Apr 16

Today In Mets’ History: Shea Stadium Christened

It was all ceremony for the Mets on this day in 1964 when Bill Shea, credited for bringing National League baseball back to New York, christened Shea Stadium.

Shea poured bottles of Holy Water from the Gowanus Canal, which passes near the former sited of Ebbets Field, home of the Dodgers, and the Harlem River, which passes in front of the former sithyof the Polo Grounds, home of the Giants. The Mets also played in the Polo Grounds in the first two years of their existence.

The Mets always honored their combined Dodgers-Giants heritages beginning with their team jersey colors of Dodger blue and Giant orange. Those colors were also incorporated at Shea Stadium with blue outfield walls – most teams used black or green – and the only team in the majors to have orange foul poles.

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Apr 14

Mets Fans Show Passion; Bail Out Franchise In Doing So

Mets manager Terry Collins spoke with passion Wednesday – misguided as it was – and three fans of the franchise spoke with passion today, and backed it up with their checkbooks. And doing so perhaps saved the team further embarrassment over the Mike Piazza jersey fiasco.

piazza-jersey2Mets fans don’t always get the credit they deserve for their passion of their team, but Anthony Scaramucci, Tony Lauto and a third business partner proved that when they combined to reach an agreement in principle to purchase Piazza’s game-worn jersey worn in the first post 9-11 game for $365,000.

For the record, the major league minimum is $507,500, the cost of a reserve infielder. This is something the Wilpons could have done by themselves. Or David Wright. Or Matt Harvey. Or hell, even Piazza could have coughed up the money.

Such celebrity Mets fans like Jerry Seinfeld or Kevin James could have ponied up the bucks to show their colors. By far, the coolest thing would have been for today’s Mets’ players to pass the hat in the clubhouse.

Considering the cost, I wouldn’t consider these guys typical Mets fans, because, after all, you couldn’t recognize them if you passed them on the street.

But, they did what most of us would have wanted to do if we had the money. They backed up their passion in other ways than calling up talk-radio and saying, “I’m Tony from Queens, first time, long time.”Scaramucci told The Post the jersey will make the rounds at Citi Field, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Its final destination is not known, although it is presumed to will be In the Mets Museum at Citi Field.

Scaramucci told The Post the jersey will make the rounds at Citi Field, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Its final destination is not known, although it is presumed to will be In the Mets Museum at Citi Field.

Their love for the Mets is only one reason for wanting to do this.

“We had too many friends die in those buildings to let that jersey go anywhere else,” Scaramucci, founder of Skybridge Capital, told The Post. “Tony and I wanted to make sure that jersey stays in New York. We talked to Mike, he’s happy. We talked to [Mike’s father,] Vince [Piazza], he’s happy.”

The Mets hosted the first professional sporting event following the terrorist attacks, when the Braves came in on Sept. 21, 2001. There were emotional pre-game ceremonies, but it was a listless crowd for much of the night until Piazza’s game-winning homer off Steve Karsay.

It is arguably one of the most memorable home runs in franchise history.

“What Mike did on that night was something we’ll all never forget and what it symbolizes,” Scaramucci said. “This jersey represents so much. There is tremendous artistic symbolism to this thing. This is about picking yourself up, no matter what happens in life, and going back into life and hitting home runs.”

Reportedly, the Mets sold the jersey in a private sale several years ago, when the Wilpons were in financial distress following the Madoff scandal. The Mets attempted to buy back the jersey after it became known the new owner was going to put the jersey for sale at Goldin Auctions, but The Post reported they backed out once the price reached $90,000.

It’s embarrassing the Mets:  1) sold the jersey in the first place, 2) dropped out of the initial bidding when the on-line price reached a paltry $90,00, and 3) never told Goldin they would beat the highest bid at auction.

The Mets should be significantly embarrassed this happened because they took for granted and didn’t appreciate their own history and underestimated the passion of their fan base.

The Mets have been around for half as long as the Yankees, so they can’t match them in championships, Hall of Famers or retired jerseys, but their history is rich to their fanbase. There have been too many times when ownership underestimated the fans and this is the most recent.

If nothing else, let us hope this fiasco sent a message ownership and management will be more cognizant of its fans, many of us who long followed the team ahead of the bandwagon jumpers who leaped on last year.

This was the right thing to do, so kudos to Scaramucci, Tony Lauto and their partner. They deserve a salute from us.

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Jan 25

Mets To Retire Piazza’s No. 31

Falling under the category – “It’s About Time” – the Mets announced this afternoon they will retire Mike Piazza‘s No. 31 as part of a ceremonial weekend, July 29-31. Piazza, of course, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer.

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

The weekend includes:

Friday, July 29, 7:10 p.m.: All fans receive a Piazza replica jersey.

Saturday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.: On-field retirement ceremony.

Sunday, July 31,1:10 p.m.: First 15,000 fans receive Piazza bobblehead doll.

