The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

What I'd Rather Remember

My father goes somewhere, he generally carries nothing. Whatever he needs is presumably in his pockets. I never noticed it until I realized how he’s the opposite of me. I take after my mother. I carry a bag.

Not a purse, not a man purse. A shoulder bag I guess you’d call it. An overnight bag or a gym bag maybe. When I had a Mets game, it was my game bag. It replaced a briefcase for me years ago and it just became a habit. First for work, then for anywhere I went that involved public transportation. I was never a backpack person and those messenger bags never cut it for me. Mine was kind of bulky, a little too rectangular for the subway, but I liked it.

What was so important that I decided I needed a whole bag to schlep it everywhere?

Press kit folder from the last event I attended

Older press kit folder repurposed to hold current work stuff

Legal pad

Steno pad

Reporter’s notebook

Pens (some run dry)

Pencils (none very sharp)

Rusting paper clips

Brittle rubber bands

Dozens of tissues and napkins, mostly crumpled or deteriorating

Dozens of business cards, many creased beyond respectability

A book

A magazine

The Times

The News

Newsday

Occasionally, if I wasn’t mad at it, the Post

A plastic bag with an AM/FM walkman, headphones, four to eight spare AA batteries and three homemade compilation tapes

An extra plastic bag

Sprint PCS phone

New York City subway map

Long Island Rail Road monthly ticket

Long Island Rail Road monthly ticket sleeve

Timetables for two or three LIRR branches and two or three stations

Portable umbrella

Repeatedly refilled Poland Spring bottle

Small plastic bag for water bottle in case of leakage

Spare bottlecaps (as some facilities take your caps away when you buy their beverages)

A baseball cap if my destination involved the sun and/or baseball

The current Mets pocket schedule

The previous season’s Mets pocket schedule

A pack of Big Red chewing gum, possibly open

A Ziploc bag filled with prescription medicines plus emergency supplies of Advil, Lanacane, Band-Aids, Tums, Pepcid, Gas-X, Tylenol Sinus, Tylenol Cold, Tylenol Cold Non-Drowsiness Formula, Hall’s Mentholated Cough Drops, Chapstick and a spare pair of shoe laces.

In my entire life of carrying spare shoelaces, I’ve never needed them. Maybe the day I stop carrying them, I’ll rue it.

There was a Saturday when I grabbed the bag and hopped a train. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. Both of us, Stephanie and I, made a rare weekend daytrip out of East Rockaway into Manhattan. Our first destination was Grand Central Station. Maybe because we don’t commute in there on a regular basis, we love that place. We once spent a vacation looking for excuses to hang out there. Our two favorite destinations: the Transit Museum annex & store and the dining concourse on the lower level. We would hit both on this Saturday.

The Transit Museum held special appeal. It hosted a salute to the Subway Series, all of them. The Giants and the Yankees. The Dodgers and the Yankees. The Mets and the Yankees. One wall was dominated by a Mets pitcher. “Al Leiter,” I said. “Bobby Jones,” Stephanie corrected me. I’ll be damned. It was a righthander with facial hair after all. I so associated the disappointment of the 2000 Series with Al’s heroic effort in Game Five that I just assumed it was him.

We took some pictures and then retreated to Junior’s for lunch. Stephanie loved the original Junior’s. She worked downtown and once or twice found an excuse with a workmate to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and take out dessert from there. Its spinoff location was our favorite spot to eat in Grand Central. Overpriced, but almost worth it. The waiter, a chatty, older New York guy who probably turned on the local charm for tourists, inquired into what we were up to, specifically making note of my t-shirt. It said Mets 13 on the front, ALFONZO 13 on the back.

I’m going to the game tonight, I told him. Great, he said — where ya sitting? I’ll look for ya! I gave him my general location in the mezzanine, fully aware he wasn’t going to watch that closely and that I’d be out of camera range.

