Category Archives: new york mets

Ballparks for the New York Mets.

Citi Field, Queens, NY

 

Citi Field, Queens, New York

First game:  June 22, 2021 (Braves 3, Mets 0)

It was 1999 when I took the 7 train to Shea Stadium. I was 29, single, and scrounging together money to travel around the country trying to conduct long-distance relationships and attend ballparks before starting a new job. I was 51 when I returned, a married dad, leaving my wonderful wife and equally-wonderful children behind for three days of solo R&R. It feels different doing this as a middle-aged man, but it’s certainly fun either way. I like the idea of having fun and heading home to my wife more than having fun and leaving behind a sort-of-but-not-really girlfriend. Man, time sure blasts on. The last time I watched a game in Queens, Ronald Acuna was in diapers. Now he’s on the field and a household name…

Some things, however, stay the same. The ballpark is still surrounded by oceans and oceans of parking lot. As a result, it’s hard to succeed at the is-there-any-question-where-this-is test. The small-but-nice Mets museum? Yes. Billy Joel singalong (10,000-plus fans singing “Piano Man” in the middle of the 8th, which sounds cool)? Wonderful–and you don’t get more Long Island than Billy Joel. And I was taken by a dilapidated muffler shop across the street, which seemed to be holding out in the middle of all of the parking lots: people were actually working in there as the fans streamed in. Loved it.

Still, there’s a little bit missing here. I got myself a nice seat with access to a swanky club behind home plate.

 I liked the super-cushy seats, but the setup was such that we were behind the press boxes and had no view of the

field: just a few of the Arthur Ashe tennis court nearby. I do admit that this was a

good place to wait out a rain-delay: probably the best way to wait out rain, as I have learned in the past. I couldn’t sit in the comfy chairs for too long: my 51-year-old self doesn’t handle red-eye flights quite as well as my 29-year-old self did, and I’d have fallen directly to sleep. But it still seems strange that someone would pay all that money to get to a ballgame and then just watch it on TV. Different strokes, I suppose. (But I can’t argue with that killer pastrami sandwich. Wow. 15 bucks and worth every penny.

I am not a huge Mets guy, but the dude checking us out at the metal detectors looked a LOT like Keith Hernandez of the 1986 World Series winners. For one thing, wearing a mustache in 2021 is way different 

from wearing one in the era of Tom Selleck. Turns out I wasn’t the only person to notice: the people in front of me told him so. He said he gets that a lot. I would imagine 

working at Citi Field is one place where that happens a ton.

I appreciated the passion of the fans for their first 3 or 4 beers. But thereafter–and especially on this night, when the team couldn’t get anything going of offense against Atlanta–it got uglier. One profane and ugly fan was letting loose a section over. (Man, have some perspective! Your team is in first place by five games! And the Yankees are having an off year!). Ushers said “sir? Sir?” to him a few times, and he stopped without leaving (it was the ninth inning anyway). I found the Mets staff to be delightful: they gave me Tylenol at the first-aid space (I headed off a red-eye headache) and the wonderfully-New-York-accented usher remembered me and asked how I was doing several times thereafter. So I got the best and the worst of this fan base.

On the whole, this was a great kickoff to a self-directed three-day NYC tourist blitz by me. I’m not sure when I will get to go back, but I’m glad I got to this one as I try to re-assemble the 30 parks again.

 

Written June 2021.

Shea Stadium

 

shea1

Carl Semencic, from http://www.li.net/~semencic/beetles.htm. Used by permission.

Shea Stadium, Queens, NY

Number of games:  1
First and last game:  July 24, 1999 (Mets 2, Cubs 1)

Shea Stadium was destroyed in 2009.

I finished off the 1999 Erotic Love And Baseball Stadium Tour of Boston and New York by taking the #7 train to Flushing Meadow; this, the summer before John Rocker made an ass out of himself and made the #7 the most talked-about subway route in the world.  For the record, on the way to and from Shea Stadium I saw none of Rocker’s “queers with AIDS” or “welfare mothers with six kids.” (At least not to my knowledge.  I did not take the time to interview my fellow passengers:  “Has your HIV become symptomatic?” “How many people do you have to support on your welfare check?”)   I also saw no “kids with purple hair”: at least not that I could see underneath their Mets caps.  I did hear a few different languages spoken, however, as Rocker found so offensive.  So John batted .250 in his assessment of the #7 train, which doesn’t exactly going to get him into the Subway Description Hall of Fame.  It did, however, make him look like a complete idiot.

In fact, I had a little bit of a bumpy experience aboard the #7 the middle of Queens.  There was construction on my track, so they made everybody get out of the train and switch over to another train.  I had to improvise in Queens!  But the woman from the Transit Authority was very kind and helpful (in that unemotional New York way) in saying that yes, the train that was going to Main Street/Flushing was also going to Shea Stadium.  I even heard her start saying “this way to Shea Stadium” over her bullhorn after I left her.  That was my good deed for the folks going to the game–getting the Transit woman to say “Shea Stadium” for them.

If you’re going to attend a baseball game in New York, especially at Shea, be certain to dramatically overeat prior to your arrival at the ballpark.  “I’ll just pick up lunch at the ballpark” is a bad idea.  The concession stands are overpriced even by New York standards, and the food is quite typical.  There are cheap delis and pizzerias near wherever you’re staying.  There are corner markets that can sell you food that I bet you can easily sneak in.  Do that–don’t eat at the park.  At Shea, it won’t be long before loan offices open next to the concession stands so that you can talk to someone about whether you can afford a slice of pizza and a Coke.

The stadium itself is in the middle of the pack of stadiums, I’d say…charming, but not really special.  The fans weren’t so choked with anger as their counterparts in the Bronx.  I sat next to a family who were enjoying the game and even permitting their kids to root for Sammy Sosa when he was at bat, provided they rooted for the Mets the rest of the time.  It was kids’ day, so I got to watch the Mets play wiffle ball with their kids.  Its amazing how early you can tell a kid is going to be an athlete, as so many of these kids clearly take after their fathers.

All in all, it was a nice afternoon at a good-looking and, thanks to the #7, easily-accessible ballpark.  There’s nothing wrong with this ballpark.  Nothing special about it either, except for everything that’s already special about an afternoon watching baseball–and in the end, that’s enough.

BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:

Sammy Sosa homers.  I saw him take the little hop.

Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura homer.  All the runs come on solo homers.

Steve Trachsel pitches very well, but takes the loss to drop to 3-14.  Ouch.