Welcome to Flashback Friday: Tales From The Log , a final-season tribute to Shea Stadium as viewed primarily through the prism of what I have seen there for myself, namely 374 regular-season and 13 postseason games to date. The Log records the numbers. The Tales tell the stories.
5/15/82 Sa Los Angeles 1-1 Puleo 1 6-13 W 6-4
7/22/87 W Atlanta 2-2 Darling 4 19-27 W 4-3
8/7/01 Tu Milwaukee 5-0 Chen 1 126-94 W 3-0
With Shea gone, where will the Rick Monday Guy go?
The Rick Monday Guy is also the Billy Smith Guy. Either way, where will he (or they) be if there’s no Shea anymore? Where will I turn to hear a drunken Rangers fan take out his hockey frustrations on an opposing baseball player? How does he exist without Shea?
The Mets were playing the Dodgers. The Mets were actually beating the Dodgers, yet the occasion, a perfectly pleasant Saturday night, wouldn’t have been complete without the Los Angeles centerfielder being informed of one undeniable fact from this one fine fellow in my Mezzanine midst:
“HEY MONDAY! IT’S SATURDAY!”
Not once, not twice but to infinity and beyond. The soul of wit and the personification of repetition were activated in the service of reminding Rick Monday his surname matched one-seventh of the week, one of the sevenths it wasn’t that night. Poor sap, his ancestors never knew what he’d be coming up against.
“HEY MONDAY! IT’S SATURDAY!”
Didn’t Fred Flintstone use a line like that on prehistoric Tuesday Weld stand-in Tuesday Wednesday? Hey, maybe the Rick Monday Guy worked for Hanna-Barbera. Their cartoons were just that clever.
For good measure, the Rick Monday Guy loved the Rangers. Or, more accurately, hated the Islanders. The teams played a predictable playoff series that spring, the Islanders prevailing as they tended to in the early ’80s. This must have been under RMG’s skin, because he linked Rick Monday of “HEY MONDAY! IT’S SATURDAY!” fame with the Isles’ Stanley Cup-winning goalie.
“HEY MONDAY! GO PLAY WITH BILLY SMITH!”
There may have been something mentioned about what exactly Rick Monday could go play with Billy Smith. “Between his legs,” I think the gentleman suggested. I don’t think it was hockey.
While there were no Rick Monday fans per se in Mezzanine, I believe it was the sight of an explicitly clad Islanders fan — we did used to exist in visible numbers, believe it or not — that set him off. There may have been cross words between RMG and the Islanders fan. There may have been a little more action than the Mets scoring four in the first even. It felt a little tense up there. Joel and I hoped we wouldn’t have to square off based on hockey allegiances since he liked the Rangers and I liked the Isles; after all, we thought we were there to watch the Mets. I don’t remember if RMG was eventually hauled off or simply passed out. I doubt the latter. Shea made few pretensions toward being family-friendly in 1982.
With Shea gone, where will the “can of corn!” guy go?
There was a denizen of Cliché Stadium who in 1987 had to, just had to greet every single fly ball Ron Darling teased from Atlanta batters in the second and third innings with the hoariest baseball banter in the books.
Gerald Perry flies to McReynolds…”can of corn!”
Andres Thomas flies to Mookie…”can of corn!”
Bruce Benedict flies to McReynolds…”can of corn!”
By the next inning, when Glenn Hubbard was skying one to center, Joel and I knew what was coming…”can of corn!” We giggled and snorted and asked loudly enough to be heard, “CAN OF CORN?” Yes, we were familiar with the expression. But no, we had never heard it repeated so incessantly, not even on SportsChannel.
I think we hurt the “can of corn!” guy’s feelings. He turned around and gave us this beaten look. “Well,” he said. “That’s what it’s called.”
After that, he kept his cans of corn to himself.
With Shea gone, where will the Todd Zeile petitioner go?
There was a freelance chanter prowling the Mezz in 2001, a young man who was going to solve our summerlong Todd Zeile problem by working us all into a frenzy one row at a time.
This guy comes up to Jason and me, who are minding our own business, and asks if we’ve had enough of Todd Zeile grounding out and being generally useless. Sure, we said. Everybody’d had enough of Todd Zeile, few having had more of him than us in our Tuesday/Friday plan year.
Well, the guy said, this is what we have to do: Start a chant. It’s gonna go like this:
C’mon, he said, if we all do it, the front office will have to listen.
I kind of nodded. Jason said something to the effect of uh, I dunno about that. But our new friend, as if presaging by two years the recall effort staged against California Governor Gray Davis, was sure he was onto something.
The petitioner moved on to another row, seeking more converts. He eventually took up the chant and the rhythm on his own. A few joined in. I might have tried it once for novelty’s sake. Jace was steadfastly having none of it. As if I couldn’t have guessed, clap-clap-clap was not part of his vocabulary.
In the following offseason, however, Todd Zeile was traded.
Shea Stadium hasn’t been just about big moments and momentous interactions. It’s been about the jerks, the weirdoes, the strange dudes. It’s been about those you wish would move to another section or get thrown out. They are as much a part of Shea Stadium as the feral cats. No one’s sure where the cats will go  when Shea is torn apart. The jerks, the weirdoes, the strange dudes? Citi Field will have some 13,000 fewer seats than Shea Stadium. Something tells me people like these will find their way in with no problem. They always do.
And they almost always sit near me.