Even if he made good on his word, he wouldn’t see Stephanie. She wasn’t coming with. This was a Joe affair. Joe is my friend who invites me to games months in advance that I half-heartedly agree to attend with him. When they creep up, I begin to dread them, particularly if they’re on Saturday nights as they seemed to be at least a couple of times a year. I go to games throughout the week but if there’s one time slot I don’t care for, it’s Saturday night. Joe’s single. Saturday night is any night of the week to him. Not that Stephanie and I hit the town in any meaningful fashion on Saturday nights (we’d mostly do laundry), but being married, you tend to want to be with your wife then. Still, I had agreed, so I was going. The afternoon in the city was a way to make the day not a total loss for us.

We finished our Junior’s cheesecake, left Grand Central and headed east. Stephanie wanted to show me around Tudor City. She used to have clients there when she was a case worker. It’s all the way over on the East Side. We could walk over there and up to the UN and take some more pictures. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. In my black ALFONZO shirt, I needed no jacket. It was probably the only potential item not stuffed into that bag.

It must have been heading toward 5:30 when I pulled out a Long Island Rail Road schedule and coordinated our plans. We would go back to Grand Central and shuttle to Times Square. There, I’d kiss my wife goodbye and put her on a 1, 2 or 3 to Penn Station. I’d U-turn onto a 7, squeeze in among baseball fans, tennis fans and fans of nothing more than going home to Queens. I was headed to Shea for my Saturday night with Joe, the Mets and the Marlins. I found a seat and put my big bag on my lap and we chugged toward Flushing. As I had done a couple of dozen times already in the season, I rode that 7 straight to Willets Point/Shea Stadium. Grabbed my bag, found the open staircase (curse you, U.S. Open) and presented my ticket at Gate D. I walked from the subway right through the entrance completely unimpeded.

I’d see Joe on the escalator but didn’t exactly flag him down. Wanted to make a few stops before committing to our regular round of lulls mixed in with dabs of conversation. Go to the men’s room, stroll the loge, enjoy a Carvel helmet before a line formed, pick up a pretzel and a Diet Pepsi. I like Joe but I didn’t need an extra hour of him before the game. I joined him after stalling, shook hands and shoved my big bag under my seat.

The night would unfold like these tended to. Joe kept score and yelled embarrassing things at the Mets to motivate them (his favorite was telling a player who failed in a particular situation that his Yankee counterpart “wouldn’t do that”). I was annoyed, but more than annoyed, I was cold. So warm was the afternoon in Manhattan and so black was my Fonzie shirt — it held the heat real well — that a jacket seemed unnecessary. But this, rookie, was Shea Stadium, where chill can break out anytime. I grew colder and one of my headaches developed. I had those a lot then, which is why I carried the Advil and the Tylenol. They didn’t help and neither did folding my arms. I told Joe I was cold. He told me he wasn’t. If Joe played the Bernard Gilkey role in Men In Black, he wouldn’t have noticed the space ship either.

I was cold enough to break with an informal policy of mine. I usually rolled my eyes and turned up my nose at what my friend Jace called the credit card hawkers, the presumably struggling actors and actresses recruited to lure you to fill out an application for a card with a Mets logo. To entice you, they would offer you a premium. The idea of spilling confidential information where others were spilling their Gulden’s seemed juxtaposition-challenged. But at last, they had something I wanted, and it wasn’t an additional line of credit.

By signing up for an MBNA Mets credit card, I was entitled to a Mets beach towel. I wasn’t one for the beach. I just wanted something to wrap around me. It was better than nothing, but it wasn’t much help. It provided little warmth and the inks used to create the black Mets insignia only made my headache worse.

As for the game, it was 2-2 seemingly all night. Kevin Appier pitched well and hit better. He singled home the two Mets’ runs in the second. He would go eight, giving up single runs in the fourth (John Mabry homer) and fifth (Luis Castillo sac fly). Otherwise, things stayed tied and got colder. Stephanie was home. I wished I was there.

