Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-08-10 09:56
by Alex Belth

There are many impartial observers who consider Shea Stadium to be the worst park in the major leagues, but for a lot of New Yorkers, there is something endearing about the dumpiness of the place. It may feel like a municipal recreation center, but there is openness—not only to the structure of the place, but to the atmosphere too—that you won't find at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. It is loose. From the Olay "Jose, Jose, Jose" chants for Jose Reyes, to the organist playing the opening riff from the Violent Femmes classic, "Blister in the Sun," to the post-"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" segue right into "Tarantella," Shea offers a completely different, but equally genuine, slice of New York. I was in Queens last night with my brother, my pal Alan, and Jay Jaffe, for Game Two of Mike Piazza's homecoming. Head on over to Baseball Prospectus (reg. req) where I've got a piece on what went down.

2006-08-10 12:33:59
1.   Chyll Will
I can't register with those sites, but I imagine the piece is as good as your usual observations, which are really on point.

I definitely can identify with the different moods one gets between Shea and Yankee Stadium, and I have to say my favorite stadium moment occured at Shea.

It was right after my new life began; as I was recovering, I sought housing assistance and my girlfriend and I were drawn to a building with a large graffiti mural on the side. We went inside to inquire of their services, and as it turned out they were a new non-profit urban development organization that sought to revitalize the community and the people who resided in it.

Poughkeepsie in 1997 was in a serious transition period after losing much of its tax base with the mass shutdowns of various IBM facilities and defections of manufacturing operations to all points overseas.

Turns out, they couldn't help us with our housing situation, but they asked us to come on a bus trip to a Mets game they were organizing that weekend as special guests. Hell, why not; I needed something to lift me up and though the Mets were not my first choice, I'd never been to Shea before and the trip alone was worth it for me. Besides, unless you're a Royals fan why are you gonna turn down free tickets?

I honestly forgot who they were playing that day (either the Braves or the Reds, as Deion Sanders was playing left and they kept showing video clips of his various misplays in the outfield), but it was a sunny day and the field felt so wide open, yet intimate that you wanted to run out to center and slap the apple when it popped up. My girl and I eventually got up to wander around and explore. While on one of the concourses, we stopped behind a metal mesh for a spontaneous PDA, and then my girl asks me why they have the guard there. naturally, I say with bravado, if someone hits a ball up here (just below the upper deck), no one will get hurt by the hurtling mass of rawhide it has to be in order to reach this far.

Rick Reed, the starting pitcher for the Mets that game, tanked the very next pitch. I'm mesmerized by two things: a.) the pitcher just hit an upper-deck shot, and b.) oh, sh@+, the ball is coming straight for us! WHAM!! Almost on a straight line, the ball slammed into the guard right in front of us. My girlfriend is jumping up and down and I'm torn by how increadibly lucky we were to be standing right in that spot, and that if the that blasted guard wasn't there, I would have had a home run ball on my first visit to Shea, with the added significances percolating all around.

Ahh, if nothing else that moment has remained with me forever, right next to two memorable Yankee Stadium moments. But I'll save THEM for those who like these fractured fairie-tales >;)

2006-08-10 13:47:48
2.   weeping for brunnhilde
1 A beautiful story, Chyll, thanks.

Alex, I suppose there's some contract that prevents you from printing the rest of that piece here, huh?

Of course.

Pity, I'd love to finish it.

I remember loving Shea as a kid in the eighties.

They had banner day where they let all the kids with banners parader through the outfield before or after the game. I remember my friend and I made an exceedingly dorky sign that read: "If it's Gooden-uff for Strawberry [a picture of a strawberry, here], it's Gooden-uff for me and the Mets."

What the hell does that even mean?

But it was fun, no doubt.

I remember seeing Rusty Staub break Dave Philly's record for consecutive pinch hits. (Of course they happened to be playing the Phillies that night. :)

I think the record was 7, and Rusty got up and, as I recall, hit a nice little liner to left center (he was a lefty).

That was fun.

Thanks for conjuring pleasant memories of Shea, Alex.

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