Last night’s sendoff for one of the most beloved players, and people, to ever don a New York Mets uniform, David Wright, was a first-class affair from start to finish. Coming from someone who will rail on this organization each and every chance I get, the Mets really pulled out all the stops and made Saturday, September 29, 2018, a night to remember in Flushing.
From the minute I pulled into the parking lot, I could almost feel what type of night this would be. Coming through the main entrance at around 5 p.m., understandably, parking was already limited.
As I’m waiting for the car ahead of me to turn, a group of jovial Mets fans who were hanging out between two cars all stood up simultaneously and directed me to back in along the fence — “it’ll be easy to get out later!” they exclaimed. Who am I to decline such an invitation?
I got out and met John and Uncle Bobby, U.B. for short, and shot the breeze with them for a while. Having lived through the Midnight Massacre and the euphoria of 1986, John really believed that Wright and Jose Reyes would lead this team to a World Series before their window of opportunity shut. He’s also still in shock that David Wright most likely won’t end up in Cooperstown. I’m right there with you, pal.
Walking through the parking lot towards the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is a different feeling when there’s a packed house on hand. We’ve all made at least one sad walk through a three-quarters empty lot on the way to a late-September game versus two basement-dwellers.
But this was no ordinary early-Autumn soiree, and one look around the lot in any direction would be all the evidence one would need to confirm that. Naturally, Wright jerseys were the fashion choice of the evening for most; and in all variations.
At every tailgate gathering on my path through that sea of orange and blue, a beverage or snack was offered and friendly greetings were exchanged. Even the guy in the Andre Dawson Florida Marlins jersey got a how-do-you-do nod and grin. The combination of the feelings, tastes, smells, and emotions was exhilarating.
The walking-on-air sensation that I was feeling at that point can be summarized in one anecdote — standing on line waiting to enter the stadium I saw someone who I once worked with that I’m not particularly fond of. Not even the sight of that person could deter my mood from the cloud it was resting upon. Not today, my fickle friend.
The energy throughout every square inch of the field-level concourse was palpable. Big shout out to the guy with Lion-O from Thundercats tattooed on his leg, by the way. As I made my way up to the Coca-Cola seats in right field, there was a combination of excitement, anticipation, and more excitement for what we were all about to experience. And love. There was lots of love.
I reached my destination at around 6:15 p.m. The group I was meeting was a contingent of folks from Mets Twitter. Everyone had plans to make it to their seats in time for first-pitch, but that never really happened. There were comings and goings, but there were also many happy returns.
The constant intrigue of what was happening on the field and the excellent banter among us kept the bulk of us all there into extra-innings. It was a season highlight for me, personally.
I made my way back down to the field level for the top of the eleventh. I nestled myself into a single space on the railing behind section 109 and watched the rest of the night unfold. It was simply magical — amazin’ if you will.
Watching dusk fall on the playing career of David Wright brought upon many emotions. The general sadness of the situation can’t be understated, but the comfort of being surrounded by 43,000-plus likeminded fans all riding that same rollercoaster alongside you shouldn’t go unnoticed either.
In the end, it kind of made me want this type of environment and atmosphere all the time. This fan base showed real signs of life beyond the malaise of the final weeks in a lost season, and that leaves me encouraged for the future. As John and U.B. said in the parking lot earlier in the evening, “Put a winner on the field and the lot will look like this every weekend.”
I hope the Wilpons had their ears to the poured concrete last night, because this fan base spoke in unison, expressing their love for this team and for Our Captain, David Wright.