Nothing was ever better than hearing Jane Jarvis play Meet The Mets on the Thomas Organ.
Been reading and hearing a lot of stories about this year being the 50th anniversary of the opening of Shea Stadium and the World’s Fair returning to NYC at Flushing Meadow Park, right next door to the new modern home of the Mets. That’s all great and marvelous but the most jarring thing to me with all this celebrating is it’s also the 50th anniversary of the first time I attended a Mets game.
JESUS H CHRIST!!!!!!! 50 YEARS AGO I ATTENDED MY FIRST METS GAME!!!!! WOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!
Sorry for screaming but it’s just sinking in that a half century ago I became a full-fledged Mets fans. Since the age of 6, I’ve called myself a True to the Orange and Blue Mets fan. Give me a moment here……………………………ok let me continue.
I remember the game was a Saturday and the Mets were playing the Cardinals. I remember my bother (God rest his soul) got tickets from his job. We sat in a Field Box Seat and the ticket was a paper ticket with Mr. Met on the front. I remember the vendors walking through the Stadium and also outside the Stadium and how happy I was when my brother bought me a Mr. Met pin and an Ed Kranepool pin that a little bat and ball on a chain with a ribbon, it looked like a medal of honor. I remember the awe of seeing a hot dog vendor come to our seats and take the hot dog out of section of his carrier, place it in the bun and then hand it to me. WOHA! Baseball games are great.
I was hooked. The atmosphere, Jane Jarvis playing her Thomas organ between innings, the big scoreboard in centerfield, and the fans walking around with banners made from bed sheets, sunshine and baseball.
At 6 I was just learning how to play the game, mastering the step and throw and keeping my eye on the ball. I just sat there studying how players were throwing the ball, standing in the batter’s box and getting in position to make plays in the field. I wasn’t just here to eat hot dogs and take the sun, no, I was there to study how to play baseball.
When the game was over, I hounded my brother to tell me when we were coming back here again. This was love at first sight. I was hooked, the Mets were my team.
Next game I went to that season was a Friday night game against the San Francisco Giants. At 6 years old I had no idea about the history of the Giants and Dodgers. I do remember there were a lot of people at the game and my father joined us, meeting my brother and me at Times Square from work. On the 7 train my dad gave me a history lesson on the Giants, his team and how they left NY and how the Mets replaced them. There was still some Giants fan left in the old man. As much as I was going to see my Mets, he was going to see what used to be “his Giants”.
Again I don’t remember a lot about the game expect looking at the lights and wishing the school yard at P.S. 105 had the same lighting system so we could play when it was dark. I do remember the roving Dixie land band that paraded around the ball park. It was great to see and hear them in person as back then the games were on WOR Ch.9 and when there was a pitching change there was no going to a commercial, the cameras would pan the stands of Shea showing the fans having the time of their lives as Lindsay Nelson explained how you can get tickets and join the fun at Shea Stadium.
Going home we treated ourselves as therewere buses that went back to Bay Ridge for a couple of bucks a person so my dad splurged on the bus fare. We picked up the Giants history lesson on the way home. I heard about Giants manager Alvin Dark and how great a shortstop he was. I heard about Willie Mays and Monte Irvin. I heard about Bobby Thompson and “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, Mel Ott and my dad’s favorite Giant, King Carl Hubble.
Dad still hadn’t shaken off his fandom for the Giants, the Mets were growing on him but it’s got to be hard to be a fan of a team that you’ve rooted for especially when you are an immigrant to this country and knowing that your first assimilation to your new country was embracing baseball and rooting for the New York Giants.
I drive my wife nuts when we go to a Mets game. I have to be there when the gates open, I have to have a hot dog (yes honey I know I’m not supposed to eat them) I have to buy a souvenir, I cheer when the Mets win and I pout when they lose. When it comes to the Mets, I’m still the six year old that couldn’t wait to go to Shea Stadium and I hope I never grow up.