. Gary Carter was that “old” veteran behind the plate that you just couldn’t help liking for some reason. Maybe it was his big camera-ready smile and that curly hair. Ray Knight was that tough guy from the south that enjoyed beating other players up. Sorry Eric Davis. That team had so much personality.
And just when you think you’ve covered all the coolest guys on the team, you realize that we didn’t even mention the the two young superstars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. What? Talk about the most talented players you have ever seen as a 9 year old kid. They were everything to me. Darryl had limitless talent. He was this giant 6’6” guy that hit the ball 500 feet and could run like a gazelle. He would look horrible an entire game and then hit a dramatic home run like it was nothing. He was a hero. Doc Gooden. Can you ever dream of a more electric young pitcher? Gooden was a prodigy. He had all of the talent in the world. He possessed an electric rising fastball that exploded in your face and an ungodly 12-6 curveball, Lord Charles. Or Uncle Charlie if you prefer. I can’t tell you the joy I experienced watching Straw and Doc back in those days. It brought me to tears when they failed. They were that important to my childhood. Watching those players essentially cemented my loyalty; my lifelong devotion to this franchise.
There were other players on that ’86 team who were essential to the Mets success. El Sid, the burly lefty with the rising fastball. You had Bobby O, with his change that kept hitters off balance, and Ronny Darling with that split finger. I remember being confused a lot back then with the whole splitter versus forkball terminology. My mom, being a mom and all, would talk about how cute Darling was. Really? I don’t want to hear that. I wanted strikeouts and wins, mom. You leave that other stuff out of the mix.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Mookie Wilson. Mookie was this super fast guy that had a smile on his face a lot. He was so much fun to watch. I’d marvel at how fast he moved. I really couldn’t fathom how a guy could move that fast. It made me laugh, actually. How about that young kid, Kevin Mitchell that could seemingly do it all? He was all over the field. Timmy Teufel? How about that Teufel Shuffle?
The bullpen had a lot of guys in it, but Jesse and Roger were amazing. I remember watching that game against the Reds when Davey had Roger and Jesse playing the outfield. It wasn’t necessarily unprecedented, but it was daring and drove the other team up a wall. Again, as just an impressionable kid, I could not stop thinking how cool and innovative that was. When Jesse got tested and made a putout, my family was like WHAT? It was a magical game and a magical season for the Mets.
If you’re a Mets’ fan, I don’t have to tell you how 1986 ended. The series against the Astros and the World Series against the Red Sox was about as exciting as anything I have ever experienced in my life. If you are a romantic, you might say it was the Mets’ destiny to win the World Series in 1986. All I know is that it was the best season of my life, just over 30 years ago. As a father of a one-year old now, I can’t help but hope that he follows the tradition of his grandfather and me, as being a faithful, loyal fan of the New York Metropolitans. Wouldn’t it be something if he learns to love the Mets while getting to experience a World Series victory before the age of 10? I truly hope so.
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This MMO Fan Shot was written by Mets die-hard 7ReyesForLife7. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to FanShot @ MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.