Mets Fan

cleon jones

I was eight years old when the Mets started playing baseball in New York City. I was a Red Sox fan already, but grabbed onto this novelty of a team that, like the 1960s themselves and the Project Mercury astronauts, signaled the future to me. The Red Sox were my father’s team, my older brother David’s team, but the Mets were made for me. In 1964, my father drove my mother, two brothers, and me to my “Aunt” Trudy’s house in the Queens section of New York City so that we could take in the World’s Fair. It was an adventure taking the subway from Sunnyside to Flushing Meadows to get to the World’s Fair, and right across the street from the station was the gleaming blue-and-silver Shea Stadium, just opened for the Mets. Between the iconic “Unisphere” enormous globe marking the fairgrounds and shiny Shea, New York was putting out a lot of dazzle and pop. By then, I was collecting baseball cards, which helped me keep up with the Mets players. In those days, there was a limited amount of baseball on TV, so maybe the Mets got their turn on the Game of the Week once or twice a summer. Losing teams are not a big audience draw. It was only in 1969, when the Mets charged from the sports basement to the champions’s tower did they begin to earn some respect nationwide. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Cleon Jones, Tommy Agee, Ron Swoboda, Jerry Grote, Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson—I can still name a bunch of them from the Miracle Mets. In the years since, I’ve followed the Mets with one eye, but nothing as serious as in the ’60s. We don’t have to talk about the 1986 World Series defeat of the Red Sox or the Sox’s defeat of themselves that year. Let’s put that on the shelf, Mookie. So, fast-forward to 2015 and the Mets back in the Series, now down three games to one to the Kansas City Royals, another one of the modern era’s “new” teams. I never connected with the Royals, something too Middle America about the franchise—no offense. Like Shea Stadium, I saw the Royals’s home field from the outside when I was driving across the country in 1983, heading to graduate school in California. It didn’t impress me as much as my first view of blue Shea, which is gone now, of course. I was pulling for the Mets to win last night to even the Series. I went to bed before the eighth inning error by the home-run-king second baseman Murphy. The young pitchers on staff remind me of the 1969 phenoms, but they have not been able to contain the relentless Royals. How many two-strike singles is that crew going to hit? The Mets are in a deep hole now, but they should be good for the next few years if they can keep those young arms in the line-up. I have an older cousin from Lowell who was a Yankees fan, which I thought was astounding when I was about ten years old. He had a Yankees pennant in his bedroom. His heroes were Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle. That’s something I would never have done—inconceivable. But the Mets, yes, I can go there.

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