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The Shea Countdown: 34-32

Posted By Greg Prince On April 6, 2008 @ 10:05 am In Main Page | Comments Disabled

34: Tuesday, July 22 vs. Phillies

Ladies and gentlemen, the unofficial motto of Shea Stadium for much of its life has been You Gotta Believe. How appropriate then that a man who inspired belief worldwide stepped into this ballpark on an autumn day in 1979 and brought with him, as he put it, “a message of faith and love.”

That man was Poland's Karol Wojtyla, known far and wide from 1978 until his death in 2005 as Pope John Paul II. He came to Shea Stadium in the second year of his papacy, acknowledging “the special character of this metropolis” and urging a predominantly youthful audience that “a city needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings.” Whatever your faith, it's a message for all New Yorkers to live by.

As we begin the second half of our final season in this ballpark, we remember the historic visit of the Holy Father to Shea Stadium on October 3, 1979. To commemorate it, we are honored to be joined by New York's Edward Cardinal Egan, who will remove number 34 from the right field wall.

33: Wednesday, July 23 vs Phillies

Ladies and gentlemen, from now until there is no more Shea Stadium, baseball will be the only order of business on this site. But as many of you know, last week Shea demonstrated more of its multipurpose versatility. Put more specifically, it showed one final time that this house knows how to rock.

The Who. The Police. Simon & Garfunkel. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Elton John. Eric Clapton. Janis Joplin. Jethro Tull. Grand Funk Railroad. The Rolling Stones. And finally, Billy Joel. These were the headliners who made musical history at Shea Stadium these past four decades.

But before them, there was one act. And everybody who has ever played Shea Stadium bows to them and their impact on music.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done, nothing you can sing that can't be sung and nothing you can say except…the Beatles.

To take down number 33, ladies and gentlemen, Shea Stadium is proud to present, as it did in 1965 and 1966, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.

32: Thursday, July 24 vs Phillies

As a pitcher's park, ladies and gentlemen, Shea Stadium will never be mistaken for a seat of power, but it has had a longstanding relationship with those who have resided in America's most famous seat of power. This afternoon we wish to recall those White House denizens who graced Shea with their presence.

During the 1969 World Series, the Mets were proud to welcome two New Yorkers in particular, the former first lady of the United States and her eight-year-old son. To represent the memory of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John F. Kennedy, Jr., we welcome the daughter of the 35th president of the United States, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.

In the late 1980s, after settling in the New York metropolitan area, this former president was a regular visitor to Shea Stadium. Sports had always been one of his passions and he held a particular fondness for baseball. To represent the memory of Richard M. Nixon, we welcome the son-in-law of the 37th president of the United States, Edward Cox.

Joining our special guests in removing number 32 from the right field wall, we have the man who threw out the first ball of the season in 1971 when he was the United States' ambassador to the United Nations — at the time, his uncle G. Herbert Walker was on the Mets' board of directors — and again in 1985 when he served as vice president of the United States. He would go on to the presidency and still knows some people in the White House. Ladies and gentlemen, the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.

And to make it a truly federal fab four, we welcome the only sitting president who ever visited Shea Stadium. He was with us the night Jackie Robinson's 42 was retired throughout baseball and he has been back from time to time since taking up residency in Chappaqua. Ladies and gentlemen, the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Numbers 40-35 were revealed here [1].


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