Saturday, February 23, 2019

A New Spring

It's Spring Training again. I keep thinking that I will write here a lot this season, again. Maybe I will, maybe I won't.
But I can't let the start of Spring Training pass without my annual post (or re-post or just sharing an old link). The sounds of Spring Training.

I always listen to some sound bytes of Bob Murphy opening up WFAN's first Spring Training broadcast in 1998, a recording I made playing around with a Walkman, wires and my computer. Then I listen to a 6 1/2 minute clip of Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen calling another game from that spring. And then there's a clip of them throwing it to a commercial (which now makes me nostalgic for the WFAN Mets Radio Network).

raw audio from Spring Training 1998 (WFAN Radio):
WFAN's first broadcast of the spring with Bob Murphy at the mic

Bob Murphy leading into a commercial

6 1/2 minutes of play-by-play and conversation between Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen

Recently, I found some cassette tapes that I made around the same time as those sound bytes, taken from both TV and radio. So I have some brand new Mets audio clips:

Another game opening on WFAN in Spring Training 1998, with Gary Cohen as the lead and Bob Murphy as the #2 announcer.

WWOR TV's "Fresh From Florida" opening (unfortunately, it's only the audio) with Gary Thorne and Tim McCarver opening "Mets Baseball '98".

A short highlight from Tim McCarver and Gary Thorne on WWOR TV. Pitcher Paul Wilson with a basehit.

Another short highlight from Tim McCarver calling a homerun. I always loved how small and intimate the crowd sounds here.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Our Captain My Captain

It was late March 2004 (I don't know the exact date), at the Mets Spring Training ballpark in Port St. Lucie, Florida. It was late in a game (maybe the 7th inning). Art Howe had brought in minor league players to fill out the lineup late in the game because the regular major leaguers don't play all 9 innings of exhibition games. Back then, I wasn't really in tune to the pipeline of prospects in the Mets system, so I didn't really know who I was watching at that point in the game. I was there to root for the laundry and get some March sun, so it didn't matter to me anyway. And someone leaned over to me, pointed towards third base, and said that this kid is going to be the next third baseman for the New York Mets. Not knowing any better, and remembering the ongoing counting of third basemen in Mets history, I kind of laughed this guy off. And I couldn't have been less Wright with that reaction if I had tried.

That was 14 1/2 years ago. For Mets announcer Gary Cohen, that's half of his tenure calling games in Flushing. For me (who became a fan 2 years before Gary Cohen arrived in the Mets booth), that's slightly less than half of my time as a fan. In other words, that's basically an entire generation of Mets fans who have had David Wright in their respective Mets vocabularies. This is also the same new generation of fans that doesn't remember Bob Murphy calling Mets games (like I'm in the generation of fans that doesn't remember Lindsey Nelson calling games). Wright goes back to the end of the Mike Piazza-Al Leiter era. His time in New York dates back to the end of the Art Howe era. John Franco's last decision as a Met (a Loss) was this game, in which David Wright had his first hit.

And now the David Wright era informally comes to a close with his last appearances in the big leagues. He'll serve out the remainder of his guaranteed contract on the 60-Day DL and then officially retire at the end of the 2020 season.

There were definitely times over his career when I wasn't so high on him. Some unclutch hitting, and his throwing mechanics from third base always made me nervous. I can't tell you how many times he got bailed out by a good first baseman. I won't even bring up the one he should have simply put in his pocket on that warm November evening in 2015. But he always smiled. When he would sign autographs (and sometimes there were big crowds so it wasn't for very long or very often), he always gave you quality work. He was the constant (at least until his injuries). He became "The Captain". He was there when the Mets were building up in 2005 (he was definitely part of it) culminating in that Game 7 loss in the 2006 NLCS. He was also there for the "Fool me once" collapse in 2007 followed by the "Fool me twice" collapse in 2008. He was the star of the new ballpark in 2009 and the team fell back into the abyss. And he was still there, a shell of his former self, when the Mets built back up in 2015. He finally got to play in the World Series that year.

It took the Mets a while to catch on, but they should have moved on from him after 2015. That was when I thought he should have hung up his spikes (after that season), knowing his physical quality would never improve. He didn't. They weren't ready to move on and find a full-time third baseman. He tried to play and it didn't last very long. He tried to come back, and it didn't go well the first time. But he kept at it, working hard to improve his baseball physical quality and his general physical quality. And he made it back, even if only for a cameo appearance with the Mets in order to have a proper goodbye.

