Yesterday was circled on my calendar for many weeks, the date of Saturday August 23rd, 2008 would be the last time I ever step foot on my most sacred and hallowed ground: Shea Stadium. With my upcoming trip to Mt. Everest taking taking me away for all of September and the playoffs no guarantee (and my crazy travel schedule to Europe in October for work), this would be my last visit to Shea Stadium in my life. I estimate that I have been to Shea almost 1,000 times, my estimates:
1977-1981: (year of the strike): Approximately 5 games a year (including Jets games): 25 visits
1982-1987: (a boy's prime baseball years, I was 10-15 and lived 2.5 miles away from Shea): Approximately 25 games a year: 150 visits
1988-1994: Employee of New York Mets/Harry M. Stevens as a Stadium Vendor: Approximately 80 events a year (games, employee parties, religious ceremonies, concerts, playoffs): 560 visits
1995: No Visits (Boycotting the strike of 1994)
1996-2008: Average of 6 games a year: 78 visits
Ok that is approximately 813 times. But when I was a kid Shea would open up to the public in the winter and you could go sleigh riding and cross country skiing for free. I would often go with my dad or best friend Billy. As an adult I would also run the NY Road Runners "Run to Home Plate" (with the Tank) 5K run. So Let's say 850. I round up, 1,000 sounds better.
My Grandfather took me to my first Mets game on Memorial Day, 1977-May 30th for a double header against the Montreal Expos. The Mets lost both games (game 2 box score). My dad took me to my first Jets game at Shea Nov 23rd, 1980, a 31-28 OT win over the Houston Oilers. (And we sat next to a bunch of Oilers fans and they bought me a Jets hat to shut me up! I was always loud and annoying.)
Yesterday got off to a bad start. Kathleen had no idea where our tickets were! We had to go on StubHub and get tickets last minute. We got to Shea on time only to find out that a water bottle leaked in Kathleen's pocketbook and killed her iPod and such. Not a good omen. I felt a loss in my bones, I have witnessed far more losses (mostly from 1977-1983) than wins as a fan in the early years. (Come on my first visit was a double header loss!)
The Mets lost 8-3 last night. It was an ok game, the game was fast paced and the Mets did not give up, making it interesting in the bottom of the 8th inning. I kept telling stories of vending, going to games in 1986, what sections I worked during the Rolling Stones concerts.
Shea holds many memories for me like watching the Jets with my Dad and watching the Mets with my late Grandfather. It was also the venue of my first job, a job that made me rebel against "normal" jobs and lead to a life of enterpreunship. I witnessed some amazing playoff games in 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000, and 2006. Even saw some great Jet games (some great come from behind games with Richard Todd!). I always go between Game 6 and the 1980 US Hockey game vs USSR as the best sporting event of my life.Game 6 is forever part of my life and Endy's catch in 2006 (the other (bad) Game 6) is something I will tell my grandchildren about.
As a lifelong Mets fan, I have wanted to tear the place down since about 1992, once the new stadiums started going up. I got my dream a few years ago with the agreement to build CitiField.The new place looks great, it will make a great home for the Mets. I can't wait to go to a few games there.
At 9:54 pm, I looked at my cell phone for the time, paused, and then walked over the threshold at Gate C, exiting the stadium for my very last time. Kathleen just rolled her eyes, but a huge chapter of my life just closed.
So long and thanks for the memories. We'll miss you William A. Shea Municipal Stadium.
Posted by Steve (with a tear in my eye) in New York