It went on like this until the bottom of the eleventh. With one out, recurring callup Jorge Toca (Joe called him his “cult favorite” and would shout “it’s TOCA Time!” during his rare at-bats) singled. After another out, Jay Payton — replacing Benny Agbayani who somehow broke a bone in his wrist checking a swing — doubled. Toca bellyflopped across home plate with the Mets’ third run, making a winner out of Grant Roberts and pinning a loss on ex-Met Juan Acevedo. Briefly snapped out of my frigid, pain-filled torpor, I high-fived Joe. Then I gathered up my big bag and headed for the 7 to Woodside and, eventually, the LIRR east. Stephanie had already gone to bed.

That bad check was Agbayani’s final swing as a Met. The W was the first Roberts would inhale. And Toca had time for only two more runs in the bigs. They’re footnotes to my Saturday night at Shea, though. The figure I remember most was not a player, not a credit card hawker, not Joe, not even my towel. What I remember now is my big bag. It would never see the underside of a Shea Stadium seat again.

The game took place on Saturday, September 1. The next day, when the Mets were stymied by Ryan Dempster, I watched from the couch. With the Mets then heading to Philadelphia, Florida and Pittsburgh, I wasn’t due back at Shea until Friday, September 14.

***

In the first week of September 2001, just as in the first week of September 2006, just as it had been pretty much every week preceding September 2001, baseball was my overriding concern. The Mets were defending National League champions. They weren’t doing much of a job on defense, falling out of the race for good by mid-August. I knew they were done. I saw them first-hand enough to claim an enhanced sense of observation.

After two thrilling postseason rides in a row when we sweated out ticket requests, bids and scrums, Jace and his wife Emily had a fairly obvious but nevertheless clever idea: Let’s buy a season-ticket plan. Jace’s co-worker Danielle was in on it and then I climbed aboard. We were in for every Tuesday and Friday, April to September. Shea’s seasonlong charms notwithstanding, the plan was supposed to result in ease of access for October. October, however, appeared elusive.

The Mets sputtered from the get-go in 2001. They fell under .500 in April and never fully recovered. Our postseason privileges were moot. It was fun going to more games than ever before, but fun had its limits. Every Tuesday night and every Friday night began to feel like moonlighting. Work all day in the city and rush out by six to get to the night job in Flushing. Could there be too much of a good thing?

This was the year of the return of the unbalanced schedule. The Saturday night with Joe was my fifth Mets-Marlins game of 2001. The Mets were bad. The Marlins were worse. I had to wonder what was more unbalanced: the schedule or my priorities? Through September 1, I had been to Shea — Tuesdays, Fridays, stray days besides — on 31 separate occasions. I enjoyed the quality time when the gang showed up (they skipped a few dates, the sanity-lovers), but the question really wasn’t whether there could be too much of a good thing. It was how much of a lousy team could I watch in person?

The cumulative effect left me cynical. I was in a fairly intense Met e-mail group that summer and I had a dark-humor ball composing tributes to the lousiness of the Mets. I wrote an obituary for Darryl Hamilton’s career. I suggested Glendon Rusch could join the cast of ER, reconfigured as a “tense drama of Earned Runs and heartstopping fifth-inning pitching changes.” And I told one of our more hopeful pen pals, Dan, to stop insisting this could be another 1973, you’re insulting its memory.

Funny thing was Dan was a visionary. For all the cynicism those Mets inspired, they had a little baseball left in them. They snapped an August losing streak in California. They came home and whupped up on an unwelcome Mike Hampton and the Rockies. They stuck it to Barry Bonds and the Giants three times before Barry got to Appier once. Pat Burrell couldn’t prevent the Phillies from losing twice. When the Marlins visited for the thirtieth or fortieth time, Al Leiter greeted them with a triple. Then Toca.

