A couple nice little tributes to Shea Stadium...
First, the Mets.com site posted a fantastic piece with Ed Kranepool
. The bonus-baby boy wonder shares his great memories of Shea, where he played his whole career.
Besides the baseball moments, Kranepool offers some great rock and roll and wrestling nuggets as well:
Some of Kranepool's fondest memories are ones with the crowd. Just
this year, he took in a concert by Billy Joel, one of the many musical
acts in Shea's history, a list which includes The Beatles and Bruce
Springsteen. Kranepool has also been regaled by friend and former
boxing-champ Chuck Wepner about his Shea Stadium match with wrestling
legend André the Giant in 1976.
The script, which had the French wrestler winning the fight, was almost
compromised after Wepner hit the 7-foot-4, 500-pound André Roussimoff
with a jab, a punch that almost put the Giant on the mat.
"He's holding him up because André was supposed to win the fight,"
Kranepool said, laughing. "If he had knocked him out, there would have
been a riot with all of those wrestling fans."
Kranepool also has some pearls of wisdom about the changing economic face of baseball.
As the Mets won it all in 1969 -- and he personally piqued the public's
interest with a batting average around .300 in the mid-1970s --
Kranepool could man the first-base line and readily scan the bleachers
for rabid supporters. Unlike today's games, where your average
blue-collar types might be priced out of attendance, Kranepool
remembers a Shea Stadium that cut across the Mets' entire fan base.
"The economics have changed where you don't have the true fan that
supports you for 81 games a year. ... We had that," Kranepool said.
"They came out with signs. They came out with banners. They came out
wearing their costumes. They were really proud of the whole existence."
Well said Ed.
Last Spring when Ron Hunt and I made our dramatic network debut on NBC's Shea prime-time spectacular, the show's producer told us about her interview with Kranepool. They went to his house and his basement was a memorabilia wonderland. She said Kranepool was quite nostalgic about Shea and truly sad to see it go.
The NY Observer also has a nice post about Shea Stadium
, and takes a few good stabs at Citi Field along the way.
Citi Field, which will open next spring, will be the home of the New
York Mets baseball team, and is being built next to Shea Stadium, which
it's replacing. Shea, built in 1964, is like Queens itself: an
aesthetic jumble, charmingly uncomfortable and unexpectedly lovable.
The design of Citi Field, though, is strange for a stadium located
in one of the most diverse places on Earth. Citi is being built to look
like Ebbets Field, the storied home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and it
reflects a taste in new baseball stadium design for a retro look
evoking some vague vision of Fifties, apple pie America. It looks like
a set from A League of Their Own. Tourists from the Midwest might like
it, but then they've already got parks like this.
On top of ticket prices, which will rise, and corporate boxes, which
will grow in size and number, Citi Field will replace the vitality and
variety of its home borough with the baseball equivalent of a T.G.I.