I have a lot of respect for an athlete who decides to push himself back from a career-ending injury just to be able to take a final bow, instead of simply disappearing in the end. Basically, don't retire from the disabled list. Retire from the field. To use a word that Gary Cohen used on Friday night's broadcast, this is "closure" for David Wright.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Baseball Bingo

I coined the term "Baseball Bingo" last year (2017) as a way to describe seeing a game at every level of professional baseball. There are a few variants of it.

Mets Baseball Bingo (and 29 other variants)
Seeing every minor league affiliate of the Mets (some organizations have 5 teams, some have 6)

Minor League Baseball Bingo
Seeing any game from each of the 6 levels of affiliated Minor League Baseball (for which tickets are sold). Overall, there are 160 teams, with 30 at each of the first 4 levels (playing April through early September), and 40 more short season teams (mid-June through September), with every organization having at least one team between the two levels, and some having a team at each level.
  1. AAA, broken into 2 leagues across the country
  2. AA, broken into 3 leagues in the Northeast, Southeast, and greater Texas
  3. Class A Advanced (aka "High A" or "A+"), broken into 3 leagues in California, Florida, and the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic
  4. Class A (aka "Low A"), broken into 2 leagues in the Midwest and Southeast/Mid-Atlantic
  5. Class A Short Season, broken into 2 leagues in the Northeast and Northwest
  6. Rookie Advanced (Short Season), broken into 2 leagues in the Appalachian Mountains in TN, NC, VA and WV; and Big Sky/Rocky Mountain regions

Baseball Bingo
Spring Training, Major League Baseball, All 6 levels of Minor League Baseball, Independent baseball

MLB Ballpark Pass-port has a product useful in tracking one's travels. This product includes a fold-out map of the United States (and southern Canada) and marks the locations of all 160 affiliated minor league teams color coded by their classification. The Wikipedia pages for the respective leagues will show you the local map for those teams.

I bring this up because based on geography, these are very difficult feats to accomplish. No matter where you live, travel will need to be involved to accomplish any of these feats. Some of the time, these smaller leagues are in very hard-to-find towns.

And for the second straight season, I can say that it is in the plans for me to accomplish Baseball Bingo. My Minor League Baseball Ballpark Pass-port book will help validate it, something which I didn't think of last year. It's not something I go into the season looking to accomplish. Last year, it happened somewhat organically. This year, it's a bit more forced.

I travel around Spring Training every year. I wish I had bought one of these passport books when I started that in 2004 so I could get stamps from all across the Grapefruit League. Some of those ballparks are now abandoned, so a lot would be lost if I started now. I don't try to get them all in one season.

I see the Mets in New York several times a year. That's my local team (even though I pass Yankee Stadium on the way there).

I went to see the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball one night after work looking to get a specific autograph.

A friend had organized a small group to see the Columbia Fireflies (Mets, Low A) play on the road in Lakewood, NJ. It was a bit of a hike, but still doable for an evening after work. Because of a rainout, the night became a doubleheader (of 7 inning games).

We also went into Brooklyn to see the Cyclones (Mets, Short Season A) for a specific promotion over a holiday weekend. That game was suspended by rain but I was still there. Technically, Staten Island (Yankees, Short Season A) is closer. The Hudson Valley team (Rays, Short Season A) is within reason too, given the other local travel.

I had a planned weekend getaway in Binghamton (Mets, AA) that I've done each of the past couple summers. Trenton (Yankees, AA) is a bit closer, but the schedule didn't work out for me to see Binghamton there until the playoffs, after I had already called "BINGO".

I had a road trip planned to see family in Virginia Beach and started looking at other destinations. Misreading a map, I thought, why not Kingsport, TN to see the most obscure Mets farm club and thought it was too far. Then, on a whim, I asked, where are the Las Vegas 51s (Mets, AAA) playing, not really thinking they'd come that far east. They were in Nashville, and Kingsport could be a stop on the way home. The scheduling gods were working with me. With some non-baseball stops included, it was destination: Nashville (Oakland, AAA) to see the 51s and then Kingsport, TN (Mets, Rookie) before heading home. I passed a few other towns that have minor league ball but didn't think to fit in a game.

