Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Last Days At Shea - Part 2 - The Santana Game

This is part 2 in a 3 4 part series on my last days at Shea. I bring you now to the final Saturday of the season, the penultimate scheduled game at Shea. At the time, the Mets season was hanging on by a thread. One loss and it's over. Scoreboard watching to see what Milwaukee and Philadelphia would do to possibly get us in the playoffs desipte another late-season collapse.

I had never sat in the bleachers in left field. I'd always wanted to. Nothing special about being out there other than it was different. But I didn't want to leave Shea for the last time without having sat there. I'd sat just about everywhere else at Shea (speaking in terms of general areas). I'd been looking for a way in for probably the last 2 seasons. They didn't sell individual tickets out there, only groups. OK, how do I get myself into a group that can get me into the picnic area and bleachers? I can fake the interest if it gets me out there. I don't care what game it is.

And stepping up to the plate was GaryKeithAndRon, the charity organization run by Lynn Cohen, wife of Mets TV play-by-play man Gary Cohen. Their "main event" group outing, penultimate game at Shea. Too perfect. No need to fake interest here. If there's one group I'd want to support it's one affiliated with fan favorite broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. Picnic bleachers, 1,200 Mets fans, season on the line. This has the making of a great story. Let me add one thing, thrown in by the GKR group - anyone from the group wearing their t-shirt gets to walk on the warning track for the National Anthem. So now I get to sit in that elusive part of Shea, AND I get to be on the field. I was just glad the rain held off long enough to get the game in without much of a problem (there was about a 1 hour delay and the threat of heavy rain for the entire weekend).

I'm out at the ballpark early (as always, the first LIRR train from Penn Station to Shea), we get in and get our commerative pins and towels and I go to check out the sights (during BP). A different perspective on looking at "empty Shea" in its full vivid color. I get my food, GKR merchandise sale (I bought 3 more t-shirts), and appearances by Gary and Ron, all with a delay in the game while the fans are told to line up in the back to come out on the field. Somehow, with the delay and extra time and whatever else it was, I managed to be the first person standing in one of the two lines. I've got the camera ready to capture this one. First person on line isn't walking behind people to come on the field, only someone from the stadium security leading the group. First person on line gets to go as far down as they'll let us (which was to the foul line initially, then when the crowd swelled up so much, it was over the line and down a few feet).

For the game, well, it became known as "The Santana Game" in Mets lure, just like "The Imperfect Game" and some others. Our new ace Johan Santana came out on 3 days rest and pitched a complete game shutout (it was later revealed that he had a bum knee for at least that game and possibly even the entire month of September). Mets win 2-0. He kept the season going one more day. And that's another story.

A big "thank you" goes out to Lynn Cohen and the rest of the GKR group for setting this up, timing it perfectly in the Mets season, and allowing us onto the field. At the time of this writing, I have 5 of their t-shirts now and am looking forward to the 2009 "main event" group outing at the new ballpark on the final weekend of the season.

Photo Day at Shea | The Santana Game | Shea Goodbye | In My Life

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