To those Mets fans frustrated enough to want Shea Stadium blown up to
rid the franchise of the stench of another September collapse, you're
going to be disappointed.
The stadium will be torn down slowly and meticulously, without the help of any dynamite.
"It will be dismantled," said Dave Howard, executive vice president of
business operations. "There won't be an implosion and there won't be
any wrecking balls. It will sort of be strategic cutting and
dismantling section by section."
That process is going to begin in less than two weeks, Howard said, and it's something the Mets have been quickly preparing for.
For starters, Tuesday was the first day not a single Mets employee
reported to work at Shea Stadium. Everyone with the Mets, from the
general manager to the switchboard operator, has now officially been
moved to Citi Field.
The transition process actually began two weeks ago, Howard said. By
the time the Mets' final homestand at Shea began, most employees
already were working out of their offices inside Citi Field.
The only workers who remained at Shea during the final regular-season
games, he said, were those who worked in the ticket office and stadium
operations. That's only because their jobs required them to be there.
Now that the Mets are out of Shea, Howard said they have 15 days from
the final game to clear the stadium of everything they want to save ...
"It's being prepped for demolition," Howard said. "We're pulling out
all salvageable stuff and memorabilia items. It's a very active site
right, with regards to both the Mets and the Parks Department."
That means everything that is for sale or has been bought, from the
seats to the dugouts to the foul poles, are currently being removed. In
a matter of days the stadium will be barren.
Then comes the demolition and pretty soon after that you will start to
notice a difference as you drive by on the Grand Central Parkway.
"It will be gradual," Howard said. "The goal is to have it down by
Opening Day next year for Citi Field, which is April 13. That will be a
challenge, and it will be dependent on a lot of things, including what
the weather is like this winter. But that's the goal."
As Howard spoke, he said he was looking out his office window onto the
crews of workers on the new playing field. The irrigation system is
being installed and the sod is expected to be down by the end of
October, just in time to set in before the winter frost hits. He thinks
more than 90 percent of the seats are now in place.
For Mets fans already looking ahead to next year, the vision of an
almost-finished Citi Field will likely bring warm feelings of a new
"It was very interesting to move over here while the season was still
going on at Shea because we would go back over for games during the
final homestand, and you definitely see Shea Stadium in different
eyes," Howard said. "Even for just a couple of days. The quantitative
difference is exponential."
One of the benefits of section Loge13 was its proximity for many years to Casey's Pub. Besides a better food selection, Casey's also had better beer available and on tap too. Plus there were TV's in Casey's...and heat on those wicked cold nights.
Casey's was shut down many seasons ago (allegedly due to an underage drinker getting busted). Casey's was shut down and the staff moved up to the Grill Room up near the Mets Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, roving Loge13 reporter Ron Hunt took some final footage of one of Shea Stadium's best little secrets:
The closing ceremony for Shea Stadium was a touching affair but the timing could not have been any worse. The crowd was angry and confused. Did our season really just end?
To the Brewers?
Thanks to the Marlins?
Can they open up the beer stands one last time?
And because the 2008 Mets couldn't deliver, Shea Stadium had to pay the ultimate price. There would be no playoff bunting adorning Shea's weary facade this fall. No postseason magic for our cherished ballpark. The construction crews were backing up the trucks and demolition time was nigh. We just had time for one quick farewell.
How bad was the mood? Even Mr. Met got some boos when he pulled down the final number of games left:
But most of the boo's were for Citi Field, whose logo was the last thing revealed under the Shea Stadium final game countdown. Perhaps fans are now starting to get it.
The Mets did a great job bringing out players from their history, not just the obvious (Seaver, Piazza, Willie Mays) but also the true fan gems (Felix Milan, Jerry Koosman, Doug Flynn et al). We got a nice charge seeing Dave Kingman himself trot out from right field. And of course, #33 Ron Hunt was on hand and I was sitting next to the biggest Ron Hunt fan in the stadium, no doubt.
It was also cool that some non-players got their kudos, including longtime groundskeeper Pete Flynn, the family of Tug McGraw, Gil Hodges' widow, Joy Murphy and Ralph Kiner.
And it was moving to see Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden back at Shea Stadium and to see the Shea crowd respond so warmly to them. Here is the ovation they both received:
Doc and Straw were the icons of my youth. They were pre-ordained for the Hall of Fame before they were ever assigned a number. We all know how that tale ended. In some ways, the Doc and Straw story is the story of Shea Stadium. So much
promise. So many memories but in the end, they left us wanting just a
bit more. But no matter what the imperfection, you can't help but love them, forgiving each fault along the way.
At the ceremony's conclusion, each returning Met player lined up on the first and third base side. They then all proceeded to touch home
plate one last time. Finally, Tom Seaver took the mound. He waved to the crowd and then in a classy show of respect, he pointed out to the retired #14 of his manager, and saluted. (In an unclassy move, the Mets have sold that #14 to some anonymous bidder. Ah tradition).
out from Shea Stadium was emotional. We left by Gate A where some Met players
were being escorted out (Tim Teufel, Strawberry). I paused for a second
before crossing from the painted white cement of Shea to the gray
sidewalk outside her walls. Now I was gone from Shea Stadium for the last time.
No more annual reunions with the Loge13 gang. No more blue and orange
seats. No more "Wait till next year" for Shea. It's done.
to the train, I asked my Dad how he felt. He was sad, he admitted, and
also more than a little angry at how the Mets have treated us. season ticket holders. He nailed it. As fans, as longtime ticket holders, as lovers of Shea and baseball history - Sunday had no positive side to it.
I've been trying to explain to folks how I feel today about the whole thing. I think I figured it out. Did you ever go on a family vacation, an annual sojourn that you took with your parents, your siblings, cousins or friends? Maybe you went to the beach, or camping in the woods or to some fantasy park where you walk around wearing rodent ears. Whatever the destination, the outcome was the same - your head and heart were filled with sweet memories of a relaxed time with people you cared about, doing something fun.
That's what Shea Stadium was like for us 25-30 times a year. Each ticket to Loge13 was like a family vacation, where we gathered to talk, trade jokes, catch up on each other's lives and occasionally watch a baseball game.
Eventually the vacations end and all you have are those memories. But the first day back from that last trip can be a rough one.
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