Weird 1973-style stuff was happening. The Mets, out of it by 13-1/2 games on August 17, pulled to within 7-1/2 of the Braves and Phillies on Payton’s double and Toca’s slide. They had won 11 of 14. Oddly, the Wild Card was out of reach but the N.L. East was in play. Wouldn’t it be something that after four consecutive seasons of chasing the best second-place record in the National League that this time maybe, just maybe, a miracle might lie in a good, old-fashioned first place finish? You had to believe.

Dempster’s dominance on September 2 didn’t deter them. The Mets went to Philadelphia starting Labor Day and swept three. Then they took Thursday and Friday night games in Miami. I wanted to see if they could make it six in a row on Saturday. I wanted to see something else, too.

While the Mets floundered in the summer of 2001, the Brooklyn Cyclones rose. It had been discussed for years, this idea of sticking a minor league team in Brooklyn. It sounded self-defeating and pointlessly nostalgic. Who would want to go to a ballgame in a borough abandoned precisely because enough people wouldn’t go there for a ballgame? And why would the Mets want to set up their own competitive product (never mind the obvious jokes in waiting, like “if I want to see a minor league team, I’ll go to Shea”)?

But I was flat wrong. Keyspan Park on the boardwalk in Coney Island was beautiful. Neon lights. Ocean breeze. Perfect atmosphere. Jammed every game. And though the results were inconsequential, the Cyclones were apparently good, too. It was raw rookies but apparently ours were pretty decent. Jace and Emily introduced them firsthand to Stephanie and me on a Sunday in early August. Their treat. We had a blast. I came back with some friends from work later in the month. Coney Island at dusk after a long day was even better.

The Cyclones’ first season saw them make the playoffs. Who should be their opponent in the first round but the Staten Island Yankees? It was the previous October’s Subway Series all over again in miniature. The two teams split two games. The decider would be at Keyspan Saturday night, September 8.

I was supposed to fly out on business that night. National Airlines, however, called me at home to tell me my flight from JFK was cancelled but they could put me on a plane Sunday morning, no extra charge for the lack of a Saturday stayover. Great, I said. I was only going Saturday night because of that fee. I had no reason to be where I was headed until Sunday anyway. I never much cared for traveling unless a ballpark was involved. This trip, it wasn’t.

I wanted to stay home with my wife, my cats and my teams as long as I could. I wanted to watch the Mets play the Marlins in Miami on Channel 11. I wanted to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones play the Staten Island Yankees for the McNamara Division championship on Fox Sports Net. Thanks to National Airlines, I didn’t have to go anywhere. An airline screws up and it’s a reprieve. Imagine that.

In the minor league portion of the simultaneous doubleheader, the Cyclones’ catcher, Brett Kay, deked a Yankee runner at Keyspan Park. It was called pulling the dead man. He fooled him into slowing down and then tagged him out and then got the winning hit, a homer. The Cyclones had beaten the Yankees! It didn’t make up for the Yankees beating the Mets the previous October, but for a few passing seconds, it kind of did. Call it minor revenge.

Meanwhile, it was back and forth in Florida. Matt Lawton doubled home two runs in the ninth and Desi Relaford added another and the Mets beat the Fish, 9-7 in a game that, at 3 hours and 57 minutes, felt like it would never end. It was our sixth in a row. We had pulled to within seven of the Braves. We were a game under .500, but the division was shaping up like another 1973. We had lots of dates left with the Braves.

***

“Excuse me, but what cap is that?”

“Brooklyn Cyclones.”

The desk clerk said something I couldn’t make out. I asked him to repeat it.

“Mike Piazza stays here.”

Or was it “Mike Piazza’s gay here”? No, probably the former.

Regardless, it was odd to be somewhere where a Cyclones cap didn’t elicit instant recognition. It was the accessory of choice in New York, but I wasn’t in New York anymore. For the fourth time in a decade, I was in Las Vegas to cover the National Beer Wholesalers Association convention, a city and an event that filled me with no enthusiasm.