After that, I realized I'd see every Mets affiliate except for the St Lucie Mets (High A) in Florida. I found an equivalent team 2 hours away from home in Wilmington, DE (Kansas City, High A).

And that got me Baseball Bingo.

2018 has some different stops planned. A different road trip to Raleigh to see family. Different stops to and from. And the plan became to get Baseball Bingo again once I saw that I was close enough to the Appalachian League to start looking at maps and schedules.

Spring Training again. Already a few games at Citi Field.

The minor league adventure started in Trenton (Yankees, AA) last night to see Binghamton (Mets, AA). A return engagement in Binghamton is in the works. So are Brooklyn and Lakewood (when the Fireflies visit). AAA will be different (and still not seeing any of the nearby teams in Pennsylvania) and so will High A and Rookie ball. Seeing the Columbia Fireflies at home is the big stop on the road trip. There are also other independent teams near home and a Mets trip planned for California.

Some of these local games don't need to be done every year (but it's still fun). It's usually not worth the travel to see two teams that I don't know unless getting Bingo is in mind. All of it can be done within 2 hours except for Spring Training (never a problem going there) and Rookie ball. But once a Rookie league is within the cross-hairs (and it's just too obscure to be a destination on its own), the others come into focus quickly.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

30 Years As a Mets Fan - Banner Day

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Part 10

Banner Day

For those of you who don’t remember the old tradition, the Mets, for many years, once a season would allow their fans to parade around the outfield warning track showing off homemade signs showing messages of support for the New York Mets players. This event would take place in between games of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium and fans at home would be able to see the hundreds of entries on WOR TV. Fans would use whatever media they could find, from poster boards to bed sheets, to convey their message. Some were simple and some were creative. The banners were judged and winners were given prizes. This was a tradition inspired by the early Mets fans at the Polo Grounds and original Mets manager Casey Stengel, who would spend time looking in the stands at the “placards” during the game. This tradition carried on for over 30 years, into the mid-1990s.

I never entered it myself, or even attended the Banner Day Doubleheader in person. As a kid, I knew of Banner Day but don’t really remember even watching it. I was around for the last few seasons the Mets held it. Maybe inside those last 2 sentences is the reason why it was eventually cancelled.

The Mets brought it back in 2012, in part because of some stirring among the fan community as an idea of how to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary. The return of Banner Day had become known as “Banner Day 2.0” among some fans. In the internet age, fans could be part of the judging among 4 finalists chosen by Mets-connected people (broadcasters and alumni) during the game with the winner announced and shown off during the 7th inning.

My creative juices started flowing. The same could be said for about 300 other fans who lined up outside Citi Field early that Sunday morning. This new Banner Day parade wasn’t quite the same as it was in the old days. There are no longer scheduled doubleheaders, and you can’t really disrupt the game in order to hold the parade of banners for judging. The Mets opted to have the parade start shortly after the ballpark opened, which would be 11:10am for a 1:10pm game (one year it might have been a later start, but always an afternoon game). It wasn’t ideal for bringing in big crowds to support the banners. SNY (or PIX11 in some cases) wasn’t coming on the air that early (about 90 minutes earlier than the regular pregame show) to show the festivities to the fans at home. The second year saw the Mets introduce a pre-Banner Day online contest separate from the traditional parade. That second contest lasted only 1 year. But overall, interest was waning and the team stopped promoting Banner Day, allowing it to die a slow death after only 4 seasons.

It’s a shame that it didn’t catch on and become a marquee event like in the old days, especially since the Mets were starting to get good around 2012 and 2013 (eventually winning the NL Pennant in the final season of Banner Day 2.0). The interest wasn’t there and the promotion (from the team or television) wasn’t there either.

I loved being part of it. It was a different and creative way in which I could express my Mets fandom. It was better than trying to come up with 140 character tweets or post thoughts about a recent game or recent struggles/successes on Facebook or a blog or fan forum. We could use imagery, colors. We could make it large. Someone had moving parts. And I had some wild ideas. For some of it, I was winging it (am I using the right medium – different types of poster board as opposed to a bed sheet or something vinyl), but I didn’t really care. Each year, I’d have my idea well before the season got underway, with Banner Day taking place sometime in the first half of the season (usually May, but once it was in June), and I’d tell people I’d have the winning banner (I was never a finalist, but there was one year where I really felt cheated by that statement). I’ve covered each of my entries on this blog before, so I won’t go into detail, but I will mention them here with links to my original posts.

