Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shea Hello, Shea Goodbye




I had been thinking about taking the girls to Shea Stadium - effectively "home field" for my entire life - before they knock the place down after the current baseball season in favor of the new Citi Field, which has been under construction for the last couple of years and now looms over the outfield wall. Games with my father, and then friends, concerts, so many trips to that 1970s-looking blue and orange behemoth, which could probably have been considered a "dump" on the day it opened, but it was our dump, an oddly-endearing dump, an underdog's dump.

Noticed earlier in the week that the Mets were playing the Braves on Saturday afternoon, so I got Gwen on board and then tapped a connection to secure some great seats - wanted to do it right, for our family to go both in and out on the proper note. It was more for me than for them, of course, the girls know nothing of 1969, or 1986, the Sack Exchange (before the Jets moved to converted swampland in New Jersey), hopes and dreams hanging on the arm of Richard Todd, the Beatles concert their grandparents went to, none of the moments that have brought the place to life. But somewhere along the line I'll be able to point at a book, or at an image on a computer screen, and say, "we took you there, we went there once."

We got lucky with Friday night's rainout, which turned yesterday into a double-header. Ava started saying that baseball was "boring" and demanding to leave around the second inning of the first game - with Santana on the mound, no less - but we managed to make it all the way to the middle of the nightcap by distracting her with a steady supply of peanuts, soft pretzels, popcorn, chicken nuggets, french fries, soft-serve ice cream and Cracker Jacks. We drew the line at neon blue cotton candy.

By the 4th inning of the second game the crowd was getting a little, shall we say, boisterous for little ears, as Ava continued her "I want to go home!" demands, so we got our stuff together and trekked out of the place before things really went off the rails. But not before witnessing a funny and disarming exchange between a fan and a player that seemed perfect for the scene, and for the spirit of Shea.

Our seats were near the Atlanta dugout, and at the end of one of the innings as the players trotted back a typical ballpark loud-mouth in our area shouted out to Braves' Rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, who I guess is wrapping up a bit of a challenging year.

"Hey FRANCOEUR!" the guy yelled. "I had you on my fantasy team, you were TERRIBLE!"

As the player approached the dugout, he surprised everyone by stopping briefly on the top step, looking up in the direction of the heckler, offering a slightly sheepish nod, shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I know."

The guy was stunned to have gotten a reaction, let alone an admission. "It's OK," he finally called out. "I'll pick you again next year."

7 Comments:

Blogger Eve said...

I wasn't expecting that response,...very refreshing. My daughter is the same way at baseball games. If only they would do some sort of Hannah Montana half-time show between innings.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Cactus Jack Splash said...

How much fun, sharing a special place with your girls.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I am not at all surprised Jeff Francoeur reacted like that. He is a very nice young man surrounded by a wonderful family.
- Lynn from Atlanta

11:56 AM  
Anonymous jessica said...

What a wonderful way to incorporate your girls with memories of your childhood. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go to Shea in 2000. I'm from Minnesota, but I've been a Mets fan for 20 years (but still cheer on the Twins for American League action).

And PS - If Santana had to leave Minnesota, I'm glad he got to go to the Mets.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of going to the Big A in Anaheim with my dad. In fact, I actually remember the first game he took me to when I was only 3. Back then my favorite part was always the cracker jacks, but it's those early memories that instilled a lifelong love for the game.

(And I'm looking forward to seeing *my* Angels go all the way again this year.)

1:29 PM  
Blogger Sunflowerfairy said...

I feel the same way about Yankee's Stadium.

Did you read this week's SI? There's a tear-jerker of an article about the closing that had my tough as stone hubby crying like a baby.

I'm glad you got to squeeze in one more memory. :)

8:39 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

We went on vacation to NYC this summer specifically to visit Shea and Yankee Stadium. I'll miss the Homerun Apple!

The Jeff Francoeur exchange is PRICELESS.

Sorry your Mets lost yesterday, I was cheering for them!

11:20 AM  

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