An MMO Fan Shot by Carl A. Weber
When Doris Kearns Goodwin released her memoir “Wait Till Next Year” back in 1997 I was reminded of the difference between documented fact and remembered occurrence. Baseball fans on a certain sports radio station went into apocalyptic spasms over the author’s inaccurate statements gleaned from her youthful remembrances.
I take a more forgiving tack (especially in light of her delightful writing), knowing firsthand how childhood memories are not always so ironclad. The point was driven home not more than a few months after Kearns Goodwin’s book was published when my brother presented me with a box score from the very first major league baseball game we attended.
Some things about that day are immutable. The Mets played the Phillies. The game took place in Philadelphia at Connie Mack Stadium. Both teams were dreadful. The Mets won. Other remembrances are, shall we say, more fluid. The stadium seemed to smell like stale cigars (but so did old Yankee Stadium so perhaps I’ve mixed them up). The Mets won the game 11-5 (my brother’s box score had it at 9-6).
Because our seats were under the upper decks the field view was obstructed by support girders, making it impossible to view both the pitcher and batter at the same time (possible). Ed Kranepool, number 7, waved directly at me from the field during warm–ups and gently pushed me down the path of Metropolitans fandom (absolutely true and absurdly false).
And that’s the thing about memories, and about being a Mets fan. You can balance those incongruities neatly on the head of a pin along with several dozen dancing angels. Yankee fans seem to need solid proof of their team’s worth in the form of boundless championship hardware.
Mets fans are more metaphysical creatures. Sisyphus should really replace Mr. Met as our mascot. The idea that Ed Kranepool spotted a 6 year old boy, way back in the cheap seats and waved directly at him is undeniably implausible. To my childhood self the facts were incontrovertible.
In terms of concrete, indisputable truths, Ed Kranepool was an original New York Met (and a Bronx native). He played exclusively for the Mets and was a member of two pennant winners and one world’s championship team. His .261 lifetime batting average was solid if not eye-popping. His other analytics are available to those so inclined…..I am not. That’s probably because I’m from a different era.
As a child I sometimes wrote to Mets players asking for autographed pictures (in those days letters were sent to Shea Stadium). As often as not they were kind enough to reply, and my bedroom was adorned with the likes of Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee and, of course, Ed Kranepool. Those photos were long ago consigned to the trash heap of history by my mother, but in my mind’s eye I can still see each and every one.
Flash forward several decades. I’m married with two children of my own (yes they are Mets fans). A neighbor bounds up on our front porch with a piece of paper. She had just come from a Trenton Thunder game where a former major leaguer was signing autographs. She thrust a piece of paper at me revealing a sort of looping cursive signature in black magic marker.
“Betcha don’t know who this is” she beamed. Without batting an eye I answered “Oh wow Ed Kranepool!” She was almost speechless. “How did you know?” she sputtered. “Well” I said. “It so happens that Ed and I are old friends.”
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This Fan Shot was written and contributed by MMO community member and die-hard Mets fan Carl A. Weber. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to GetMetsmerized@aol.com or use this Contact Form. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.