“It is such a tremendous honor to have my number retired alongside the great Tom Seaver,” Piazza said in a statement released by the team. “My time as a Met was truly special and I want to thank Fred (Wilpon), Saul (Katz)  and Jeff (Wilpon) and the entire organization for this incredible gesture.”

During his parts of eight seasons in New York, Piazza hit .296, with 220 homers and 655 RBI. He twice led them to the NLCS and to the 2000 World Series.

Piazza will become the fourth Met to have his number retired, joining Seaver (41), Gil Hodges (14) and Casey Stengel (37). Jackie Robinson‘s No. 42 is retired by every team. No has worn No. 31 since Piazza left the club in 2005.

 

Sep 03

Mets Could Bring New Traditions To Citi Field

I spent Labor Day in Boston, a city steeped in tradition, and somehow over a bowl of clam chowder that got me thinking about the New York Mets.

The Red Sox were home and their game days start outside Fenway Park on Yawkey Way with the food vendors and souvenir stores on the other side of the street.

Now this is a stadium built in 1912 within the confines of the city, which accounts for its unique configuration. It also account for people milling around before the gates open. Fenway’s history can’t be replicated anywhere, but the Mets could do a few things to make their game days experience unique before and after games.

Something could be done in that vast area between the subway and Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Yes, I get the idea of the Ebbets Field replica being the grand entrance, but off to the side, funneling into rotunda they could do so much more.

Why not have a row of food vendors to have the fans getting started early? No beer for obvious reasons. There’s always somebody that didn’t get that last hot dog, so why not have some vendors open for an hour after game time? Remember, this is the city that never sleeps.

Let’s go big on the souvenirs with the construction of a small stand-alone shop. For all those shaking their hands lamenting, “I wish I’d gotten that jersey,’’ well here’s their chance.

There could be unique vendors other than jersey’s and hats.

Topps is a Mets’ sponsor; so let’s have the company open a booth to sell baseball cards of that season and sets from previous years. But, if their pricing is $800 for the 1962 set, well, that defeats the fun purpose. But, couldn’t the company make far cheaper replica sets? People would still buy them, just not the fanatical collectors.

How about a booth for bobble head dolls? Let’s go big and include bobble head dolls for players from other teams. If there’s coin involved for the other teams and sponsors of their dolls, then it’s possible.

There could be a Mets ticket booth for future sales, or if not, keep the one at Citi Field open after the games. If you’re thinking baseball, and the Mets just won a tight one, then you might be thinking of when’s the next time you’ll come back.

Keep them thinking baseball before and after games.

How about one of those carnival games where your speed gets timed on a radar gun?

Of course, that day’s line-up would be posted everywhere you look. However, let’s get away from today for a moment and get into Mets’ history and tradition.

Let’s do something along the nature of clinics and autograph booth with retired players. Or maybe an outdoor theatre featuring highlights. The Mets could easily make a 15-minute short film that could run on a loop.

It might cost the club something to bring the players in. I’d like for something every day to make each game day special, but if not, perhaps once or twice a homestand. Just make it more often than SNY brings in Ralph Kiner.

As far as present day players are concerned, they can sign balls, cards and photos for the club to sell. But, of course, that likely might have to come after approval with the Players Association. But, what if the proceeds from player’s autographs alone were to go to charity. Perhaps a “charity of the day.’’

There could be autographs from retired players with the proceeds going to BAT, an organization that helps players down on their luck.

The Mets are as giving as any sports team to groups in their city. But, here something that separates them from the Yankees, Giants and Rangers.

Of course, the autographs would have to be written in such a way as to deter collectors. Perhaps, if they were to be stamped, “Have a great day at Citi Field,’’ with the autograph underneath, that might work.

On special days, say Mother’s Day, the players – save that day’s starting pitcher – could be at the entrances giving roses to women entering the park. The Orioles did it one year with rave reviews, except for Randy Myers who refused to participate.

Maybe some of these ideas would work. Maybe some won’t, but the could add some juice to Citi Field gamedays.

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Mar 10

Mets Honor Bill Parcells

Mets honored Bill Parcells before today’s game against St. Louis with an autographed No. 13 jersey (for the year of his induction into the Hall of Fame).

Bill Parcells and Terry Collins (Mets)

Bill Parcells and Terry Collins (Mets)

I met Parcells several years ago when I was advancing a Browns-Giants game for a Cleveland paper. Parcells seemed pleasant at the press conference, even thought I introduced myself as a Cleveland writer.

An hour later I was sitting in an end zone seat talking to a Giants writer while watching practice in the Meadowlands.

There was a shrill whistle. There are always whistles at football practices so I didn’t pay it any attention.

Then I heard this voice shouting, “Cleveland, Cleveland).’’

I looked up to see Parcells at about the 40. He was walking and waving his arm while screaming, “Cleveland, Cleveland, get out of here.’’

I had just been kicked out of a Giants practice. Yet, another brush with greatness.