I showed up at JFK Sunday morning brimming with baseball. The Cyclones were going to play Williamsport for the league championship. And the Mets had one more game at Pro Player, Trachsel, trying to stretch the Mets’ winning streak to seven, versus Matt Clement. I found a newsstand and bought the papers, discarding extraneous sections and supplements and saving the sports pages. All year long I would reduction-copy one tabloid page — back page if we merited it — that reflected a Mets win. It was a habit I got into late in 2000. 2001 showed no signs of being an encore, but habit was habit. I decided I’d place them all in a binder after the season and present them to Jace as a keepsake from our season-ticket adventure. With headlines on September 9 like THEY WON’T GO AWAY and Another Stunner signifying how the Mets were creeping back into the race, maybe there’d be more pages than I’d anticipated.

By the time I got to Vegas, got my bags, got to the hotel and got to the check-in clerk who wanted to dish Mike Piazza, I was antsy. The only good thing I could discern about being here was the presence of sports books. They took action on everything, even baseball games. I have no idea how one bets on baseball, but I remembered following another Mets-Marlins game in Vegas when I was in town for the same convention in 1993. I watched a toteboard flash the results for the Mets’ 59th win of that wretched year on its last day. I’m sure I was alone. My guess was I could find a monitor somewhere on the strip beaming the Mets and Marlins which was probably in the sixth or seventh inning. Since my room wasn’t going to be ready for a spell (very annoying), I found that monitor in my hotel. It was buried amid big screens transmitting the first Sunday of NFL games and horse racing. It was actually a black and white set. But here they were in Nevada, my Mets. Losing. In Florida.

Stupid Trachsel.

I rounded back to the desk. The clerk pleaded for my patience. I raised a fuss. He pushed a few keys on a computer and gave me a room I wasn’t supposed to have. I thanked him and headed there for my scheduled two-night stay, in on September 9, out on September 11 to fly to another leg of business, a San Francisco conference on New Age beverages.

Once in my room, I found ESPN. The Mets had lost. Wasn’t that big a story. Barry Bonds hitting his 61st, 62nd and 63rd was. He was seven from McGwire. The Mariners, aiming at the Yankees’ record of 114 wins from three years earlier, shut out the Orioles to improve to 103-40. Atlanta won. We were 8 back that Sunday. We were off Monday.

***

September 1, 2001 was the last time I carried my big bag to Shea. I’ve learned to consolidate. Plus, since I decided to become self-employed, I’m almost always leaving from home to go to the ballpark. Don’t have to lug work stuff around. I’m still a hypochondriac of sorts but I’ve ditched the office supplies.

Lately I use a promotional mini-duffel bag I got covering an investors’ conference in 1998. The Walkman, hopelessly out of fashion even then, has been replaced by a tiny radio I bought at the Wiz on September 21, 2001, which turned out to be the next time after September 1 that I’d be going to Shea. That night I jammed it, like my phone, in my pockets. Brought nothing to read for the ride home. We were told not to bring anything but our tickets with us.

It was no hardship to scale back then and it’s not now. I kind of miss the handy pockets and pouches of the big bag, especially when I’m buying a yearbook or a scorecard. Even if it’s not explicitly banned from the premises today — I kind of doubt it is, regardless of what it says about security precautions on the Mets’ Web site — there would just be more to be sorted through by strangers’ hands before I could walk in and see my team.

Every time I grab the mini-duffel that replaced the big bag, every time I figure out what I absolutely need, what I might need and what I don’t need to bring to a Mets game, every time I go about meticulously cramming everything in there so I can find what I want without a lot of groping, I think back to when I didn’t have to think about it at all.

I think back to September 1, 2001.

I think back to the June night in 2001 when my season ticket partner rolled fully packed luggage into the building, on to an escalator and up to our seats because he had just landed at LaGuardia.

I think back to seventh-inning stretches that consisted only of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and “Lazy Mary,” even on Sundays.

