— Days Without Shea —

Shea Stadium on her last day, September 28, 2008 The day I have dreaded for years arrived September 28, 2008.

The Shea Stadium doomsday clock was right. Today was the last game in our old ballpark.

And of course, Shea would not leave this world without a fight.

We couldn't have the post season wrapped up tight on a balmy Indian summer afternoon. Oh no, we had to go into today tied with the Brewers for the wild card, our already churning emotions further swirled by the fervor of a pennant race. Today could be the end of Shea, the end of the season...or the prelude to a wild card tie breaker, or (with a Cub win) a jaunt into the NLDS and a chance to take my kids to their first playoff game in Shea's last year.

You could say I was stressed.

The weather was as uncooperative as the Phillies. The Sunday forecasts called for sun and mid-70's.. I woke up to heavy cloud cover and steady showers as I headed to the train. Figures.

But you knew this is how Shea would go out - cold and wet and in chaos. Just like April, 1985 when Gary Carter hit his first game winning home run as a Met while we all huddled around heaters in the upper deck bathroom. Just like that blustery game 7 in 1986, an event delayed one day by massive downpours Just like Todd Hundley night when the skies opened up as the Mets honored our new home run catcher king (just before they exiled him to left field for a new king).  Just like countless April and September nights in our Monday/Wednesday/Thursday plans when the only knuckleheads in the stadium were us and the ones in uniform on the field.

Shea was going out gritty and nasty today, just like we always knew she would.

And ultimately the Mets just went out nasty, doing Shea a massive disservice by surrendering to the Marlins 4-2, while the Brewers won 3-1 over the Cubbies.

Just like that the season was over.

And Shea was over.

And my lifetime of memories had lost their mooring - our precious blue and orange concrete horseshoe was gone.

So much happened today that one post probably won't do.  I will save my thoughts on the closing ceremony for later...after I can think straight again.

Today began great. I started at Grand Central a bit after 11 AM. I thought I  might get lucky and catch an old 7 train that the MTA had put back into commission for one more ride to Shea. Instead, as I stood on the Eastbound platform, a set of old subway cars rode by me heading to Times Square, a mix and match of antique red and gray ghosts from the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. Before I could get my camera out the trains were gone, receding into the darkness, now just like Shea.

Here is what the final ride into Shea Stadium looked like on the 7 train:

Outside Shea, the crowds were already swelling at 11:30 AM. I hung out near the Diamond Club offices where some Met legends were already arriving. I got to see Rusty, Bud Harrelson and Ed Charles walk by.

Rusty Staub at Shea Stadium, September 28, 2008

The rains were coming down thick and heavy, so I headed in. I slowly wandered my way up to the Upper Deck, stopping at each section to take some photos. Here was the Mezzanine view of Shea Stadium's soggy field, before game time.

Shea Stadium from Mezzanine 092808

By the time I made the Upper Deck, above gate A,  I could see the red carpet and some of the Met legends coming in from the SNY outdoor studio.

Red Carpet at Shea Stadium, September 28, 2008

I saw Doc Gooden and Seaver walk in together. Also saw Todd Zeile, Teufel, Dykstra and others. Each time a player came in, the corridors of Shea exploded in joy. The rain wasn't washing out the fan frenzy.

The game finally started at 2:00. Oliver Perez did his best to keep us in the game until the 6th. The story of the day (and the weekend): Mets hitters didn't show up. We scored a total of 5 runs against the Marlins in the series. You can't do that and expect to be competitive. Carlos Beltran's 2-run home run to tie the game was electrifying. Sadly, it was the last Met home run in Shea history.

But not the last home run. In the top of the 8th, with the score still tied, Manuel decided to remove Brian Stokes (why?) for Scott Schoenweis. He promptly gave up a home run and the lead, thus securing his name as the answer to the trivia question: "Who lost the last game in Shea history?"

The season ended right there. The Mets could not recover and when the last out was recorded, the 2008 season was finished and Shea Stadium was doomed.

Tomorrow they will begin dismantling Shea Stadium. Someday soon, I will get a refund check from the Mets for the post season tickets not being used this year. Then the denizens of Loge13 will have no more business connection with the New York Mets organization, after 24 years.

