1) I have followed the Mets all my life, but first memories are about 1965, since my dad made me conscious of all baseball then, when I was 4. I know the age because he made sure I understood about the importance of greats like Mays and Koufax and loyalty to your team, ours being Stengel’s Mets.
2) My favorite memory of the Mets, though I was at the 1973 NLCS clincher versus the Reds (going on the field at the end) and Game Seven of the 1986 World Series (only horses on the field), among other great games, was a twi-night doubleheader with my dad against the Dodgers, on August 28, 1971. The Mets won game one, 9-2, Tom Seaver over Claude Osteen. In game two, game tied 1-1 going to the bottom of the ninth, my father leaned over from our seats behind the plate in the Mezz and whispered “Harrelson will make out, Garrett will make out and Jones will hit a homer to win it.” My favorite Met (then and now) was Cleon Jones, who was not a home run hitter. He said it for me only and that few moments of joy and hope of what might happen became a lifetime when Harrelson made out, Garrett made out and Jones hit a homer.
3) My worst Met experience began in the past decade or so, when the number of people going to games to simply complain or boo their own team, while showing little or no respect for the game itself, grew to an unconscionable level. Anyone who is honest understands that the mean-spirited and vicious atmosphere now at Citi Field is unlike the smattering of whiners we once had and just laughed at. You go to enjoy the game, win or lose. Sure, it hurts at times after tough losses, but the degree of unfounded personal attacks I hear at games these days is shocking to me. You can even hear the TV announcers trying at times to politely address this situation.
4) Off the field, I think many players, coaches and the organization itself is very charity oriented, so I wouldn’t be of a mind to change much.
5) The first thing I’d do is retire more numbers, and get more in touch with the Mets National League roots. They obviously lean toward the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the fact is, they represent the New York Giants, too. Amongst the retired numbers I’d add (Koosman 36, McGraw/Franco 45, Hernandez 17, Carter 8, Wilson 1 and Piazza 31), I’d retire Mays’ 24, because no one in National League New York should ever wear 24 again. It doesn’t matter that he only played two years at the end for the Mets, he is about New York, just as sure as the Jackie Robinson rotunda is not about the Dodgers or the Mets, its about National League New York, the only place (Brooklyn or Queens to be precise) where such a monumental breakthrough was possible. Unfortunately, too many people don’t understand the Mets total connection to National League New York (including the owners).
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