I think back to thinking of heroes in terms of men who throw 142 pitches and tragedy as the 38-hop single that squeaks through the infield on the 142nd pitch.

I think back to wandering through Grand Central Station or rushing through Penn Station and seeing a transit cop or two but not a single National Guardsman.

I think back to flying to Las Vegas and my biggest worry being when my stuff would come out at baggage claim so I could grab it and make it to Bally’s in time for the last few innings of the Mets and Marlins.

I think back to picking up the tickets to that first Cyclones game in August 2001 from Jace. He worked downtown. I wasn’t sure which subway stop I’d have to go to in order to get back uptown but Jace knew the neighborhood and led us down into the World Trade Center where I could head to Penn and he could go to Brooklyn.

The first time I was in the World Trade Center was on a class trip in seventh grade. The American Stock Exchange, then the Twin Towers. They warned us not to get any bright ideas about throwing pennies from the observatory deck. In the cafeteria where tour groups were led, I was introduced to pita bread. I had what they called a Pocketburger. Ate lunch with Marianne Fickler on whom I had a fleeting crush because she was a 13-year-old political junkie like me. It was the day of the California primary, June 8, 1976. The last time I was in the World Trade Center was with Jace after picking up the Cyclone tickets. It was August 2, 2001.

I think back to a helluva lot that happened later, too, starting with five years ago today, the Tuesday morning I woke up in Las Vegas, turned on the TV at about 8:40 AM Pacific time and saw destruction so unfathomable that I honestly thought I was watching a promo for some creepy movie-of-the-week, one about what would happen if terrorists struck a major American city. I never cared for those kinds of films but it sure looked realistic. The things they can do with computers, I thought.

Hey, why are they promoting this movie on every channel at the same time?

I think back to grasping that what I was watching was real and that it was taking place — had taken place, actually; we were three hours behind New York — around the corner from where my wife worked and across the street from where my season-ticket partner worked. I think back to making frantic phone calls to discover my wife had hoofed it across the Williamsburg Bridge and eventually to a friend’s house in Bay Ridge but not before she saw people jump from dozens of stories above the street and the second tower collapse. She saw a sidewalk littered with keys and beepers and a piece of an airplane engine. I think back to reading the e-mail I received from my season-ticket partner to tell me he was all right, too, that he wasn’t yet in the office when the planes hit. I think back to being stranded in Las Vegas for five days longer than I’d planned, begging National Airlines and Travelocity for the first possible flight home after the government allowed planes back in the air. I think back to spending the balance of that week in my hotel room, blowing my nose (I’d come down with a cold on September 10), changing channels, talking to everybody I could connect to on the phone and wondering what would become of us as a city, a nation, a people. I think back to thinking of all of those I never met who should have been so lucky that their worst problem was being stuck in Las Vegas for a few days.

I think back to not thinking about baseball. Not thinking about it at all.

***

The Mets were frozen 8 back, their games called off for the time being. The Cyclones and Williamsport were declared co-champions after Brooklyn won the first of their scheduled best-of-three. None of this penetrated my brain. When I ran across ESPN on my remote and heard Tim Kurkjian speculate about what might be postponed or cancelled, he expressed concern that whatever solution is reached be fair to the Mariners. Fair to the Mariners? Thousands are dead and you’re worried about 115 wins?

I had threatened to give up on baseball at the end of 1998 when the Mets choked away the Wild Card and again a year later when they came close to doing the same. Then I couldn’t imagine giving over my heart and soul to a team that had relentlessly disappointed me. Now I couldn’t imagine caring enough to be disappointed or elated by baseball. It was a game. This was life. Life was overwhelming.

Still, I sure had liked baseball. I dipped into all my convention stuff and found the clippings from Sunday’s papers. There were Matt Lawton and Desi Relaford beating the Marlins last Saturday. I remembered how much baseball had meant to me, how important the 2000 World Series and the 1999 playoffs were. Or seemed.

