— Days Without Shea —

Shea Stadium's last day - September 28, 2008
Last night, I wrote up my thoughts on the last game at Shea Stadium. I thought it wise to separate that deflating experience from the final ceremony post.

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.

Shea Stadium closing ceremony - Seotember 28, 2008

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).

Seaver then bounced a last pitch to Mike Piazza and the two Met legends left the field together, exiting in center field.

Walking 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.

Walking 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.

Today is a rough one.

RIP Shea Stadium

End of Shea Stadium - September 28, 2008





[September 29, 2008 7:08 PM]  |  link  |  reply
NatKiller said

My heartfelt condolences to you and your loyal fan base on the passage of Shea Stadium and the demise of the Mets' season (choke - excuse me). Hopefully the transition to the new Stadium will force management to make the necessary changes to fix the team when it debuts next season, and more hopefully CitiBank still will be around so that the stadium retains its sponsor. Look on the bright side though - either the Mets finally will come through for you and restore partial season ticket plans, or else you can use the money you save and double the net worth of your current 401k plan. I just want to know if Art Shamsky was there - no offense, but you are much too old to claim that Doc Goooden and Darryl Strawberry were your boyhood idols. Till next season.

[September 29, 2008 9:03 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Bobster said

Well done, sir.

[September 29, 2008 11:16 PM]  |  link  |  reply
dyhrdmet said

well said. I have the feeling that there are quite a few of us that felt a huge loss leaving on Sunday, and not because of how the team played on the field in the closing days, or just the fact that the offseason is underway. you can get into debates over 'this guy' or 'that team' that called Shea home were not included, but the point and impact of the ceremony was the same. maybe Mr. Met was left alone to unveil the Citi Field logo under the number 1 on the countdown because Fred Wilpon wouldn't dare show his face to the crowd. on the other side of the coin, it looks like only those that watched the players instead of the video on Diamond Vision saw how the players reacted to seeing and being around Doc Gooden. seeing Doc & Daryl embrace would have been a great made-for-TV moment had a TV camera caught it (I have a small grainy shot of them alone together, but never saw it on TV). I'll shed a tear for Shea whenever I hear "In My Life" now, like I did sitting there and watching it from 3 decks above 1st base. The memories will always be there, in everyone's pictures and video clips, scorecards, yearbooks, video highlights, tapes of old games, the DVDs that are available, and the stories...but it just won't be the same. I heard someone say that the place in the Bronx was a 'house', and Shea was a 'home'. We're now homeless.

[September 30, 2008 7:50 AM]  |  link  |  reply
frank said

Wow, Shea is gone, The only stadium most of us knew ( i'm as old as it was ) listen I feel Shea madethe Mets look different on the highlight reels, its was familiar and comfortable, but now we have to move on, Citifield is the new place to be , new friends , new experiences and 40 years from now whi knows. I thing to remember we took Shea to the last day, no it did not work out , but we had a chance once again, i rather have that then 25 games out in August, Mets did a good job this year , better then last , it was fun and sad to see the ICON gone , but we gotta a new one next yr and the story will continue....

[September 30, 2008 9:14 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Kingman said

Dyhrdmet, you are right on. I was watching the players when Doc took the field. Darling came from across the diamond to hug Doc. Strawberry and Keith started play-acting as if they were going to re-enact their famous spring training brawl. Keith went around and took photos of everybody. I wonder if he has a blog...

[September 30, 2008 4:32 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Doug said

I did not get a chance to see any of the games this weekend (except Santana's gem on Saturday, because it was on the CW11), as I was away and not near SNY.

I was told the closing ceremony was nice. But I have to tell you, I am not going to miss Shea Stadium when it gets dismantled later this fall.

What will I miss? I will miss the friends with whom I have spent time with at Shea. I will miss all the Opening Day games I went to. I will miss the annual Saturday tailgate games I used to go to. I will miss the times I spent as a youngster in the then brand new picnic area with the Lions Club. I will miss the conversations I have had with my fellow Tuesday / Friday Plan holders. I will miss heckling those who tried to get a Wave through the backbone of the Mezzanine. Basically, I will miss the time I spent there and the people I was with, some of whom I rarely get to see anymore, more than the ballpark itself. I have those memories. No wrecking ball can take that away.

A high school teacher wrote in my yearbook 20 years ago, "Remember, endings are only new beginnings."

I am looking forward to moving on, and making new memories.

Keep Loge13 dot com going... Maybe you will have to rename it Promenade 403?

Hope springs eternal....

Cheers!
-Doug

[September 30, 2008 5:16 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Kingman said

Thanks, Doug, for all the great comments. I better go register that domain name, just in case...

[September 30, 2008 5:25 PM]  |  link  |  reply
dyhrdmet said

i think you should keep the name loge13.com. it's a tribute to shea stadium and the mets fan experience, the latter of which doesn't really end. should be some real interesting posts on the early days of citi field. and i like the 'kaboom' on the doomsday clock. but how did you know that's how it would end on sunday?

[September 30, 2008 6:47 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Kingman said

We were all set to re-set the Doomsday clock if the Mets provided a stay of execution. Otherwise it was set to expire at 11:59 PM on 9/28. I really thought it was going to be ticking in October.

[September 30, 2008 7:48 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Ron Hunt said

One way or another Loge13.com, like Loge 13 itself, will live forever.

It is our responsibility and duty. This much we know.

[April 3, 2009 4:11 PM]  |  link  |  reply
John said

Does anyone know where I could get a full copy of the Shea Stadium closing ceremonies? I have been waiting to see if one showed up on Ebay, but I have not seen one so far.
Thanks
John


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