It has been an emotional day on many levels. All there is left to say is: thanks for the memories, Shea Stadium. Thanks for the great times at the ballgame, Marv and everyone in Loge13. And thanks to my parents, with whom I shared hundreds of fantastic games at Shea. It's been a big part of our lives and a friend to the family for several generations. You will never be forgotten.

Shea Stadium seats in section Loge 13.

[September 29, 2008 12:26 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Rickhouse said

Nice work.

[September 29, 2008 12:28 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Eli said

My last day at the Stadium was a good one. I was there Sat for Santana's gem, and for that I am thankful. I thought of the days going to Shea with my father for my annual birthday trips, on through the 70's 80's, and 90s. Then after 2002, I started going with my young sons. I got choked up several times yesterday just remembering. Thanks to you Kingman, Bobster, Ron Hunt and to everyone on this site for the memories...and all the fish.

[September 29, 2008 12:36 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Stormy said

As always, great post Kingman.

I was actually lucky enough to ride the vintage subway. Our car was red, so I'm assuming it was an 80's version based on pictures I've seen.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the ceremony.

Being in the UD has it's privileges. I was able to snag some of the streamers that were shot from the roof. I was surprised I wasn't stopped by a MeiGray rep & forced to hand over $500 for it.

So what's in store for loge13.com? Will it live on? (Please say yes...)

[September 29, 2008 1:20 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Bobster said

I was watching at home of course (I live in Hawaii these days) and the last game was almost a microcosm of the Mets' history.

They fell behind, then caught up on an exciting home run. Hopes were running high, and then the inevitable disappointment as they fell behind in the 8th inning.

So in the bottom of the 9th, with two outs and the tying run at the plate, Church launches what looks like a game-tying home run. I let out a big whoop, but then my heart sinks: it's not going to make it. The ball is caught on the warning track, and that's it. The season is over, the stadium is history.

Such is the nature of baseball. As George Will once wrote, baseball is designed to break your heart.

[September 29, 2008 6:45 AM]  |  link  |  reply
BeBopnJazz said

Hey Kingman,

I wanted to thank you for this site and all the great memories you helped me relive through your posts.

Even tho I live far away now, and it will soon be history, Shea will always house some of my happiest days.

I hope you will keep up your posts at the new stadium even tho we all know it will never be that strange yet beautiful place we knew and loved.


[September 29, 2008 9:03 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Freakweed said

I've always been called a lunatic for defending Shea as the greatest stadium in baseball. I found this blog only yesterday and am glad to discover I'm not the only one who thinks the place isn't a dump.

The new stadium will never rock like Shea....it will NEVER be the same. I don't think I will ever see the Mets again. The Wilpons have finally succeeded in permanently alienating me. It's not the franchise of our youth, and it hasn't been for years. Shea was the connection to the magic of the past, and now it's just gonna be a parking lot.

I am personally tired of dollars being the end all to everything. History and heritage should mean something, but it's all slated for demolition instead.

I felt like the ceremony yesterday was perverse. It seemed like I was watching a pre-funeral for a friend who was about to be executed for no good reason at all.

Hopefully in time I will change my mind, but for now I feel like it's over for me. Goodbye Shea = Goodbye Mets.

[September 29, 2008 10:04 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Marv Muller said

Great post Kingman, sums up many of my thoughts too! Since my original hero Ron Hunt was there (a nice treat)and Kingman has exposed me, Ron Hunt's blogging days have ended...along with Shea.

[September 29, 2008 11:00 AM]  |  link  |  reply
mbtn01 said

Nice job. My Shea lifetime came to a crashing end Wednesday night in the soon-to-be-famous "Leadoff Triple" game. I said then that even if the Stadium wasn't scheduled to be destroyed in four days it might be a long time before I saw it again. Oh well.

Is this also the end of Loge 13?

[September 29, 2008 12:06 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Kingman said

Thanks for the notes. I haven't decided the fate of Loge13. The original plan was to dismantle the blog and turn it into a parking lot during the off-season. I gotta think it through...

[September 29, 2008 1:31 PM]  |  link  |  reply
08/15/65 said

Great post and videos, Kingman. I've been reading your posts for the entire 2008 season, and I'm glad I have. On Friday, I took a walk past Loge 13. This was after I dragged my girlfriend all over the stadium taking photos. Have you heard anything about them selling the original tan bricks from the facade? I want something that was there when the Beatles played.

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