Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All-Stars, baseball, nostalgia, and a little bit of regret.

I don't get it – that other team doesn't even have David Wright.
A press conference was held this morning at NYC's City Hall to announce that the 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field.  This is pretty exciting to me as a life-long Mets fan who gets exhausted watching everyone in the free world tie themselves in knots with adoration for that other NY baseball team who shall remain nameless.

This means that next July, all of baseball will be abuzz about my team for a change.  For this reason I'm extra glad that the Wilpons (Worst.  Owners.  Ever.) have listened to fan rage and made changes to City Field in the past couple of years to make it a real Mets park instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers memorial it was when it first went up.  Do I wish it was called Bob Murphy Stadium?  Sure.  Do I think they should retire the numbers of guys like Carter, Hernandez, and Piazza and honor some of the team's more recent history?  Absolutely.  But I like seeing the old, battered Home Run Apple outside the main gate, and I like that they built a Mets Hall of Fame inside the stadium.  And as sentimental as I remain about Shea Stadium, I do like seeing home games in a place that isn't a total dump.

But I am sentimental.  Most baseball fans are, for varying reasons.  Mine has mostly to do with my dad.

My Dad
My dad took me to my first baseball game when I was 12 years old.  It was my present for graduating elementary school on the Honor Roll.  This was a big deal, because usually it was my mom who took us places – not because my dad wasn't involved with us, but he worked a lot and was active in the volunteer fire department, so most of our social calendar was handled by my mom. 

But this time it was just me and Dad and the Mets.  I borrowed my friend Jessica's jersey since I didn't have my own.  It was hot and sunny, and the Mets lost horribly to the St. Louis Cardinals, but I didn't care.  I got to see Kevin Elster hit a 2-run home run (and see that apple rise in person!), ad Doc Gooden broke his wrist.  The guys behind us got kicked out for getting drunk and mooning the crowd.  It was awesome.

That was also the day I realized for the first time just how much affection my dad expresses through food.  There is no greater tragedy to my father than someone not having enough to eat.  He constantly worries for whether his daughters are well-fed, and at that game I think he literally bought me every kind of food that walked by in a vendor's hands.  I ate pretzels and hot dogs and ice cream and had sips of my dad's beer.  I had mustard on a hot dog for the first time.  I probably gained five pounds in three hours.

That day is one of my favorite memories of my childhood and of my dad.  And in a weird bit of symmetry, the Citi Field All-Star Game is tentatively scheduled to take place on his 82nd birthday.  My first thought was, "Oh wow, I have to save up so I can take Dad to the game!"  Because I'd love to repay him for that experience, and for giving me a love of baseball.

But my dad isn't in great health, so it probably isn't a realistic dream.  It's too bad.  He still smiles when I talk about how the Mets did last night when I see him.  He still watches the games.  I think if he were up to it, he'd have a lot of fun.

A friend of mine suggested I make a little mini-All Star Game for him at home – get vendor-type food, a few cheesy souvenir cups and/or foam fingers, and watch the game with him at home.  That might be a good idea.

Whether I get to watch the game with my dad or not, I'm definitely looking forward to a week's worth of baseball festivities focused on my team.  I hope David Wright enters the Home Run Derby again.  I hope the National League wins, and that the World Series is at Citi Field too.  And I hope one way or another I get to experience all that fun with the man who made me the fan I am today. 

Mayor Bloomberg and the Mets ownership announcing the 2013 All Star Game with Mr. Met.

1 comment:

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