— Days Without Shea —

Citi Field and Shea Stadium
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. Friday's.

[August 29, 2008 5:39 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Bobster said

I know Shea is a dear, old friend, and I'll probably shed a tear for her when the wrecking ball descends. But believe me, 10 minutes after you attend your first game at Citi Field, you'll be thinking, "Damn, wish they'd built this place years ago."

I attended several games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and it was a treat. Since Shea was built to be a multi-use stadium for football as well as baseball, it's not ideal for either. The seats tend to be pretty far from the field. Citi Field was built specifically for baseball. I don't think anyone who ever sat in the upper deck at Shea felt close to the action. And that's a LOT of seats up there!

Now, the issue of ticket prices is an entirely different issue, which I won't get into. But just comparing ballparks, Shea was a Clydesdale and Citi Field will be Secretariat.

[February 22, 2009 6:51 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Rob said

With the meltdown of citibank I say the new park should be named Kranepool Field. Let's start a petition!

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