Thursday, May 26, 2011

For Dana Brand

Somewhere, up in heaven or in the great beyond (you know the place, I think it's next to "Iowa"), our blogging friend Dana Brand is talking about the new Mets co-owner with his late friend from Yale, Bart Giamatti. I would love to hear a Baseball Commissioner's take on the matter. I'm sure they're having a good discussion.

In case you hadn't heard the sad news yet, Dana Brand passed away suddenly on Wednesday at the young age of 56.

In the 8 or so hours since his wife posted the news on his facebook page, I've seen many kind words and posts from our fellow bloggers in my facebook newsfeed. I have to say that like most of you who have read is blog and/or his books, I'm a bit shaken right now. I've been going over many many different things I wanted to cover in this post. Afterall, Dana was an English professor, so I owe it to him to make this post sound coherent. I always felt like I could write a better sounding post after reading his blog, simply by osmosis (I'm talking about the difference between A- work and B work in my mind. I was never much more than that).

I had the pleasure of meeting Dana on a couple of occasions. All of them Mets-related, though we shared a few non-Mets connections as well. Dana taught at Hofstra University in the English Department. When I was a student at Hofstra from 1997 through 2000, I had a gentleman's agreement with the English Department that we respectfully keep distance from each other. I never held that against him, and I remember about a year ago sharing the blurb in the Hofstra Alumni magazine about his recent book (The Last Days Of Shea). And Dana was telling me at last year's GKR main event game in early October that he noticed in my facebook profile that I had attended the same Massachusetts prep/boarding school as his wife, though she was there many years before I was.

I remember having a nice conversation with Dana on that day last October, down in the party area at Citi Field behind the bullpens where the GKR group was selling their t-shirts. And then I had the pleasure of sitting with Dana and Greg Prince of Faith and Fear In Flushing fame in the outfield seats for a couple of innings. I felt a bit out of place sitting between two Mets fans whose Mets-life stories I had read. But it was fun.

As was the first time I got to meet Dana (and Greg and a few others for that matter). 2 years ago this August, during that dismal season of 2009 (how dismal, it was the day that it had been announced that Johan Santana would miss the remainder of the season), our paths crossed at one of FAFIF's Amazin' Tuesdays, when Dana was debuting his new book, The Last Days Of Shea. As part of the readings of the evening, Dana would read a few paragraphs for the audience at Two Boots in lower Manhattan.

I had been a reader of Dana's blog for a few months, and I'd like to think he read my blog too. When I introduced myself as "DyHrdMET", he knew who I was. I've always loved the discussions in the comments of a blog post, especially back then when I had time to participate and had a lot more to say. Dana brought copies of his book, and that was main reason why I made the trip from New Jersey. I remember being excited about a book about my beloved Shea. Thinking about it now, I kind of wish Dana could communicate from that "Iowa" place right now because he could tell all of us if all the ballparks from the past are up in that magical place too.

I heard Dana read that night. A few others too. I bought a copy of Dana's book. He said it was the first copy sold, and inscribed it so ("This is the first copy of this book sold - Dana A. Brand"). He also signed the book for me, with a personal inscription.

I'd seen Dana a few times. I think all of the other times at GKR events at Citi Field. His is one of the faces I would have been looking for when I attend the next "main event" this August. I remember seeing him pass by at the first GKR "main event" at Shea Stadium in 2008. I didn't know Dana at the time, but after meeting him, I remembered seeing him pass by me on his way to the field with his mother, in a wheelchair, and his family, while I was on line. Dana wrote about it in his book (The Last Days Of Shea). What a weekend that was.

I never got to tell Dana how much I enjoyed reading his 2 books (Mets Fan being the first one), but I certainly did. I'm almost done with the second one. I didn't start until after I had met him on that summer night 2 years ago, and of course, I had to read the books in order. The night that Dana debuted his second book, I got to hear him read a bit of it aloud. And I wish I could have his books on tape, read by him, because he had so much passion reading about the Mets and about Shea.

Thank you Dana for everything you've done in the Mets blogging and fan communities. We're all better off having known you.

I'll let Dana have the last words - two videos of Dana, both from Hofstra University, speaking about his books. It won't be the same without you.

Or if you can't see the embedded videos, you can go here and here.

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