This scene could never happen today, I’m there somewhere in shallow left field. I’ll never forget my wife’s parting words to me when I left for this game “please don’t get arrested”
If there was ever a good time for SNY to air The Good Doctor, the documentary on the career and life of Dwight Gooden, last night was it. After that mess of a so called baseball game the Mets played in Miami earlier in the day, watching and listening to Gooden and his former teammates not only brought back great and not so great memories (the brutal off the field life Doc led) but it showed what the city and what Citi Field could be like if the organization ever got to back to putting winning as priority one.
Back in 1983, Mets fans knew something special was coming. The only real pipeline to the minor league news was the delivery every two weeks of Baseball America. We read about the Jackson Mets in AA and the Tidewater Tides of AAA, were bursting with talent. Darryl Strawberry was the first star to arrive and pound out baseballs over outfield fences, ran like a track star and played a tremendous right field. Keith Hernandez was brought over from the Cardinals as well that season and for the first time in quite a while there was hope in Flushing.
Of course 1984 brought Gooden and also Gary Carter and it brought the Mets as a contender. Mets fans wore their Cub Busters t-shirts to Shea as the Mets fan started to feel good about the team as the revival of the franchise was underway.
1985 was the best Mets season ever that didn’t produce a pennant or World Series winner. It was when for the first time in years; Shea Stadium was the place to be. I was 27 years old in 1985, with shoulder length hair, a fuck you attitude, and a high tolerance to alcohol and partying just like the players on my favorite baseball team. After games we’d head to Rusty’s Restaurant for ribs and more drinks and applaud the players as they turned up there for a night of fun. I’m so happy that cell phone cameras were years away from becoming reality.
Shea Stadium and Rusty’s were our version of social media, that’s where the Mets were, that’s where the Mets fans took the persona of their team. Out of town fans didn’t venture into Shea Stadium. It was a pit. It was dirty and in need of repair. The bathrooms leaked of water and other liquids. It was cramped and everyone drank too much, cursed too much and just raised a lot of holy hell. It was fucking paradise.
My shoulder length hair has been replaced by a clean shaved head. I haven’t had a drink in 16 years sticking mainly to seltzer and lemon or unsweetened ice tea. My idea of partying is any night I’m not snoring on the couch at 9PM. It’s kind of hard to explain what the 1980’s were as a Mets fan to the millennial Mets fan of today, I usually just say “Kid you shoulda been there, we had a ball”