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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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.

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The Shea Countdown: 2

2: Saturday, September 27 vs. Marlins

As the Countdown Like It Oughta Be reaches its penultimate milepost, there is not a soul in Shea Stadium who isn't prepared for its unveiling in the middle of the fifth inning. Much to Aramark's dismay it is momentarily killing hot dog and beer sales, but tradition is tradition by now. All wait to find out who is next to unveil a magic number in this stirring seasonlong salute to the history of the old ballpark that is scheduled to commence to vanish after tomorrow. The buzz is palpable considering how closely the Countdown has been monitored. All of New York is wondering how this thing will play out. That's why when the public address system plays over and over again a familiar tune with a revised admonition — “EVERYBODY CLOSE YOUR EYES!” — nobody questions the directive; every pair of eyes shuts and every pair of ears perks up. What they hear, crackling over the PA, is a voice. It is ancient, yet, given a moment to be fully comprehended, it is instantly recognizable. Eyes stay closed and the voice begins to speak…

I have been requested by management to give Shea Stadium a benediction, or at least the new parking lot that will provide amazing, amazing, amazing space to all the fine automobiles that the customers will drive to the Mets games even though there is an understandable effort by municipal authorities to encourage you to take mass transit as it is considered splendid at this time to be green, which is exactly what I was when I first came to New York in Nineteen Hundred and Twelve, which was technically Brooklyn though it was more technically Greater New York considering the great consolidation that took place while the National League had twelve teams including one in Louisville but none in Kansas City which is where I come from and everything was up to date and they went and built a skyscraper seven stories high which I thought was high which just goes to show you what kind of road apple I was when I came to Brooklyn and played in the new ballpark in Nineteen Hundred and Thirteen, my second year which wasn't no sophomore jinx for me as I averaged two-seventy-two and they called the neighborhood Pigtown and you wouldn'ta wanted to play there except that was where the money was in those days and the ballpark Mr. Ebbets built was quite fine and now I see they're replicating it in what used to be the parking lot for this here fine stadium that they're tearing down to make new parking and that's progress for ya.

I am not here to argue about other sports, I am in the baseball business and in the baseball business if you don't have advancement you don't have progress and progress is what makes arbitration possible, which is something you didn't have in my day which I might add was many a day ago but I continue to be employed as a vice president by the New York Mets regardless of the fact that I am dead at the present time but I signed a perpetual personal services contract with Mrs. Payson who is also dead at the present time and extends her best regards. Mrs. Payson signed a long-term contract with the consolidated city of Greater New York for Shea Stadium which was quite a sight in its day which I suppose is not a day that has many days left and long-term don't mean what it used to when you open a bright and sprightly new stadium and it's got fifty-four bathrooms so nobody, even the ladies, has to wait and miss a minute of the action which you don't want to do, not at the prices of admission which can go as high as platinum what without Ladies Day as a recognized promotion and gold, which was the kind of watch I didn't even get when I was discharged by the New York Yankees for making the mistake of getting old and losing a World Series when Mr. Mazeroski took my pitcher Ralph Terry over the wall and Mr. Berra couldn't do nothing but just stand there and watch and it was a great moment for the baseball business if not for me and, wouldn't ya know it, Mr. Berra followed me to the amazin', amazin', amazin' Mets and Ralph Terry followed him if not for very long but I had commenced to no longer managing due to my hip breaking in a most unfortunate manner. When I slipped and got hurt in Boston when I managed there, the newspapermen wasn't at all unhappy but my newspapermen when I managed the Mets was always kinder to me.

The New York Mets did me a great favor when they was still the Knickerbockers and needed a manager to help them become the amazing Mets and I was involved in banking in Glendale which isn't for everybody and now I see the Mets have gotten into the banking industry with their new park which will have a name like a bank and a platinum ticket structure though you never can tell until you install the turnstiles and determine what the market will bear. I was fortunate that nobody much expected anything out of my Mets and we delivered even less but they came out to the Polo Grounds which was where I played for Mr. McGraw and learned my managing trade, not that you'd think it did me any good based on our record in the Mets' first year, which wasn't as splendid as you'd like but nobody seemed to mind because they did come out in record numbers to see my amazing, amazing, amazing Mets up there at the old ballpark which was a lot newer when I was, too. Of course I wasn't born old, which you might think the contrary of when you get a look at me now and you could say the same for Shea Stadium with the acres of parking for all the Ramblers which I only mention because they had an official car of the Mets deal the park's first year and later Plymouth paid for that honor and they're still reaping dividends because that was the year we won our first title and the newsreels still show that now and again and it became a very famous title as it ensured that in South America on New Year's Day we'd have our best game. I also heartily endorse annuities as a wise investment.

