Monday, July 21, 2008

Shea Goodbye - Part Two

It's been quite a few months since I did my second segment of my Shea Goodbye series, but I was waiting for a good day off, and well, the Mets haven't had one of those in a while (unless you count All-Star Break, but I boycotted the All-Star Game, so there). Today's installment focuses on the seats I had with Mr. E from 2001 through 2004, in section 22, Row B, seats 1 & 2.

It's funny how much I remember about these seats. I remember going to the Saturday games with Mr. E, and those particular years we had the seats, well let's just say the Mets way of play left a LOT to be desired. Hello, Mo Vaughan, Robbie Alomar, Shawn Estes, Jeff D'Amico, heck, Art Howe was even manager when I sat there. I started in the Bobby V years, however. Anyway, my dad and I were still driving to the stadium at that time, since there was plenty of parking still left at Shea those days. We'd get to the stadium very early, and I'd walk around.
That's something I miss -- just taking the time to walk around the stadium. I go to so many games now, I guess that I'm a bit jaded with going to games, I'm just content going straight to my seats (not to mention, I usually get there right when the first pitch is thrown).
I also remembered the very unrestrained security back then -- we had these seats also pre-9/11, and we could just basically walk right in -- THEN they would do the bag checks. And even then, random. Don't tell anyone, but Uncle Gene used to smuggle beer into the stadium (who didn't???) -- Aunt Melissa had a knack of talking anyone out of checking his bags.

Anyway, I digress. One of the things I think that Shea lacks is the variety in the right field food court in Field Level. Back when I used to come strictly on Saturdays, there was this Spud n' Bud stand that you could get fully loaded baked potatoes and chicken fingers that were better than what you get these days. I also vaguely remember them selling donuts at the freaking Dunkin Donut stand (I think the most glamorous you can get now is maybe iced coffee, and even that I'm not sure of). I know Mr. E for a fact got sushi there one time. Now you can only get it if you are a field level ticket holder. My, how things have changed.
Here is our view of the field once you got to our seats.

These seats will always hold a special place in my heart for more than one reason. Well, for one, it started a new tradition with my dad and I. Mr. E and I always went to Mets games together prior to this, but this guaranteed several games with us during the year. Although the Mets never made the playoffs during that run, we initially bought the package in case the Mets made the playoffs.

Well, they never did make the playoffs, but the seats were not for naught. In those days, another reason why these seats were so special was that I made some of my critical Summer Family memories in those years. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting Woodside Frank, Tommy and Kim, who sat a few rows in the back of us those years. In turn, I used to go into Woodside quite a bit and had a bunch of new pals. Not to mention, we had some turnover those years, but the true Orange & Blue bleeders still came out. This is where we also met Roger and the Bensonhurst contingent, Richie and his yee-haws, and the father and son team who sat next to us in seats 3 & 4, Mike and Dave.

As much as I enjoy going to Mets games when they have a good team, I will never give up my memories of the years when they were bad. See, that's when the true fans come out. You can go over your fond memories, you can make fun of the team, you can talk about the trades you would make, you'd talk about which Yankee was gay. (True story). Seriously, when Mike Piazza had the "I'm not gay" conference, I had to laugh because Mike Piazza was SO not gay. But that Derek Jeet-uh, said Frank, that guy had to be gay.

OK, a little juvenile. But if you had to sit through those years, you'd have done that to entertain yourselves too. This was also the infamous home of "Mike Piazza Dishrag Day," where we got these flimsy-ass Mike Piazza "jerseys" -- to which Frank yelled out, "Hey! I got my Piazza rag here - I'm gonna go home and change my oil wit' it!"

Our Summer Family extended into the winter that year, with Frank and his roommate Brian (who was ironically, a Yankees fan) and us going to Jets games. In one of the last games of the year, we had Mets Winter Cap night. We said, We're gonna wear our Winter Mets Caps to our Winter Mets (aka the Jets) games. Well, we did...but later that night Frank had one of the most used quote in our circles.

As a Mets win seemed futile the night of Winter Cap night, Frank stood up in what I guess to be the 5th or 6th inning and yelled out, "Fuck these guys! I'm goin' the Donovans...who's comin wit' me?" Now, back in the 80s, Mr. E or Uncle Gene MIGHT have said, "I'm goin' to Casey's," which meant the same thing -- this game was toast, and we're going to get our drink on.

I also believe this was the second to last home game of the year, so we knew we wouldn't see these folks again until 2003. save the football games, I saw Frank one last time, at Mets / Yankees Subway Series, which was rained out that day. He was there with Tommy and some other guy from Woodside. Turns out Frankie sold his share to this new dude, and he went instead of Tommy's wife Kim that day.

Bensonhurst Roger and crew were no longer there. Mike and Dave got upgraded, and we never saw them after the first Saturday game of that season. Richie and his buddies were God-knows-where.

Life had changed in Section 22.

Of course, with the several rain outs there were on our Saturday games that year, I don't remember me and Mr. E going to many. But after getting poured on from the roof above at rainy games, we asked for an upgrade.

But I'll never forget Section 22. When my dad had his seats in Loge 22 in the 80s, I remember his kinship with the three Dominic, Rob and Mike. When they saw each other, it was like no time had passed, and they had been friends forever.

When I was 10, I always said I'd have that when I was a "grown up."

Well, being a "grown up" is left to debate for me. But I'll always hold Section 22 in Mezzanine close to my heart.

Now, if you see some big Irish dude who likes the Clash, wears old school Namath jerseys and Mets caps at Donovans, that's Frank. Tell him Taryn said hello. (He never knew me by Coop)


Rickey Henderson said...

Nice write up. As for the Mike Piazza sexuality debacle... well, Rickey would refer you to the infamous Belle & Sebastian song for conclusive evidence.

Julie/ said...

Hahaha, nice reference Rickey...

And that flimsy Piazza "jersey" you speak of still hangs in my closet!

Thanks for sharing the memories.