I wanted to get home in the worst way. If I could have driven on highways (something that gives me the shakes), I would have rented a car and driven. As I failed to make progress with the airline, I started making daily trips to the Gap at Caesar’s — past the dancing waters of the Bellagio, now stilled as Lee Greenwood replaced Frank Sinatra on the speakers — to buy extra underwear. If I can’t get out on a plane by Monday, I’ll track down a Greyhound. However long the journey takes, I am leaving Las Vegas.

Of course I wanted to get home. I wanted to see my wife and my cats, my father and his girlfriend, my sister and her husband, my office and my colleagues. But I decided it was just as crucial that I see my friends at Shea Stadium again. I wanted to be there when the Mets started playing ball again. I wanted to be there for the national anthem. I wanted to climb the stairs to Row M of Section 9 of the Mezzanine to my aisle seat, Seat 24, and stand in front of it and sing in salute to what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming. And I wanted to do it next to Jace and Emily and Danielle.

***

I got a flight out Sunday, September 16. The airport wasn’t the mob scene Vegas TV made it out to be. I snapped the file off of my nail clippers just in case anybody was going to ask about it. They didn’t. Was assigned the middle seat. Never so happy to be wedged between two fellow travelers for five hours. When the flight landed at JFK, I affixed my Cyclones cap (red, white and blue) to my head and ran straight for Stephanie.

The next game at Shea was Friday. I ran straight there, too.

Got my embrace with my friends. Got my national anthem, performed by Marc Anthony, me and however many of 41,235 who had made it past the bag searches and the frisking that I doubt anybody questioned. Diana Ross sang “God Bless America,” but I was in the long security line and had to listen to it on my new tiny radio. That’s also where I heard the bagpipes.

Did see the Mets and their supposed enemies the Braves wish each other the best. Did see Liza Minnelli belt out a rousing “New York New York” supported by a kickline of suddenly smiling fire fighters and police officers in full dress. She ended it by hugging Jay Payton in the on-deck circle. That was going to the bottom of the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, Mike Piazza hit a two-run home run off Steve Karsay. The PA shelved the usual Gary Glitter accompaniment. It was left to us to cheer and wave flags. We did. And we beat the Braves to move within 4-1/2 games of first place.

It was hailed as a solemn victory of healing, a stirring triumph of the resilient New York spirit and a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives heroically so that others could keep theirs. September 21, 2001, the first home game after 9/11, is universally recalled as among the most remarkable nights anybody will ever witness or feel inside Shea Stadium. I wouldn’t disagree and I’ll never forget it.

But I’d take September 1, 2001, my last home game before 9/11, every time.

8 comments to What I’d Rather Remember

  • Anonymous

    This is the best thing I have ever read. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    I wish everyone who shouldered the delicate and imposing task of reflecting on that day could do so with your eloquence and sincerity, Greg. Thank you for that.

  • Anonymous

    It takes a hell of a lot to make me cry, and this did the trick. Nothing else I've read about 9/11 has so eloquently captured the longing for what life was like before that day.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate what all of you have had to say. More so than usual even, I'm touched by it. I was just a guy in a hotel room far away when this happened. It was odd being a New Yorker and not being in New York. At some point that week, I walked to the New York New York casino hoping to feel something that reminded me of home. Instead it was like Billy Joel's “Miami 2017,” the lights going out on Broadway and my city being recast as some grotesque, decadent adult theme park. Still, it was something to see — people had left candles and flags and whatever they had by the entrance. Guess I wasn't the only New Yorker temporarily and reluctantly relocated to Las Vegas.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, man…
    (sniff…)

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Nicely put Greg, I don't leave alot of comments but I check in on your blog from time to time. You are very talented writer.

  • Anonymous

    Well i can imagine your father is a wise man, he knows he will get proper care wherever he goes and he trusts people to do that.
    Hotels in Las Vegas