2012 was an idea that a friend nicknamed “the parade float” because it had so much stuff in it. It came out as a tribute to banners and signs from Shea Stadium, which was sort of homage to past Banner Days to mark the occasion of its return. The original idea was to put some of those tributes on top of a picture/drawing of an empty Shea Stadium (in its full 1990s colorful glory), but I couldn’t quite figure out how to convey or execute that idea.

2013 was the year they introduced the online contest, with entries due about a week before the real banner day. I took my original idea (“Citi Field Squares” – a Hollywood Squares knockoff that was Mets-themed), made a small version of it (regular sized printer paper instead of big poster board) and submitted it online and decided to make something else for the parade. Citi Field was hosting the All-Star Game that year so I played along with that theme (“Take me out to the All-Star Game”), and then included all of the Mets All-Star Game starters, even foreshadowing Matt Harvey’s All-Star Game start. A friend convinced me to bring both banners to the parade. It was fun to show off, but I think it confused the judges.

2014 was the 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium, and I had my biggest idea yet – to create a large and detailed “Shea Stadium Monopoly” board. It was a big idea in my head and I just didn’t know if I could get it to come together, but if I could, it would be perfect for the judges. It was big and it was detailed. It was better than what I had in my head. I still don’t know how I didn’t win. But creating it and parading with it is one of the things I’m most proud of in life.

Not knowing that 2015 would be the final year, I ended up closing on a simple but maybe appropriate note. Casey Stengel was the inspiration for Banner Day, and I came up with the “Stengelese Dictionary”. It wasn’t quite what I had in my head, but it was simple and to the point.

Unfortunately, 2015 was the last time the Mets held Banner Day. It’s a shame because 2016 had 3 different themes that fans could have used (30th anniversary of the 1986 World Championship, Mets were defending NL Champions, and Mike Piazza is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Met with his number getting retired by the Mets). And I had several ideas that I had accumulated along the way and never got to execute, sometimes bumping an idea down in the list for a better idea which I ended up using. So here, I believe for the first time, I present my list of unused Banner Day ideas. Some of these ideas were written on a piece of paper (based on the date I wrote down) after returning home from Banner Day in 2013, and never made the cut.

  • Meet the Mets: Mr. Met’s Family Portrait – featuring Mr. Met, Mrs. Met, their kids (younger versions of Mr. and Mrs. Met), original Mr. Met, Florida Mr. Met (the Mr. Met variant used by the St. Lucie Mets), and Mr. Met, Sr. (an old man version of Mr. Met). Given the 2016 themes, this was probably in line for 2017.
  • Mets Scrabble. This came on the heels of “Citi Field Squares” where I had board games in my head.
  • Mets Word Jumble. I think a crossword puzzle would have been too much.
  • Mets Monopoly. Subconsciously, this idea was spun off as “Shea Stadium Monopoly” the year after I wrote this down. I didn’t remember it until I found that list very recently.
  • Mets Board Game/DVD/Bookshelf – think of board game boxes stacked on a shelf, using names of Mets-themed board games without having to create the entire game board
  • Mets postcards – Tradition Field (as it was then known), Shea Stadium, Citi Field
Being part of Banner Day 2.0 was fun. I wish I could have been part of the original incarnation. I really hope the Mets find a way to have Banner Day 3.0 (or even 2.5) and then make it work with 20,000 fans cheering everyone on.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Birthday Games

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Part 9

Birthday Games

I’m sure that all baseball fans born during the baseball season can relate to this – wanting to spend your birthday at the ballpark watching your favorite team in action. I’ve been able to do this a few times in my life. I’ve also gone to games near my actual birthday as the Mets schedule and my schedule allowed, but those aren’t the same. When I was younger, and only going to 2 or 3 games a year, something like my birthday was a big deal on the schedule. These days, a weekend home game is an occasion for me to go to Citi Field.

