Jack Flynn - I Miss Shea Stadium


It’s easy for Mets fans of a certain age to say, “I miss Shea Stadium.” I know this, because I am one of those fans.

My first visit to Shea was in 1986. (It did not go well for the home team, but at least Darryl Strawberry hit a home run that night.) By conservative estimate, I ended up making at least another 250 trips to Shea before the final pitch was thrown in 2008. Looking back, the only place I visited more often than Shea in my teenage years was Star Billiards on Austin Street – and that’s only because I didn’t have to buy a ticket to get into a pool hall!

On Sunday night, I said those words again, this time to a high school friend who has made many of the aforementioned 250 trips with me. We both still live in Queens, less than five miles away from each other, but we’ve gone to Citi Field together no more than five times since the building opened nearly a decade ago. But the Mets were playing Washington on national TV, and tickets were 65% off thanks to a clever promotion, and so it seemed like a good idea to get two decent seats and try to recapture a piece of our youth.

It was cold that night, as Sunday nights in April tend to be in Queens. (It didn’t help that we chose to spend an hour in the parking lot beforehand downing Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in order to minimize the number of $10 beers we would otherwise purchase in the stadium.) No matter how many times I’ve visited the Flushing Bay area over the years, I always seem to under-dress for the occasion. By the time we were ready to enter the stadium, I was wondering how I was going to make it through nine innings while hypothermia was setting in.

As soon as we walked in the door, I had to buy a Mets ball cap in an attempt to keep my newly-shaved head warm. By the time we got to our seats in Section 106, Daniel Murphy had already hit a grand slam and Max Scherzer was tasked with protecting a four-run lead.

In the old days, I would’ve been staring down the barrel of a miserable 2 ½ hours, sitting in my seat and trying in vain to keep warm as the Mets marched far too slowly toward what ended up being a disappointing 6-3 loss. Shea offered very few alternatives to the action on the field – and none of them involved increasing body temperature while doing so.

Citi Field, however, has options. We chose the Foxwoods Club, which had access to food, drink, TVs and – most importantly – heat. It was not the ideal way of doing things; in retrospect, it was like spending a $25 cover charge to watch the ballgame on TV. But in the old days, given the choice between persistent shivering and giving up entirely on the experience, Sunday night was one of those times I would’ve chose the latter.

So yeah, I still miss Shea Stadium. But on a cold Sunday night in April, I can wrap Citi Field in a much warmer embrace.


Thomas Brennan said...

I went to one April game ever, because I hate sitting in the cold (and certainly, Latin ballplayers have to hate playing night games in April).

My April visit was a doubleheader in the 1960's, when the Braves had Aaron, Rico Carty and other boppers. The Mets lost two, but both teams scored a lot, so it was fun - but cold.

Most of my Shea games in the 1960s were with tickets bought by Bordens milk coupons. My parents had 8 kids so we got a lot of milk coupons FAST. Good times from dizzying heights. Agee hitting one into the upper deck was a titanic feat.

You miss Shea Stadium - I miss a winning Mets team.

Mack Ade said...

I still miss the smell of the urine in the elevators...

Hobie said...

2 April games that I remember, both day games.

1962, Polo Grounds (either I played hooky or it was Easter Vacation): 11 innings, Mets tied it in the bottom of the 9th (Gus Bell HR) lost it in the 11th to the Colt 45's.

1965, don't remember opponent or outcome, but do remember a triple play: Johnny Lewis-to-Cannizaro-to McMillian.

None since, LOL.

Mack's Mets © 2012