Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hofstra Mets 50th Anniversary Conference

From April 26 through April 28, I attended a conference presented by the Hofstra University Cultural Center entitled "The 50th Anniversary of the New York Mets", which was held in memory of Hofstra University professor and conference co-director (and great Mets fan, author, and blogger) Dana Brand. Dana Brand passed away suddenly in May of last year at the age of 56.

Now let me mention the format of this conference. It almost resembles a college course schedule with the program resembling a college course book. Most of your time, assuming you didn't take a break from the schedule on your own, was filled in. Each "panel" was 90 minutes long, as were most "plenary sessions". During a 90 minute block of time, there were 2 or 3 concurrent panels, each with 3 papers/presentations that were tied together with a theme. Attendees had to choose which panel to attend (do I listen to people talking about the 1962 Mets or memorabilia and mascots?). Over the course of the 3 days, there were 10 such panels. Each presenter spoke for about 30 minutes and usually there was time for Q&A.

Most plenary sessions would run 90 minutes, and each was basically a roundtable discussion that included recognized names (old Mets sportswriters and sportscasters or former Met players, etc.) and were not in competition with any other panels. Over the course of the 3 days, there were also different book signings (as well as sales of those books), and Mets-themed documentaries were playing in the background in the multipurpose room.

Lunchtime each day was "Brown Bagging In The Bullpen With The Blogosphere", which was basically a 60 minute panel moderated by Faith and Fear in Flushing's Greg Prince that included a question to the bloggers in the audience from Greg and questions that played to a theme and from the audience.
(Greg Prince, left, and Faith and Fear co-blogger Jason Fry, center, with Taryn Cooper of A Gal For All Seasons, right)
(The crowd at a Brown Bagging lunch session. Michael Donato or Optimistic Mets Fan is in the center and Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information is in the blue shirt on the right)

Let me mention that most, if not all of the presenters were Mets fans, as were the co-directors of the conference and probably most of the attendees. There were a few special guests, including Keynote speaker John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball, and some members of the 1969 New York Mets. I did notice that a lot of the presenters, whether they are professors at other colleges or fans or bloggers or whatever did stay for the entire 3 days and attend other sessions. I really don't know how many people were just there in the audience without presenting and how many in attendance were also presenting something.

With that introduction, let me show you what I saw over the past 3 days. This is EVERY panelist that I saw over the 3 days at Hofstra. There were quite a few concurrent panels which I was not able to attend. If it's not enabled, please click on "Show Info" to see the captions and descriptions of each picture. You may need to view in full screen first.

I know Dana Brand would have loved this conference. Last May, when Dana passed away, I suggested that Dana might be "[s]omewhere, up in heaven or in the great beyond (you know the place, I think it's next to "Iowa")", thinking that he might be part of that mystical setting in the movie Field of Dreams. I'd want to think that during the 3 days that I was at Dana's conference at Hofstra, Dana was director of his own Mets 50th Anniversary Conference up on that magical corn field. I'd want to think that he had panels that included Branch Rickey, Bill Shea, and Mrs. Joan Payson speaking about the origins of the Mets; Sports cartoonist Ray Gatto talking about the Mets logo; Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson talking about the 50 year history of the New York Mets; Gil Hodges talking about coming home in 1962, wining the championship in 1969, and maybe making his own case for being in the Hall of Fame; Shea Stadium itself would share pictures and memorabilia from its 45 years; Tug McGraw and Lindsey Nelson talking about the 1973 "Ya Gotta Believe Mets"; Gary Carter and Bob Murphy talking about the 1986 championship; and the Keynote Address from Casey Stengel.

I know Dana Brand couldn't be with us in person at Hofstra, but he was certainly there in spirit.

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