In 1987, I went to Shea Stadium for my 9th birthday. It was the first Mets game in person since becoming a fan 6 months earlier. I don’t remember a damn thing about that game other than one play by Len Dykstra in CF that made Warner Wolf’s plays of the year. I was enamored by the Shea Stadium scoreboard with the lineups and out of town scores and I probably got excited seeing the Home Run Apple rise 4 times in the Mets 11-3 win.

I honestly can’t recall any other birthdays spent at Shea when I was a kid. I think there might have been one or two that worked out.

I spent my 21st birthday at Shea with friends on a Friday night in 1999. That was a great night. Maybe one of the best I had at Shea. We were all into getting there at 4:30 pm to see batting practice and get autographs. It was around the time I started doing that. We had my favorite seats in the ballpark – Loge, Section 7, Row A. I even had another friend randomly walk up in the bottom of the first and claim the seats next to us, an unplanned surprise. We got to fight over a foul ball (I got bumped back into my seat and someone else broke their watch on the play). None of us got the ball. It’s still the closest I’ve ever come to getting one at a major league ballpark. And we got to heckle rising Giants star Jeff Kent from his days as a Met.

As an adult, working for a living, it wasn’t as easy to just head into Flushing from New Jersey on a weeknight/day to celebrate my birthday. But for my 30th birthday, I decided I wanted to take off from work (baseball game or not). The Mets hosted one of those mid-week afternoon games (I think they were called “businessman’s specials” back in the day, but the politically correct term is really “get away day”) and this was a no-brainer. For it being a big birthday and the final season at Shea, I convinced my dad (who already had the day off from work) to get us seats behind the Mets dugout. It was one of the few places at Shea I hadn’t sat in yet, but I certainly knew the neighborhood from batting practice.

After our lunch in the Diamond Club and looking at some Citi Field previews, the start of the game ended up being delayed for about 45 minutes because of a broken water main nearby and the grounds crew couldn’t water down the field to get it ready for the game. Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa, always a good guy and good for an autograph or three, came out of the dugout during the delay to sign for fans. I think it was my fourth autograph of his that season alone (counting Spring Training). Mets post-season hero-turned-regular season goat Oliver Perez was the starting pitcher for New York. And after an uneventful first inning, things came unglued for the Mets starter. He gave up 7 runs in the top of the second to the Pirates and hero of the delay Figueroa had to come in and finish the inning. Figgy settled things down, but the game got worse after he left.

I still call it the day that “Ollie Perez ruined my 30th birthday at Shea” and call Figueroa the “hero” of the day.

I made it in for my birthday last year too. It was a Saturday and a big giveaway (one of the garden gnomes). It was another no-brainer. Friends all over the place. Some I planned to see, some I didn’t. It was lots of fun. I think I watched the game.

Next year, I’ve said that no matter where the Mets are, I spend my 40th birthday there. It’s a Monday next year, so I might have to walk that statement back if I don’t want to travel some place to see a game alone.

Monday, April 3, 2017

30 Years As a Mets Fan – It’s Opening Day At Shea

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Part 8

It’s Opening Day At Shea

I can hear those words – “It’s Opening Day At Shea” – in Howie Rose’s voice (even if he’s never actually said them).

Opening Day probably should be a national holiday so we can all celebrate it together at the ballpark. But reality doesn’t work that way, and going is already an expensive endeavor (it’s usually one of the most expensive tickets of the season). If I think hard enough, I can probably remember where I was or what I was doing for most of my 30 Opening Days as a Mets fan. They’re mostly vague memories of watching the end of the game at home after school or trying to listen to the game at work.

1987 was my first (as a fan watching on TV), and still might be my most memorable. Not for the game, but for the pregame. The team’s most recent World Championship flag was raised behind the CF fence at Shea Stadium and the World Series rings were handed out before the game. That is the part I remember having on tape (since I was at school when it was happening live). That’s also one that lives on in Mets fandom as part of the bonus features of the 1986 World Series DVD set. That’s a good thing because I wore out that tape. The DVD is ready for its annual viewing.

1988 was when Strawberry hit the roof at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. 1992 was a night game in St. Louis (even after only 5 years of being a fan, I knew a night game for Opening Day seemed wrong). 1993 was the first game in Colorado Rockies history. 1994 saw Doc Gooden giving up 3 HRs to Tuffy Rhodes at Wrigley. 1995 was in late April after the lockout which followed the player’s strike, and it was the first game at Coors Field.