I ain't no Ned in the third reader, not after a hundred and eighteen years of living and dead combined, so I've seen a few things but I had never seen anything quite like Shea Stadium and not just the bathrooms which is where I wouldn't blame our fans for hiding in when the ballgames began to get away from us which was often and early and sometimes both, but it was a step up from the Polo Grounds which had been around almost as long as I was, maybe almost exactly the same amount if you count it in years before the fire and I mean the fire in Nineteen Hundred and Eleven, not when I got fired for losing a World Series and my old friend George Weiss hired me to manage those Knickerbockers who wasn't yet the Mets and George's wife said she married him for better or worse but not for lunch, which my Edna might have been thinking after George and I each made the mistake of getting old but that won't happen to this bee-yoo-ti-ful Shea Stadium because it's only forty-five years old and it won't see forty-six except of course in the way you're hearin' me now, which in itself is amazing, amazing, amazing.

You see and hear a lot where I am. You see George and you see that lawyer fella Mr. Shea and you hear a real nice broadcast from my men Lindsey and Bob and you have that other Lindsay, the mayor who likes to pour the champagne over your head which is fine if you just won as we did in Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Nine and you got a big power-hitter at first base like Mr. Clendenon which I didn't or a hammer like Mr. Milner when we won a pennant again in Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Three which I didn't neither. I had Mr. Throneberry who failed to touch most of the bases and we was always afraid of what he'd drop next and he comes up to me these days and says he doesn't know why they asked him to be here but I hand him a piece of cake and he don't ask me anything else. Up here you know what you're doing. You can play Kanehl anywhere and he don't even have to stick his elbow out for fifty dollars and you always get the right Miller, the righthanded one, up to face the righties though on our team it didn't really matter which Miller or which Nelson we called on because we just wasn't that good. But we got the attendance and I apologize to them all if they feel they got trimmed by our performance. They probably did.

The escalators didn't always work at bee-yoo-ti-ful Shea Stadium but they made for grand staircases when they didn't and our scoreboard didn't always work the way they said it would, especially in the runs column, but it was big and everybody always knew how much we was losing by but ya didn't need a scoreboard 'cause ya had those placards and I'd just look at 'em and see what our fans thought of us which was a lot better than I thought of us. We got the old fans who came to the Polo Grounds and to Ebbets Field and we got the kids who didn't know any better. We got 'em from four years on, we got 'em from ten years on, fifteen years on, eighteen years on. And we got 'em in a group! When you're young, it's great to go into a stadium where your future lies in front of you.

Seems Shea Stadium, which was lovely, just lovely, a lot lovelier than my team, just commenced to being and now it won't be anymore. But you can be sure as I was when Mr. McGraw put the bunt on that it will always be here, sort of the way I am. Of course I once missed that Mr. McGraw pulled the bunt sign in Cincinnati and I got fined for it which is how it should be if you miss a sign and swing away. If ya wanna be a sailor, join the Navy. From where we put our new ballpark in Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Four you could see the water, too. You could get here by boat, you could get here on the train which is how I traveled most of my career. You could fly into that big, noisy airport that disturbed so many of our opposing hitters that it was a boon for my pitchers except they didn't seem to care for it either and even if they had, my pitchers wasn't quite what you'd call pitchers all the time, at least not in the big league sense. And you could drive, even if it wasn't a Rambler, the official car of the Mets. You could park anywhere. We had lots of parking. It appears apparent that we still will.

I don't mean to be no Alibi Ike and I'd like to be with you fine ladies and gentlemen to pull down my number, but that's gonna represent a stretch as I am, as previously mentioned, dead at the present time, having commenced to being exactly deceased in Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Five which is no excuse for not being a New York Met, 'cause that's what I am for life and thereafter, just like you, I suspect, just like bee-yoo-ti-ful new Shea Stadium will always be, when you keep your eyes closed, bee-yoo-ti-ful new Shea Stadium.

The transmission crackles to an end. When all realize the voice has been silenced — or perhaps just paused until another appropriate interval when it will speak and speak and speak again — all open their eyes and turn their heads toward the right field corner where they discover the voice's physical envoy, Mr. Met, will do the honors on behalf of the spirit of the voice and peel off number 2.

That Mr. Met is resolutely mute strikes some in the crowd as ironic but nobody says anything about it.


Number 3 was revealed here.

The Shea Stadium Final Season Countdown will conclude with the unveiling of Number 1 in two weeks, on Monday, July 14.

2 comments to The Shea Countdown: 2