I remember cutting class in 1998 when I was in college so I could watch the Mets first March 31 game. That was the 14th inning walkoff hit by Alberto Castillo at Shea. I made a few sound bytes from that game which is part of my Opening Day blogging tradition.

Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen's intro

The winning hit from Opening Day 1998 at Shea

2000 was the series in Tokyo. I was still in college. I remember trying to get up at 5am to watch the games. I don’t remember much success in those attempts.

Starting in 2002, I was a working man and had to find a way to escape the office in order to listen to any portion of the game. I remember taking a long lunch or a mid-day break to go to my car to put on the radio just to hear a little bit of Opening Day.

2003 was the first Opening Day I experienced in person. I saw some tickets available the week before and said “what the hell, I’ll take off work and go”. It was a cold March 31 at Shea Stadium. This was a bad era for the Mets. Art Howe was the manager. It also turned out to be Bob Murphy’s last Opening Day. I’m glad I got to be there to see him introduce the Mets from my seat deep down the LF line in the Mezzanine box. I wish I had a camera (even without much of a zoom, as digital cameras were in those days). I won’t remind you of the score. You can click the link to the box score if you really want to know.

I remember working from home in 2005 and 2006 to watch Opening Day. After all, it should be a holiday. 2005 was the opener in Cincinnati with Pedro Martinez’s Mets debut. As a side note, some enterprising puzzle maker took a photo from the 2005 home opener against Houston and made a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of it. A few years later, I bought it, put it together, and had it framed. It hangs in my living room. 2006 was the debut of SNY.

Coming off the success of 2006 (I’ve repressed the memory of the final inning of that season) I wanted to be there for the 2007 home opener. This was back in the days of the Mets having ticket lotteries to get into Opening Day at Shea. I had a friend who got picked in the lottery and was able to get me a ticket so far down the right field line on field level that my seat faced the outfield wall and not the infield (if you really remember Shea, you’d know what I was talking about).

2008 was the final Opening Day at Shea (after a road trip). 2009 was the christening of Citi Field (also after a road trip). By then, I also had MLB’s internet package so I could listen on radio on my computer at work (working around meetings). MLB.TV usually had technical difficulties that got in the way of celebrating Opening Day. Some of the more recent seasons are actually a blur. In researching this post, I noticed MLB had some weird schedules with late-week Opening Days for some reason. Real Opening Day is the first Monday in April.

In 2014, I went back for Opening Day, and it was March 31 again. It was cold at Citi Field. I remember sitting in what was then called Caesar’s Club for most of the game trying to defrost my hands and the rest of the game paying social calls to friends. I did see Parnell blow the save in the 9th. This was the year that Daniel Murphy missed the opener because of the birth of a child, and for some reason, people got in an uproar over it.

2016 was a special one. The Mets were defending NL Champions. They started the season in Kansas City with a World Series rematch (dumb luck that it happened that way). Then on Friday came the home opener. In this day in age, that was cause to take off work and head to Citi Field. I don’t remember any of the game, but I do remember being there, moving around the ballpark making social calls to people. It was a day to tailgate and celebrate.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Part 7

30 Years As a Mets Fan – Part 7

One magic loogie

I remember the first time I went to a Mets game as a fan (see earlier post about going to a game before getting sucked in to this madness). I was 9 years old. It was Sunday, June 14, 1987, and the Mets were playing the Phillies at Shea Stadium. I can’t say I remember everything about the game. I do remember that the Mets lost even though Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry both homered. The Phillies scored 5 runs in the 9th off of Roger McDowell after Hernandez committed an error with 2 out. The game also marked my first encounter seeing rowdy fans at a ballgame. My dad and I were sitting in the right field seats near the Mets bullpen on the Loge level and these 2 guys sitting near us were pouring beer onto one of the pitchers in the Mets bullpen and cursing at them. Basically harassing people down there all game. We eventually moved away from them.

After the game, to help cheer me up from a bad Mets loss before heading home, Dad took me for a walk all the way around Shea Stadium. When we were outside the Mets players’ parking lot, we saw those same 2 guys yelling at some players – “Nice game, pretty boy” at Hernandez – before someone out of view threw something back at these guys, or did something. I’m still not sure what I watched. Dad shielded me and then hustled me out of there quickly and decided it was time for us to head home.

That was one magic loogie!